| Pete! Welcome. It
must be nice to see that people still care after all these
years, don't you think?
Amusing, my wife couldn't believe it.
Concerning your computer career,
what made you create something in the first place? What
got you hooked?
Actually, you might as well ask "Why do men like
girls?". All I can say is that making a computer
sing and dance to my tune is "in the blood".
I feel I was born to do this job, although if it didn't
exist there are plenty of other things which could have
occupied my mind. A bit of a strange answer I know but
there's no other way I can describe it.
Tell us about Krisalis.
Well, pretty much we've been going now for 10 years (we
started as Teque and did Pacmania and Terramex for Grandslam).
Teque no longer exists, it was run down when we started
publishing as Krisalis.
C64 wise, it's been a long time now since we've done anything
for it (or the Spectrum). We quickly moved on to the Atari
ST and Amiga (Pacmania on the Amiga even won an award).
Right now we're back doing the things we did at the start
again - working for other publishers. It seems that's
the way everything goes, follow the market forces to stay
In fact, I have thought about that
"follow the market" thing quite a lot. As soon
as there comes new hardware, the game companies must follow
and do games on the new formats - if they want to stay
in the business that is.
That's right, in fact, if you can confidently say to a
publisher, "hey - we can do you a game on format
X" before anybody else then you get a lot of work
fast. We did it on the Amiga, Saturn and Sony PSX. Basically
nobody else had the guts to touch them initially so we
got all the work (Theme Park and Magic Carpet on Saturn
and PSX are ours).
When it comes to the game market
today, I guess it's just like it used to be: work, work,
How many of the titles you do today
are based on your own ideas? Do you have a game develop/design
team at the company who takes care of that??
About 50%. And yes to the second part (although it used
to be a trip to the pub, scribble a few notes, have another
drink, start coding).
I believe that the assignments you
have now must be very different from those you had in
the past, because there's so many more possibilities of
how to reach a goal.
Very different, and even now each product has to be treated
differently. Although a lot of the main principles have
stayed the same, most of the "work" behind it
has changed dramatically. We still have to do too much
work in too little time, it's just there's a whole lot
more of us having to work together. That in itself brings
in fresh problems of "Who does what?", "Why
does it not work?", "OK, who broke the code
last night?" and finally "Where's my intro sequence,
the game goes out tomorrow!". 8-)
Let's say I'm interested in working
for a games company. How I can show them that I'm their
Tricky one this. All companies seem to look for something
different. Some take the shortsighted view of only employing
people with track records - they'll one day have nobody
to employ. Others will require top quality work from day
one, rarely possible. Still more will accept demos / story
boards as proof of ability. A few will take on trainees
(we have in the past) and bring them up to speed. I feel
that if you're GOOD at something, you should be able to
show it. If you can show it then you need the luck to
find someone who'll take that initial chance with you.
That's pretty much the way it happened with me, I've NEVER
had a job interview - I just showed someone what I could
do, not knowing they were looking for a programmer. Those
were the days eh? Now, I think you have to demonstrate
enthusiasm and ability in the area you want to work in
to a company who are looking for just your skills. If
you're good enough you'll make them realize they WANT
your skills even if they were not previously aware of
Since most games now are written by teams of people, I
think you also need to get across that you will be an
important piece in the development process. Have an understanding
of their needs and show them how you fit into it.
Overall though, I think if I was starting out today rather
than having been involved for over 10 years, it would
be far more difficult. The cost of the required equipment
and software makes it quite prohibitive to develop something
on your own.
The final method is to try and start up a small company
of your own and get a larger company to fund development.
Difficult and a little risky, but if you can get a bunch
of like minded people together who already have enough
equipment, spare time and ability to put together a full
game outline and show that some of the code has been written
(a demo of part of a level say), then you may be on the
way. I think I personally would go this route. I'd continue
to work in whatever job I have until I and whoever else
was involved had enough product to try to sell to a company.
Once we have a contract to finish the product, then we'd
all leave work and start up full-time.
Are there any other C64 guys at
Shaun Hollingworth (programmer) - a couple of the artists
(Dave Colledge and Mark Edwards). Other than that, they're
all people who came into the scene later (with Amiga /
ST / Amstrad CPC experience). Tony Crowther (who you may
remember) is currently back at Gremlin (where I started
Neil Adamson, one of the old artists
still work for Krisalis. How's he doing?
He's very well, still one of our best artists (his younger
brother Mark now works for us as a coder).
Let us now turn back the clock a
decade. Before you began your work at Gremlin, what did
University Education - Gremlin was my first job (Monty
Mole). I only bothered with one Term at Uni, I then left
when Gremlin offered me work. At that time, I thought
that if I didn't jump into the games business then I'd
never get in or it would be a passing phase and go away.
Good choice eh?
What had they seen from you before
Monty? Is it Monty on the Run or Auf Wiedersehen Monty
we're talking about here?
They'd just seen some hacking around of some other games
(Ant Attack mainly) where I'd decoded it and added some
features of my own (it was easier with only 16K to look
through!). Actually, it's "Wanted: Monty Mole"
as the first, but I also wrote the other two. (Not "Monty
is Innocent" though, that was Chris Kerry, who is
now in the US as a programmer.)
How many Monty games are there really????!
There's one game by Crowther, one by Kerry and three by
The Crowther one is merely the C64 version of Wanted:
Monty Mole - although it's different enough to warrant
being a different game (in those days, the same game could
be different on different machines - no attempt was made
to keep the same game play).
So, from my point of view, the Monty games are as follows
1. Wanted: Monty Mole (me only)
2. Monty is Innocent (Chris Kerry)
3. Monty on the Run (me, Shaun and Chris Kerry - game
design by me)
4. Auf Wiedersehen Monty (same as 3)
I then left Gremlin. I did one Christmas free Monty game
given away with a magazine and then Gremlin did I think
one more game by the people who became Core Design (Impossimole).
They gave him super powers and had him kidnapped by aliens.
Chris Kerry - one helluwa coder.
Tell us about him.
Once Chris joined Gremlin, he joined Shaun and myself
and we really co-wrote pretty much everything decent that
came out of Gremlin in those years. Such as "The
Way of the Tiger", "Thing II", "Avenger"
etc. He was meant to leave Gremlin with Shaun and myself
(that was the plan anyway). But both he and his brother
Steve became too frightened to leave. At that time, the
owner of US Gold had become the owner of Gremlin and had
actually threatened us that we'd never work again if we
left. So - we left and have never stopped working since.
Never let the threat of a large company stop you doing
what you know is right. Once the Kerries had seen we had
made good on our ambitions they decided to leave also.
That was when Chris went to work in the US for a games
company. As far as I'm aware he's still there.
And the rest of the Gremlin crew...
Steve Kerry - worked with me on most Spectrum, Amstrad,
MSX and later C64 games.
Jason Perkins - Thing on a Spring C64, now works for Sony
Europe on the Playstation.
Mark Rogers - worked with Jason on C64 "Thing",
C64 Jack the Nipper - unknown what he now does.
Marco Duroe - a pretty lazy graphic artist (who didn't
manage to stay at Gremlin long). I had to help out with
the artwork in order to get the games he worked on done
- primarily "The Way of the Tiger". He was replaced
by Steve Kerry. I don't think he's still in the industry.
Ben Daglish - musician, he did pretty much all of the
music (once Rob Hubbard became too costly). He has pretty
much dropped out of the scene now although I think like
Jeff Minter he still dabbles from time to time.
Colin Dooley - changed his name to Fungus T Bogeyman (honestly!).
He joined our little coding group later and was never
asked to join us when we created Teque. He was however
quite good and I think he now writes software for Silicon
Graphics workstations (the poor lad).
Damn, why did he change his name?
Because he's just a little insane. What happened was when
he was a child, he was a great fan of Fungus the Bogeyman
and made the mistake of telling all his school friends.
From that day on, everyone would call him Fungus. He told
us so we called him Fungus too. He just decided one day
that since everyone called him that he might as well change
his name to it. He got permission from the author of the
Fungus books and changed it to Fungus T. Bogeyman. I don't
think the T stands for anything, I guess "the"
is not a suitable middle name.
And finally: Greg Holmes, Andrew
Green, Robert Toone, Terry "Tez" Lloyd and Chris
Greg left shortly after us in order to write screenplays.
I believe he moved out to Hollywood to attempt to sell
his work. That's the last I've heard of him - I don't
know if he's been successful or even which country he's
now living in.
Andy, Rob, Terry and Chris S left to start up Core Design
with Greg, one of the Gremlin directors and the Gremlin
replacement for our Tony Kavanagh. I don't think they
all stayed there, in fact I'm fairly certain Chris Shrigley
was sacked. What they're all up to now I couldn't tell
you. Old programmers seem to fade away - except for the
chronically daft like myself who still seem to LIKE the
business for some reason.
Any particular good stories from
the Gremlin era?
I can't remember all the details now, but looking back
on it we had a great camaraderie going at the time. I
even remember one day, the owner was being particularly
nasty - I think Chris Kerry had been threatened with dismissal,
so we all walked out 8-). Things got pretty much back
to normal very quickly after that - it's amazing what
fear will do to a manager!
Andy Greens 21st birthday. Memorable due to the "boobagram"
that arrived at the office for him. She was pig ugly but
had a really large "presence". She turned up
wearing just an old mac and a pair of panties. Still Andy
entered into the spirit of the day and tried to go deaf
(just think about it a little while and the reason will
Why did you leave Gremlin?
The reason for leaving was to make a successful company
in the games (original and conversion) business.
At what point did you decide that
your own company was the way to go?
In the middle of writing "Auf Wiedersehen Monty",
although the idea had been around before that.
How did things work out after you
Well, we were a little concerned that the boss of US Gold
could actually have made good on his threat (he also owned
CentreSoft - a major distributor). But what we did was
design a game (we had it worked out before we left) and
sold it to another company which didn't care if US Gold
tried anything. After that, we were known to not only
be good programmers, but also capable of producing outside
a major company. From then on, nobody has been worried
that we could not produce the required goods and work
has never been hard to find. Although companies still
get over inflated opinions of their own power and try
to bully us from time to time. We just refuse to work
for them again, they eventually come back to us since
we do a very professional job.
Who started up?
Krisalis (and Teque beforehand) are owned by Shaun, Tony
Kavanagh (never written a game, a management type) and
myself in equal shares.
When did you first meet up with
At Gremlin, Shaun wrote "Potty Pigeon" for the
Spectrum, and Tony K came in as Sales and Marketing a
couple of years later.
Can you and Shaun call your own
shots concerning game ideas and such?
Yes in theory we can (since it's our company) but you've
got to take into account what the market wants. After
all, we have over 30 people to pay each month.
OK, so Krisalis equals Teque. Why
was Teque run down?
There became no need for having two companies once Krisalis
was standing on its own. It just got to the point where
all the work went through Krisalis so we set up (and then
sold) Teque London and finished off everything Teque was
doing then closed the books on it.
But why did you set up Krisalis
in the first place when you had Teque?
Teque was known as a conversion facility and we wanted
to get a publishing name known.
Teque had a very broaden knowledge
concerning different computer languages. Did this give
you the advantage over other coding teams because you
were able to do a game on many formats? I believe that's
what a publisher want!
Yes it did. And again, yes it's what publishers want.
What was the difference between
working on the many formats?
Very little difference, once you have got around that
"but it's a different machine" phase you realize
that all computers pretty much behave the same.
The easiest one to program?
Easiest is a relative term, it all depends on what you're
trying to achieve. If one machine does one thing particularly
well then that machine became the easiest to program.
Imagine you needed 60 fps scrolling, the C64 was far easier
than the Spectrum, but if you wanted bitmapped graphics,
the Spectrum was tops. It's really the same argument you
get between owners of different computers where each owner
says "mine is better than yours". It can never
be resolved because usually they are both right! Just
depends on what you are doing with it. The same thing
popped up with the ST and Amiga - with the same results.
to the second part of the interview