Now I bet you didn’t expect to learn that Obliterator was also a planned C64 title?… No?… Well, if you’re an Amstrad user you have probably played it already, where as us C64 users have suffered without a conversion of this popular Amiga classic.
There was always the odd rumour that Obliterator was being worked on, but we never got to see or hear anything of the title. That is, until Lee Cawley set the record straight and with some hard evidence.
Obliterator was in production at Lothlorien with Chris Caress (Coder of Bosconian) and Lee Cawley (Graphics man for Motos and Bosconian). This was at a time when Lothlorien was on its last legs and production became an uncertainty as staff were not paid. In particular, Lee was not paid and started working at home at one point.
The game was essentially finished and was a very faithful conversion, featuring almost nigh perfect porting of the main character, and only some comprimises had to be made to the squeezing in of the enemies. Overall a solid conversion. According to Lee, the game was only needing a few minor tweaks.
Sadly, as Lothlorien went downwards, they got rid of Lee to try and save the business and the game was supposidly going to make it out.. though it never did.
15 years down the line, and Lee has now dug out his old disks in the hope of finding more of this enigmatic conversion. We may not find a full version of the game just yet, though we could soon be seeing some of the ingame graphics and sprites, and maybe (just maybe) something playable by the off chance. Currently Lee has found the loading screen, which for the first time can be seen in the shots page. This is the first and merest of glimpses you will see of Obliterator at the moment. This was also found on an old CNet disk, so you can check out the real thing.
So what now?… Chris Caress was traced thanks to Lee, and he was been asked the big question about the game’s final existance somewhere. Chris spent some time checking his old Einstein disks which would have had the code on, but sadly it seems that there were only mere scraps of source code remaining and nothing to really show to the world. The only remaining hope now seems to be with Lee Cawley and if he manages to find anything else of the game. Bad news overall, but there is still some hope left.
Chris himself is to shed some light on the game’s development very soon and hopefully we can try and find out a bit more about the game’s lifespan on the C64 and what exactly happened. Was the game actually completed?… Was it the demise of Lothlorien which prevented its release?
Rumour has it that the musician Mark Wilson converted the music, but was not paid for it. We have added the tunes which Mark did, which could well have been officially asked for, and would have been used in the official game.
Mark himself could not recall if the music was sent to Melbourne House for use in the game, but hasn’t ruled out that this happened.
Maybe in the end it could be just a mere privilige to learn of its existance and glimpse stills of what might have been… Time will tell…
More to come soon we hope…
Contributions: Lee Cawley, Chris Caress, Mark Wilson, Martin/Stadium64
Lee Cawley speaks to GTW about work on Obliterator…
“One of the biggest creations I worked on that never saw the light of day was Obliterator.
The game was finished as far as I was aware but it must have got canned. It was finished around the time that Lothlorien was closing down. I had spent a couple of months working from home because there were no wages being paid. At that time very little information was filtering out about what was happening so anything could have happened to it.
I have attached something <Referring to E-mailed shot of Obliterator> that I suspect very few people have ever seen; the loading screen for Obliterator on the C64. I apologise for the quality but the s-vhs lead I made is producing a really poor picture so I have taken these with my digital camera. If I get my lead sorted out, I will send better pics.
This is how close it (Obliterator) actually got to be released. The picture itself carries a bit of a tale… after spending about 12 hours drawing the picture, the disk I had it saved on got corrupted somehow. I had a choice of redrawing the whole thing or doing the extreme. I actually rebuilt the picture sector by sector off the disk by manually tracking the file-links. It almost took me as long as it did to draw the picture so I don’t know which was worse in the end.
Obliterator was coded by a good friend of mine Chris Caress, the programmer of Bosconian on the C64. Chris later became a co-partner in a software house we formed, unfortunately, we lasted a year as the game we wrote ended up unwanted by most of the software houses. It wasn’t a bad game, it just happened to be a shoot-em-up at the same time as IO and Armalyte, stiff competition I’m sure you’ll agree. Chris moved to Barcrest as a fruit machine programmer and is still there now.
It was a mammoth task trying to squeeze Obliterator into the C64 and some compromises had to be made, namely on the enemies. All the screens were there, all the frames of animation for the main character were there but the enemies were changed to fit into the C64 limited resources. As far as the 64 was capable, Obliterator was a faithful conversion. It had some very clever routines that generated screen scroll routines as you played as there was so much information to scroll, character data and colour information for nearly a full screen.
As far as I can remember, the game was going through final tweaks as I was made redundant from Lothlorien. As far as I knew, the game was being released but as time went on, it never happened. I’m not sure if I actually have any of the in-game graphics, I will keep looking. If not, then maybe this is the only evidence remaining along with the music; that Obliterator ever existed on the C64.”
- 27/03/17 – New screens and scans added thanks to Martin / Stadium64
- 15/02/14 – Details from Mark Wilson on the music.