Part 3 of 3
Disaster! Weíve always considered ourselves unlucky , where deadlines are concerned, but everyone spare a thought for poor old Denton Designs. Another project theyíre working on has been rescheduled, meaning they've had to work night and day over the past month to get it out on time. In real terms this means... no Batman diary his month! Sorry folks. Oh well - youíll just have to make do with our EXCLUSIVE Lemmings diary...
REMI: At the time
of writing, the very last alterations being made on Lemmings - with any luck itíll be on the shelves by the time
you get to read all this! So go out and look for it. . . oh, and donít forget to buy it too!
Lemmings has taken me roughly two years to complete. I first talked with Psygnosis about the C64 conversion of Lemmings at the 1991 Autumn ECTS show, and it took exactly one year for both parties (E&E Software and Psygnosis) to sign the contract needed for the conversion. It then took us another year to complete the game. During the last few months Iíve been very busy travelling between all the persons involved, making sure everything was delivered on time (something I obviously completely failed) but right now thereís only one more visit to do (or two, or three. . . whatever) to be the first person with a completed version of Lemmings - boy, will I be glad itís over! You may think itís great to produce a game and see it grow and progress. Take it from me - after a few months you consider it your job, instead of your hobby, and in the end you feel glad when you finally finish the game. Still, the most recent sections Iíve seen are nothing short of brilliant - itís without a doubt the best 8-bit version ever made, and even gives several 16-bit versions a run for their money. This is going to be THE smash hit for this Autumn/Winter - as well as 1994, 1995. . . and so on! When I last called the Rowland Brothers, they mentioned Mayhem In Monster is nearing completion as well - as funny as it may seem, both the games will be completed at the very same time! But (hopefully) Psygnosis will be a bit faster with the duplication and distribution of the game, which gives us a (small, but important) head start. The coming months will be very interesting for both the teams - which game will top the charts? Obviously. I hope itíll be Lemmings - but Ďhií to John and Steve, anyway.
THOMAS: This month Iíve been doing some last minute checking on most of the routines, as well as finishing the intro, Itís almost exactly the same as the Amiga version, but because of memory imitations there arenít as many Lemmings falling out of the balloon. In the Amiga version, the balloon scrolls onto the screen before the Lemmings drop out, but on the C64 itíll be on the right spot from the beginning. Of course, the most obvious change is at the end of the intro - on the Amiga, the screen zooms out to show the Lemmings logo. This zoom alone would fill up the memory of your C64, so I decIded (wisely) to swap the pictures instead of including the zoom, I also had to change some of the graphics due to memory restrictions, as the animations started to take up too many sprites - in the end. I had to rearrange some of the frames of animation Allain drew. The sprites are made up of of two parts. The first layer is in multicolour lower resolution and features the colours blue, pink and green but is rather blocky. That blocky bit is removed by the second layer which is placed over the first one; itís single colour hi-res, and a lot smoother, The actual animation is now drawn in black-lines - just like any cartoon you see on television. By putting the second layer over the first one (perhaps thatís why they call it overlay-sprites) you get the colours of the low-res spriites, and the smoothness of the hi-res ones. The only negative point of this technique is that it uses twice as many sprites as it would with the low-res ones.
Another thing Iíve been working on is the loader. Iíve had no problems with the disk loader, as Iíve programmed disk-based games before, but as weíre catering for tape users as well I had to look for a tape multiloader too.
After some deep digging, I finally found an old tape loader called ĎABC Turboí, written by some dude from the PD scene. Iíve now come up with a very short routine which should work perfectly for Lemmings. Now I only have to write a small tape mastering program to convert the disk version to tape.
The only thing left for me to do is the endsequence, which we discovered when we had the game half-finished. The original Amiga sequence features a picture of a lemming surrounded by digitised pictures of the team responsible for the game (DMA Design, fact fans), as well as a sampled applause - we decided to do the same, but with our pictures. After weíd took photographs of ourselves standing around a box (which doesnít even slightly resemble a lemming, but was the first thing we found that was the right size after Jeroenís cat escaped!) we spent the rest of the day sampling our cheering, clapping, stamping and whistling - the result is great! But you have to work yourself through 100 levels before you can witness this marvellous peice of programming (heh heh!).
Anyway, despite the fact this conversionís been a real pain in the ass for me, itíll be - without a doubt - the most technically - advanced C64 game ever, and certainly worth the trouble. . .
LEON: My most important work this month was the menu, as it had to look great and be finished quickly. Iím happy with the end result - itís fully animated and exactly the same as itís Amiga counterpart. Well, to be honest, not quite exactly. On the Amiga thereís a scroller at the bottom of the screen, activated by two small lemmings turning a wheel which makes the scroller. . . erm. . . scroll. The original idea was to include them, but to do so I had to have the original
lemming animations. Predicatably, these are around 200 kilometres away at Thomasí place - to go over and collect them would take too much time, so we decided to leave those out and have an Ďautomaticí scroller. You probably think my jobís done, but thatís not the exact truth, as I still have to do eight more levels to complete (donít tell anyone!) but Thomas assures me that they shouldnít be a problem with his editor. Once Iíve finished those. I can finally start working on the last two pictures for Lemmings. Lemmings has been an experience for me, as itís the first big (and I mean BIG) project Iíve been involved with. If you compare C64 Lemmings with other 8-bit console versions. . . weíve wiped the floor with them. Iím looking forward to doing more work with the Commodore, yíknow. . .
JEREON: Iím very happy to have worked on Lemmings, as itís THE most eagerly-awaited game on the C64. And Iím impressed by Thomas, as out of all the people to have worked on Lemmings heís the one to have made the impossible possible! My job was to convert the music - something Iíve done - for a lot of games - but you wonít find my best work in Lemmings. Itís not that I havenít done as much as I could, but letís face it, itís conversion work - something that would limit anyone. In total Iíve finished nine level tunes with sound effects, and if it wasnít for the memory restrictions I wouldíve produced some ĎLetís Goí and ĎOh No!í samples as well. All the tunes are conversions of the Amiga music, but only use two voices, as I had to leave the third voice open for the sound effects. I still think Iíve done a good job. . . Sadly, as the music is the smallest part of the game (I get equally well paid though, heh heh) thereís not much else I can say - oh, and Iíve to pack for a small business trip right now. To me, Lemmings has been a fun project to do, and Iím proud to have my name in the credits.
REMI: Well, thatís the end of the third and last part of the Lemmings diary. Iíd like to thank all those who have been involved in its production, but limited page space stops me from doing so - the list would easily need an extra page. Iíll just leave it with the man who deserves it the most, a man who has done everything possible for us and the conversion of Lemmings - Greg Duddle! Heís the producer from Psygnosis, whoís had to listen to all our excuses, delay lies, stories, and much much more, while having to report all that to the big bosses - in other words, his ass was on the line if we decided to take a vacation to Hawaii instead of working on Lemmings. So a very big thank you to Greg. and a very big goodbye to you readers. See ya!
All good things come to an end, but wait - itís not over for Lemmings yet. Next month weíll have, a massive review of it, so restrain any suicidal urges Ďtill then, okay?