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Urchin sketchbook entry

Blog posted by Ste Pickford on Wed, 25 Nov 2009
Subject: Urchin

Ste Pickford

Been a bit quiet on this blog for a while. I think it was such a relief to decide not to post something every single day that I breathed a big sigh of relief, and promptly forgot about it! I'll try and post new stuff semi-regularly from now on.

Here's something I did for a sketchbook exchange I'm invovled in. The theme of the sketchbook was 'Improbable Games' and most of the pages were filled with bizarre and delightful hand-drawn board games, and weird tarot card designs, etc. I thought I should do something video game related, seeing as that's my job, and my first idea was to rule a tiny grid on the sketchbook, and do some felt-tip pixel art, but then came to my senses and realised that it would take about a month to do that, and drive me insane in the process.

Instead, I dug out a load of drawings and concept art for a game design pitch John and I did way back in 1988, in preparation for our first meeting with Rare. I printed out some of these drawings and stuck them down in the sketchbook, arranging the map layouts in some kind of order to make it look like a game, then scribbled all over them! I'm not sure if it's a really interesting page, or an ugly mess.

We were hoping to land a coin-op project, and wanted to go to the meeting with a finished design to present. Unfortunately we only had about a week's notice before the meeting, so I had to come up with a load of game design drawings, maps, character designs etc., in just seven days. John also wanted a comic strip page as an introduction to the design document! I was so slow back then that I'd usually take at least a month to draw a single comic strip page, so doing all this material in a week nearly killed me (there's a load more stuff - joystick diagrams, baddie transformation sequences, etc., not shown here), and I was thoroughly miserable and stressed out for the whole time.

Well, the pitch worked, and we got the gig. They didn't commission us to develop this Urchin game as a coin-op, as we were hoping, but they did give us the contract to develop and design IronSword on the NES, making us only the 3rd European NES developer at the time, I think.

(Click on the image above to look at larger versions on Flickr.)


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