This was about the quality of games at the time the Amiga came out.
Moonshadow was eventually renamed to ZoneTrooper.
The Complete History of
Before that happened though, the soon-to-be-core members of DMA met each other at a Dundee computer club ( called KACC, for the "Kingsway Amateur Computer Club" ) on the opposite side of the city from that bedroom.
Dave Jones, Russell Kay, Steve Hammond and Mike Dailly all regularly went along to the club which was held at Kingsway Technical College, more usually described by us as simply "The Kingsway Tech".
As this was around 1984, we were still in the first golden age of the home computer and as such, often seemed more interested in making games than simply playing them.
Although it seems an odd thing to say now, most thought of computers and games only suitable for geeks, and that using a computer marked you as one, while those that used them considered themselves 'enthusiasts'.
When Mike started going along to the club sometime in 1984, Steve, Russell and Dave, had already been there for about a year.
Mike (14 at this point), had been persuaded to go by a friend from school; one Colin Diesly. He knew nothing of the club, and was simply told to bring his computer along and he'd enjoy himself. Little did he know, that deciding to go would change his life forever.
Dave had left Timex, and received his redundancy money, which he used skip to the next generation of computers by buying his legendary Amiga 1000.
Meanwhile, the rest of them were stuck with the current generation, which was usually a Sinclair Spectrum, or Commodore 64, this meant that just seeing an Amiga was a rare treat.
Although they would show off anything that they had been creating over the past week, no-one got as much attention as Dave did when the Amiga powered up.
He would show off by running Defender of the Crown, Leaderboard or DPaint. Everyone was gobsmacked to say the least!
The leap in quality from the current machines to his was plain to see, and here in front of them, they saw the very face of the future.
The future members of DMA all quickly became friends and got to talking about games, and not just what new release was just around the corner, but writing them.
It turned out that Russell and Dave were in the middle of making a game called Moonshadow some of which Mike got to see. Mike had his Commodore Plus/4 which he had written a smooth scrolling 'dreadnought' routine for, and this inspired Steve to come up with some graphics for it.
Dreadnoughts were large ships, many screen-widths in size, which the player of a game flew over, the archetypical example of this being Andrew Braybrook's Uridium.
Mike started on a Commodore Plus/4 game called Freek Out, this was a simple breakout clone with a floor that broke away when the ball struck it. While the game was basic, it was a landmark for Mike in that he actually finished it!
Steve did the graphics and designed most of the levels, while Mike did the game.
It did eventually get acepted by Cascade games, but the money wasn't spectacular, and required him to make many complex changes, so he didn't bother.
Dave by now had also written his own smooth scrolling dreadnought, but this time for the Spectrum, It was enough of a start for Dave and Mike to then work together on the first of the games that was to bear the name: The Game With No Name - a theme in naming that would last for years.
These being the days of odd games, the Game With No Name featured a rotating eye which pointed in eight directions and at each direction it would fire a missile.
At length, it evolved into a Nemesis-style scrolling shoot-'em-up before momentum fell off and they eventually got bored with it.
Dave quickly bored of Spectrum programming, no doubt prompted by his new Amiga. Leaving Russell to finish Moonshadow, or Zone Trooper as it finally became, he started coding for his new toy.
Being a fan of the arcade game Salamander, he started by programming a ship and a multiple - a sort of free-floating weapons pod - and showed the results to them one day when we had visited him in his bedroom.
The demo consisted of a blob which was following another blob; these were the early warning signs of having a programmer do his own graphics!
Mike and Russell began work on a game called "SpatterLight", having had a marathon name making up session in Dave's room, it was to be a mixture of a spectrum game SPLAT! and an arcade game, Gauntlet.
The reason behind most games at this time was some new technical achievement, and this was no different, as Russell was eager to try his new sprite routine.
A higher priority for Russell though, was finishing off Moonshadow which now also had to be ported to the Amstrad, so Mike began a game on his own. Steve, meanwhile, was convinced that the text adventure had a bright future; something that he maintained with a straight face as far as 1997.
A sprite is the name given to a shape that moves over the background.
Text © Copyright 2004 By Mike Dailly
All rights reserved.