After sampling the great Rolling Ronny game from BONESPARK, they had much much more in store for our beloved C64’s back in the early 90’s. One such promising title was a conversion of a stunning Amiga German (thanks Teki!) shooter called “Lethal Xcess”.
BONESPARK were nominated to convert the game to the humble C64, which was to have 150 animated objects on the screen at once, 100 different sprites and 30 screens long levels made up of 3 charsets at a time.
Sadly the cause of the game’s death was not its impossibility of being converted, but the fact that development time was underestimated. At what was first predicted to take about 3 months to create, turned out to really add up to 12-13 months worth of work. BONESPARK simply did not have the money to go on for this period of time. Mario doesn’t really agree with this, and feels the game could have been done.
So after reaching level 2 with the game, it was finally cancelled after 20% completion.
Currently, remains recovered are a whole first level map courtesy of Oliver Lindau, who first put us in touch with his website and bits, a sample set of enemies and animations and the remains of the game’s music composed by Thomas Detert in .SID format.
Playable forms of the game exist, and although limited, these would be interesting to view from a GTW perspective. Hopefully Oliver may be able to pass on any playable elements of the game, or even Mario himself. At least now in late 2008/2009 we start by seeing the actual level 1 graphics released with the Bones Park editor – which you can now download from here.
The good news is that the programmer is quite happy for the game to be put out in its preview form. It is just a case of the disks being dug out with the previews on. This could be a little while yet, but its good news that you may get to see the promise of this exciting conversion. This may not happen though if Mario decides like he says to possibly FINISH the C64 conversion if he digs out his C64… in that case we will be waiting a bit longer for Mario to realize his dream.
Mario tells GTW that a lot of elements were taken from Rolling Ronny which were unusued. Not gameplay elements, but technical bits of code which were never used but developed. This would have possibly been the greatest SEU ever seen on a C64 had it been complete.
Within the screenshots we have added another shot which was scanned from a magazine, showing the actual game in action. As you can just about see, the game looked to be very action packed, and the magazine seemed very impressed with what they saw.
What has to be done now is for GTW to preserve as much of the game as possible, and archive it here where it belongs. A huge shame it never saw the light of day, and had it done, then no doubt it would have been a huge success.
For now we live in the comfort that the game will surface in some form at some point… IF Mario’s disks are still working. Oliver however does have all the graphics he did, so not everything is lost. There is hopefully more to tell in this story we hope…
A sad loss for the C64 in its dying days…
Contributions: Oliver Lindau, Mario Knezovic, Gerry, Teki Atarikind, AlexH
Oliver Lindau speaks about work on Lethal Xcess…
“This was a vertical shooter in Japanese.
The main problem was the technical level of the original 16-Bit-versions (URL: http://www.edv-rudolf.de/lethal-xcess/ ): 5 levels, each one 30 screens high, over 100 sprites in memory and over 350 animated objects on screen.
Well, it was necessary to redesign the c64 version. As you can see at my homepage, our coder Mario created a really interesting solution.
But we underestimated the time needed. We planned 3 months for the whole project, but even the development for the level editor took about three weeks. The first level needed also 2.5 months…
So we stopped the project at the beginning of level 2. The whole game would have been finished some time in 1993 and unfortunately there was no money left to continue.”
FROM OLIVER’S SITE…
“This is probably the most ambitious project of Bonespark for the C64.
The point which made this interesting was the in game graphics routine. Like in FLI-formats it was possible to change colours or character-sets at each starting line of the background.
Three background sets and 16 colours could be used in one level.
In addition it was possible to move up to 48 flicker-free objects over the screen.
The development stopped after four months because of serious time- related delay. At last we expected about 12-14 months to complete the tasks. 20% of the game was ready.”
Mario Knezovic speaks about work on Lethal Xcess…
“Sadly enough, it was my favorite project I ever did for the C64 and up until today I am disappointed that Oliver was not able to continue working on it, though I understandhis reasons very well. It is just not true that *we* did underestimate the development time. Maybe it was *him* ;-)
Actually I did a lot more work than was necessary <at the time> for Rolling Ronny. The most terrific stuff should end up being used in “Lethal X-Cess”, like 48 sprites at once with 3 character sets at the same time on screen, with color changes each character row and much more…
After the disappointment with “Lethal X-Cess”, I just did one more game for the C64 (Stone Age, released by Eclipse Software Design, with a new graphics artist then, Michael Detert) … and after that never switched on my C64 again since then. I think I never turned it on again for 12 or so years now. When I moved to a new appartment, I drove all my C64 stuff to my parents. All I ever had C64 related is in their basement now. I do not even know if the stuff is rottening or not ;-)
Not being able to continue work on Lethal X-Cess was the biggest disappointment in my programming career and it made me quit the C64 entirely.”
*If* I ever touch my C64 again it will be for finishing the work started for Lethal X-Cess. I am talking about this regularely to both Oliver and to Heinz Rudolf (one of the Amiga/Atari ST guys). But I have a few other much higher priority projects (not programming related at all) which I want to realize first, the main one being to relocate from Germany to middle America (Costa Rica or Panama).
In case you are interested, there is another (small) game I did for Thalion called Neuronics: http://thalion.atari.org/games/neuronics/neuronics.html
What was most important to me about Neuronics is that I met Thomas Detert for that game for the first time. From day 1 on we became very close friends and met each other for a few years at least every second weekend or so… That time was really amazing. He is one of the greatest persons I ever met! I did a lot of projects with him later and also wrote the DOS music editor he has used for his DOS projects like Stone Age … which also was the first DOS game I have ever done…
Okay, all this is off-topic for your website as Neuronics and Stone Age indeed were both finished and published ;-)
I quit the gaming industry in 1997. Just in case you wonder what games I did lately. After a very long break I indeed started to work on two new (Windows) games with Oliver in our spare time. They will be rather classic games than full-sized today’s games, a puzzle game and a turn-based strategy game. Mainly we do this for fun so far. Maybe we’ll release them as shareware one day. The main purpose is to have fun and to create a new pile of general game related libraries, mainly in the area of AI. There is one really big project I would want to do one day… Not very likely to happen in the next few years though :-)”
Mario Knezovic .
Then in 2013…
I doubt there is much useful left of any of these two projects. And if
so, in the same dusty basement where the Lethal X-Cess leftovers are and
where I have not been in years (complicated story).
What happened actually was that while I was preparing for Lethal X-Cess,
I used all my previous experience to rebuild a few things, finish
optimizing the good parts and adding some real awesomeness. To finance
all this, I have worked on other projects. The interesting part here is
that one game I did called Rolling Ronny (for Starbyte Software) uses some of the technology that was originally Jambala and was on the way to become Lethal X-Cess.
Unfortunately it is the only game which got finished in that phase.
Especially since it was for the company I learned to full-heartedly hate…
I had worked on LXS stuff alone 8 months, not counting the
side-projects. When this one also got abandoned – again due to external
reasons, I pretty much left the C64 world in frustration very soon (only
did Stone Age/Eclipse C64 quickly) and went on to do PC programming
(starting with Stone Age DOS). And this is also the reason why I do not
have a nice archive of that era as one could expect. I literally
switched off my C64 after Stone Age was mastered and since then never
ever turned it on again… I even refused to do C64 versions of some of
the next DOS games I did.”
- 19/01/17 – Updated deadlinks and fixed a few spellings
- 30/08/15 – Fixed reference to being German, and not a Japanese shooter.
- 21/03/15 – Added new graphic files from Oliver Lindau
- 09/01/14 – Added download for Bones Park map editor, which was used for the graphics/maps
Oliver Lindau was talking about his conversion of “Lethal Xcess” in a German interview for a podcast on Retrokompott (http://blog.retrokompott.de/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/lindau_LOW.mp3 timestamp 41:42 – 48:22).
The manual and format specification of the map editor are available here: http://csdb.dk/release/?id=74132.
Thanks Gerry, will get those added now! :)
Issue 8/August 1991, page 95 of the German computer magazine “64’er” featured a one page interview with Mario Knezovic. Asked about what game he’s working on at the moment, he answered that he’s doing the C64-version of “Rolling Ronny” and after that project will program a shoot’em-up-game (Lethal Xcess) for Eclipse.
Asked about his favourite software company to work for he said he likes Eclipse to the best of his belief. He planed to jointly rent an office/ house with Eclipse in the future.