The Final Frontier Development Diary – Part 1

Share this!

As a home computer, the Amiga was in its prime in the 1990s. Programmers were pushing it to its limits and as well as the games market, there was a thriving public domain scene. Whether it was games, application software, demos or disk magazines, there was something out there for everyone. It was a fantastic time to be a part of all of this but when the Amiga slipped into a state of decline in the mid 90s, it was obvious that we were going to have some problems keeping up with production on our own work…

The Final Frontier was a labour of love. It had to be really. Each issue took months to produce. Even though the latter issues only spanned three disks, we were incredibly efficient when it came to using disk space. Looking at the use of disk space today, it’s hard to imagine that we managed to fit a few novels worth of text, several pieces of music, and about a dozen pieces of artwork as well as a custom-coded menu system into under 2.5Mb of disk space. The compressed installation files for WordPress for this website are more than triple that in size so it’s an astonishing thought. I really dread to think what a PC version would look like today.

Development on the magazine originally started in September 1990 when I wanted to combine my two passions – Star Trek and the Amiga. After asking around and writing a few letters to people, I got together with a few guys to create the first issue.

The Final Frontier Issue 1

Even though it was only on two disks, it took a year to create. The response was worth it though and as time progressed, the mag got bigger and better as did its development team. We got to Issue 10, some of the team drifted away after our ill-fated Star Trek convention Delta Quadrant and it seemed as if The Final Frontier went the same way and nothing more was said of it.

Since we brought development to an end, a lot has happened. I’ve moved house twice. Got married. Bought my first PC (and several others since). When I first moved, storage was a problem though so as with most people, my Amiga set-up stayed at my parents house along with all my games and disks. It wasn’t until I moved a second time when I was able to retrieve all my retro gaming kit and take it with me to Wales in late 2013. I didn’t really think much of it then, but when sorting through my disks a few months later I made a discovery – several disks amongst my master copies of The Final Frontier that I had completely forgotten about.

The Final Frontier Issue 11

Despite ending at Issue 10, it seemed that we had started work on Issue 11 of The Final Frontier. I contacted my co-conspirator on the mag, Sven Harvey, to let him know about the discovery. Excited about the news, despite being so long ago, we knew that we had to find out just what was on the disks and see if it was possible to continue with the production and finish the magazine off and get it ready for release.

Living in Wales has made life a lot easier for me with all our projects. We have a bigger house and I now have a dedicated gaming / computer room so I’m able to have my A1200 permanently set up alongside my PC and retro consoles so I can get back to work on The Final Frontier as if it were yesterday. The physical set-up is in place, and I’ve managed to find all of my working disks, files that had been submitted by my former writers and readers and – most importantly – my Zip Disk with archives of a lot of work on the magazine.

The Final Frontier Zip Disk

The next step from here is to see just what state the master disks are actually in and what content we’ve already written and then get planning to see what we want to include on this blast from the past. Afterall, it will be 20 years since the last issue was released and 25 years since the first issue was released so we have a double anniversary to celebrate – we have to make this one something special!

Simon Plumbe
Editor, The Final Frontier (wow, it feels great to say that again!)

Facebook Comments

Simon Plumbe

Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian. Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee: http://ko-fi.com/simonplumbe