THE GAMES OF DELTA 4_

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Inspired by Melbourne House's excellent game "The Hobbit" it was not suprising that DELTA 4 focused on adventure games. After some early experimentation with small games created in BASIC, the discovery of Gilsoft's authoring tool "The Quill" paved the way for us to develop larger games more efficiently. This, combined with the knowledge that humorous adventures had a better chance of being reviewed by the games magazines of the time, set the scene for the games that inevitably followed.


THE DRAGONSTAR TRILOGY
A three-part text adventure, with one or two graphics (literally one or two graphics!) this was the first "Quill'd" adventure from DELTA 4, sold mail-order from a tiny advertisment in the back of Sunshine Publications' fine Micro Adventurer magazine. Although gaining some kind, if not comprehensively favourable comments from the press, this was very much an experiment in adventure creation.
The cover "artwork" was a triumph of Letraset transfer lettering, felt-tip pen and photocopying, and the cassette tapes were all duplicated on a home deck and posted out by hand. However, the few customers who bought it encouraged the writing of all the titles that came after!

GALAXIAS
A large, but rather sterile science fiction game which, by the time it was finished had persuaded me to do something more fun for my next project! Galaxias was later re-released by Global Software as part of the Fourmost Adventures compilation.

THE QUEST FOR THE HOLY JOYSTICK
The game that changed things, QFTHJ reflected the locations and characters that I'd met while promoting Galaxias and The Dragonstar Trilogy. Naturally, the editors and reviewers loved seeing themselves and their offices "in-game" and gave the title quite generous amounts of coverage.

RETURN OF THE JOYSTICK
Sinclair User Classic Award
An immediate sequel to QFTHJ, this adventure title was larger and more deliberate in its reflection of the Spectrum games scene. With locations ranging from rival software companies to ZX Microfairs and magazine publishers, Return Of The Joystick built on the success of its predecessor and helped to build many valuable relationships with the press.

BORED OF THE RINGS
Sinclair User Classic Award, Golden Joystick Commendation, PCW Adventure Of The Year Runner-Up
Bigger and generally more lavish than any of the preceding titles, Bored Of The Rings was the first ever Quill adventure that allowed players to save their position and load it into the next section. Spread across three parts, the game was a tongue-in-cheek take on the greatest fantasy story ever told. With numerous locations, and a reasonable number of graphics, players had to guide Fordo and Spam on an improbable quest to destroy the golden ornament bestowed on them by Bimbo and the wizard Grandalf.
This was the first DELTA 4 game to make it to Number One in the PCW charts and it was so well received by the press that it released commercially on the Silversoft label. After photocopying hundreds of manuals and cassette inserts, this was an extremely welcome turn of events!
The curious teletext-style magazine "Sceptical" (which was itself modelled on Design Design's "Spectacle") made its first appearance on this title.

ROBIN OF SHERLOCK
Amtix Accolade Award, Sinclair User Classic Award
Written in approximately one month, using a special Vodka vs Caffeine diet, this three part adventure takes the familiar themes of Robin Hood and Sherlock Holmes and, after a few minutes in the blender, emerges with a bizarre, crime-fighting, arrow-firing sleuth clad in Lincoln green!
This was the first DELTA 4 game to use split-screen text and graphics, and also showed how it was possible to move both to and from different sections of a multi-part game!

Well, it was big news at the time.

There wasn't enough time to complete "Sceptical II" but the small bonus program "DELTA 4's Guide To Greater London" was included on the cassette.

THE BOGGIT
Sinclair User Classic Award, Amtix Accolade, YS Mega-Game, and many, many more...
The long-expected (and much feared) prequel to Bored Of The Rings saw a return to Muddle Earth for DELTA 4. In The Boggit players followed the story of Bimbo Faggins who unwittingly joined Grandalf and his dwarven chums on a noble quest (or heist) to liberate some family heirlooms (or loot) from a dumb animal (or massively intelligent, witty and fire-breathing dragon). It all seamed like a good idea at the time, honest!
This was probably the most fun of all the games to work on, due in part to the fact that it involved parodying one of the best adventures ever, "The Hobbit". Knowing and loving the source material so well made the project a real pleasure.
Issue #2 of "Sceptical", DELTA 4's increasingly strange teletext-magazine was included on the cassette, but failed to stop the game selling.

THE COLOUR OF MAGIC
Sinclair User Classic Award
A four part (you heard me, 4 part) text and graphic adventure, that attempted (and very nearly managed) to cram the entire first book of the now epic Discworld series into a single game!
Suffering not a little from the non-standard geography that abandons North and South in favour of Hubward and Rimward, the game was nevertheless well received, although with narrative written by Mr Pratchett you'd expect nothing less.
Bouncing ideas around over lunch with someone like that was great fun and I don't think he found the experience too traumatic - we even get a nice little mention in the Discworld Companion!

THE BIG SLEAZE
Crash Smash Award, Sinclair User Classic Award, and many, many more...
The final adventure ever to be released by DELTA 4 and, some said, the best. Originally developed under the title "My Weapon Is Huge" this three part Chandler-esque detective romp takes in all those silver screen private eye elements, from Sam's Spade to the Maltese Bullfinch. The change in styles from fantasy to first-person-Bogart did nothing to tame the raging parody that lurked within, and The Big Sleaze is probably the most well-rounded of all the DELTA 4 titles.
The third (and thankfully final) episode of "Sceptical" came free with the game, to the dismay of our publishers and the confusion of all who loaded it.

THE END..?

Not quite. After The Big Sleaze, DELTA 4's sister company Abstract Concepts was set up to develop more serious adventure titles. This kept everyone busy for quite some time. However, one last DELTA 4 game was developed. "The Smirking Horror" (also known as "Titan Find" for contractual reasons I can't entirely remember) was a comedy horror game. Sadly, due to contractual reasons I can't entirely remember, it was never released.

And that's that!


 

copyright 2000 Fergus McNeill