| The History |
I loved Millennium 2.2, having finished it a number of times (remember the end pic with the Silo in the corn field?), so naturally when Deuteros was announced and previewed in ST Format I placed a pre-order with a UK company. Deuteros was delayed and unfortunately the company I placed the order with went bust before it was released. UKP16.99 down the drain.
Next time around I waited for the official release before ordering. The company I ordered it from were very efficient and mailed it in less than a week (record time). When I opened the box I found two disks, Program Disk and Data Disk --- the Data Disk was fine but the program disk was for the Amiga version. The mail-order company people were very helpful but were unable to replace the Program Disk because every Atari ST copy they had sold was returned with the same problem.
There were dark rumours going around the ST community. Activision had gone bust. The game was released only half finished. Both ST and Amiga versions were full of bugs and almost unplayable. Somebody even said they never made an ST version, that's why they put an Amiga program disk in the box.
Finally, a ray of light. One of my ST contacts managed to get hold of a working copy. (He had ordered it from the UK and was assured that it had both ST disks in the box. It did.) I made three copies of the program disk and took a 512k memory image of the running game. Of course, none of the copies worked ... this was an original program diskette with protection by Rob Northen.
I spent two weeks ploughing through Rob Northen's self-decrypting copy protection code before realising that all I needed to do was bypass the whole routine and change a line of code further on in the program. Apparently all the protection check did was set a memory location if the test was passed. After all the things I had heard about Rob Northen, I was expecting much more than this ...
"Guess what dudes, Rob Northen has imroved his protection"
Extremely addictive. You start off on earth, 1000 years after Millennium ends. Apparently, after returning to earth certain scientific principles were lost. Now it's up to you to rediscover them and get yourself back into space.
Just like Millennium, you have to research and produce your own equipment. Some inventions pave the way for other more advanced ones _ so you've got to research and produce everything on the list.
Anyway, you build your first Orbital Factory and install it in earth's orbit. You're mining minerals and shuttling them up to orbit so you can produce transport ships and other exciting devices. After colonising a couple of moons, you soon come into contact with the Methanoids.
Now this is the bastard. In Millennium 2.2 you diligently colonised every planet or moon that was able to support life (well I did at least) and I'm sure you were nice enough to provide them with a Solagen MkX power unit and all the other comforts of modern living, regardless of the fact that they had mutated into strange lifeforms upon landing on the surface. How do they repay you? They f***ing slaughter you in the sequel. At first they act all nice and offer to trade --- although they do throw you out of their docking port because "they need the space". Truth is they don't want you to see the big army they're throwing together to wipe you off the face of the solar system.
If I hadn't supplied them with that Solagen where would they be now?
Back to the plot. You have to lose a couple of battles so that you can reconquer the orbital factory and discover some strange new devices (MTX: no man should be without one). After that you have to put your forces together and start attacking the Methanoids fiercely until you can drive them out of the Solar System for Good (about 4 minutes).
After the brief graphical sequence to commemorate the invention of a faster than light drive, you can send some troops to the next solar system down the line (Proxima) conquering that and then moving along etc etc till you've got the whole galaxy. I won't give the rest away - especially since I only got as far as Proxima myself.
Let's face it. Millennium was easy - you just couldn't lose. Deuteros wasn't. In your first couple of games, the Methanoids will kill you. After that, you get used to it and learn their tactics _ and if you must lose a planet, you remember to MTX out that precious Silver and Palladium before the Meths can get their grubby paws on it. And, by the way, whenever they take a planet they ALWAYS remember to replace your efficient set of eight mining rigs with a couple of run-down ones. Bastards.
I spent months playing this game. It was truly worth paying for twice (which I did). I recently installed PacifiST and experienced the addiction all over again. I'm not sure whether it's legal or not, but you can find Deuteros in a hacker's archive (PP100) and it'll work beautifully on PacifiST - you can even save and load games.
So what happened to Ian Bird?
There's no trace of him on the Internet. In fact there's little trace of any of the old greats on the Internet.
Paul Woakes is only mentioned briefly somewhere. (Mercenary, Damocles)
I saw a mention of Ron J. Fortier somewhere. (Bruce Lee, Conan) Not sure if it's the same guy, though.
Thankfully, Jeff Minter is still very much around. His web page is updated regularly. He still lives more or less the same lifestyle, still writes games (in assembly, exculsively) and doesn't show any signs of moving into a different line of business. (Ever)
Where did the rest of the Atarians and Misc. Games Programmers end up? Did they grow up and move into writing Lotus Notes script?