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Twenty five years ago I wrote a computer game for the ZX Spectrum called R-Type , a home computer port of an arcade game which a lot of people then, and since, seemed to like. Jump forward to a couple of years ago (ouch, sorry) and I found myself starting to write down what I could remember about those early game years - not through any need to see my name in print but jus Twenty five years ago I wrote a computer game for the ZX Spectrum called R-Type , a home computer port of an arcade game which a lot of people then, and since, seemed to like. Jump forward to a couple of years ago (ouch, sorry) and I found myself starting to write down what I could remember about those early game years - not through any need to see my name in print but just because I thought it best to record for myself what I could while I could. I did think that if I was lucky I'd remember a few pages worth of material and come up with an interesting essay I could read back to myself when I'm an OAP (only eleven years away now!) but the more I started to think about things the more the details came back to me and the more and more pages I started to fill. Since I've always wanted to write a book and Rule Number One is "write about what you know" I decided to go for it and do things properly and write down every part of the process of creating one of those early computer games I could remember. IT'S BEHIND YOU is the result. Since R-Type was only the second published game that I had written I decided to flesh things out a bit (alright, pad things out a bit) by writing about how I got to that stage so the book itself is in three parts: a pre-history of some of my early attempts at computer game\programming, a short section on my first published game (a conversion of the Bally Midway arcade game Rampage) and R-Type itself. This last section is itself split into two parts: everything I could remember about about the writing of the game from start to finish and what happened to it, and me, after it was published. I don't believe anyone who was actually there has ever documented something like this before, and let's be honest it's really quite a niche subject with a limited appeal so I have no illusions that what I've written will only really be of interest to those who share a passion for old computer games (or 'retrocomputing' to give it its fashionable title.) Of course it does help to have an inkling of what I'm talking about when I mention the games, companies, magazines, people etc. who were part of the UK games industry at that time but I'm guessing that if you're thinking of downloading and reading this then you already have some idea of what it's all about. Lastly I hope I've done my best to try and make this as readable and non-technical as I can because behind the game is what I think is one heck of a story that I hope you'll find both interesting and illuminating.


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Twenty five years ago I wrote a computer game for the ZX Spectrum called R-Type , a home computer port of an arcade game which a lot of people then, and since, seemed to like. Jump forward to a couple of years ago (ouch, sorry) and I found myself starting to write down what I could remember about those early game years - not through any need to see my name in print but jus Twenty five years ago I wrote a computer game for the ZX Spectrum called R-Type , a home computer port of an arcade game which a lot of people then, and since, seemed to like. Jump forward to a couple of years ago (ouch, sorry) and I found myself starting to write down what I could remember about those early game years - not through any need to see my name in print but just because I thought it best to record for myself what I could while I could. I did think that if I was lucky I'd remember a few pages worth of material and come up with an interesting essay I could read back to myself when I'm an OAP (only eleven years away now!) but the more I started to think about things the more the details came back to me and the more and more pages I started to fill. Since I've always wanted to write a book and Rule Number One is "write about what you know" I decided to go for it and do things properly and write down every part of the process of creating one of those early computer games I could remember. IT'S BEHIND YOU is the result. Since R-Type was only the second published game that I had written I decided to flesh things out a bit (alright, pad things out a bit) by writing about how I got to that stage so the book itself is in three parts: a pre-history of some of my early attempts at computer game\programming, a short section on my first published game (a conversion of the Bally Midway arcade game Rampage) and R-Type itself. This last section is itself split into two parts: everything I could remember about about the writing of the game from start to finish and what happened to it, and me, after it was published. I don't believe anyone who was actually there has ever documented something like this before, and let's be honest it's really quite a niche subject with a limited appeal so I have no illusions that what I've written will only really be of interest to those who share a passion for old computer games (or 'retrocomputing' to give it its fashionable title.) Of course it does help to have an inkling of what I'm talking about when I mention the games, companies, magazines, people etc. who were part of the UK games industry at that time but I'm guessing that if you're thinking of downloading and reading this then you already have some idea of what it's all about. Lastly I hope I've done my best to try and make this as readable and non-technical as I can because behind the game is what I think is one heck of a story that I hope you'll find both interesting and illuminating.

30 review for It's behind you - The making of a computer Game

  1. 4 out of 5

    Levent Pekcan

    Internette tesadüfen karşılaştığım bu kitap, R-Type oyununun Spectrum sürümünün geliştirilmesini, programcısının ağzından anlatıyor. Tüm bu süreçte '80li yıllarda İngiliz oyun sektörü üzerine de hayli bilgi ediniyorsunuz. Az biraz teknik detay da içeren, güzel bir anlatı. Kitap boyunca bir iki yerde Türk oyun geliştirici Mevlut Dinç'in bahsinin geçmesi de hoş bir detay. Ücretsiz olarak sunulan bu kitabı indirmek isterseniz: http://web.archive.org/web/2016022121... Internette tesadüfen karşılaştığım bu kitap, R-Type oyununun Spectrum sürümünün geliştirilmesini, programcısının ağzından anlatıyor. Tüm bu süreçte '80li yıllarda İngiliz oyun sektörü üzerine de hayli bilgi ediniyorsunuz. Az biraz teknik detay da içeren, güzel bir anlatı. Kitap boyunca bir iki yerde Türk oyun geliştirici Mevlut Dinç'in bahsinin geçmesi de hoş bir detay. Ücretsiz olarak sunulan bu kitabı indirmek isterseniz: http://web.archive.org/web/2016022121...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lucas

    This book is self-published and downloadable for free from the author's website at http://bizzley.com/ (why not on kindle or google play?). There are many scattered interviews, webpages, videos and podcasts that capture parts of the stories of many other developers of games from the same time period but it's fantastic having this in a discrete book form: it's wading through a incoherent mass of short snippets of information vs. seeking out longer form media and being able to enjoy it linearly ov This book is self-published and downloadable for free from the author's website at http://bizzley.com/ (why not on kindle or google play?). There are many scattered interviews, webpages, videos and podcasts that capture parts of the stories of many other developers of games from the same time period but it's fantastic having this in a discrete book form: it's wading through a incoherent mass of short snippets of information vs. seeking out longer form media and being able to enjoy it linearly over a longer period. Commuting to and from London, Fareham, Swansea, and a few other locations plays a not-insignificant role in the book, a little more description of this would be helpful, or even a map. I'd like more contextual details about nearly everything: living and working around London in the late 1980s along with the mechanics of developing for the ZX Spectrum. I also appreciate the short length of the book as it is makes up for any issues that would need a good editor to clean up in a longer text. The Amiga version of R-Type is how I'm familiar with the game, it and Katakis (which do get mentioned in the book) are now available for free from the developer: http://www.factor5.de/downloads.shtml - but in order to play them an A500 kickstart rom is required. I was never able to get past the giant ship level on the Amiga version of R-Type until after starting this book: I cheated through all the levels using emulator save states.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Todd Mitchell

    I started reading this book right before a 48-hour indie game development competition called Ludum Dare based on a Twitter recommendation. I love reading old developer journals and accounts and this was a particularly chilling one. While I have never personally played R-Type, the subject game of most of the book, I was pleasantly surprised to see that he was involved with one translation of Rampage, a game I am quite familiar with and fond of. I was as impressed by Bob's attitude about programmi I started reading this book right before a 48-hour indie game development competition called Ludum Dare based on a Twitter recommendation. I love reading old developer journals and accounts and this was a particularly chilling one. While I have never personally played R-Type, the subject game of most of the book, I was pleasantly surprised to see that he was involved with one translation of Rampage, a game I am quite familiar with and fond of. I was as impressed by Bob's attitude about programming and stories of the earlier game industry as I was surprised by more gritty details about the skeletons in the closets of the big publishers. I don't know whether I want to Tweet Bob congrats on a career loaded with impressive feats or make a donation in his honor and encourage therapy. But in the end, I think maybe that's our line of work in a nutshell. This is a great read for game developers, programmers, and anyone interested in seeing what the game industry was like in the mid-to-late 80s.

  4. 5 out of 5

    DiscoSpacePanther

    A really interesting read - an eye-opening account of the "bedroom coding" scene of the late '80s. As someone who only experienced the end-products of this, the details of the financial shenanigans and shady dealings going on were a great surprise. Back in 1988, from being completely ignorant of the arcade game and being astonished by the C&VG demo tape containing level 1, I was hooked. R-Type was one of the few full-price games that I bought for the ZX Spectrum, and definitely one of the best. ( A really interesting read - an eye-opening account of the "bedroom coding" scene of the late '80s. As someone who only experienced the end-products of this, the details of the financial shenanigans and shady dealings going on were a great surprise. Back in 1988, from being completely ignorant of the arcade game and being astonished by the C&VG demo tape containing level 1, I was hooked. R-Type was one of the few full-price games that I bought for the ZX Spectrum, and definitely one of the best. (I remember that on level 2 you could sit at the bottom left of the screen with autofire on, and waltz right through the level without moving until the confrontation with Gomanda. I even recall finishing level 7 and being looped around again to the same level instead of progressing to level 8). It was great to get some insight into how the games development industry worked back in the 8-bit era in the UK. Well worth the read!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Finlay

    A fun 'war story' about the chaotic early days of computer games, porting arcade titles over to the various home PCs. I was surprised they had to reproduce almost everything from scratch, copying the art, sound, interaction from playing an arcade machine, or even videos of the game. Quite similar to 'The Making of Prince of Persia'.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Julian

    I enjoy these kinds of personal accounts of programming (Jordan Mechner's game diaries, for example) and this one is no different, despite my having no personal connection to the Spectrum. There wasn't as much technical detail as I would have liked, but the familiar tale of the exploited bedroom coder is a decent read, anyway.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    A fantastic behind-the-curtains look at the making of R-Type, along with a much shorter section on Rampage. Some of the technical stuff went over my head, but the author kindly stated to skip ahead that section which was a neat touch. The stories about being ripped off by the developer and the broken level 8 were fantastic. This is a great book and I wish the author had written more games that could have been turned into books!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Awesome true story of computer games, when computer games were basically a gruesome one man fight against the evil software house! 8bit story of one of the most well know arcade game conversion for one of the most "meh" computer of the time! Sorry guys but the Commodore 64 ruled the scene!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Cloutier

    Unterhaltsamer und informativer Blick in die britische bedroom coder Videospielszene Asia erster Hand.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Zoljargal Gantumur

    Retrogame-н тухай огт мэдэхгүй generation-той танилцав...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    Pure nostalgia for me, one of the best games ever written for the Spectrum and well deserved placing on the WoS leaderboard!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Fascinating read, technically, socially and with an enormous dose of nostalgia (I was given R-Type for my Spectrum+ for Christmas 1988, when I was 14!)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dorin

    Bob Pape's story on R-Type brought back 'the good old days' of Spectrum games, and the fun we had playing that. The story is not glamorous, and it's why it rings truer than ever. The story telling might be a bit too technical for the casual reader, while the technical reader might not be fully satisfied, even if we get to see the assembly code of the scrolling routine. It is, however, an insightful reading for anyone slightly interested. R-Type used to rule, although my favorite spectrum game was Bob Pape's story on R-Type brought back 'the good old days' of Spectrum games, and the fun we had playing that. The story is not glamorous, and it's why it rings truer than ever. The story telling might be a bit too technical for the casual reader, while the technical reader might not be fully satisfied, even if we get to see the assembly code of the scrolling routine. It is, however, an insightful reading for anyone slightly interested. R-Type used to rule, although my favorite spectrum game was Elite. :D

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ondrej Sykora

    This is a short book of memories of Bob Pape of the times, when he worked on converting R-Type on ZX Spectrum. Similar to Jordan Mechner's diaries, do not expect too much technical information, but rather images from the life of game developers during that era. It is especially interesting to see how Bob Pape's experience was different from Mechners, even though it looks like the general lack of competence and treatment of employees was about the same on both sides of the ocean

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gwern

    Vividly conveys the fly-by-night and chaos of early computer games and some of the contortions & challenges of dealing with the limited computers of the day. All in all, though, I think Mechner's The Making of Prince of Persia is a better read if you're not specifically interested in R-Type. Vividly conveys the fly-by-night and chaos of early computer games and some of the contortions & challenges of dealing with the limited computers of the day. All in all, though, I think Mechner's The Making of Prince of Persia is a better read if you're not specifically interested in R-Type.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Themistocles

    A really nice book on how the Spectrum version of R-Type was made. Pope does not romanticize the period or the process and gives some great insight to how games were made back then by bedroom coders. With lots of nice technical details (but not too technical), the book has the one-more-page factor (pun intended). Thanks to Bob Pape for making this available for free!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chris Karr

    A wonderful look at the creation of R-Type for the Spectrum.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Neil Blumfield

    Great story of the trials and tribulations of writing a conversion of an arcade game to a Spectrum. Dealing with dodgy bosses, deadlines, dire working conditions and big name publishers.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Chase

  20. 4 out of 5

    Niklasl

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tahsin

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  23. 5 out of 5

    Zachary

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ben Mitchell

  25. 5 out of 5

    Javier

  26. 5 out of 5

    Robin Powell

  27. 5 out of 5

    Graham

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joe Doxx

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nicolas

  30. 4 out of 5

    Niraj Shah

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