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Defcom (1986)      

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Details (Sinclair ZX Spectrum) Supported platforms Artwork and Media
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Quicksilva Ltd
Binary Design Ltd, Ste Pickford, David Whittaker
Kempston, Interface 2, Cursor
Audio cassette

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Amstrad CPC
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Your Reviews

John and Ste Pickford (Unknown)   22nd Mar 2013 12:54
A terrible space shoot-em-up game where you had to protect the earth from attacking alien spaceships.

Probably the worst example we've ever been involved with of the 'high concept' dictated by the publisher, and left to the uninterested developer to design a game around.

Like most Quicksilva games it was later re-released on the budget Bug-Byte label.

Ste Pickford writes: "This is probably the only game I've worked on that I'm truly embarrassed about. It was awful. I think the concept - or the title at least - came from Ron Harris at Quicksilva, but it may have been one of Andy Hieke's ideas (the owner of Binary Design).

Spaceships! Bam! Alien invasion! Pow! Rotating earth! Zap! Amazing 3D spacecraft! Wow! Stunning graphics! Yeah!

This was the level of direction given to the team. In those days the team meant the programmers (artists were just support staff), and unfortunately none of the programmers on the team were really game designers. So, they got on with programming what they thought was wanted, a 3D rotating earth (looked rubbish, hand no gameplay function, took up half of the resources available) and 3D rotating spaceships (nobody fancied doing the hard maths of vector graphics, so I was asked to create spaceship sprites which rotated in every possible direction, taking up the rest of the resources available).

The lack of RAM meant the only way I could draw a single spaceship with the number of frames required was for it to be symmetrical in all 3 axes, and then for me to try and work out the rotations by hand (no 3D tools were available to us at the time) which is why there's only one enemy in the game and it looks like a fig roll.

Nobody on the project had much interest in, or aptitude for creating gameplay, so not much gameplay was included. I remember clearly how everybody working on the game would avoid any situtations which might involve picking up the joystick; making sure they were kept too busy making the game to have to put up with the misery of playing it. Except John Buckley strangely, I seem to remember him happily playing his own version between coding, and seemingly loving it, despite it being just as bad as the rest.

Ultimately it was a valuable experience; for the first time I realised that not everybody attempted to look at the big picture and tried to understand what it was they were doing, and try to do it well. I started to see that there were people who were perfectly happy to do a really bad job, so long as they were doing as they were told and couldn't be blamed for anything. Which is perfectly fine I suppose, it was just a surprise to me at the time.

I started to see that an idea, no matter how good, would never succeed without at least one person driving it forward who personally believed in it, and cared enough to keep everyone else's enthusiasm up and their work on track.

This was an early example for me of exactly how not to develop video games, but the sad thing is I've seen this method and these errors repeated time and time again, even as development budgets have rocketed from thousands to millions of pounds."

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This title was first added on 15th March 2007
This title was most recently updated on 22nd March 2013

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