Soldier Of Light was not a particularly memorable conversion of the arcade game from ACE software back in the mid to late 80’s. However, the weak result was found to be possibly down to this very version which sits in GTW…
Carl Coffey was the coder of this game, and produced a very well presented demo featuring the main character and some cut scenes. The main character moved, but that was it. There was no scrolling or anything playable. A screenshot of this demo was published in Commodore User magazine, so we know that this was originally to be the official conversion.
Although the game looks better than the completed effort, it is unfair to compare, as this isn’t really playable!… Plus with the cancellation of this version, the new team that had to take over were left with far less time to get a quality product out. More time seems to have been spent on graphics in this preview.
Rob Whitaker has kindly put his story across about the completed version, after it was found that this review originally unfairly took digs at the completed version, and wished more of this particular version. Considering the time limits they had, Rob’s team did wonders to get something out like they did. No doubt had the guys had the full development time, things may have been more successful. Reading Creator Speaks will explain more in Rob’s own words.
So what happened to version 1?… Well, we don’t know, and neither does Rob.
Darren Melbourne recently particially solved the mystery, by mentioning…
"Carl actually walked away from the project after The Edge software company never honoured any of it’s payment schedules. Carl was a good coder and an exceptional artist, who could have created an excellent conversion of SOL, if he had been paid. Carl created many C64 games which didn’t see the light of day, with Hobey Joe (the story of a winged Gryphon type creature) being outstanding for it’s 1984 dateline. As far as I know Carl left the industry disullusioned by the poeple who ran publishing companies."
So sadly it was nothing to do with Carl not being able to do the conversion, but non-payment. How would Carl’s version have shaped up? Did Carl do more than this demo?… Was anything actually playable? Just how far Carl got before he left is unknown. Contact is needed with Carl to find out more, and even see how much more was done. Quite possibly Level 1 could exist in a more fuller form at the very least. It will be interesting to find out and see.
So for now we are left to ponder what could have been, though when compared with the prototype previews of R-Type, there is not much to ponder, as there simply isn’t enough evidence.
Faithful to the eye, but covering up not a great deal…
Contributions: Christopher Magro, Rob Whitaker, Darren Melbourne
Available downloads for this entry
Rob Whitaker and Carl Coffey speak about Soldier Of Light V1...
"It was good reading Rob’s account of the game, difficulties and stuff that culminated in what was a good conversion given the amazingly short time frame for completion.
The Soldier of Light demo I coded included the first and most of the second levels. The idea was to incorporate parallax landscape scrolling with a raster split half way down the screen as had been used to great effect by Jeff Minter and Tony Crowther (and did anyone else used to get the Llamasoft Christmas card’s that used to be sent each year?).
Most of the coding for the SOL demo was done using Ocean’s Laser Genius machine code compiler. I was also more fortunate than Rob and the crew in that I had several mornings of playing the Taito arcade game prior to coding up at the Edge’s offices. The menu system had originally been given a dry run at the beginning of a modified S.E.U.K game also published by The Edge (or ACE) which was created in 1988 as was the sound system that was to be incorporated in the Soldier of Light demo.
The art work and publicity had been set in motion prior to the completion of the demo then sadly difficulties with what had been a verbal contract (gulp!!!) came into play that Darren Melbourne (a very very good friend from another life) has described on this web site. The original disks and original publicity material is still around and hopefully I’ll be able to get the source code for everyone else to download once I’ve dusted the disks down and given them a quick boot on my now ancient c128 (if it still works) or the old faithful C64. I left the c64 world in 1988’ish to devote more time playing in a progressive rock band (hey, we all got our vices!!) and importantly to get a job that paid on time.
I Wonder if Darren still remembers the programmers\games paradise that used to sit above shops in Welling during the early 1980’s ;o) Happy days."
Carl Coffey (Jan 2006)
"Firstly, the finished game was released on the ACE label, which was SOFTEK's arcade conversion label. They are the same company, and also released games as THE EDGE. I will refer to them as Softek (as I believe that was the main company name).
The 'Soldier of Light V.1' game you have listed is nothing more than a demo. I don't know why it was produced. Maybe it was released on a magazine cover tape?
I don't know who Carl Coffey is, and whether he worked at Softek or was a freelancer. I don't know if he was meant to write the game originally or not.
You compared this demo with the finished game unfairly as, though it does indeed look nice, it's nothing more than some static screens and a moving sprite. Not much going on and nowhere near a finished game.
Here's where I come in: After producing a budget game for Softek, Ian and Mic were asked to do the conversion of this arcade game, which I would provide graphics for. We were naturally very excited to be given the chance to work on such a game.
However the game had to be completed in a ridiculously short time. I can't remember how long but it was little more than a couple of months or so. AND we had no reference to work from than a videocassette of the game being played. I'm sure other arcade conversions were sometimes done
this way back then but I wanted to explain what we had to work with.
I admit that we were relatively inexperienced and probably couldn't have done much better but to compare our finished game to a simple demo is a little unfair.
I personally am bothered by the graphics in the game. My sprites were all changed for the worse by someone at Softek. Not that mine were necessarily better but I felt they were more faithful to the arcade graphics.
Oh, and Jeroen Tel was brought to the game by us, having done music for a couple of our previous games. Is there music on the demo? I don't think it's by Jeroen.
I only vaguely remember us being told that the game had been started but then abandoned--I don't remember any reason--and so we had a short time to do it. This sort of thing unfortunately happens in the games industry to this day.
I never saw the Carl Coffey version until years later and realized that must have been the original game.
And to end the story suitably we were ripped off by Softek who never paid us. And that's all I have to say on the subject!"