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Philips ADS talks about their CD-i history (part 2)

>> Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Be sure to check out part one first here. Philips ADS remained, until recently one of the unsung heros of CD-i games development including Pac-Panic, Arcade Classics and Atlantis - The Last Resort. Now Atlantis and Arcade Classics is sure to be an interesting story all by themselves! For now i'd like to focus on the first game developed by ADS in Pac-Panic. This particular game simply oozed quality from Johnny Wood in the Flesh! the retail package complete with closed slipcase which was very unusual for a European release including seperate manual and the standard CD-i jewel case. In comparison with rival systems where the game went by the name Pac-Attack the CD-i version was glorious with spectacular use of colour, animation and sound this quality lacking from any of its counterparts. What made this version so special to ADS in what turned out to be an award winning title for the studio?

Johnny: Well for all of us I think Pac-Panic represented a major chance and a perfectly timed one for us all to prove our skills. Pac-Panic might never have made it to CDi. The machine used a 68020 chipset, which was a 68000 series (like on the amiga) but with all the stuff you really needed to make Amiga quality games in assembly took out. As Pete Dabbs would testify, basically all the tricks you could do to save processing time like shifting data to act as a quick multiply rather than adding up stacks - saving loads of clock cycles and stuff wasn't an option. I wont talk about that now cause it makes me sound geeky, and there might be chicks reading this. But you really had to push the machine to get anything like that.

Our job at the ADS was to help the worlds developers cross over to the machine. We had a few tricks that we sort of developed ourselves. Mostly down to Andy Morton and Tom Drummond, a couple of genius old school programmers. When people looked at Pac-Attack on the other versions, the amount of animated sprites at any one time was considered undoable on CDi. Bear in mind all our contempories had dedicated graphics hardware. CDi never did, but we took a look at it and Andy developed a multiplexer that allowed you to fill the whole screen with animated sprites. This was bloody amazing on CDi and once that was out of the way we knew we could not only match the other versions but we could make it better.

Where the other machines like the Genesis had 2 layers of 8 bit colour, CDi had DYUV mode which was similar to HAM mode on the amiga, so the backdrops could be 24 bit colour. On top of this, we weren't limited to 8 colours or anything for our foreground sprites, we could use 256 colours. Namco sent us the original assets from the genesis. But ours were better. I was a big Pac-Man fan. Its what got me into video games and just to have my name on the re-emergence of the new generation was pretty damn cool. So I put my heart and soul into it. Andy and Tom deserved a bit of glory too, Where as its a much harder job, its never as much glory being in a research role as it is making your own game! So we set out to kick ass and show the guys at the top how we did things 'down town' so to speak.

Must of worked, cause we got the pretty box and won the award 'n stuff. We still to this day aren't sure if this is down to our 'post production' antics.... Which involved us travelling around London every weekend and going into all the Games shops and switching all the copies of Pac-Panic with whatever was listed at number one on the display racks.

Devin: Arcade Classics soon followed suit with another quality classic conversion. What challenges did this represent and can you share your memories developing this outstanding compilation.

Johnny: Yeah man! We just took the same approach but this time we had 3 games to do. The same sort of issues emerged. The number of animated sprites that Jason had to pump around for Galaxian, which him being the 'new' guy and fresh from his degree, Andy thought he'd never cut it. Of course he turned out to be the most amazing genius we could have ever wished for and the other coders were impressed. We could have done with him back in the early days. Games may have come out differently.

We had Rak in full swing now on art, so with me freed up more we had another chance to make the games better than the contempories. We didn't want to get labelled a conversion house, so making them better than the rival machines versions. When to be honest for this sort of game; Multi-sprited Arcade games, CDi was possibly the worst equipped on the market. Thats not to say it was bad, I mean look at Dragons Lair, 7th Guest, Burn Cycle. Try coughing up those puppies for a genesis... No chance! This time we worked from the arcade machines. Namco sent us all the original stuff, apart from Ms Pacman where they sent us a whole mother board from the first generation machine! The original chipset! So we took the graphics pixel for pixel.... And er... then I added more colours.

I played pacman a lot and also miss pacman. There's a real skill to playing it, Jason and I started messing about with the mazes and found just by putting up stumps so the player could stop would bring in a whole new strategy. Long tunnels added a turbo panic to the play so in my spare time I made some extra mazes. Namco thought they were cool too, so they stayed in. I was sorta proud of that. Man I sure hope chicks are reading this bit. It makes me look dead cool dunnit. I designed mazes for Ms pacman girls!

It was during the development of Arcade Classics that Paul Reid got drunk and puked on Flavias carpet. Paul did an amazing job of entertaining us like this. I think he somehow held the crew together. We were poles apart really, but somehow there was a real team spirit. That shows through in the game. Even to the credits. Of course when it came to do the credits I'd been a bit miffed after Pac-Panic had had loads of people coming in the credits when really it was 5 guys in an office so I made up a few of my own names; Yvette Miepies... Thats how you say "You've ate my pies" in brummy, added the office cleaner who I fancied (Beth) and put in my local pub. Because the ADS where always shrouded with mystery we got away with it.

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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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