James Pond - Millennium Interactive

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catmando
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James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby catmando » Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:49 pm

I happen to be on a ski holiday randomly with a chap who was part of Millennium Interactive who published James Pond and some other titles.

Wondered if the group has any questions that I can ask that may be helpful?
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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby Atarieterno » Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:57 pm

I do not have any questions, but I congratulate him from Spain because his game is very fun and I'm still playing it in 2018 with my Atari.
Enjoy!

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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby Foxie » Tue Mar 06, 2018 3:31 pm

Was he involved in James Pond II? That's one of my favourite games! Chris Sorrel is a genius, doing all of that fantastic art and also the very well-written software! The Amiga version uses the blitter to achieve a planar parallax scrolling technique, without any slowdown.

The IBM version was also interesting, as it used a palette cycling technique to make up for the lack of parallax scrolling on the IBM. The Atari version was probably the weakest version, although it could be made better these days with techniques such as sync scrolling. Enchanted Land's title screen shows us that parallax scrolling at 50fps should be possible on an STFM. Perhaps one day, someone will be interested in making an improved port of James Pond II.

One thing I always wondered about James Pond II was why the first level seems to be different on the IBM version compared to the Amiga? Could it be that IBM gamers don't have the large balls of Amiga gamers, and need the gameplay adjusted to match their word processor-centric skill set? Also I find it odd the IBM version uses MOD music, but at such a low sample rate it's hardly worth bothering with. I'd have preferred Adlib music over 6kHz MOD playback. They did re-do the music for the Atari version on the YM chip, rather than using software MOD playback.

Another curious thing - there was an Archimedes version of the original James Pond, but I don't think there was ever a version of James Pond II on that machine. Did the original sell poorly on the Archimedes, I wonder?

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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby Stefan jL » Tue Mar 06, 2018 5:07 pm

Foxie... there was a version of Robocod for the Archimedes, i even has several releases of it since i collect the Robocod games :wink:

Here is a video i recorded some years ago showing Robocod on the Archimedes (A3010)

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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby Foxie » Tue Mar 06, 2018 6:02 pm

Stefan jL wrote:Foxie... there was a version of Robocod for the Archimedes, i even has several releases of it since i collect the Robocod games :wink:


Oh wow, somehow I never managed to find this before! I can't tell from the video - does it run at 50fps? I see they got rid of the parallax background, which isn't too surprising. According to my Mate who's a very experienced Archimedes programmer, it is possible to do parallax scrolling on the Archimedes with brute force. However, it's right on the bleeding edge of possible. The lack of a planar display really hurts here!

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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby Stefan jL » Wed Mar 07, 2018 4:11 am

catmando wrote:Wondered if the group has any questions that I can ask that may be helpful?


I can't think of any specific question but you could ask him if there was anything special with any release of the ST games... just something that he rememebr specific about the ST.
And maybe some detail how the dicsussion were when they stopped publish ST games.
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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby catmando » Sat Mar 10, 2018 9:30 am

So after another conversation it seems there was no preference to code for the Amiga or Atari. He said the game was likely coded on a PC before being compiled for the different platforms.

I asked him about the effect of piracy and copy protections they used, he said they were obviously concerned about it but instead of developing their own protections they often relied on the companies that mastered their software to disk to supply the copy protection method as a kind of bolt on.

I also asked about how their games were reviewed by magazines, he said it was always a challenge to maintain a good relationship with the magazines reviewers.

If I remember anything else I'll add it later
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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby Velon » Mon Mar 12, 2018 2:40 am

The first game I played. The game was released in 1991, I was also born in 91.
However, the game and Atari got to me when I was 5-6 years old

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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby tat » Mon Mar 12, 2018 9:57 am

What was the chap's name?

I ended up working at Sony Cambridge, which was the bought-out Millennium minus the Creature Labs bits. People like Chris Sorrell were still there. In fact I still work with one person who was there from about 1993.

When the Sony studio finally shut down last year I managed to salvage several old Commodore machines and a box of floppies. Who knows what they were used for ;)

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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby dlfrsilver » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:03 pm

interesting ! btw i wonder what Steve Bak do these days ?
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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby ST Graveyard » Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:00 pm

Dlfrsilver, sadly Steve Bak passed away a few years ago I believe...
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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby dlfrsilver » Thu Mar 15, 2018 9:49 am

really ?
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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby Hazzardus » Thu Mar 15, 2018 7:02 pm

Probably gonna get some flak for this, but James Pond and James Pond 2 were rubbish ports on the ST. On the Amiga they were really fun, but the ST ports STUNK! I don't think it was just low sales that stopped The Aquatic Games... it was lack of hardware scrolling for a start, but mostly it would have had zero sales.

Edit: Hell, even James Pond 3 was not even available on the A500, even though it was on the Megadrive and SNES. It was AGA only for anyone without a console.
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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby dlfrsilver » Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:16 pm

Steve Bak was an ST first man. James pond was made for Atari ST first and enhanced for the Amiga.
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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby Foxie » Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:17 pm

Hazzardus wrote:Probably gonna get some flak for this, but James Pond and James Pond 2 were rubbish ports on the ST. On the Amiga they were really fun, but the ST ports STUNK!


I tend to agree. Without sync scrolling, it's hardly surprising the scrolling is so bad. As far as I know, the Amiga version uses dual playfield mode to move large objects on the screen. The ST version slows to a crawl when this happens. During normal play, the Amiga version uses single playfield mode and the blitter to do parallax.

It would be possible to nearly match the Amiga version by throwing every trick in the book at it. 4 pixel sync scrolling, preshifted buffers, Enchanted Land parallax and overscan. There's also plenty of processor time for MOD music playback. There's no way a commercial game producer is going to spend that much time and effort on a port.

For that reason I think the ST port was OK given the constraints. About the same as many other side scrolling games on the ST.

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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby Foxie » Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:18 pm

dlfrsilver wrote:Steve Bak was an ST first man. James pond was made for Atari ST first and enhanced for the Amiga.


Are you sure about that? Is that the original James Pond specifically? I think James Pond II was written by Chris Sorrel, originally on the Amiga.

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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby dlfrsilver » Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:15 pm

Yes James Pond II was Amiga first :)
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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby Stefan jL » Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:33 pm

dlfrsilver wrote:Yes James Pond II was Amiga first :)


nope it was on Sega Megadrive first :D :wink:
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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby Foxie » Mon Mar 19, 2018 12:51 pm

There's a good interview with Chris Sorrell here: http://codetapper.com/amiga/interviews/chris-sorrell/

Even although it was a primarily Amiga game, they did the development on the ST - because of its high resolution display. Interestingly, they downloaded the code to the Amiga via a modem cable rather than reassembling it using the Amiga version of Devpac.

Despite the Mega Drive version having more colours in the background, he preferred how the Amiga version looked. I have to agree, it looks much better. Sometimes one bitplane is all you need!

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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby Atari030 » Mon Mar 19, 2018 8:41 pm

Would have been nice to see JPII written for the STE. JP was OK, but never grabbed me like Gods or Magicboy.

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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby Hazzardus » Sun Apr 01, 2018 3:29 pm

Atari030 wrote:Would have been nice to see JPII written for the STE. JP was OK, but never grabbed me like Gods or Magicboy.

Pockets man, not boy :lol: . Would have liked to see JP3 on STE too.
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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby junosix » Sun Apr 01, 2018 7:33 pm

Hazzardus wrote:Pockets man, not boy :lol:

Magic Boy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1SsDgeL174

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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby Hazzardus » Sun Apr 01, 2018 8:24 pm

junosix wrote:
Hazzardus wrote:Pockets man, not boy :lol:

Magic Boy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1SsDgeL174


oops, sorry. Never even heard of it. Looks decent though.
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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby Atari030 » Mon Apr 02, 2018 9:02 am

Both were great, pockets was just pure playable eye candy.

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Re: James Pond - Millennium Interactive

Postby iggydrougge » Sat Apr 28, 2018 12:34 am

Foxie wrote:Even although it was a primarily Amiga game, they did the development on the ST - because of its high resolution display. Interestingly, they downloaded the code to the Amiga via a modem cable rather than reassembling it using the Amiga version of Devpac.


That's just the development system, just as many (most?) British-made Amiga and ST games were made on IBM PCs with the PDS development system and SNASM.


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