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The Making of Lucky Luke on CD-i

>> Friday, July 27, 2007

The multi-layer background of Lucky Luke was also something I never thought it would be possible on CD-i. How did SPC Vision do this rain and snow effect on CD-i? Which parts were not possible without the DVC extra memory? Lucky Luke doesn't show any full motion video, but it doesn't play with the emulator. "Lucky Luke was done in 1994/1995/1996. It uses the DV cartridge for its sound effects, which is the reason why it won't play without. The multilayer thing is relatively simple: use both CD-i planes to contain graphics, and overlay them with sprites. This requires background restoration on each frame but that was made possible by the extra memory in the DV cartridge. SPC used background erase in most other titles, which is faster. Also, I think that Lucky Luke as a 25 Hz frame rate, not 50 Hz, but I might be wrong here."

Apparently Philips used to have different plans with Lucky Luke. According to the crew it was planned to look more like Zelda than your traditional horizontally scrolling game. However, these first developments never got any far as both changed plans radically. Work on Lucky Luke started in 1994.

"It was a painful release. I will go into some detail below because it was quite typical (Dimo's Quest, Steel Machine and The Apprentice had similarly painful releases but for different reasons). I did the release handling, but PixelHazard did all the programming (Arjen and Luke had already left SPC at this point [to form PixelHazard]).

I have bugfix lists for v1.01 and v1.02 dated January 23, 1996 and March 10, 1996, respectively. These were "normal" bugfix releases, as was typical for game titles: a screen flash here, a crash there, an unplayability elsewhere, and pretty soon you have an unreleasable disc Version 1.03 had most of these fixed.

However, for version 1.03 weird, unrepeatable freezes and crashes were reported on several players, most notably Mono-II, at random points in the game. After some deliberation Philips sent us a set of driver updates to include in the disc, and this became version 1.04. This did not fix all the problems, so we switched from PCM (CDDA) music to ADPCM music for version 1.05 (at some loss in music quality), but left the driver updates in there. This turned out to be a mistake (the drives fixed some bugs but apparently introduced others), so we took them out again as requested by Philips, making no other changes; the result was version 1.06.

Version 1.06 appeared to fix the random freezes, but now we got random dirty disc messages on some players, especially the Roboco (450) with ROM version 1.1. These were very hard to reproduce; at SPC we didn't succeed at all and PIMC reported that the problem went away when they attached the NIRD (Non-Intrusive Realtime Debugger) to the player. Later, however, they could provide us with a few crash traces. We worked around the problem (some calls returned seek error codes; we just retried them in this case) and this became version 1.07 which was released to manufacturing (i.e., pressed).

The saga doesn't end there, however. Version 1.07 still has occasional crashes on some players; I won't bother you with the details. I ultimately diagnosed the problem, but a version 1.08 was never produced.

Note that after version 1.04 no changes were made to the game itself; only initialisation and music/sound effect playing. This is also typical. As an extreme case, midway during testing The Apprentice was restructured to run as two separate processes to fix a problem with the interrupt scheduling of the Mono-II players; this restructuring left the game itself largely alone.

The problems were usually related to the "extreme performance" approach that SPC took to games; the game programmers sometimes took shortcuts that appeared to be legal from the documentation but then turned out not to work on some player models due to hardware differences. After the Dimo/Steel/Apprentice releases we instigated procedures and safeguards to avoid such problems, but they were apparently not foolproof.

Anyway, we learned how to effectively debug CD-i titles on a consumer player; We were, I think, unique in this respect; on at least two occasions SPC programmers were baffled when Philips engineers had problems downloading into a consumer player, which we did quite regularly at SPC.

I can also remember the discussion about Lucky Luke being allowed to smoke or not, but I think this was quite late in the development..."


Thanks to an ex-member of SPC Vision

5 reacties:

Charles July 28, 2007 at 4:08 AM  

Lucky Luke feels slow and a bit unresponsive. The Apprentice was definitely more responsive.

Charles July 28, 2007 at 4:09 AM  

Great post though! Keep them coming.

Bas July 28, 2007 at 7:56 AM  

I think for one thing this is because the framerate is lower, but they probably did this to squeeze more graphical power out of the CD-i, because I feel Lucky Luke is graphically more advanced than The Apprentice. Moreover, it scrolls horizontally, which seemed to be a real pain on CD-i. As far as I know, I'm still the only one who prefers Lucky Luke over The Apprentice ;)

Charles July 29, 2007 at 1:16 AM  

I wanted to like it, especially with the history of the game, but it was too sluggish.

Anonymous,  July 30, 2007 at 11:08 AM  

I liked the soundtrack of this game. Also The Apprentice had an amazing soundtrack that you can play on an audio cd player. I remember this game was demo'd in our local Superclub.

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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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