| How does the cooperation
with a publisher start? Do you sit down with the representatives
from their company, a game idea is presented, you discuss
the terms, work begins?
Yes. Or in the case of conversion, we get sent the game
and source code, we then look at it and give a price/time
scale. If all is OK for both parties, work starts (usually
too much work!).
When it was set that you were gonna
do a game, how much time did you usually have to finish
It used to be 3-6 months. Now though it's 12-18 months
but you have to do a LOT more work in that time. Remember
there are now more of you working for a longer time, little
wonder there are no more £4.95 games out there.
Because of time limits, could you
sometimes feel that you were not totally pleased with
your work - but it had to go because of the deadline?
Most of the time, both then and now. With a few exceptions
though - Pacmania was pretty much as good as it was going
to get. The football games we've done as Krisalis needed
more time, but then they always do, you can always think
of something you can do better with that particular game
What kind of an agreement did you
have with Grandslam? You made quite a few titles for them.
Nothing too special, after the first game for them (Terramex),
they just kept giving us work until they went out of business
(not our doing!).
Tell us about the making of Terramex.
We left Gremlin (Shaun, Tony and myself) and started work
on Terramex immediately. We did not have a full "artist"
so I reverted back to doing the artwork myself. We had
to do the following formats in a very short period of
time: C64, Spectrum, Amstrad, MSX, Amiga and Atari ST,
at the same time as learning the two 16 bit machines.
We had never done an Amiga game before.
Another Teque title for Grandslam
was Chubby Gristle. Tell us about it.
Chubby Gristle was based on a car park attendant who worked
opposite our offices. He was ALWAYS turfing us out of
his car park, even if we were only turning the cars around
in it! "You can't park here" was his catch phrase.
Did his cap say "Job's Worth"
too as it does on the original game box?
Would have if he could read 8-) But yes - he is a typical
"jobs worth". He took great pride in keeping
the car park clear for his "magistrates" to
Games like Thunderbirds and Manchester
United were done on five different formats. Did you work
on them one by one or all at the same time?
One by one. Basically, we'd get one version running and
then port over to the others. That way we were not faced
with writing multiple version of the same "logic".
The "C" language is now touted as being very
portable, but in those days all was in assembler and we
went through line by line converting one asm format into
another. However, we did get to be VERY good at it, to
the point where I could do say 1300 lines a day at 90%
bug free level.
Did you have any special coding
Hard work, that's all.
How do you rate the quality of your
Looking at it now, some of it is still work to be proud
of, others best left unmentioned.
Pick out the top five games you've
done and give them all a small comment.
Pacmania (Amiga - Grandslam) - Best conversion of whatever
year it came out. I loved showing the Amiga could scroll
like a C64.
Monty on the Run (Spectrum - Gremlin) - Great fun to write,
and quick too.
The Way of the Tiger (Spectrum & Amstrad - Gremlin)
- Certainly the nicest looking and best 8 bit technically.
Manchester United Premier League Champions (Amiga &
PC - Krisalis) - OK, it's football, but it's my best football.
Sorry, can only think of four I'm really happy with.
And what about these;
The first game you produced: Wanted: Monty Mole - Jet
Set Willy ripoff, simple coding, but then I had to work
The first game that got sold: As above.
The best one: Pacmania (see earlier).
The worst one: Sam Stoat: Safebreaker - please don't even
look at this even if you have an emulator. It really was
The best arcade conversion: Pacmania (obviously).
The most complicated one to code: The Way of the Tiger.
The one coded in shortest time: Monty on the Run. (Although
we did do some 2 day MSX conversions, they don't count.)
Your favourites on old 8-bit machines;
Programmer: OK, I admit it, Tony Crowther.
Artist: Our own Neil Adamson (honest).
Musician: Rob Hubbard until he got greedy.
Games: Chaos, a Spectrum game by Julian Gollop. Crap code,
great game - for fun I converted it to run on the Amstrad
CPC from object code.
Now on to your personal side;
Birth place and date: Doncaster Royal Infirmary 18-Dec-1964.
Reside in: Sprotbrough, Doncaster, England.
Interests: Star Trek, Babylon 5, Computer games, Wife.
Music taste: Sadly, Spice Girls, Madonna and Ace of Base.
What makes you happy: A new Star Trek video, my wifes
smile, a small yellow rubber duck which travels everywhere
with me and keeps me from harm! (And you thought I was
Goal in life: To live long and prosper!
How does your life look today? Where
do you live, do you have kids, any dogs?
Still live pretty much where I've always lived - Doncaster.
Married, no kids (would be dangerous to my wife), no dogs,
one HUGE PC.
What do you do in your spare time?
Play computer games, watch Star Trek and Babylon 5 (collect
all the tapes), program for fun (I'm very sad really!).
Is your town a good place to live
in if you think of good transport possibilities, big shopping
It depends on the exact area, there's a wide variety of
run-down mining villages and more upmarket areas. No slums,
but some areas are a little worse for wear. The Meadowhall
centre is great for shopping though, just a few miles
away near Sheffield. It used to be the biggest mall in
Europe, but I doubt that will still be the case.
What is the most giving thing you've
got through your computer interest?
A fully paid for house and home! Also, I've actually got
a lot of pleasure from "entertaining" people.
I like to do a good job on the games because I care about
what the end users (people like yourself) think. I'd hate
to produce a game which was "not fit to use as a
blank floppy". I feel you all work hard enough for
your money that when you buy a game you should not feel
"ripped off". Sadly, not everyone in this industry
feels the same. Some of the junk thrown out there for
£30 makes me feel ashamed - and I didn't write it.
Similarly, when I see a game written by one of my old
colleagues (Crowther for example), I feel proud for them
when it's a good one.
Will you return to do something
on the 8-bit machines again, just for fun?
Nah. Although having said that, the idea has crossed my
mind from time to time. Also, if they hadn't already been
done, some of the old games brought straight across to
the new machines in "Original" and "Souped
up" format. Don't think it'd sell well, but I'd enjoy
doing it (and would likely give them away on the Internet).
Lets face it though, I've too much work to do already,
It'd maybe be something to do on retirement!
But you still play around with the
C64 from time to time, don't you??
Only with the amusing emulators which are out there. It's
really nice to boot up your PC to a "C64 Opening
screen". Makes you feel right at home. We also have
boot screens that look like a Sinclair Spectrum loading.
Focusing on the future, what's planned
More games. Also, I'd like to see a return to "planning
gameplay before visual effects". Too much of what's
coming out seems to be a "clone" or just "pretty
but pretty crap". This whole industry came about
because of good games, not visual effects and marketing.
Finally, is there a message you'd
like to give the people out there?
Yes, all I can really say is that I tried to bring you
all fun games (and have fun myself), I didn't always succeed
and am sorry for that. Remember the next time you see
a game and think "wow, this is brilliant", someone
somewhere has made it happen and consumed far too much
coke (even if it's diet coke these days).
And to all of you out there who want to become involved
in making games, it's not all about flash cars and flash
pay packets, it's really about hard work. In order to
stay in it, it also has to be a labour of love. We're
all sad masochists who enjoy late nights, stress and mental
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the first part of the interview