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The Pickford BrothersJohn and Ste


Venom Spirit

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An original SNES game which was never signed to a publisher, but developed to playable demo stage.

Intersting becuase John had the idea of using pre-rendered 3D graphics, and we did a lot of work on the technicalities of building 3D models, rendering them, knocking the renders down to 16 colours, and getting enough characters on screen to display them.

Nobody at the studio really believed in what we were trying to do, except us and the programmer, and eventually the project was canned and were all reassigned to whatever disaster project was in crisis at the time, or some movie license game.

Then Rare brought out Donkey Kong Country.

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Project details


Sat, 01 Oct 1994

Development studio:

Software Creations

Main client / publisher:




Proper Pickford Bros game?

Yes, this is definitely one of our games!

Core studio team:

John Pickford

Game Designer, Producer

Ste Pickford

Game Designer, Art Director

Craig Mitchell


Steve Millership


This are no versions of this game.

Ste Pickford

We did a lot of work on this game, and its a real shame we didn't get to see it through to completion.

We would have been ahead of our time if we'd been allowed to pursue John's idea of creating all the graphics as 3D models, then using renders of these in the game.

We were all messing about with 3DS4 at the time, and 3D was obviously going to be the next big thing. However, there were a number of difficulties in using renders as character / tile based graphics on the SNES.

Getting the renders to work in 16 colour palettes was a challenge, and it was surprisingly difficult to make graphics which matched character boundries (neccessary in order to be able to repeat them seamlessly on screen).

Most of all though the subtle graduated lighting effects which were the main benefit of rendered graphics used far to0 many characters to fit in the 256 8x8 pixel tiles which the SNES was limited to.

The programmer came up with a super clever system of dynamically updating the character set itself as the map scrolled, freeing us to use hundreds of characters per level, but limited to no more than 256 on screen at any one time. It would need a massive cartridge, and it was a lot of work, but we'd cracked the main problems.

We also did a hell of a lot of work on the game design itself. We planned a real big, Capcom style action adventure, somewhere between Super Metroid, MegaMan and Strider. We had all the levels laid out, characters and bosses designed, set pieces planned.

John and I spent all our free time for months designing the game, so it was very frustrating when the plug was pulled to work on Cutthroat Island or Waterworld or some other shit.

Seeing Donkey Kong Country come out months later made us realise that we were on the right track. We had the ideas and we had the skills to make great video games, we just didn't have the opportunity. I think this moment was when we realised that we'd have to form a new studio if we wanted to make decent games, instead of rotting away making pointless movie licenses and sport sims.


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