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Amaurote

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An isometric action game set in a futuristic city.

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Amaurote screen shot 1 Amaurote screen shot 2 Amaurote screen shot 3 Amaurote screen shot 4 Amaurote screen shot 5 Amaurote screen shot 6 Amaurote screen shot 7

Project details

Started:

Sat, 01 Aug 1987

Development studio:

Binary Design

Main client / publisher:

Mastertronic

Status:

Finished

Proper Pickford Bros game?

Yes, this is definitely one of our games!

Core studio team:

John Pickford

Game Designer, Team Leader, Programmer

Andrew Routledge

Programmer

Ste Pickford

Graphic Artist

David Whitakker

Music and Sound Effects

Amaurote ZX Spectrum EU cover

Platform:

ZX Spectrum

Territory:

Europe

Release date:

Sat, 01 Aug 1987

Title:

Amaurote

Publisher:

Mastertronic

Developer:

Binary Design

Sales:

50,000

» Download this game!

John Pickford

Programmer

Amaurote Amstrad CPC EU cover

Platform:

Amstrad CPC

Territory:

Europe

Release date:

Sat, 01 Aug 1987

Title:

Amaurote

Publisher:

Mastertronic

Developer:

Binary Design

Sales:

50,000

» Download this game!

John Pickford

Programmer

Amaurote Commodore 64 EU cover

Platform:

Commodore 64

Territory:

Europe

Release date:

Sat, 01 Aug 1987

Title:

Amaurote

Publisher:

Mastertronic

Developer:

Binary Design

Sales:

50,000

Andrew Routledge

Programmer

Amaurote Atari XL EU cover

Platform:

Atari XL

Territory:

Europe

Release date:

Wed, 02 Dec 1987

Title:

Amaurote

Publisher:

Mastertronic

Developer:

Binary Design

Sales:

2,500

Amaurote MSX EU cover

Platform:

MSX

Territory:

Europe

Release date:

Wed, 02 Dec 1987

Title:

Amaurote

Publisher:

Mastertronic

Developer:

Binary Design

Sales:

2,000

Steve Hughes

Programmer

Ste Pickford

For John and I this was our follow up to Zub; the next game that we worked on directly together with John as designer, Spectrum programmer and team leader. It was the first game where I designed isometric graphics, which are surprisingly difficult to get your head around once you actually start drawing them.

One of John's ideas was to have a panel that wasn't square - he wanted an odd or unusual shape, To go with the enemy bees I came up with the honeycomb shape. Now the Spectrum only had a single bitmap screen - no hardware sprites or layers - so every bit of the panel that overlapped the square play area was a separate software sprite which needed to be masked over the play area every frame. Quite a big extra overhead for the poor old Speccy.

I remember that the main tank / spider graphic took me ages and ages to draw, with the complicated leg movement animation.

I was determined that the legs touching the floor wouldn't slide about as the thing moved around, so I had to be really careful about exactly where each leg touched the floor in every frame to compensate for the sprite's movement. I probably spent too much time on it, and devoted too many frames of animation to it, as there's wasn't that much RAM left for baddies after I'd finished!

I was quite pleased with the font I drew for this game. I had a luxurious 16x16 pixels to play around with, and designed a fancy, unreadable font, which Andy Hieke (the boss) absolutely loved. He got all excited about sending it to Letraset and having it turned into a 'proper' font for typographers! (This was before TrueType fonts and DTP, when designers would still use letraset transfers when designing posters) Haha, I don't think it was quite that good!

The 128k model Spectrum was getting popular around time we were doing Amaurote. As John was the Team Leader, and programming the Spectrum version, we decided to go mad and have a bit of fun doing some Spectrum only 128k extra enhancements for the game. We created a longish animated intro sequence. This was great fun. I got to draw some really big, animated graphics. Much bigger than I would ever be allowed to make in-game graphics, because we had so much extra RAM to play with. The flashing eyes at the start of the sequence are a 'digitised' image of John's face.

Ultimately I think we spent too much time and effort on the 'clever' features of this game - the fancy odd shaped panel, the complex tank animations, the 128k extra animation sequences - that we didn't leave ourselves enough time to focus on the game itself, which was a bit weak.

Another big mistake was the title. Its a 'clever' literary reference - Amaurote being the name of the capital city of Utopia from Sir Thomas More's novel - but it didn't mean anything to anyone, particularly not the kids who bought computer games. If we'd called it Insect Wars or something, I'm sure it would have been a big hit!

When compiling these webpages I was puzzled as to why the Amstrad version had no loading screen. Then it came back to me. Even though the Amstrad had 64K - more memory than the 48K of the Spectrum - all the graphics were 2 bit (4 colours) rather than 1 bit (monochrome) on the Speccy, so they were twice as big, and we had real problems fitting the game into RAM. The loading screen was just the in-game panel with a logo in the play area because we couldn't fit the panel graphics anywhere other than in VRAM, so the panel on the loading screen is the actual panel graphic for the game!

The C64 version was almost a different game entirely. I think what happened was that the C64 version of Glider Rider had been a real pain for everyone involved. The isometric system wasn't really suited to the C64 hardware, and Amaurote was intended to be a bit more complex than Glider Rider, so we decided right at the start to do a C64 version of the game concept, rather than a conversion of the game code. Unfortunately, as so most of our efforts and energy were directed at the technical aspects of the Spectrum version, there wasn't that much of a game concept to hang the C64 version around. Plus I was rubbish at C64 graphics!

 

† 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.

 

We are The Pickford Bros, veteran independent video game designers based in the UK.

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