Having written a couple of educational titles, we set about writing another arcade style game. Killapede was inspired by one our favourite games Centipede but we added loads of cool new features, including our novel new speech system.
We'd threatened to sell Killapede to another publisher if Players didn't offer more than £250 for the game, They didn’t so we sent it to some other publishers, and were offered a royalties only deal with Powerhouse. Ironically, they went bust on releasing it. So many months later, (summer ’86) we offered it back to Players for the £250, but decided it was time to find a better publisher.
Alongside studying and taking A-level exams we designed an original and ambitious game called Excalibar and worked on it until it was sadly abandoned due to meeting Codemasters. It would have been very unique since it was using procedurally generated block maps containing forests, roads, rivers, bridges, coastlines, houses and castles. Viewed from above, players would explore and collect resources such as wood, to repair bridges, swords and shields to take into two handed battle with dangerous enemies. Even with the limited memory, around 32k, we were able to generate almost infinite landscapes – which at the time was unheard of. We even had a system for procedurally naming villages, towns and castles that would be created by the computer and discovered by the players.
By the Summer of ’86 and we had finished our A Levels at Clarendon School in Trowbridge and although our parents wanted us to go to university we were more interested in writing computer games. but we also wanted to get paid! During the summer we put together a business plan and convinced our parents that we would take one year out before going to university. We thought that if we were successful enough during that time we could pursue our burning ambition to write computer games for a living.
Everyone around us thought we were mad. They said it was a passing phase and would soon fade. We knew better. Even then we believed that games would be bigger than TV, music and even films. We knew that some day the graphics and sound would be of cinematic quality and the audience would grow massively. They would want to be James Bond, not just watch him. All this may have sounded fairly arrogant at the time, but we could see the vision and we were hooked!
Obviously our plan hinged on getting paid decent money for the next game. ECTS, a national computer trade show in London, was coming up in September, so we decided to propose a brand new title and pitch it to new publishers there.