The first unreleased Plok game, for Rare's coin-op hardware
Fleapit was the first Plok game. It was our idea for a coin-op, developed while we were at Zippo Games, for Rare's custom hardware 'Razz' board.
This was probably the first game I worked on where I'd attempted to do a sensible amount of concept art. We're were trying to become a little bit more professional, and this seemed like the right thing to do. Also, we were running a studio now so making presentations of game concepts to clients, rather than just starting programming a new game one Monday morning, was starting to become the norm.
Everyone in the industry was self taught, and there were no standards or expectations of how a new game should progress. I remember it being a struggle to justify spending work time drawing pretty pictures which wouldn't actually contribute to the game.
When I started worked on the first Plok character designs I'd only just discovered Letratone. I thought this was amazing stuff - I could make pictures look 'professional' with this weird stick-on grey half-tone stuff, and went a bit mad using it on all the Plok designs. I must have spent hours cutting it all out with a scalpel. I wonder if anyone still uses it these days?
I was still terrified of colour at this time and never used it away from in-game graphics (where I had no choice!), although this was partly due to the incredible expense and poor quality of colour copying back then. Without any formal training, and a youth spent reading 2000ad and drawing my own comics, always in black and white, my main experience of using colour was on ZX Spectrum loading screens. I remember being a bit overwhelemed by the 16 colours available on the Amiga, and not knowing what to do other than use 16 shades of the same colour (an affliction common to game artists at that time).
We had the different costumes idea right from the start, and while I think Robo Plok (looking like a crap copy of 'Ro-Jaws' from 2000ad) made it into Fleapit, I'm not sure if the other two were anything other than concept designs.
To my surprise I found that I kept a few of the very first sketches and designs for Plok. Witness the birth of an unsuccessful video game character!
Ste Pickford, 14th October 2004
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