Designing Repton’s Lost Realms

If you’ve been here before, you’ll probably already know that this year is Repton‘s 25th anniversary. And, as part of the celebrations, Retro Software is releasing Repton: The Lost Realms for the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron.

I’ve already blogged about creating the cover artwork and the loading screen for the game. However today is the 6th November and Repton: The Lost Realms is being officially launched at R3PLAY in Blackpool. That means I can at last talk about creating the graphics for the game itself.

My cover artwork

I was first approached by Dave Moore about contributing to Repton: The Lost Realms in mid 2008. Peter Edwards had just recovered a load of my old Repton 3 and Repton Infinity screens from some of my 5.25″ floppies and the graphics in them had impressed Peter and Dave enough for them to ask if I would be interested in creating some screens and graphics for Repton: The Lost Realms.

Like Repton 3 before it, Repton: The Lost Realms is a game that allows you to not only edit its levels, but also redefine its graphics. That means that it’s possible to provide a selection of different screens and graphics for players to load into the game.

Lost Realms as I first received it

At this stage, the Repton: The Lost Realms came with only one set of screens. As you can see above, it used the Repton 3 graphics with a few additional graphics for the game’s new elements designed by the game’s original programmer Paras Sidapara.

As there were to be four sets of six screens included in the game, my first idea was to theme each set of graphics around the existing Repton releases. In other words, have a Repton 1 set…

Repton 1 Lost Realm

…a Repton 2 set…

Repton 2 Lost Realm

…a Repton 3 set…

Repton 3 Lost Realm

…and a new set for the final set of screens.

I quickly hacked about and transferred the graphics from these games into Repton: The Lost Realms. At this stage I was designing new characters in the Repton Infinity graphics editor (Film Strip) and then transferring them over to Repton: The Lost Realms by transferring blocks of data between files using the BBC BASIC command line.

Film Strip – An excellent graphics editor

The reason why I preferred Film Strip was that it was designed for use with a keyboard. I didn’t have a real BBC Micro to use so I was using these programs via the excellent emulator BeebEm. In fact, as at that stage there wasn’t a native GNU/Linux emulator for the BBC Micro at the time, I was using BeebEm via WINE.

The Repton 3 and Repton: The Lost Realms editors had adopted the then very fashionable WIMP paradigm. However, using a WIMP interface with a keyboard is very hard going and I found the AMX Mouse option tricky to get working in BeebEm. That meant I couldn’t use these editors with my mouse.

Another problem I had with Repton: The Lost Realms’ editor was the awful yellow and black colour scheme used for the editor’s pointer. It was probably the worst colour scheme you could have picked if you want to design graphics precisely – the outline of the pointer gets lost against black, but most of the graphics have black backgrounds or outlines!

Repton: The Lost Realms’ Editor

After I had designed Repton 1 and Repton 2 themed graphics it soon became obvious that this approach would not work. There were various new elements in Repton: The Lost Realms that were not present in previous Repton games. I wanted to redesign these in each set to match the style of previous Repton releases. However Dave wanted to keep the new game elements that Paras had designed looking the way Paras had designed them. However this would have looked out of place, particularly in Repton 1 which is quite abstract and geometrical in design.

Therefore, after talking it over with Dave and Paras we decided it would be best if I design four completely new sets of graphics for the game, bearing in mind the need to keep the original design of Paras’ new game elements in each set. We would also only vary the game characters that varied in the sets of screens supplied with Repton 3: namely the walls, eggs, monsters and crowns.

I had a few ideas for the graphics having got used to playing the game. I didn’t think that the inverted cage colour scheme for the anti-clockwise spirits worked at all. I needed to find a way to make these cages look a little less incongruous. I wanted to make the graphics look 1988-ish – so I used the style of later BBC games like Richochet and Star Port as inspiration. And I wanted to use stippled colours as much as possible to make the apparent colour palette seem more than the four colours that the game was limited to.

I designed the set of graphics for the final set of levels (PRESTO) first. My inspiration for these were the full-page adverts for Repton 2 and Repton 3 that Superior Software used to run in Acorn magazines at the time. In particular, I wanted to design a set with light mortar between distressed bricks. I’m very proud of this set and I think it’s actually my favourite.

Presto – not for the faint hearted

I got a bit carried away, and I also redesigned Repton to look like he did in Superior’s adverts – this was very quickly and firmly rejected, and rightly so!

My Redrawn Repton went down like a cup of cold sick

I had one set down, three more in front of me and even using FilmStrip on a BBC Micro emulator seemed like very hard going. I really wanted to use The GIMP to design the graphics and suddenly it dawned on me that I could.

I could design the graphics in The GIMP and then transfer them to the BBC Micro emulator using the BBC Micro Image Convertor by Francis G Loch. This is an application written in PureBasic that takes image files (bmp, jpg, etc.) and downconverts them into the native screen display formats of the BBC Micro.

The process has a few stages. First I design all the graphics as separate files in The GIMP:

Completed graphics designed in The GIMP

Then I use the GIMP to slice them up and put them in rows:

Sliced and Diced in The GIMP

And finally I convert the graphic into BBC Micro format using the BBC Micro Image Convertor:

And converted to BBC Micro format

So, I fired up The GIMP and the next set I designed was for the LARGO set. This is the default set that loads when the game or editor loads, and the levels in this set were the original six levels designed by Paras Sidapara back in 1988.

Largo – the Realm of the Exile

Because I knew Paras was a huge fan of the game Exile, I decided to base the design of the walls on the walls found in Exile. This set looked very nice and thanks to The GIMP I was able to design them very quickly.

Adagio – Exile crossed with Repton 2

The third set I designed was a set for the ADAGIO screens. This set was a kind of cross between the walls found in Exile and the walls found in Repton 2 (my favourite Repton release). It didn’t work as well as I would have liked and I wish I’d done something a bit different.

Allegro – juicy, apparently…

The final set I designed was the ALLEGRO set. It was loosely based on the graphics for the game XOR, which my children were madly into playing at the time. This set has been described as looking “juicy”, whatever that means! Dave Moore accused me of taking a little more care over these graphics than some of the others because I knew I was designing all six levels to go with them. How very dare he!

The work on the graphics Repton: The Lost Realms was very straightforward. I did very little rework once we decided on what we were doing and there were only two real debates about the game characters. The first concerned earth, the second concerned fungus.

As far as the earth is concerned, I wanted to experiment with some dense Ravenskull style earth, whereas Dave Moore preferred the very sparse earth used in the Toccata level set of Repton 3. Dave got his way on that one!

Now that’s what I call fungus!

The fungus debate concerned my preference for fungus that looked like a toadstool rather than the amorphous mould that was presented in Repton 3. In the end, I redesigned the fungus to look slimy rather than mouldy but it’s probably the graphic I am least happy with.

Now that’s what I call fun, Gus!

We also had a discussion about the “freeze pill”. This was a green pill that froze monsters temporarily. What with absorbalene pills and time pills I thought Repton’s drug habit had gone far enough.

Freeze pills – just say no.

I wanted to replace it with a Citadel style snowflake. Everyone agreed, and that also involved making changes to the editor and game map graphics which I did by hacking the code about. But, although my snowflake was a good idea, I think the graphic I designed was horrible.

Snow flake – just say yuck.

Once I’d designed all four sets, I thought that that was that – only it wasn’t. By this stage Tom Walker (someone for whom the word genius seems utterly inadequate) had joined the project, and had started work coding an Acorn Electron version.

The Acorn Electron is cruelly afflicted in many ways, but one of the worst is that it has no hardware scrolling. That is terrible news for a game like Repton which relies on scrolling. Acorn Electron scrolling has to be done in software, which eats up the memory available for the game – and its graphics. The graphics in Acorn Electron Repton: The Lost Realms are 12 x 24 instead of 16 x 32 for the BBC Micro version.

Skull (Acorn Electron)

This meant I had to create cut down versions of all of the games’ graphics for the Acorn Electron version, and doing this took as long as it took to create the original graphics. In fact, I put in so much effort I actually prefer some of the Acorn Electron graphics.

Largo – All ready to transfer to Elkulator

Probably the most interesting thing about doing this was the lack of an Acorn Electron editor – or indeed an Acorn Electron version of the game itself! I had actually finished the graphics and put them in game files before Tom had finished coding the Acorn Electron version of the game.

It was quite some time after I had finished the graphics that I was actually able to play with the graphics in the game itself via Tom’s excellent Acorn Electron emulator Elkulator.

 Acorn Electron version

Keen eyed Repton fans will notice that Acorn Electron Repton: The Lost Realms reintroduces Tim Tyler‘s Repton sprite from Repton 2. I think this has much more personality than the one used in Repton 3.

I knew that there was a keen interest in the Repton: The Lost Realms from Acorn Electron enthusiasts so I put an enormous amount of effort in the graphics for the Electron version – I just hope they like them!

And finally –  a word about the design of the crowns. I spent many years living in my wife’s home-town of Mélykút, the birthplace and home of the legendary restorer Szvetnik Joachim. He was famous for supervising the return of the Holy Crown of Hungary from the USA in 1977. I went to his workshop in Mélykút to translate for some tourists from New York State, and enjoyed my visit so much I decided to make the crown in ALLEGRO look like the Holy Crown.

Allegro Crown (BBC Micro version)

The other crowns in Repton: The Lost Realms are also based upon real crowns – I wonder if you can work out which ones?

Repton Through Wine

A couple of days ago I rather glibly said that the PC versions of the computer game Repton ran fine with WINE on the GNU/Linux operating system. That’s not quite true, so I thought I’d take a closer look at running Superior Interactive‘s PC versions of Repton 1, Repton 2 and Repton 3 on GNU/Linux.

WINE Is Not an Emulator

I have two computers here. They both run the GNU/Linux operating system with the GNOME desktop and have WINE installed. In case you didn’t know, WINE is the little bit of free software magic that lets you run programs written for Microsoft Windows on GNU/Linux, Mac OS, FreeBSD and Solaris. My wife’s computer runs the Fedora 12 distribution (or distro) of GNU/Linux and the free nouveau graphics driver. I’ve installed version 1.1.32 of Wine on my wife’s computer. My computer currently runs Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic) distro of GNU/Linux with the non-free nVidia driver. It has version 1.1.35 of WINE installed.

WINE 1.1.32 is the version currently available for popular distros such as Ubuntu or Fedora, and will therefore be the version most users are running. WINE 1.1.35 is the very latest version, and instructions on how to obtain it are available here.

The PC Repton games can be run “full screen” or in “windowed” mode, in a window on your desktop. You can toggle between these modes by pressing F10.

Repton 1

On WINE 1.1.32 the game will not run properly in “full screen” mode. It will run in “windowed” mode but suffers from a couple of issues. The first is masking – the masking of sprites and the pointer does not work at all.

Repton 1 masking visible on WINE 1.1.32

The second issue is digits missing from the screen selector boxes on the main menu screen.

The boxes at the base should contain digits

On WINE 1.1.35 Repton 1 runs perfectly in “windowed” mode so if you have WINE 1.1.35 or above I can recommend Repton 1 to anyone running GNU/Linux provided you’re happy to have the game running in a window.

No masking visible on WINE 1.1.35

And the digits are present on WINE 1.1.35 too

It also runs reasonably well in “full screen” mode. The sprites are stretched, as no compensation is made for the aspect ratio of my widescreen monitor when making the display full screen. The game also suffers from the masking problems that affected Repton in “windowed” mode on WINE 1.1.32. But it does not suffer from the missing digits on the screen selector boxes that affected WINE 1.1.32.

Apart from the masking issue and the stretched sprites the game plays very well “full screen”.

The Repton 1 level and sprite editor works with no issues on both versions of WINE.

Repton 2

On WINE 1.1.32 the game will not run properly in “full screen” mode. It will run in “windowed” mode but suffers from the same masking issue as Repton 1.

Repton 1 & 2 have same mask issue on WINE 1.1.32

On WINE 1.1.35 Repton 2 runs perfectly in “windowed” mode so, again, if you have WINE 1.1.35 or above I can recommend Repton 2 to anyone running GNU/Linux provided you’re happy to have the game running in a window.

No mask issues on Repton 2 with WINE 1.1.35

It also runs reasonably well in “full screen” mode. The sprites are stretched, as again no compensation is made for the aspect ratio of my widescreen monitor when making the display full screen. The game also suffers from the masking problems that affected Repton 1 in “windowed” mode on WINE 1.1.32.

On exiting Repton 2 from full screen mode

However, unlike Repton 1, it crashes messily on exiting the program having been in full screen mode.

The level and sprite editor works with no issues on both versions of WINE.

Repton 3

The issues with Repton 3 are identical for both versions of WINE.

The game will not at all in “full screen” mode – in fact, selecting it will cause the game to crash messily. It leaves the screen at low resolution as it crashes so you have to either log out and in again.

Repton 3 in “windowed” mode

It will run in “windowed” mode, with issues. The first is that selecting “Run game in high priority mode” will cause the game to crash, and you need to reinstall the game before you can use it again.

The second is selecting the map. If you try and select the map the game will crash. So, Repton 3 will run (and run very well) in Windowed mode provided you don’t try and look at the maps.

I told you not to look at the map…

The level and sprite editor works with no issues on both versions of WINE.


So there you have it. Other than no full screen mode Repton 1 and 2 work well on the latest version of WINE. Repton 3 has a serious fault (the lack of maps) and more minor niggles (no full screen mode, and the crasher upon selecting High Priority mode) but other than that is perfectly playable.

If you have tried to run one of these games with WINE I’d be interested to hear how you got on.

Repton’s Silver Jubilee

I’ve just turned 38, which means I’ve been a keen Repton fan for 24 years. It seems incredible, but next year is Repton’s Silver Jubilee.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, if you look through the Blog Archive you’ll see I’ve talked about the computer game Repton several times: both the cover art and graphics I’ve done recently for Retro Software and also some of the screens and graphics I designed on my BBC Micro back in the 80s.

This time of year – Christmas and my birthday – always makes me think of Repton. Waiting for Christmas 1986 was almost unbearable as it was then I was going to get a copy of the latest Repton release, Repton 3. I didn’t have a disc drive at the time, so my copy of Repton 3 would be on cassette tape for the BBC Micro.

The excitement was because, for the first time ever, I was going to be able to design my own levels and graphics for the game and I couldn’t wait. I only had a couple of C15 cassette tapes to store my levels at first, and I as I designed levels and graphics I’d save over my previous work again and again. And sometimes a quirk of the cassette recorder volume or tone control meant that the file wouldn’t save properly. I dread to think of the number of levels and character designs I lost.

However, one of the very first levels I designed that Christmas I was so pleased with it just seemed to hang around and hang around and I still have it to this day. The password for the level is “TIMOTHY” – named after my pet goat at the time and it was always screen G (for Goat).

Screen G – TIMOTHY

I actually could only complete this level with great difficulty for many years – I used to be happy if only I died twice when completing it.

Eventually, using information I’d gleaned in a Hac-Man article in The Micro User I culled all the easy levels I’d created on various tapes and 5.25″ floppies into one set – Set1.

Set1 also featured a customised set of graphics. I was very disappointed with the graphics in Repton 3. This was because they didn’t look like the abandoned diamond mine on the cover art. They were all clean and clinical and didn’t have much character. So I sat in front of Repton 2 with coloured pencils and recorded every sprite faithfully on graph paper.

My original drawings from 1986

Then I entered all the character designs into the Repton 3 editor – a process that took a very long time and was rather difficult on a fuzzy Microvitec CUB CRT monitor.

The graphics entered into Repton 3

Recently I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the Repton level play throughs posted onto YouTube by SentinelProxima, ReptonGeek and TestPilotMonkey. SentinelProxima is the YouTube channel name of Michael S. Repton, undoubtedly the world’s best Repton player.

I was curious to see how Michael would tackle Screen G, as I take an age to complete the level even now. Michael very kindly produced a long playthrough of all the screens.

The first four levels are completed here:

And the second four levels are completed here:

It was incredible to watch Michael complete my levels – all far more elegantly and with greater efficiency than I could ever manage. As I’ve said before, the effect of watching someone so good play Repton is as compulsive as watching a 147 break in snooker. It really was a pleasure to watch, and it was a truly fantastic birthday present.

Lovingly prepared new versions of Repton 1, Repton 2, Repton 3 and Repton Spectacular are available to buy for the Microsoft Windows operating system from Superior Interactive. And, for those lucky enough to use the GNU/Linux operating system, you’ll be pleased to hear all three games work reasonably well with WINE.

You can download my levels for Repton 3 for the PC version of Repton 3 from here.

As Advertised…

The Acorn World show is still on today, and one of the things you’ll be able to see there are some rather retro looking adverts for games from Retro Software.

Dave Moore always liked the Superior Software adverts of 1984-1985 vintage. In particular there were two styles he liked. The full screen blue version that advertised one game:

Vintage advert for Matthew Atkinson’s Tempest

And the “split” ad that advertised two games:

A vintage advert for two of Superior’s games

He wondered if I could do something similar in Inkscape for him to use as promotional materials at the show. The job turned out to be quite straight forward as I had all the things I needed. I had created the svg of the Retro Software logo as well as the original cover artwork for Zap! and The Krystal Connection.

Here’s my rendition of The Krystal Connection:

I like the way this turned out

And here is my “split” ad:

Not my rubbish “Zap!” artwork again…

The main thing I had to watch was keeping the colours muted, and again the Tango icon palette was my friend here. I used it to create the artwork for The Krystal Connection and I’ve become rather fond of it. The font was Bahaus – it was difficult to resist adding the Access credit card logo though!

Repton Thru Time

Back in the 1980s, when I had a BBC Model B running Acorn MOS instead of a PC running Ubuntu, I used to be a very keen Repton player.

If you haven’t heard of it, Repton is an engrossing puzzle game that also contains arcade elements and it seems to appeal equally to people of all ages. My youngest daughter Mary is 6 years old and a particularly keen player.

In 1986 the third Repton game was released and it was my Christmas present from my parents that year. Although Repton 3 wasn’t my favourite Repton game (that was always Repton 2) it did allow you to design your own screens and, even better, redesign the game characters.

I soon became a keen Repton character designer, and this obsession held when I received into Repton Infinity. But I never showed my screens to anyone else at the time. I didn’t even know another BBC user with Repton!

The Repton 3 Editor

I used to particularly look forward to summer holidays and half terms when my Dad would bring home a BBC Master 128 which meant I could flip between the editor and game by pressing the break key. This small improvement speeded up designing Repton screen sets enormously.

In the middle of last year, on the Stairway To Hell forums, Acorn enthusiast Andrew Weston announced that he was putting together a website of all the non-official Repton levels that people had designed over the years. I mentioned that I had some but they were on 5.25″ floppy disc and I had no way of transferring them to a BBC Micro.

One of the forum administrators, “Samwise”, offered very kindly to transfer my discs to Emulator disc images that I could run on my PC. And, by return of post, I had my Repton 3 levels (and many other things beside) working on BeebEm on my PC.

Not all of my levels were on the discs I sent to Samwise, but the three sets with the best graphics were (some of my better level designs will have to wait for another time).

I sent the levels off to Andrew and he added them to his website and, after that, things seemed to take on a life of their own.

First came the offer from Dave Moore of Retro Software to design graphics for their forthcoming release “Repton: The Lost Realms“.

After that the person who is undoubtedly the world’s best Repton player, “Michael S. Repton”, reviewed my levels and was very kind about them indeed. Not only that, but he produced videos of him completing some of them and added them to his YouTube channel.

My aim, back in the late 80s was to design a “Round Britain Whizz” set of Repton 3 levels, with 5 sets set in different locations around the country. I designed three of the sets.

First there was a farming set based on the farm I grew up on in Somerset.

There’s the old BP oil can we had in the shed, my goat Timmy, the farmhouse, the Dutch barn, lots of barbed wire, fixing broken bails with binder twine and chasing errant cows into the right fields.

The next set was London – based on the Palace of Westminster. I always enjoyed visiting London as a child, I loved the tube and Oxford Street and the sights.

It contains lots of clichés of London – rain, American tourists, bobbies on the beat, portraits of the Queen and mugs of tea. The fungus in this set was supposed to be “the growing unemployed”.

And finally there was Rovers – based on Coronation Street.

Rovers, running in BeebEm

Again, a lot clichés in this one – whippets, terraces, dark satanic mills, Hilda Ogden, Keir Hardie’s cap and tellies tuned to Granada.

Michael also pointed out something I didn’t know – my screens had been converted to PC Repton 3 format by Richard Hanson of Superior Interactive no less! Incidentally, if you’ve never seen them, the Superior Interactive PC versions of Repton are really quite something, and are well worth anyone’s money.

The interesting thing about all this to me is that once you make your work available to others it takes on a life of its own that’s wonderful to see.

Obviously other interests and schoolwork got in the way and I never actually completed my level sets but I’m hoping that one day I’ll get the chance to go back and finish them all off. Maybe even for “Repton: The Lost Realms”.

Repton: The Lost Realms artwork

Some time after the release of Repton 3, Paras Sidapara started work on “Repton 4” for the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron, a new Repton game with several novel features. When Repton Infinity came along the game was reworked as a new game, Cyroid:X, before being dropped completely.

Paras’s Repton 4 game was thought lost until a year ago when it was recovered from an old 5.25″ disc. Development on the game resumed, and Retro Software got permission from Superior Interactive to release the game for the BBC Micro and Acorn Electron. The project was retitled “Repton: The Lost Realms” in order to avoid confusion with the Repton 4 game in Repton Infinity and Superior’s Repton 4:EGO game for the Archimedes.

Dave Moore of Retro Software approached me and asked how I would feel about trying to come up with some cover art for the game.

I bit his hand off. Repton was a bit of an obsession to me when I was growing up, and no Christmas was complete without me receiving the latest Repton release. I spent hour upon hour playing, designing screens and designing graphics. The game itself looks like Boulderdash superficially but is a very different creature to play – it’s more of a logic puzzle and attracts large numbers of chess players.

The first thing I did was to doodle on the back on an envelope whilst I was on the phone:

The Scream

The Repton in the sketch owes more to Edvard Munch than Tim Tyler, but it showed roughly what I wanted to do. My idea was a bit like “The Secret Garden”, with Repton opening a door and finding fantastic “lost realms” inside. Doors are also a feature of the game itself, so it seemed the obvious thing to do.

I chose to produce the artwork in vector format. This was because as we planned to print everything from small tape inlays to A2 promotional posters from the artwork. This meant I had to export 600dpi bitmap images from my work, so vector artwork seemed the best way to go. I chose Inkscape as I’d heard it’s the best vector artwork package available, it runs perfectly on Ubuntu Linux and because it saves artwork as, svg, a completely free format.

The original Repton artwork was done by Ellis Ives Sprowell Partnership in Wakefield. They gave Repton a very strong brand image so all I had to do was follow their lead and not mess it up. The REPTON logo was traced in Inkscape from a scan of the advert for the original REPTON release to get it as accurate as possible. The subtitle was in the font Eras, just as it was in the original releases.

As this was my first major project in Inkscape I started simple. Just outlines and solid, non-gradient fills. I drew Repton, a couple of doors and a transporter and then sent it to Dave and Paras.

Start off simple

Paras’s wife seemed fascinated by Repton’s bum, but apart from that everyone was happy so I decided to explore flood fills and shading.

Gradient fills gave me endless trouble in Inkscape for a long time. This is because having been so used to the way Adobe Flash handled gradient fills: creating them in a dialog box. Therefore I simply assumed I was supposed to use them the same way in Inkscape and it gave me endless headaches – creating gradient fills using the dialog in Inkscape is for masochists. It wasn’t until after I created the botched artwork for “Zap!” I finally worked out the “Inkscape” way to handle flood fills – using the gradient tool and the mouse – and never had a problem with them again.

Anyway, taking about three times as long as I needed to, I finally created a shaded image. I also tried some blurring and glowing too, and was happy with the results so far. The idea is that Repton is in darkness but lit by light coming from the transporter. I had to fight a bit for this with Dave as he understandably wanted everything light and bright to make his posters and packaging eyecatching, whereas I wanted the lighting to be more moody.

I wish I had known what I was doing…

I chose cartoony black outlines for the poster, to match the original Repton artwork, and also tried hard to make my Repton character look like the Repton in the original artwork.

Next, I needed to create all the other game characters eminating from the “lost realms” doorway. Because of the need to create cover artwork of varying aspect ratios for cassette, disc, posters and in order to make life simpler I created each of the game characters in a separate Inkscape file. That meant I could put the picture together at the end. This saved me hours and hours of work in the end, as the final composition was a result of a lot of too-ing and fro-ing between Dave and myself.

The individual characters took between an hour and four hours to create, the crown taking the longest. Many of them are deliberately based on the original artwork for the Repton games – for instance the diamond, safe, boulder and cage. I did this to underline the fact that the game is part of the same family as the rest of the Repton games. I’m particularly pleased with the way the safe turned out.

Bunch of dodgy characters

The spirit gave me the most trouble as it’s a very difficult thing to portray in a “cartoon” like way. Look at the spirits in the previous Repton artwork to see how tricky they are to do justice too. In the end I based the spirit on Matthew Atkinson’s Repton 3 design. I also had trouble with the egg – my first attempt looked like “a yellow finger nail” according to Paras! Incidentally, you may notice a fly agaric – I’ve always liked toadstool fungus in Repton, but Paras and Dave vetoed the idea.

After abandoning my idea of a brick wall (like the one in my pencil sketch), I’d originally intended the artwork to be on a black background, but Dave Moore suggested a green gradient fill, which worked out very well indeed. And with that, it was finished.

The end result

The final artwork worked out very well – as a first major project in Inkscape I’m quite proud of it. It has the Repton feel that I was after and also shows off the new features of the game prominently. Dave Moore told me he asked Richard Hanson of Superior Interactive if he would have used my artwork at the time. He said “Yes”, which put me on a high for a week.

Contributing to an officially sanctioned Repton project of any kind makes you part of BBC Micro history and I’m very proud to have contributed to a real Repton game – it’s a long standing ambition fulfilled.

Repton: The Lost Realms is currently under development by Retro Software. Repton name used with permission from Superior Interactive.