Eldritch The Cat Mk III : 1990 - 1991

Part 3 of the Eldritch The Cat story. Parts 1 & 2 are here and here.

Jim Savage, Mark McCubbin, Dave Colclough, Steve Wetherill, Martin Calvert, Dave Collins

New Digs

Mark McCubbin had found himself an office in the Brunswick Docks, part of Liverpool's docklands. The docklands saw new life following the significant renovations undertaken in the Albert Dock, close to Liverpool's city center. The renovated Brunswick Dock, further away from the city center, was divided into affordable office space. Mark's office was tiny and inexpensive, and it got us thinking: there are other, larger offices in the Brunswick complex; perhaps we could join forces and share a larger office space? And so it came to be that Eldritch The Cat moved out of my house to a new office, a windowless room in an otherwise decent building that was once an ancillary part of Brunswick Dock: Century Building Section 5, Brunswick Business Park, Tower Street, Brunswick Dock, Liverpool 3.

And Then There Were Four - Eldritch Expands!

When we moved to the new office, Projectyle still needed to be finalized (more on that below). But Marc Wilding and I had been talking to Mark McCubbin and ex-Odin and Microprose coder Stefan Walker about joining forces. Mark was wrapping Shadow of the Beast on the Atari ST, and Stefan was about to start work on the 16-bit version of Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Trainer (AFT), having previously completed the Spectrum port. These games would give us an excellent portfolio as a company, something we could leverage in future discussions with publishers.

Finalizing Projectyle

Projectyle loading screen

Projectyle was complete on the Atari ST and ready to master; however, we had not finalized the Amiga version. Not quite. Back in 1990, games shipped on a floppy disk (of course!), and so it was necessary to create a "mastering program," which was a program that would run on the target machine to write out a clean floppy disk ready for duplication. Well, that's not entirely accurate; the mastering program would kick out a master disk prepared for the addition of DRM copy-protection and *then* mastering. I needed to create the mastering program for the Amiga version, and both the Atari ST and the Amiga versions had to pass the final Electronic Arts quality control checks, fixing any bugs discovered in that process.

As the drop-dead date for the Amiga version approached, Kevin Shrapnell, our producer at Electronic Arts, reasoned that it would be best to finish the game in the Electronic Arts office in Langley. It was strongly suggested that Marc and I should both be present and stay until we completed the game. This required that all our development kits, monitors, Amigas, Atari STs, and everything else be boxed up. And with that, Marc and I were summoned to the EAUK HQ at Langley Business Centre on Station Road, Langley, near Slough.

Kevin generously offered to drive up to Liverpool to collect us and our development kit, and he would put us up in his house in Datchet, near Slough, for a few days.

Since Marc and I still did not have transport, we once again made our way to the Rocket pub, off the M62 exit in Childwall, where we'd agreed to meet Kevin. This time, at least, Kevin was expecting us to be on foot; the plan was to collect us at the motorway exit and then head into our docklands office in EAUK Managing Director Mark Lewis's new company Mazda, which Kevin had borrowed so that we could fit our dev gear into the trunk. As we pulled out of the pub car park and headed along Queen's Drive, realizing Kevin needed directions, I piped up with, "Oh, you'll need to take a right up at the next roundabout, Childwall Fiveways, to keep on Queens Drive!" With a glance over his right shoulder, Kevin made a lane switch to position us for the upcoming roundabout; unfortunately, an overtaking vehicle must have been right in our blind spot because we gave it a bone-crunching smack as we collided with it while changing lanes! Nobody spoke for a short while as Kevin pulled over to the side of the road to exchange details with the other driver.

Fortunately, we were all uninjured (if not a bit shaken up), and the Mazda was still perfectly drivable (albeit with both doors on the driver's side pretty banged up), so after swapping particulars with the other driver, we continued on our way to the Eldritch The Cat office to pick up our stuff. It was not the most promising start to the final push to get Projectyle out the door.

Once ensconced at the EA office, we made significant progress over the next couple of days and completed the Amiga version of the game. I vaguely remember going for an early morning swim at a local swimming pool, or am I imagining that? It is certainly something that I would not ordinarily choose to do - I remember Kevin suggesting that it would be a good idea. Still, I am trying to recall if we did that! [edit: Marc Wilding confirms that we did go swimming!] Those days were a blur, with the coffee on tap in the EA kitchen and all the crunching in unfamiliar surroundings.

A memory of that EA office was the 'smoking room,' a windowless room (generous, it was a cupboard) where people would go to smoke. I remember meeting in that room with somebody or another at EA ("Let's go meet in the smoking room"). Smoking is such an obnoxious habit, and the smoking room was a genuinely awful meeting place.

When all development work was complete, it was time for the final QC (quality control) session to ensure Projectyle was ready to ship. The game supports an 8-player league mode, and QC did not have eight people available to play that mode to completion, so it was decided that the EA internal dev team would pull a late night, with plenty of pizza and caffeine on hand, and 8 of us would play through the league in its entirety. Since the game supports simultaneous 3-player gameplay (a game of three halves, after all), this led to some boisterous 'encouragement' as each team's fortunes ebbed and flowed through the league matchups. We laughed. We cried. We made up nicknames for the in-game players as their cameo animations played when they scored (Rocking Rojo sticks in my memory!) 

And then, a couple of hours into the testing, the disk drive had a wobbly moment. The Amiga was having difficulty loading the game, and we could all hear the heads grinding as the drive retried. We all looked at each other—sudden silence. And then, the game loaded! There were loud cheers as we continued with the league games, leading finally to an overall winner (I forget who) and a successful outcome to our hours of testing! I can't remember everyone who played that session of Projectyle that night, but the players included Kevin Shrapnell, Rupert Easterbrook, Matthew Webster, Scott Probin, Marc Wilding, and myself. I'd love to get the complete list; if anyone reading this can remember who the other two players are, or if I have misremembered anyone, I'll add them!

The next day, a trip to the disk duplication facility was organized, and off Kevin, Marc, and I went to oversee the final mastering of the Projectyle disks. One of the many topics we discussed with Kevin as we drove to the duplication facility was 'the next game' (evidently, EA was happy with Projectyle, at least on that basis). I remember suggesting we make a game called Sucktyle, a future sports game featuring vacuum cleaners. Indeed, the name did not seem popular, and Kevin needed to be convinced by the vacuum-cleaner-based game mechanics I was proposing. So, not that one, then. The other idea we discussed was a game about pathetic superheroes. What if, we wondered, there was a league of superheroes, but they had pathetic superpowers? A Free League of Pathetic Superheroes, as it were. What kind of game would that be? More on this later on.

Flash forward to today: when EA ceased promoting Projectyle commercially, the intellectual rights reverted to me. Although I’ve taken a couple of stabs at releasing an update or sequel, nothing has made it to market yet. 

The Allegro (or "the worst British car ever made")

The Eldritch office at the Brunswick Dock was a great working space (despite the lack of direct natural light), but there was one problem: transportation. I had to catch two buses from my home to the office. Only one limited bus service ran from Liverpool city center to the office. More often than not, after an extended session at the office, I found myself walking along the dock road into the city at night, hoping to catch the last bus home. I never encountered any trouble walking that route at night, but I always felt I had to keep my wits about me. We also caught many taxis (we had an account with a taxi firm). At the ripe old age of 28, I decided it was time to learn to drive, so I signed up with BSM and did my driving lessons in a BSM mini metro. These went well, and I soon passed my test and started looking for a car. 

I mentioned this to my Dad, who said, "I might know somebody," one thing led to another, and before I knew it, in exchange for the princely sum of £350, I was the proud owner of a 1974 Austin Allegro, one careful owner, 70K miles, in mustard. Allegro quirks included a square ("quartic") steering wheel (bizarre) and Hydragas suspension (whatever Hydragas is, it had long since left the building). That would make this vehicle 17 years old, but it looked OK, I told myself.

That "British Leyland Mustard" is essentially the same color as the Camel Trophy Land Rovers, where it is called "Sandglow" (at least according to the Maximus Ironthumper YouTube channel). So, I had a nice Sandglow Allegro; trips off the tongue!

A mustard "Sandglow Yellow" Austin Allegro

This Allegro had seen better days, and I had various problems with it, though my main concern was affording gas. I'd often find myself putting in fifty pence worth of gas, enough to get me to work and back after picking up Mark on the way in. I remember one day picking up Frederic from Titus (read on for context), who was over from France for a visit, and him being terrified (I don't remember if this was due to my driving, the car, or the area of Liverpool we were driving through). Since visiting France, where driving (or at least parking) is a full-contact sport, I don't know why Frederic was so afraid. Anyway, I kept the Allegro for a couple of years; it let me down a few times (including stopping dead on the promenade at Rhyl), it burned oil in proportion to the gas it used, and for some reason, people kept breaking into the trunk and stealing the spare wheel (that happened twice), but having personal transport was liberating. 

Crime Does Not Pay (or how I learned to stop worrying and love to code in C)

Crime Does Not Pay loading screen

Here we were, a team of coders well-versed in 68K assembly language; why didn't we bolster our coffers with some easy ports? Atari ST to Amiga or vice versa, we figured that we could take on one or two of these. Mark made a few phone calls, and it turned out that he was pretty good at getting publishers' attention.

And so we were gathered one day in our windowless office, waiting for the door to open, heralding the arrival of Frederic, a producer from French publisher Titus, who was in the UK meeting with developers. Early fruit from Mark's efforts on the phone.

Frederic was a quiet guy, about whom I can say with certainty that his English was much better than our French, but notice that I did not go so far as to say his English was good! Anyway, we must have managed to communicate sufficiently well to convince Frederic that we were the right team to do an Amiga port of the Atari ST game that Titus was publishing called "Crime Does Not Pay" ("Le Crime Ne Paie Pas" in the original French). Titus was offering a decent amount of money. I don't recall specifics, but it was worth a good chunk of what EA had paid us for Projectyle, which was eye-opening.

And so more discussions happened, we signed a contract, and then the source code for the Atari ST version was to be provided.

If this sounds too good to be true, you'd be right! We were in for a rough ride due partly to our inexperience and naivety and partly because getting money out of Titus would be like wringing stones. But we didn't know that yet.

Late one evening, we unhooked our fax machine and hooked up our modem to the fax line. We were on a voice call with Frederic coordinating the file transfer protocol we'd use, Y modem, Z modem, etc. Frederic started sending files, but evidently, something was wrong, and our respective modem packages were not communicating correctly; not quite. Instead of writing the source to disk, our modem package was streaming them to the screen, and we could see line after line of code scrolling up the screen. As I looked at this source code, I had a sudden sinking feeling. I looked over at Mark; he had noticed, too.

The source code was in the C programming language. 

WTF! We had assumed it would be in 68K assembler. Nobody at Eldritch knew C! Well, crap. So much for a quick port! Time to learn C!

I volunteered to learn C and do this port, an unexpected time sink. By this time, we had transitioned to PC development using the SNASM cross assembler for 68K work. I learned to code in C using the PC, a copy of Borland Turbo C with its handy interactive help system, and a copy of the K&R book (there's no internet yet, remember). I set myself the challenge of porting the 68K file compressor utility Eldritch was using to onboard me into C programming; job done, I struggled through the Atari ST code for "Crime," trying to figure out how to make it work on the Amiga, but I was running into problems. There were parts of the game on the ST that I could not find anywhere in the source code, and in fact, I could not build the ST version. We reported this to Titus, who eventually said, "OK, you must be doing something wrong; here's the phone number for the Atari ST developer in France." We learned two things after talking on the phone to this French fellow (I am sorry, I do not remember his name); first, we had his confirmation that the source code was indeed incomplete. Second, after asking the obvious question, we learned that Titus had yet to pay the developer, who was withholding the final code until they did so. Yikes. Foreshadowing.

Eventually, Titus provided the complete source code, and I could complete the work, though only with some challenges. "Crime" was an OS-friendly game requiring various OS functions for graphics, input, and disk handling, and the 512K ST had significantly more free memory than a similar 512K Amiga. Ultimately, I figured out how to shut down enough of the Amiga OS to allow Crime to load and play; however, it was a tight squeeze. I was using Lattice C on the Amiga, IIRC; alas, I do not recall what was used on the ST.

Progress on our side was pretty good once I had the buildable source code, but I can't say the same about Titus. They were terrible at paying and knew *all* the tricks to delay paying developers. For example, having been advised by our bank to insist on payment in pounds sterling but having failed to get Titus to agree to a wire transfer, we arrived at what we naively thought was a decent compromise: Titus would send us a check payable in sterling. When we attempted to pay the check into our account, we asked the bank clerk how long it would take to clear. The clerk told us it would take several weeks for the check to clear since it was written in sterling against a French bank and, therefore, was a "negotiable instrument."

This behavior became par for the course; Titus would find one reason or another for delaying each payment. At some point, Louie Beatty (whom I would encounter again later at Virgin Interactive) stepped in to replace Frederic. Despite the chaos and the cowboy publisher shenanigans by Titus, we delivered the completed game. It was a little late (see above!), but we got out alive, a little bruised and wiser. And we did eventually get paid.


Tentacle was a side scroller targeted at the Amiga and was signed to publisher Millenium with a £20K budget. The player controlled a craft with four tentacles, which followed the floor and ceiling of the caves as you progressed through the level. 


Jim Savage created art for the game, and IIRC joined the team on a youth training scheme and then continued work as an intern. Jim was a natural talent, and his pixel art was top-notch, even if Mark made him add teeth to all his enemy creations to make them meaner. :)

The overall graphics style of the game was in the Psygnosis, Roger Dean vein, and with layers of parallax and large sprites, it was a visual treat. 

Tentacle was not released, and as Mark McCubbin reminded me, we had a disagreement with publisher Millenium, which led to them delaying payments of our milestones. Due to this, we pitched the game to other publishers, including Electronic Arts, with whom we had discussions about taking over the game's publishing; however, the buyout terms were untenable for us.

FLOPS - the Free League Of Pathetic Superheroes

FLOPS was the follow-up game to Projectyle. We had signed with EA for the princely sum of £25,000, and we were to design and implement versions of FLOPS for Atari ST and Commodore Amiga. Naturally, we were to produce all art and audio for the game, in addition to design and code.

I regret not completing FLOPS, but all development ceased when Eldritch ran out of runway - more on that later. Only after we had done a bunch of work on it, though. 

In the game, players encountered a variety of uniquely named superheroes leaning into classic superhero taglines like "Clark Kent is Superman" or "Peter Parker is Spiderman," viz "Koi Carp is The Goldfish," with the power to transform into a goldfish. Suitably pathetic, you might agree. Another pair of characters were the Hobby Horse knights, the White Knight, and his adversary, the Black Knight. Alas, I can't remember many other characters, though we had a whole ensemble.

Martin Calvert, a talented artist employed full-time at Eldritch, brought the game's world to life with art rivaling the best 16-bit 2D-pixel art of contemporary games. His contributions included a stunning FLOPS logo, a pixel art masterpiece featuring chrome lettering set against a desert scene under a blue sky. 

The game's setting drew inspiration from 1950s, 60s, and 70s Americana, presenting a big city with vertically scrolling sections where players could explore various buildings and encounter passing vehicles, all intricately designed by Martin. 

Gameplay was diversified through minigames, some fully implemented with complete graphics and others partially. A notable minigame involved the Hobby Horse Knight encounter, where players were transported to a simplified chess board. Here, the Black Knight played against the White Knight, moving in a chess knight "L" pattern on a board where each square gradually decayed to reveal bubbling lava (and death!) below, adding a strategic, turn-based challenge. Another minigame featured The Goldfish attempting to escape a goldfish bowl by building momentum, California Games style; we were big fans of California Games on the Atari Lynx.

Unique to the game were vending machines dispensing superheroes in potted (a la Potted Noodle) form, a quirky concept that introduced new heroes to players. Additionally, a claw machine minigame offered a chance to pick up items, with both machines boasting complete visuals and functional prototypes.

The game's development hinged on the proprietary OCCAI framework, a collaborative effort primarily led by Mark McCubbin. OCCAI, named for its playful nod to Scottish dialect and suggestive of a programming language, incorporated a sprite animation system, a custom scripting language for game logic development, and collision detection functionality. 

From a technical standpoint, the game's development marked a period of maturation, including the creation of a dynamic memory manager and a cross-platform file system. Although FLOPS never reached the public, the technologies developed, such as the memory manager, were later utilized in successful titles like "Myth: History In The Making" for System 3 and the Sega Genesis version of "Risky Woods" at Electronic Arts, where it was adapted to manage the console's VRAM resources effectively.

I worked on FLOPS for six months to a year, on and off. To the best of my knowledge, there is not even the slightest morsel of any of it that remains today. As you'll learn in a future post (and as I mentioned above), I went to work at Electronic Arts when Eldritch closed its doors. At a certain point, EA destroyed its catalog of assets from previously published or in-development games from their archives. Everything from Projectyle and FLOPS was lost when they did that. 

Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Trainer

Chuck Yeager's AFT

Stefan handled this game on his own. He probably benefited from input from the other members of Eldritch, but by and large, he just got on with this conversion to the Amiga and Atari ST from the game's PC version. We completed the game, and I am credited for the audio, but I do not recall what I did. At one point, I created some music, but I think the only audio of mine in the game is the sequence of Chuck Yeager samples at the start of the game, "So, you want to fly an airplane," etc. These came from the audio cassette accompanying the game.

After completing AFT, Stef left Eldritch to take a position at Electronic Arts in Langley, working on the Amiga port of LHX.

Flimbo's Quest

Flimbo's Quest for Atari ST

Somewhere along the way, we connected with a publisher in London called System 3, run by managing director Mark Cale, of the speedy white BMW car. In our quest to swell the Eldritch coffers, we took on various projects for System 3, starting with a port of Flimbo's Quest from the Amiga to the Atari ST. This game was in 68K assembler, and the port from the Amiga to the ST was quick, using Mark's MOVEP scrolling and my Projectyle sprite tech. I also made interpretations of the Amiga music for the ST; I'll collect and post these at a later date.

We encountered a few new payment delay tactics working with System 3. A good one was, "Somebody stole our company checkbook, so we had to cancel that check we sent you. Don't use that check; we'll get you a new one soon." We got paid in the end; it was our honor to provide a credit facility at the Bank of Eldritch. 

Some people complained about the 8-pixel MOVEP scrolling, but System 3 was pleased with the game and offered us more ports and more music work, oddly enough. Again, I'll collect the music I created during this period at a later date.

The ST port was a team effort, with Marc Wilding wrestling a bunch of the port into submission and then using the scrolling and sprite tech mentioned above; however, Marc decided to leave Eldritch soon after this port.

Last Ninja 3

Last Ninja 3 intro

Somewhere in the mix, we encountered Dave Collins, a PC programmer who got his start in games on a training scheme at Denton Designs. Dave was wrapping up a port of the game "Storm Lord" to the PC, so connecting the dots, we figured we might find some PC work. "Little Dave" joined Eldritch as an employee, and soon enough, we had secured a contract with System 3 to work on their Last Ninja 3 game for the Amiga and PC. Little Dave worked with Marc Wilding on Last Ninja 3, but after Marc left the company, Little Dave continued alone with the work.

Myth: History In The Making

Myth intro

Eldritch gained another programmer in the form of Dave Colclough, previously a director at Denton Designs, who joined the ranks of Eldritch as a very experienced Amiga/Atari ST programmer. We soon secured a contract with System 3 to create the 16-bit versions of "Myth: History In The Making," with "Big Dave" on coding duties at Eldritch.

Rest in peace, Big Dave. ❤️ 

The Brunswick Pub

There was one pub, The Brunswick (also known as The Seven Steps), near the Eldritch office along the dock road that you would never, ever dream of visiting. I'd often walk past it at night and be thankful I passed it without incident. Anyway, one night (just one), a few of us from Eldritch decided we'd go to the pub. I don't know what possessed us, but Big Dave was among us, and he parked his brand-new motorcycle outside the pub. We were not there more than an hour, and I am sure you can guess this, but of course, Dave's bike had vanished. That led to us visiting the police station in Toxteth to report it, which was in itself quite an experience. I felt so bad for Dave because he'd only gone to the pub under duress.

The Baby Game

Amidst all these other things we were doing, we came up with a game pitch and demo to present to a would-be agent to represent Eldritch. The pitch we came up with was called "The Baby Game." The game was played in a top-down perspective and featured fantastic animation from Martin Calvert. As per the name, the characters were crawling babies, and it was the player's task to babysit, making sure the babies did not wander into danger (stairs, oven, washing machine, etc). Each baby had its own characteristics; some were prone to demonstrative behavior, some would cause other babies to follow them into trouble, etc. As babies wandered around, the walls were rendered in a sort of forced perspective, giving a 3d feeling to the game. Dave Colclough worked on the demo.

Unfortunately, nothing came of this effort. Feedback was that the game was in bad taste. "You can't do a game about babies!" There was some brief talk about connecting this game idea with a "spin-off babies" TV show or movie license (I don't recall which one); then again, perhaps someone was just blowing smoke. Nothing came of any of it. Those animations by Martin were sweet, though!

The Crosswize Cover Tapes

In our quest to bolster the cash flow, we had the idea of licensing my game Crosswize to one of the Spectrum magazines as a "cover tape" (a cassette tape affixed to the magazine cover, as was the fashion in the late '80s/early '90s) for some £££. In fact, we convinced not one but two Speccy magazines, Sinclair User and (I think) Your Sinclair, each to pay us the princely sum of £500 for the privilege of including the complete Crosswize game on their cover tapes, non-exclusively. There was only one slight fly in this ointment: I did not have a system to compile the source code (I had long since sold the BBC model B I had previously used for Speccy development). To get around this, we contacted our friends at Denton Designs and managed to borrow one of their Sage 4 machines, which I had previously used while at Denton's (for Foxx Fights Back). After a a few days of toil, I had the Crosswize source code compiling and created a master tape for Sinclair User, and off that went in the post. The next day, I created a second master tape for Your Sinclair, and I remember shouting to Mark across the office, "Hey, what is the shipping address for Your Sinclair?" before nipping into town to stick that one in the post.

To cut a long story short, Mark gave me the wrong address for the Your Sinclair tape, which instead went winging its way to Sinclair User, complete with a note addressed to Your Sinclair. By the time we realized our error, we'd already returned the Sage 4 system to Denton Designs, so there was nothing for it but to call Sinclair User and ask for the Your Sinclair tape back. I can tell you that they were not very thrilled at this turn of events and declined to return our tape.

Crosswize featured on the cover tape of Sinclair User issue #113 in July 1991, and they paid us £500. However, it did not feature on any issue of Your Sinclair, and they did not pay us £500.

The End of Eldritch The Cat

With all these things in development, it might appear we were doing well. In truth, we were struggling. Though we were not paying ourselves a king's ransom, cash flow was problematic, and we struggled from payroll to payroll. In retrospect and with 20/20 hindsight, we should have whittled down to the core products and focused on FLOPS and Tentacle. Instead, we took on all the porting work from a succession of lackluster publishers, who always delayed payment. More critically, for the health of our business, we took on more and more work and overextended ourselves; it all proved too much for us. 

The final nail in the coffin came after we entered into a discussion with a Midlands-based publisher to do the home computer versions of the arcade game Caveman Ninja (also known as Joe and Mac). The head of the publishing house drove up to Liverpool and met Mark and me, and we showed him around the Eldritch office, where he met our staff. Mark & I went with the publisher for dinner at a local Indian restaurant, probably the UNI, and things went well. Negotiations continued; the publisher wanted Amiga, ST, C64, and Spectrum versions of Caveman Ninja, and we negotiated a fee of £50,000 with a £10,000 advance. We already had a killer art team in Jimmy and Martin and lined up a local programmer to work on the 8-bit versions. We posted a job vacancy for a 16-bit programmer, which received a lot of interest, and we figured that between Mark, Big Dave, Little Dave, and myself, we would tackle preproduction work until the new 16-bit coder started.

With everything green-lit, the publisher faxed a contract, which we signed and returned. The next day, along with the fully executed contract, a wire transfer for £10,000 was to be transmitted to our bank account.

Dear reader, you may already have anticipated some of what happened next. The next day came along without a wire transfer or executed contract. The publisher "changed its mind." I'll leave that without further comment except to say we sought legal advice, and as you might expect, the agreement needed a signature to be enforceable.

The bigger problem was that Mark and I had naively taken the publisher's word and assumed the verbal commitment would be honored. Assuming £10,000 would land in our bank account, we had written checks to our employees to cover wages and to our landlord to cover our rent arrears. All those checks would bounce; it was game over for Eldritch The Cat. It was heartbreaking, but Mark and I were forced to call it quits.


In the aftermath of the collapse of Eldritch, we negotiated with Marc Cale at System 3 for Little Dave and Big Dave to assume the development of Last Ninja 3 and Myth. We had to let Jimmy and Martin go, though I would work again with Jimmy later for a one-off project. As for ourselves, Mark and I needed a new gig.

During this period, the Allegro also decided to make its exit. When setting off from the traffic lights one day, at the junction of Rathbone Road and Edge Lane, making a left turn toward Liverpool city center, the Allegro suffered a critical failure when the lower ball joints on both front wheels failed simultaneously, causing both wheels to pancake into the road; the Allegro being a front-wheel drive vehicle, I immediately lost both steering and power. I do recall the little kid who happened to witness the unfolding events, proclaiming, "Hey, Mister, yer car's broke!" It is perhaps as well that I was moving slowly. I did have the ball joints repaired, ignoring the advice from the mechanic who told me, "The car will never be the same again," but then the vehicle was stolen from its parking spot. And that was the end of that.


In the immediate period post-Eldritch, Mark and I moved to Stroud in Gloucestershire and created a game called Under Pressure; as it turned out, it was an abysmal game for an abysmal publisher, and there is little point in saying more about either. I will mention briefly that due to certain events that took place, Mark and I ended up losing all our development hardware and software, as well as all archives and backups from everything we had done up until this point in our careers. This does explain why I have no source code backups of any 8-bit games I worked on or for Projectyle or anything else Eldritch created.

On the positive side, what initially seemed like an unpleasant turn of events turned out to be the career reset we both needed. Mark went on to work at Microprose, and I took a position at Electronic Arts in the UK. More on that next time!


Feft said…
Thanks for posting these.

It's great reading for someone who grew up with these machines, played many of your games, and wished to become a game developer but was not old enough.
Steve said…
Thanks for reading and commenting! πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»

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