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John and Ste Pickford
Added: 22 Mar 2013
A darts simulation game which was a massive hit for Mastertronic in the mid 80's.
Ste Pickford writes: "This was my first project as a full time graphic artist, started on my first day of employment at Binary Design, aged 16.
All the darts games we'd seen up until this point had a highlight spinning around the board, and the skill of hitting a particular number was based on hitting the button when the number you wanted was being highlighted. We thought this was pretty poor, and wanted to design a gameplay mechanism which was a little bit closer to the actual experience of throwing a dart. We came up with the roving hand.
My brother had written a neat little animated sprite editor on the Spectrum, which was a big help in drawing the enormous hand sprite (animation tools were scarce at the time), which I copied from my own hand. The daft thing was I needed both hands on the keyboard to operate the sprite editor, so for about three days I was alternating my right hand between a dart throwing motion which I had to memorise, then being positioned over the keyboard while I quickly plotted a couple of pixels before I needed to refresh my memory again.
180 was a big hit, so if I'm ever chatting to somebody in the pub about what I do, as long as they're of a certain age they'll probably remember 180. I tell them that I drew the hand, and if they doubt me, or don't remember, all I need to do is move my hand in a dart throwing motion before their eyes and they always remember it and laugh. I've had a few pints bought for me over the years thanks to that sprite!
Although I didn't draw any of the pub graphics in the game (they were done by another lad who started about a week after me, an ex-teletext artist!), the irony was that at the time, neither of us artists on the game had ever been in a pub in our lives."
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