About

shahid-1985.png

I have worked in video games since 1982, forsaking the successful completion of my ‘A’ levels to become a bedroom programmer. It seems to have worked out pretty well.

One of my earliest successes was Chimera, made and released in 1985. It did reasonably well both critically and commercially. It was an homage to (rip-off of) Knight Lore and Alien 8 and despite its obvious lack of serious gameplay, it was the first “clone” of Chris Stamper’s Filmation technique. Clearly inferior to the games whose groundbreaking technique inspired it, Chimera nevertheless had some nice touches of its own, including the sampled scream that so terrified a generation of Spectrum and C64 budget-title-buying kids.

The game was made on the Spectrum, the Commodore 64, the Amstrad CPC and the Atari 800. It even made its way onto the ill-fated SuperVision because I needed the money. So now I’ve decided to remake it. I’m not sure which platform it will end up on, but I’ll probably start with a prototype on the Mac.

How often do you get to reprise a 25-year old work? How many people get to work in one industry for so long any more? As my uncle said to me in 2003, “If you’d served this time in the army, you’d be getting a pension by now”

Today I work as a Senior Business Development Manager for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Along the way, I had a long stint as a freelancer, then another long stint at BITS, then spells at Virgin, Hasbro and START! games where I climbed the slippery slope of publishing, business development, finance and entrepreneurship. Then I slipped a bit and started all over again. Not quite all over again of course.

Nothing I say on this blog has anything to do with my job. Everything here is my own viewpoint and cannot be attributed to SCEE in any way, I am here in a purely unofficial capacity, in my own time.

I’m not sure what will come of this, if anything, but by making it public and inviting my friends, colleagues, acquaintances and former customers here, I hope I get pushed to finish, if not on this, then something else.

Making games is like malaria. Once you get bitten by the bug, it’s there for life. At least with programming, you get to fight back against the bug.

24 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi Shahid,

    (I would have sent this offline but this is one of those blogs where “offline” doesn’t appear to exist)
    I’m Chris Abbott of C64Audio.com, Rob Hubbard’s MCPS/PRS publisher (the Chimera tunes is properly registered). I’m writing to let you know that if you’d like it, I’ve got a few Chimera tune remakes of the title tune which I’m happy for you to stuff in the game when it’s done (you can put a recording of the SID in as well). All that would be required need in the game is proper credits for the tune and a link (and if you sell thousands of copies and feel like a donation to Rob, then all the better ;-)

    You can hear snippets from two of the available tunes at http://www.c64audio.com/productInfo.php?cat=SP1
    http://www.c64audio.com/productInfo.php?cat=NAM001

    On the “Karma 64″ album cover you might catch the Chimera robot having an unfortunate time in the background ;-)

    Anyway, just to make your life easier, and solve a medium term issue in the short term!

  2. Hi there,

    I bought Chimera for the Atari 800 back at about ’87, and while I’ve never been able to finish it, I did think (and still do!) that it’s a very classy game. So thanks very much for it, and hope your remake does justice to the original!

    P.S. The pause mode on the Atari 800 port was simply awesome! Plus, I’ve found the hidden part of the game. Would you care to comment what was that all about? :)

    1. Hi George, thanks for dropping by and my apologies for taking months to get back to you, I’ve been very busy with my day job and stopped writing here for a while.

      I’m glad you liked the original and I will try to make the remake as good as I possibly can.

      The hidden part of the game? You mean “A Different Kettle of Fish”? :-)

  3. Hi Shahid,

    No problems about the late response – real life can get in the way of doing things!

    And yes, I was referring to “a different kettle of fish”. When I got there I just got a scroller and when I pressed “start” the machine froze and did nothing else. Was that the only thing it was supposed to do?

    1. No, there is supposed to be a simple game where you are on a boat and have to drop a kettle past the fish without them biting off the line from which it’s hanging.

      1. Hi Shahid, glad to see you back again.

        The hidden game “a different kettle of fish” actually has 32 bytes of code overwritten by the VTOC directory which prevents it from running. Do you perhaps still have your source code for the Atari version? It could then be patched and fixed!

        The missing overwritten code is at locations $5080 – $509F

        5080: 43 00 00 00 00 57 52 49 54 45 42 49 4E 4D 41 43 C….WRITEBINMAC
        5090: 43 00 00 00 00 42 4F 4F 54 57 52 49 54 4D 41 43 C….BOOTWRITMAC

        I’ve done a partial disassembly (I hope you don’t mind) slightly before and after the missing section in case it helps you to identify the code in your notes. (I’ve not labeled this short disassembly so it includes fixed addresses).

        502E: ldx #$80
        5030: lda #$33
        5032: sta $3180,X
        5035: dex
        5036: cpx #$31
        5038: bne $5032
        503A: ldx #$80
        503C: lda #$0C
        503E: ora $3180,X
        5041: sta $3180,X
        5044: dex
        5045: dex
        5046: dex
        5047: cpx #$31
        5049: bcc $503E
        504B: rts
        504C: lda PTRIG0
        504F: bne $5069
        5051: lda $4CDC
        5054: cmp #$40
        5056: beq $5083
        5058: lda #$FF
        505A: sta $0101
        505D: dec $4CDC
        5060: lda $4CDC
        5063: sta HPOSP0
        5066: jmp $5083
        5069: lda PTRIG1
        506C: bne $5083
        506E: lda $4CDC
        5071: cmp #$B8
        5073: beq $5083
        5075: lda #1
        5077: sta $0101
        507A: inc $4CDC
        507D: lda $4CDC

        5080: * MISSING CODE *
        ….
        ….
        ….
        509F: * END OF MISSING CODE *

        50A0: sta AUDCTL
        50A3: adc #$50
        50A5: sta AUDF2
        50A8: ldx #0
        50AA: lda $0101
        50AD: bmi $50BC
        50AF: lda $4C64,Y
        50B2: sta $3214,X
        50B5: iny
        50B6: inx
        50B7: cpx #9
        50B9: bne $50AF
        50BB: rts
        50BC: lda $4C76,Y
        50BF: sta $3214,X
        50C2: iny
        50C3: inx
        50C4: cpx #9
        50C6: bne $50BC
        50C8: rts
        50C9: lda $4CD5
        50CC: bne $510B
        50CE: lda $0104
        50D1: bne $50E8
        50D3: lda STRIG0
        50D6: beq $50D9
        50D8: rts
        50D9: lda #$01
        50DB: sta $0104
        50DE: lda $4CDC
        50E1: sta HPOSP2
        50E4: sta $0105
        50E7: rts

          1. It seems such a shame that it’s often the case that coders haven’t keep a copy of their work. It’ll be great if you were to come across it in your archives so we are able to patch the hidden game.

            Thanks for looking into it Shahid. I’m looking forward to your remake also!

            Regards,
            Tezz.

          2. I agree that it’s a shame. Some points in my defence, if I may:

            1) I keep archives going back all the way to the beginning – see the pristine copy of the letter from Chris Turner at Arctic for an example of that.
            2) Any archives of my code would have been on 5.25″ floppies, notwithstanding several media changes since then, and the unavailability of drives that can read any code I may or may not have, the media is unlikely to have lasted a quarter of a century.
            3) I actually wrote “A Different Kettle of Fish” on paper, and I had kept the paper, but…
            4) In 1989, all of my materials were stolen. It was a devastating blow. I lost pretty much everything I ever worked on from an office I shared with the PDS guys – and I’m not sure I ever quite recovered from that loss. Only now, in 2011, am I finally in a position where I can consider going back to my pre 1990s life.

            Having said all that, I will have another rummage through what’s left to see what I can find. The game definitely worked when I shipped it to Firebird.

  4. Greetings from Finland!

    I always remember this game from the lovely “CHIMERA!” and “AAAAAAARGH!” samples. I played the original c64 version (uncracked, no trainers) when I was 12 years old, and damn, it was a difficult game!

    Somebody said that the hero was a robot but I always thought that he was an astronaut — hence the food and water — and the terrible screaming! Much more terrifying. I drew maps on grid paper, and the poor astronaut died over and over again.

    Good memories. Thank you!
    Games are way too easy nowadays.

  5. Wow! Chimera! I actually owned it back in the days, like you I was totally taken by the computers of the day. From that day I knew I had to work in the gamesindustry, and has been up to this day.

  6. Hi shahid

    Myself and my best friend always remember chimera, infact we have mentioned it a few times specially the “chimeraaa” sample. Lol

    Childhood memories are special, this game we remember fondly and look forward to the remake.

    Regards

    Asif

  7. Hello Shahid!
    I’m so excited with thought you’re there, it’s really exciting to talking with living legend :]. I wish to change time and start programming for Commodore in 80s as I’m doing it nowadays, assembler is so hot! There was something special about making commercial games in small teams or alone. I’m really fascinated with your isometric view in multicolor, and as others I’m waiting for more about brand new Chimera!

    I’m keeping fingers crossed for your project!
    Best,
    Bartek

  8. Well done my friend, great to see the ‘old’ work back again. Love the website design too! Brings back so many old memories when games where created by passion and talent.

    Can’t wait to play.

    Neil

  9. Hi Shahid,

    I used to play Chimera all of the time on my Commodore. It was one of my favorite games and though it didn’t seem challengin, I never won. That always kept me going back for more. I always hoped you would create an update. Hopefully this one comes to fruition. I like to share things with my loved ones and strangely enough I want to share it with my wife if possible. Don’t change that scream. I miss it the most. It really attacks the nervous system every time even though you know its coming. What a rush!

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