>> Thursday, May 10, 2007
Below you will find a short history of SPC as a CD-i developer. This is a much abbreviated version of the full story, which probably won't ever be written because the company doesn't exist anymore and its people have dispersed wildly.
All CD-i titles marked "SPC Vision", "The Vision Factory", "SPC Codim" or "SPC Group" were in fact produced by the same relatively small group inside SPC. At its peak, the CD-i developers (programmers and graphical artists) numbered somewhere around ten, but at least three times that number of people has rotated through this group.
SPC originally started as SPCC (rumored to stand for Sergeant Pepper's Computer Company); it was a split from Stebis (which still exists, I think) when the founders disagreed about wanting to sell hardware or develop software. You can guess which business went to SPCC Smile
Originally SPCC did mostly business-to-business software, usually in C or Informix using SCO Xenix (later SCO Unix). The software was either administrative in nature or involved controlling devices; this peculiar combination has always been typical of the company. At some point, SPCC partly expanded the acronym and started calling itself SPC Company, probably motivated by the creation of SPC Training, which gave computer training courses.
SPC Training at some point acquired some computer courseware guys who developed LaserDisc courses and things like that. Another company was created to hold them, SPC Vision. It became customary to use a slash in the names, e.g. SPC/Company, SPC/Training etc.
When CD-i came out (at that time still spelled CD-I), the SPC/V people somehow got the specs of the system (perhaps they were approached by Philips, but I don't know this for sure). Since all the SPC companies where at that time closely intertwined (several people worked for more then one), these specs got to the programmers of SPC/C. Two of them were part of the Atari game community, and they went "Wow! There's an 68000 in this thing! We know how to program *that*!".The last games were released in 1997, with Golden Oldies I and II. Unfortunately the name isn't mentioned in the credits anymore, as the SPC group re-organized to a more (independent) teaching business. A nice memory is the logo crafted in the background of the golden oldies games.
Somehow this developed into Alien Gate. It is rumored that the first sprite demos blew away the Philips people, who at that time where accustomed to seeing things like Compton's encyclopedia. Alien Gate was actually a very primitive game according to later SPC standards, but it surpassed anything else that existed on CD-i at the time.
After Alien Gate came Dimo's Quest, Steel Machine, etc. The computer-training people left the company and the SPC/Vision name went to the CD-i developers (still intertwined with SPC/Company, for a time some people did both B2B software and CD-i games). When a separate game label was desired, the Vision Factory was born (it was never an actual company, only a publishing label).
At some point there was an attempt to join forces with Codim Interactive Media and so SPC/Codim (tentative name) was born. The SPC Vision people moved into the Codim building in Eindhoven because it had room to spare and the SPC building in Oss was becoming very crowded. But the merger didn't pan out, there were differences of opinion at the shareholder/manager level and both companies went their separate ways. A few people shifted companies (in both directions) at this point. I think there's only a single disc out there marked "SPC/Codim" (bonus points if you can name it)!
The SPC/Codim episode had (for various reasons) demoralized many game programmers and one by one they left for greener pastures, leaving SPC without the specific "game" expertise but with all its technical CD-i knowledge intact. Many other large and small projects followed, e.g. the Standaard Encyclopedia, Het Staat in de Sterren, Sport Freaks, including a number of professional titles. These were mostly realized in C++, in contrast to most of the game titles that had been written mainly in assembly language.
Two of the game people had gone off to form their own company, PixelHazard, and SPC contracted them to produce Lucky Luke using the SPC software library and CD-i development equipment. Accelerator had been written by a summer intern during the SPC/Codim period and was finished by other SPC people; if memory serves right it was the last "real" CD-i game ever released by SPC.
When the other SPC companies moved to a larger building in Den Bosch, SPC Vision (the slashes had been dropped from the names) rejoined them, once again bringing all the SPC companies under one roof. Sometime later it was decided to "lift" most of the software development activities into the parent holding, SPC Group. CD-i titles were still being produced, but CD-ROM and Internet were growing fast and SPC Group started developing for those platforms to. The Standaard Encyclopedia was ported to CD-ROM; later the Medical Encyclopedia was developed for both platforms simultaneously. A few game-like titles were also produced (e.g. Uncover Tatjana) in this period.
Eventually CD-i titles stopped being produced by SPC Group and it focused on CD-ROM and Internet. When the Internet bubble erupted, there were a few internal shuffles and a big layoff about halving the company, but it didn't work out and early 2002 SPC Group, after briefly going under the name Aebly, went bankrupt.
Thanks to: cdidev