My two tiny contributions to the gaming industry

I got into computers because of video games, and for a while I thought I would become a game developer. I never did, but I still made the following two small contributions to the gaming world.

Football Simulation (1990)

In the late 80s, my cousin wrote a football game on his Atari ST. He sent a video of it to various game companies and one of them, the French Infogrames, came back with an offer to port it to the Amiga and publish it. I was an Amiga user at the time and loaned my machine to my cousin to get started. Later he got his own and I assisted him while he finished the game.

"Assisted" really means that I sat next to my cousin while he was coding. I spent the good part of one summer biking every day to his place and watching him code his game with the shades pulled down while the sun was beating down outside. It is one of the best memories I have.

I did draw one icon for the launch screen at least, here it is:

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I also did some playtesting, despite the fact that I hate football games.

The game was written in GFA Basic, a dialect of Basic developed by a German company that was quite popular on the Atari and was later ported to the Amiga. I didn't know this at the time, but according to Wikipedia it was used to develop a few other games, including the classic Another World. However it is not mentioned in Fabien Sanglard's study of that game, probably because it was used to write the tools and logic but not the graphics code.

When the game was finished we went to visit Infogrames in Lyon to talk business. Infogrames was quite successful at the time, and had published popular games like "Passengers on the Wind", "North and South", and would later go on to release the classic "Alone in the Dark". When we entered the Infogrames HQ, one of the programmers greeted us with "c'est vous qui avez fait le football?" ("it's you who made the football?"). It made me very proud despite my meager contribution. I still remember the name of our host and contact person, Philippe Agripnidis. He seems to be still in business according to his LinkedIn profile. He took us to a restaurant where I ordered steak tartare without knowing what it was, and got sick during the night that followed.

Finally the game was published in 1990 with the name "Football Simulation" for both Amiga and Atari ST, under the newly created "Sport Soft" label. As far as I remember, the intention was to launch more sport-related titles under that label, but I couldn't find any other in the interwebs. I think that Sport Soft was also meant to be a budget label for games that didn't have the production values of other Infogrames titles, as can be seen, despite my effort, in the video below.

My cousin's game development career started and ended with Football Simulation. He later became a mechanical engineer and specialised in quality control. He did make enough money from the game to buy a car. I got a "thank you" in the game's manual :)

Combat Mission 3: Afrika Korps (2003)

Much later, after I had moved to Finland, I provided my voice talent to the game Combat Mission 3: Afrika Korps.

Combat Mission is a series of turn-based war games the first of which was released in 2000. I have never played any of the games, but apparently at each turn the player gives order to their troops and then watches the battle unfold in real time. During this second phase, the screams of the soldiers can be heard amidst the gunfight.

Combat Mission had a small but dedicated following, and some of the hardcore Finnish players happened to be also sound engineers at a company called Dogman Media Oy (which doesn't seem to exist anymore). Seeing that the voices of Finnish soldiers were missing, they decided to record them and send them to the developer for free. They did such a great job that they were contracted to provide all the voices for the next installment, Combat Mission 3: Afrika Korps.

CM 3: Afrika Korps focuses on the WWII campaigns in Africa, Italy and Crete. Italy is also one of the playable armies, and the developers needed voices for the Italian troops. The producer at Dogman recruited me and another Italian through a common friend. We met in a recording studio and were told to shout things like "I'm out of ammo!" or "I got hit!" at the top of our lungs. It was fun!

I looked for a playthrough of CM 3 where the italian voices can be heard. This is the best I could find but unfortunately the author of the video talks over the game audio most of the time, so you can't really hear my voice.

This time I made some money out of it (100 EUR) and my name is in the credits:

This ends my game development career. For now at least!