This time we’re covering the long-forgotten year of 2013, a year that we looked back to our Amiga classics, with remakes for both Alien Breed and Superfrog, while also moving forward with two new Worms games on PC and mobile. Read on to hear how these games were made from the developers themselves.
More than just a remake, this revival of the original Alien Breed game featured the option of totally new graphics, as well as entirely new stages designed in a similar style to those of the original 1991 release. The remake was programmed by Steve Monks, who had previously programmed the Amiga conversion of Ocean’s TFX flight sim and was offered the chance to port Alien Breed to mobile when he dropped his Amiga background into conversation during a job interview. “I suggested this was something I’d be interested in doing and could put together a demo in no time at all,” recalls Monks. “I then went away and returned a week later with a proof of concept demo using graphics from the original game.”
Without access to the original source code, Monks had to get creative to bring Alien Breed to mobile. “I still had working copies of Alien Breed and Alien Breed Special Edition that I could run on a real Amiga for reference and I also had copies of the game that could be run in an emulator,” he explains. “The latter was important as it allowed me to extract the original character graphics and tile sets from the game using memory dump tools in the emulator. These were converted to modern formats and used pretty much ‘as is’ for the Classic Mode as well as forming the basis for the superb Enhanced Mode graphics that were created in-house by Team17.”
“The original level layouts were more of an issue, I didn’t manage to locate them in the memory dumps, but fortunately I came across some playthrough maps for each of the original levels that had been created very precisely from screen grabs. I then wrote a tool that would scan these images and attempt to match up tiles from the tile sets I’d previously extracted to generate an exact copy of the original levels.”
While the original game’s sound effects were also extracted using a similar method to the graphics, some were re-done for the remake, most notably Lynette Reade’s iconic voiceover. This duty fell to QA staff member Christie Sandy. “I was asked by the designer if I would be interested in doing some voiceover,” recalls Sandy. “I said the lines, got them wrong a few times and said them in a strong Huddersfield accent. Then got told how to pronounce things in ‘proper English’ and did them again! In the end, they just changed my voice around to make it sound like a computer,” she laughs.
“I’ve worked on more than thirty games throughout my career, but I think the four months I spent writing Alien Breed were some of the happiest times,” concludes Monks. “It was great to be working on a project with clear objectives from the start and to be largely left alone to just get on with it in my own way, but with support when I needed it from the excellent producer Jessica Kelham and designer Phil Banks who were great to work with. There’s a lot I’m proud of in this game. I’m really pleased with how well it turned out and how well it was received.”
Year: 2013| Developer: Team17/TickTock Games | Publisher: Team17 | Format: Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
In a year of remakes, we also released this other recreation of a beloved Amiga favourite, featuring completely redrawn HD graphics and completely new levels, you could probably consider it more of a sequel than a remake.
Superfrog HD was designed internally by Team17 designer John Eggett and artist Davide Fabrizzi, while much of the programming was outsourced to TickTock Games (now Rebellion North) based just down the road from the Team17 studio. “The coder at TickTock had worked on the original PC port of Superfrog,” Eggett reveals, “so we were able to import the levels from the original and update the graphics. This saved us a lot of time!”
“I was a fan of the original Superfrog,” says Eggett. “I remember it being tricky, or I perhaps was just bad at it. Playing it the second time round during development, I became much better. I had to. Games were more difficult back then, so while we wanted to include the original levels in Superfrog HD, we also created a whole new bank of updated levels more suitable for today’s gamers. I enjoyed the exploration, especially finding secret areas. So with the new levels for Superfrog HD we added even more secrets off the beaten path.”
Among a few user friendly tweaks – such as a camera zoom to reveal more of the stage when running fast – the PlayStation versions of Superfrog HD also included a level editor, infinitely expanding the lifespan of the game. Unfortunately, that lifespan wasn’t very long as Superfrog HD is now no longer available to buy, and without any physical release it remains somewhat lost. Any PlayStation owners who bought the game at the time are still able to play the remake. So if this is one Team17 classic you’re desperate to play, then it’s time to make friends with a retro gamer!
Worms Clan Wars
Year: 2013| Developer: Team17 | Publisher: Team17 | Format: Linux, Mac, PC
Buy on: Steam
Clan Wars kept the 3D rendered visuals and class-based worms characters of Revolution but, as the name suggests, expanded the online feature set with a clan and league system. For the first time in the series, players would be able to join “clans” of players and feed their ranked match results into a collective pool of point to push their clan up the leaderboards. A “companion app” which the games industry told us was “the future” in 2013, was also released so that players could keep track of and manage their clans independently of the game itself!
As well as the league system, Clan Wars also allowed friends to join together and play co-operatively, taking turns to take command of the worms, and was also the first game in the series to make use of Steam Workshop, creating a community hub where creative players could share their best custom created landscapes, hats and soundbanks – a feature still used by the Worms series to date!
After the success of Matt Berry’s voiceover in Worms Revolution, we returned to the IT Crowd family for Clan Wars, this time recruting Katherine Parkinson, with scritpwriter Dean Wilkinson returing to lend his talents to a story focussed on a museum and artefact hunting. “We headed to a studio down in London called Soho Sonic,” recalls lead audio engineer Oli Wood. “We had used the studio previously for some Worms Revolution pickups and loved the space, so it seemed like a great place to record the Clan Wars VO. Dean Wilkinson was back on board to write the script and Katherine Parkinson joined the team providing the narration. Katherine was a superb fit and was the perfect successor to Matt Berry. Katherine was genuinely such a lovely human and really did Dean’s script justice. The voiceover sounds great in-game and like Matt’s delivery, really added to the game’s campaign.”
Worms Clan Wars was the last entirely new Worms PC game for some time (until 2016’s Worms W.M.D) which gave the community time to settle in to the clan system and work their way through the leagues. Warmly received by critics (Destructoid called it “the definitive version”) and well liked by fans, it still has an active sub-community of clans, fighting it out to this day!
Four years after Worms debuted on iPhone and proved to be an incredibly viable combination of game and platform, we released Worms 3 – the first Worms designed exclusively for mobile, rather than ported from an existing release.
Though it featured backgrounds and character designs similar to Worms Revolution and Clan Wars, this was a wholly new release, designed to really take advantage of the mobile format. Chief among these was a new asynchronous multiplayer mode, which allowed players to take their turn at their convenience rather than playing out a full match in one go – perfect for commuters who might only have a few minutes at a time to spare!
Of course, new weapons were also added such as Worms 3 exclusives The Black Hole Grenade, and Canned Heat – a weapon that fires explosive tin cans across the land! Additionally, a new collectible card system allowed players to build a deck of strategic cards to be played at the start and end of each turn to tactically affect the battle!
Reviews for Worms 3 were positive, including a 90% from GamesMaster and a healthy 4/5 from Pocket Gamer. As you’d expect from a modern Worms release, Worms 3 was repeatedly updated after release with lots of new content, even including some crossover content with the wildly popular Terraria, and had a long happy life on mobile, where it is still available today.
That’s all for 2013! Unsurprisingly the next chapter will be all about 2014, featuring the first batch of titles from our modern Games Label, including the first Escapists!