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?
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 type.

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 park in.

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 techniques?
Hard work, that's all.

How do you rate the quality of your old work?
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 from tape!

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 that bad!

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 normal!)

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 malls etc?
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 next?
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 torture!

» Go back to the first part of the interview

» Get his games - from C64 to Atari ST to Amiga and more!

Softography - not only the C64 stuff.

» Klingon - exclusive picture of Pete in full Klingon make-up.

» Interviews