UK Games Industry: Beyond Software

Branding Beyond

Work commenced on branding the new company. Beyond ended up with a very strong and iconic packaging design and corporate logo thanks to the efforts of a design agency called Red Pencil.

“I can remember having endless meetings with a guy called Clive who worked for Red Pencil as to the way forward with the packaging” says Terry, “and we maybe took on only 10% of their ideas in the end”.

One element that the design agency was very keen on was a robot with a Viking-style helmet and the Beyond rising sun logo on its chest. Terry Pratt was resistant, “… but after a while we couldn’t say no anymore so that’s how the robot design appeared on all of our packaging.”

Simon Goodwin remembers not being impressed with the robot.

“Most of us hated it. As I recall, only Bill Delaney really liked it. I thought the robot devalued the label.”

Like it or not, the robot became part of the highly recognisable Beyond ‘look’, along with the striking orange sun logo. The distinctive yellow cardboard slip-cases were introduced soon after the first handful of releases to accommodate the larger manuals, novellas and keyboard overlays that were yet to come.

Early Titles

With the initial team in place, work continued on the first few releases, including Spectrum arcade games ‘Spellbound’ and ‘Space Station Zebra’ (both written by Pat Norris) and Paul Jay’s Commodore 64 arcade game ‘Goodness Gracious’. First published in a US computer magazine called Softside in late 1980, strategy games Kriegspiel II (published by Beyond as ‘Kriegspiel’) and ‘Up Periscope’ were re-written for the short-lived Dragon 32 computer by the original author Ron Potkin. Finally, Simon Goodwin’s own 48k Atari game ‘S.S. Achilles’, co-written with David Muncer rounded off Beyond’s early release schedule.

Few of those early titles gave any real indication of Beyond’s true potential as a games publisher, being a mixed bag in regards to quality and type. However, it wasn’t long before all of that was to change for the better.

Psytron

The first title that Simon Goodwin looked at in his role as Software Manager was ‘Psytron’, written for the 48k Spectrum by Engineering graduates Paul Voysey and Tayo Olowu and later converted to the Commodore 64. ‘Psytron’ was a complex sci-fi strategy game played over a number of levels, with the first level effectively a training ground for learning the skills required to survive throughout the remainder of the game.

“I thought Psytron was excellent”, remembers Simon. “It was very much what I believed Beyond should be publishing. The rest of the team liked it too”, as Terry Pratt confirms.

“Psytron did really well for us. It was up there with The Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge. Those three titles were very important in our first year or so, and I remember going to the industry awards event in ’84 and doing astonishingly well.”

To help promote the game, a competition entry form was included in the box that enabled players to record their best scores across the various levels. The best entry received before the closing date of 30th November 1984 would win a Sinclair QL computer. The eventual winner was Michael Wood from Exeter, who survived for an hour on the final level.

Paul Voysey and Tayo Olowu went on to create a second game for Beyond called ‘Psi Warrior’ on the Commodore 64, which was more action orientated.

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