» Log in

The Pickford BrothersJohn and Ste


Zub Archive

Game graphics, sketches, and memories from the first video game collaboration between John and Ste - the first proper Pickford Bros game!

« Read the Zub softography entry

As I've probably mentioned this elsewhere on this website, I've hardly kept any materials - such as sketches and notes - from my early days working in video games. In fact, I probably made very few notes, and did very few sketches back in those days. Deadlines were short and as an artist I mostly worked within a sprite or screen editor, designing graphics by plotting and unplotting pixels, rather than designing on paper and trying to replicate these designs on screen. Therefore there is next to nothing in the Zub archive which isn't data from the game itself.

Surprisingly Zub was the first game my brother John and I worked on together. John had already completed several full games without my involvement, and I'd even been working at the same studio - in the same room - for a few months doing graphics for other games, but we'd never done anything together. So Zub was our first collaboration, and also the first time we were given free reign to design a game from scratch rather than being commissioned to design a 'hang-gliding game', or a 'Max Headroom game'.

Zub flipping

The game was designed and written by John for the ZX Spectrum, so that was the lead, and definitive version. As I mention in the softography notes, we never considered the game complete and had plans for more features which we felt were needed to finish the game off. The Amstrad version was slightly cut down (some graphics were missing) from the Spectrum original, but used most of the same code. The Amstrad graphics were coloured in a bit though, so they were slightly enhanced, and a few baddies were different. The Commodore 64 version was a poor re-write of a game which wasn't suited to that machine at all, and mostly used the Spectrum graphics.


The future

Although Zub is fondly remembered by some, that fact that we never got to properly complete the game we were designing makes Zub feel like unfinished business to us. What we hope to do at some point in the future is create a new game; an update or 're-imagining' of what we were trying to achieve with Zub on the Spectrum, but built from scratch for modern hardware, and designed using the skills and knowledge we've acquired since our first collaboration twenty years ago. We'll reclaim the original title John came up with - Zob - and who knows, maybe we'll finally get to see the first in that series of Zob games we were dreaming of all those years ago?

Zub-like aliens as enemies were the first idea which popped into my head when John and I started discussing ideas for a single player campaign version of Naked War, and after publishing a little sketch on the blog I received a request for a proper Zub drawing from a fan of the original game.

Perhaps its appropriate to reproduce it here to finish off this archive:

Zob Will Return!

Ste Pickford, 29th November 2006