Weird Dreams was the brainchild of three people – Herman Serrano, Tony King and James Hutchby. Herman’s talent as a graphic artist was used extensively by TelecomSoft for box artwork and title screens on many of the 16-bit Rainbird and Firebird games. Creating in-game graphics was the next logical step, and Weird Dreams was the result! James Hutchby was the programmer on The OCP Art Studio, which one of the first ever Rainbird titles published.
Weird Dreams was published in the UK by Microprose (using the Rainbird label) after they purchased Rainbird and Firebird from British Telecom in May 1989. Weird Dreams was available for the Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, IBM PC and the Commodore 64 (tape and disk). John Jones-Steele wrote the PC conversion. The C64 version was written by Delvin Sorrell, with graphics by Steve Hall. The novella included in the box was written by Rupert Goodwins, and is available to download.
Herman Serrano’s talent as an artist in both the real world and the digital realm meant that a huge amount of preliminary work was completed by him for both the in-game graphics and the box artwork. You can see a small number of concept sketches for the box artwork and the game itself below.
Being honest, Weird Dreams was not a very enjoyable game to play-test. It was very difficult to complete, mostly due to the pixel-precision timing that was required to complete each stage. Loud swearing and the throwing of joysticks was in abundance during it's development phase! The testers felt that the game was too hard in places - a sentiment I still agree with over eighteen years after it's release!
The game also had mixed reviews from the UK computer magazines of the day. The game was a little too strange and a little too hard to play, and it didn't sell as well as it was hoped. The amount of press it received prior to release was more positive than the reviews afterwards. I seem to remember that Computer and Video Games magazine were given a sneak preview of the unfinished game, and they went ahead and published it as a full review in the next issue - and a very negative one at that!
The C64 conversion was handled by Daisysoft. Programmed by Delvin Sorrell, the graphics were drawn by Steve Hill. Delvin had written a sprite editor for the C64 which allowed for overlaid sprites - some being low-res with colour, with others in mono with high resolution sprites placed on top. It made creating the graphics a little fiddly, but the end result was more detailed sprites than you would normally get on the C64.
Herman's next project was going to be Atomic Lunch, a slightly more arcade driven game but still with an odd slant to it. I don't believe it was ever officially signed up with Rainbird, but after the sale of TelecomSoft to Microprose and the release of Weird Dreams, that game design vanished and was never seen or heard of again.
Who's the daddy?
At one point during its development there was a internal dispute over who contributed to the Weird Dreams game design. In the end, the credits (co-conception and co-design) were shared between Herman Serrano, Tony King and James Hutchby although if you look at the Amiga disk, it manages to omit Tony King's credit entirely!