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BEPL continued CD-i support up to 2000

>> Monday, April 30, 2007

Robin Back and Johnny Byrne started the company BEPL in 1989 to make interactive stories for television initially hosted on CD-i. BEPL is short for Backs Electronic Publishing Limited. Their first published CD-i title was "Anne Willan presents the Food of France". When it was first released in 1992 in the USA, it broke new ground with animated DYUV sequences, attract-mode programming, and interactive credits. BEPL was credited with its first EMMA award in recognition of these achievements. Ofcourse now we remember BEPL for offering the community two free prototype CD-i games, Solitaire and Tic-Tac-Toe. More on these games later; now we have a look at the background of BEPL.

The disc "Foods of France" is in two parts, each linked with the other. On the one hand there are the recipes themselves, carefully divided into categories such as main dishes, soups, desserts and so on. Each recipe is illustrated and Anne herself discusses the qualities of each ingredient in turn and talks the viewer through every stage. The viewer can jump from page to page, recipe to recipe, category to category and also straight to the regional tours, the best thing to do whilst something is cooking!

In 1992 BEPL was commissioned to engineer two CD-i titles for Philips "Schools 2000" project, covering aspects of science and mathematics related to Key Stages 1 and 2 of the National Curriculum. "Space Safari" teaches about animals and plants. It requires the user to help the captain of an alien spaceship in collecting plants and animals from Earth, classifying them and then finding them suitable habitats on a new planet.

The RNIB project was to create a pilot, digitised (CD-delivered) alternative to the Talking Books on tape that RNIB members have known and loved for many years. In essence BEPL packed some 16 hours of continuous audio tracks onto one CD-i formatted disc. However, access to this material is governed by special copyright considerations so we used special infra-red commands on a remote controller to makes sure the discs could not be heard by anybody who shouldn't. Clever programming but it was a bit too close to a retail format to satisfy the rights holders and so we understand a different digitising formula from Sweden, has been adopted.

In 1996, plans were made to update the then current visitor's centre interactive laserdisk programmes as these were getting a little long in the tooth and in some areas were no longer accurate. The kiosks had been enthusiastically received by visitors, especially school-children and others on formal educational visits, so the challenge was on to do better! In conjunction with First Information Group plc (regrettably now defunct), BEPL decided the most efficient method of achieving the required upgrade within budget was to use CD-i as the host platform and integrate Microtouch controllers into the existing Sony touchscreen monitors. The programme starts with a silent rolling demo of what is on the disc, including the 'board' game and detailed question sets, and invites users to touch the screen to start the programme. Once this happens, the user is introduced to the various methods of generating electrical power with particular emphasis on the requirements, benefits (and pitfalls) and implications of nuclear power generation. The dice game invites users to reply to questions correctly and moves their counter round the board appropriately. If questions are wrongly answered - you're out!

From the Philips Magazine, 'CD-i Matters', Issue 6 September 1997: "...BSM's 'Qualified Fleet Driving Training Programme' on CD-i sharpens drivers wits with simulations of real-life motoring hazards, in which they can interactively take part. Drivers can train anywhere, anytime and the player stores information on the driver's reactions for later evaluation..."

Measurement and evaluation of results are a key part of all BEPL training programmes. The old adage: "What gets measured gets done" applies even more strongly when Training budgets are under pressure to produce quantifiable results. Whether on CD-i or CD-ROM or even on bespoke games kiosks such as the Mouseketeers programme for Whitbread Family Inns, it is important to be able to see how programmes are used in the real world. It is of course possible to have someone sit and watch what's going on - but its much more effective to have the machine do the measuring. Anyway - what are machines for? The clever part about this programme and its first cousin completed in July 1997, is the timing of the hazard recognition 'windows'. Users have almost exactly the same time as they do in real life to identify and react to a potential hazard on the road. As we all know these can range from routine traffic lights to small children suddenly running out in front of you. The programme certainly keeps the viewer alert as well as keeping track of how good he or she is at recognising danger.

In 1997, BEPL developed and remade a CD-i promotion disc for Antec International, who are important suppliers of pesticides, virucides and disinfectants to the agricultural industry worldwide. Various foreign language versions have been added including Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin chinese. Of particular note was the creation of a Website Index - not a search engine but a real index and thus much quicker to locate things. Another first for Antec and in regular use on their site.

In 1999, CD-i refused to die despite numerous funerals. This platform was used to make an interactive discovery game for PwC called 'Pursue'. Mixing of real-time video laid over virtual reality office environments called for new programming techniques, not to mention video-making. Also in 2000, after extensive use on CD-i, BEPL remade 'Pursue' on DVD-ROM. The DVD platform itself cannot handle a tenth of the interactivity of CD-i so the DVD-ROM route was chosen but with DVD video quality.

Credits: BEPL

3 reacties:

Gert-Jan,  April 30, 2007 at 7:39 AM  

I have played those free games, and Tic_Tac-Toe isn't any fun, but Solitaire is nice. I wonder why the influence of Disney in it...!

Theo Varga,  September 6, 2011 at 11:00 PM  

I was one of the narrators on the Food of France CDs back in 1991. I was a student at a local university. I have the CD somewhere around but I have no way to play it; I've never heard how we sounded! The guys were very pleasant to work with.

Anthony Bradley,  April 11, 2012 at 11:08 AM  

backs electronic publishing limited i my mind made some really good titles for the cdi.
wordplay is a challenging word game with nice music while the food of france has excellent production values and the wipe clean booklet shows signs of quality,
overall the companies product show a understanding for the strengths of the cdi, it would be nice to get an interview with anyone who worked with the company at the time.

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Games 0-F

3rd Degree - PF Magic
7th Guest, The - Philips Freeland Studios
Accelerator - SPC/Vision
Adventure of the Space Ship Beagle, The - Denshi Media Services
Affaire Morlov, L' - Titus
Alfapet - Adatek
Alice in Wonderland - Spinnaker
Alien Gate - SPC Vision
Alien Odyssee - Argonaut
Aliens Interactive CD-i - Dark Vision Interactive
Ange et le Demon, L' - Smart Move
Apprentice, The - SPC Vision
Apprentice 2, The - Marvin's Revenge - SPC Vision
Arcade Classics - Philips ADS / Namco
Asterix - Caesar’s Challenge - Infogrames
Atlantis - The Last Resort - PRL Redhill (Philips ADS)
Axis and Allies - CapDisc
Backgammon - CapDisc
Battle Chess - Accent Media (for Interplay)
Battleship - CapDisc
Big Bang Show - Infogrames
BMP Puzzle - Circle (for ZYX)
Brain Dead 13 - Readysoft
Burn:Cycle - Trip Media
Caesar's World of Boxing - Philips POV
Caesar's World of Gambling - CD-I Systems
Cartoon Academy - Bits Corporation
CD-i mit der Maus - SPC Vision
CD Shoot - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Change Angels Kick-off - HMO
Chaos Control - Infogrames
Christmas Country - Creative Media
Christmas Country - The Lost Levels - Creative Media
Christmas Crisis - DIMA
Clue - 3T Productions
Clue 2 - The mysteries continue - 3T Productions
Connect Four - CapDisc
Creature Shock - Argonaut (for Virgin)
Crime Patrol - CapDisc
Crow, The - Philips POV
Cyber Soldier Sharaku - Japan Interactive media
Dame was Loaded, The - Beam Software
Dark Castle - Philips POV
Dead End - Cryo
Defender of the Crown - Philips POV
Deja Vu - Icom Simulations
Deja Vu 2: Lost in Las Vegas - Icom Simulations
Demolition Man - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Demon Driver - Haiku Studios
Discworld - Teeny Weeny Games
Dimo's Quest - SPC Vision
Domino - Wigant Interactive Media
Down in the Dumps - Haiku Studios
Dragon's Lair - Superclub / INTL CDI
Dragon's Lair 2- Time Warp - Superclub / INTL CDI
Drug wars - Crime Patrol II - CapDisc
Dungeons & Dragons - PF Magic
Earth Command - Visionary Media
Effacer - CapDisc
Escape from Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Evidence - Microids
Falco & Donjon & The Sword of Inoxybur - BMi / Zephyr Studio
Family Games I - DIMA
Family Games II - Junk Food Jive - DIMA
Felix the Cat - Philips Sidewalk Studio
Flashback - Delphine/Tiertex (for US Gold)
Flinstones Wacky Inventions - Philips Funhouse
Fort Boyard: The Challenge - Microids
Frog Feast - Rastersoft

CD-i Games Index G-M

Go - CapDisc
Golden Oldies - SPC Vision
Golden Oldies II - SPC Vision
Golgo 13 - Japan Interactive Media
Great day at the races, A - CD-I Racing, Dove Films, Total Vision
Guignols de l'Info, Les - Canal+ Multimedia / INTL CDI
Heart of Darkness - Amazing Studio (for Virgin)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The - Philips Kaleidoscope
Holland Casino CD-i - HMO
Hotel Mario - Philips Fantasy Factory
Inca - Coktel Vision
Inca 2 - Coktel Vision
International Tennis Open - Infogrames
Jack Sprite vs. The Crimson Ghost - PF Magic
Jeopardy - Accent Media
Jigsaw - Novalogic
Joe Guard - DIMA
John Dark: Psychic Eye - CapDisc
Joker's Wild!, The - Accent Media
Joker's Wild Jr., The - Accent Media
Kether - Infogrames
Kingdom - The far reaches - CapDisc
Kingdom 2 - Shadoan - CapDisc
Labyrinth of Crete - Philips Funhouse
Laser Lords - Spinnaker
Last Bounty Hunter, The - CapDisc
Legend of the Fort - Microids
Lemmings - DMA Design / Psygnosis
Lettergreep - Wigant Interactive Media
Lingo - SPC Vision
Link - The faces of evil - Animation Magic
Lion King, The - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Litil Divil - Gremlin Graphics
Litil Divil 2: Limbo Years - Gremlin Graphics
Lords of the rising sun - Philips POV
Lost Eden - Cryo (for Virgin)
Lost Ride, The - Formula (Lost Boys)
Lucky Luke - The video game - SPC Vision
Mad Dog McCree - CapDisc
Mad Dog McCree II: The lost gold - CapDisc
Magic Eraser - Circle (for ZYX)
Mah-Jong - Japan Interactive Media
Making the Grade - 3T Productions
Man Before Man - Cryo
Marco Polo - Infogrames
Mario Takes America - CIGAM
Master Labyrinth - AVM AG/HQ
Mega Maze - CapDisc
Memory Works, The - Compact Disc Incorporated
Merlin's Apprentice - Philips Funhouse
Microcosm - Philips Freeland Studios
Micro Machines - Codemasters
Monty Python's Invasion from the Planet Skyron - Daedalus CD-i Productions
Mutant Rampage - Body Slam - Animation Magic
Myst - Sunsoft (for Cyan)
Mystic Midway - Rest in pieces - Philips POV
Mystic Midway 2 - Phantom Express - Philips POV

Compact Disc Interactive

Compact Disc Interactive

Games N-Z

Name that tune - Philips Fantasy Factory
New Day - Bits Corporation
NFL Hall of Fame Football - Philips POV
Othello - HMO
Pac Panic - Philips ADS / Namco
Palm Springs Open - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Pool - SPC Vision
Pinball - CapDisc
Plunderball - ISG Productions
Power Hitter - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Power Match - Two's Company
Pursue - BEPL
Pyramid Adventures - Compact Disc Incorporated
RAMRaid - PRL Redhill
Return To Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Riddle of the Maze, The - Fathom Pictures
Riqa - Bits Corporation
Rise of the Robots - Mirage Technologies
Sargon Chess - Spinnaker
Scotland Yard Interactive - AVM AG/HQ
Secret Mission - Microids
Secret Name of Ra, The
Shaolin's Road - Infogrames
Skate Dude - Viridis
Smurfen, De - De Telesmurf - Infogrames
Solar Crusade - Infogrames
Solitaire - BEPL
Space Ace - Superclub / INTL CDI
Space Ranger - Studio Interactive
Special Operations Squadron - SPC Vision
Sport Freaks - SPC Vision
Star Trek - Philips POV
Star Wars: Rebel Assault - LucasArts
Steel Machine - SPC Vision
Striker Pro - Rage
Strip Poker Live - Greenpig Production
Strip Poker Pro - Interactive Pictures
Super Fighter - The Super Fighter Team / C&E
Super Mario's Wacky Worlds - NovaLogic
Surf City - Philips Sidewalk Studios
Tangram - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Taco's Toyroom Troopers - Creative Media
Tankdoodle - Creative Media
Tetris - Philips POV
Tetsuo Gaiden - Creative Media
Text Tiles
Thieves' World - Electronic Arts
Tic-tac-toe - BEPL
Tox Runner - ISG Productions
Treasures of Oz - Philips Kaleidoscope
Ultra CD-i Soccer - Krisalis
Uncover featuring Tatjana - SPC Vision
Uninvited - Icom Simulations
Video Speedway - ISG Productions
Vinnie the Pinguin - Pandemonium Labs
Voyeur - Philips POV
Voyeur 2 - Philips POV
Whack-a-Bubble - Creative Media
What's it worth - Marshall Cavendish Multimedia / Spice
Who shot Johnny Rock? - CapDisc
Wordplay - BEPL
World Cup Golf - US Gold
Zaak Sam, De - Toneelschool NL
Zelda - The wand of Gamelon - Animation Magic
Zelda's Adventure - Viridis
Zenith - Radarsoft
Zombie Dinos From The Planet Zeltoid - Philips POV

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