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Old 14 June 2017, 06:54   #1
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Side Arms / Probe creation by its graphist


I have found a comment on youtube, given by Stuart Mc millan, who did the graphics of this game :

"Thanks for the fantastic compare video, it's the first time I've seen all the versions together. Hopefully you'll find this equally interesting...

I was part of the team who put the Atari version together and can give you an insight as to how our version of game was put together.

There were 4 of us in the team who made this - 2 coders, a musician and a graphics guy (me). We hung out as students in a video arcade in Glasgow in about 1987 or '88. We all liked playing the arcade version and one of us had written a few games already and had a relationship with Probe.

So, we asked Probe if we could have the license for the game and were given the OK. Whether Capcom were ever consulted is doubtful, but we took that as the OK.

In order to capture the gameplay, we slipped the arcade owner a tenner to let us video the whole thing on a rented VHS-C camcorder. So, as we were not hotshot gamers, we literally fed 10p's into the machine from the start to the finish and one of us held the monster, on-the-shoulder camcorder for the hour or so it took to finish the game. That was as much asset transfer as we were going to get from Capcom!

Now armed with the music and graphics, we had to go away and recreate... everything, from scratch.

To do this, I had an Atari ST-FM (FM is important here, as you'll see) and a simple 2D animation package (Cyberpaint) and 16 colours. The reason the colours look so washed out is that the Atari was connected via it's FM port to a crappy 14" colour TV portable where the colour balance was whatever I made it. The idea of colour calibration may have existed in 1987/8, but I sure as hell didn't know what is was!

16 colours also seemed a hell of a lot, but I was allocated 4 for the background (including black, or for later stages, blue, green or whatever), which is why the backgrounds lack any detail. This allowed 3 actual colours for the backdrops and 12 for the foreground and sprites, woohoo!

...except, you'll note that the score is white, so, 11 colours. And the guy needs to stay the same colour through the game, so down another 3, and the yellow and red shot selector has 2 colours. I think I ended up with a colour palette for everything at around 6 colours. Finally, take note that every single graphics asset was one guy (me) in my bedroom for about 9months. The title screen was done by another guy as mine was deemed too washed out.

The coders wrote the whole game from the ground up and the musician wrote the score from scratch. I think I got mebbe £1000 or £1500 for the whole thing, most of which went to paying my overdraft, the rest went to beer tokens. We did this all while in our final years at Strathclyde University (and we all got our degrees, though some by the skin of our teeth!)

The guys went on to form ICE Software (wikipedia here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICE_Software) and they (and I) did a few more things before the bubble burst in the early 90s and killed the whole company."
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