Mind Runner was a game by a friend of Kevin Murphy, who has many GTW’s listed in the archive such as Thunderzone. This was a game by his friend, Jason Steele (Not the same guy who did Hunchback for Ocean) back in 1988 time.
Mind Runner was a promising looking game which was similiar to Martin Walker’s Citadel game but was actually strangely being developed simultaneously and was not a rip off of Martin’s game. Unfortunately it was the fact that Citadel came out 3 months before Jason could finish his game which killed development. Jason felt that no-one would touch the game as it was too close to Citadel.
All that remains now is a very rough demo level with no playability, just to iron out bugs. There are some sprite routines and around 30 level designs complete though, so it sounds like a fair chunk of the game was created.
We have asked Jason about the possibility of putting some remains on the website, but Jason is reluctant as there are some faults with parts of the preview and Jason would rather that things were a bit more polished. However, Jason has allowed us to put up a working version of the title screen,and screenshots of the game itself will hopefully follow soon!
It sounds like this was potentially a game which could have bettered Citadel, but we may never know. Jason offers a full insight into the game’s development within the Creator Speaks page. Now we just have to ponder what might have been…
Hopeful to see something of this game someday soon…
Contributions: Kevin Murphy, Jason Steele
Jason Steele speaks to GTW about work on Mind Runner...
"My story? Well, yes I still have all the dev stuff relating to MR, but the game never got to a fully working demo. The game was coded in a modular fashion - the front end being a separate program that eventually would link to the main game code once it was completed. The front end has music that was 'borrowed' from a Legendary Designs preview of one of Kev's titles that was offered for his approval. The music is properly credited in the front end, but I never had official permission to use it - hence the concern. I only had it in there to get an idea of how the front end was shaping up. It was never intended to be a permanent fixture, but I hadn't finished writing my own music for it. 1987-88 I think it was. . .
As for the main game code, I have a very rough incomplete single level runaround that was only intended as a tester for ironing out bugs in the code. 32 other levels were designed, but the code was not ready to implement them. I had got as far as writing a 40sprite multiplexer and motion sequencers for the enemy sprites, but no AI code in place. I had the main character mobile but not yet firing, but could jump around the level. Somewhere I had shadow routines developed so that the character had proper base-relief when jumping to give the illusion of height.
Style wise, the game was almost identical in concept to Martin Walkers' Citadel in so far as you are trapped in a robotic world trying to use switches and mazes to find a way out. This is what killed it for me. Martin beat me to publishing by about 3 months! I dropped it at this point because it would have seemed like it was a straight rip-off of Citadel if I had continued. I doubt because of the similarities that a publisher would have backed it at that point in time.
The original game plot was that the main character was an engineer working to install security systems on a space station. Something goes wrong during the last stages of deployment, and the main character is treated as an intruder. A central computer security system (cheesy and done to death a million times!) is then hell bent on trying to kill him. It is the main characters mission to find a way to shut the system down and make it safe before it tries to kill others. Enemy drones of varying difficulty get released into the level to make life harder for our hero.
So you see, it was so similar to Citadel that it would not have garnered any credit at all as an original title. Pure and simple, Martin beat me to the punch! His title did quite well, so I figure mine would have if I were first!! (Kudos to him - I had great fun playing Citadel afterwards)
I had toyed with the idea of re-vamping the game just for the sake of finishing it, but I could never muster the enthusiasm to do it. Besides, in this day and age, games are developed by entire teams in software houses with massive resources and fast deadlines, so I doubt it would ever stand a chance now.
Still, it kept me busy for a while!"