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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.


Skipping and crashing on a CD-i game with no visible scratches or scuffs?

>> Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A question: "I have a pristine-looking copy of The 7th Guest, the rerelease version in a standard jewelcase. Not a single scratch or speck on the disc. The music will occasionally start skipping throughout the game, and EVERY time you enter the coffin room after completing the basement maze, the game will crash. I've heard about the initial release being incompatible with certain cd-i players, but nothing about the rerelease. I have two other cd-i games, Apprentice and Litil Divil, and both run without any problems at all. This is on a Philips cd-i 370 (portable system w/ integrated digital video card). Is this an issue of incompatibility, a defective copy, a problem with my system, or what?"

Windowskiller knows this problem, which more or less only affects FMV games and audio/video CDs (more general: everything that constantly streams data from the disc). However, I only experienced it on CDM12-equipped CD-i 210s. It's cause by the grease drying out, so that the laser can no longer move fluidly and often lose tracking. Re-grease will fix it. Owning a 370 myself, I can tell you that this won't be an easy task, though. You could permanently damage the system, unfortunately. But the hard part here is that unlike with the VCR-sized CD-i players, everything in the 370 is tightly packed and you have to remove the pcb in order to remove the drive mechanism. The rest is not that hard. Remove the cover from the drive mechanism, clean the steel rail on which the laser moves, and re-grease it. Just don't touch the lens, nor apply any force to the moving parts. As for the Timekeeper battery, if that would be the problem, on the bottom of the CD-i 370 you'll find a small hatch that you can open. Behind it you'll find the battery. Replacing it couldn't be easier. If the grease has dried out, there will be places on the rail that are hard to pass for the laser. So it is very possible that this causes a crash always at the same point in the game.

But if you're unsure, you can test it easily. Insert an audio CD that has absolutely no scratches and let it play from the beginning to the end (it should be close to 74 min., no single or maxi, those are to short). If your problem is caused by dried-out grease, you'll get clicks and jumps while the audio plays. Even better would be a video CD, as that would simply freeze as soon as the laser lose tracking.


Happy Christmas!

>> Thursday, December 25, 2008

Last year was one of change in the world of CD-i especially without the availability of 'The World of CD-i' and even the absence of 'The Black Moon Project' for the most part. It went a little quiet over the months and on top of that Interactive Dreams took a nap around October/November. Fortunately we also welcomed a few new active CD-i members including 'Shroo-man' and 'KingArthur' who brought back the enthusiasm to more people. We started the year 2008 when Charles Doty revealed his plans for a Mode 7 style CD-i racer but we haven't heard from him since. Oldergames ended business in January which was bad news to the CD-i homebrew scene. The rest of the year was very quiet as stated above but in December the best news was all the information Shroo-man provided us of the japanese exclusive CD-i game "Cyber Soldier Sharaku" (more here soon).

So that's it. I'm happy to say next year we'll be here as always to complete Interactive Dreams with all information available although you never know how things go. I would like to thank you all for your support and enthusiasm for the Philips CD-i system. We'll together make sure to keep CD-i alive in 2009. What will be ahead of us? Updates on CD-i Emulator? Homebrew CD-i programming by Charles Doty? More japanese CD-i games? Discworld CD-i? One thing is for sure: There are numerous things keeping the format interesting. Happy Christmas!


What Viridis did besides Zelda's Adventure on CD-i

>> Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Viridis was a development company that set up shop right across the street from Philips. I was one of the testers lent to them to help with pre-testing of some of their titles. They were really nice people, with good ideas. Unfortunately they couldn't write code to save their lives. Most of the staff seemed like they had just graduated from college with some sort of computer programing degree and not much experience in multimedia. So their stuff was very buggy. The main title I worked on was a diet program called "Stay Healthy For Life." Most of it was a series of slide shows explaining food nutrition, but the heart of the title was something called the "Foodulator." It was basically a monthly food planner, you punch in your diet for the week or month and it would tell you if you diet was too high or too low in certain key elements, like salt, sugar, carbohydrates, etc. Unfortunately it never worked. I remember one time I typed in just water as my only food source for a whole week just to see what happened. Well the thing came back and said my diet was too high in salt! I also found this amazing bug that would cause the player to eject the disk just before the program crashed, I've never seen anything like that before or since. Anyway, Viridis produced around 6 or 7 titles for Philips but I can recall only two of them ever being released, the rest were just too poorly written to be released and are now probably sitting in some vault in Inforgrames. But the out come of all this was in Product Test Viridis became so synonymous with bad programing that if a program came into test that was really buggy we referred to it as having Viridis Syndrome.

Viridis is a design and production service aimed at the development of CD-ROM, CD-I, 3DO and interactive broadcast television for its clients. It showed its own authoring system, called CyberCad, an inhouse system for the use of Viridis clients only. The interesting thing about CyberCad is that it creates routines and elements as callable objects in the CyberCad system. Each of these objects has its own properties, which can be defined in a menu-like form to set its personality.

The advantage, Viridis says, is that the programmers can now work separately from the creative folks. The programmers make new objects available; the creative staff works in a friendlier environment. One of the advantages Viridis claims for its object-based approach is access to the y-axis. That is, any object can be gone under, around or whatever-preposition-you-like. Other systems would have to be explicitly programmed for each direction the user would have as an option.

Another advantage Viridis claims for CyberCad is that the client ends up paying, not for programming capability, but for the content of the production.

The projects that Viridis was showing were Sesame Street Numbers, done for Electronic Arts, Zelda’s Next Adventure, for Philips CD-I, and AnnaTommy, a children’s adventure done for IVI Publishing.


Cyber Soldier Sharaku - Japanese exclusive CD-i game

Never thought Japan would have japan only CD-i games, moreover Golgo 13 looked like a hoax to me because I've never seen a real copy! But recently I saw a copy of the unknown Cyber Soldier Sharaku anime game on CD-i which you can see pictures of here. First, the covers.

Thanks to Shroo-man for the media! A review follows soon!


Micro machines CD-i version 0.01 prototype

>> Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Another prototype version of an original CD-i game, this is version 0.01 of Micro Machines pressed on 4/4/95 which seems typical because that's not far away from the actual releasedate. So that would meanr Micro Machines was done in a very short time without any debugging versions! We already know Micro Machines was a one man's job and considering the slow playability they didn't bother to improve it anyway. I hope to find out what's different on this early version!


Matt Sugden about the music making of Accelerator CD-i

>> Monday, December 22, 2008

The soundtrack of Accelerator is marvelous, really! It sounds like if the tracks are supported by some movie quotes and telling us a whole story while listening. Or is all it homemade SPC fiction? For example, do you remember: "I'll tell you what, it's gonna take a lot more than a couple of car bombs if you bomb off this case", or: "How could I get myself into this, I could just have taken the bus", or: "Who the *&^% thing in the world, there's no way we can make it, we're just like a huge moving target", and finally: "you're obviously not going anywhere in that car" and a lot more. The disc said it's written by Matthew Sugden, which is the brother of the coder: Ben Sugden. Accelerator was initially written by a student Ben Sugden on a working vacation to SPC Vision. He designed the core concept of the game but left it in an unfinished state when his vacation was out. The game was developed on and off by various SPC staff. Well, we tracked down Matt Sugden for some details behind the Accelerator CD-i soundtrack:

"I was 16/17 when I wrote the music and it was a nice little earner for someone still at college! Also paved the way for me to get into computer game music which I did for about 9 years afterwards. At the time it was quite a cool thing to have voice samples in music as it was really prevelant in the charts, so to start with I trawled through loads of car films, like cannon ball run "ladies and gentlemen start your engines" and smokey and the bandit to get some car related sound bites and to start with was syncing them up with an analogue cassette tape would you beleive! Madness!

It wasn't until I got my first payment that I blew the whole lot on a digital sampler (woo hoo) and redid all the tracks with that instead. Once I started playing around with the voice samples I then that started looking at other films with just good stuff in them, I think one I ripped a lot off was robocop "i like it" and "boink" sound, which came from the SUX2000 car advert in the film!! Basically there was a whole tonne of other stuff too, like "couple of car bombs" was emilio estavez in the film with danny glover, I can't remember the film name but it was a cop spoof, and "it's showtime" was lex luthor from the new adventures of superman.

My personal favourite sample of the whole project though was the big scary orchestral stab, "dun don derrrrr" which I nicked from ren and stimpy show, which I watched all the time during the project, ah memories."

Thanks Matt for your contribution!


Tank Doodle on CD-i by Creative Media

>> Sunday, December 21, 2008

Another unreleased CD-i game made by Creative Media in 1996 for use with their prototype of the Family Box Plug. This tool was a mutliplayer set to play with four people on CD-i simultaneously. Unfortunately, Creative Media shut down right after Whack a Bubble was pressed but a playable debug CD is what they left behind at their mother company. Check out the official boxart which was already available. If you click you can enlarge is to view the screenshots!


NFL Trivia Challenge versus NFL Instant Replay on CD-i

A few months back we talked about the effort Philips POV took to make a real football sim releasing NFL Hall of Fame Football on CD-i in 1995. Fewer people (especially in Europe) know about the two trivia NFL games that were produced in 1994 and 1995 by CapDisc. A little bit in the way how we got Jeopardy running on CD-i, CapDisc tried their own with the NFL license. Which one to take, you ask? 'Instant Replay' gives you a chance to make the call on a database of 300 plays captured in digital video by NFL Films. Was that a flagrant face-mask penalty (15 yards), an incidental (5 yards) or no foul? Did the runner have possession of the ball before he fumbled it, and who gets the ball as a result? It probably doesn't speak well for the sport of football that its rules are so confusing, but it does make for an interesting diversion.

The layout and design of the game are nice -- game rules are explained by an onscreen ref, the plays are narrated by NFL broadcast stalwart Pat Summerall, and you can ask for an explanation of calls after the correct answer has been revealed. In many ways, the game resembles CapDisc's earlier NFL Football Trivia Challenge discs, and that comparison holds true for its biggest flaw: like its predecessor, it makes no effort to reduce repetition of questions. Getting questions you've already seen is a big bummer, especially in situations where the game's owner is given an unfair advantage over a guest by having seen many of the questions before.

The problem is more acute here, because the huge data and research demands of asking questions via archival films makes for a small database. 300 questions, in fact. If the game used the CD-i player's memory to log the usage of questions, as do the CD-i game shows Jeopardy and The Joker's Wild, you should be able to get through about 13 - 15 games without repeat questions. But in my third game, about a fifth of the questions were repeats. This raises serious long-term playability concerns. In fact, it's kind of bizarre, since the game updates its entry in the player memory after every game, even if you don't get on the high score list.

NFL Instant Replay is an impressive title, one CD-i football fans will want to show off to their friends, but in terms of game-play and value to the customer, CapDisc did better with the NFL Trivia disc. In 'Trivia Challenge', you and an opponent answer questions to gain yardage and march the ball downfield in hopes of making a touchdown or a field goal. The faster you answer a question, the more yardage you'll pick up if you're correct. Unlike other CD-i game-shows like Joker's Wild and Jeopardy, the game doesn't use the machine's storage to mark which questions have already been used. On the plus side, the gameplay is remarkably fast and furious for a trivia title. Since yardage is earned by answering fast, you'll want to quickly scan a question, hit the question-mark icon, and immediately pick out an answer. The production values on the title are sumptious. The game is hosted by the voices of CBS football broadcasters Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier, who offer help and make appropriate commentary about your play throughout the game. And yes, they use that all-time classic cliche about failed field-goals, ''that could come back to haunt them.'' Cut to the chase: NFL Instant Replay uses Digital Video which I love on CD-i, Trivia Challenge is a base-case title. But the presentation of the first one is clearly better and faster. I'd prefer the first one.


CD-i Golden Oldies III, IV ?

>> Saturday, December 20, 2008

Some hints to more Golden Oldies games than the two titles that were released by "The CD-i Hacking Factory" in 1997, as it was copyrighted on the disc. I suspect this is SPC Vision humour!! Perhaps they resented doing a conversion of existing Intellectual Property. "Golden Oldies. I think I did the graphics for all of the games except for the Centipede clone which was done by someone else. Nothing I am proud of, I must confess. They were made in such a hurry that I really had no time to be as thorough as I would've liked. I think I had to spend about 2 days per game to do the graphics on. They were really stressed projects for me. I actually made the graphics for more Golden Oldies type of games which never made it to disc, unfortunately. I reckon the graphics I did for a Scramble clone was quite okay considering the little amount of time spent, but it was put on ice, apparently." ""The Golden Oldies series began as a "time filler" project; it was unclear if the games would ever be released. When there were a few oldies sort of working, there was a commercial opportunity to release. They were quickly finished, some music was added and a simple loader menu was put in front of them; then they were released into the world. This was near the end of game development at SPC, There must be an unfinished "memory" game somewhere, and there was 'Pool'."

Volume one of the Golden Oldies series contained arcade conversions of Defender and Space Invaders renamed in this package as Guardian and Invaders respectively. Volume two of the Golden Oldies series contained arcade conversions of Super Breakout and Centipede renamed in this package as Blockbuster and Bughunt respectively. The retail package and even the disc itself contained no information concerning the producer or developer, if it wasn't for a few hints left by the art and programmers then this would have remained a mystery. First clue was the title screen containing a partial logo of The Vision Factory, second clue came from the unique animations and typical styles used by this company in their games. Finally from the disc itself and probably a joke from the programmers responsible for this game the producer appears as "The CD-i Hacking Factory"!

Further to this and only noticeable from high quality screenshots taken directly from the video source of Guardians Highscore Table a programmer Stefan Posthuman and Artist Nik Malmqvist are credited. The former Stefan Posthuman we can safely assume is Stefan Posthuma credited on many SPC Vision games, again with typical SPC humour! The later Nik Malmqvist is of course Niklas Malmqvist credited with the artwork from the early days of Alien Gate through The Apprentice and was also involved in some aspects of Lucky Luke.


Axis & Allies: World War 2 on CD-i

The classic board game from Hasbro was licensed by Philips Media and converted to CD-i by Capitol Multimedia inc, better known as CapDisc. This game was a USA exclusive release although various European CD-i distributors did import the game, especially true of UK based retailers. The year is 1942, and it's time to wage war. However, this time, history is in your hands. Play as 1 or more of the 5 key powers of World War 2 and atempt to lead your country(s) to victory. Will the Axis powers conquer the world? Will the Allied countries withstand the assualt and push forward to win? It's all up to you!

This is a game of pure strategy, and I must say, it's extremely fun. The computer's AI is nothing short of impressive, and deffinilty plays to win. Being set into the war in 1942 means that the balance of power is pretty much leaning towards the Axis side, but, it's not got the supreme advantage, so playing as either side is not really crippling. Although trying to win with Great Britan does take a lot of time & effort. Don't worry though, the game does try (though dismally fails after a while) to keep you entertained with small video clips of stock WW2 footage in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. (see picture above)

As far as graphics go, its not going to win any awards. It's basically a flat map with colors for each country denoting which of the super powers occupies them, and when you zoom in, it shows little tanks, planes & such to let you know what is there. However, when a country is highlighted in regular mode, it shows the military data in the column at the upper right-hand side of the screen.

There really is no soundtrack to speak of, except for the sounds of war & industrial production provided by the video clips. This is a plus, since most strategy games have music that gets on your nerves anyway. So just turn down the sound & crank up your own tunes. Control is where this game gets somewhat annoying. While it's icon driven menu system is nice, the constant loading of the video clips makes the controler skip occasionally, and makes use of the CD-i mouse (which would be ideal for any strategy game) almost impossible.

All in all though, this game is extremely fun for the strategy minded & WW II buffs. However, if you're looking for fast paced action & shooting, I suggest you look elsewhere.

Credits: CD-i Collective


Philips' inter-firm collaborations to make CD-i a success

>> Wednesday, December 17, 2008

As we have seen, collaboration between consumer electronics manufacturers was a crucial part of the development of CD-i technology. In addition to the pivotal agreement between Philips and Sony on hardware standards, Philips had entered into a string of joint ventures in Europe, the United States and Japan in order to develop hardware and software tools and facilitate software production. The scale of these joint ventures illustrates the extent to which CD-i as a multimedia technology involves areas of technical expertise which even a major multinational electronics company does not possess in-house. In both Japan and the United States Philips teamed up with major print and electronic data publishers, Toppan and R.R. Donnelly respectively. The development of the prototype professional player was carried out by the joint venture with Kyocera, and the participation of Yamaha and the major record company Pony-Canyon (which has since forged an alliance with Virgin) in Japan Interactive Media was intended to compensate for the relative weakness of PolyGram in Japan compared to its position in Europe and the US. Studer AG is a major supplier of professional studio equipment — including CD-Audio players for broadcasting companies — and the joint venture was formed to produce hardware for CD-i studios.

Sun Microsystems were chosen as a partner for the development of multimedia workstations because of their technological strength in high-speed microprocessor applications. Philips-Dupont Optical took over from Philips the management of its CD pressing facilities in Europe and the US. Finally the joint venture with Control Data Corporation gave Philips access to expertise in systems software. The issue of inter-firm collaboration has become even more critical as delays occurred in the development timetable, and Philips needed to establish a credible programme for introducing the technology in the face of the competitive threat from DVI. After Intel acquired the rights to DVI from RCA’s parent company, General Electric, the prospect of collaboration between Intel, Microsoft and IBM became a major threat, especially after Intel announced its intention to enter the consumer market. It became important to extend the development coalition beyond the Philips/Sony axis, since the recruitment of additional Green Book licensees, whilst welcome, did not represent a major commitment of resources.

In 1989 Matsushita announced its participation in with Philips in developing FMV for CD-i, and Motorola — the manufacturer of the 68000 microprocessor at the heart of the CD-i system — was chosen to make the VLSI chips for FMV. The addition of these major partners, especially Matsushita — the world’s largest consumer electronics manufacturer — was claimed by Philips as a major strategic advantage in its competition with rival technologies. Apart from NEC and Hitachi, all the other major Japanese consumer electronics companies were known to have developed CD-i players. At one time it seemed that the two outsiders to the CD-i ‘family’ would be persuaded to join the rival Intel-IBM-Microsoft grouping, but the latter never materialised, and Microsoft joined Tandy in developing VIS as a rival home interactive multimedia technology.

Credits: A. Cawson, L. Haddon and I. Miles


Philips ADS talks about their CD-i history (part 1)

>> Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Legends never die. That was the last sentiment left by the team behind some of the most spectacular games on CD-i. Pac-Panic set the high benchmark that Philips Advanced Development and Support (ADS) continually maintained in every game they released. With Arcade Classics and the DOOM clone Atlantis - The Last Resort joining the trilogy of in-house ADS games. This was no typical games developer, as the name suggests the studio was supposed to be a facility for outside development support. So how did ADS get involved in the business of making games? Devin went in search of answers and found Johnny Wood, an Artist and one of the technical wizards behind this unsung hero of CD-i gaming. In the coming period we dig in the stories left by ADS following on the contacts of the past years.

You've been credited with the pretty pictures from Pac-Panic, the graphics for Ms Pacman from Arcade Classics and also the highly unexpected first person shooter Atlantis - The Last Resort. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to work for Philips on these acclaimed CD-i games.

Johnny: "I am Johnny Wood. International Sex symbol, original bad boy of video games, and err, the ex- Lead CGI specialist for Philips Media Advanced Development and Support. Never done an interview before, apart from the time I ran for government as the leader of the undead, so I'm pretty clueless... I'll just tell you how it happened!

Back in the 80's I used to work for a guy called Lance Mason. I was doing graphics for search for sharla which was pretty ahead of its time really. Way ahead of its time actually. Like 10 years. Unfortunately Thalamus ended up closing and despite them not wanting to let Sharla go, they had to, Lances company ESP shut down. Not being good at selling myself, I ended up living rough in Birmingham. My main source of income was pavement art, so I can't say I was a beggar, but that's how society saw me. After I kept getting into trouble I decided to clean my act up and went on this experimental government training scheme where you put your skills into the community. I ended up on the video group and there I met Pete Dabbs sister. Pete was doing a beat em up for the amiga and needed an artist. Petes mum would pay me with hot meals.

Meanwhile in the World that was emerging of CDi, Philips had decided that they needed an old school games expert to head up the games division at the Dorking Studios. Lance had been appointed. He set about building a team of old school game coders. Of the crew he built, Pete was one of them. So when they needed a pixel pusher artist, (most the artists there were degree educated photoshop guys and hadn't heard of sprites!) Pete told Lance that he knew where I was. Lance gave me the job. Though I think he was scared I would f*ck up. Not because I couldn't do the work, but because my attitude was a bit "different and unusual". He took the risk and I suddenly found myself in the stockbroker belt of surrey in a beautiful house, on a good salary and working in a showcase studio.

That's how I got the job. It was a lucky break I guess, if ever there was one."

Your background seems far from typical for a games developer Johnny! As the name suggests, Advanced Development and Support (ADS) this division of Philips Media wasn't supposed to be a games developer but a "Support Group" for technical assistance to outside studios working on CD-i software. What did this supporting role involve and how did ADS evolve into a developer for some of the most playable and technically outstanding games witnessed on CD-i?

Johnny: "Well although my background is far from todays typical games developer, once it was the norm. The whole industry started off in bedrooms with people like me and Pete. So I think we were typical games developers. Well for the 80's!

But you are right with ADS not supposed to be a games developer. That sort of came by accident. The ADS in its original format was supposed to be a support centre for the existing external development that was still underway after the sad demise of the Dorking Studios. What had happened is that when Philips made the desision to shut down Dorking, there were a lot of titles being developed elsewhere that relied on its resources, such as Digital Video Encoding for the mpeg movie sequences. Back then it was a big thing to encode something to mpeg and needed thousands of quids worth of kit. You couldn't just run it through a windows converter. Software encoding was not an option. And you had to do it by hand to do it well, set up the cut scenes, otherwise you'd get major artifacting (Thats the big oity toity a-level word for those weird squares you get when you're trying to watch porn on your computer!). The number of times I've had problems setting up non-standard Intra Matrixes on non-standard output resolutions. I can tell you Lost Eden with its wide screen aspect ratio was a total bugger!

But I digress. There was never any intention of the ADS being a developer. Of the few of the Old Dorking crew who were offered the chance to join, many declined because of one reason or another. So it basically began life as 3 blokes (Me - CGI and Digital Video, Paul Reid - Inhouse net work guy and Tim Page on the coding side)... sitting in a tiny office in Redhill, packed to the brim with millions of pounds worth of the latest computers, animation tools, and Digital/Analogue Video Equipment. Which was cool because I taught myself a lot by having access to this stuff. I was listening to MP3's, originally the Audio standard for mpeg-1 many years before anybody else had heard of them! We'd answer the phones all day and It just was "The IT Crowd" but for real.

Then to ease Tims support Job. The old 'have you tried turning it off and turning it on again trick didn't work with CDi, we had to replace the programmers that decided not to take the ADS role, so I got him in touch with these gamers I'd met in mosely who were writing shit hot PC games from their bedroom. Andy Morton and Tom Drummond. When they joined Pac-Panic (or pac attack as it was originally called) was going to be published by Philips. Andy Morton wrote a multiplexer that could fill safe areas with animated sprites (A MEAN FEAT on CDi), so the go ahead was given to add the CDi version to the catalogue. That was the ADS entry into games development as a sole entity, though we had a hand in a lot of the other games out there too."

Credits: The Black Moon Project, Devin Shockwell


CD-i, the best and the worst

>> Sunday, December 7, 2008

RDJNL once started a nice new CD-i website but it hasn't been updated for several months now. I like his Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame section about CD-i titles. It summarizes in a nutshell what you should ignore and what you should try if you are planning on buying a second hand CD-i player:
The best on CD-i according to RDJNL:
1. Cluedo (humorous interactive story; challenging with multiple players)
2. The Apprentice (great platform game)
3. Dimo's Quest (challenging puzzle game)

Following close:
-Creature Shock (great atmosphere)
-Voyeur (suspense)
-Mutant Rampage (good controls)
-Caesars World of Boxing (humorous interactive story)
-International Tennis Open (good controls)
-Mad Dog II: The Lost Gold (best shooter on cd-i)
-Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon (I could finish it)
-Tetris (great music and pictures, tetris made fun)

The worst on CD-i according to RDJNL:
1. Ultra CD-i Soccer (use a magnifying glass!)
2. Dark Castle (difficult controls, nearly unplayable)
3. Video Speedway (horrible sound and graphics)

Following close:
-Rise of the Robots (much too easy, repetitious)
-Lords of the Rising Sun (difficult controls)
-Zelda's Adventure (strange save function)
-Escape from Cybercity (much too difficult)
-The Palm Springs Open (golf; cannot learn to put)

by: rdjnl - Do you agree?


"CD-i Shop" Sold Out

A year ago we told you about a new CD-i website simply named the "CD-i Shop". Pleasantly surprising this was a very complete website offering a full catalogue of software titles and hardware peripherals at very low prices. The arrival of a new dutch CD-i initiative always gave me a warm heart, and it's another loss now I hear that the CD-i Shop is completely sold out. There's no specific CD-i place left for you to buy CD-i stuff, so we're heading back to ebay and Marktplaats for the best offerings.


The CD-i Controller Port at the front and back

>> Thursday, December 4, 2008

Even today I'm learning everyday a bit more about the background of CD-i hardware. And because of that, I'm happy to keep it archived here so later you all can look for it. Recently Shroo-man posted on the forum a picture of the CD-i controller port. There are some things that were new to me, like: You have to plug the TouchPad into the BACK of the CDI910. All GamePads plug into the back of CDI910's. TrackerBalls & RollerControllers plug into the FRONT. That's apparently something specifically of the 910 player. Also, when you buy a the TouchPad from another country, Gamgator tested that overseas TouchPads will not work on USA CDI Players. Stuff like that. What I found interesting is that when Shroo-man noticed the touchpad that came with his new CD-i player didn't work. He found out that the touchpad works fine, it's the controller port which doesn't work. The picture above is how it looks. It looks like there's a missing wire. But, The missing pin is number 6 which according to the documentation in ICDIA is "reserved" and hence not necessary:

For a working pointing device only four wires are needed:
pin 2 - RXD (data from device to player)
pin 5 - GND (signal and power supply ground)
pin 7 - RTS (reset pulse from player to device)
pin 8 - +5V (power supply for device)

The front port is connected via the so-called "slave" processor and supports only pointing devices (these are all input-only); the back port is connected to the main processor and supports bidirectional i/o and hence more devices (is is essentially a "normal" serial port and can be used as such by CD-i software). Players supporting a splitter combine the two ports in a single connector and usually have a third port supporting only pointing devices. CD-i software is supposed to support pointing devices on all ports (this was a publishing requirement by Philips Media) but it wouldn't surprise me if some software out there doesn't do this correctly.

Credits: Shroo-man, cdifan (great to see him again!)


FMV CD-i games and the Peacekeeper Gun

>> Wednesday, December 3, 2008

American Laser Games was the team who brought us FMV Shooters like Mad Dog McCree, Mad Dog 2: The Lost Gold, Crime Patrol, Crime Patrol 2 (Drug Wars), The Last Bounty Hunters, Fast Draw, Space Pirates and Who Shot Johnny Rock? - Both Fast Draw Space Pirates never made it on CD-i, but the others are released by CapDisc. Thunder in Paradise is another FMV shooter, although Thunder features computer animated enemies instead of FMV characters. So it's not 100% Full Motion Video. In my opinion Thunder is the best because of this, as the enemnies now aren't pre-fixed on the same places everytime, but they appear random! One of the things asked about CD-i is if the CD-i gun will work on new LCD screens or projecters. Yes, The gun will work with both a projector or and LCD/Plasma screen. It's true that other console guns work different and won't work on these types, but the Peacekeeper gun is actually a pretty innovative piece of hardware as it works the same way as the Wii remote.


French PC-style CD-i boxes

It seems like France has received a lot of special CD-i box releases coming in a PC style carton box. We've seen the 7th Guest here on Interactive Dreams (thumbs up if you can retrieve that post!) but thanks to two CD-i members we know of a pretty big list of CD-i games which also were released in abig PC style box. I wonder how many of you actually own those:
Chaos Control
International Tennis
Litil Divil
The joy of s e x
Forbidden City
head crash triple pack
promotional copy of Burn:Cycle
Secret Mission
Merlin's Apprentice

Besides those we've seen the 7th Guest and Burn:Cycle being released in the UK in a big box; I have to find out in what countries these were available, but as far as we can track down: France was a lucky country. It's possible this was only in a specific country, as Philips Media had their own publishing offices in different countries like Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

It surprises me the Voyeur box doesn't say Philips on the place of the publisher (down left), but something like 'Max Stage'. That's typical, why is that and what is Max Stage? The jewelcase just had 'Philips' printed on the boxart (Although Philips was carefully not to connect its name to 18+ titles on CD-i !

Credits: Shroo-man and K1ngArth3r


Interview Mass Media about Tetris (ex-CD-i developer)

>> Tuesday, December 2, 2008

On first tought, you might think what this has to do with CD-i, but if you know your history a little you would know Mass Media created a lot of games for CD-i, including an official Tetris game. And that's the exact thing I liked in this interview, Rob Shepherd put a few references to their original CD-i version of Tetris when talking about Tetris Evolution on the Xbox 360 (Apparently already one year old)

"RS: Mass Media, based in Moorpark, California, is the newest addition to the THQ Studio System. Previously they created the CDi Tetris game and many of the team members have a passion for Tetris and the puzzle genre. They have worked on a wide range of products in the past and are currently focused on next-gen development. We’re very excited to have them as part of the THQ Studio System, working exclusively on THQ titles now. Mass Media developed Tetris for the Compact Disc Interactive, known as CDi, the first CD-based entertainment system platform back toward the dawn of time. We’ve also accumulated a few hundred mini-games in our portfolio over the years, many of which were puzzle-based, so our puzzle roots run very deep. "

Read the interview here

A few weeks back the news arrived us that Mass Media, as part of THQ, is on the list to be closed by THQ in order to reduce costs. That would mean the end of one of the very few software companies who survived CD-i.


Ten years of CD-I websites 1998-2008

With 2008 soon be over I feel like sharing some history views on the CD-I websites in the past ten years. It’s roughly been ten years since Philips pulled the plugs out of all CD-I events and thankfully the rise of the internet caused a small CD-I scene to stay alive. With only a handful of people maintaining the online CD-I world it’s a miracle after ten years the format hasn’t been forgotten. And honestly, in the past months it’s been new people who share their crave for CD-I instead of the old crew. However, we used to have a different forum at CD-I Heaven, and I did my best to retrieve any contact info of the owner but as the place was run on a free hosting place, after a while it disappeared. 2001 was a special year when Devin Shockwell started the Black Moon Project, the oldest CD-I website that’s still alive, although it has its vacations that can take up a year or so. Those were the days when Gir Draxa put up his CD-I Collective at Geocities to share his CD-I reviews on games and hardware. A few years later he transferred the content to a more stable server, however that version is offline nowadays. The old free Geocities version is still available.

The biggest stir came in 2003 when Omegalfa started a French CD-I website, Le Monde du CD-i. Along with it the dutch Terratron put his CD-I efforts in and later at, but none of that is here anymore. Even Le Monde du CD-I is offline, mainly because all the people of interest are not here at the CD-I front anymore, so it shove to the background and due to some software risks it went offline.

In 2004 Devin started the Cdinteractive Network, which was meant a a hosting place for new CD-I websites, but unfortunately it hasn’t been used a lot. The only big thing going on is the continuation of one of the important CD-I archives: The new International CD-I Association.

More of interest came in 2007 when member rdjnl experimented with, which is somewhat dormant right now. I have no idea if he has any further plans for the future. Some new stuff may come from member XCLTempest, but until now we have yet to wait and see.

Interactive Dreams launched in 2005 as The Black Moon Monthly where I started with one article every month. After one year I felt the need to create a full blog out of it and that’s how the current site evolved. All the articles of the past years are in our archive, as well as the articles of Le Monde du CD-I, and CD-I Collective, Terratron’s CD-I repair guide and The Black Moon Project. So thankfully, most of the articles are in our vault, or will be in the future. With this in mind Interactive Dreams has created the headquarters of all online info gathered by many CD-I fans, of which I hope some will return to boost the interest in CD-I for the coming years.

With that, you’ve found all available CD-I related websites, of which only a handful are still available and even a lesser amount is active.

Although I’ve been around since the very beginning, the old days brake up my memory so the picture is far from complete. I’d like you to join me in sharing some history stories about the CD-I websites in the past years, please leave yours below!


...And we're back, updating

>> Monday, December 1, 2008

The site is changing to fit recent standards and I hope it will work with all browsers soon! It will probably take a while before everything is on its place, but at least I've saved all the previous posts for you to read, and we'll start with the latest stuff as soon as the site is working properly. Interactive Dreams will keep CD-i alive in 2009!


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

  © Interactive Dreams Version 5 by The Black Moon Project 2013

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