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Interview with Luis Torres - Jack Sprite: The Crimson ghost CD-i coder

>> Friday, March 27, 2009

Devin: To kick things off tell us your name, age, previous work (including "Jack Sprite Vs. The Crimson Ghost" on CD-i), and current occupation.

Luis Torres: My name is Luis Torres, and I was hired as a game QA (Quality Assurance) by PF Magic in 1993. All the work that I had done prior to that were unsuccessfull attempts at creating shareware RPG's for the PC (that's what got me in PF Magic). I'm 27 and have done work programming old platform games, and earlier online games for startups that no longer exist. I am currently working as a unix admin because I love the OS, and hope to get back into the game programming hobby one way or another. I know many things about the game because I worked closely with the lead programmer (he was a friend of mine) to solve many of the technical problems concerning the game engine (and this game had many).

Devin: We always seem to hear the same thing from developers about the difficulty coding on the CD-i platform. Were these the difficulties you experienced with "Jack Sprite Vs. The Crimson Ghost" or simply technical problems you would experience in any game development project.

Luis Torres: Well, in my opinion, game coders had difficulty with the CD-i because the machine was not really designed to be a games machine. The CD-i machine was designed to be an interactive multimedia console. In the early days, multimedia meant animation/sound/point and click interactivity. Now, it goes much farther than that. What Phillips came up with was a machine that could do more than just that, but lacked some of the principles that makes a game console. For example, the amount of RAM was limited to 1MB, which is more than the SNES for example (1024 KB... I think) but the SNES stored it's graphics in cartridges, which were ROM extensions, no graphics loading in RAM required. With the CD-i you had to load graphics in RAM in most cases, this included tiles and sprite graphics. Also, my buddy the lead programmer would comment that the scrolling functions, if any were very limited. Most of these general difficulties in CD-i development were faced during the Jack Sprite project.

Devin: Why did PF Magic decide not to release "Jack Sprite Vs. The Crimson Ghost" after so much effort was put into the project and how complete would you say the game was when further development was abandoned?

Luis Torres: I never learned the direct details on why the Jack Sprite project was canned. It happened at the dawn of the 2nd console war of the decade (Playstation, Sega Saturn and a rumored N64) and most companies were shifting projects from 2d to 3d to be able to compete. PF Magic would have been no exception, but to my knowledge, no 3d games from PF Magic were ever released on PSX or Saturn. Also, the CD-i market was slowly fading away with the introduction of new and more sophisticated games to the booming games market. I can safely say that the project was 91-96% complete. There were a few non-technical related issues that needed ironing, but this was up to the bigwigs.

Devin: How would you describe "Jack Sprite Vs. The Crimson Ghost", from the screenshots taken by OlderGames it seems to be a blend of movie clips and platform style gameplay. Could you elaborate on this.

Luis Torres: The game was designed to be a new age interactive movie, as far as what I heard from one of the lead programmers. I feel that the result came out to be more of a platformer (and a darn good one) with semi-interactive video sequences. The screenshots are good in describing the game's graphical capabilities but don't do justice to the gameplay. There was also a "car game" level which looks suspiciously close to spy hunter, that is because the programmer who wrote that level used spy hunter as the basis for the engine of that particular level.

Devin: Could you tell us about the team that worked on Jack Sprite. How many were involved and their individual roles in the project.

Luis Torres: Darryl Starr, lead programmer in charge of the side-scroller portion of the game's engine. Andrew Stern, in charge of the interactive video sequences (I believe). Charles Art (don't remember his last name), lead artist, he took almost the entire project's art by himself, quality artist like few I've ever seen. J. Friedwal, associate artist in charge of tile and sprite modification. Jim Stiffelmier, production assistance and level design. Paul Wilkerson, senior software engineer, overseer of programming, designer and coder of the car level, sound programming specialist. Rob Fulop, creative director. Luis Torres, game QA, Jr. code QA and the guys who never do anything but still get mentioned.

Devin: What are your thoughts about the RetroGaming scene and OlderGames project to publish the unreleased CD-i prototype software, especially Jack Sprite after remaining untouched for about 9 years.

Luis Torres: I believe OlderGames and the RetroGaming scene are doing justice to the CD-i fanbase, and the RetroGaming scene as a whole is proving that games are not just convoluted programs with BEEFED UP graphics and NO gameplay. The RetroGaming scene is showing new generation gamers that games one time had great quality and I hope that it also shows game companies that games are not all graphics, video, and celebrities or cheap 3D remakes of once (and still) popular classic games. I hope it shows the companies that gamers are always striving and starving for quality in gameplay even when it means reviving the classics. Let's do Jack Sprite and the others justice.

1 reacties:

Bas March 27, 2009 at 9:18 AM  

This interview was first available when Oldergames was going to publish these games on CD-i, in 2002.

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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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