Bookai Racer D3 Design, Leeds, UK July 1995-January 1996 Personnel: Daniel James, Designer Danny Gallagher, Programmer, Game Glynn Clements, Programmer, Engines, Alpha-geek Andy Robson, Programmer, Tools and Surfaces Ben Devereaux, Artist Howard, Project Manager Darren Melbourne, Senior Producer, Concept 'Man months' in the can: At least 30 on Bookai, over 60 on D3. Daniel James writes: =========================================================================== Bookai Racer was to be the first published product of D3, a company that had been struggling to become born for at least a year or two. Danny and Glynn had developed in 1993-4 an x86 assembler 3D engine that featured gouraud shading, specular highlights and texturing, achieving some decent framerates on a 486. A C version debuted in summer 1994, featuring bezier patches, cylinders and so on. An excess of greeness on our part, strange circumstances in the industry (the move to 3D was afoot, but not without many faltering footsteps) and errors of judgement (such as pitching to Sony rather than EA) caused us to stumble. We finally got our break in summer 1995 when Darren Melbourne, who was heading a company called Phoenix Interactive Entertainment over in Harrogate, met up with Danny and saw an opportuity. Darren set us up with for a contract with Viktokai, the nascent UK games development and publishing arm of a subsidary of Tokai, the Japanese national Gas monopoly. Bookai Racer was to be a 3D racing game in which the player rode - ta da - one of six varieties of Dragons. Racing took place on the island of Bookai, across its mountains, forests and plains. The courses were marked by balloons, towers and so on; so players could vary their route (over the mountain, or round it? Depends on your Dragon!) Certain RPG elements were added to spice things up, such as Dragon abilities (breath fire!) and player weapons (throw bombs!). Bookai had a very ambitious design; visually we were going to use Glynn's bezier patch code to simplify the polygon detail of the landscape on the fly. Likewise the dragon's were to use patches for their bodies and wings. Finally and most importantly to me, the game was designed client-server from the ground up, a la Quake, with intended support for racing leagues etc online. (Latency: Bookai was intended to be a quite calm game in most races, i.e. not too twitch. We expected to get some warping, too) Viktokai funded us via Phoenix. I wrote the big fat design doc that was promptly 'weighed' by the publisher. We had a small budget, but we got paid, which was pretty shocking. We worked out of a great old office building in Headingly, which unfortunately got cleaned out twice by the local baseball-bat & crowbar wielding RAM-raiders. That set us back, but we had some decent demos and a fairly sound technology base. There is no question that we had a tremendously talented team, most of whom are still working in the industry. Bookai Racer was ahead of its time, and I don't honestly know if the game would have worked as designed - 3D acceleration consistently failed to live up to its promise during that time - but I do think we would have delivered a decent game. Victokai went through some management shuffles. The old producer had been to see us once (sound familiar, external developers?) and the new one couldn't understand the milestones his predecessor had never read. He also didn't understand the distinction between a Doom-style Y-axis engine and Bookai's full 3D. Soon their parent company got upset, not least around some allegations of corruption in the UK office, and lo! the cheques stopped arriving. We continued working until March, when it was clear that Victokai were jokers and Bookai Racer was in the can. =========================================================================== thecan.org acknowledges all respective copyrights and trademarks.