Ash: I think it was Philips who instigated the Micro Machines conversion for CD-i. After the multimedia angle hadn't exactly put a CD-i in every home, they started trying to get deals together to get larger name game titles ported to the system. Micro Machines and Codemasters were pretty big at the time so it wasn't a bad idea. Actually, I remember speaking to Philips directly myself before I even moved to Codemasters, sometime in late 91 or early 92. They didn't seem so keen on games then, but I was looking for systems where I could possibly carve a niche for myself. When I caught wind of the possibility of doing Micro Machines I was fairly keen to get involved, which was fortunate because, no offence to Philips, but I don't think any of the other programmers were especially interested. Personally I saw it as a decent way to get some experience developing for a CD-based system, which were fairly new at that time. I think the deal pretty much happened early to mid 1994, so it was several months before the PlayStation surfaced.
Initially I had hoped it would be fairly simple from a code perspective, since CD-i had a 68000 series CPU and the Megadrive game had already been coded in 68000 assembler. Unfortunately, due to some rights problem (I still don't really know why) we couldn't use that code. So I had the original NES 6502 assembler code handed over, and I made a printout of the whole thing. I made a rough map of the code functionality (for example higher level processes and lower level detail) and decided on a rough plan of attack. During the development I basically took each part of the code in turn and re-coded it into 68000 directly from the 6502 reference. It wasn't the prettiest way to do it really, but time was likely to be short and at least it was methodical if not optimal. Philips had given us a useful base framework to get started with, as well as a development kit with SNASM tools and so on. What I remember most was how much I hated using a PC. Quite a few of us had used Amiga A4000 workstations for the Megadrive development, using a mix of off the shelf tools like DevPac, and stuff we wrote ourselves. For code editing, CygnusEd was simply the weapon of choice. By comparison, tools on the PC were like the dark ages. To this day I still can't really believe it!
[Thanks, Ashley Hogg, Devin]
>> Sunday, July 25, 2010
Since I accidentally posted the Zenith video for the second time (woops), let's do another one I enjoyed a lot: The 7th Guest was reviewed by Seb a while ago, but The 7th Guest is worth watching anytime.
Girl's Club is a fantasy dating game published by Philips Interactive Media for the CD-i in 1992. Starring Nickelodeon's Heidi Lucas as the leader of the club who helps the player choose which date to go on. Philips based the game on the classic Dream Date board game where girls get to go on simulated dates with "thirty of the coolest guys in the universe.". One of the dates is actor and acting coach Chambers Stevens (star of the Emmy Award winning Steve Spots).
Girl's Club, created by the Philips POV group (Who also made Voyeur, Thunder in Paradise and Mystic Midway) for the CD-i was a pioneer in the early days of video games. It was one of the first video games to use live footage of actors. The format was the classic dream date. Obviously made for girls (around the age of 12), the players got to choose among many handsome 'dates'. From the disc: " Learn everything you want to know about thirty 'to-die-for' buys, then vote secretly for your dream date and guess which of the guys your friends picked. When the results are revealed, the dates begin."
It's one of the original Philips games that disappeared into the background with all the other games they created on CD-i, but Girl's Club was one of their first experiments with CD-i.
Seb just brought up an interesting detail: "I've noticed that some CD-i titles have slight variations in boxes or the CD print itself. Like sometimes the Philips shield is on the left and sometimes on the right.
However, I'm mostly interested in the alteration I see with 'The 7th Guest'. What colors are the CD's printed top supposed to be? If I'm correct it's supposed to be purple for the game disc and blue for the soundtrack. However, I also have a couple of copies where the game disc is also blue. Were their multiple releases, or are these misprints or something?"
The 7th Guest did have different versions, but in my version both discs still have a different color (blue and purple). Is it a mistake, or a choice? I'm also interested in other CD-i release alterations. If you have any info, let us know!
[Thanks, Seb, HalfBlindGamer]
>> Friday, July 23, 2010
A licensed Philips product or the other way around? These are pictures of the GoldStar Digital Video Cartridge as available in the GoldStar CD-i players. Carlo states it also works in Philips CD-i players. The 450 unit was licensed to GoldStar, whether the Digital Video Cartridge was sold seperately as well is new to me! According to the sticker it is made in Belgium, which is the same factory as where the Philips CD-i players came from. Carlo: This is the Philips CDi Digital Video Cartridge. Model number 22ER9956. Fits the Philips CDi 450. Allows games & films that require the Digital Add-on to be played"
[Thanks, GamesStationRetro, Carlo]
>> Thursday, July 22, 2010
The Kathy Smith's personal trainer CD was made possible by one of the techniques Philips invented: "MPEG seamless branching", which allows for a continuous video/audio MPEG stream to be displayed, even though it is made of a multiple of very short clips (about 7 second). There are only a few CD-i titles that use this technique; The best example is The Lost Ride, where Digital Video is presenting a virtual roller coaster. Interesting is that the development of this 'Seamless Branching' continued at Philips Research into development of a networked 3D car chasing game for CD-i. From the developer: "Two teams would compete against each other: the good cops and the bad villains. Each player would be part of one of the teams and through his car could see the whole city in 3D-generated MPEG video. MPEG seamless branching was going to be used to seamlessly arrange on the fly thousands of pre-produced road driving sequences (also played back at variable MPEG frame rates), in order to create the illusion of an interactive 3D of very high visual quality. Other cars were going to be shown as graphical sprites. The project did not get past the prototype stage because of its cost, but if it had been completed it would have been the most complex and ambitious CD-i game ever produced. Technically it was a combination of techniques applied in Kathy Smith Personal Trainer (seamless branching), Dead End (variable mpeg frame rates) and networked gaming (this was before the days of the Internet boom!). Too bad it did not happen. It was a lot of fun designing it though!"
>> Wednesday, July 21, 2010
A month back we showed you pictures of the CD-i 360 Docking Station and that same website that posted them just put up some nice close-ups of the Sony Portable CD-I IVO-V11 Intelligent Discman.
Carlo: "Officialy named the Sony Portable CD-I IVO-V11 Intelligent Discman, this was Sony's debut into CD based videogaming. In some way this is the prequel to the famous Sony Playstation as well. Sony released two versions of their portable CD-i unit, IVO-10 and IVO-11, the latter was an improvement on the previous model IVO V10: it solved some compatibility issues and it was compatible with the standard for CD-i pointing devices.
Rumoured is the IVO-V12 which might be about the (as well) rumoured digital video version of Sony's portable CD-i player. Released in 1990-1991, the Intelligent Discmans did not support Digital Video. So yes, the Compact Disc Interactive was developed by both Philips and Sony, only Sony stepped out of the format at an early stage to go its own way with the Playstation.
This portable unit has an build in LCD screen and a small speaker on the right side, as well as RCA for television (or recording device). It also has a headphone jack. On the front panel it has a power switch as well as common CD playing controls like fast forward, rewind, stop, pause and play. Remarkable detail."
[Thanks, GamesStationRetro, Carlo]
>> Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Back in 1996 the dutch Wehkamp catalogue advertized a lot about CD-i players. The original 490 player was brand new and it cost 700 guilders (approximately 300 dollars) and the 210 player was prices at 1700 guilders (around 800 dollars). I feel that the price difference between the players was huge, and what does the 210 offer more? These prices were published in 1996; Philips already abandoned the format, but the prices stayed as high as they were during its launch!
[Thanks, Hifi Museum]
>> Saturday, July 17, 2010
The new edition of Frog Feast CD-i will strictly be a re-release, there will be no enhancements over version 1.0. Charles did reveal something interesting: "I am working on something new, though. Hopefully I'll have something to show on August 20th." At August 20th, Frog Feast will exist five years. At its 2 years anniversary, Charles created an anniversary party too with new material as well, although all new Rastersoft projects haven't arrived yet on any platform (Connaone or the mode-7 style racer). New Rastersoft games will be published by Chaos89.com
A quote from the former MT of Philips Media: "I could tell you a story about how Pinball was originally funded, and how it involved "borrowing" some money from another studio equipment budget to fund Cap Video, since the Editorial Committee, the group that made the decisions to fund and greenlight titles (which I didn't serve on for the first few years) was making terrible choices based on the misguided view that we needed highbrown infotainment type of titles and not pure entertainment. We weren't going to compete with the likes of the Nintendo SNES and Sega Genesis in the early years, without the extra memory that the FMV card would deliver later but we certainly could have delivered more on a pure entertainment model.
But this demonstrates how the company, American Interactie Media, was so fixated in the beginning of not being a games machine, but an all purpose device that would appeal to many interests (As evidenced by the aforementioned titles such as Stamps, Coins, Smithsonian, Gardening as well as Sailing, not to metion the Joy of Sex (at least that is entertaining !) and all of the art discs produced by Jean Pierre Isbouts - a dutchman now with a film production company in Santa Monica.
I will say however, the art discs which were produced at a reasonable cost were genuinely a very good thing for CD-i - not just in the US, but worldwide and I was a big fan of those effort and still use them as video wallpaper in my home, where I can set up the art and elect which music to play with a given gallery............. "
>> Thursday, July 15, 2010
Produced by DIMA, the same guys behind Christmas Crisis and Christmas Country. Full working prototype of this excellent platformer, offering both vertical and horizontal scrolling. Some assets you can see back in the Family Games backgrounds! Great platform game with great handling, with a real Mario feeling! It's totally playable too! It has the same kind of handling like Christmas Country, and it all runs very smooth. The only thing is the lack of background music, the same case as with CCountry. I don't know how many levels it holds, i've only reached level 2. Since it's a demo in the end, i don't expect too much levels to play with. The animations are very like the ones as in Christmas Country, you can recognize the basis of the engine here. A big plus is that you can scroll vertical as well, expanding your play-field a lot! I have the prototype right here and I'm looking somebody who can make a direct video of the game. Who can help Interactive Dreams?
[Thanks, Creative Media spirits]
The Black Moon Project will create pretty versions of the classic CD-i reviews written by Chris Adamson: Opinionated, colourful yet whole heartedly independent. He chronicled many CD-i releases, mostly games but also on occassion the odd reference or aerobics title! Devin: "During the early 90's video game journalism had barely left its embryonic state, with many dedicated magazines on the receiving end of publisher pay cheques! It was difficult to seperate the sales pitch from the review and CD-i was no exception. As even the exclusive CDi Magazine published in the UK and to a limited extent in the states only existed because of Philips funding. Reviews were vetted and press releases moulded in to frenzied announcements." The first one is available from today, starting with one of Devin's favourite: The Apprentice.
>> Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Rastersoft, the developer behind Frog Feast on CD-i, has updated the website with a new design and started to finish more versions of Frog Feast on different (classic) formats. Charles: "Signs of life have recent been seen around the RasterSoft camp. RasterSoft just released an early version of a 3DO signing toolkit that enables homebrew to boot on the 3DO. And, there has been a small amount of work done on a Super A'Can demo."
Rastersoft released a CD-i version of Frog Feast in 2007 with help from publisher Oldergames. Oldergames however shut down business two years ago; moreover the small batch of signed Frog Feast CD-i copies were sold out quickly. Thankfully, Charles Doty found a new publisher who will release a second batch of Frog Feast CD-i (among other formats).
Charles: "For Frog Feast's 5th anniversary (August 20th 2010), the last three versions of Frog Feast will be released, and all of the other versions (except the Jaguar/Jaguar CD) will be re-released."
[Thanks, Charles Doty]
>> Friday, July 9, 2010
A few days back Pete Dabbs appeared online with a quote about his work on the two different versions he made of Rise of the Robots on CD-i. "Might have some info as I had the unfortunate job of coding the CD-i version...
Proto versions, depends really, what I've still got on a hard drive here could be classed as one, the probably 30 versions Philips had for testing etc could be too, if any of those survive or not, I have no idea.
I've always found it a bit weird that I did do two "final" versions, one for DV and one not because there was a massive rush on at the end of the project and I didn't have time to fit code for both into the same thing so it looks like only the non-DV version got released and got packaged as requiring (or using) DV??"
The same game converted to numerous formats also made it's appearance on CD-i. One notable difference in this version is the inclusion of Music from Brian May who you might recall was the guitarist from QUEEN with tracks called "Resurrection" and "The Dark". Also worthy of mention is that the only programmer that worked on this CD-i conversion, Pete Dabbs developed the first publicly available CD-i Emulator named CD-iCE (Compact Disc - interactive Computer Emulator). Only a preview version of CD-iCE was ever released which emulated Rise of the Robots, although it's rumoured that the emulator can be tricked into playing other CD-i games.
Voyeur II was produced by: Philips Media / POV with Robert Weaver as the Director and Jim Belcher being the Project manager. By that time Philips POV was in the transition to Mass Media already, so technically the game was developed by Mass Media. Unfortunately, Mass Media only released the CDROM version of the game and shelved the CDI version. Thankfully the CDI prototype is in the possession of Interactive Dreams and we have a few small video bits for you that were available in our archives before, but now for the first time available on youtube. If anyone can help me to take more videos I would love to talk to you. Latest planned release: sept. 1996. This was originally planned to be a 2 disc set, just like Creature Shock on CDI.
Oldergames brought us CD-i prototypes which we thought that would never see the light of day. Jack Sprite, Plunderball, Space Ranger and they even published the CD-i homebrew title 'Frog Feast'. We've had our concerns about he legal aspects of what Oldergames did with the IP although we are ofcourse highly thankful RW Bivins released the prototypes to the public. We followed Oldergames until the end when RW Bivins sold the Oldergames name and 'business' in 2007. You can read a little more info about that here and here. After some recent discussion RW Bivins popped up today to give his final answer. Read on.
RW Bivins: "I posted contracts we had signed before we closed. When it came to "unlicensed" releases the deal was this: I'd call company x,y,z and they said it was simply beneath them to even spend the money to write up a contract and would say something to the extent of "good luck you crazy guy, hope you don't go bankrupt releasing our old, written off garbage".
Simply put: the current game industry with a typical budget in the 3-5 Million dollar range (btw - this is for a start up company) does not care... at all. if you do a limited release. This is why unearthed and un-dumped prototypes were being released all the time and still are. OlderGames actually CALLED companies and/or developers to at the very least ASK if it was "okay". We did and STILL DO somewhere have signed contracts with homebrew developers such as Charles Doty, and Andrew Looney but others we never had the chance to release games for.
You need to understand that companies merge, lose interest, and go away. I remember the day I called the VP of Ubisoft regarding Marko and he said "why are you bothering me over such meaningless nonsense... just do it and leave me alone". For those companies such as elite who provided two of our 3DO releases - We did pay, they did expect to get the money and we delivered. For those such as "jack sprite" for the cd-i - I personally spoke with Rob Fulop, a CGE 2K10 alumni... go ask him what he said... if I'm not mistaken he said something along the lines of "people actually care about the cd-i still?".
So what happened in the end? I, along with my best friend who never seemed to bother having the time to care about what we did except for CGE shows decided that it simply wasn't worth it anymore. If you, or anyone you know ever purchased an unreleased, and undumped prototype in this lifetime you would know it isn't cheap. After all the hours of replying to emails, shipping, packaging, designing, and printing everything it was just no longer fun for me.
I started that company because I absolutely despised high-end prototype collectors. FYI I'm talking about the people who will and would pay thousands for a game that you probably never knew existed. To dump such protos, to even have the audacity of releasing such prototypes to all of you to play is treason in such circles. This is what I did. This is what it was at the end of the day. Spend a few grand and make $500. It simply wasn't worth it. It was a ride that went its course. I am happy and grateful that a passionate and truly caring gamer and programmer like Brandon Cobb stepped in and made OlderGames a place for people like us, who care about the good old days and the time when this industry couldn't count it's genres on a single hand.
Sure we made our mistakes. I was a collector with an idea and it simply didn't work - not because of what we accomplished but because we lost a fortune on my stupid idea. And for those who thought we had a war with Good Deal Games I will say this -- We came to be because Mike Thomasson inspired me, we partnered up because we believed the same things, we broke away because he couldn't share the "limelight" which I could care less about, and for all the claims of legitimacy and being "legal this, and that" - I remember, and for those of you who attended CGE2K7 probably will as-well the simple fact that Mike had TimeCop available for sale at his booth. I highly doubt he acquired the license from Universal and Jean Claude Van Damme. We always sought permission, where we did get it we paid, where we didnt we held the release back - where nobody gave a crap we went forward. In the end GDG is using our .iso's to burn the 3DO games they have published - we paid for this encryption... under DMCA we own the releasable versions byte-by-byte as work for hire re-encrypted releases... I could sue... I and John would probably win... but we wont. Not because we don't believe that we should defend our rights but because there is simply ZERO money in retro-publishing. Mike knows I respect him for what he has done just as he knows he was also wrong in some of the things he did. At the end of the day it simply isn't worth our time and I would rather see him and others he may inspire like he did me at one time succeed for without people like him and Joe Santulli this scene would surely be dead."
[Thanks, RW Bivins, Digit Press]
>> Wednesday, July 7, 2010
The CD-i version of The 7th Guest was a 'console-exclusive' version and one of the best games developed for CD-i. I found it very interesting to find out Virgin Games planned a 'console-exclusive' version of The 7th Guest before on the SNES CD-ROM; that mysterious console some say CD-i and Playstation were born out of. Digging through our archive didn't mention anything related between both versions like that the license was pushed to Philips or development started actually at Trilobyte or Virgin itself; as far as we know the conversion to CD-i was handled at Philips in Dorking. It's very interesting that Virgin started with The 7th Guest licensing to Nintendo in the first place, as Nintendo planned to publish The 7th Guest itself for the SNES CD.
CD-i member Adr990 posted some useful information about a common problem with your wireless CD-i remote stick. The connection with the batteries on the CD-i Remote might not connect so well anymore, and so it looks like it doesn't work anymore. You can't confirm this until you tried this a few times, till you're sure the tin foil is placed correctly. At least, Adr990 is using tin foil to fix it easily. You should try it when your CD-I Remote doesn't work anymore. Open the Battery cover, make sure you have new batteries, pull the double battery deeper inside like shown below, so a little space will be there:
(Better contacts at the battery in the back, and now also in the front. That's the idea.) Now test it. And if it doesn't work try to put the foil otherwise or grab a another piece of tin foil. Besides, the tin foil should be a little fat. So it will close up the space you just made as the picture above shows. Not just sitting there lose. Also make sure its not to width or has to much height. Do it right, carefully watch if it touches the contacts or not ,as it should of course. Not working yet? Try again, may clean the contacts also. And of course, recharge/try new batteries for confirmation. And look closely to the pictures!