Book : It's Behind You - The Making of a Game by Bob Pape

Andrew Stephens, Friday the 7th of September, 2018 in Books, Computing, Nonfiction

Its Behind You Cover
It's Behind You
By Bob Pape
Self Published 2013
website (with download)
The year is 1988 and the British home computer market is crazy for software. It seemed that every family had a small box of one sort or another connected the TV. Nominally bought to help compile shopping lists, or various educational pursuits, these 8-bit computers were used mainly for games.

The demand for software and the the UK government's long-sighted policy of encouraging computer literacy lead to a huge local industry writing games.

This book is about the making of one of those games - RType for the ZX Spectrum. Our hero is a young coder given the task to port a complex and graphically impressive arcade game to the lowly ZX Spectrum - a machine that was outdated even then but still popular due to being Christmas-pocket-money cheap.

Standing in his way are the technical challenges of squeezing a decent game into the Spectrums anemic processor and unusual video hardware. But worse are the predatory business practices of the game development house and publishers, who want product to shovel without much regard for the welfare, happiness, or financial security to those who produce it.

Nothing more than an old guy reminiscing somewhat fondly about a stressful but ultimately successful (spoiler alert, I guess) period in his youth, It's Behind You is an inconsequential book about inconsequential topic. Any juicy gossip (and Pape does not hold back) is decades old. But I am a sucker for well told first-hand accounts of unusual jobs and It's Behind You was right up my alley.

And it's hard to beat the price of a free ebook downloadable from the authors site.

This being 2018, you can view the fruits of Pape's labour on YouTube. Each frame of this video takes up many times more memory than was soldered into the ZX Spectrum.