DevelopmentThe Windows version was originally written in the very first version of Blitz Basic, later ported to Blitz Plus, and then to Blitz Max. For the PSP version, the MumboJumbo developers ported it to C++.
Initially, developer Anthony Flack posted a demo of the game on the Blitz website. He was soon contacted by Guildhall Leisure Services Ltd. (now known as Idigicon Limited) who offered £1,000 to publish the full game. He spent 18 months to finish it completely, and then received an additional £500 completion bonus.
Halfway through making the game, Anthony's house burned down. He lost all his computers, camera equipment and plasticine, but had a back-up of the game at a friend's house. His friends and parents helped him to back on track, but he had trouble finding plasticine to build the models, so he bought as many little rainbow packets of plasticine for kids as stores had in stock. Then he mushed it all up together into a big, grey lump and used this one lump, over and over, to make all of the different things you see in the finished game. The colour was added digitally.
A couple of years later, after an unsuccessful retail release, Mike Boeh of Retro64 acquired the rights to distribute the game online. He trimmed the file size, and added mouse support and different difficulty levels, while removing the rolling demo and arcade-style attract mode. It was #1 on Realarcade for a while, and it also won their 'Action Game of the Year' award. It was named as one of The Adrenaline Vault's top shareware games of that year. Through the arrangement with Boeh, Flack was able to offer the game on the website of his own studio Squashy Software as well, but that was no longer allowed when Idigicon canceled the deal with Boeh around 2006, though it was still offered on Boeh's website retro64.com afterwards. Flack started work on a new game called Cletus Clay, but it is still listed as in development at the end of 2014.
In 2007 Idigicon released the sequel Platypus II, with very similar visuals and mechanics, but without the involvement of Flack. When people on the indiegamer.com forums wondered about the legality of the sequel and Flack's involvement, he wrote two posts in reply:
I appreciate the sentiments, people. But yes indeed, I did sign the original contract a long time ago (seven years? Eight?) - not only was it before I had met any other indie authors, but it was also before I had become aware of the downloadable games industry (such as it was in those pre-portal days) at all, if you can believe it. Heck, I'd only just recently gotten connected to the internet myself. The game was initially a CD-ROM release, remember.November 2007:
Really, the most surprising thing to me is how this little game is still kicking around so many years later. But like the original game, the wheels were set in motion for this sequel a long time ago. Idigicon are certainly within their rights to make one, and I have long expected to see it appear. So I feel like I've already been through all the motions, so to speak.
Certainly I do give a lot of thought to what the customers will think; that was a large part of what made me put the extra effort in with the original game all that time ago. But you know, this isn't a CD-ROM in a shop any more; and in the end this sequel will live or die by the shareware ethic - try-before-you-buy. If people like it then that's well and good; if they don't then they can leave it.
Still, I daresay everyone involved would agree that the situation up to this point could have been handled better. But it's all old news now, based on long-passed decisions, and I'm looking forward to the future. Really, I have effectively been inactive in the games business for several years, but they have been productive and busy years for me in other ways. But I'm hoping to be back with a bang soon enough. The fact that Platypus still has legs so many years after I made it is encouraging at least, and maybe it too will receive a fitting epilogue one day. I still have affection for it; all in all it wasn't too bad for a first game...
Anyway, don't feel bad on my behalf; I'm feeling quite cheerful today.
I've never called for people to stop selling Platypus and really, I wouldn't ever have wanted anyone to boycott it. I made the game for people to play, after all. And I knew when I made it that I wasn't going to get any royalties, but I still tried hard and I still wanted people to buy it! I saw it as an my apprenticeship in a way, and that's exactly what it was, really. I didn't expect to be able to get a better deal than what I got, because I had no track record at all. Would you give a heap of money to someone with no training or industry experience, who'd never made a game before? Well, now I have made a game, and the only reason anyone takes me even half-seriously today is because I can say that. Sure, I should have asked for conditions that would have covered these eventualities, but who knew? Live and learn.
What really surprised me was:
- That half-a-decade later it would still be seeing fresh releases
- That it would be developed by other people without my involvement
- That half-a-decade later I still would not have released my second game!
It's certainly been a lot of fuss over such a simple little game though, hasn't it? Honestly though, I was upset about this, like, a year ago. Now I'm not. I've never been a victim, except perhaps of my own self-inflicted perfectionism, and I'm happy to bear that particular burden. I will probably always end up working harder than I'm getting paid to do, since that's just the way I am, but my life has not exactly been tragic and I'm far from helpless.