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Steve Hayes about his history at Philips Media Games (part 2)

>> Thursday, July 9, 2009

Many conversions were made with the likes of Flashback, Striker Pro, Litil Divil and a multitude of other titles what incentive made developers convert these games to CD-i?

Steve: Conversions weren't always easy and with the small market share most developers didn't want to tie up their 'A' class coders on doing CD-I conversions. But many games developers during the PMG period moved to being cross-platform development. Larger outfits were geared up with a lead development team who would then filter the core game engines developed on a lead platform to other less skilled (and cheaper) teams for porting and adaptation to other platforms. Honing the process; factory-like, it was possible to maximise profits per title across several conversions that could be released at the same time or close to. Sometimes the large developers on massive projects would get smaller development houses to do conversions for them. I remember working closely with Arc Developments on the CD-I conversion of US Gold's World Cup Golf and also Tiertex's Flashback conversion. Eventually doing a conversion on CD-I even smelt of profit one way or another. Initially though we played catch-up, converting titles that had previously been successful on other platforms. Lemmings for example, a sure-fire hit and eminently doable. I remember being sat in Psygnosis' office beside the Liverpool Docks and Ian Hetherington giving us his seminal view of the future boom and bust of the games industry and how a new platform ought to be pitched to the development community if ever it was going to make it. I remember him briefly giving us an overview of the Psygnosis business, the software development side, the publishing arm and most interestingly the tools development side, which he skimmed over far too quickly. I remember being left with an overriding sense that we didn't stand much of a chance. Small as we were though we were used to being told we were doing the impossible. It didn't stop us. Out of that first meeting with Psygnosis came the conversion of Lemmings to CD-I. It was actually done by the original developers DMA Design (aka Rockstar North). Another meeting that day was with Paul Finnegan of Rage Software. It was a pretty good day in that ultimately we also got us Striker (re-branded as Striker Pro) but for what ever reason (maybe the Rage programmer had blanched at the prospect of a CD-I conversion) Rage got paid for the rights allowing Philips to convert the title and I, through a circuitous route, ended up becoming its in-house producer at Philips' Freeland Studios in Dorking. With Striker Pro I went in deep, even arranging the screenshots, box art, instruction booklet, game cheats as well of course ensuring the game was completed and fully tested and the master 'Green disc' hand carried to the mastering facility in Hasselt, Belgium in order to hit the shelves before Christmas.

Why was Philips' main focus on existing intellectual properties for the games over original ideas and content?

Down to money I guess. An original title even back then could cost £100's of thousands if not £million+ if it was going to compete with every other publishers titles. In order to re-coup development spent and reap maximum profits, a title at that time would have to be released cross-platform. Whereas acquiring the rights to do a conversion would cost significantly less. Philips had reportedly spent whopping great sums already (WSJ Jun 28, 1996). But some original titles did get through such as Burn:Cycle and the little known Down in the Dumps from Haiku Studios. A title that never saw the 'light of day' as far as I'm aware involved us hiring The Roundhouse and converting it to a huge blue screen arena against which actors were filmed walking around and re-enacting fights on a massive blue treadmill. (ah Rotoscoping, happy days). I don't know what happened to that one sadly but I'd love to know. Cross-platform development on other consumer electronics manufacturers boxes was always going to be 'difficult' given where the parent company had wanted to be so the only palatable options were PC, which at the time was a hugely fragmented market and notoriously difficult to tap (and possibly the Mac).

A few high profile games were announced but never saw the light of day including Return to Cybercity, Microcosm, Litil Divil 2 and the eagerly anticipated Discworld. Were you involved in the negotiations to bring these games to CD-i? and if so do you have any anecdotes to share?

Steve: I wasn't involved much with games that originated out of the US so I can't comment on them but I recall Microcosm came from the Psygnosis' stable. Robin Keir gives more of an insight into what happened there than I could. Litil Divil 2, just like the first, was a massive undertaking by Gremlin Graphics Ireland. Sadly I'm not sure Gremlin Graphics Ireland was still in existence by the time they would have got around to doing the CD-I conversion. Discworld, I don't know as I left before the closure of the TCR office but I remember being at the Discworld launch for other formats at a club under the arches at Embankment and meeting Terry Pratchett.

Any anecdotes to share?

Steve: Other anecdotes...

Meeting the very pleasant Jez San for the first time and even before the age when '...everyone is always available...', taking a business card with all his numbers on plus about ten different email addresses.

Tasting my first Balti in Leamington Spa with Ashley Hogg (converted Micro Machines to CD-I) and his beloved Kathryn. Up until that point I didn't know what food was.

Chatting to John Mc Laughlin, the CD-I Lemmings coder at DMA, and hearing a chorus of "...Oh no's..." detonating in the background - straight from source, lovely!

1 reacties:

anna March 29, 2010 at 4:39 PM  

Wow. Takes me back. Did you know 7th Guest has its own Facebook site? Nice to hear about some of the old days, Steve.
Anna Williams (Graphic Designer)

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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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