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Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 7:23 am
by BloodyCactus
One thing you have to remember is with Elvira (Cassandra Peterson), she owns it all (ip, character, company, licensing etc) rather than just being a 'character' for some corp.

I do think its interesting that the Elvira games, Waxworks, Personal Nightmare (which is great!) etc all used the classic AberMud engine underneath just tarted up with graphics (engine source code released as GPL).

Mike Woodroffe, in an interview said they 'inherited' the Elvira license.

Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:46 am
by intric8

Wow - just wow. It's been a while since you dropped one of those epic posts. I grabbed a cup of coffee and really enjoyed that.
That's where reading magazines and interviews might help.
I actually did some of that after posting those questions. I found an old interview with the creator of the game studio, Mike Woodroffe. In that he admitted that the only reason they were able to get the license was because he shared the same talent agent as Cassandra Peterson. It was that connection that helped bring the two parties together.

I'd love to talk to Mike and ask him all about it and really dig into some of the particulars, assuming he even could remember it all.

The boxed version I have was absolutely made for the US market. The disks (with stickers), the paper inserts, etc. It's all for the US. And the writing in the manuals sounds exactly like her. I wouldn't be surprised if she had some sort of artistic influence.

That being said, this was the pre-internet days. Sharing things would have been incredibly difficult, or at least slow. We're talking landlines and snail mail.

I wouldn't be surprised if there were PAL versions as well as NTSC versions, but I've no idea. I think the screengrab you put in your post was from Elvira II, which I also have but never finished. I might save that for next year. It was fun playing this one right before Halloween...

It's completely unscientific, but I posted a question about this to the Facebook Amiga Group which has a ton of European members. I asked if this game the first time many Europeans ever heard of her, and one guy from the UK flat out said he'd never heard of her before seeing this game on the shelves.

Another said:
never saw anything Elvira - except for the game - here in Germany, and always wondered what all the hype is about.
One more said:
back then i lived in Norway and we it was on one of the channels on the satelite pack from Astra or whatever, that might have been reruns on Sky or whatever.
So maybe some folks with special satellite packages were lucky enough to get some of her shows. But that wouldn't have been the norm. And to think we got to see her for free, on UHF.

And then from South America:
I'm Brazilian, I knew the movie, not the show. When I saw an amiga game about "that movie" I found it really weird. From the game I figured out there was more about the character than I knew.
If she really wasn't well known other than the 1 movie she'd made in 1988 (and that would be a pretty limited release over seas I'd think, too) the creation of this game completely fascinates me. I'd love to hear the whole story.

She's in the game a few times - once with digitized video/audio - and they got her character down perfectly.

Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 9:02 am
by intric8
A few more responses I've gotten from different countries:
I'm from Poland and my first encounter with Elvira was on Amiga 600 playing Jaws of Cerberus
As a Finn, I only saw the movie.
Very interesting, right? To think the Amiga actually helped Peterson spread her brand across Europe is pretty cool. And still makes the creation of the game in the UK that much more interesting to me. It's certainly possible most folks had only seen or heard of her 1988 movie, then this game showed up 2 years later.

Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 6:30 pm
by Shot97
Also worth considering, so much so I can't believe none of us thought of it sooner... Never underestimate the power of sex... Anyone remember the game Forsaken? You probably don't, I had to go searching through a couple old Computer Gaming World issues to find the name of the game... It was a pretty bad late 90's game (i hear) that tried to hide its crap 3D engine behind a whole lot of advertisements featuring this one particular... quite nice looking woman... I'll post an example, feel free to delete it if you think it's too much for the forum.


And that's one of the more modest ones. The one I always think of actually shows off a bit of visible nipple. Now do you remember Forsaken? haha. I think anyone that picked up a PC magazine in the late 90's remembers Forsaken! Did they buy it? No idea. I remember an early meme talking about "Overused lighting effects but LOOK BOOBS!"

You see a bombshell in a near impossible frame sporting some large naturals along with a horror styled game... Who cares if they didn't know who she was? Who cares if the U.K. had little interest in RPGs... They won't even know it's an RPG until they've already bought the game, boobs and gore! While I doubt it's a slam dunk for the younger European audience, I also don't see it as a risk. The same box in America with the older audience probably produced some rolled eyes thinking it was a joke. Though luckily it was reviewed rather well from my recollections.

And if it did kind of introduce her to the other side of the pond, looks to be a bet that paid off. That woman is adored to this very day! And if the other info is true about her owning all rights to that character (even back then?), then she's not only a beautiful bombshell that has aged quite gracefully, she's also a business woman to be admired.

Truth be told it's that while I like to say that you design for the market you're in, and you deal with the others after the fact... When it comes to the Amiga, for BETTER it was truly thought of at the time as a worldwide seller. As early as 1988 the Atari ST was pretty much toast in America, and I've seen editorials from back in the day commenting on how a game on the Amiga has a higher world wide sales potential than one on the ST, and when you look deep into things, the Amiga was very much in 2nd place right behind DOS going into 1994. I've seen UK magazines note the ST as outselling the Amiga into 1990, but them also stating it's all good because over in America it's the opposite. And perhaps going later into the 90's it shifted a bit, but the Amiga was still looked at as a world seller, not a European seller like the ST, not an American seller like DOS, but a combined one.

With that in mind, it really doesn't matter where a game was designed (I'm not speaking of artistic presentation, in that case it very much does matter and more people need to consider it), when it came to the Amiga the thought was always at least in the back of their heads regarding the other market. Micro Systems, the American company who designed Excellence, the entire worldwide market was very much important to them. Most application type software was being made in America, but if you do read interviews with anyone behind those teams, they'll all tell you they were thinking of Europe. No shortage of 320x200 games made in PAL lands which have no technical reasons for using that mode when they have 56 extra pixels available to them... Unless they're thinking easy to throw it over to America.

Of course it drives us crazy because we've got to figure out what graphic modes and what aspect ratios this stuff was being created on... But it probably didn't matter to all that many individual companies where the stuff was coming from. And while various countries did tend to have their bias' on other countries...French stuff was all looks, no gameplay in America and the UK, in America UK stuff was adolescent, lacking depth, "awful programming" because they often used boot loaders bypassing the operating system, not taking advantage of the system. In the UK the American stuff was looked at as too dense, who needs a 100 page manual? "Awful programming" because American's played by the rules of the operating system, who has a hard drive anyway? not taking advantage of the system! - You see these stereotypes pop up at the time, you still see them from many people today. But you better believe it, if the game was "good" it mattered not where the hell it came from to any magazine. It mattered not to anyone at home just as long as it ran!

Going back to Arkanoid, ported to the Amiga by Discovery, American company... Despite success and a perfect port Taito would not go back to them, instead opting for the British software house Imagine for the sequel, Revenge of Doh. Taito is a Japanese company who also had an American division, they went with a British company for most of the Arkanoid ports. Why? All kinds of reasons I would bet... Probably got a good deal, Imagine knew how to program for all kinds of systems... Probably respected Taito a bit more, unlike Discovery who advertised Arkanoid with their other products... Perhaps a history of other arcade ports, I don't know... In the end the Revenge of Doh port to the Amiga was straight from the ST. In America it took advantage of the Amiga, but not in the UK. Ya never know, a different game may have been done on the Amiga in America but was from DOS, perhaps it was good, perhaps not... Revenge of Doh was not bad, but it was not excellent. And for most people wanting their Arkanoid kick, I'm betting they really didn't care.

Most Microprose games were first done on the C64, and later in the 90's that changed to DOS. Either way Microprose made excellent ports to the Amiga. Sometimes they did that in house in America, like Pirates, and other times they would have their UK division do the Amiga port, like Railroad Tycoon I believe. Who cares, it got done, and as long as it was a good game, people enjoyed it. The only questions at that point are how best to show it off today, FYI Railroad Tycoon despite the UK port to the Amiga, is best viewed in 4:3 NTSC.

Getting back to Elviria, if this design company indeed had that connection to her, then that very much makes sense. Kind of like Arkanoid and Discovery actually... Discovery had done zero Amiga games at that point, were loved/hated for a disk copying program, but just went right up to Taito at the CES and wouldn't you know it, it worked! Not surprising to me that a company in such an underdog type of situation like that would end up making something special, in both Arkanoid's case as well as with Elviria. Awesome to see an Amiga original RPG of that caliber, period. Unfortunately you wouldn't see many original RPGs to the Amiga, not in America or Europe. Plenty of Amiga RPGs, it's just they were usually ported from another system, for better or worse. And those ports are some of my favorite all time Amiga games, but even if you make it best on the Amiga, say Might and Magic II, you're always constrained by the original system, in that case the Apple II. They made it look very pretty, great colors, still has an awful auto map, thank the Apple II. Might and Magic III is a marked improvement in terms of game engine, with a good auto map, but that one was done on DOS first... Okay port to the Amiga by New World, though not excellent, so you've got a game that is both better and worse than the previous one in terms of the Amiga. Is might and magic III the better game? Highly debatable, they're all awesome, but it certainly offers many ease of use upgrades... but it's also using the exact same 32 colors from 256 color DOS, and the palette never changes except for the end sequence. Still an awesome game, great it's on the Amiga, top games of '92 from Amiga World I believe, but all things considered Might and Magic II is technically the better "Amiga" Might and Magic game because it blew everyone else away. It made things better.

I often wonder how much better would the Gold Box games have been treated by anal reviewers such as Scorpia if only she had an Amiga, and she reviewed those versions... Even into the early 90's the Gold Box games had a Commodore 64 origin, a step up from the Apple II, but I do wonder how much of the snarky attitude some people gave those games had to do with the EGA DOS ports they were playing. In 1988 Pool of Radiance not so great looking in EGA, nothing is all that great looking in EGA... The Amiga version, though coming out in 1990, blew them all away when the newer Gold Box DOS titles were still using EGA! Something tells me the Gold Box games would have been treated better by the critics if they were reviewing on the Amiga... And the best way to ensure that they review a game on the Amiga is to make sure it's designed there! Only a couple magazines would bother taking a 2nd look at a game they already covered for another system, regardless of how much better it was. It's pretty cool to see Elviria and get a glimpse at a fairly well known RPG created on the system. While I care deeply for artistic reasons and playability reasons what country the stuff was coming from, I'm always more glad just to see that it first came on the Amiga.

I'm no expert at Elviria, not a game I had back in the day, I do kind of remember the box on the shelf though... hahah... "Hey! What are you looking at?!" -my dad - in his unique way that was a warning, also him being proud, and inviting you to hand the box over to him. I've fooled around with the game in minor ways. It does not appear perfect, seems clunky, difficult in the wrong ways, but it's great looking, full musical score I believe, there's the power of the Amiga right there! The Amiga could have done that crap to any RPG in the 80's but it didn't, because nobody thought of music for DOS, no reason to think of it for a port. The character it's about is kind of laughable but it surprises you with how well it's done. Horror RPG, needed more of those.

Anyway, looking forward to what you uncover in your digging, any new info your social skills might get out of anyone associated with it. Should be a fun look.

Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 7:07 pm
by BloodyCactus
Shot97 wrote:
Wed Oct 16, 2019 6:30 pm
It does not appear perfect, seems clunky, difficult in the wrong ways, but it's great looking, full musical score I believe, there's the power of the Amiga right there!
remember, its a text MUD engine underneath with graphics tacked on, not really designed for graphics and mouse. It communicats via tcp/ip + amiga messaging (probably no tcp in amiga version). Its easy to see why the menu interface is the way it is when you know what its built on. your clicks are being directly translated into the text equivalent for the engine (I dont mean literally converted to text).

Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 2:34 pm
by Zippy Zapp
Forsaken was supposed to be one of those huge mega hits. It was talked about for eons before it came out and the hype machine was in full force. In the end I bought the game when released. I didn't even realize until I saw the ads that there were some risqué ad copy. The engine really wasn't all that bad and the game was decent, IMHO. It was meant to be an improvement on the Descent formula and to a degree it succeeded. As to the Forsaken meme, there seems to be no shortage of memes these days. Kind of annoying, really, especially when I am playing one of my many old games and my son pipes in to say "Hey Dad, that's a meme". Sigh.

Elvira was one game that I never really played, although I was very much aware of it. I think I have a "copy" of it someplace, but maybe I will take another look at it.

Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Fri Oct 18, 2019 6:56 pm
by Shot97
I should look up some videos of it. There were a lot of 3D engines in the late and early 90's that were being advertised as mind blowingly realistic, the next step up, etc... Only for me to look at the very pics in the ad and think "I don't like where this is going..."

I remember Might and Magic IX... oh look, "lithtech engine" or something like that... Kept saying litchtech over and over... I'm like "that is the worst looking skeleton I have ever seen in a video game!" Of course that was a Might and Magic game and so I bought it... eerrrrrrrrr......

It's like they spent the last one and a half games telling you how old the Might and Magic VI engine was, where's the 3D? 7 ads direct 3D but they say it looks better in software mode... 8... Well by 8 they didn't even care about what was in the game, how dare you make a 3rd game on the same engine! Shamed 3DO into a new engine, but they just bought the rights to one, dropped out 9, riddled with bugs, was simply ugly, got one patch out and then boom... Out of business!

I remember looking very skeptically at a lot of 3D engine hype at the time. Pretty much was the beginning of the end of my actively seeking out newer games.

But thanks for sharing some info about Forsaken.. All I remembered were the ads, not even the name... But didn't take too long of flipping threw some Computer Gaming World before it caught my eye again. Main point is sex was a healthy ingredient for computer games. How many Amiga strip poker games are there? Those were reviewed seriously in magazines as well. After Wing Commander III sold over a million units with full motion video you started seeing pages of the kinds of small ads you'd see in a Penthouse... Nothing overt usually, but carefully crafted to catch the eye of both the lonely nerd as well as the young ones. Sex wouldn't often sell a bad game... Some would say Night Trap sold because of sex, but it's not awful as much as it's bad but good camp, with very little sex actually. Phantasmagaoria, a Roberta Williams title, had a lot of sex in the advertisements, though that was also rather small in the game... That one was enough to get me to want it though!

Point is Elviria, even as an unknown in the U.K., would have caught their eyes I'm sure. And if those boobs happened to be attached to an okay or good game, well, not an awful bet I would imagine.

Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:27 am
by intric8
A few days ago I decided to finally give Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday a shot. I've been playing Chips Challenge, too, but it's 144 levels and some levels can take hours (or days) to solve. So that's a long-term happy grind.

Buck Rogers is one of the SSI games built off the Gold Box engine, and the only one (that I know of) with a sci-fi theme for Amiga.

Buck Rogers was way before my time, and I always thought the way the Dille family seemingly forced TSR to support the brand to be forced, and odd.

But I decided "What the hell?" and installed it. I named all of my characters after Battlestar characters for fun.
Since taking this shot I removed Boomer (an engineer) and added Adama (a warrior).

After just a few days of playing, two things really stand out with this game.

This has got to be the best, most tightly integrated story out of any of the Gold Box games I've ever played. Screen after screen after screen of story are to be found nearly every step of the way. It's SO much better than previous incarnations, it's frankly jaw-dropping. The fact that I totally get what's going on in a game in the Buck Rogers universe better than Dragonlance, well... I never thought that would be possible. I struggled mightily during the character creation process as I really didn't have much of a clue as to what was important or valued going in. I read the manuals cover to cover to educate myself and still doubted what I was doing along the way.

But the story - one of the weak links in my opinion of previous Gold Box games in terms of how they are shared and exposed throughout the games - is just fan-f'ing-tastic with this one. To be honest, I feel like I'm almost in a finely crafted horror sci-fi more akin to Aliens, and I'm loving every second of it.

The huge draw of the Gold Box engine games for me are the battle tactics needed for combat. With Buck Rogers - at least what I've seen so far - quite a bit of this has been taken away. Everyone in my party including the warriors are all using ranged weapons. All of them. So most of the tactics are just thrown out the window. We all just stand around and shoot at everything and barely ever need to even move. And most of the monsters so far shoot at us, too.

Early impressions are good. I love how this story is being told. But I'm not loving how my early characters are rolling saving throws for zero-G on every single turn and just standing and shooting things. It's making the battles pretty boring.

But then when the story describes horrific scenes of things floating in the various rooms of the spaceship I'm on right now, and reading the logs of dead NPCs, it's super creepy and the mood is amazing. I'm digging it.

I first installed this game on my A3000. The game was released in 1990 - the same year as my 3000 - so I wanted to be period accurate hardware-wise. But after making my characters and exploring a couple hours into the game, it would crash. And it would continue to crash in the same general place during a battle every time.

After doing some research, I found an old usenet posting of someone BITD complaining about the exact same issue. Turns out even the WHDLoad folks ran into this problem, too.

But the game itself was aimed at the 1000, 500, and 2000. For some reason - since so much was likely changed in this game moving from fantasy to sci-fi - some pretty big bugs were introduced and never tested on 3000's before the game was shipped to market.

I wound up installing the game to my A1000 and it runs just fine there. I moved my Save contents over and ultimately didn't lose anything.

Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Tue Dec 10, 2019 6:31 pm
by Zippy Zapp
Buck Rogers is one of my favorite Amiga games. I have had it on my shelf for a few decades and I still mean to finish it. Heh. Did you get a complete version that came with the first Novel in the trilogy? I have all three books but there is only 2 games. The sequel is Matrix Cubed. It only came out for DOS but it is also a good game with VGA 256 color graphics and Sound Blaster support. It looks and sounds great.

I guess i should start over because I don't think i will remember what part of the story I am at when I load my save game, if the disk still even works, that is.

Re: Games we're Working on

Posted: Tue Dec 10, 2019 7:18 pm
by intric8