Richard, how did you first get started in programming and what inspired you?
I started programming at school on a Research Machines 380Z, mostly in BASIC. I guess I liked it because I felt like a high tech pioneer.

What were your first and last ever productions on the C64?
The first one was The Evil Dead and the last was Barbarian.

Out of all the games you have worked on, which were you most proud and disappointed with?
The Evil Dead was the worst and Cauldron was my favourite. We broke some new ground in having a platform game with a scrolling section. Kind of a first, also the first time we had real art in a game.

You are famous for creating Cauldron on the C64. What was the inspiration for creating a game of this kind?
It was a co-production between me and Steve Brown. Steve was the artist, and one day he asked me: "Why are there either platform games or scrollers?" I thought about it for a little while and then told him there is no reason. They are always separate games so we started building a game which had both.

You also did the C64 conversion of the horror film The Evil Dead for Palace. Were you a fan of the film or did you find it more funny than scary?
I sort of hate horror films, so I was not keen watching it. My old boss and I watched it in fast forward eating pizza at his house. I thought it was quite funny and we came up with the simple design there and then. I now think the film broke new ground in many ways, including the way Sam financed it.

Were there any particular games that you would have loved to have worked on yourself, or converted from arcade?
I always wanted to do a 3D game but never really got round to it.

You worked on the fantastic beat'em up Barbarian, where an axe wielding warrior battled to save the princess. In what part did you play in the game's creation? Were you the original designer for the game?
I was by then more of a producer/lead programmer, and so the game was designed by Steve Brown. Steve had lots of great ideas such as the marketing campaign.

Barbarian was obviously inspired by the Conan series. Did you feel satisfied with the final outcome of the game and the reviews it received in general?
I thought it was a great game, the reviews were also excellent. I think we really hit the spot for single and multiplayer.

Barbarian caused controversy in the press due to its violence, but mainly for the advertisements which featured Maria Whittaker partially clad. How did you react at the time to all the fuss that was caused, and did you think it did the game more good than bad?
The game was great, the publicity was also great. In Germany we got banned. It all seems so tame now, but at the time it was rock and roll.

Did anyone's work on the C64 or other machines ever inspire you with your own creations?
Sprite multiplexing taken from the demo scene. That was pretty cool and allowed us to bring big characters to the screen.

What was it like to work at Palace Software? Was it a friendly and fun working environment to be in?
It was great! We had a great team spirit and socialised lots. I still keep in touch with many of the people.

Did you ever come across any disagreements or problems when creating any games?
I can't recall anything too bad. We were all pretty opinionated but there was lots of respect.

Found on the Internet was a breakout clone called Brick Busters, which is credited to yourself. Unfortunately not much else is known about the game. Is there anything more you could elaborate on about this title?
I did this game as part of a regular piece I did for a German magazine to teach kids C64 programming.

In your time on the C64, were there any other games that you worked on which sadly became scrapped or never quite made the light of day?
We did scrap some stuff but I can't really recall anything specific.

Out of all the games you've played, what was your favourite game on the C64 and on other systems?
Elite C64 and Lemmings Amiga.

Who were your favourite C64 coder/s, artist/s and musician/s at that time, or even today?
Jeff Minter on C64 programming, Jez Sans ST programming, Richard Joseph (music/SFX), and Steve Brown (design/art).

The C64 broke all records by establishing itself as the greatest selling home computer of all time, and lasted a staggering 12 years! What would you say impressed you most about the C64 and for what reasons?
It was such an advanced machine; well thought out and hugely powerful for its time. The sprite system was such fun to work with and the smooth scrolling was ahead of its time.

Would you say that the C64 was just a simple step in your programming life or was it a major inspiration for the future?
The C64 was designed by the same people who built the Amiga. They were some of the brightest people I have ever met. The C64 taught me that all computers are basically the same. This was a great step in my learning.

Do you still own a C64 today, and if so, do you still play it on occasion?
Sadly not.

What are your current activities these days?
I am running a game team working on a big license for EA.

Do you feel that the games industry today is as fun as it used to be back in the 80's?
Mistakes are more costly and teams are huge, as are budgets. I now realise how naïve we were then and how lucky I was to get into this business early.

If I was to tell you that with a C64 these days, you can new connect up a hard drive, CD-ROM drive, 20 Mhz accelerators, Internet connections (with a graphical browser) and also play Doom-like games. Would you believe me?
Not really. However, Commodore gave in the battle to Microsoft years ago. They had a world class machine with the Amiga and gave it all away through lack of focus, very sad.

What is your take in general on the whole retro phenomenon which is going on today with classic games and machines?
I see mobile phones as an ideal platform; simple gameplay can be compelling in people's busy lives.

Please feel free to send any greetings to anyone you know.
Steve Brown, Stan Schembri, Gary Carr, Richard Joseph, Dan Malone, etc.

Go back to the interviews »

» F.A.Q. - look here before you send off an email.

» Credits - the list of people who made all this possible.

» Links - to the top C64 sites out there.

Scene interviews - C64 sceners answer 20 questions about their time in the scene.