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Defcom Loading Screen

Archive entry by Ste Pickford on Thu, 16 Jul 2009
Subject: Defcom

Ste Pickford

Urgh! These are definitely the worst pair of loading screens I ever did, appropriately for the worst game I've ever worked on.

Defcom was a game I worked on at Binary Design, for Quicksilva, for the Spectrum (top loading screen), Amstrad (bottom loading screen), and Commodore 64.

This was my first experience of working on a 'high concept' product, where the idea for the game didn't come from a game designer with a great idea for a game, but was dictated by an executive (Ron Harris if I remember correctly) who thought he had a great idea for a product, and presumed that making a game around this concept would just be a formality.

(To be fair, this same approach led to Glider Rider a year or so earlier, which my brother designed and programmed, which wasn't a bad game, but the high concept that time - from the same fella I think - was 'Flight Simulator but with hang gliders', which was pretty much completely ignored when designing the resulting spy / action adventure game, other than having a hang glider in there.)

The game was supposed to be about (Ronald Reagan style) 'Star Wars' space defences, protecting the earth from attacking space ships, or something. Nobody on the team had come up with the idea, liked the idea, or considered themselves the game's designer (there was never an official game designer role back then, but each game was usually somebody's 'baby', and they would generally take charge of leading the design, unofficially), so the game was just a hotch-potch of half-baked programmer ideas ("oh, we could make a rotating planet at the bottom", "oh, we could make 3D spaceships with loads of frames of sprites," etc.).

This was also my first depressing experience making video games. There was a ton of work in drawing millions of rotations of spaceship sprites, and all the time we all knew the end result would be crap, and nobody would ever enjoy playing it.

I find it hard to believe now that I could have let myself produce something as awful as the Amstrad loading screen. The colours look so bad, you'd almost think it was from the C64, hehe.


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