The Thalion reference guide
by Stefan Posthuma and Richard Karsmakers
This encyclopaedic reference guide reveals some small - oftentimes unimportant - bits of knowledge about all things Thalion.
|Active Sales & Marketing|
Of course, nobody of you will ever have heard of this company. However, this is a marketing organisation that distributes some smaller labels - like Novagen and that fabulous little German company called Thalion. Thalion is almost finished with "Ghost Battle". Though I didn't hear anything about "Trex Warrior" (a 3D vector graphics shoot-'em-up), "Amberstar" (a RPG) and "Tangram", I suppose I can tell you that they will soon market those as well.
Epic flagship game of German software company Thalion, and actually the reason why the company got founded in the first place, early 1989. The game, not released until at least a whole year later, was designed and programmed by two leading members of TEX, and the game deserved far better sales than, in the end, it got. Featuring beautiful graphics and animation, it was a RPG set in a distant world where the dragons used to be an intrinsic part of society but now no longer were. The quest to be performed was simple: Find the dragons. But it wasn't as simple as one would think. Although perhaps not quite in the same league as Lord British' "Ultima" series, it definitely came close.
"When Stefan and me visited Thalion, spring 1989, I got commissioned to write the background novel for this fantastic game. I was honoured beyond imagination. I've only written two fairly long fantasy fiction stories, and this was the first. It has an open ending, so I have this feeling that I might one day finish it, and do some rewriting as well. The story so far is almost 40 pages (over 15.000 words) long. Miranda always reckoned it was the best story I've ever written." (Richard)
Game programmed by Nic of TCB for Thalion and finished autumn 1990. It was the first and last Atari game to feature 50 Hz (1 vertical blank) arcade action on a fully sync-scrolling screen in all directions. Without a doubt the best game on the ST ever, technically.
"Two little known facts of this game are the following. Nic thought of the name of the leading character, Khurgan. This was inspired by the baddy in 'Highlander'. And I thought up the name of the game, which was inspired by the song of the same name by Sodom [Sodom - Persecution Mania - Track #5: Enchanted Land - (1987)]." (Richard)
Town about 50 kilometres east of the German Ruhrgebiet, suffering from a chronic lack of nightlife. It was the town where Thalion Software was located and, thus, the place where Richard lived for 18 months from October 1988 to March 1991.
"The best times I had there were the Christmas markets. They used to sell great baked mushrooms then. Gütersloh had no nightlife whatsoever, which was horrible. We'd go to the cinema regularly, though, but the films were dubbed in German. Good thing was that they didn't have breaks in the middle of the film. We spent our evenings working late, writing, coding, or watching videos. We used to live in the old Thalion office, where there weren't any showers, so we just went to the swimming pool really early in the morning to shower ourselves. We spent our time there wetting old German women's hair which they tried - and failed - very much to keep dry." (Richard)
(* 03.11.1967) Founder of ST NEWS and main writer. [...] in October 1989 he started working for Thalion Software in Germany. There he did translations, novella writing and game design (he did the level design for "Leavin' Teramis", the map design and editing for "Amberstar", and the more complete design for "A Prehistoric Tale"). In April 1991 he left Thalion [...].
Game released by Thalion. It was the first game that Richard did some design for; he designed the playfields for levels 2 and up. A picture of Jeff Minter can be found on a higher level, where he shoots off llamas that try to kill you. And there's a really frantic level ending around a Napalm Death logo, too. These graphics were done by Mickey Grohe, one of the lesser famous Thalion contributors.
|Prehistoric Tale, A|
Game released by Thalion Software, Germany, in January 1991, and written chiefly by Tim Moss of TLB with graphics by his brother Dave, during the summer and autumn of 1990. It was designed by Richard, based on the principle of the Commodore 64 game "Dino Eggs" with lots of new knobs on, but as deadline and costs pressures mounted, more and more bits of the game concept had to be scrapped until, in the end, nothing more than the bare essentials of "Dino Eggs" remained. This was quite a disappointingly demotivating affair for Tim and Dave, and Richard wasn't happy with it either. New Mode of Delta Force and Stefan also contributed bonus screens.
"I had wanted to do a souped-up version of "Dino Eggs", one of my favourite Commodore 64 games, for years. I recently found a really old picture file of some backgrounds I had drawn myself back when I'd just bought a colour monitor, back in early 1987 or late 1986. To me, the chance came when I could design and produce a game for Thalion. But "A Prehistoric Tale" was a a bit of a disappointment for all involved, even though it scored an average of 75% in all the computer magazines." (Richard)
|Salon de la Micro|
A computer show in Paris in autumn 1990 where Richard had to represent Thalion at the Ubisoft stall (Ubisoft were the French distributors for Thalion). It was an interesting experience, which included a prostitute, a bouncer with ring-filled fists, a visit of the Overlanders and an evening of cabaret like only the French know how to make. It was chronicled fully in a pseudo-real-time article in ST NEWS Volume 5 Issue 2.
Legendary German crew consisting of Daryl (Michael Raasch, PR person and coder), Mad Max (Jochen Hippel, music programmer), ES (Erik Simon, graphics person), 6719 (Gunther Bitz, programmer) and -ME- (Udo Fischer, programmer). They later became the core members of Thalion with Holger Flöttmann.
"Had I never met Markus "Bitstopper" Hertfort (or Herfort, or Herzfort, I can't quite recall) I would never have gotten into contact with The Exceptions. A lot of things - ST NEWS, Thalion - would have been quite different." (Richard)
Semi-legendary German software company, formed by members of TEX and various people who had left Rainbow Arts, unsatisfied with what had been achieved so far. The most memorable release, no doubt, is "Dragonflight", a fantastic Role Playing Game programmed by -ME- of TEX with graphics and design by ES (and music by Mad Max, of course). Richard worked at Thalion from October 1989 to April 1991. It was a great company to work for, but eventually he became tired of the whole thing (mostly the fact that it was a company in Germany instead of the Netherlands) and left. Some of the remaining employees took up work for Blue Byte in the old Thalion office (which also used to be the place where half of the old Thalion people, including Richard, lived). An early 1989 visit to Thalion of the entire ST NEWS editorial staff was chronicles in an ST NEWS real-time article.
"I do remember that time fondly. Manuela, the Thalion secretary, was just too cute for words. Our eating habits used to be really bad. We inevitably ate Chinese in the afternoon, and then went to eat Greek in the evenings. Watched German-dubbed video all night, showered in the swimming pool, and devoured huge amounts of pizzas." (Richard)
I like Ubisoft, probably because of a very pretty French girl with a gorgeous accent by the name of Marie-Therese Cordon working there, who insists on kissing when shaking hands (she caught me quite by surprise there). I knew her already [before the ECTS 1991], as she was the person responsible for Thalion marketing when I still worked there.
English translation of a series of German articles published in German "ST Magazine" (at the time the best Atari magazine by far), written by TEX. The articles covered smooth horizontal scrolling, anti-alias drawing techniques, opening the lower border and, amazingly, Mad Max' music routine. They appeared, translated, including all source code, in ST NEWS Volume 3 Issue 5 and on, with permission from "ST Magazine" and TEX.
|This text was published in the Atari ST diskmag "ST News" and is used by kind permission of Richard Karsmakers. Source for this article: http://www.st-news.com|