Forumites on Lemon 64 were happily surprised on the 4th August 2014, when the developer of a long lost adventure game of Scooby Doo was recovered and uploaded for the first time in over 20 years, after being recovered from disks in his basement.
Peter Ward worked at Microillusions during the late 80’s, where he had worked on Main Frame for the same company just previous (before that he worked on Black Magic for Datasoft). His next assignment was on a Scooby Doo licence – which came about after Microillusions struck up a deal with Hanna-Barbera for a series of their licences.
There were to be a series of titles including Jonny Quest, Flintstones, The Jetsons and finally Scooby Doo across the Amiga, PC and C64 – possibly sharing the same engine to get all the titles out there quickly.
Microillusions made a terrible error though as they released The Jetsons to the world on the Amiga platform. They had shipped a Jetsons comic book serving as instructions with the game story background, which seemed like a great idea at the time. However, Hanna-Barbera never approved the title and were furious with Microillusions for releasing it. They revoked all their licences and this damaged Microillusions terribly – eventually contributing to them going bankrupt. As a result, most of the games never saw the light of day either.
VP of product development, Sean B. Barger explained via the comments that the other main detail was that the CEO’s father took over the business and would not pay the quarterly minimum for the Hanna Barbera licences. Although HB were no doubt angry at the comic book release, this was the real reason why all the games were cancelled.
What is surprising, is that according to Peter – most of the games were actually pretty much complete – so there is actually a series of titles like this one to still recover!
Scooby Doo overall is a lovely graphic adventure game for kids, with some cool action sequences. The game spans 5 D64 images overall and is packed with cartoon pictures. It’s probably the best Scooby Doo game on the C64, and a bit of compensation for Elite’s laserdisc style title never quite making it.
The game is not complete though – as a 4th ghost town mystery was never fully completed. However, it feels like a complete title and the 3 mysteries present provide pretty much a complete title. We’ll still list it within GTW64 as a “Preview” as a result of the intended content, and likely final fixes which were never done due to Microillusions going under.
It is a great finding and very kind of Peter, and we hope to see more in the future preserved like this! It’s great to see developers digging out their disks before its too late!
Check it out!
Contributions: Peter Ward, Christina Burroughs, Kevin Tilley, Sean B. Barger, Ross Sillifant
Taken from Lemon thread at … http://www.lemon64.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=634465 … Peter discusses work on the game…
“The story goes as follows…
Long ago, in MicroIllusions heyday… they struck a great deal with Hanna-Barbera for a bunch of their licenses. They were making games based on Johnny Quest, Flintstones, The Jetsons, and Scooby Doo. I was lead on the C64 of Scooby. Things were all looking sweet, as all the games were wrapping up. The Jetsons finished first and was released ( I’m sure you can find copies of it around ).
However, MicroIllusions made a fatal error with their product release… which would ultimately lead to the demise of the company.
Included with the Jetsons product, was a Jetsons comic book serving as instructions, and game story background. Hanna-Barbera NEVER approved this comic book, and were furious with MicroIllusions for releasing it ( they are VERY protective with their licenses! )
Ultimately, they revoked all their licenses from MicroIllisions.
MicroIllusions shortly later went bankrupt, and most of those games sadly never saw the light of day.
This one has been sitting in my basement for over 20 years on 5 1/4 floppies.
I’m happy its finally getting out there!”
Then about the game itself…
“This was intended to be a PC, AMIGA, C64 release. I have the C64 version only ( will hunt around for the AMIGA )
This is a rather large game for a C64, spanning 4 disks. It contains 3 mysteries for the scooby gang to solve. Solving the mystery involves searching for items, talking to people to gather clues, finding secret rooms, playing arcade sequences, etc… etc…
The mysteries to solve are:
1: Daymen Mansion Mystery
2: SeaMonster mystery
3: SkiLodge mystery
A 4th, “œghost town mystery’, I believe was never completed.
Daymen Mansion Mystery:
1: You must recover the Demenchi Painting
2: You must collect enough info to prove Mark Undercel is guilty;
TO GET PAINTING
1: Find scooby snacks for shaggy so he will climb the bell tower.
2: Climb the bell tower.
3: In bell tower room, you will find.
a) Will ( telling location of Demenchi )
b) Pick ( to help clear debris )
4: With the SHOVEL and PICK, clear away debris in the mines
5: Travel MINE SHAFT to get to secret area
6: Look in STUDIO 1 for secret door to STUDIO 2
7: Take the PICTURE you’ll find in STUDIO 2
TO SHOW GHOST IS A HOAX:
1: Get room key from locker
2: Open locker and get room key.
3: use room key to open one of the master bedrooms.
4: find secret door in bedroom
5: find armory
6: Discover GLOW in DARK footprints ( from ghost )
7: Find TAPE recorder ( with HAUNTING noises on it )
PROVE MARK UNDERCELS CONNECTION BY
1: Finding NOTEBOOK 2 at end of MINESHAFT in STUDIO1″
PETER WARD INTERVIEW UNCUT – FROM RESET ISSUE 5
In celebration of the release and review, we had a chat to Peter Ward, the original developer of the C64 version of Scooby Doo who thankfully decided to preserve his previously unreleased game via Lemon to the C64 public in early August, 2014.
What can you tell us about the development of Scooby Doo? How many people were on the team? How long was the game in development for?
The projected started in early 1989, and finished around Aug that same year. We were doing C64, AMIGA, PC versions. PC version was the lead platform, meaning all assets were made for PC quality… and then down sampled for C64 . Amiga started up last, and was the least completed when project was cancelled. There were 4 programmers on the project. Myself on C64. 2 on PC (John & Anneli Motter). and 1 on AMIGA (Mark Butler). From the credits, it looks like we had 4 artists.
Was the game developed at the same time as the other versions on other platforms? How much input did you have into its design?
PC was the lead platform. You always want your most capable system as the lead. C64 started up a little later, and Amiga later still. We had a writer who came up with the mysteries. I don’t recall how the general game design ( screen layout, GUI ) came about though.
Microillusions were to publish the game, but you mentioned on Lemon that you were working for a company that got contracted to develop the C64 version. Who were you working for at the time?
I was working under contract for Sculptured Software.
What kind of challenges did you face when programming a game of this type on the C64? Were there any features that had to be left out due to technical limitations from the other versions?
No features were left out. Biggest challenges with C64 (and Apple ][) were usually memory constraints, and processor speed. Fitting the game into memory was probably the largest challenge. For example, due to the large amount of text dialog used, we could not fit it into memory. Instead we stream from disk all the NPC response strings as they get spoken. We also load from disk different room tile sets as you walk around the world.
How did you enjoy working on the C64 compared to other platforms?
C64 was a very capable system, with very good graphics and sound. 64k of memory was also a lot at that time. For development, we used some AMIGA’s for writing the dialog database, and of course art tools on the PC. I believe all the C64 projects I have done went quite smoothly with very few problems.
Do you have any fun anecdotes relating to its development?
It was too long ago to remember anything specific. Here’s an example of how long it’s been.
I’ve done 3 games on C64 (Black Magic, Main Frame, Scooby Doo), yet when I brought up my C128 from my basement, I couldn’t even remember how to get the directory of a DISK. I had to google for OS instructions! I’ve got a BOX of disks (both 5¼ and 3½) with all sort of Scooby Doo assets on them”¦ but I don’t have any of the resources to look at them anymore.
Why was the game ultimately not published?
This is the answer we were given at the time –
MicroIllusions made a fatal error with their product release”¦ which would ultimately lead to the demise of the company. Included with the Jetsons product, was a Jetsons comic book serving as instructions, and game story background. Hanna-Barbera NEVER approved this comic book, and were furious with MicroIllusions for releasing it ( they are VERY protective with their licenses! ). Shortly later, they cancelled all their contracts with MicroIllusions. All projects were cancelled.
Were you aware at the time that the game was never released?
Yes of course we all were, and were quite disappointed. But we just had to move on to the next project. For me, that was moving on to Nintendo 8-bit system.
What triggered you to preserve the game in the first place? Can you tell us about the efforts that went into its preservation?
I was curious if any of my old backups were still in working order. I’m not sure what the lifespan of 5 1/4 inch floppy disks are, but though 25 years might be pushing it. So I dug out my old C128 and 1541 drive, and tried booting up a disk ( as I mentioned early, I had to google how to get the directory from C64 OS, and run a binary file. I guess my brain cells are quite as good as floppies!). Anyhow, to my surprise, Scooby Doo booted up to the title page! Amazing! I thought I should do something to preserve this before it’s gone forever. Thus, it was released.
I usually made weekly backups of the game I was working on. This is simply one of those backups. It’s been in storage for 25 years on 5 ¼ inch floppies. It’s quite surprising they held the data for so long.
How does it feel to have people finally being able to play your game? What kind of feedback have you received so far?
It’s fantastic to just see the game after so long. Having it finally released to others means that our work was not a complete waste of time and effort. It’s great to see it finally being played!
Do you still follow the C64 scene? What do you make of the current resurgence and interest in the C64? Why is there such an interest in unreleased C64 games?
I do not follow the C64 scene. Only stumbled upon these web sites when I was looking for information on how/where to release the Scooby Doo binaries. I must admit at being very surprised with the level of activity on C64 forums. It’s also fun to download these old games and to play them on PC’s. When I look at any old game I’ve done, I’m shocked at how crude they look. Video games have come so far since those times.
Did you work on any other titles that never quite made it on the C64?
Just Typhoon Thompson and the missing sea child. I’m still trying to get a working copy of that game running. If and when I do, I’ll release it.
How did that conversion come about for you?
It was my first project under contract for Sculptured Software. As far as I can remember, the game was 100% complete.
Can you recall much about the time you worked on Typhoon Thompson, and did you work with anyone else on it (graphic artist, sound artist?)
At the time, I was working off site in Canada on Typhoon, and so didn’t have much contact with the art/audio staff. I can’t remember the time spent, but its safe to assume the normal 6-9 months. Since I was working off a port of the Atari ST version, I believe I was only given the source code to the apple AirHeart game. I then played and copied
the Atari ST version as much as possible. We never had any Atari ST code to work from.
Why was Typhoon Thompson never released?
This was a Broderbund business decision. Perhaps due to the decline in the C64 market.
Is there any possibility of recovering the game in the same way that Scooby Doo was recently?
I am trying.
What was your first computer that got you hooked?
My first computer was an Apple II. I only started on C64 when a publisher (Datasoft) asked for a conversion of Black Magic.
How did you first get started in programming games?
I’ve always loved programming. I started programming games in high school on the HP 2000 mainframe. My first computer was the Apple II. After hacking around on it, running a BBS site on it… I started trying to do games. Things were hard back then. Art tools were scarce. I remember drawing an image on screen with a crude graphics draw tool I wrote, then printing the HEX data out so I could type in into the program. Compiling also took around 20 minutes. If a compile error occurred at the 15 minute mark, you had to start all over again.
After much pain, I finally got my first game done, Demonic Decks on the Apple II. I sent it to many publishers, only to get rejection notices.
Undaunted, I moved onto my 2nd game, South Pacific Quest. Again, I sent it to many publishers, only to have it rejected by them all (again).
Undaunted, I moved onto my 3rd game, Black Magic. Broderbund considered it for some time, but ultimately rejected it. Luckily, Datasoft liked it, and after a rough C64 conversion, I had my 1st published product.
Did you play and enjoy games as well as write them? What games did you used to play a lot back then?
I don’t play many games… even today. Back then, I think I was more interested in watching games. Seeing what others are doing. I guess I’m still that way today.
Do you still work in the game industry today?
I currently work for Disney Interactive Studios… and today (Sept 23) our latest and greatest game was released! Disney Infinity Marvel Super Heroes 2.0
I still love this industry. The new technology doesn’t matter much to me. It’s the ability to create new things that I love.
- 14/07/22 – Details of why the game never saw release.
- 16/11/14 – To coincide with the release of RESET issue 5, Scooby Doo development notes and full interview have been added! Thanks Kevin!