S.D.I

Cinemaware

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Updates made

  • 07/01/21 – Tidied up the page.
  • 31/08/14 – Added another advert and rare C64 shot thanks to Peter Weighill
  • 01/08/14 – Added Cinemaware original advert thanks to Nate.
  • 10/04/14 – Added details regarding the programmer being kicked off project.  No name yet!
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Following the successful conversions of Defender Of The Crown and Rocket Ranger, Cinemaware were also due to release a conversion of their S.D.I game for the C64.

The game was advertised in some of the popular computer magazines of the time, and even featured what seemed to be C64 screenshots. One of these has been kindly scanned in by Martin from Stadium 64, which looks to be one of the in-between scenes from the game. This was from a Swedish magazine back in 1988. A company called “Moltech Software” advertised the C64 version of SDI for sale in ‘Svenska HEMDATOR Hacking’ Issue 5/1987, a US sales catalogue showed the game as for sale too, and contributor Nate found a magazine advert which lists the shots as  being C64 based … So a C64 version was started and does exist!

S.D.I is not to be confused with the SEGA S.D.I game, which was in the arcades around the same time period. This was a game produced in a similar mould to DOTC and Rocket Ranger, with the occasional 1st person perspective scene.

It was not known exactly why the C64 conversion never made it out like the other titles when we first started out research. It could only be assumed that Cinemaware moved onto the higher platforms and away from the C64 at that time.

Bob Jacob revealed to an interview with RVG in 2016, that the C64 version was delayed due to the programmer not being quite up to the task (at the time – but later becoming very good).  We’re not completely sure though who the programmer was, so hopefully Bob can be prompted to remember.

So who was the coder that Bob refers to and how far exactly did the conversion get before it was cancelled. Does it crucially still exist?

Contributions: Unknown, Martin from Stadium 64, Andrew Fisher, Paul Koller, Bob Jacob, Ross Sillifant, Nate, Peter Weighill

Supporting content

Extracted from Zzap 64 – December 1987 (Thanks to Andrew)

SILVER SCREEN DREAM

Although Cinemaware are relative newcomers to the software scene, they’ve already made a big name for themselves. Their three 16-bit games, Sinbad And The Throne Of The Falcon, Defender Of The Crown and SDI have been widely acclaimed, and the Commodore 64 version of Defender Of The Crown has sold a record breaking 10,000 disks! How are they going to follow their successes? Julian Rignal spoke to the enthusiastic President of the Cinemaware Corporation, Bob Jacob, about future presentations.

Cinemaware first launched themselves into the software world with the Amiga version of Defender Of The Crown. The stunning graphics and sampled sound impressed many, and even though the game was a little easy to complete, it instantly became a yardstick for future Amiga software. Shortly after came Sinbad And The Throne Of The Falcon, which although not quite so visually impressive, had more depth in the gameplay. So, what now?

‘We’ve nearly finished our next game,’ reveals Bob, ‘it’s a gangster game called King Of Chicago. The end product will have 20 digitised sound effects and 30 different tunes.’

As a ganster game, would King Of Chicago be violent? ‘ We are programming for an older audience, so there’ll be a lot of romance and a little explicit language, but it’s all mild stuff really. The trouble is that people go totally overboard when anyone mentions sex or violence. If you look around, everything has a sexual element – just look at adverts for example. It shows how immature attitudes are towards computer games – you put a little sex and people go crazy!’

The demo of King Of Chicago that Bob brought along certainly looks very impressive – but the early demos of two releases scheduled for spring next year look even better! The first is Rocket Ranger, ‘a Forties cliffhanger serial featuring Nazi spies, trips to the moon and an unflappable hero’.

Bob expands: ‘The game is split into chapters, each one ending on a cliffhanger. There are pletny of arcade sequences, and the music is – well, it’ll blow you away – it’s being written by the composer of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra!’

Also planned for a Spring release is The Three Stooges, an officially licensed game based on the old American comedy film characters. ‘It’s being written by the same guy who wrote the navigation program for the Space SHuttle.’ Bob says. ‘ The sound is going to be very impressive, with over 900k of compressed digitised sound effects – more than any other computer game. The graphics are a mixture of digitised film as well as computer animation. We feel that this is the first computer program which really takes full advantage of its licence.’

In that case, does he feel that generally licences tend to fall short of their potential? ‘Yes. Look at Laurel And Hardy – it’s terrible, it has nothing to do with the characters.’ And then continuing on the licence theme: ‘The thing is, in Britain people think that they can only succeed if there are 30 sprites on screen. It’s the content that counts. In the UK it’s not economically possible to spend time on anything. Over in America we spend at least a year on a project. We have two artists working for six months, a computer graphics man, a programmer and one person working on sound. We spend a lot of money on talented people…

With all those people working away, do they find that they are at all limited by the machines they work with? ‘The limitation is with disk space,’ Bob admits. ‘At the moment we’re exploring the potential of interactive CD, and with 600Mb of storage there’s plenty of room! We’re just trying to expand our themes. We’re trying to appeal to people who love interactive experience. There are two types of person, one sort who just sits there and likes ot be entertained, and the other type who loves to join in – that’s the type of person we try and attract. We make our games easy to get into, so that the casual gamer can enjoy them.’

With plans for interactive CD, will Cinemaware move away from the humble Commodore 64? ‘No,’ comes the firm answer. ‘SDI is currently being converted to the 64, and that looks really special. If you thought the graphics on Defender Of The Crown were good, wait until you see the ones on SDI – they make Defender’s look like a Spectrum game! We’ve taken the original Atari ST version and completly redesigned it, adding six extra arcade sequences. The gameplay has also been tweaked. After that comes Sinbad…’

There are also plans for Commodore 64 versions of Rocket Ranger and The Three Stooges and, for the summer of 1988, Bushido, a Japanese type of Defender Of The Crown which sounds very promising indeed. It certainly looks like the interactive film genre has a very very bright future ahead…

5 Responses to S.D.I

  1. I can answer that, i put question to Bob Jacob when i was posting on RVG a good while back:

    Rogue Trooper
     
    It’s been claimed that when S.D.I was in process of being ported to another format, it’s release was delayed as the company had asked the programmer to add extra features and such needed extra time, is this claim true? If so which format was it and what extra features did you ask for and why?

    Bob

    The port referred to has to be the C64. It was never completed, not because we asked for features, but because the programmer was not up to the task (he later became quite good).

    • Hi Carcass,

      Thanks for the heads up! … unfortunately they have accidently put up the Activision/SEGA conversion (which is what I thought it might considering its a TAP image). I’ve mailed them to let them know, and also at the same time see if they can shed light on the C64 conversion.

      All the best,

      Frank

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