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The Making of Outrun C64

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Martyn Carroll has written an amazing piece about the C64 port of Outrun by a father and son team. It's amazing to think how much the UK games industry relied onkids just out of school. You can read it here https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2019-10-13-the-boy-behind-the-biggest-coin-op-conversion-of-the-80s?

 

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From the article Dad Dennis was responsible for the graphics and daubed his and Martin's initials on the in-game vehicles!

 

Sounds like he was pushed a lot more y his father than was healthy though



However the successes were papering over the cracks in the relationship between father and son. "Whilst dad would often run me down at home, when we were out at computer fairs he would really talk me up. He'd announce to onlookers playing our games that I had made them. He would come across very proud, but when we were back at home and I was not getting the job done things were different. Later in life I learnt that close friends of the family had tried to get dad to back off, questioning if the pressure and workload was good for a young person. But if you knew my dad, you'd know that would have been a waste of time."

Some small gaming projects followed but Martin had made up his mind to move on, leaving his home - and the industry - behind. "After I packed up doing games with dad it caused a lot of problems and it's a part of my life I don't like to talk about," he says, explaining his reticence to discuss the years that followed and whether he ever found common ground with his father.

 

I played quite a lot of this back in the day although I considered it a bit of an also ran. In retrospect a little harsh considering it was just two people knocking it out.

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Well that explains why there were lots of 911s in Outrun.

Roadblasters manages to be simultaneously shitty looking and yet still really impressive that he managed to fit that much of the coin-op onto a C64.

 

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The nascent UK gaming scene back in the days really was something, wasn't it? Child labor in full effect and yet some of the most creative games using very limited resources just poured forth from bedrooms all over the country.

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Sounds like his dad managed to prevent him getting a job with Nintendo. What a missed opportunity. The guy must have been insanely talented, making outrun on a c64, in assembly and shipping it at 17 years old.

 

Also coding is often painted as this lovely fun thing, it can be, but shipping something is often painful. Can't imagine being 17 and my dad doing that to me.

 

His sons magic trick on America's got talent is impressive:

 

 

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1 hour ago, bplus said:

Sounds like his dad managed to prevent him getting a job with Nintendo. What a missed opportunity. The guy must have been insanely talented, making outrun on a c64, in assembly and shipping it at 17 years old.

 

Also coding is often painted as this lovely fun thing, it can be, but shipping something is often painful. Can't imagine being 17 and my dad doing that to me.

 

His sons magic trick on America's got talent is impressive:

 

 


it’s not impressive, it’s really simple - a mobile phone calculator trick. the trick is to preload the calculator with the number

 

open calculator app and type 73928547 into it

 

then press

+ 0 X 

 

And minimise the app. When it opens again, it looks like it’s on 0 but it has the maths still entered into it. whatever you type next doesn’t matter

 

say 100x 59x 345.6 when you press equals, you still get 73928547

 

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40 minutes ago, ulala said:


it’s not impressive, it’s really simple - a mobile phone calculator trick. the trick is to preload the calculator with the number

 

open calculator app and type 73928547 into it

 

then press

+ 0 X 

 

And minimise the app. When it opens again, it looks like it’s on 0 but it has the maths still entered into it. whatever you type next doesn’t matter

 

say 100x 59x 345.6 when you press equals, you still get 73928547

 

 

I think Tyra has to be in on it as well - I do this trick and there's always a risk that when you hand a calculator to someone they will instinctively press Clear before they enter the first number.  The theory is still sound (Tyra never says her own number so you can't check the math), but if I was doing it on TV, I'd get someone I trust to do the last bit, just to be sure. 

 

Funnily enough, DNA did the same trick on Britain's Got Talent, and added extra layers of complexity to the point where no-one, not even DNA seemed able to explain what they were trying to do.  It's a really good example of how less is more.  They add more and more to the routine until it makes no sense at all.

 

 

 

 

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56 minutes ago, dumpster said:

 

I think Tyra has to be in on it as well - I do this trick and there's always a risk that when you hand a calculator to someone they will instinctively press Clear before they enter the first number.  The theory is still sound (Tyra never says her own number so you can't check the math), but if I was doing it on TV, I'd get someone I trust to do the last bit, just to be sure. 

 

Funnily enough, DNA did the same trick on Britain's Got Talent, and added extra layers of complexity to the point where no-one, not even DNA seemed able to explain what they were trying to do.  It's a really good example of how less is more.  They add more and more to the routine until it makes no sense at all.

 

 

 


there is always a risk, but using stooges is a poor form.

 

the second Tyra was not allowed to say the number you knew it wasn’t a good trick, it was just the above. Variations of which happen in maths class everyday.

 

he did just the right amount of showmanship to get away with it. But it was still a terrible trick. If that’s the best he has for a tv illusion, lifting a school calculator trick, a career in Vegas is not beckoning 

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1 minute ago, ulala said:


there is always a risk, but using stooges is a poor form.

 

 

You'd be amazed what they get up to on Britain's Got Talent when it comes to magic.  For example, in live shows they edit in crowd reactions just at the point where the magic move takes place (showing the director and camera team are all in on the method), and in Youtube clips they have used CG to edit things so you can't see what's going on.  They've even cheated performers by watching them audition, taking their act and repurposing it with a different performer.  Check these out.

 

(edit - Matthew Wright's video has disappeared from YT but it was very very interesting.  He did an act doing magic with a dog, and I believe he alleged in his video that this ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaVE6ZmvLHw ) was basically his own act that he auditioned for the show, which BGT took the premise and gave to someone else with a sad story to tell - alleged obv) 

 

 

 

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I never realised they were using vfx in post on bgt. What’s the point?

 

i know they used very favourable cuts and editing, but vfx is going too far. A very interesting video

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11 minutes ago, ulala said:

I never realised they were using vfx in post on bgt. What’s the point?

 

i know they used very favourable cuts and editing, but vfx is going too far. A very interesting video

 

I love magic (have self published books on the subject) but TV magic is just a bit off sometimes.  Started with David Blaine Street Magic which I really really loved as a kid, but had digital effects at the end to make him levitate.  You see him do all this great stuff all through the show, all legit, then he starts reading minds which is a bit fake (say "think of a card".... then say "Queen of Hearts" and then broadcast the times when you happened to guess correctly and ignore the 51 other times that didn't work), then actually levitate in the street like as if you really could do that.  It lead to Dynamo walking on water and being stuck to the side of a bus.  If you have a TV companies budget behind you you can do anything.  

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3 minutes ago, dumpster said:

 

I love magic (have self published books on the subject) but TV magic is just a bit off sometimes.  Started with David Blaine Street Magic which I really really loved as a kid, but had digital effects at the end to make him levitate.  You see him do all this great stuff all through the show, all legit, then he starts reading minds which is a bit fake (say "think of a card".... then say "Queen of Hearts" and then broadcast the times when you happened to guess correctly and ignore the 51 other times that didn't work), then actually levitate in the street like as if you really could do that.  It lead to Dynamo walking on water and being stuck to the side of a bus.  If you have a TV companies budget behind you you can do anything.  


we need a magic thread!

 

 

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It's a kind of magic...

 

 

Which brings us nicely back to Outrun on the C64. It's a really interesting story, although I'd read the father's side in Chris Wilkin's book about the C64, but the thing about the story is that:

 

a) the games were utter shite, especially Outrun on the C64. It didn't even review particularly well at the time (despite being massively hyped). People were truly pissed off when they bought it. Roadblasters is even worse.

b) Teenagers developing games was fairly normal in the 8-bit days. The Darling brothers had been churning out games for Mastertronic having made something like £200k by the time they were 16 and 17 enabling them to set up Codemasters. The Oliver twins were again something like 16 when they were making games for Codemasters. Matthew Smith was either 16 or 17 when he made Manic Miner.

 

I mean, maybe it's strange that US Gold gave such a prestigious game to a 17 year old to develop, but maybe the article shows just how little regard US Gold still had for their games by reskinning an old racing game into Out Run (kind of like when they infamously took an old Arctic World Cup game and released it as World Cup Carnival), but the article itself doesn't really have much justification if it's trying to highlight how teenagers made games (and a lot of money) in the 80s because there's much more interesting stories they could cover.

 

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You are such a curmudgeon sometimes! It was an absolutely fascinating article. The idea of some top arcade port being developed by some kid and his dad is amazing.

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I thought it was an interesting article as well. I was programming released games at 17 but didn't get anywhere near the cash he did. Nearly all the development people back then were relatively young, we've just all grown old and bitter now ;-)

 

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On 14/10/2019 at 15:12, SozzlyJoe said:

You are such a curmudgeon sometimes! It was an absolutely fascinating article. The idea of some top arcade port being developed by some kid and his dad is amazing.

 

Haha, yes I know! 

 

Very true, it was a fascinating read and as you said having a sole 17 year old be responsible for what was going the biggest game of 1987, especially when even US Gold made Gremlin responsible for the port of previous "biggest game ever" Gauntlet. 

 

But I still stand by my view that Outrun on the C64 was utter shite and should never have been released! I remember being so disappointed by it, despite it coming with an extra audio tape so you could listen to the music. Maybe that was to make up for how shite it was. Especially when the often forgotten sequel, Turbo Outrun, was made by Probe who did the other computer conversions and it was really good on the C64.

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