In 1987 Bob Stevenson and Doug Hare of Kinetic Designs were working on a mysterious project. According to rumours, there are a number of games that they never got finished.
"Starline" was the working name for a horizontal shoot’em-up that Doug and Bob were were working on for Thalamus.
The game was based on a very cool but "ultimately unworkable" bitmap scroller and featured really cool looking graphics by Bob Stevenson.
Sadly due to the problems its features entailed, the game and its technology was abandoned and the game ultimately morphed into IO for Firebird.
All that was ever created, was a preview of the game’s scroller and level map, and another preview with actual sprite and scoreboard infos. The game was never finished.
Originally after some initial contact, Doug Hare confirmed details, but sadly did not have the previews which once existed.
However, regular of GTW, Jason Kelk had a mysterious demo within his disk collection, featuring very Bob’esq graphics on a neat bitmap scroll. It wasn’t until a search of the code recently revealed that the game was none other than "Starline – the trailer" from Kinetic Designs in 1987. The trailer features the first level design scrolling through rather impressively. There are no enemies or anything to do but admire the technique and the graphics.
Doug, pleased to see his game once more, was kind enough to give some words about his game. So get the chance to read the story of Starline, straight from the creator himself in "Creator Speaks".
So what now?… Doug has confirmed that a later version was created with some sprites, so GTW still yet has to find this later preview to bring this wonderful looking title case to a close. If the trailer could sit on someone’s disk collection, then maybe the later preview also does…
Fantastic looking glimpse of a potentially fantastic game…
Contributions: Doug Hare, Jason Kelk, Steve Day
Doug Hare talks to GTW about Starline..
"Starline was a game we were developing initially for Thalamus. We actually got a little further along than this demo (we had one rev. with a ship moving around and overlaid sprite-based score and life info.
It was really colorful, it looked pretty cool. The technique for scrolling the bitmap screen was ultimately too costly from a processor and memory perspective so when we went on to do IO for Firebird we used a more traditional character-based screen.
In order to get as much visual bang for our buck though the scrolling portion of the screen was split into lower and upper halves and each halve had a full character set (mirrored) and then we had
another character set for the lives and score panel at the bottom."