What most people do not know is that Commodore used to actually be in the Software publishing Business for quite a long time (in the early days) mostly before I joined Commodore Business Machines UK Ltd in June 1983. In October 1983 author John Worsley did 40 diamond talismans and one larger ‘The Great Wight Eye’ all over the Isle of Wight. After they were all hidden he released a book which contained clues to the locations of the diamonds. These could be found by anyone who read the book and any diamonds found allowed the finder to receive royalties in the books sales. Commodore released a game based on the book and the idea of treasure hunting in 1984. The story concerned a cabin boy called Mark who sailed with smugglers in 1763 but after landing on the Isle of Wight, they are ambushed by the Revenue Service for the 40 diamonds and the large talisman the smugglers had.
In the confusion Mark managed to flee with the diamonds but was caught and killed. His spirit realising the evil in these diamonds he scattered them over the island. Over the years people have travelled far and wide to the island but are unable to unravel it’s secrets. You are a treasure Hunter and you have arrived on the island to search for the diamonds. You start your adventure on the actual island with a part of the island shown from above at an elevated angle. The screen scrolls as you move around looking for the 21 buildings that contain the diamonds. As you walk around there are many dead spirits roaming the island and if you touch one then part of your PSI bar decreases. If the bar is empty then it is game over.
Commodore published and developed software for its computer systems including: A Bee C’s, Arctic Shipwreck, Blueprint, Clowns, International Soccer, Dancing Monster, Jack Attack, Jupiter Lander, Lazarian, Le Mans, Omega Race, Pinball Spectacular, Radar Rat Race, Rally Speedway, Gorf
Any building you come across you can enter. The game now turns into a platform game with the whole level shown on the screen. You must avoid the spirits once again as you attempt to retrieve the diamonds placed on various platforms. Falling from a height will also lose you PSI energy. Any diamonds collected increases your PSI but will also reveal a letter at the top of the screen as well as the occasional rune. Once all diamonds are collected you will reveal a message and the secret meaning of the runes for ‘The Great Wight Eye’. My story starts with the decision made by the then President of Commodore International Tom Rattigan to close the UK manufacturing facility which was in Corby Northamptonshire where we had bought a 10 acre site on which we had constructed a purpose built assembly plant and distribution warehouse. We had at one time approximately 560 employees there. I was made responsible for selling off all the unwanted inventory which included many thousands of pieces of software, for all formats that we were selling at that time, Vic 20 – C64 – Plus 4 – C128 etc.
Included in that inventory was several thousand brand new “Spirit of the Stones” (see above) It turned out that this was a promotional deal struck between the Developer/Commodore and the Isle of Wight Tourist Board, where the game was to be sold at full price (I can only estimate here what that would have been way back then, but my instinct says probably £14.99 a unit) and The Isle of Wight Tourist Board were to receive £5.00 a unit as a Royalty payment. (I know that is the correct figure originally agreed) When I came to sell the several thousand copies we had in Inventory, the best offer I had for them was £3.00 unit, to take them all. So I contacted the Isle of Wight Tourist Board and told them what was happening, we were closing down our facility and all stock of non-current items had to go. I offered them £1 per unit Royalty on the remaining stock to allow me to clear them out, however they point blank refused. They would only accept the original Royalty agreed of £5.00 per unit, come what may.
They refused to believe me when I said we could not take such a loss to sell at £3.00 unit and pay them £5.00 so I was left no choice, but to tell them I would have all of the inventory destroyed, which meant “No sale – No Royalty payable”. So I hired a Mechanical Digger, a Lawyer and 2 independents as witnesses, who watched whilst in a secret location we dug a giant hole, and proceeded to bury these several thousand pieces of Spirit of the Stones software, where it remains to this day. The next day, I delivered the signed affidavit to an incredulous (and highly embarrassed) Isle of Wight Tourist Board proving we had destroyed the software and thereby relieving us of any outstanding Royalty liability.
Another “Commodore Chronicle” I hope you enjoy.
David J. Pleasance