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RetroRemakes Challenge : Month 6 Update 1


I’ve been looking forward to this one since I started this challenge. This game is without a doubt the game that had the most influence on my career, bar none. Driller, by Incentive Software, circa 1987, was the game that was underway when I started working at Incentive in late 1986. I recall clearly the day I visited Minerva House in Tadley, Berkshire, famous for its proximity to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment in neighbouring Aldermaston. I recall Ian explaining how he purchased a Geiger counter when looking at the offices in Tadley to make sure it was safe, and keeping it in the office in case anything happened 😁.

While I had no useful experience in coding at that point, I had demonstrated an ability to transfer artwork to the Spectrum’s limited display capabilities, I showed some images I’d created during my interview, including, IIRC, a recreation of the Rocky cover, and a similar image of Rambo (clearly I was a Stallone fan 😂). So Ian tasked me with creating the Driller image for the Spectrum, which you can see above, from the poster artwork from Steinar Lund.

Creating and publishing games was a very different affair those days. As much as I can recall, I’m sure Ian will correct some of this, we created a gold master on tape and disk, which was then sent to a duplication company, which happened to be on the same industrial estate as our office, so we could literally walk the tape to their office. They would take care of tape and disk duplication, the results would then go to the packaging company for inclusion in the high quality cardboard packaging, along with the manual, folded 3D Mistral Moon map, and other goodies, before being delivered back to our offices in Tadley in boxes for us to ship out to the distributors, the likes of W.H.Smiths, Book Club Associates, etc. Marketing consisted of taking out 1/4, 1/2 or full page ads in the computer magazines of the time.

Thanks to some contacts on Twitter, I’ve recently been pointed towards a couple of interesting web pages of two people who have spent some time decoding the data format of Driller/Freescape, which is amazing in itself, John Elliott and Steven Henk Don. Reading through the findings brought all my Freescape memories back, the formats are ingrained in my mind, albeit buried deep, from my time working on Dark Side, Total Eclipse, Castle Master and 3D Construction Kit. Armed with this information, I plan to build something that allows me to effectively emulate Freescape in Godot, reading in the original game database to create the 3D scenes, and interpreting the FCL bytecodes to recreate the exact game logic.

I was concerned about the timing of this game, in fact I pushed it back a month from September as I knew I would be too busy to give it the attention it deserves, and October is shaping up to be just as busy. However, with this approach, I’m confident I can recreate the game accurately, remaining faithful to the original, although perhaps not as faithful as the Splat remake, while adding some modern pizzazz where appropriate.