Total Wormage (lost Amiga prototype build of artillery strategy game; 1994)
Total Wormage is an artillery strategy turn-based game developed for the Amiga. Created by Andy Davidson, the game would be showcased at the 1994 European Computer Trade Show. The prototype would impress Team17 staff like Martyn Brown and Debbie Bestwick, who later developed and published the game for various systems under the title of Worms.
Total Wormage's origins can be traced back to 1990, when Andy Davidson began to develop a project called Artillery, mainly as an experiment on a Casio graphing calculator. Based on 8-bit tank games, Davidson ramped up development after moving Artillery to the Amiga, with a goal to replicate the graphics and humorous nature of the Lemmings series. Davidson showcased Total Wormage at his college in Bournemouth, where it became highly popular, to the point where his form teacher banned it over its addictive nature. After seeing his game's potential, he initially attempted to enter an 1993 Amiga Format Blitz Basic competition so that he could win an Amiga 4000, with the game also taking inspiration from Scorched Earth. Originally, the game merely utilised Lemmings sprites, but they were later changed to worms in August 1993 to avoid copyright concerns. Artillery would also be renamed to Total Wormage to reflect the new direction, a play on the shooter arcade game Total Carnage.
While Davidson did not win the competition, he remained undeterred with his project. After being rejected by several publishers, Davidson took Total Wormage to the 1994 European Computer Trade Show. There, he would present the game to Team17 co-founders Martyn Brown and Debbie Bestwick. Brown and Bestwick were impressed with the addictive gameplay of Total Wormage that they almost immediately made an agreement with Davidson to develop and publish the game. Davidson estimates that the Total Wormage prototype was around 75% complete by the time he and Team 17 together began adding additional features to the game, including new weapons like airstrikes and cluster bombs, custom levels, and enhanced backgrounds. Team 17, with the help of Ocean Software, ported the final product to various consoles in late-1995, including the Amiga, Game Boy, MS-DOS, and the PlayStation, under the new title of Worms to avoid copyright issues with Total Carnage.
The game was a major commercial success for Team 17, selling over millions of copies within its first year, and selling over 5 million by 2006. This led to the Worms series being fully established, with many sequels being over released over the years. Davidson would also work on Worms 2 and Worms Armageddon, before leaving Team 17 following the release of the latter game.
According to Retronauts, at least 20 games from the Blitz Basic competition have publicly resurfaced. However, no build of Total Wormage has since seen the light of day. It is possible that a prototype may still be in possession of either Team17 or Davidson. But as of the present day, a few screenshots and video footage of Total Wormage are all that is currently accessible.
- Worms (non-existent Virtual Boy port of artillery turn-based strategy game; 1990s)
- Worms Battle Rally (lost builds of unfinished 3D kart game; 2003)
- Worms World Party (lost build of cancelled Gizmondo port of artillery turn-based strategy game; 2005)
- Retronauts detailing Total Wormage and how it is not publicly accessible. Retrieved 24 Dec '21
- Issue 77 of The One Amiga detailing Total Wormage's development and noting changes made by the time it became Worms. Retrieved 24 Dec '21
- IGN detailing Total Wormage's origins and history from 1990 onwards. Retrieved 24 Dec '21
- Beta Archive post discussing the origins of Total Wormage. Retrieved 24 Dec '21
- Retrogamer detailing the history of Total Wormage, including its inspiration from Lemmings, and how it came to be Worms. Retrieved 24 Dec '21
- Game Pressure detailing Andy Davidson's influence on the Worms series. Retrieved 24 Dec '21
- VG Facts noting Total Wormage's play on Total Carnage. Retrieved 24 Dec '21
- Worms World Party's Wormopedia page for Total Wormage. Retrieved 24 Dec '21
- Dream 17 providing screenshots of Total Wormage. Retrieved 24 Dec '21