As a result of my work with Traveller’s Tales on their original logo (critter with long stripy ears) I met Steve Riding, a producer with Liverpool-based games publisher Psygnosis. In a most casual "meeting" at a pub in Southport, UK, Riding commissioned me to devise a fantasy style game with synopsis and characters of my own choosing. The result was SOS Dark Planet. From the outset my understanding was that this game would be aimed at an age group from 7 to 15.
Basically, the plan was for a planet hopping rescue mission, in which our hero Stan and his sidekick Liv venture across space in their craft, refuelling on bizarre and dangerous planets and encountering strange creatures, some helpful and some not! Each populated planet was classed as a level and was intended to have an individual look and eco system.
These are some concept drawings from the many I produced:
Not long after my presentation of the synopsis and portfolio the game was passed by Psygnosis to Hammerhead game developers. You can imagine my disappointment when I was told that the age group for this game had been changed to an older one, and that most of my work had become redundant.
My characters Stan (Stanley) and Liv (Livingston) eventually, with changes, became the central figures in a different project – a children’s space adventure novel jointly devised by Marco Palmer and myself:
'A VIEW TO SEPTO CITY' - COVER ART FOR 'THE FANTASTIC INTERGALACTIC ADVENTURES OF STANLEY & LIVINGSTON'
If you want to have a peek inside the book, then click here to head over to Amazon.
An uncomfortable metamorphosis took place as SOS Dark Planet became Shadow Master, a "shoot ‘em up" with very little real purpose in my view. Nevertheless, I did my best to redesign the imagery; the characters, the landscapes and the machinery.
Again I am showing here, some pencil sketches and the colour illustration used on the US box cover:
Leaving the game itself aside, my graphics were well received. Here are a couple of reviews from video gaming website GameSpot:
"Shadow Master is a first-person action-shooter that has received a lot of attention because it was designed using artwork and concepts developed by fantasy illustrator Rodney Matthews. Matthews is best known for his work on album covers during the 1970s, with Thin Lizzy, Scorpions, and everyone’s favourite “supergroup” Asia, among his patrons. His unique style lends itself well to a fantasy game, and to its credit, Shadow Master makes excellent use of Matthews’ vision and style."
The graphics have a very unique look and were inspired by the works of fantasy artist, Rodney Matthews. The resulting landscapes and creatures differ from anything you’ve seen before. These incredibly bizarre worlds provide the backdrop and set the tone for the entire game.
So much for Shadow Master!
Regarding SOS Dark Planet, my synopsis for this had an interesting twist at the final level of the game, but sadly no one will get to know about it unless a games developer comes along with a need for such a game. The original concept and visuals are up for grabs - subject to copyright purchase!
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