Interview with Steven Day

Through piracy like most everyone else :) I was at art college at the time and a guy from one of the local groups attended the same club as me and he gave me Koala painter for joystick. Thence on to demos and Compunet...

Yes I think so, we had email before it was actually called email :) actually it was a bit more like an "intranet" kind of like the thing that AOL and Compuserve did with the real internet at first (an enclosed self sufficient "safe" bit). The thrill of seeing that big red pillarbox as you logged in, telling you that you had mail was memorable.

Yes, probably because it did alot of the colour "juggling" for attributes for you. In hindsight whilst it was great for drawing loading screens, it wasn't much use for games because you never really had any idea which colours it WAS storing or where.

Definitely. There was no comparison of the added flexibility the pad gave. I was always in awe of Dokk's stuff because hid did what he did with a stick :)

Sent out a showreel disk and Codemasters replied.

Honestly?..I wouldn't know except from their long distance professionalism. I only ever met them in person at shows. All my business was done via phone and post. I have to say that I found them truly professional and streets ahead of some of the other muppets I dealt with over the years.



Strangely enough, I had begun 16bit game work before I ever did any real c64 game work, so I would have to say that mainly it was loading screens. However I did do a fair bit of late on conversion work for the c64, Spectrum and Amstrad for Ubisoft in the early 90's. (along with the graphics for the alpha test of spectrum Armalyte)

No no, Lethal Weapon 2 to which you refer was done to prove a point yes, but it was done 2 years after my previous none commercial c64 piece Lethal Weapon. There were paid c64 commissions during that time too, but I also worked on Stormtrooper and a few unreleased products during that time, so the LW2 screen was a bit of a throwback for me. Incidentally the chap I did that to prove a point to was called Matt Tracey (spelling?) who last I heard was a senior artist at Sony :) oh the irony!

Dave Gibbons worked in a local Lasky's store computer department. He was a published 6809 programmer who wanted to move to 68000. He was also a c64 demo/music nut, so we used to provide him with Cnet stuff. He had approached me the previous year but it wasnt until the end of '87 when I bought an ST courtesy of the Codies screens. When I saw him again, someone else had started his graphics for him, but was waning fast in his enthusiasm. He asked me to help out.

The publisher. It was the new 16 bit venture of Dave's 6809 publisher.

Stormtrooper was really an ST game with an Amiga conversion, though Dave Whittaker's sampled FX made the Amiga one slightly better.

Dave Gibbons was the primary coder. Steve Day was the primary artist. Chris Evans was the secondary artist - actually he began the project as the only artist, but he was an "amateur" who basically didn't realise how much work and technical knowledge was involved in producing all the game graphics and dropped out quite early on. But he is the reason why I inherited that main sprite in blue vest and pants. I couldn't change it because the first screenshots had already gone out :/ I am not sure whether Dave actually credited him in the manual because he was really pissed off with him at the time.

Mark Parry did the coding and the hardware for the protection/loader on Stormtrooper which I believe was a bitch to crack and copy (on the ST anyway). Currently Mark is a senior programmer at Codemasters.

Only the way the first level worked was done when I started. All the graphics in it were however redone by me. The level was basically a "tech demo" for the ST and not much else. The idea was based on a 6809 game called Shocktrooper (forcefields, generators etc).

But after he had done the whole level, I convinced Dave that 8 levels of this would be mind numbing, so the other levels were were created to hopefully have completely different looks,feels and require different playing styles. Not sure it worked, but that was the premise :) e.g.,

Level 3 was to be an "open" run/jump/shoot platformer

Level 4 was "aliens" claustrophobia where you could jump because you were in a tunnel so you had to use speed and timing of ladders to avoid some nasties.

Simple CPU time, meant that to have something "big" then the level must be open and have no platform data. because the earlier levels were chock full of platforms which were all being drawn on, they couldn't have big "nasties". so we saved them till the end. For Lawson we agreed that the AI for him must be decent and he should be able to do whatever your character could (no mindless cannon fodder with 2 million hitpoints). so he can, jump and duck your shots and do the same to you.

Ah, the vehicles on level 7 were based on Matchbox sci fi toys which i still have in my loft :) (found that on the net to illustrate)

The dropship on that level and the start/end was totally inspired by Colin Wilson's vehicle art for 2000AD comics "Rogue Trooper"

TOTALLY. and 2000ad art and various arcade graphics which were in turn already influenced by the same 80's movies. late 1980s were the years of the black and yellow hazard stripes :)

It ended like that because Dave was very taken with the similar scene in the Platoon movie from '86.

No, not at all. it was influenced initially by Green Beret and then later by Airborne Ranger. It would be more accurate to say that the start of Stormtrooper AND Fireforce were influenced by the massive amount of Vietnam films of the 80s.

Fireforce was written for the Amiga with the ST version secondary. Granted it was always written and drawn to be convertible easily, but the sound FX made the Amiga version a long way ahead of the ST one.

Electronic Zoo was the original name of ICE. they were formed from some of the members of Microprose UK when it restructured.

They got involved because I was put in touch with them via another dev company I worked with on "The Ball Game". They published that game as Electronic Zoo.

My experience is best not mentioned on here in case of libel. Suffice to say it started well but when they had the product, it deteriorated rapidly. They folded before we could sue.

Yes, most definitely. But it became apparent quickly that the ST couldn't handle the volume of sprites required for that sort of game on top of the large screen scroll it would need like the c64 version.

Dave Gibbons was the programmer of ST/Amiga Fireforce.

The design of Fireforce was a rambling, evolving effort my both myself and Dave.

The sound effects were produced by us both from numerous Vietnam war movies around in the late 80s. The military snare drums came from "The Dirty Dozen" and something else which escapes me at the moment. There was no music due to a) the disks were full to capacity and nobody wanted to duplicate 3 disks as a publisher. b) music would have cost the best part of £1000 which WE would have had to pay for :)

I would hazard a guess that MPDL is a veiled reference to that Mark Parry chap again :)

Degas Elite and a proprietary animation/grabber bolt on for that app written by Dave and Mark called WALT.

Dozens of books that we bought between us. many of which are still in my possession. My bookcase makes me look like a right wing gun nut.

No it was one one of the first instances of a full colour scan of box artwork I had encountered.

Actually the tileset was made up of much bigger blocks but Dave chopped them down internally with code in order to strip out common vertical words to save space.

Can't really say because it didnt happen in a linear fashion, it was done in a very haphazard fashion.

That was something we both wanted in there as the "killer" move that would make the game memorable.

Yes we should have realised early on which direction we were sending this into and done it more "Airborne Ranger" perspective.

Good question. That version was one of the things we were "in dispute" about because we were promised a cut of sales if they produced one.

Good question about the "any other games", Dave and myself had several "tech demos" of a few more games which never saw the light of day, including an expanded Stormtrooper sequel, a sideways shooter called Falchion and an Alpha demo version that played and looked like a 16 bit version of Way of the Exploding Fist.

However as to actual finished products, I would have to say probably not, though I am a bit hazy on this because I also used to produce graphics separately on short term contract freelance basis, and there may have been some other stuff that used my graphics. but I would have to say as full game graphics, no probably not.

Final realisation came in about 1995, that the day of small team development at that time was doomed. It was all going to be FMV and huge budgets for the foreseeable future (we assumed at that time, forever) and being small parts of big teams. neither of us wanted that, so we shelved our final project which was intending to be a 16 bit Exploding Fists/Fist 2 type of martial arts game/adventure, and walked away.

I got involved because I began converting the PoP sprites as a purely personal project at the end of 2009. after I had demo'ed a set of the sprite animation, Andreas emailed me to say he was attempting to convert the code to c64 so I just offloaded everything I had done to him and kept him updated as I did more. It was basically pure chance for both of us, nothing coordinated or planned at all. but it seemed to go off like clockwork :).

Yes, but I work as an advertising designer now for the print industry.

Anything old school Microprose. with particular reference to Pirates! on the c64 oh and Their Finest Hour on the Amiga. Also on the c64 its got to be the original Way of the Exploding Fist 2 player.

Good question, for definite I can't say for sure, but I suspect Dave retained the copyright.

For the possible sequel, new sprite design and animation was done. the main character had a total makeover to an "aliens" marine with battle armor/pulse rifle etc. The ed209 got "militarised" and gained a proper "stalking" walk cycle rather than a "limping chicken" one. This was when I first started seeing the "mechwarrior" designs. The main sprite would have been able to shin up and down ropes and chains as well as ladders and be able to shoot off both. Enemy sprite design included new weapons like flamethrowers.


Well, as it never actually got to the code stage, only sample graphics and ideas, this is a bit of a moot point. I suspect that if development had gone ahead, it would have begun as dual platform and morphed into an Amiga game.

Graphic development was done during quiet periods in the Fireforce requirements.

As above, code was never actually written for this and I suspect that after 2 consecutive side on "running man" shooters we thought another would be a bit soul destroying and probably taking the piss to try and sell.

Graphics only. Though there are several sheets of "hero" and "nasty" sprites still in existence.

What we thought we would play as gamers of that time and of course movies.

During Fireforce in 1991ish probably. Mark Parry had begun experimenting with the necessary code for it. He works for Codemasters these days.

Because Dave loved the name :) it had an alternative title of "Recon" (short for reconnaissance) in the event that a possible publisher thought Falchion was a little "avant garde"

It was designed to be cross platform and be a decent shooter for the ST (which were in very short supply) at that time.

No, it would have been more like the Nemesis/Salamander/Vulcan Venture series, we never liked the R-Type style because it relied far too much on you memorising the levels and patterns in order to do well, whereas the Konami titles were far more "skill" based to progress and any decent player could have a fair stab at them even if they hadn't played them before.

Mark Parry doesn't actually like writing games, and he has the attention span of a gerbil when forced to do so :) He is far better and happier writing tools and engines for others to use to write games with. Which is what he does admirably at Codies. Dave and I were trying to force him to do something he wasn't happy doing. It was never going to happen :)

ST based parallax scrolling tech demo only. With a player controlled ship which looked like a Colonial Viper from the original BSG series complete with a blue flaming "turbo" trail as you "accelerated" to the right.

Again, graphics during the development of Fireforce and coding began right after completion of FF.

Hmm, not officially Dave liked "Warriors of the Divine Wind" but I thought that was always a bit "wordy" for a box cover :)

Way of the Exploding Fist and Fist 2. We also took on board at a game design level some of the "training" bits from Chambers of the Shaolin. Although these were never implemented in code.


As usual it began life as cross platform, during early development we felt the ST sales days were dwindling for a primary release, so switched to just Amiga in half bright mode before really biting the bullet and realising the PC was taking over and moving primary development to that.

Animation was based exclusively on the manner of Exploding Fist (except the roundhouse was revised to be something like the more graphically accurate one in Fist 2). Players were to be "real" in the respect that their body shape was to be roughly the same, no wacky streetfighter style characters. All characters would execute the same moves to give no unfair advantages. This had the realworld advantage that a "base mannequin" could be created and all other characters patterned on that, with the differences being cosmetic like stance and clothing or bare chest or swappable heads etc. It also meant that for coding, the pixel perfect collision tables we required only had to be done once and not for each character.


Yes the demo backdrops were hand drawn using several real world sources and inspirations. All oriental.

Development ceased on the PC when we finally realised that with the arrival of CD, that all the publishers were expecting FMV and massive resources to be used in their future game production. At the same time they also began to cease accepting games from independent 3rd party sources which they had no direct control over. The corporations had arrived. Thus also ended our involvement in the games industry, as neither of us had any interest in just being a "cog".

The PC version was at the stage which you could play 2 player "Exploding Fist" with collision detection, VGA graphics and soundblaster sound (sadly this has since been lost over time). Virtually all the graphics however still exist.