Genesis — The Birth of a Game


By the time you read this, the program should.... Well, you’ve heard that before a few times and nothing has actually materialised. Unfortunately, this is the case with the GENESIS project: Kat-Trap is going to be a little late.

According to Plan A, the game should really have been completed in time for review in this issue of the magazine, but with fast approaching printers’ deadlines looming on the horizon at CRASH Towers, Graham Stafford was beavering away at Design Design’s HQ trying to complete the game in time for us to review it.

He missed our deadline, and we’ll have to book a slot in the Christmas Special. The project is a couple of weeks behind schedule at the moment: “Considering the industry standard, that’s quite good really,” Graham points out, “but the position is far from ideal.

“The game is at the stage where all the collisions, sprite paths and so on are in there but I’m still working on some of the backgrounds and animation. One of the main problems, apart from the general pre-Christmas rush here at Design Design has been the fact that Jon has provided me with an awful lot of excellent graphics.

“He’s really got the hang of our design utility, and has been turning out some very detailed, high-quality animation sequences. In all, I’ve had about 50 or 60K of graphics, and as I explained a while ago, there simply isn’t that much room in the Spectrum. The difficult part has been in selecting which bits to leave out... for instance, Jon sent me fifteen or twenty frames of animation for the Ice Men, who run about and melt when they’re hit, and I’ve had to pare that down to six frames. The game runs fast enough for the difference to be hardly noticeable, but it all takes time.”

Mark Strachan, of Domark has nothing to hide: “We’ve been through this mill before on projects, where things don’t quite happen to plan,” he explains. “We’ve had delays on other programs owing to unforseen problems on the programming end, and the Number One thing on our mind is always the customer. We have to satisfy our customers — we could probably release an early version of a game that’s running late and avoid or minimise the delay but if we do that then it’s likely that our customer won’t continue to be a customer.

Kat-Trap will benefit finally. It’ll be worth waiting for. Sometimes people in this industry use it as an excuse for delay... but it is the case with Kat-Trap.”

So there you have it. By the time you read this, Kat-Trap should be at CRASH Towers and the review for the Christmas Special written — providing there are no major disasters between now and the middle of November when the last bits of the Christmas Special have to be at our printers....


As we explained last month, Jon Eggelton and Oli Frey spent an afternoon together discussing the artwork for the Kat-Trap inlay and advertisement. Soon after Jon left Ludlow for Milton Keynes, Oli set to and began work.

“MT.-ED is a very appealing character, cute in fact,” Oli said before beginning work, “and the difficulty is going to be in presenting him to the best advantage in a painting that is suitable for an advertisement. He looks much better from the side view, but the theories of advertising suggest that the central character should move ‘out’ of the page, which means drawing a front view.”

With the basic brief from Domark which governs the area of the A4 magazine page that will be used for logos, prices and advertising blurbs, Oli set to work.

“I decided to paint a larger picture than was strictly necessary,” Oli explained, “with a large area to the left which has very little in it. The idea is, that the whole painting can be used as a wrap-around on the cassette inlay and could even be used as the basis of a double-page spread advertisement. As the left hand side doesn’t have much happening in it, screenshots, barcodes and other information can easily be overlayed by printers if Domark want to use the painting in that way.”

The outcome of Oli’s work, in combination with Domark’s advertising copy, can be seen on page 137 of this issue.

Oli recorded progress as he went along, pausing to photograph the stages in the creation of the finished work...

The first stage

The fine brushwork begins. The masking film has been removed from MT.-ED and works starts on giving him that metallic sheen...

The finished painting. Detail has been added, still by brush, to the Kat-men in the background and to the rocks in the foreground

The logo for Kat Trap was painted separately, developing on a lettering style that Mr Eggelton created specially. It’s easier to produce the logo on its own, because it can be dropped in on the painting wherever the designer wants — and it’s more than likely to be used in several different places...