>> Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Read the previous parts first: Part 1. Part 2. ---Before Atlantis - The Last Resort was released the precursor, Ram Raid was given as a covermount on the UK based CDi Magazine Issue 17 in April 1996. Establishing the basic gameplay mechanics for Atlantis with a completly unexpected 3D engine it also incorporated on-line downloads and competitive leader tables. Do you know what brought about this revolutionary (to CD-i at least!) technology bringing not only 3D graphics but also an element of on-line play into the arena?
Johnny: God Yeh. That was amazing. I still remember that day I saw the first demo. I was stunned, everybody was stunned. We met this guy from the Research Labs round the corner. They don't make games. They make chips. You should have seen that place. It was incredible, that's where all the research goes on. I watched Video on Demand there, 15 years ago! And Clarkey was a rocket scientist. By this point I'm still amazed at Andys multiplexer, then this guy comes along. Talks softly, doesn't even try to promote himself, then with programmer graphics of cartoon bricks wall promptly loads up.... DOOM On CDi!
So you've just got the first online CDi system working, you need a game to show it off. Your console can't actually do very good games. You need a miracle, Paul Clarke had written one in his lunch break. So we were put in touch with the guys at CD-online. Who were all ex philips, branching out to the new set-top box technology. This was ten years ago. Clarky bought the rocket science. They developed the communications. We got a proper musician, and the ADS were Game Design. So this time it was Myself and Rak that had the brunt of the work. It'd been years since I'd done game design, having branched out into graphics in the late 80's, so the chance to get back onto that on such an innovative game was pretty cool for me. Rak got the chance to branch out into 3D.... He later went on to work in that field in movies and TV. That game made us all pretty famous.
We had meeting after meeting to see if we could bring it into the online arena. We sadly had to accept that the rest of the world hadn't caught up with us yet, as data transfer rates weren't fast enough to send packets of live data. Then we came up with the challenge system where a players performance would be logged, and leagues were made. That was the game that would have single handedly saved the platform if it had not been for the other events that were happening higher up the ladder at the time. Damn I wish I'd never gone and dropped out for a life as a roadie. Still
With the release of Atlantis - The Last Resort any mode of on-line play was lost. Do you have any idea why this was cut from the final product?
Johnny: Well there are conflicting stories on this. But actually Atlantis was never intended to be an on-line game. Ram Raid should have evolved into the on-line version, Atlantis was a challenge based game. A linear game with a plot, set missions and a challenge. Ram Raid had started to evolve, but all this happened at the time when Philips was letting CDi die. Wanna hear a sad little story. When Lance Mason who hired me all those years ago at Dorking showed me CDi magazine, before I started, we were talking. He was unsure about hiring me because I was fresh from the streets of Birmingham and homelessness. So I promised him I wouldn't let him down and one day that magazine would have my artwork on the front cover.
Atlantis came out at the exact time CDi magazine published its last issue in Europe. On the day we were clearing out the ADS office after we'd been shut down. A parcel came from Sander in the Philips homelands where the Dutch version was still published. I opened it up. Atlantis was on the front cover and in the centre spread. ADS games were 30 percent of the charts. I bunged it into the box with the rest of the stuff, and that was the end of an era.
Can you share any further anecdotes to drench the CD-i communities appetitie?
Johnny: Loads. Some unprintable. There was the time I told Paul Reid I needed him to stand on an ironing board and pretend he was a cyber-surfer so I could animate his actions for the cyber-surfer in Ramraid. This was of course a lie. I'd already animated it and just wanted to see if he'd do it! There was another time Jason and myself blew up hundreds of balloons on the night shift, and filled the office with them completely for the dayshift. Actually I really better not tell anymore just yet. We had a bit of a reputation for being pranksters, and I'm not sure the others would want any of this online just yet!
By: Devin Shockwell, The Black Moon Project