Bill “Pfutz” Pfutzenreuter has been a prolific game programmer over the decades. He even worked with the legendary Stern developer Alan McNeil, of Berzerk/Frenzy fame!
In designing the levels, John Newcomer added platforms to the environment after the combat was devised. A static game world was chosen over a scrolling world to showcase visual textures applied to the platforms. The hardware could not easily display the textures while scrolling, and the team felt that displaying the whole environment would aid players. The last game world element was a lava pit and a hand reaching out of it to destroy characters too close to the bottom. Newcomer placed the platforms to optimize Pfutzenrueter’s enemy artificial intelligence (AI), which factors attack patterns based partly on platform placements. The knight enemies were designed to exhibit progressively more aggressive behavior. Bounders seek the player horizontally, occasionally reacting to the protagonist. Hunters seek the player vertically in an effort to collide from above. Shadow Lords over confident beings that stalk its prey, likes to always be higher than the player, and takes advantage of speed and 2D strategy.
Pfutzenrueter designed them to fly higher when close to the protagonist to increase the Shadow Lord’s chances of victory against the player. The pterodactyl was designed to attack idle players and be difficult to defeat. The only vulnerability was attacking the creature face to face in its mouth with your lance, it was more vulnerable when the mouth was open during a specific animation frame. Newcomer designed the pterodactyl to quickly fly upward at the last moment when approaching a player waiting at the edge of platform. This was done to prevent an easy defeat of the enemy.
“I too had a great time talking about the birth & growth of Joust. I even learned more about the sequences of multiple events, that had to happen for Joust to even be conceived. It was great working/remembering the Joust Team and reuniting with John & Python.”