August 1991

Core Design

Core Design

Design (Atari ST, Commodore Amiga)

My involvement in Thunderhawk came about when the astonishingly talented duo of Mark ‘Mac’ Avory and Sean ‘Gilbert the Goat’ Dunlevy arrived at Core with vast amounts of 3D knowledge, code and a desire to do something amazing. Mac had always wanted to create a helicopter sim and was in the process of doing just that when I was assigned to the project. It was clear that Mac’s engine was revolutionary for its time and my role in the design was to assist in capitalising on that.

At the time that Thunderhawk was being developed, there were two types of helicopter game. Firstly there were the 3D simulations that were highly technical, had some 30 odd controls to master and saw the player tracking small dots along a wobbly horizon for hours and then there were sprite-based arcade games that were good fun but lacking in depth. Where Thunderhawk sat was right in the middle – utilising Mac’s 3D engine to depict a realistic world of SAM sites, tanks and planes in surprising detail for the time but featuring missions that began right in the thick of the action, eliminating those hours of fiddling around trying to find a target.

Multiple incoming targets

What resulted was a neat, short project to work on that resulted in one of Core’s early successes as a publisher. In addition to campaign and mission design, it was my first taste of script writing – all sixty mission briefings, which in the days before decent word processors felt like fifty-nine mission briefings too many…