Much Scooby­doo about noth­ing

Richard wil­cox on the miss­ing Scooby-doo game

Games TM - - RETRO -

how did Scooby-doo come about?

God, I loved the scooby car­toons. I still do; they’re prob­a­bly my favourite of all time. Not quite sure who had the idea of li­cens­ing scooby. It’s highly likely that I would have sug­gested it, but steve would have done the deal. He was very good at track­ing down who owned the rights and get­ting the li­cences, even though the tv and film com­pa­nies weren’t at­tuned to mer­chan­dis­ing and rights ex­ploita­tion like they are to­day.

Tell us about the orig­i­nal idea.

When it came to what the scooby game would be the de­sign re­ally fell to me. I was never a great pro­gram­mer and only a very medi­ocre de­signer of graph­ics, but I wasn’t a bad games de­signer. I was me­thod­i­cal and struc­tured even back in those days when the idea of cre­at­ing a game de­sign doc­u­ment be­fore start­ing cod­ing was alien. the am­bi­tions for scooby were enor­mous. Even though it would sell be­cause of the li­cence, I wanted it to be a great game in its own right. the pro­to­type was don Bluth’s Dragon’s Lair, some­thing that looked as good as any car­toon but was in­ter­ac­tive. to me, it seemed that if we could at least dis­til some of the el­e­ments of that then we might have a chance of telling a real scooby story and make some­thing that felt at least a lit­tle bit like an episode of the show.

why didn’t it hap­pen?

the big dif­fer­ence be­tween that game and ours would be the hard­ware. theirs was pulling the an­i­ma­tion off laserdisc. We just had 48k of RAM in which to cram all of our an­i­ma­tions. In our de­fence, we gave it a pretty good shot. I came up with what these days you might call a ‘game en­gine’ that al­lowed us to de­fine and run in­ter­ac­tive scenes. It was pretty darn pow­er­ful and al­lowed you to cre­ate mini-games that were ex­tremely var­ied. the re­ally clever thing was that you didn’t need to code each mini-game sep­a­rately; we had de­vel­oped a scene de­signer tool that al­lowed you to do the lay­out and de­fine the in­ter­ac­tiv­ity. this tool then en­coded the lev­els in such a way that they could be played back in real time. Andy Wil­liams did the cod­ing. He was Elite’s num­ber-one pro­gram­mer and, of course, he nailed it. But what killed us was the graph­ics. I hadn’t ac­counted for just how much an­i­ma­tion we would need and how long it would take and ul­ti­mately how much mem­ory it would need… mem­ory that, of course, the spec­trum didn’t have.

could it ever have been made?

It was ahead of its time. A few years down the line when art teams were much big­ger and ma­chines had more mem­ory we would have got there. I still don’t think there’s been a game that has com­bined the best el­e­ments of car­toons and games.

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