At E3 2001, a disc of the games from the best independent Dreamcast developers called DC Tonic was given out to attendees of the show. An early demo of Cool Herders was among those games. The quality of the games on the DCTonic disc were so impressive, that the disc was reportedly mistaken as an official Dreamcast demo disc.
The Cool Herders Demo was essentially a tech demo to show off what KOS and a couple of people could do with three weeks of work. The original demo contains artwork by Brendan Wiese and programming by Mike Brent, and was distributed on the DC Tonic CD in 2001.
This version had a single stage, and the 'classic' herder in four colors. There was no scoring or time limit, and no powerups. The background was static and the stage ended when all sheep were collected. It had the classic title page of the herder chasing a happy sheep. The game could not detect controllers in real time and so a 'rescan' option was needed when controllers were added or removed. There was a single tune used throughout, and a win jingle to go with it. All music is played back in S3M format. This version does not implement any AI for the computer players.
This version has a 2001 copyright date and a link to mtsdhq.com (now taken over by squatters). It may be freely distributed but not sold. The code is licensed GPL (though the art and music are not), and is available on the DC Tonic CD.
In 2002 the demo was briefly revisited. Programmer-drawn powerups were added, changing the play style, along with other very minor tweaks. The game was released standalone without the need for DC Tonic. No other changes were made.
This version has a 2001 copyright date and a link to tursi.yiffco.com (also obsolete). It may be freely distributed but not sold.
A scaled down demo was released for HarmlessLion, Scenedicate2 and Sandman Vol 1. This removes story mode and has different multiplayer levels available. Each version has a different set of players and stages available. The HarmlessLion version, which includes New Zealand, is free for distribution but not for sale. The other versions, including the Disco and Toy Factory levels respectively, may only be distributed with their respective discs.
The commercial release is very nearly a complete rewrite of the original demo code. It contains almost entirely new artwork, a complete new soundtrack, better balancing, true AI, many more stages, tons of game options, unlockable secrets, multi- and single-player modes, challenge stages, and more. The tracker music is completely replaced with OGG playback. Scores and level timers were also added.
The commercial release is handled by GOAT Store Publishing, and is available commercially from The GOAT Store directly. It was previously also available at Lik Sang, although they appear to have sold out. The title page now shows Zeus and his sheep Chrys, with Iskur looming in the background. The copyright date is 2005 and links to www.harmlesslion.com. This version is commercial and may not be duplicated or distributed without written permission from HarmlessLion or GOAT Store Publishing.
Cool Herders came together only through the hard work and skills of a number of people:
Mike 'Tursi' Brent wrote the original code as well as the final release. He managed the project, worked on the design with Binky, and even provided some of the in-game art and cleanup.
Brendan 'Binky' Weise came up with the game concept for the original DC Tonic, and provided all the artwork for that release. For the commercial release, he provided the vast majority of the artwork and aided in the direction of the artists.
Dan Potter ported the original DC Tonic code of Cool Herders to a later version of KOS, and his work served as a foundation for the commercial release.
Doug 'Tenzu' Ritchie composed the game soundtrack, drawing on his extensive talent and experience to produce 13 commercial tunes in a relatively short timeframe.
Foxx Crump, Raye Daniels, Maurizio 'Marrisoft' Terzo, and Erin 'Silvyr' Christie all contributed substantially to the art process, providing the level select, character select, player sprites, and story mode artwork.
Negroponte J 'Paul' Rabit wrote the splashy end credits sequence for the game, although the background movement had to be slowed down due to people getting dizzy.
Jeff Minter provided the raw baaa-ing samples of the beloved Flossie, who was the only sheep voice actress to be considered for the part.
'Babs' Fiala, Taylor Hunt, Adam James Howard, 'Kevv', and 'Marjan' all contributed small but essential components to the project that enabled it to be completed.
Carson 'Netolu' Buckley provided test services, as did Dan Potter and Dan Loosen.
Cheats and Secrets
There are quite a few cheats and/or secrets in Cool Herders. But rather than provide a spoiler here, there is a complete list available at the HarmlessLion Forums (see links below).