Blog posted by Ste Pickford on Tue, 29 Sep 2009
I love this picture!
It's a screen shot from our 1986 ZX Spectrum game Amaruote, published by Mastertronic.
After the game was finished we were asked by Mastertronic to make a 128k version of the game. Like most Spectrum games, Amaurote was, with great difficulty, cropped and chopped to fit in the rather slim 48k of RAM that was available in the standard Spectrum (the games industry had given up trying to support the early 16k model by then). It was a tight squeeze, but we always managed it. To then be told to fill another 80k with stuff, in about a week, after spending months using every trick in the book to use as few bytes as possible for every graphic and every line of code, was weird but fun.
John came up with the idea for a long, animated sequence as an intro to the game, with massive screen sized graphics that I drew and he animated.
In addition to the animated sequence, we were also messing about with digitising the output from a video camera, in the Binary Design studio. The digitisng process we used was very crude, probably through a Tatung Einstein computer (a type of MSX, that we used for development at Binary), and full of awful interference from the fluorescent lights in the office.
John digitised this close up of his eyes, with two or three frames of animation, then we bunged them into the game (we had 80k to fill!) and he animated through the frames, with a bit of screen flashing as well, to create some tension.
We all stood around pissing ourselves at John's scary eyes looking out of the Spectrum screen at us!
There's probably a good argument for calling it one of the first FMV (full motion video) cut scenes in a video game!
» Amaurote softography page