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The Pickford BrothersJohn and Ste

 

Defcom

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A terrible space shoot-em-up game where you had to protect the earth from attacking alien spaceships.

Probably the worst example we've ever been involved with of the 'high concept' dictated by the publisher, and left to the uninterested developer to design a game around.

Like most Quicksilva games it was later re-released on the budget Bug-Byte label.

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Defcom screen shot 1 Defcom screen shot 2 Defcom screen shot 3

Project details

Started:

Sun, 01 Mar 1987

Development studio:

Binary Design

Main client / publisher:

Quicksilva

Status:

Finished

Proper Pickford Bros game?

No, either a work-for-hire project, or we aren't claiming much credit for this game.

Core studio team:

John Flynn

Programmer

Jas C Brooke

Programmer

(?)

Amstrad Programmer

Ste Pickford

Graphic Artist

Jez Nelson

Graphic Artist

David Whittaker(?)

Music and Sound Effects

Defcom ZX Spectrum UK cover

Platform:

ZX Spectrum

Territory:

United Kingdom

Release date:

Sun, 01 Mar 1987

Title:

Defcom

Publisher:

Quicksilva

Developer:

Binary Design

Sales:

5,000

» Download this game!

Jas C Brooke

Programmer

Defcom Amstrad CPC UK cover

Platform:

Amstrad CPC

Territory:

United Kingdom

Release date:

Sun, 01 Mar 1987

Title:

Defcom

Publisher:

Quicksilva

Developer:

Binary Design

Sales:

3,333

» Download this game!

Defcom Commodore 64 UK cover

Platform:

Commodore 64

Territory:

United Kingdom

Release date:

Sun, 01 Mar 1987

Title:

Defcom

Publisher:

Quicksilva

Developer:

Binary Design

Sales:

5,000

John Flynn

Programmer

Defcom ZX Spectrum UK cover

Platform:

ZX Spectrum

Territory:

United Kingdom

Release date:

Thu, 01 Jun 1989

Title:

Defcom

Publisher:

Bug-Byte

Developer:

Binary Design

Sales:

5,000

Jas C Brooke

Programmer

Defcom Amstrad CPC UK cover

Platform:

Amstrad CPC

Territory:

United Kingdom

Release date:

Thu, 01 Jun 1989

Title:

Defcom

Publisher:

Bug-Byte

Developer:

Binary Design

Sales:

3,333

Defcom Commodore 64 UK cover

Platform:

Commodore 64

Territory:

United Kingdom

Release date:

Thu, 01 Jun 1989

Title:

Defcom

Publisher:

Bug-Byte

Developer:

Binary Design

Sales:

5,000

John Flynn

Programmer

Ste Pickford

This is probably the only game I've worked on that I'm truly embarrassed about. It was awful. I think the concept - or the title at least - came from Ron Harris at Quicksilva, but it may have been one of Andy Hieke's ideas (the owner of Binary Design).

Spaceships! Bam! Alien invasion! Pow! Rotating earth! Zap! Amazing 3D spacecraft! Wow! Stunning graphics! Yeah!

This was the level of direction given to the team. In those days the team meant the programmers (artists were just support staff), and unfortunately none of the programmers on the team were really game designers. So, they got on with programming what they thought was wanted, a 3D rotating earth (looked rubbish, hand no gameplay function, took up half of the resources available) and 3D rotating spaceships (nobody fancied doing the hard maths of vector graphics, so I was asked to create spaceship sprites which rotated in every possible direction, taking up the rest of the resources available).

The lack of RAM meant the only way I could draw a single spaceship with the number of frames required was for it to be symmetrical in all 3 axes, and then for me to try and work out the rotations by hand (no 3D tools were available to us at the time) which is why there's only one enemy in the game and it looks like a fig roll.

Nobody on the project had much interest in, or aptitude for creating gameplay, so not much gameplay was included. I remember clearly how everybody working on the game would avoid any situtations which might involve picking up the joystick; making sure they were kept too busy making the game to have to put up with the misery of playing it. Except John Buckley strangely, I seem to remember him happily playing his own version between coding, and seemingly loving it, despite it being just as bad as the rest.

Ultimately it was a valuable experience; for the first time I realised that not everybody attempted to look at the big picture and tried to understand what it was they were doing, and try to do it well. I started to see that there were people who were perfectly happy to do a really bad job, so long as they were doing as they were told and couldn't be blamed for anything. Which is perfectly fine I suppose, it was just a surprise to me at the time.

I started to see that an idea, no matter how good, would never succeed without at least one person driving it forward who personally believed in it, and cared enough to keep everyone else's enthusiasm up and their work on track.

This was an early example for me of exactly how not to develop video games, but the sad thing is I've seen this method and these errors repeated time and time again, even as development budgets have rocketed from thousands to millions of pounds.

 

† Sales Estimates
Almost all sales estimates given are educated guesses. Being lowly developers we rarely had access to the publisher's sales infomation, and in many cases hadno contact with the publisher whatsoever after each game was completed. Even in cases where we were the owners of the development studio and on royalty deals, for various reasonsit was very rare that we received accurate sales figures from the publishers involved. We'd be delighted to correct any errors, or hear more accurate sales figures for any of the titles here.Please email the webmaster if you know something we don't!

‡ Downloads
We don't condone video game piracy. We would prefer that all our games were still available for purchase by those who wanted them,but unfortunately most of our games are not commercially available in any form, with the IP or code in the hands of defunct commercialentities with neither the will nor the ability to commercially exploit these products, if not forgotten about completely. In such cases we're happy for the game to be madeavailable free for enthusiasts to download, rather than being consigned to the dustbin of history. If you would like us to remove a link,please email the webmaster to explain why.

Credits
The credits listed are accurate to the best of our recollection, but if we've made any errors or ommissions (quite likely!) please email the webmaster to let us know and we'll try to make a correction as soon as possible.

 

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