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The search for Beneath a Steel Sky's creator, Dave Cummins (RIP)

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:hmmm:
Revolution Games Holds ‘Beneath a Steel Sky’ Sequel for Ransom

timthumb.php

Revolution Software’s Beneath a Steel Sky is often considered to be the icon of the Adventure Game genre, and with intriguing plot, memorable characters, and witty dialogue, the title is rightly earned. Sadly, Revolution never got around to making a sequel, and instead went about making games in their Broken Sword series up until 2006.

If anyone still had hopes of a sequel nearly 20 years after Beneath a Steel Sky was released, those were certainly dashed last month when Revolution Software created a kickstarter for yet another Broken Sword titles. But then the situation developed a bit more, and just a few days ago, when all hope seemed lost, hushed whispers circulated concerning, you guessed it, Beneath a Steel Sky 2.

But there is always a catch!

Yes, nothing can be as simple as just making a game because people have wanted it for 18 years; Revolution seems rather desperate to get funding for their Broken Sword game, because they won’t make BaSS 2until we give them 1 million dollars. This isn’t even a joke, it is actually on the Broken Sword: The Serpent’s Curse‘sKickstarter Page.

In short, Revolution Software is holding BaSS 2 hostage, and have ransomed it for 1 million dollars, and what is possibly the worst part is the fact that they are doing this to raise money for a completely different game. It is quite possible they don’t care about BaSS 2 at all, and it makes one wonder if this sequel will even be worth playing.

For those still excited by the mere notion of a sequel, bear in mind that the 1 million dollars only greenlights its production, and won’t necessarily even be used on it. You may very have to help raise another few hundred-thousand dollars to push that one along, after, of course, they finish Serpent’s Curse.

It’s a rather bittersweet moment for fans of Beneath a Steel Sky. This kind of business practice is considered rather underhanded, but one must wonder how good Serpent’s Curse is expected to be if Revolution Software is going to such lengths…
 
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http://pleimert.tumblr.com/post/31471433150/freerobertfoster

How Revolution Software held my childhood ransom

Just the other day, I was thinking, “I’d better retire that Tumblr blog of mine. It just doesn’t see enough action.” Well, that may still happen, but there’s one thing on my mind that just begs to be explicated in great detail. So here’s another spasm of activity, just so I have enough breathing room to exhale a sigh of remorseful hatred upon you all, dear readers.

Let me tell you the story of an impressionable youth (me) and his love for a very special, at the time not-well-known, adventure game. No, this time it’s not Space Quest. It’s that other game I always rave about, Beneath a Steel Sky.

tumblr_maaxbuvfXn1qdxnbm.jpg


Whoops, spoilers.

You may remember the creators of the game, Revolution Software, because they went on to create the very successful (but not, in my opinion, as enjoyable) game series, Broken Sword. Let me preface all of the following by saying, I really have nothing against Broken Sword … that is, the first game. The second one, whilst enjoyable, was a by-the-numbers linear cash-in; the third was a Tomb Raider clone disguised as a Broken Sword sequel; and the fourth one I haven’t played because the other two sequels were so fucking disappointing.

Now Revolution Software is begging for your money, just as I was begging for yours a while back, by doing a Kickstarter to create fifth instalment of their prized cash cow.

Now, there are many Broken Sword fans. In fact, many more than there are Beneath a Steel Sky fans. And, by golly, they deserve another Broken Sword game. I could just ignore this and let it slide into oblivion, as I have done so far … if it wasn’t because Revolution seemingly felt compelled to drag my ass into a fight I don’t want to have to fight. They leave me no choice, however.

Here’s the reason my piss is currently at boiling temperature: As part of the so-called “stretch goals”, Revolution promises to create Beneath a Steel Sky 2 … IF they reach $1 million.

Edit: I initially misquoted the stretch goals as being $2 million. This post has been edited to reflect actual truth.

Before I tell you why this is so fucking infuriating, let’s go back briefly to the story of the impressionable teen: I was, as you may have guessed, a major fan of Beneath a Steel Sky. When it was released in 1994, I played it obsessively, enjoying every inch of its sarcastic, downtrodden, cynical cyberpunk pixel perfection. It was, and still is, one of the best adventure games I have ever played. I rank it right up there with Space Quest, the game series I’m known for fellating on a regular basis, and for those of you who are familiar with my dubious legacy, you know how much that means.

It even got to the point where I decided to make a fan site for Beneath a Steel Sky back in, I think, 1996 or 1997. I contacted Revolution Software and got in touch with president Charles Cecil and programmer Tony Warriner, who also – in a move they must be regretting by now – put me in touch with the designer of Beneath a Steel Sky, a certain Mr. David Cummins, who left Revolution under mysterious circumstances immediately following the game’s release.

The Revolution lads were courteous to a fault and endured my barrage of questions with humor and levity, even when the subject matter was a game they obviously hated working on. Yes, Beneath a Steel Sky was, by all accounts, a living hell for Revolution to develop. When I asked Tony Warriner what the daily routine for a Revolution programmer during BASS development was like, he dryly replied, “Contemplating mass suicide.”

The game was overly ambitious to begin with, and the more I talked with Dave Cummins, the more it became obvious that the team didn’t see eye-to-eye with him at all. The plot and story of the game ended up being changed considerably from his original design (by Charles Cecil), shortening it considerably, and getting rid of some elements that other members of the team felt were barbs directed at them personally. I’m so not joking. Small wonder, then, that the game turned out to be as fantastic as it did.

Back then, I made a deal with Mr. Cummins that, as I built my BASS fan site, I would write up the story of the first game in novel form (as I had done with the first Space Quest game, The Sarien Encounter, some years prior). And he would – this is the part that really made me, forgive the expression, rock hard – write up his proposed plot to Beneath a Steel Sky’s sequel that would, sadly, never get made because Revolution hated his guts. (Also part of the deal was that he would supply me with the original soundtrack he wrote for the game, before it was, and I paraphrase, butchered by some dork who translated it into General MIDI.)

Sadly, the website never materialized and I lost contact with Cummins after a hard drive crash. Revolution, apparently realizing their mistake, never responded to my repeated requests for reestablishing contact with Cummins. He has slipped completely off my radar and, despite my best efforts, I have never found him again.

So you know how much Beneath a Steel Sky means to me and how much I have wanted to see the story continue, ever since I was an impressionable 14-17 year old boy. So why aren’t I jumping up and down enthusiastically, now that Charles Cecil and his intrepid band are promising to bring the cyber back if they hit the $1 million stretch mark?

Because this is tantamount to holding my childhood ransom. I have no interest in another Broken Sword game. In my not so humble opinion, Broken Sword has been beaten into the ground, exhumed, reburied and polished off so many times, it’s starting to smell like a coal miner’s feet after a particularly long summer day. I played the iPhone version, I played the Game Boy version, and I even gave the “Director’s Cut” a chance by purchasing it for my Wii – all of which only confirmed my suspicion that, somehow, shit’s gone to Cecil’s head.

tumblr_maaxf1Lss21qdxnbm.png


Foster’s shocked, and you should be, too.

But all of this I could really care less about, if it wasn’t for the fact that they’re now dangling the carrot of returning to Union City under my nose … IF they get a chance to beat their dead horse one more time.

And here’s what really pisses me off: it’s not going to be a true Beneath a Steel Sky sequel. It’s going to be Charles Cecil’s version of a Beneath a Steel Sky sequel. Charles Cecil, who somehow went from being a nice, humble guy to a guy who couldn’t get his name in a big enough typeface for the intro credits to Broken Sword: Director’s Cut.

Here’s what I want to happen: Either Revolution get their shit together and make a Kickstarter to make a proper Beneath a Steel Sky 2 – because I happen to know there IS a proper sequel out there somewhere in David Cummins’ head – or they pull this ridiculous stunt from their Broken Sword stretch goals. In the meantime, I encourage everyone who backed this venture to withdraw their money until Revolution and Cecil learn to play nice.

Please, look beyond what I have said regarding my PERSONAL OPINIONS about Broken Sword. I know there are many of you who love the games and would die to see George Stobbart and his girlfriend Nico traipse around some otherworldly locale and annoy native inhabitants. You deserve that game. This is not about me preferring one game to another. This is about Revolution Software pissing down our necks because they want more money in the bank and Charles Cecil wanting more recognition for something he didn’t create.

I think it’s despicable, and if I had given any money to the Broken Sword Kickstarter, I would have withdrawn them instantly. I hope you will, too.
 
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kaizoku

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At first I was like
wtf am I reading

he said just the opposite here http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/165500047/broken-sword-the-serpents-curse-adventure/posts/306607

if they reach $1M they will greenlight BASS2, but even if they don't reach it, that doesn't mean they won't give it a go somewhere in time


But the I went like
wtf am I reading

he said just the opposite here http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/165500047/broken-sword-the-serpents-curse-adventure/posts/306607

if they reach $1M they will greenlight BASS2, but even if they don't reach it, that doesn't mean they won't give it a go somewhere in time


David Cummins...
left Revolution under mysterious circumstances...
witty and edgy bastard (potential codexer)...
longer version of the game...
his own version of the soundtrack...
write up his proposed plot to Beneath a Steel Sky’s sequel...

:bounce: :dance: :what: : x


And then I finally went with

Sadly, the website never materialized and I lost contact with Cummins after a hard drive crash. Revolution, apparently realizing their mistake, never responded to my repeated requests for reestablishing contact with Cummins. He has slipped completely off my radar and, despite my best efforts, I have never found him again.
:notsureifserious:

How the hell can he simply lose contact? He may have lost his HDD, but not his email account.

Also, Revolution never said anything about $2M.



fake edit:

Furthemore David Cummins didn't left after BASS (1994). He worked on BS1 (1996) and BS2 (1997). http://pc.mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/developerId,6901/
I think that guy is trollin' and possibly very butthurt about something else.

We need a Sherlock to solve this case.
 
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Hey there. I wrote the butthurt blog post. Thanks for taking the time to comment (and I love the gifs; I'm a sucker for memes).

You're right; Dave Cummins didn't leave before doing some work on Broken Sword 1, and he had some marginal input on Broken Sword 2. That said, he was still pressured into leaving and the chemistry between him and Cecil was battered beyond repair after BASS.

I did lose his contact information and was unable to retrieve it, despite my best efforts. You have to remember, this was back in 1997 (if memory serves correctly) and, sadly, I wasn't very good at backing up data. We didn't have cloud services or Gmail back then, so when my hard drive died, it took all my e-mails and contact informations with it. I tried contacting Charles Cecil and Tony Warriner to get Cummins' e-mail again and they ignored me.

For what it's worth, I'm not trolling. I may be an incurable BASS fanboy, but I am not making this shit up. These are the facts as I remember them from my e-mail conversations with Cecil, Warriner and Cummins, which you're sadly right I have no way of backing up currently. If I could get back in touch with Cummins, he could back up my statements. I'd welcome any opportunity to regain that contact.

As things are, you have every right to be distrustful, and in your position I would be, too. That doesn't change the fact that what Revolution is doing with their stretch goals is despicable to the point of being insulting.
 

kaizoku

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http://simplebrokensword.free.fr/article02.html
i8wUv.jpg

1. James Long - main implementing programmer on Broken Sword 1 and 2. James is now at Gremlin Interactive.
2. Steve Oades - lead graphic artist, with the company since Lure of the Temptress. Steve was the main guy responsible for drawing George and Nico.
3. Paul Porter - main technical programmer, responsible for the special effects and a lot of very excellent technical stuff. He left to take on a major role at Gremlin Interactive.
4. David Sykes - one of the founding directors and responsible for teshnical support and tools. Still at Revolution.
5. Andi Forster - animator. Andi worked on a lot of the little movements you see when George interacts with anything.
6. Dave Cummins - the lead script writer, creator of the characters and design. He left at the start of In Cold Blood.
7. Linda Smith - she was an animator, not anymore at Revolution.
8. Jane Stroud - coloured all the animation of characters. She left after Sword 2 and works in Wakefield now.
9. "??? No... can't remember his name for sure. It might have been Dave. He left after Sword 1."
10. Jonathan Howard - script writer. Brought in half way through Sword to help Dave Cummins out. Still at Revolution, but no longer involved with scripts.
11. Mike Merren - animator who helped Steve Oades with the main character animation.
12. Charles Cecil - managing director, one of the founders of Revolution Software.
13. Tony Warriner - director and programmer, co-founded the company.
14. Noirin Carmody - adminstration, support and marketing. She is married to Charles.
15. David Swift - computer enhancement of painted backgrounds. The paintings were produced by a guy in Ireland who had worked for Bluth Studios. David went off to Scandinavia.
16. Steve Ince - originally an artist on Steel Sky, became the producer of Sword 1 and 2. Still at Revolution.

So it's basically what has already been told here.
Cummins was basically the architect of it all.

We now have a face to the man. Well a barely visible black and white outdated face.
 

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That guy is too young to be him.
 
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I'm off to bed now, so I won't be replying anymore for tonight, but I'll be watching this thread closely (got it set up to send me an e-mail for any new replies).

If you guys are successful in finding Mr. Cummins, I would of course be very interested to get back in touch with him. I have tried Google searching and trolling various social networks, including Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, for the man, and there are plenty of Dave Cummins' to choose from, but if he's one of them, he's not much for flaunting his affiliation with Steel Sky.

I'll assist in any way I can. Tracking him down and reestablishing contact would the fulfillment of a decades-long dream to me.
 

FeelTheRads

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I don't get what's your problem. It's a stretch goal. And they repeatedly said that BASS2 is not out of the question even if they don't reach that goal which is 1, not 2 million. If they get it, it just means that they'll start working on it sooner.

In conclusion: Butthurt and liar.
 

kaizoku

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Hey there. I wrote the butthurt blog post. Thanks for taking the time to comment (and I love the gifs; I'm a sucker for memes).

You're right; Dave Cummins didn't leave before doing some work on Broken Sword 1, and he had some marginal input on Broken Sword 2. That said, he was still pressured into leaving and the chemistry between him and Cecil was battered beyond repair after BASS.

I did lose his contact information and was unable to retrieve it, despite my best efforts. You have to remember, this was back in 1997 (if memory serves correctly) and, sadly, I wasn't very good at backing up data. We didn't have cloud services or Gmail back then, so when my hard drive died, it took all my e-mails and contact informations with it. I tried contacting Charles Cecil and Tony Warriner to get Cummins' e-mail again and they ignored me.

For what it's worth, I'm not trolling. I may be an incurable BASS fanboy, but I am not making this shit up. These are the facts as I remember them from my e-mail conversations with Cecil, Warriner and Cummins, which you're sadly right I have no way of backing up currently. If I could get back in touch with Cummins, he could back up my statements. I'd welcome any opportunity to regain that contact.

As things are, you have every right to be distrustful, and in your position I would be, too. That doesn't change the fact that what Revolution is doing with their stretch goals is despicable to the point of being insulting.

My point was, how can you had been exchanging emails with him and not remember his email.
Furthermore emails have a recipient and sender fields. If he replied to you, then you would have his email. You would simply need to login to the webmail again and open an email.


Your story is a bit far fetched... I'd give it a 50/50 of it being true.

If that is indeed true, what pisses me off even more is that potential treasures (BASS1 OST and BASS2 plot) have been lost beyond space and time.
 

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kaizoku How old are you, man? Do know what the POP3 mail protocol is?

People didn't use "webmail" in the 90's.
 
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I don't get what's your problem. It's a stretch goal. And they repeatedly said that BASS2 is not out of the question even if they don't reach that goal which is 1, not 2 million. If they get it, it just means that they'll start working on it sooner.

In conclusion: Butthurt and liar.

I don't get the anger either. These games take time and a lot of resources to complete. They're just doing what they can to best please their fans.
 

kaizoku

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That guy is too young to be him.
I don't think he looks young. He's just a bit pale. Check out the lady, she's in her 40s. So he is likely older.

kaizoku How old are you, man? Do know what the POP3 mail protocol is?

People didn't use "webmail" in the 90's.
I only had net access in 1999/2000.

Given that he sent his emails around 97... and the first webmail services appeared that time also... it's a tough call.
But wouldn't the emails stay stored at the email server anyway?
 

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But wouldn't the emails stay stored at the email server anyway?

Nope. The mail server (typically your ISP would provide one) would push any new email to your client whenever you connected, without saving a copy. Storage space was limited back then so you had a limited buffer on the server before incoming mails would start to bounce.
 

FeelTheRads

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But they didn't reply to his email, the bastards!

Seriously, though, I guess his complaint that it wouldn't be a true BASS is valid, but calling this blackmail is just simply retarded and an outright lie. And asking people to stop donating and cancel their pledges is what's despicable. Fuck you, I don't give a shit about your problems with Revolution. I'm not gonna base my decision on your likes and dislikes.
 
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Cipher is right. We had a ridiculously low space limit with our ISP. So when my HD died, I was like Edward Norton at the beginning of Fight Club, watching what used to be his apartment lie in ruins, almost catatonic.

Anyway. Whether you believe my story about e-mailing Cummins or not is, I think, irrelevant to the big picture. I'd be suspicious if I were you, too, and since I have no way of proving it's true at current time of writing, I'm not going to bicker about it. Believe it if you choose, or don't.

I DO think it's blackmail. It's like saying you can have your favorite food if you swallow this oversized dung beetle first. Again, that is personal opinion, not established fact. That's why I wrote a blog post with my personal opinion and stories from memory, not an article or factually based editorial. If you love Broken Sword and want to see it happen, by all means, pledge away. Dangling a Steel Sky sequel as a carrot, in my opinion, is a low move, and one Revolution have tried before. Cecil coming out and saying "we might do Steel Sky 2 anyway" is just damage control, as far as I can see. I am outraged and I'm not the only one.
 

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Cipher is right. We had a ridiculously low space limit with our ISP. So when my HD died, I was like Edward Norton at the beginning of Fight Club, watching what used to be his apartment lie in ruins, almost catatonic.

Anyway. Whether you believe my story about e-mailing Cummins or not is, I think, irrelevant to the big picture. I'd be suspicious if I were you, too, and since I have no way of proving it's true at current time of writing, I'm not going to bicker about it. Believe it if you choose, or don't.

I DO think it's blackmail. It's like saying you can have your favorite food if you swallow this oversized dung beetle first. Again, that is personal opinion, not established fact. That's why I wrote a blog post with my personal opinion and stories from memory, not an article or factually based editorial. If you love Broken Sword and want to see it happen, by all means, pledge away. Dangling a Steel Sky sequel as a carrot, in my opinion, is a low move, and one Revolution have tried before. Cecil coming out and saying "we might do Steel Sky 2 anyway" is just damage control, as far as I can see. I am outraged and I'm not the only one.

I'm Infinitron, Troels. You know me. You just don't know it. ;) Cipher is my rank.

Anyway, it sounds to me like you're mostly angry at Revolution Software for "hiding" Dave Cummins from you and for abandoning his vision. After all, didn't Jane Jensen do kind of the same thing with her multi-game Kickstarter?

Also, what's the difference between holding an entire game "for ransom" and holding expanded content "for ransom"? Is it really that critical?
 
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I'm Infinitron, Troels. You know me. You just don't know it. ;) Cipher is my rank.

Anyway, it sounds to me like you're mostly angry at Revolution Software for "hiding" Dave Cummins from you. After all, didn't Jane Jensen do kind of the same thing with her multi-game Kickstarter?

Also, what's the difference between holding an entire game for ransom and holding expanded content for ransom? Is it really that critical?

Sorry, man. Early morning post -- not entirely awake when I wrote that. ;) Nice to (re-)meet you, Infinitron.

I was a bit miffed that Revolution didn't get back in touch with me, but that was years and years ago. I have tried several different times. Maybe they lost his contact information; maybe they just got busy; maybe they (as I half-jokingly said earlier) realized what a mistake it was to hand out his e-mail address in the first place. I'm not sure.

Jane's multi-game Kickstarter was a different affair. She didn't shove a potential Gabriel Knight sequel in there on the condition that she be allowed to do a different game first. That's what Revolution are doing. And I'd hardly call a sequel to a completely different game "expanded content." ;)

I'm not angry with Revolution or Charles Cecil -- they have been very nice to me in the past, before they started ignoring me (which they are well within their right to do). I am angry with what they're doing to one of my favorite games, Beneath a Steel Sky. I have my own suspicions as to why they are suddenly so eager to do Steel Sky 2, but that's in the "wild speculation" category -- and contrary to what people seem to think of me in here, I don't want to engage in that sort of thing publicly. ;)
 

FeelTheRads

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Question is, are you gonna edit the lie about 2 million from your blog? Or you think it will carry more weight and impress more people if you lie?
 

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Feel free to speculate! I'd like to know what you think.

BTW, admins, I vouch for Troels, you can take him out of newbie moderation.
 
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Question is, are you gonna edit the lie about 2 million from your blog? Or you think it will carry more weight and impress more people if you lie?

Yes, I will. It was not my intention to lie about it. But that did teach me a valuable lesson about looking things up before hitting Post. Again, had this been an article or editorial, I would have been more prudent about fact checking. This was a case of me seeing red and firing off a lengthy rant based on memory. There's bound to be a few synaptic misfires in a process such as that.

That still doesn't mean I made all the stuff up about e-mailing Dave Cummins, though. ;)

How goes the detective work? I did another search yesterday around Google, various local directories in the U.K., high-profile social media outlets and such, but no luck. Well, plenty of Dave Cummins', but I'm not about to start carpet bombing them all with "did you design my favorite cyberpunk adventure game?". (I did that once. You'd be surprised how many don't like that kind of attention.)
 
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Feel free to speculate! I'd like to know what you think.

I wouldn't be comfortable doing that, since I don't want to paint an ugly picture of someone who hasn't had the chance to defend themselves. It'd be like spreading rumors in grade school that "the fat kid is also gay," and then it turns out his mom bought him the pink shorts and forced him to wear them in public.
 
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After BS3 and BS4 I kind of lost confidence in Cecil. His interviews and premise for BS5 doesn't seem to change the mistakes at all, the only good think is that he is coming back to 2d.

I don't know, having the mastermind leaving the boat during BS2 makes a whole lot of sense. This was discussed in the Broken Sword kickstarter thread, I would open up my wallet far and wide if I knew the original writers were on board. As it is I will wait for the game to be released before giving it a chance. Hell, I wouldn't even be optimistic with fears that they could ruin a BASS 2.
 

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Feel free to speculate! I'd like to know what you think.

BTW, admins, I vouch for Troels, you can take him out of newbie moderation.

We can't do anything about the moderation queue. Just FYI.
 

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