Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Amigos Top 10 of 2016!

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The Top 10 lists will be posted in a few days. Enjoy the show, and thanks for a great year!

Team 17: the untold(ish) story

The instantly recognisable, original logo from the developer's Amiga days
You may recall that a few weeks back, the popular press reported that Team 17 founder, Debbie Bestwick, had been acknowledged as a ‘Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, a grade within the British order of chivalry’ (thanks Wikipedia).

This out-of-the-blue news left a swathe of gamers - who would otherwise consider themselves to be Team 17 and Worms followers - asking themselves the question, Debbie who? We're all familiar with the voice, face and uncontested Daddy of Team 17, Martyn Brown, yet far fewer people - including moora of the rllmuk forums - had ever heard of Debbie.

A few exchanges back and forth between forum members later, and who should emerge out of the woodwork to elucidate the situation? None other than games industry celeb, Martyn himself. In the thread he lays bare in considerable depth the inside story of the company he founded 30 years ago (along with Debbie Bestwick apparently).

- Services to the computer games industry recognised
- History books corrected

Here’s where it all began in a pokey office poised above a stinky amusement arcade, located in a Wakefield backstreet when the Team (all 17 of them) were known as 17-Bit Software and kept the wolf from the door cataloguing and distributing PD goodies.

The offices are now home to Protex Security UK Limited, Cap Care, and Wakefield Council (who are ‘working for you’ by all accounts).

Lights, camera, Amiga Action!

Largely thanks to NewTek’s (initially) Amiga-exclusive, leading-edge hardware post production and editing suite, the Video Toaster, and its accompanying 3D modelling software, Lightwave, many movie and TV producers gravitated towards our platform of choice.

The package offered video switching, chroma keying, character generation, animation, and image manipulation tools that convincingly rivalled the high-end, gold standard equipment favoured by the professionals, only on a shoestring budget.

The upshot for movie and TV lovers was the emergence of a raft of revolutionary, mind-blowing special effects that previously would have to be created using physical models and painstakingly low-tech tricks like stop motion animation.

Sublime creative talent + the Amiga + the Video Toaster = ?

There's no single, succinct answer to that question, but the following examples should help illustrate the seemingly limitless possibilities...

GVP’s ImageFX software was engaged by Warner Bros’ director of animation, Rusty Mills, to produce the titles and credits for the cartoon TV series, Animaniacs.

Graphic designer, Rick Probst, and his Pacific Motion studio based in Burbank, California harnessed the power of the Amiga to produce storyboards and superimpose titles over the comedy hit movie, Three Men and a Baby.

In fact Pacific Motion worked on a plethora of Hollywood movies including Good Morning Vietnam, Shoot to Kill, Cocktail, Batteries Not Included, Young Guns, Twins, The Fly II, and Stake Out, as well as the TV game shows, Jeopardy, Rollergames and Wheel of Fortune, and the Disney animated cartoon, Dragonslayer.

At the time Rick almost exclusively used Deluxe Paint III in conjunction with an Amiga 2000 equipped with the GVP 68030 accelerator board, six megabytes of RAM, and a SuperGen genlock. Typically any titling work would be created via an Amiga, before the baton was passed to a high-end graphics workstation where the resolution would be dramatically up-scaled.

The graphics featured in the family comedy movie, Honey, I Blew Up the Kid, were the brainchild of visual effects maestro and big Amiga fan, Thomas Hollier, and his Anti-Gravity Workshop studio.

CG supervisor, Everett Burrell, was responsible for the character alteration visual effects in Stephen King’s television movie, The Dark Half.

The Post Group used ASDG's Morph-Plus to execute the monster morphing special effects in Stephen King’s novel to TV adaptation, Tommyknockers.

Mark Stross’s Toaster Marmalade - an LA based editing studio - were the brains behind the realistic in-flight shots featured in HBO’s TV movie, Afterburn. Take a peek at the team’s ‘effects-ography’ and you’ll note they are also credited with the CGI for the popular sci-fi channel series, Mysteries from Beyond the Other Dominion.

The effects featured in the reality-based TV series, Unsolved Mysteries, were made all the more special thanks to Joe Conti and his crew’s Toasted Amigas.

Disney animator, Kelly Day, tapped the productive ingenuity of Imagine, Sculpt, and Pro Draw in creating the graphics for the animated series, Goof Troop.

The family TV game show, Total Panic, was digitally enhanced by Dean Friedman and his Mandala-equipped Amigas. Derek Grime (of Fight Club fame) used similar techniques in the production of Nickelodeon's sitcom, Clarissa Explains It All.

Nickelodeon would routinely use Amigas to lend Nick Arcade its critical interactive element.

We have Amiga artist, Rick Finn, to thank for MTV’s numerous transition effects, titles and animations.

The multimedia effects created for The Advertising Club of New York's annual awards ceremony were designed with Amigas.

The masterly digital artists that comprised Foundation Imaging were responsible for the graphics and special effects evident in Warner Bros' Emmy award winning Babylon 5 movie and TV series. Guess which ground-breaking computer and bread-grilling device they brought along for the ride, and put to work generating the spaceship scenes? No prizes for the correct answer I’m afraid.

The underwater craft special effects featured in Universal Studios’ SeaQuest DSV were the handiwork of Amblin Imaging, who wisely chose to arm themselves with Newtek’s Video Toaster and supporting 3D animation software, Lightwave. The team consisted of eight animators and a rendering farm comprised of more than 60 Amigas.

Without a miniature model in sight, all the exterior perspectives of the submarine, shots of various communities, machines, small vessels, and so on, were created using Lightwave.

At the time, SeaQuest was the most expensive TV show ever produced, racking up monstrous bills of $5m per episode! Notably it features more special effects than The Empire Strikes Back.

The same team (with their Toaster-tooled Amiga 2000s) were also responsible for Jurassic Park’s pre-visualisation presentations, and the early development of the stunning computer generated dinosaurs.
This entailed using the Toaster to devise 3D wireframe models of the towering, primordial beasts as part of the animated storyboarding process conducted by Stefan Dechant. This helped to accelerate the choreographing prep work before more capable, Silicon Graphics workstations took charge of the intensive data-crunching, rendering operation.

Thanks to The Post Group, extremely slick morphing effects were a mainstay of BBC 2’s sci-fi, time-travelling TV series, Quantum Leap. I don’t need to tell you which ‘friendly’ computer used in tandem with ADPro and MorphPlus made them a reality.

How about the timeless, action sci-fi Schwarzenegger vehicle, Terminator 2? That wasn’t brought to life with the aid of an Amiga. On the contrary, the award-winning special effects were the output of a series of desktop Silicon Graphics workstations. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all.

Following Brandon Lee’s tragic death in the midst of filming The Crow, Amigas were drafted in to ‘matte’ his face onto a body double, thereby allowing the producers to complete any unshot scenes and go on to release the movie as planned.

The graphics design package, Sign Engine, from Parallel Motion Graphics was put to effective use in ABC’s Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV show. Production director, Jeff
Ginn (and his two much-loved Amiga 2000s), were responsible for producing the period graphics, fonts (by way of Professional Draw or scanning) and the vintage signage seen in shop windows.

The software’s target market is those in the short-run sign cutting business - it’s considered “ideal for creating silk screen stencils or engraving”.

Jeff Ginn and art assistant, Gordon Barnes, used similar techniques to create faux book covers, movie posters, and other stage-setting graphics for John Carpenter’s horror movie, Mouth of Madness.

Filmmaker and senior animator at Digital Fantasy, Tim Molinder, used a copy of Imagine and an Amiga to produce a TV commercial for a water slide known as ‘The Edge’ based in a Southern California amusement park. The first-person perspective short attempted to simulate the thrill of riding the tube.

Amigas were used to generate background displays for the major motion picture and TV series, Max Headroom.

Joe Conti called upon the Video Toaster to generate time-warp displays, and Lightwave to animate Emilio Estevez’s race car in the movie, Freejack.
Joe was also responsible for the Lightwave-generated graphics featured in the Star Trek VI movie, while Allen Hastings took care of modelling the USS Enterprise and USS Excelsior starships.

The Amiga was utilised in pre-production visualization for the Titanic movie, while the bulk of the graphics were churned out by dedicated rendering farm workstations.

Digital Domain used the trusty Amiga-Toaster duo to model the USS Defiant starship seen in the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and the feature film, Star Trek: First Contact.

The credits that roll at the end of the horror movie, Buried Alive, were hatched by an Amiga.

Adamski’s no. 1 single, Killer, emanated from the Amiga via the magic of blue screen technology and the combined talents of Jason Kingsley and Grant Harrison. The Eurythmics’ ex-producer contacted them about the job and “using a hundred grands’ worth of equipment” they “put together the sequence with the guy dancing on grey slabs with a red sky in the background”. All they “had to do was trace underneath him with the cursor; the Amiga did the rest”.

Visual effects guru, Ira Curtis-Coleman, helped Ted Danson and Joely Richardson convince the audience that the Loch Ness monster is real in their 1996 movie of the same name.

He explains, "We emulated radar screens and footage of the boat moving up and down Loch Ness. I even went out with an underwater camera and directed it at the images that I wanted. These images were then altered to make them look more interesting."

"Everyone who came to the preview seemed to be quite pleased with the results, including some of the fishermen who'd been out on the trawlers. They said it was life-like to them. If someone says to me ‘Oh, this is all done by people doing graphics’, then my job isn't done properly. My main task is to make things look as real as possible so you don't give them a second look. That's the whole point of filmmaking."

The Czech musician, composer and record producer, Jan Hammer, used an Amiga to write the theme music for the TV show, Miami Vice.

George Lucas was purported to be an Amiga fan and collaborated with Commodore US on four TV ads.

Stan Haywood, the creator of the whimsical cartoon series, Henry’s Cat, used an Amiga 2000 for his animation work.

Knightmare was brought to life in part thanks to an Amiga 2000. One was used to create the live foreground imagery such as scrolls, minor monsters and quest objects.

Aardman Animation deployed an Amiga equipped with a personal animation recorder card to produce their Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit movies.

The UK-based graphics production house, The Magic Camera Company, utilised Amiga 4000s and WarpEngine in conjunction with a Raptor Plus rendering engine with 128mb of RAM to create CGI vehicles and cityscapes for the movie, Cyberjack.

The same group - using Lightwave - took care of the special effects in the James Bond movie, GoldenEye.
The Amiga and Video Toaster were used extensively throughout Robocop 2 to create the graphics seen on various monitors e.g. the one used to represent Cain’s digital persona, and the VDUs in the mobile drugs lab.

Also in the second Robocop movie, the tin man injects a virus into a computer which materialises as a digitised animation of himself. This was created with an Amiga, NewTek's DigiView, Pixmate, Deluxe Paint III, TV*Text Pro, and Elan Performer.

Many of the digitised graphical elements featured in the RoboCop TV series were augmented via an Amiga 4000 packing a Toaster, under the auspices of Lee Wilson, the show's visual effects supervisor.

These include the Robocruiser's computer GUI, the monitor displays that appear in the Metro South squad room, and in the laboratories, RoboCop's in-visor targeting and diagnostics system, and the backgrounds for Diana's trip through Robocop's neuro-nets.

Similarly, the helicopter we see flying over Delta City was drawn and animated in Lightwave and rendered with the Toaster.

Not only was the Amiga used to create the Robocop TV series, an A500 with a Philips monitor can be spotted in the show itself. In one scene, a rabble of baddies use the computer with a blacked-out name badge to watch TV.

This is far from the only Amiga sighting in TV and film; the industry was rife with them at one point, especially in Europe and Australia where they had a firm foothold in terms of prolific usage.

One such notable cameo is in the British TV series, The Rachel Papers, starring Dexter Fletcher. In it he plays Charles, a cocky 19 year old who before flying the nest on route to Oxford University intends to seduce a stunning American girl called Rachel.

Part of his devious plan involves maintaining a report concerning the girl, along with his seduction strategy, which he stores on his Amiga 500 computer. He can also be seen using it to play Battle Chess.

Commodore somehow failed to mention in their ads that the Amiga can help to streamline the stalking process!

As a wee sproglet I recall Neighbour’s Paul Robinson (Ramsay Street’s resident business mogul) using an Amiga 500 to run his sprawling empire. There was one incident where it contracted a virus and we were led to believe this was going to engender some kind of apocalyptic scenario or other.

Other Ramsay Street residents eg. Todd Landers and his family used the same A500 system at home for school work, which always struck me as a tad surreal as I sat in front of my own.

The Amiga was also visible on office desks in some episodes of the absurdist police TV show, The Detectives, starring Jasper Carrot and Robert Powell.

Aussie artist, Rolf Harris, routinely used Amiga 2000s as animation stations on his TV show. When he requested that viewers send in their own animations, over 70% arrived on Amiga floppy disks.

In fact, starry connections to the Amiga and its peripherals are ten a penny; it turns out that way back when, Wil Wheaton was employed as a Video Toaster tester, though at the time he probably had a better way of stating the entry on his CV so people wouldn’t give him baffled looks.

There’s another nod towards the computer with the amaranthine cult following in Wayne's World 2, where Garth can be seen wearing a Video Toaster t-shirt. This makes perfect sense when you realise that Dana Carvey who plays Garth is the brother of one of the Video Toaster programmers.

Of course I couldn’t possibly anticipate covering the entire spectrum of CGI alchemy conjured by the mighty Amiga and the luminaries who have held its reigns since the A1000’s inception in 1985. If I failed to mention your favourite movie from the Amiga’s salad days, try Googling it along with ‘Video Toaster’ and ‘Amiga’. The chances are that in some capacity or other, the Amiga played a significant role in bringing it to the silver screen.

For the countless hours of entertainment and inspiration, we owe an immense debt of gratitude to all the graphical and technical sorcerers who supplanted our dreary, mundane reality with their phantasmagoric vision, if only for a fleeting interlude. You made us believe a Toaster can fly!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Guns don't kill kids, Amigas do!

Following the runaway, unprecedented success that was ‘Amigaflakes’, the time is clearly ripe for a new recipe series.

I thought what better way to get the party swinging than to demonstrate how to bake a gut-busting ‘Viral Tabloid Story Pie’.

To begin you’ll need the following ingredients…
  1. A Dunblane primary school massacre in which 16 children and a teacher were shot dead by a deranged ex-Scout leader in 1996.
  2. A twisted Amiga public domain game released in 1989 called ‘Schoolyard Slaughter’.

Take item no. 1 and all the usual misery and distress that accompanies the senseless annihilation of innocent people, and misleadingly associate it with item no. 2 - released 7 years earlier - to spark public outrage and peddle tacky, tabloid rags.

For added ‘ooomph’, chuck the (then) Home Secretary, Michael Howard, into the mix and pull his voice-activation chord to issue canned threats of jail time towards the perpetrators of the sick game.

The Dunblane shooting took place near Stirling in Scotland in March 1996, though the memorial service for the victims, attended by Prince Charles, didn’t take place until October. By this stage the furor had settled and the press were in desperate need of a new fuse to ignite.

Fortuitously (for lazy journalists) this is when “Paul Thorn, 24, of Guernsey, discovered the game when he ordered a catalogue from Penguin PD, a small computer library in Reading, Berkshire” and reported it to the authorities.

The story spread like wildfire, hitting the headline in all major newspapers across the country and beyond, and particularly in Scotland unsurprisingly where the outrage was almost palpable.

Many of the bulletins can still be found online, along with a segment of video footage captured from a BBC TV news report. The magazine seen in the clip is CU Amiga issue 80 (October, 1996) and the page featuring the Penguin PD advert can be seen below.

Curiously one of the children murdered in the Dunblane shooting didn’t make the cut; the presenter reports the number killed as 15! We shouldn’t really be all that surprised - this is the Beeb after all, and the embellished tale is misguided at best.

For instance, Scottish newspaper, The Herald, reported that the “computer game has been withdrawn from the shelves in libraries and other outlets”.

In fact it was never on the shelves in the first place; it is a public domain game that would have been stocked by mail order distributors who maintained libraries of indie software. Even then it would only be available from companies who didn’t adhere to any sort of decency screening policy (or didn’t have the time or inclination to scrutinise the wares they were selling - this stuff was churned out faster than rabbits on heat!).

Nevertheless, the non-gaming public were fed the impression that this was a big budget release, delivered in an oversized box to be displayed on the shelves of Game, Electronics Boutique and so on.

Again, this couldn’t be further from the truth. If your PD game (or utility) stood out from the crowd, it might receive a quarter-page review towards the back of a computer magazine. If it was really impressive it might have been distributed on a cover disk, though this was rare, and most certainly wouldn’t have happened in this case given the controversial, 18+ nature of the game.

Schoolyard Slaughter was made with zero budget and using the ‘Programming for Dummies’ toolkit, AMOS BASIC. That’s not meant to be derogatory towards Europress’s extremely popular software, or the people who use it, merely to inform that anyone can make a game and submit it to a PD library, or self-distribute via the internet, which was becoming more prevalent at the time the story broke.

The game itself is pretty dismal, and had it not revolved around shooting children in the head to earn points, which would ultimately translate into the reward of ammo replenishment, allowing you to shoot even more children in the head, it would have drifted under the radar entirely unnoticed.
Use the gun to kill the kids as they cross the screen. Only head-shots count.
The kids scoot across the playground faster than the speed of light... almost as if they're fleeing for their lives, which of course is disturbingly appropriate. You track their movements with a cross-hair controlled with the mouse, and use the left button to fire your weapon.

Hit a child in the head and they crumple into a bloody pulp on the ground; your cue to set your sights on the next quarry. The game ends when your ammunition is depleted, at which point you are invited to enter your name in the assassin's leader-board. What an honour!

Sickworld Software’s ‘Duckhunt with kids’ was commonly reported as being an Amiga game released in 1992 by Rupert (programming) and John (graphics), though it actually began life on the Atari ST in 1989 (where the dubious credits are awarded to 'Perv the Hermit' & 'The Outlaw'). It was subsequently ported to the Windows 3.x platform by Xian (programming) and John (graphics).

To elucidate where Schoolyard Slaughter stands in terms of legality, The Independent relayed the verdict of a Home Office spokesman: “it was a criminal offence under the 1984 Video Recordings Act to distribute or offer for sale without a British Board of Film Censors certificate a computer game containing scenes of violence to humans or animals”.

While that’s technically true, I can’t recall an occasion where a PD game has ever been submitted for BBFC approval, or the people responsible for developing one being prosecuted for not doing so.

Where would you send the battering ram wielding police? The residence of Rupert and John, Somewhere-in-Americaville? It’s possible the game was submitted to Penguin PD anonymously without any expectation of monetary recompense, in which case there would be no trail to trace. This appears to be what they were hoping for because there’s nothing online to tie the authors to a genuine company or location. Very sensible!

The Independent also printed a statement from a Penguin PD representative who defended the company’s actions:-

"Dunblane hadn't happened and we weren't to know that it would. Now I think about it more, I do think it's disgusting, but there are games on the personal computer that are worse than that."

I imagine they were referring to the Swedish PD Amiga game, ‘Berra’. I’m not even going there!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

I bought a ticket to the world, but now I've come back again

If I did subtitles this would be followed with, “xx Amiga facts you probably weren’t aware of”, or something equally dull. But I don't, so I won't. On with the trivia - has anyone got an appropriate jingle?

In December 1996, David Pleasance, through his newly formed company, Tangent Music, released an album to commemorate 10 years of Amiga music.

Titled ‘Everybody's Girlfriend’, it's a diverse blend of blues ballads, fusion and pop, and even includes a flamenco guitar track written and performed by the multi-talented former Commodore UK boss himself.

All the music is inspired by the Amiga, which appropriately is responsible for the midi interfacing, and was employed in the composition and sequencing of the album.

If I don't mention David Pleasance at least three times in each article, somewhere in the world a defenceless, fluffy A500 dies, alone and unloved. ...David Pleasance ...David Pleasance.

As a result of a deal forged between Renegade and Triton Interactive Games, Sensible Soccer and Chaos Engine were to be adapted for use as dial-in phone challenges to be played via live TV transmissions.

Whilst the same premise was adopted for use in other tweaked Amiga games for various kid's Saturday morning TV shows, these specific titles fell by the wayside, because, well, for reasons and stuff. Don’t look at me like that.

The 20 second ‘Data Blast’ shown at the end of each episode of Bad Influence was made using an Amiga 600 and a copy of Europress Software’s programming language, Easy AMOS.

The post-show sequence consisted of 50 static screens cram packed with information, tips, cheats and so on, displayed in rapid succession, much like a digital flip book. To play back the pages at a speed fit for human consumption, you’d record it on a VCR and navigate your way around using the pause or jog function. It was a lot like Teletext only the graphics didn’t look like they were designed for an Atari 2600.

In 1991 when The Bitmap Brother’s Magic Pockets was dumbed down to be used as a voice-activated phone-in game on the kid’s Saturday morning TV show, Motormouth, the Bitmap Kid was rechristened ‘Mighty Mo’.

The first ’Federation Against Software Theft’ (FAST) logo was designed by Psygnosis. It featured a red circle with a line crossed through it to evoke a sense of prohibition. The emblem was imbued with hypnotic properties which manipulated pirates into ‘going straight’ and piracy was eliminated overnight.

Part of this fact might not be as 100% technically accurate as the other. It’s your call.

The Amiga 2000 can be used to make soap! Well, not quite directly. When the new Lever Brothers £12m soap plant opened in Port Sunlight, Merseyside in 1988, Amiga computers were used to orchestrate the flow of raw materials through 8 miles of pipes by interacting with 1500 sensors. More impressive still, it was a fully automated system.

 ✓ When Mirrorsoft published Falcon and Xenon II they included human-readable details of the copyright protection system on the key disk, including the source code and link routines.

Due to “changes in tolerances of a small number of disk drives fitted to the new A500s”, some people who purchased the ‘Flight of Fantasy’ pack in 1990 noticed that one of the bundled games, F29 Retaliator, was totally unplayable.

Part of the copyright protection system devised by Ocean entailed sabotaging your plane with a severe engine fire almost immediately after take off if it detected the use of a pirate copy. Ocean agreed to replace any disks that reported false positives, branding law-abiding citizens as crooks.

In 1992 it was reported that Commodore were planning to release an A800 all-in-one computer like the Apple Mac Classic to bridge the gap between the A500 and A1500. It was to include a hard drive and 16 channel audio. This ‘halfway house’ never saw the light of day, though it’s believed the concept eventually morphed into the A1200 we all know and love.

Magic Bytes released their licensed Tom & Jerry game in 1989… three times, with a different name on each occasion; Tom & Jerry, Tom & Jerry 2 and Tom & Jerry: Hunting High And Low. They’re virtually identical, and equally horrific!

Audiogenic’s UK-centric, celeb-endorsed Graham Gooch World Class Cricket sim was rebadged as Allan Border's Cricket, and flogged in Australia by publisher, HES.

Remember the great Aussie/POHM war of 1993? This is how it began!

The Simpsons spin-off title, Krusty’s Super Fun House, is actually a re-skinned interpretation of Rat Trap developed by Fox Williams. Acclaim didn't nick it, they bought the rights from publishers, Audiogenic, in the hope that no one would spot their double-dealing dupery and think they were cheapskate vultures. We did, and they are. It had already featured on an ST-Amiga Format coverdisk by this stage so that didn’t help (issue 4, September 1988).

When Atreid Concept’s 1993 puzzle-platformer, Fury of the Furries, was ported to the PC, Mac and Game Boy, it became ‘Pac-in-Time’ developed by Kalisto. Guess which famous pill-munching mascot starred in the retooled edition?

Following the announcement of Commodore's impending doom, Psygnosis made a compensation claim against the company for their contribution towards the CD32 design.

Upon securing the license to produce a tie-in game based on the Japanese cartoon centred around a team of alien hominid cat people (Thundercats in case there is more than one to choose from), Elite commissioned Paradise Software to develop it for them.

Showing no faith in their ability to deliver the goods in time for Chrimbo 1988, they also commenced work on their own version.

Neither game was on track to meet the deadline, so Elite took the only sensible course of action available to them; they bought the almost-complete Samurai Dawn from Faster Than Light, sprinkled some catified graphics over the top, and called it Thundercats.

Development of each of the tardy games continued regardless. Paradise’s efforts became Beyond the Ice Palace (another Amiga title), while Elite's interpretation was turned into Bomb Jack II, which was released for the 8-bit platforms, but not the Amiga. We got Mighty Bomb Jack instead.

We have Guru Larry to thank for this exclusive gem of a story.

When Commodore were forced into liquidation in 1994, a slew of assets including trademarks, patents and licenses were made available to the highest bidder. Curiously, the UK trademark for ‘Maggot Mania’, an old Commodore 64 pack-in game (a Space Invaders-Centipede mash-up of sorts), was withheld from the auctions. As of 2004 it's once again up for grabs!

It was actually coded by 16 year old Jason Perkins on Commodore’s behalf. Maybe the deal was that he would retain the rights to the IP?

In January 1993 Commodore were quized with regards to the possibility of releasing a CD-based games console. MD, Kelly Sumner, vehemently denied the rumours, proclaiming, “We've said for a long time that we can sell as many Amiga’s as we can get, so why bastardise our price point to go into that market?” He went on to dismiss the proposal as an impractical “dream machine”.

The CD32 was released in September 1993. Commodore had a track record for denying the existence of products right before the very much real and ready hardware was unveiled to the public. They did the same thing with the ‘A300’, which became the A600 upon release… another design and marketing fiasco according to David Pleasance (that’s another vulnerable, fluffy A500 saved!).

The Bitmap Brothers in 1990 assisted in creating a pop video for the band, Oh Well, to promote their single, ‘Radar Love’. Over the course of four days they used an accelerated and memory-expanded Amiga 2000 to produce a series of onscreen ripple effects.

I imagine the Bitmaps had convinced them to sign a contract ensuring they’d be paid by the hour! I’ve known builders who swear by that approach. ;)

Software developers, Rainbird, and the kid's Saturday morning TV show, Motormouth, collaborated in 1989 to adapt the Amiga cinematic platformer, Weird Dreams, to be used as a phone-in quiz game.

The game was supplied with a 64 page novella, and David ‘Shadow of the Beast’ Whittaker composed the music for the Amiga version.

Syndicate co-developer, Mike Diskett, won his job at Bullfrog by entering a game design competition in Amiga Power magazine (see page 93 of issue 2, June 1991). His winning entry as announced in issue 16 (pages 65-67, August 1992) was ‘Mr Wobbly Leg Versus The Invaders From Space’, and the game was featured on AP cover disk 10.

Demis Hassabis was acknowledged as a runner up thanks to the promise shown by his ‘Chess Invaders’ submission. He was also taken on by Bullfrog as a developer and went on to write Theme Park.

Millennium’s Kid Gloves II: The Journey Back wasn’t really. It was developed by Digital Magic Software in 1991, when it was scheduled for release as ‘Little Beau’. The publisher fell into receivership, Millennium purchased the IP, tweaked it a bit and it was released as a sequel to Kid Gloves the following year. That explains why the protagonist in the follow-up looks naff-all like he did two years beforehand.

All the animation sequences in the TV quiz show, Catchphrase, were executed using a bank of networked Amiga 2000s. They were drawn and brought to life with Deluxe Paint and ran at a staggering 15 frames per second!

 The 3D modelling and morphing techniques employed in the sci-fi TV show, Babylon 5, were creating using an Amiga in conjunction with NewTek’s Video Toaster and Lightwave ray-tracing software.