Welcome! What a pleasure it is to be interviewing one of the people I really looked up to in my younger game playing days. Please introduce yourself to the readers.
Thanks David. I am currently animating Unreal 2 for the PC.

I remember seeing your name in quite a few games, especially some classic titles from System 3. Can you tell us when you first started on computers, the games and companies you were involved with up until the present day?
I bought a C64 on credit, supposedly for the kids education, but mainly to do small animations for my own enjoyment. I got recognition by winning an art competition that Commodore ran and that brought some commissions. The prize was equipment (ultimately including an Amiga) and also a modem which I used to put artwork on Compunet as AEW1. This in turn brought more work and got me off the dole. System 3 saw my stuff and offered me The Last Ninja and then a string of other C64 games. After Ninja 2, John Twiddy and I left to set up Vivid Image. I moved on after Hammerfist and Time Machine (which came out on most formats but didn't make money) to work freelance for Probe. For the next few years I was involved in a whole bunch of games across different formats, some as the sole artist and others as collaborator. After that I left the industry for a year forming a partnership to make educational software, but came back in 1996 to work for NMS, in-house for the first time, and learn 3D. I was offered work in Washington DC by Bethesda Softworks and finally made the crossing in 1997. In 1999, I moved across the Potomac to work for Legend who were just starting Unreal 2 and here I am, doing a little modelling but specialising in animation.

If you want the full list of projects I have worked on (backwards): Unreal 2, Morrowind, Redguard, Risk, Mass Destruction, Battleship, Wordbird, Jellyboy, Boomer, Incredible Hulk, Hurricanes, Aliens 3, Robocop 3, Supremacy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sega Chess, Back to the Future 3, Time Machine, Hammerfist, Vendetta, Tusker, Dominator, The Last Ninja 2, Predator, Bangkok Knights, Leviathan, The Last Ninja, Three Days in Carpathia, and Mission of Mercy. I also worked on Q'd Up, Aladdin, Babies, Mortal Kombat 2, Looney Tunes, Gunship, Terminator, Outrun Europa, California Games 2, and Smash TV.

With your painting on the C64, which tools did you prefer to use?
Wigmore mouse, Koala pad and a joystick sprite editor whose name I can't remember. There were a lot of custom tools, specifically font editors and screen assemblers, written for me as well.

Is user-friendliness the main thing or is it the greater amount of options that make the better editor?

Both. It helped that I was usually working so closely with the programmers that they put all the functionality I wanted in the layout I requested.

Out of every project on the C64 you ever were part of, which was the most challenging and which was your favourite?
Challenging: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles coin-op conversion. There was a hell of a lot to port over! I think we managed to get the look and feel and most of the major elements across. Favourite: The Last Ninja. Absolute magic! My first real game. It was exciting to make, got magazine covers and went straight to number one on all the charts. What more could you ask for?

What artwork in real life gives you inspiration or ideas to make help create the graphics? Fantasy art, sci-fi, gothic? Could you give us some examples of some artists you follow from or respect in someway?
I think I probably get more inspiration from real life than art. Weird bugs, complex plant-life, strange weather, scary relationships, diseases, that sort of thing. I respect alot of people: Cezanne, Dave Mckean, Ant Pereira, anybody that lets me glimpse the other dimension...

During the time that you were working on the C64, who's work did you most admire?
Bob Stevenson without a doubt! He was extraordinary and pushed the limits from the very beginning.

Were there any games which you worked on which never saw the light of day?
Mission of Mercy with Richard Kay who later started Software Creations. It was a non-scrolling platform game on a spaceship with evil monsters that your spaceman had to defeat. We had an arcade game in the recreation area called Mission of Mercy on which you could play the whole game within the game to find out what was coming next. Three Days in Carpathia, sequel to Valkyrie 17, with George Stevens (Stevenson?) and the Ramjam Corp. This was a text adventure written with The Biro using character set screens livened up with moving sprites, including a dodo which fixated on you as Mother when it hatched. All the words were in Carpathian until you found a dictionary.

What impressed you most about the C64 at the time and for what reasons?
It was relatively cheap and easy to program graphics. The colours were much richer than the BBC or the Spectrum and sprites were fun to animate.

Was the C64 was just a step in your gaming life or was it a major inspiration?
It changed my life. I was on the dole struggling to support five children with odd jobs. Suddenly I was having fun and earning money.

Do you still own a C64 today?
There's one in the cellar. I keep meaning to wire the drive into my PC and see what I've got.

Please tell us your favourites:
Artist: Bob Stevenson.
Programmer: John Twiddy.
Musician: Jeroen Tel.
Game: The Way of the Exploding Fist.

Ever have any disagreements with any individuals or software houses?
No real nastiness. I can't be arsed to fight the big egos so I generally just move on. Mostly I've worked with really good people. I have been shafted a couple of times but that's life.

What are your current activities these days?
Unreal 2 is taking more and more of my time. I like to mess about on the river when I can. I have a couple of personal animation projects I'm looking forward to messing with (as always).

Any hints or tips for the new game designers still out there?
Play the really old games and see what made them so much fun. Mostly they were extremely abstract and encapsulated gameplay. Now we have sensory overload but the central experience doesn't seem to have changed that much. Advanced AI could make a huge difference though. Then the emphasis will be on creating environments.

Please feel free to send any greetings to anyone you know.
I'd quite like to say hello to Jason Perkins if he's out there.

Thanks for your time Hugh! Any last words to leave a final impression on the audience?
I just hope I don't come across as a pompous twat. I'm still having a good time.

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