Diary of a Game
The Making of Lemmings Part 2
After last month's instalment, our Dutch programming friends experienced a few problems. RIMI EBUS reports...
REMI: In the first issue of COMMODORE FORCE you read about the teams first impressions of the Lemmings conversion. Everything was still going smoothly and without any major problems... You can probably already guess what I'm going to say next... major troubles! Basically, our graphicer - Nikaj Eijk - wasn't doing his part of the job. You may have read or heard the rumour(s) about other potential productions involving Alter Developments (now called E&E Software Company) such as Zool and Troddlers. Well, we're still looking for a company interested in publishing Zool on the C64, but the problem in question was Troddlers.
At the Spring ECTS show in London, we agreed to do Troddlers for The Sales Curve as it was a Lemmings clone of sorts (we even had to change our contract with Psygnosis to enable us to work on Troddlers!). A representative of The Sales Curve promised to send out a copy of the game, which we would use to make a few small demos - as we did with Lemmings. But The Sales Curve didn't send us a copy of their game; several puzzled letters and phone calls resulted in complete nothingness. But as we were still interested in the game as we felt it had some potential, so, half a year later we decided to make a demo-version of a five level Amiga demo of the game. A week later we got up to 40 Troddlers walking around in a very early version of the game, and then sent our efforts to The Sales Curve. Their feelings on the demo were included in a small letter that stated they weren't interested with a C64 Troddlers project, but a few phone calls later we knew better. It seemed that another (Dutch) team were also working on Troddlers. That team had already been offered a contract, but if we could come up with a better version of Troddlers than theirs - before they had signed up - we could conceivably be given the project. However, the contract offered didn't give us enough security to continue - even if we had made a superior version in the short time scale available, we'd have only been paid royalties (a percentage for each sold copy of the game) and no advance. So we decided to drop the Troddlers conversion.
All very interesting isn't it? But why all this in a Lemmings diary? Well, we knew the other team and guess who was doing the graphics for Troddlers? Nikaj Eijk! Not only did he snatch a conversion away from the company he worked for (at that time still Alter Developments), he was also working on another game while he should have been working on Lemmings! I don't think anyone could imagine how angry we were with Nikaj at that time! Our first intention was to completely abandon Nikaj, not using any of his graphics and not paying him a single dime.
But if we had done that, Lemmings would've been delayed even further, so we decided to use the levels he'd already finished at that time, and divide the rest of the graphics between several other freelance graphicers, which seemed to work initially. However, only two of the five new graphicers actually did anything - namely Alain Jansen (intro graphics) and Leon Van Rooy (level graphics) - so the Lemmings team currently looks like this:
- Programming: Thomas Mittelmeyer
- Music: Jeroen Tel
- Graphics: Leon Van Rooy
- Intro Graphics: Alain Jansen
While we would have finished Lemmings 2-3 months before the official deadline, we're currently a month behind, but both ourselves and Psygnosis are confident that we'll have Lemmings finished in the very near future (and that's the VERY near future, I hope). Enough stories (read excuses), let's hear what the team has to say...
THOMAS: This has been a relatively quiet period for me, as I've had to wait for graphics which, obviously, were delayed after the incident with our former graphicer. But don't think I didn't have to do anything for ages; one of the first things I did was to improve my level editor, and it's now at its very best. Now I can edit an average level in ten minutes! But I also improved my main routine several times in my quest for extra memory - I'm always glad to get some extra free bytes to fill up again.
Several extras I'd planned to include at the outset of the project never got a chance to be featured. For example when a Lemming explodes on the Amiga it splat out in several points which fly through the scenery (quite cool actually). In the beginning I planned to include that, but, due to memory restrictions, couldn't. I also discovered Lemmings has an end-sequence: a picture of a Lemming surrounded with pictures of DMA Design, the team responsible for the original Lemmings on the Amiga. There was also a digitised sample of the team clapping their hands and cheering about the fact that you'd made it through all 120 levels, so that has to be included as well...
A few weeks ago (at the time of writing) Greg Duddle - the producer from Psygnosis - came over to the Netherlands, so I had to edit all 60 levels we'd finished at that time. You see, when I showed some of them to Greg, it seemed that I'd made a few mistakes, as the Lemmings refused to enter the exit, but saw it as just another piece of the scenery. Luckily, that only appeared in ten of the 60 levels, as I worked throughout the night to complete that preview. At that meeting Remi had also brought along three tunes from Jeroen for Lemmings, and they sounded brilliant! I don't know if you've ever heard the Amiga music, but it's rather (read: very) simplistic, but Jeroen managed to add something special to make it sound a lot better while still keeping the cuteness necessary for Lemmings. I can't wait to hear the rest, Well, I'm off - I've just noticed (yet) another bug...
LEON: When Remi called me and asked if I'd like to work on Lemmings, I was over the moon - things had been a little quiet at the time. I was very happy to do some game work again - especially as it was Lemmings. When I got the Amiga graphics and the converted C64 ones I immediately started work.
To date, my favourite levels are the ones we named 'The Blue Levels', with their light, blue and fleshy rose colour combinations. These also feature the green jelly (no, not the band!) which I've changed so that they now, in my opinion, look even better than the Amiga version! When I'm in a good mood I'll complete three levels a day, but believe me - drawing the same kind of pictures day-in and day-out soon becomes tedious. But still, when the Lemmings graphics tend to get on my nerves, I switch to drawing something else, or thinking that every day the completion of Lemmings draws nearer and nearer.
Well, that's it for Lemmings this month. Jeroen Tel was too busy working on his new CD (mentioned last issue) to contribute to this issue's diary - apparently, it's going to be excellent. That aside, there's great news for mouse owners - Lemming will be compatible! According to Remi, it plays like a dream using one, although that's not to say it doesn't work well with your standard joystick. Until next month, then...
If you have any idea what should go in this box, please let me know! :)