Questions for Richard 'Mortal Kombat' Costello PLEASE HELP!

Want to air your opinions on the latest issue of Retro Gamer? Step inside...

Moderators: mknott, NickThorpe, lcarlson, Darran@Retro Gamer, MMohammed

DRS
Posts: 537
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 3:47 am
Location: Nottingham

Questions for Richard 'Mortal Kombat' Costello PLEASE HELP!

Post by DRS » Fri Mar 03, 2017 10:13 am

Folks, I need your help!

Due to my intended castaway Adrian Longland having to postpone his feature, I have managed to find a good bloke to fill the gap at short notice - but I talk to him this coming Tuesday (March 7th) and so would really appreciate you taking the time to post a few questions for inclusion in the mag over the weekend!

Richard produced an impressive range of conversions and quirky original titles (XOR is a real cult fave I know...) over his decade in the business.

Colours and Shapes (1984) BBC Micro
Way of the Exploding Fist (1985) C16
XOR (1986) BBC Micro
Ramrod (1987 – unreleased) Atari ST
Gauntlet 2 (1988) ST/Amiga
MASK (1988) C64
Hotrod (1989) ST/Amiga
Golden Axe (1990) ST/Amiga
Terminator 2 (1991) ST/Amiga
Motorhead (1992) ST/Amiga
Mortal Kombat (1992/3) Mega Drive/Amiga
MK2 (1993/4) Amiga
Primal Rage (1995) Amiga

He is also well into car racing (as a driver and instructor) and this line he sent me made me smile: "1992 - Racing single seaters & started working at the Jim Russell Racing School as a motor racing instructor - pupils included Jenson Button."

As always ask anything you want - cheers for helping me meet a tight deadline!

Paul

User avatar
merman
Posts: 6475
Joined: Wed Nov 30, 2005 5:14 pm
Location: Skegness, UK
Contact:

Re: Questions for Richard 'Mortal Kombat' Costello PLEASE HE

Post by merman » Fri Mar 03, 2017 12:15 pm

Which hardware was your favourite to work on?

Were you disappointed that Ramrod was never finished?

What inspired the fish and chickens as moving obstacles in XOR?

Do you have any other unreleased games?

With the arcade conversions, what help did the companies give you?
merman1974 on Steam, Xbox Live, Twitter and YouTube

NorthWay
Posts: 1609
Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2005 11:02 am
Location: Grimstad, Norway

Re: Questions for Richard 'Mortal Kombat' Costello PLEASE HE

Post by NorthWay » Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:28 pm

Did you even try to use 24x24 objects for Gauntlet 2 or was that ruled out before any editor was activated?
IIRC the samples were plain 8-bit 8KHz(or near enough) which is several magnitudes more than the original TI-based speech: Was any sample compression considered? Did you get access to the original samples from Atari?
What help did you get from Atari? (You do know that the Marble Madness Amiga port was from original source AFAIK?)
Last edited by NorthWay on Fri Mar 03, 2017 9:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

DRS
Posts: 537
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 3:47 am
Location: Nottingham

Re: Questions for Richard 'Mortal Kombat' Costello PLEASE HE

Post by DRS » Fri Mar 03, 2017 3:54 pm

Aw, Merman and Northway - cheers chaps! So kind - and top questions too. ta!

mr jenzie
Posts: 279
Joined: Sun Aug 04, 2013 4:57 pm
Location: renfrew, scotland

Re: Questions for Richard 'Mortal Kombat' Costello PLEASE HE

Post by mr jenzie » Sat Mar 04, 2017 12:36 pm

how did he get the gig for the MK megadrive conv, since all his is for commordore machines?
who did he bribe?
:mrgreen:

and i did actually prefer that version over the SNES, not because of the stupid "blood" situation, but it did play slightly better?

User avatar
Eric
Posts: 682
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2007 2:58 pm
Contact:

Re: Questions for Richard 'Mortal Kombat' Costello PLEASE HE

Post by Eric » Sat Mar 04, 2017 12:40 pm

Can you tell us more about the disk swaping of Amiga Mortal Kombat?

I recall playing at a friends where it played great but required disk swaps ingame even to perform fatalities. - This was on a stock A500. Market

User avatar
paranoid marvin
Posts: 14272
Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2006 6:28 pm
Location: 21st Century Earth

Re: Questions for Richard 'Mortal Kombat' Costello PLEASE HE

Post by paranoid marvin » Sat Mar 04, 2017 4:37 pm

Mortal Kombat - Amiga has 1 'fire' button, MD 6 - was it like making two different games?
Mr Flibble says...
"Game over , boys!"

kebabinho
Posts: 69
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2015 3:41 pm

Re: Questions for Richard 'Mortal Kombat' Costello PLEASE HE

Post by kebabinho » Mon Mar 06, 2017 8:52 am

how did he find working on the mighty C16?

NorthWay
Posts: 1609
Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2005 11:02 am
Location: Grimstad, Norway

Re: Questions for Richard 'Mortal Kombat' Costello PLEASE HE

Post by NorthWay » Mon Mar 06, 2017 10:47 am

Was the BBC B his first machine? What did he think of the resources balance of it? And of the other machines he worked with?
Was there anything, in retrospect, in his games he'd wish he had fixed or changed before they got out the door, things he later learned that could have been applied?

DRS
Posts: 537
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 3:47 am
Location: Nottingham

Re: Questions for Richard 'Mortal Kombat' Costello PLEASE HE

Post by DRS » Wed Mar 08, 2017 4:39 am

Drove over to Richard's last night and talked for 2 hours... thanks everyone who posted questions, especially at such short notice. I'll get as many as possible into the mag.

Till next time, cheers!

RichardC
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:35 am

Re: Questions for Richard 'Mortal Kombat' Costello PLEASE HE

Post by RichardC » Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:44 am

Hi & thanks for the questions, its nice to wander down memory lane - must be old age!

Q: Which hardware was your favourite to work on?

A: Thats a good question because initially I thought the BBC Micro was my favourite "machine" but that's because it's firmware was written by the best people not because of its hardware. Of all the machines I wrote code for the Amiga had by far the most hardware so that was my favourite really. The 68k was a nice CPU, and all the custom hardware was interesting if a little frustrating as memory was always an issue. I think at the time the best hardware was the Acorn ARM machines which had the BBC Micro firmware advantages with bags of performance and an even better CPU than the 68k.

Q: Were you disappointed that Ramrod was never finished?

A: It was finished, just never released. It was disappointing in that it was a project which was never closed but the game play was never there, its more of a pretty demo. The reason it wasn't released was because the game play didn't live up to the quality of the graphics.

Q: What inspired the fish and chickens as moving obstacles in XOR?

A: All the objects in XOR were influenced from our experiences working at Loughborough University. From simple objects within the office to shop assistants at the sandwich shop we used for lunch. Some of them were too way out and didn't make it into the release issue, Paul Carruthers and Ian Downend were the creative minds behind such things and I don't recall why the fish and chicken were selected, but even if I did I probably shouldn't mention it here ;-)

Q: Do you have any other unreleased games?

A: Apart from Ramrod, Napalm Nigel was an idea Kev Bulmer and I came up with but it never went beyond a concept with a few on screen sketches

Q: With the arcade conversions, what help did the companies give you?

A: By Mortal Kombat / MK2 and Primal Rage we were given the source code and all graphics to work with, which was useful as they were Motorola CPU based (68020 etc) which was similar to the Amiga's CPU. This had the advantage that we could share the game logic. Although this was tricky as fundamental hardware differences made bug free changes tricky. Things like in the arcade machines everything was in memory all the time, whereas most of the game resided on a floppy disc (or 3) on the Amiga. So managing disc swapping and loading times would require fundamental changes to the game logic. Also it meant that the graphics could be processed rather than being drawn from scratch, which made things faster and cheaper but quality was not as high given the graphics were
being converted to lower resolution and less colours rather than being hand re-drawn frame by frame with the limited palette and resolution in mind (as per Gauntlet and Golden Axe). Before MK all we got was the arcade machine to play and a video tape of the game. Maybe a few notes too like map layouts for Gauntlet 2.

RichardC
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:35 am

Re: Questions for Richard 'Mortal Kombat' Costello PLEASE HE

Post by RichardC » Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:47 am

Q: Did you even try to use 24x24 objects for Gauntlet 2 or was that ruled out before any editor was activated?

A: I didn't even consider it and thought it was a daft idea on ST Gauntlet. That many software sprites, in 16 colours on an 8MHz 68000 with the ST's display mapping screamed 16x16 max to me.

Q: IIRC the samples were plain 8-bit 8KHz(or near enough) which is several magnitudes more than the original TI-based speech: Was any sample compression considered? Did you get access to the original samples from Atari?

A: Sample compression sounds like it would have been too CPU intensive to use, we just sampled the sounds from the arcade machines speaker. We were not aware of the arcade machines data sample rate, all we had was an arcade machine and access to its self test mode which could scroll through graphic frames etc. No source code was supplied but I think Tony Porter (Z80 8-bits, and level editor programmer) had the dungeon plans as printouts.

Q: What help did you get from Atari? (You do know that the Marble Madness Amiga port was from original source AFAIK?)

A: See the answer above. All we got were dungeon plan printouts and an arcade machine.

RichardC
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:35 am

Re: Questions for Richard 'Mortal Kombat' Costello PLEASE HE

Post by RichardC » Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:49 am

Q: How did he get the gig for the MK megadrive conv, since all his is for commordore machines? who did he bribe? and i did actually prefer that version over the SNES, not because of the stupid "blood" situation, but it did play slightly better?

A: I knew Furgus at Probe from UK Gold and Golden Axe days, and I lived near Paul Carruthers who was coding the Megadrive version. He needed help with the titles and chop game bits and with the Megadrive being a 68000 machine I was ideal for helping out. That lead on to me doing MK1 and 2 Amiga and then Primal Rage - all freelance for Probe. I didn't need to bribe anyone as I guess I was cheap :-)

All the versions looked similar but underneath the code was completely different version to version. Remember they weren't C libraries being re-compiled for different platforms - each processor had a complete re-write. Even the arcade machines were coded in assembler at that time. The 68000 processor based machines (ST, Amiga, Megadrive) shared some game logic but controllers, graphics, collision detection, sound etc was all completely different.
Last edited by RichardC on Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

RichardC
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:35 am

Re: Questions for Richard 'Mortal Kombat' Costello PLEASE HE

Post by RichardC » Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:51 am

Q: Can you tell us more about the disk swaping of Amiga Mortal Kombat? I recall playing at a friends where it played great but required disk swaps ingame even to perform fatalities. - This was on a stock A500.

A: MK & MK2 needed a 1MB Amiga as a minimum (standard A500 was 512MB). Each players graphics files were approximately 220K, so almost half of memory were the two players. If there was more memory than 1MB in the machine then 128K was taken up by a 16 bit reflection table, this helped because all the fighter graphics were stored facing one way (right as I recall) so had to be constantly reflected when facing left. In a 1MB machine it only used an 8-bit reflection table (256 byte). Then the fatalities character sets could sit in the extra memory too which meant that a 1.5MB+ Amiga wouldn't need a load for Fatalites and Babalities. But in the base spec it was considered better to use space for the main game play leaving a load for what was effectively an end of game canned sequence. Running the game was best on an A1200 because of the 2MB and faster processor / chipset. Primal Rage was 2MB minimum because the 2 player graphics occupied 1MB. It wasn't an AGA game, as in it didn't use extra memory as Chipram, it was just a coincidence that the A1200 had 2MB as standard.

RichardC
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:35 am

Re: Questions for Richard 'Mortal Kombat' Costello PLEASE HE

Post by RichardC » Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:54 am

Q: Mortal Kombat - Amiga has 1 'fire' button, MD 6 - was it like making two different games?

A: It required some serious thinking and fiddling about but not as much as Primal Rage! I cant remember all the details now but I recall that whilst it was tricky the controls worked OK on MK and MK2 (especially if you had 2 buttons) but it just wasn't possible to implement with Primal Rage without doing something revolutionary which worked OK but only, it transpires, if I could explain and demonstrate how to play it rather than relying on written instructions!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest