This game was released in 1996 on Sega Saturn and PC. We had an 90% finished Playstation 1 version but Scavenger went bankrupt before it was released.
This game was created together with Søren Hannibal just as we did Banshee, so I worked on Game Design, Level Design, Graphics, Animations again (we’re still in the era of 2-man teams ;-)).
Karsten (also a co-founder of IO Interactive) called us up at Core Design to ask if we wanted to join them (Zyrinx) in Los Angeles, to work on games in a new company called Scavenger. Obviously it sounded like great fun to live in California and make games. Well at least it sounded like the weather was better than in Derbyshire (later it showed that LA-weather really was’nt that great, just semi-sunny-hazy everyday. It becomes depressing after half a year). At the time we were about half-finished with Banshee and we’rent going to leave an unfinished game behind so we agreed that we would join up with the guys when Banshee was released. A fun anecdote is that about the time we were leaving I was sitting in the samme office as Toby Gard when he was working away on skethes for his new Indy-style game (while having an absurd mail corrospondance with a 6 year old kid that kept sending him crazy sketches of trucks with rockets that he wanted Toby to turn into a game).
We arrived in Los Angeles and almost immediately started working on the game. Søren had been playing around with Sega Saturn dev kits the last months we were at Core Design (actually blowing up 2 of them by connecting them to the wrong power supply. :-)) so he had a good idea of how the machine worked. We got our PC’s and started working away. Well, actually I got an Amiga aswell because we still neded to do some pixel work.
I started using Photoshop 2.5 for some of the graphics. Mikael Balle showed me a few tricks and I was in love with the program. Unfortunately I was’nt able to use it much (only for backdrops and boxart) on this game because of the sprites and lo-res textures. They needed to be drawn by hand in order to look decent. For that work good old Brilliance was used. For the 3d objects I reverted to using Imagine 3D now that I no longer had access to my precious Silicon Graphics machine.
It was pretty fun working on this game but also very hard given the limited hardware of the Saturn. For the 3d landscape, Søren choose to do a voxel routine similar to the one used in the PC game Commanche, only problem here was that the Saturn had too little memory (only 2 meg if I remember correctly) to fit a large heightmap in memory. The solution was to use a tile system known from 2D games. It sounds easier than it was. The tiles was drawn using 256 grey scalen and they are almost impossible to tell apart on a crappy Amiga monitor. I had to constantly test the maps in 3D be able to spot seams and other errors.
The actual maps was just drawn in Brilliance using tiles from a tilemap. Søren would then scan the image to reduce it to a lookup map. The sprites (enemies, vegetation, rocks etc.) was also drawn into a huge bitmap which again was scanned to extract the positions. A trick Søren learned from the Zyrinx guys. Alot easier than having to program a level-editor.
The low drawdistance on the landscape routine made the game perfect for an underwater setting so we included af few of those as well. The sharks were quite fun to do.
When the game was nearly finished, we got asked if we would create ports for PC and Playstation 1. Søren got in contact with an old schoolmate, Martin Pollas, and asked if he could do the conversion. Pollas arrived in L.A. a month or so later and started working on the conversion (when he was’nt watching an insane amout of commercials on american TV). For the Ps1 version, Scavenger assigned Anders Hansen (another Amiga coder. Laxity/Kefrens) and he got pretty far with the conversion but unfortunately he did’nt finish it before Scavenger went tits up.
While we created AMOK, a bunch of our Swedish friends were creating this unfortunately-never-released-masterpiece 🙂
I have found a few of the old sketches for the game and put them on this page.