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Feud! (1987)      

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Details (Sinclair ZX Spectrum) Supported platforms Artwork and Media
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Bulldog Software
Arcade Adventure
Binary Design Ltd, John Pickford, Ste Pickford, Pete Harrison
Kempston, Interface 2, Cursor
Audio cassette

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Amstrad CPC
Commodore 64
Sinclair ZX Spectrum

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Your Reviews

John and Ste Pickford (Unknown)   22nd Mar 2013 01:26
The original Deathmatch! Feud is a battle between two characters; the wizard Learic, controlled by the player, and his evil brother Leanoric, controlled by the computer. Both must compete for resources in the village and the surrounding landscape, with which to make the spells in their spellbook with which they attack each other.

Following on from designing Zub, John's next move was to design a game which he wasn't actually going to program, which meant designing the game on paper before development began for the first time, and directing the efforts of another programming team.

Ste writes: "Working on Feud required a significant step up in professionalism. Rather than making it up as we went along, John had designed the game in advance, or a significant part of it, and I'd planned the map layout on paper before touching a computer.

Although we'd both produced plenty of design and concept material for incomplete or undeveloped games while still at school, this was different; we were in a commercial environment now. There were deadlines to meet, a development team to direct, and nobody to blame if it all went wrong.

Pete, who was the original artist at Binary Design (doing the graphics for Deathwake, Max Headroom, Glider Rider and others), had been promoted (or demoted as we artists liked to joke) to programmer and wrote the Spectrum version, which along with the Amstrad version was excellent.

The C64 version went rather differently. The programmer was one of those guys used to working on his own, doing his own graphics and sound for his own game, and not only was he not that well adapted to working in a team, he also didn't take well to the (then new) idea of there being a 'game designer' involved telling him how the game would work.

There was no strong management structure at the time. John Pickford wasn't actually on the Feud team (he was team leader and programmer on Zub or Amaurote at the time, I think), he was just the guy who had came up with the game design, so the C64 coder choose to simply ignore him.

He didn't get the (fundamental) idea that there was a properly designed map for the game, even though it didn't scroll smoothly like other C64 games. The map was split into screen sized pages. He decided to ignore the carefully positioned layout data for each screen's objects which I'd prepared and plonked trees and bushes around randomly on each screen.

Because he had no map stored in memory he was unable to use the (even more fundamental) AI code for the enemy wizard, which was the heart of the game. Leanoric was supposed to be running around the same map as you, the player, and it was vital for your sense of excitement and tension that you had an idea where he was and where he was going, and that you could beat him to his destination and foil his plans.

On the C64 only Leanoric's position on screen was tracked, not his position on a map. Once he walked off screen he would appear back on screen again after a random delay, from a random direction, so it was not uncommon for him to walk off the top of the screen and instantly walk back on from the bottom. And because of dodgy positioning, there were loads of sections where two screens didn't join up properly so you would walk into trees and walls as you flipped screens.


Still, that version aside, the game worked out well, got a great critical response, sold incredibly well, got an Amiga remake and even an Oliver Frey magazine cover! We still joke that it was the game that invented the 'Deathmatch' against an AI 'bot'. There have even been a few fan remakes in recent years, which is incredibly flattering.

We should definitely return to some of the ideas we had for Feud and develop them further..."

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This title was first added on 21st September 2011
This title was most recently updated on 23rd August 2014

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