Paul Woakes tribute

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Darran@Retro Gamer
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Paul Woakes tribute

Post by Darran@Retro Gamer » Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:13 pm

We'll be running a tribute piece to Paul in the magazine.
If anyone enjoyed his games then feel free to post your memories here.

Regards,
Darran
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Back in Time Sime
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Re: Paul Woakes tribute

Post by Back in Time Sime » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:25 pm

I picked Mercenary pretty much on the day it came out, the reviews had been smashing but somewhat confusing, I dont think I really understood how it worked... Soon as you crash land you are transported to a complete and real world, the vectors may be transparent but in my head I could see it all... It was a complete and real world... The first time I boarded the cheese and flew to the space station was a memory that will last with me forever...

Such pleasure was given yet I never have seen an interview or even a photo of Paul Woakes, but he will forever be in my dreams...
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Re: Paul Woakes tribute

Post by merman » Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:27 pm

Encounter on the C64 is great fun. It loaded quickly, thanks to Paul's Nova!oad routine and it was a superbly playable piece of 3D gaming. I loved the way the shards of the destroyed saucers hung around for a while, and the high-speed warp section between levels was crazy. The 16-bit follow-up Backlash was also a lot of fun.
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Re: Paul Woakes tribute

Post by NorthWay » Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:12 am

Good old C&VG(back when they used the &) had some well connected sources and so they produced a real early report on Mercenary that forever established its mythic status.
Didn't hurt the Atari image either that he was obviously fond of it.
A man that could think out of the box and who will be sorely missed.
Last edited by NorthWay on Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Paul Woakes tribute

Post by slacey1070 » Tue Feb 20, 2018 2:06 pm

As a result of the C&VG preview, I used to visit my local computer shop, The Micro Shop, and ask when it was coming out... and I mean every week.

Eventually, I was offered a Saturday job there and had some amazing times during the 8 bit heyday, including bunking off school to work there.

Without Paul Woakes, I would have never had those experiences, which I will always treasure.
Last edited by slacey1070 on Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Paul Woakes tribute

Post by Scapegoat » Tue Feb 20, 2018 7:28 pm

I walked into Games workshop in Manchester back when they used to sell computer games, the manager who was a fellow Atari enthusiast said "take a look at this new game" and he showed me Encounter.

One minute later I was handing over my money for a copy, and I played the hell out of if for weeks afterwards.

Sometime later I bought Mercenary on the day of release and played the hell out of it for months afterwards.

Paul Woaks is an Atari genius.
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Re: Paul Woakes tribute

Post by Matt_B » Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:15 pm

Although I was familiar with and impressed by both Encounter and Mercenary, I'd have to say that his finest hour was Damocles.

It was simply breathtaking to have an entire solar system to play in at the time, with lots of big cities on most of the planets and a few tucked away little secrets elsewhere for you to chance upon. The graphics pretty much hit the sweet spot between detail and speed for the hardware it was running on too, so it still plays well.

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Re: Paul Woakes tribute

Post by Treguard » Thu Feb 22, 2018 4:25 pm

Matt_B wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:15 pm
Although I was familiar with and impressed by both Encounter and Mercenary, I'd have to say that his finest hour was Damocles.

It was simply breathtaking to have an entire solar system to play in at the time, with lots of big cities on most of the planets and a few tucked away little secrets elsewhere for you to chance upon. The graphics pretty much hit the sweet spot between detail and speed for the hardware it was running on too, so it still plays well.
Blowing up the authors computer with the explosives you're supposed to use to blow up Damocles has some 'interesting' results...

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Re: Paul Woakes tribute

Post by Hiro » Fri Feb 23, 2018 1:44 pm

Matt_B wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:15 pm
Although I was familiar with and impressed by both Encounter and Mercenary, I'd have to say that his finest hour was Damocles.

It was simply breathtaking to have an entire solar system to play in at the time, with lots of big cities on most of the planets and a few tucked away little secrets elsewhere for you to chance upon. The graphics pretty much hit the sweet spot between detail and speed for the hardware it was running on too, so it still plays well.
^this.

Damocles blew me away, it's pure genius. An entire solar system in a 880k disk, with planets, moons and millions of unique buildings. The flat polygons enhanced the enchanting, lonely and somewhat eerie atmosphere of the game. The unreleased pc version probably wouldn't have been as captivating. An astonishing game.

I always hoped RG would succeed in interviewing him, sadly this wasn't to be, but his games will stay.
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Re: Paul Woakes tribute

Post by gary_m_walton » Fri Mar 23, 2018 12:23 pm

I was very saddened to hear of the death of Paul Woakes. I probably knew Paul better than most so here's my little story. Most people first met Paul at the Atari B.U.G (Birmingham User Group) club in the early 80's which is where I first got to know him. He used to come to quite a lot of the meetings as I recall and it was always well attended and very vibrant.

At the time, he was working on Mercenary and was looking for someone to develop some geometric shapes as he was bogged down with the actual game play. Having came from a maths background, I said that I would happily help out. I'd come home from work and get out my pad and start drawing as many different shapes as I could think of. Once a week, I'd go over to his place. At the time, he ran a video rental shop and lived above it. I think it was 837 Alum Rock Road Birmingham. We'd go into his computer room and plug in all of my co-ordinates and move around it on-screen. Quite often, I got it wrong and would need correcting but he was very patient and never got annoyed. This went on for several months. Unbeknownst to me, I had created a big 'W' shape for no particular reason. When you destroyed it, a message came up on screen saying that you had destroyed the Walton (me) monument. I never realized he had done this and came as a bit of a shock when I found this out. So it's fair to say, he had a sense of humor. After the success of Mercenary, he moved a couple of miles away and we still kept in touch as I had this desire to write a game. As a reward for doing many of the Mercenary shapes he bought me an Atari ST. A very generous thing to do.

Elite software, meanwhile, had great successful with Capcom's Commando conversion and had acquired the rights to Commando 2 for the home systems. Somehow, Paul got the contract to do this and Paul offered me the chance to write it which I took. I would go to his house in the evening and not leave until 6 or 7 a.m. It's fair to say that Paul was a very nocturnal creature! What was completley amazing was that Paul developed a system, where I could write the source code on the St - and transfer to a C64 via a cable he had knocked up. This was something akin to voodoo and amazing. A lot of people don't know this but he was something of an electrical engineer.
Anyway, I recall glorious summer days going over to his and this was a happy time for me. He had this massive air-con system upstairs which worked constantly! Paul had developed some very cool graphics routines for the Commodore 64 which he called 'Super Characters'. Basically, an 8x8 grid of characters could be represented in the world map by a single byte. Then, his display logic would decode the single byte into its target 8x8 grid when it needed to be displayed. This allowed huge worlds to be created taking up little memory. A very clever system which proved Paul was ahead of the game in terms of innovation. Sadly, for reasons I never fully understood, the game got cancelled. However, it subsequently got released as 'Battle Island' from Novagen and it's still something I'm proud of and have very fond memories. I lost contact with Paul after that and the last time I looked him up was the early 2000's I guess. He was working on street lighting software apparently using 3D graphics to indicate where the light fell. Again, pushing the boundaries. I will miss Paul - a very clever and highly intellectual but very private person. However, he was also a very helpful bloke and, once you got to know him, was very kind and considerate. I could go on but that's enough for now. So long Paul and it was a pleasure to know you during the great golden age of video games. A true gaming legend and he will be missed.
Gary

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Re: Paul Woakes tribute

Post by ncf1 » Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:46 pm

^ that was awesome Gary.

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Re: Paul Woakes tribute

Post by Darran@Retro Gamer » Tue Mar 27, 2018 3:38 pm

gary_m_walton wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 12:23 pm
I was very saddened to hear of the death of Paul Woakes. I probably knew Paul better than most so here's my little story. Most people first met Paul at the Atari B.U.G (Birmingham User Group) club in the early 80's which is where I first got to know him. He used to come to quite a lot of the meetings as I recall and it was always well attended and very vibrant.

At the time, he was working on Mercenary and was looking for someone to develop some geometric shapes as he was bogged down with the actual game play. Having came from a maths background, I said that I would happily help out. I'd come home from work and get out my pad and start drawing as many different shapes as I could think of. Once a week, I'd go over to his place. At the time, he ran a video rental shop and lived above it. I think it was 837 Alum Rock Road Birmingham. We'd go into his computer room and plug in all of my co-ordinates and move around it on-screen. Quite often, I got it wrong and would need correcting but he was very patient and never got annoyed. This went on for several months. Unbeknownst to me, I had created a big 'W' shape for no particular reason. When you destroyed it, a message came up on screen saying that you had destroyed the Walton (me) monument. I never realized he had done this and came as a bit of a shock when I found this out. So it's fair to say, he had a sense of humor. After the success of Mercenary, he moved a couple of miles away and we still kept in touch as I had this desire to write a game. As a reward for doing many of the Mercenary shapes he bought me an Atari ST. A very generous thing to do.

Elite software, meanwhile, had great successful with Capcom's Commando conversion and had acquired the rights to Commando 2 for the home systems. Somehow, Paul got the contract to do this and Paul offered me the chance to write it which I took. I would go to his house in the evening and not leave until 6 or 7 a.m. It's fair to say that Paul was a very nocturnal creature! What was completley amazing was that Paul developed a system, where I could write the source code on the St - and transfer to a C64 via a cable he had knocked up. This was something akin to voodoo and amazing. A lot of people don't know this but he was something of an electrical engineer.
Anyway, I recall glorious summer days going over to his and this was a happy time for me. He had this massive air-con system upstairs which worked constantly! Paul had developed some very cool graphics routines for the Commodore 64 which he called 'Super Characters'. Basically, an 8x8 grid of characters could be represented in the world map by a single byte. Then, his display logic would decode the single byte into its target 8x8 grid when it needed to be displayed. This allowed huge worlds to be created taking up little memory. A very clever system which proved Paul was ahead of the game in terms of innovation. Sadly, for reasons I never fully understood, the game got cancelled. However, it subsequently got released as 'Battle Island' from Novagen and it's still something I'm proud of and have very fond memories. I lost contact with Paul after that and the last time I looked him up was the early 2000's I guess. He was working on street lighting software apparently using 3D graphics to indicate where the light fell. Again, pushing the boundaries. I will miss Paul - a very clever and highly intellectual but very private person. However, he was also a very helpful bloke and, once you got to know him, was very kind and considerate. I could go on but that's enough for now. So long Paul and it was a pleasure to know you during the great golden age of video games. A true gaming legend and he will be missed.
Thanks for sharing your story. Very, very interesting.
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Re: Paul Woakes tribute

Post by gary_m_walton » Tue Mar 27, 2018 4:01 pm

I never realized Paul passed away 15th July 2017 - I thought it was only recently. I guess it shows what a very private person he was ....

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/notice/2878457
Gary

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Re: Paul Woakes tribute

Post by Greyfox » Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:44 am

A wonderful antitote about Paul..Gary. his work will live on through us all here, when I heard about his passing, I immediately started up my Atari 800xl and booted up Encounter to marvel at the brilliance of Paul coding work,concept and idea. He never disappointed 😀

Many thanks for sharing your story, it's always great to get a glimpse into somebody of high regard what they did with others. Cheers
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