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Firstly, make sure that you stick around for the stinger
the bit after the outro music
And we have a complete legend on the show this week. So much so that Squidge wanted us to record a special intro skit
it's related to the episode, honest
We were joined by both G (aka #dontCallMeAudrey) and Stoo Cambridge
of Sensible Software fame
Before we get into the show notes proper: our thanks go out to Arcade Attack for introducing us to Stoo at EGX this year. Also, there’s no “what have you been playing?” section; that’s next week.
Before we got into the interview proper, I dropped the bomb that we’d recently found out that we have some Japanese fans
maybe on my next trip to Japan...
But we jumped directly into a question about the Amiga CD32 intro for Cannon Fodder - which was a full motion video intro. Here’s an embedded YouTube version of the intro for your viewing pleasure:
And that wasn’t the only live action intro that the Sensible Software folks made for their game. They made live action intros for Sensible World of Soccer and Sensible Golf. Apparently, Jon Hare has all of their live action intros in an up-to date digital format.
We talk about how there may have been an Amiga or PC at the Sensible offices when they were bought by CodeMasters
I flubbed and said Virgin
which may have still had some stuff that Stoo was working on, which leads us onto the topic of backing things up.
seriously folks, back everything up
I then mention that it’s fun to hear about the source files for older games magically turning up in the strangest of places, and tell everyone about how the Prince of Persia source code (for the Apple ][) was randomly found in someones garage a few years back, and Squidge makes Pratchett reference when he talks about things going Wahoonie shaped.
Stoo then talks us through his latest project: Ian Livingstone’s Deathtrap Dungeon. Stoo is working on this with the folks from Branching Narrative
which was available as a playable demo at EGX, this year
It really was a lot of fun to play, and would recommend taking a look into it. Plus Eddie Marsen’s acting in it is bloody brilliant.
Squidge’s initial meeting - back at EGX - with Stoo was cut short by him having to rush off and get a tattoo:
Oh yeah, you guys haven't seen my tattoo from EGX have you? I mentioned it but didn't show you, so here it is in all its Glory seconds after completion. Whadya think? -Squidge
I lean on the recent interview that Stoo did with Arcade Attack for one of my questions: comparing the impact of characters dying in Cannon Fodder to the same impact
or lack thereof
in the Call of Duty games. Stoo tells us about how the limitations of the older hardware really helped to push the design of the games, and drive investment into the arcs of the characters. We then discuss some of the differences between the Atari Jaguar version of Cannon Fodder and the other versions.
I then ask Stoo what his favourite title to work on was. Interestingly enough, it’s one that was never released: The Last Starship. You can see some of the artwork for it over on his website. Stoo also mentions a title called Molotov Man - which you can read about on Nintendo Life. It seems like a great looking Bomberman-like game, too.
I then start a conversation about how it’s possible that older titles and hardware may see a renaissance in the near future, so it’s possible that The Last Starship
or something similar to it
could still see the light of day. Especially with titles like Tanglewood and Xeno Crisis making it big on the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis.
Let’s create a new Mega Drive game, but use all this new technology to develop with
We also talk about how the older games seem to have been created with a higher level of quality, since once the game had shipped there was no way to fix it. So it had to be finished. Stoo then talks about how he may look into creating something for one of the older machines, and I agree that there’s something in the challenge of limiting yourself when creating something.
And it was this conversation which sparked off my interested in looking into creating something for the Mega Drive. This tweet shows a super early version of what I’m working on, but I’m still making progress:
And I have my first two bugs. See if you can spot them both. (psst. both happen within the first 16 seconds of the video) - Jay
It was then time for G’s questions, and what a set of deeply philosophical questions they were:
So obviously with 30-odd years in and around the industry, I’d like to lead with unfortunately a very obvious question I feel that you would probably be very well pitched to be able to answer for me: why is the word “big” so small, and yet the word “infinitesimal” is so freaking huge?
And I have to agree that Stoo handled that question really well, in the most technical way.
And suddenly Cannon Soccer is mentioned:
For those who can’t (or don’t want to watch) the video: imagine Cannon Fodder meets Sensible Soccer. You control a squad of elite soldiers, and you have to fight your way through a football field. Some of your enemies are soldiers, some of them are football players. It was a free game, given away as a cover disk
for the youngsters: those were free disks given away with magazines, which included demos
Also, we might have to make “Bill and Ted’s Arcade” into a segment.
If I were to say to you: “The red mongoose flies at night, but only when the waxing gibbous moon is in the West over Slough,” what would be the correct response?
Stoo then brings up a good question:
So what do you guys think about this news about Rebellion buying the Bitmap [Brothers] back catalogue?
and this sparks a wonderful conversation about how we’d all love to relive the aesthetic of being able drop a real cartridge into something which matches the form factor of the original hardware, but uses more modern circuit design - like the MiSTer and the Analog series of devices.
Stoo leaves us with a helpful hint on how to get some really good viral marketing going at your local video game store. But before he goes, we talk about how I might ask Stoo back on the show to discuss development tools - as I’m looking to create a game for the Mega Drive / Genesis in 2020.