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Secrets of SPC Vision

>> Monday, January 5, 2009

Alien Gate, Steel Machine, The Apprentice, Dimo’s Quest, Lucky Luke, Accelerator, all these great CD-i games came from one and the same company: SPC/Vision. Its history started with Alien Gate, which blew away the Philips people, who were used to seeing titles like Compton’s Encyclopdia. After this the company has created a major history in the CD-i world, leaving the business with a lot of gems and secrets. In this article we will reveal some of what may be called one of the best software companies CD-i has known.

Note: It has sometimes been suggested that SPC was in some way related to Lost Boys; this is not in fact true and the companies were actually competitors as you will find out below. In the streamers of Alien Gate it says “lost boys development”, but this was an internal joke of the developers and did not refer to the Lost Boys company.

Special Operations Squadron

In 1993 SPC demo’d the game ‘Special Operations Squadron’ which was one of the very first titles using seamless MPEG branching. A similar engine was later used in The Lost Ride. When the first digital video cartridge was available, it was very hard (and very expensive) to code this function. It turned out more than 50% of the processor was ‘wasted’ by seamless playing of MPEG video’s. So little power would be available to actually create a game.

In the evaluation back to Philips, SPC was opting a video-maze as one of the remaining possibilities, but it had to be rendered fully digital to make that happen (Special Operations Squadron was using ‘live footage’ from stock). As this was too expensive for the budget envisioned at the time, the project was killed. When Philips was shifting this idea over to Lost Boys in 1996 to create ‘The Lost Ride’, one can imagine the disappointment of the SPC crew!

Standard/Philips Encyclopedia

One of the big projects SPC got their hands on, was to create an encyclopedia for the Dutch market. Using their own experience, this title was the very first market title using seamless MPEG branching (namely the video loop in the main menu). Unfortunately, the video house didn’t manage to edit the footage into a completely seamless loop, so now the loops appear to have a little pause between them, even though the underlying MPEG video is actually running seamlessly!

The encyclopedia software was first designed with a fancy “roll” effect for page turning. Philips at first wanted to cut it entirely, but ultimately they agreed to the current “slide” effect. “ However, several test codes were added so every version can still be seen! There are also other codes to color-code hyperlinks and control screen dimming and font selection.

All test codes are sequences of digits that must be entered from the main menu screen. Consider the main menu boxes numbered like a telephone keypad as pictured:

To enter a test code digit, press button 2 when the cursor is on the appropriate box (this will also activate/deactivate the control bar). When a test code is complete, you will hear a click sound. Here are some of the available test codes:

5 5 Reset most of the test features

1 9 3 7 1 Use vertical slide effect (default)
1 9 3 7 2 Use cut effect (never actually used)
1 9 3 7 3 Use vertical roll effect (used in v0.7)
1 9 3 7 4 Do not color-code hyperlinks (default)
1 9 3 7 5 Color-code hyperlinks dark blue
1 9 3 7 6 Color-code hyperlinks according to type
1 9 3 7 7 Toggle dim time between 10 min / 5 sec / 1 min
1 9 3 7 8 Toggle between underline / light font / text font

Websurfing

Although Lost Boys developed the consumer cd-i websurfing tools, it was SPC who prototyped the idea. Their first version did not support graphics but half of the Philips Media crew were eagerly using the demo disc on the SPC modem-account. However, when it had to be developed for the commercial market, Lost Boys was again signed to develop it. Another dead end for the mighty SPC crew!
This disc contains a simple text-only WWW browser that connects to the Internet using SLIP over a serial line connected to a modem. Although the disc was set up to use NLnet, there is nothing NLnet-specific on the disc except some configuration information.
The CD-i Internet Demonstration disc can still be used today, as shown by the photographs (see the Links below for more information). Instead of a modem, a direct connection to a PC running RedHat Linux was used. The disc supports the CD-i KeyControl keyboard although it didn’t even exist at the time! The demo disc was originally intended to be used with a professional CD-i keyboard, but those were extremely rare even in those days.

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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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