Andrew Bailey /
Added on April 11th, 2010 (5936 views)
www.c64.com?type=4&id=4



Hello and welcome! Please introduce yourself to anyone who may not know you.
Hi, I'm Andrew Bailey, originally from the UK, born in Hampshire, but moved to Australia in 1990. I now am married with three boys under nine and live in Melbourne. For most of my career, and until recently, I have been the CTO at Tantalus which I co-founded in 1994.

How did you first get started with computers in general and the C64 in particular?
My first real experience with computers was on a friends ZX81 (I know, boo) and we would modify games we typed in from magazine listings. My parents bought me a VIC-20 with the extra 8K, and then I moved on to the C64 when it first came out (pre-ordered).

Tell us how your career in games started. Did you submit sample work to various games companies in order to procure jobs, or did jobs come to you?
For the main, my C64 career was as an indie, to use current terminology. In other words, I wrote my own games and then submitted them to publishers, although I ended up pretty well exclusive with Firebird. One game was a port from the BBC Micro, but that was the exception.

What attracted you to the C64 as a development platform? In your opinion, was it as special as we like to think it was?
Well, it was the bees knees at the time. It had sprites large enough to actually draw something in, real audio potential, and a massive 64K of RAM. Combined with a few raster tricks (like sprites in the border), it was the first machine that artists could actually get involved in. It attracted more than those that found hex conversions in your head exciting. It was the birth of indie game development; previous ZX81 titles and such were only sold in computer magazines. Give the Spectrum some credit, but would game development ever escaped in-house development of Atari and Nintendo without the C64?

What C64 games did you work on? Please be as detailed as possible.
Mars Lander
Year: 1983
Primary role: Sole programmer
Comment: First ever game, written in BASIC. Self-published (with a friend) to one retailer; our local bookshop.

Headache
Year: 1984
Primary role: Programmer
Comment: First 98 percent assembler game in good old 6502. The score print was the only thing in BASIC. The assembler was written using a machine code monitor which is half way between machine code and an assembler.

Demons of Topaz: Ozzy Versus the Universe Part 1
Year: 1984
Primary role: Sole programmer
Comment: 100 percent assembler (I discovered BCD). I did graphics and audio as well (but probably shouldn't have).

Microcosm
Year: 1986
Primary role: Sole programmer
Comment: A conversion from a BBC micro game. In those days, a port was a total rewrite as there was no such thing as a HAL or portable languages.

Druid (also on the Sinclair ZX Spectrum)
Year: 1986
Primary role: Sole programmer
Comment: A real C64 game at last! I used a proper assembler that actually ran on the C64 for the first time. Don't complain about compile times until you have a 1MHz machine doing the work! It's normally compared to Gauntlet, but is actually a very different game. The original game took about five weeks, the Spectrum port took about a week.

Druid II: Enlightenment
Year: 1987
Primary role: Sole programmer
Comment: The sequel took the adventure aspect further as it introduced plot and puzzle aspects. However, its main claim to fame is probably that this is the Amiga port that brought Peter Molyneux into games development.

What companies did you work for, either in-house or freelance, and in what capacity?
I only worked for myself at my parents home.

Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
In my bedroom, using my bed as a desk for manuals and game designs. The C64 was on one of those cheap computer desks.

When you were assigned to a game, how much time did you usually have to complete your work?
I mainly did my own originals, so I was never assigned a game or even sought such work. However, my producer at Firebird did spring one port on me, Microcosm, which took two weeks I think.

What tools, development kits, etc. did you use, and did you create any yourself to fulfil a need?
For the games prior to Druid, I used a machine code monitor which basically was just a slightly more friendly way to enter assembler than raw numbers. For Druid and Druid II, I used a proper macro assembler which was a blessing for generating those unrolled scroller routines. For art, I developed a couple of art packages that used the Koala pad for character and sprites.

Were there any games you worked on which never saw the light of day?
I did start on a sequel to Demons of Topaz called Cobber. It involved a hammer instead of a boomerang.

Which game are you most proud of, which was the most fun to do, which became a real challenge, and which ended up giving you the biggest headache?
Druid is definitely my number one C64 game. Demons of Topaz was probably the biggest challenge as it was my first scroller and only using a monitor for code entry.

If you had the chance to edit your CV of past games, which ones would you add, edit or remove?
I would change the audio on Demons of Topaz!

Are there any particular games you would have liked to have worked on or converted from arcade?
Ghosts'n Goblins. But the C64 version was done very well.

Did you get much of a chance to play games as well as create them? Any favourites?
Super Pipeline was a favourite. I spent lots of hours there. Dropzone as well, especially when the C64 was hooked up to the stereo.

What games did you feel were appalling and you could have done better, given the chance?
Any of the Commodore cartridges. :|

Was there a particular programmer, artist and/or musician who influenced you and possibly inspired some of your own work, or did inspiration come from somewhere else?
I have to give credit to John Menzies here. We went to school together and he helped me with Headache. Very talented guy. And hi to Dene Carter and Dave Hanlon.

Please share some memories from the old days! (Like something a colleague did or said, your time on the demo scene, crackers stealing development disks, going to computer shows, etc.).
There was the London show of 1986 where Druid was on show. I got to hang in the Firebird stand and wear the t-shirt thanks to my producer Tony Beckwith. Well, it was cool if you were 18. I still have the t-shirt!

What made you eventually stop creating games for the C64?
The Amiga and University. Both of these found little time left for my C64. I had the machine set up in my first year digs and tried to start writing an adventure game, but didn't get past choosing the theme music. The Amiga arrived in my second year and Dpaint ruled!

What are you up to these days?
After moving to Australia, and after co-founding Tantalus Entertainment, I have eventually left there to start it all again with Drop Spider (www.dropspider.com.au). I'm currently doing a Druid reboot called Golem Crusades (www.golemcrusades.com). This actual day, I'm filtering shadows in a deferred render. Now, that's a bit of a jump from 6502-ing on a C64!

Thank you for helping us preserve an important part of computer and gaming history! Do you have any parting comments with which to leave a final impression on our readers? Feel free to greet anyone you know.
I just want to unashamedly plug my Druid article at www.golemcrusades.com/druid.html and the Facebook fan group www.facebook.com/pages/Druid-and-Golems/257842298899?ref=mf.

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