John Pickford and Ste Pickford are brothers, and, even if maybe you don’t know it yet, they developed many of your favorite games from the ’80 & ‘90. In their career they worked for Elite, Acclaim, Infogrames, Rare, Nintendo, Sony.. and in all those years, some of their projects were cancelled or changed a lot before the release date.
Robert Seddon linked us to the official Pickford Brothers’s website, in which they share almost every day a new piece of history from their developers-life, with info and images about some of those games that remained unseen, until now! Checking their archive we can find a lot of interesting stuff, here are some exaples:
Spyral Saga: A large, ambitious adventure game for the PlayStation, for Sony Europe. The concept started life as the sequel to SNES Equinox (itself the sequel to NES Solstice, both developed for Sony Japan), but only the isometric viewpoint and adventure genre were kept, no storyline continuity. The game got bogged down in development difficulties, and was eventually canned after Ste had left Software Creations to start Zed Two.
This is one of many pieces of concept art I did for our game Plok, which eventually came out on the SNES in the early 90s.
We originally started the game under the title Fleapit, for Rare’s ‘Razzboard’ coin-op hardware, but that fell through when our first studio Zippo Games closed, even though the game was a fair way through development.
We kept working on the idea, and by the time we got the game underway as a SNES game at Software Creations, we had masses of sketches and drawings and ideas for baddies and environments.
Blade & Barrel (Nintendo 64): A game originally designed to be simple, 3D update of the old Atari console classic Combat, but which changed to an on-rails shooter once it was signed to a Japanese publisher after John left Software Creations to form Zed Two. In the end the game either abandoned or ‘canned’ by publisher.
Mario Artist: Paint Studio / Sound Studio: Originally intended as a single product – a sequel to Mario Paint in 3D for the N64 – this eventually saw light as multiple Japanese only products released for the N64 and the 64DD disk drive system.
Software Creations were initially asked to pitch a concept to Nintendo of America for a Mario Paint style product for the N64. John came up with a concept based on living 3D environments where the user could mess about with the creatures in the world – both editing the textures on the models themselves, and modifying the parameters of entities themselves – the physical size of a dinosaur, say, and its other visual attributes, as well as its AI properties such as aggression, speed etc. The result would be living playground where the player could mess around and play God.
The project was caught up in political infighting between NOA and Nintendo of Japan over who was controlling the project, and eventually the Japanese took control and rejected many of the ideas which had been accepted enthusiastcally by the Americans, steering the project in a different direction after John left Software Creations to form Zed Two, and throwing away loads of work.
If you have some free time you could find many more unseen games hidden between the pages of Pickford Brothers’s website, we’ll try to add those in the U64 Archive in the next few months. Huge props to John and Ste for sharing all those info and thanks to Robert for the link!