After a few contributions recently and new info appearing – here is our latest update for GTW64. Includes some revelations regarding Nigel Mansell’s GP and also David Jolliff talks to GTW64 about R-Type – to almost complete the story on the Catalyst Software conversion, as well as confirm his involvement on Ace Attacker.
Covering unreleased and cancelled games and prototypes on both consoles and computers. We are a large archive dedicated to preserving games that were never released to the public. Sharing history and stories from the developers, assets and more before it is too late.
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Following on from our recent Parallel Logic piece – I also recently got speaking with Paul Kubiszyn to find out more about XLCUS, which was a short lived company which was aiming to keep the C64 going. I only needed to find out a few bits for an article i’m writing, but again like with Phil Boyce – Paul gave an excellent account which I felt was worth sharing in its Q/A form…
1) When did XLCUS roughly start out?
It would have to have been around the time of 1994 or 1995. Without going through individual programs and games to see what the title screens say I cannot say for sure. I had a quick look and think it started sometime after Amorphous and MegaForce, but before the PD demos which appears on Commodore Format magazine.
2) What triggered you to kick off XLCUS?
Prior to XLCUS I was developing with assistance from my brother Mark and so the original Square Scape was credited to M&P Software (Mark and Paul, see what I did there ) Amorphous and MegaForce were pretty much fully my own work, although some of the music in Amorphous (the end game sequence) could be credited to XLCUS.
When I started to write demos they were mainly under the name XLCUS; this was because I teamed up with my good friend and Acorn Archimedes programmer Jonathan Hunt. He was known at the time as Arcus and I was known as XL, so we took the names and squashed them together to form XLCUS. Later this went on to change to XL.C.US for some odd reason which I cannot remember
3) Was the move to selling your games to Commodore Format down to poor sales would you say?
A little yes. I was also young at the time and desperate for money Commodore Format gave me the opportunity to write a game, send it in and immediately receive payment for it. I use the term immediate with a roll of my eyes as getting money from that magazine was absolute hell.
I remember pestering Karen the editor on an almost daily basis chasing payments. In regards to private sales of games, I must have sold about 100 in tops of all my releases. I still have all of the nice kind letters which people wrote accompanying their payments – There might even be one or more of yours in there. There were definitely a few from the late great Derbyshire Ram as I recall.
4) What made you decide to call it time on the C64?
This occurred during the very early days of the Internet. With no magazines, no ways of reaching C64 users, and with C64 users bailing to go the PC route, it seemed like the right time. I had also just entered the world of full time employment and found I had little inclination or time at the end of very busy days to sit down and program.
Little did I know at the time that the C64 community would actually become stronger than ever with the advent of the Internet and the likes of Twitter and Facebook. Unfortunately even with the fan support etc, it would never make the C64 a viable platform to write and sell new software for. I cannot imagine people are that willing to pay for newer C64 releases and the few that do sell have to be really very special. I still love and own my humble C64 setup (1541Mk II and 1581 drives, Action Replay MkV, SID-8580 rv2, Expert cartridge etc) and break it out from time to time to show to my children.
5) Is it correct that you collaborated with Eagleware International on some imports and also set up the Eternity disk magazine?
I remember collaborating on the Eternity disk magazine for which I think I wrote the entire disk magazine interface, including the back end stuff for editors to create content. I may also have written some music. The import part though was with another company called BIB Developments.
I think I helped to import 2 games with the rights purchased from CP Verlag. The games were Super Nibbly and Super Stardust or something like that. We had 500 tapes mastered professionally by the same company as most other publishers at the time used, and sold about 10! – The games were amazing and the timing was the only thing that was wrong.
6) What did you do next?
I went through a period of writing music, although was never particularly happy with my final songs. I spent lots of time working far too hard for other people, mainly as managers. I wrote some PC software and games, some mobile apps, built lots of websites and finally started my own business.
I ran my own successful business for 7 years and in wrapped it up earlier this year to become a stay at home dad. My business made profits in all but one year, which I am pleased to say wasn’t the final one I am now a budding iOS programmer and currently working on a port of my Square Scape 2 game to the Apple iPhone and iPad.
I also still write music, although haven’t published anything in a while. I have several tunes I am very pleased with and hope to release them within the as yet untitled remake of Square Scape 2. The game will be of great interest to C64 fans as it will have that definite retro flavour mixed in the new. It will feature all of the original C64 levels, with original C64 graphics and music, in addition to a remixed version, and all new iOS levels, graphics and music. No completion date yet I am afraid
A huge thanks to both Carleton Handley and Vinny Mainolfi for passing on this abandoned prototype for us to put on the site which was for the Amiga platform. Vinny has been chatting with Carleton recently about his work, who then kindly passed on a copy of a title called Bloodline.
The title is (according to Carleton) not even at an alpha stage and was supposed to be a cross between Halls of Things, Alien Breed and Paradroid. Code was by Carleton, with graphics by Adrian Page (who was a sort of trainee artist at the time). The title was not intended for any publisher in particular, and would have been touted to anyone who would be willing to buy it. This was a game being produced between contracts. Development was around 1993 time overall.
The levels overall are randomly generated around some fixed rooms and the aim is to clear the decks. There are lifts (of which you start on one), pressing fire allows you to use it. Pressing “M” will bring up a real time map and enemies have a line of sight vision, so that you can be stealthy. ESC will quite, so you can see the random level items when you start a game.
There is also a Tram, which from the looks of things was not quite finished and was half way through programming when things were scrapped. According to Carleton, there is also a mini-game tucked away in the demo. Adrian Simpson of aGTW found it, and it’s a sort of puzzle game where you have to rotate shapes. To access it – go to a monitor station and press space (it doesn’t seem to work at all stations though).
Although progressing well, Walking Circles ceased to be during development. Carleton was unfortunately out of a job, but luckily got a place at Tiertex almost immediately after. However, it meant the end of Bloodline. There was another title around the same time called “Fruit Game”, which was cancelled due to the game play not being quite right (sadly this hasn’t survived like Bloodline has).
Thanks to Adrian Simpson (who runs Amiga GTW) for ripping out the maps and graphics to include with this write up. aGTW entries are shortly due to go up with more details. Th
It is great to see the remains of this title, and thanks to Carleton and
Vinny, you can now play it for yourself. Check it out!…
Bloodline download (ADF)
Something a little different from GTW, but I recently got speaking with Philip Boyce to find out more about Parallel Logic, which was a short lived company which he ran when still at school, which was aiming to keep the C64 going. I only need to find out a few bits for an article i’m writing, but Phil’s excellent history was something I had to preserve. So here it is in full!…
“Ok, well a school friend and I wanted to set it up in response to Commodore Format’s ‘call to arms’ in issue 38 (I think) when they told readers that the C64 could still run for years in the underground scene. Of course today this is commonplace, with magazines like Retro Gamer covering how old machines still have buzzing communities and new software, but it was a new concept for many back at this time. We thought it’d be a fun idea to do something.
Originally I was interested in writing a paper-based fanzine and we did develop one on Colin’s Amiga but then decided to write software instead. Colin (McMaster) came up with the name as a reference to the Commodore’s parallel port and the logic tables we were studying at the time in Computing in school. Colin developed Comsoft Windows, a disk utility programme based on Windows but never got it 100% finished before he moved on to the Amiga. I finished off some SEUCK and 3DCK games I’d started on and then spent a while collecting PD software together and turning Parallel Logic into the PLPD library.
When Commodore Format folded I went back to the magazine idea and created Commodore Diskette, a diskzine which I was incredibly proud of. Before the days of social networking I contacted people through the UK via post and phone who were working on games etc and asked them to write articles. They were very happy to and sent me them on paper and I’d painstakingly code them into the magazine. It was made up of a combination of BASIC-coded pages (right shift key forward a page, left shift back a page, run/stop to return to the turbo loader menu I seem to recall) and others created using PD demo makers. The first issue (I think) even had a never-before-seen demo of a brand new game coded by a fellow named Jonathan from Portadown over here in Northern Ireland. I remember he’d appeared at my door without warning some night, introduced himself and showed me his demo, wanting to know if Parallel Logic (with the contacts I’d made) would be interested in developing it. I can’t even remember the name of it now!
Three issues were made before my 17-year old brain and its attention-deficit ways decided to move on to other things, annoyed I wasn’t selling much. Ironically, after I stopped I started to get subscription orders, as it’d made its way into other fanzines and had gotten rave reviews and so interest only started to begin after those issues. Looking back I’d had great feedback from Commodore Format about the software (and that’s me with the duck in #42 or #44), and about the plans for the future and PLPD was in the top three PD libraries in the UK according to them! But I was always moving onto other projects and never finishing what I started.
Those “future plans” were to collaborate with PD demo makers to make intro and outro sequences for 3DCK games as there weren’t many of these appearing and I saw a gap in the market for Freescape games. Commodore Diskette was also going to go monthly (it was bi-monthly to begin with) and an annual Christmas buyer’s guide was in the works, inspired by 3DO Magazine at the time.
As for sales, the PD library was very, very slow and the SEUCK games never really sold so were placed straight into the PD library’s catalogue. The Time Crystal, the 3DCK game, generated a good amount of interest though. Commodore Format’s review only gave it 45% but they made it clear this was because of Freescape itself and that for fans of these slow, slow, ssllooowww adventures games there was much to enjoy and was very well designed. It sold about 20 copies, then I placed it into the PD library as a way of generating interest in 3DCK games (for those future plans) and I sold a lot more then as it was cheaper and came bundled with demos of other games. Altogether, possibly about 70 or so. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but it was great for me! I’d created it in my bedroom and it was the first title I released as a teenage boy still at school – I didn’t expect to sell any!
But the slow start to the diskzine put me off. I thought it was an indicator of things to come and it’d take months of hard work to create each 3DCK, and this would be on top of Commodore Diskette. I didn’t know those reviews would’ve changed my fortunes!
To this day I’m positive if I’d stayed at it I’d have had quite a lucrative diskzine and 3DCK game company for a year or so!
These days Colin is in Texas working for a big oil company and doing exceedingly well for himself, he and his wife have just had their first child! I was working for the BBC for over 5 years in their complaints department and have recently left to concentrate on writing professionally – that bug I got with Commodore Diskette never went away! I’ve been writing a blog based on an old 80s UK comic called Oink! (http://the-oink-blog.blogspot.co.uk) for about a year and a half now and running the corresponding Facebook group. It’s proved exceedingly popular and reminds me of how I felt with Time Crystal’s “success”. The professional writers and cartoonists I’ve gotten to know have been encouraging me to follow that dream of writing based on what they’ve read in the blog, so I’m actually working on my first book now, which I can’t go into yet, sorry!
Well there you go. It was all too brief and sometimes I wish I could go back and give it another go with hindsight, to stick with the magazine and start another game. Who knows where it would’ve led. But the future is looking bright and along with the book I’m also looking at script writing work and the possibility of an indie magazine too.”
Thanks to Gaetano for highlighting which is something I hadn’t noticed before. In Zzap 64’s review of 19 Boot Camp Part 1, it seems they either reviewed an earlier build of the game, or they used screenshots provided/from a preview (taken some time before).
The shots are clearly different to the final game, with the assault course showing a hi-res layered main character, and a far more complex climbing frame. The shooting gallery part is different too – with a more simplistic zoomed target viewer.
Contributor Alex Edge mentioned in the comments that John Menzies (coder of Traz) had written the initial game, before leaving Cascade, where Joe Booth and Mark Greenshields took over to complete the game.
A huge thanks is required for Duncan Kershaw, who was recently clearing out and found a bunch of design docs and odds and ends. Rather than dump them, he very kindly asked us if we’d be up for scanning and preserving them for the site – which of course we dutifully obliged!
As well as an interesting design document for an unreleased Football game for Zeppelin (which you can read more about here), there is an early design document for Crystal Kingdom Dizzy. Synergy produced the Dizzy document.
Additionally there is an early concept drawing of DJ Puff by Jonathan Temples (who used to be Jonathan Smyth), a letter from Synergy regarding development work on Stuntman Seymour and a contract for a C64 proprietary assembler written by Ashley Hogg- which was used a fair amount by Ash for doing audio drivers/music for various games, and ended up evolving into a 65816 assembler that was used at Codemasters for SNES work. See comments below directly from Ash about what it eventually turned into.
We hope you enjoy taking a look!
Our first for September, which includes the following updates: