System 3

Status: Preview, Findability: 5/5

A strange game which was popular on the Amiga, mainly for its wacky animation.

This game featured a blue blob of putty which could mould itself into numerous shapes and absorb strange creatures to help defeat a geezer called Dazzledaze. Decent animation, weird cartoony graphics etc planned to form superb platform puzzler on the 64.

Apparently the game became too complex for the 64 and was binned so that concentration was focused on Fuzzball. All that remains was to be a tech demo featuring the blob and most of its animations.

Robin Levy was confirmed to have been working on the C64 version of the game, doing all the graphics. As for the coder, it was none other than John Kemp behind the programming.

The animation was very sophisticated and ate away at memory, using up many sprites to simply stretch. The idea of having Sprite overlays was virtually impossible, and various problems occurred in the development. All of this added up to morale being lost on the project, and eventuated in John Kemp leaving the games industry for good.

Jason Kelk confirmed seeing the preview while up at System 3, and apparently was at very early stages, probably what Commodore Format saw when they took their preview picture. The sprite animated very well in the demo.

Originally around 2006, things were looking very bleak. The likelihood of the game surviving was very slim. John Kemp had checked and could not find Putty on any of his work disks. The only place it may have existed was on the 286 PDS which System 3 had. It was likely that this was now long gone, and thus Putty C64 was looking to be immortalized only as the one single solitary scanned screen from Commodore Format.

But in early 2008 things took a rather surprising turn! John Kemp managed to find a few disks labelled with “Putty” and confirmed that he had found the last version of the game. All disks were passed to Dan Phillips to preserve, but then Dan got a job in Canada and then passed the disks to Robin Levy. With everyone being very busy the past few years, it is only recently in December 2010 that Robin posted GTW a bundle of disks which included the remains of Putty.

And so we are very pleased to announce the salvaging and preservation of yet another long lost title which you can now download and check out! (Thanks to Slator for the bug fixed version!)

Now don’t expect something fully playable, as you will not find that. But what you will find is a promising tech demo with some unseen graphics done by the great Robin Levy where you can control Putty and navigate around various little platforms. Controls are a bit fiddly, especially jumping – which is achieved by holding down for a long period of time then releasing in a direction to make Putty jump far. The stretch animations are superb, and it looked like things were really coming together!

Additionally – a bonus was to discover additional screens as you climb vertically, giving a glimpse of screens never seen before. Overall the preview makes you wonder that had they not done the hi-res overlays, how a Putty conversion could well have been very possible. This early preview proves that something was possible :)

Finally that’s not quite all – but there were also a bundle of PC based disks with Putty labelled which we could not read. We believe this is the source code to the preview. We don’t believe there will be anything else that isn’t in the preview, but we will try and confirm anyway and see if we can preserve the sources. Before we also forget, here are scans of the disk labels of the work disks.

So now all that is left is to possibly hear more from John Kemp himself about the game and his development thoughts, but we are now very close to closing a case which has been open for over 10 years now for GTW. Enjoy!

Case pretty much now closed and with a good ending! :-)

Contributions: Jason Kelk, Jed Adams, Robin Levy, Dan Phillips, John Kemp, Slator, Jazzcat

Supporting content

Available downloads

Creator speaks

John Kemp talks about Putty:

“There is not much to tell on Putty- it felt like the tail end of the C64 market at the time. Dan was working learning Amiga coding, Dave Colclough was working on Myth and I was pretty much on my own with the C64 and no graphics to speak of except the putty character and some Amiga concept art.

I ended up doing more on project managing Myth on the Amiga, bug testing and answering the helpline. So the game never really progressed beyond the demo stage.
I don’t recall anything about Half-life?! never got started on that as far as I know.”

John Kemp.

Robin Levy speaks about work on Putty…

“Right then, as far as I can remember money was tight around the 64 Putty and Fuzzball era and most of us weren’t too happy. John Kemp was indeed the first programmer on Putty64 and got a controllable character on screen, however there were a lot of technical issues that would have meant changing some of the core aspects of the Amiga original.

The main character was very expensive on sprites (especially when stretched horizontally) so this had an impact on the number of enemies and the robot sprites that the player was supposed to rescue. I distinctly remember having a bee in my bonnet about using overlaid sprites (hires over multicolour) which wouldn’t have helped in the slightest.

Anyway, none of these problems were so major that we couldn’t have got around them with a little effort but morale was pretty low. So low that John Kemp decided on a complete career change and left the games industry. :-(

I can’t remember if anyone took over Putty but I’m sure that it never progressed beyond the tech demo stage… it was around this time that I left System 3 to work on Ruff ‘n’ Tumble.”

Robin Levy.

Update history

01/06/23 – Quick snippet from John regarding the development in Creator Speaks.

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