James Follett Computer Works

 

 

James Follett did the Game Strategy and the novella along with

Jez San (founder of Argonaut Software )

Starglider was a 3D Shoot'em Up

Game ran on PC, Amiga, ST

Released 1986

StarGlider is the legendary (for non-PC systems that is) wireframe 3D action shooter developed by Argonaut Software and Realtime Games. One of the first of its kind ever. As typical for many games of that period, the game was a huge success on the Spectrum, Commodore 64, and Atari ST (which is undoubtedly the best version)-- but fared quite poorly on the PC.


The novella that came with the game (which was one of the hallmarks of many Rainbird games of the era, e.g. The Pawn) provides a very well-written backstrory that tells about the war between Novenia and ruthless Egrons, which disguised the Novenian's Sentinel robots and used them against their creators. You play Jason and Katra, two Sentinel repair workers who embark on a mission to destroy the invading aliens. All they have at their disposal is an obsolete museum piece of a fighter equipped with lasers and capable of carrying two missiles. Your goal on each level is to find Starglider one, a golden, bird-like craft with animated wings, then destroy it. This would take you to the next level, where basically you do the same thing again against greater opposition.

StarGlider introduces many new features to the space simulation genre. Two types of sight are available - fixed and floating - and a choice is made before the game starts. Floating sights makes it much easier to hit the target-- the crosshair "follows" targets automatically. Fixed sights makes the game more challenging by fixing the crosshairs in the middle of the screen, so you must maneuver to line up the shots. An optional centering system may be enabled or disabled at the start of the game - automatic centering can be effected on either the vertical or the horizontal axis, in all directions, or not at all. With fully automatic centering, the fighter returns to flying straight and level when it is left to its own devices.

There are more than 16 types of Egron crafts to destroy, some of which are very reminiscent of Elite, as well as their groundbased counterparts, including tanks, missile launchers and those walker robots similar to the ones in Return of the Jedi

There were usually two or three bases where you could replenish your supply of missiles. For actual refueling, though, you have to use one of the game's innovative features: fly into between two fuelling towers to recharge your fuel cells. This arrangement is complicated by the fact that the opposition would usually try to make the best of their advantage while you are a sitting duck. Yet another innovation is the missile firing sequence, where you effectively pilot your missile (not the ship) to home in on the target after firing it, via a missile-chase camera. You could also interrogate the computer when you were docked for useful information on the vehicles you encounter that may shed some light on how to destroy them.

With revolutionary spaceflight dynamics and a long list of innovative features, StarGlider ranks as one of the most underrated space sims of all time. Too bad we can't offer the wonderful novella for download here because its author, James Follett, is planning to re-publish it as a commercial novel (yes, the novella is that good :)) Two thumbs up!


Starglider

Starglider

 

 

James Follett did the Game Strategy and novella along with

Jez San (founder of Argonaut Software )

Starglider 2 was a 3D Shoot'em Up

Game ran on Amiga, ST, PC, Mac

Released 1988

StarGlider 2 is an incredible successor to the classic space sim StarGlider, sporting significant improvements over its predecessor. This time you can travel between planets, fight space pirates, trade cargo you got from destroyed ships with the help of your tractor beam, fly upon and inside planets, and -- of course-- shoot everything that moves. The graphics are no longer just wire-frames but solid filled objects.


There are plenty of things to shoot at and explore in StarGlider 2. In space you can get swarmed over by pirates, which is where most of the fun is. After you dispatch your foe, you can use a tractor beam to collect the cargo he was carrying. You can then trade this cargo for weapons. On the planets' surface there is a wide variety of foes to destroy, ranging from tanks to fighters to blow up. The planets have an underground tunnel system with little rooms where you pick up extra missiles and ammo. The game is so immersive that you'll really feel the sensation of flying over a planet's surface, in space and in huge tunnels inside the planets.

StarGlider 2 is not just a shoot 'em up space sim like its predecessor. The game has adventure elements in terms of "quests" you can solve that will provide you with new weapons and goodies when you complete them. Most of the quests can be found in tunnels, and involve catching something with your tractor beam and trading it for weapons, although there is a few unique ones, such as one that requires you to capture a space whale to trade for a ship enhancement. Although the polygonal graphics are simple, the animations are so well done that the ships move the way you would expect them to move. In addition, each planet you can travel to has its own atmosphere. Dante, for example, is like hell (not surprisingly). It is littered with volcanoes that spew lava that can kill your ship.

There are so many things to see and do in StarGlider 2 that you will hardly notice the time when it's 6 AM in the morning. It may not have the same level of depth in diplomacy, adventure, and economics that Elite does, but its spaceflight model and sheer addictiveness are second to none. If you are a space sim fan, StarGlider 2 is simply a must-have.


Starglider 2

 

 

The Novella was written to fit the action of the already written game a 20 page booklet was with the game.

Tracker was an action strategy game.

Game ran on Amiga 500

Released 1988

A unique action/strategy game that is hard to categorize, Tracker is a fun futuristic gameshow that pits man against machine in a maze-like arenas. You control a fleet of starships that fly through hallways and passageways in real-time, opening fire against other opponents as well as stationary defenses either automatically, or manually under your control.


The list of innovations in Tracker is seemingly endless. For starters, it was one of the first games that offer a truly functional mouse interface, both for navigating the menu buttons and, more incredibly, moving in a wireframe 3D environment that is much smoother than Mindscape's The Colony, which was released almost concurrently. Another innovation is that the game is played in real-time, with an excellent map that you can zoom in or out to view the action. Yet another innovation allows you to switch into any one of your ship at any time, whereupon you will be viewing the action from inside the ship, looking at the 3D wireframe world I mentioned earlier. This mode is clearly meant for hands-on target practice, although those who are reflexes-impaired can stay at the bird's-eye-view level, giving move and combat orders to various ships from the strategic planning standpoint. This flexibility in Tracker that allows both strategy and action gamers alike to enjoy the game in their own style is definitely one of the best things about the game.

In summary, Tracker is one of the most innovative games of all time that would earn the Top Dog status just on the merits of its technological achievements alone. That Rainbird manages to wrap these breakthroughs around an intriguing game concept is a pleasant bonus. Action and strategy gamers will have a lot to like in this forgotten underdog. Two thumbs up!

Note: Here is more interesting info about the game, sent to us by Anthony Lambert, one of the designers, who kindly gave us permission to distribute this classic: "James Follet wrote the Novella after the game was completed. Although the basic idea was based on a C64 8 bit game by Rainbird that was really crap. We were hired to do 16 bit versions. We totally redesigned it keeping in the basic ideas, multi-ship and AI.

We did versions for the PC, Atari ST, Macintosh and Amiga. The PC was by far the worst version due to the CGA graphics. The game was written mainly in C with assembler for the graphics. We wrote our own game OS which enabled us to write one source code and compile it on PC's using cross compilers to target each machine.

We were the first company I know of that did this with 3D games."

 

Tracker Novella

 

Published by Virgin Interactive

Rewrote the existing dialogue to fit existing lip-sync Not easy

It is not Known which computer system this runs on.

It is not known when this was released.

The promised credit never appeared

Paleontologists and scientists alike have researched the existence of the dinosaurs. From time to time, it has been theorized and speculated about what would have happened if man and dinosaur had co-existed on the earth. Lost Eden, an ambitious title from Cryo Interactive, sets out to put this question to rest and to theorize on why the dinosaurs disappeared.


It is an age of unrest and the alliance between humans and dinosaurs is weakening due to an evil dinosaur that is set on ruling the earth. Adam of Mo, a human, meets with his father and finds out that he has the rare ability to unite the humans and dinosaurs. Adam, along with two dinosaur friends, is sent on a mission to protect the human/dinosaur alliance.

Lost Eden is beautifully designed and the cutscenes and 3-D polygonal graphics were way ahead of their time. On the other hand, the game suffers from the typical Cryo pitfalls . While great graphics and a beautiful trance-style soundtrack do abound, the game is overcome with repetitive puzzles, repetitive dialogue, and horrific voiceovers. The game is fairly short and is easy to complete within a few hours, making it a great title for amateur adventure fans.

On a good note, the game still holds up and has more than just a "curio" appeal. If you are open minded and don't mind a bit of easy adventuring, or are just looking for something a bit different from the norm, give this unique and stylish adventure a try.

 

 

Lost Eden CD-ROM

 

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