Blog posted by Ste Pickford on Tue, 27 Nov 2018
Subject: Plok comic strip
We had a few requests to show the background to last week's new Plok comic strip, without the lettering, so here it is, with Milton Bobbins removed as well. Click on it to see it embiggened.
Milton's man-cave was supposed to be filled with things from his heyday in the 90s (when Plok was released on the SNES), but we wanted a coin-op cabinet in there, so to accommodate that we instead filled it with memorabilia from our old studio Zippo Games (1987 - 1990), where John and I worked with Steve Hughes and others to make 16-bit and NES games.
The arcade machine is an imaginary Fleapit cabinet. Fleapit was a coin-op game John and I designed and developed at Zippo, on Rare's 'Razz Board' hardware platform. Fleapit starred Plok, fighting a plague of fleas, and was effectively Plok v1.0 (with the SNES version being v2.0).
No screenshots of the game survive, and I only have a few graphics from the game in my backups. I used to have some maps we did for the game's levels - sheets of graph paper sellotaped together with levels laid out on them - and I was going to copy a section of map for the screen image, but I couldn't find the maps anywhere in my files so I had to make it up. I remember that one feature of the game was that sometimes a football would appear as a bonus item, and the player had to kick it around the screen to score a goal, so I got that in there.
The logo - a shameless Roger Dean rip off (from the time when Psygnosis had Roger Dean artwork on their covers) survives, so I copied that for the marquee, but the rest of the cabinet design was made up. We only ever developed on a bare circuit board, with a plug-in joystick block, so never got to play the game stood up.
Plok, and the fleas, were pretty much identical in look and feel to how they were implemented in SNES Plok, and the game was a platformer, but the backgrounds were quite different to the SNES game. They only scrolled either horizontally or vertically - not both - and I think the background elements were made of giant bits of food, big sausages and doughnuts, etc. There was also a half-finished space level!
The game was never completed, and therefore never released, so this was my best guess at what a finished cabinet would look like.
Up in the top left we have an Ironsword NES cartridge, then to the right of that a model of the spaceship from our Amiga / Atari ST game Cosmic Pirate, with a poster for it below.
Pinned to the dartboard is a plush Plok toy. Again, imaginary, but we did actually design loads of ideas for Plok spin-off toys and merchandise at the time when we were pitching the SNES game, and a stuffed toy with detachable limbs (joined by velcro!) was one of the ideas I sketched at the time. I was desperate to think of a visual gag to put on the flights of the Bobbins Bros' darts, but I ran out of time.
Top right is a framed image of the loading screen for our unfinished Amiga game Roadhugg. This, along with Cosmic Pirate, and a third game Cluster, were the games we set the studio up to develop (Roadhugg I think was contracted to Mastertronic, Cosmic Pirate to Palace Software, and Cluster we were pitching to Psygnosis). As I recall, Mastertronic were dicking us about with payments for Roadhugg (an action driving game set on the curved surfaces of tubular roads in a halo formation around various planets, making clever use of Amiga display lists), so we abandoned the project when better paying NES work came along from Rare in the form of Ironsword.
Below this is a flyer for the Nintendo-published Play Choice 10 arcade version of our NES game Solar Jetman, and next to that, to the left, is a Zippo Games business card, pinned to a post it note.
Below the UK electrical socket is an abandoned Amiga A500, next to the bin.
I have to thank the incredible perspective ruler feature of Clip Studio Paint, the program I used to draw the page, for allowing me to get the perspective mostly right. Unfortunately I had no help with the curvature of the CRT monitor, which as you can see is quite wonky.
It took me bloomin' ages to draw. I got a bit carried away because I was enjoying myself so much, and as you can see I drew in loads of details that would never be seen in the final strip.
The Plok comic strip is supported by Patreon, so if you enjoyed the comic, please consider supporting the Patreon, for just $1 per strip. They won't all be this detailed though.
Tags: fleapit, roadhugg, cosmic pirate, solar jetman, ironsword, coin-op, amiga, nes, darts, snes, drawing, clip studio, photoshop
Predecessor post: Not Forgotten
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