Why Write Sleepwalker?

In 1984 I got a job with Software Projects as a games programmer. As a learning exercise, I was asked to develop a game for the Commodore 64. I spent many months learning and wrote a game called Sleepwalker. It was never released. Having achieved the objective of me learning about and understanding the Commodore 64, Software Projects assigned me to convert Jetset Willy 2 from the Amstrad CPC64 to the Commodore 64. After that, for Software Projects, I went on to write Kane (sold to Mastertronic), Dragon’s Lair, Escape from Singe’s Castle (Dragon’s Lair 2), and Star Paws (my favourite).

Star Paws was effectively killed by the major distributor of games at the time, US Gold, and Software Projects laid everybody off in 1988. They allowed me the rights to Sleepwalker. Mirrorsoft were supposed to publish it, but never did. By mid 1989 I was no longer programming games, but I have always wanted to revisit Sleepwalker and make it into a decent game.

Recently there has been interest in the original Sleepwalker. Frank Gasking (www.gamesthatwerent.com) has a page devoted to it, and asked me if I had any assets from 1984. My C64 was dead, so I bought a second hand one, and loaded the only disk I have labelled ‘Sleepwalker’. I was amazed that after 31 years it still loaded!!!

However, to my disappointment, all the disk had on it was a very primitive copy of source code and no music or graphics whatsoever. All of the assets I did have on PC were lost in a disk crash several years ago. I had hoped to make a disk image (.d64) of the game, make it available for anyone interested, but Sleepwalker was lost forever!

However, for many years, I had hoped that if ever I had the opportunity I would improve Sleepwalker to the level of the other games I wrote in the 80’s. I was really disappointed to learn that Sleepwalker was lost, but my wonderful wife brightly said, “John, you could write it again!”. Rather than rewrite what was, in the end, a rubbish game, I made the decision to write, from scratch, a brand new game based on some ideas from my 1984 original. I plan to dramatically improve those ideas and aim to create an original, fun and playable game.

Trevor Storey has agreed to do the sprites and I am talking to a couple of C64 musicians about the music. To write the game I am using Arthur Jordison’s amazing development tool – CBM Prog Studio.

Will we succeed in making a compelling and fun game? I don’t know, but the ideas are coming thick and fast and, for the first time in many years, I am loving it when I see an idea come alive on the screen!