The Complete History of
Mike was currently trying to get into Art college, and to find some direction in his life. His mother was also not happy about him flunking out of college, and was sending him to interviews for various jobs, and trying to get him into the YTS (Youth Training Scheme).
She finally forgave him though, right about the same time as he started to earn more than her. He did actually get accepted into Art college for a technical drawing course, and this was to start in the autumn.
However, around April, Dave finally asked if he were to get an office, would Mike go and work for him. Mike was ecstatic. To finally become a paid developer was a dream come true!
Mike had actually been programming games at home since he was about 13, starting with a ZX81, and then working his way up through spectrums and Commodore Plus/4 machines to the C64, and he never thought he'd actually manage to become a real games developer.
His mother however, wasn't so pleased. She didn't see this as a real job, and who could blame her! In 1989, no one wrote games, it was a bedroom hobby, not a full time job.
Dave got Mike some new hardware (a Dolphin Dos system) for his C64 to allow faster development, but it wasn't as much help as was hoped.
It still took a full twenty minutes to build his new game, and much of the time it usually got an error at the end of it. Mike took all this in my stride at this time, and reading the code for 10 minuets before building became a way of life.
By using Talisman as a demonstration of Mikes ability, Dave managed to get Psygnosis to give him his first conversion job; Ballistix for the C64.
Dave gave Mike the news at the computer club one night, along with the main mathematical computations used in the game - a scan of actual bit of paper he got is shown here.
Mike started to have reservations at this point. The C64's 1Mhz processor wasn't good at these things, however, he was still excited about doing a real game, so he pondered how to approach it.
Mike also had to come up with a way to draw lots of sprites, and for inspiration, he refered to the set of articles written by the legendary Andrew Brewbrook in ZZap64. It took him a week or so, but afterwords he could now draw 32 sprites rather than the C64's default 8 - a big step.
Next he had to address the scrolling, and although this was fairly straight forward on the C64, he did have some problems with the static panel at the top.
It was around April/May that Mike also started to visit Russell's house during the day to work on Ballistix, even though it involved a 30 minute bike ride. Russell, Mike and Steve on occasion (who did the C64 and PC graphics for Ballistix), would all cram themselves into his bedroom, and set about their various tasks.
It was a very odd thing to do...even then. He had a single desk, and a chest of drawers. He sat at the desk, then Steve sat with his C64 on a board sitting wedged in a drawer so that they were all sort of staggered, rather than all in a line, otherwise, they wouldn't fit!
They went on like this for a couple of months or so, till Dave got Mike a brand new Amstrad PC2286, 12Mhz PC, with 12" colour monitor and 20Mb Hard Disk. It came complete with it's own very own 6502 PDS system.
Mike felt like a pro! Press a button, and the game built in a hart beat! It was attached to a real C64 and would squirt the code over a parallel cabel to be run. It even had a professional debugger!
Mike transferred the code over to the PC from the C64, which basiclly meant typing it all in again.
Russell was progressing rapidly with Menace on the PC, but he suddenly discovered a bug. Only the first bullet had any collision, all the rest went straight though the aliens and didn't hit anything!
What amazed Russell of course, was that the Psygnosis testers never spotted it till after the game had shipped, so it's probably still there to this day!!
This was the first really successful home computer Sinclair did, but their next machine, the Spectrum was to be their biggest selling.
Steve used Tony Crowther's 3in1 art program for the C64 to make the graphics.
Text © Copyright 2004 By Mike Dailly
All rights reserved.