Eimal Hölle und zurück - (1996, PC, Digital X-citement/Black Legend Mühlheim - Ruhr):

Einmal Hölle und Zurück was a adventure game in the likes of the famous Lucasarts adventures of these days. It was based on a very popular and successful novel released by a german publisher called Bastei Lübbe. For one reason the game was extraordinary: it was running at 800 x 600 resolution with 256 colors, which was quite new and highres for this time. Remember, this was back in 1996.
The game was a funny quest of a guy who is send to hell and he tries to find a way back.

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Einmal Hölle und Zurück was the first game I've ever worked on a professional basis. I was still in high school, but I had a contract with Black Legend, which had already released a few good games for the Amiga. We have met these guys on a very popular computer fair in Cologne called the Amiga Messe. There we had shown them our Jump'n Run The Game Machine and they had been very excited and enthusiastic. They had invited us (that's the programmer and me) to Mühlheim an der Ruhr (in Germany), where there office has been. We showed them the game an entire day and they told us, that it is awesome (which it was). But they also told us, that there was no Amiga games market anymore. It was back then, when Commodore went bankrupcy because of their stupid decision to put all the money they earned from the Amiga sales to their underpowered and unpopular PC division. Within a few weeks they were bankrupcy. Then the next horror struck. The business model of Commodore was so confusing and split to pieces all over the world, that it took more than a year to get everything ready to get the buyout running. There had been a lot of interested investors, because the Amiga market was huge and successful. But after that long time, the Amiga market was plain dead and some other stupid idiots from Germany called Escom bought the name Amiga and some pieces of the hardware technology. To make a long story short, Escom managed to fail miserably and that's it for the great Amiga.
Nevertheless, the guys at Black Legend, Peter Bee and Christoph Piasecki tried to get the game published, but even the biggest publisher in germany back then, Bomico (a guy I was working for very much later), was not willing to publish it, even if it would have received ratings above 90%.
Looking back today, it was a good thing, because we would never have been able to finish The Game Machine with only two people (for further infos take a look at the Game Machine section).
So we left Mühlheim disappointed. But it turned out, that they wanted me as a graphics artist for their adventure game and I ended up with my first contract, while still being in school. They wanted me to work at their office, but I denied and said, that I wanted to finish the school (wiiiiiise decision). So I worked at home and sent the backgrounds and animations via bbs with a 14.4k modem. Wow, that's really long ago. No internet then....
They gave me a Amiga 4000 with 20Hz, a big harddrive and 4MB RAM (wow), so I could work on the "big" backgrounds. But even that was almost too much for the old hardware. But I was not common to PC hardware and there where no good tools for doing 2D pixel graphics on the PC back then (only Deluxe Paint 2, I worked with Deluxe Paint 4 on my Amiga).
I did a few very detailed backgrounds for the game and a bunch of background animations. I also reworked a lot of backgrounds which had been made by some russian artists. But they were done on a PC, used ugly palettes, no real dithering and had a really rough overall style.
I remember, that it took me almost a week or two to complete a background. But it was fun (up to a certain point).

But, as mentioned before, the game never came to completion. I didn't receive money, I didn't hear a word for a quite long time. And after a few weeks I called Christoph. He told me, that everything is fine. He had shown the game to some potential publishers a few days ago and they all really liked it. He also told me, that they are working on the soundtrack for the game at the very moment and that there will be a lot of work to do soon.
Time passed and nothing happened. So I called again, this time Peter. And quite contrary to Christoph he told me, that they didn't manage to find any publisher. Nobody was interested and the game is on hold. It sounded very much, as if the company will shut down the very next day.
As you can imagine, I was quite surprised. I called Christoph again and asked him, what's really up. Just take a guess... He knew nothing about the problems! Wow, that's cool, I thought, the two guys sit only about four feet away from each other. How can he not know?

Well, the end is obvious. They didn't find a publisher and the game was of course cancelled.
... and I lost my first job.