David Hanlon /
Added on July 3rd, 2010 (9190 views)

Hello and welcome! Please introduce yourself to anyone who may not know you.
Hi, my name is David Hanlon and I wrote some music for the two Druid games. Later on, I provided the in-game sounds for Populous on the Amiga.

How did you first get started with computers in general and the C64 in particular?
For me, it began with the 48K ZX Spectrum at home and a Commodore PET at school. I don’t think we could afford the VIC 20 at the time. I began, like many, slavishly typing the code in to the Spectrum from a magazine and trying to debug it when it wouldn't work or crashed and you had to start typing it all over again. The C64 came along later and by then I could afford the 1541 too. Your readers may not like me for saying this, but my heart was more with the Amiga when that came out, as I liked sound sampling.

Tell us how your career in games started. Did you submit sample work to various games companies in order to procure jobs, or did jobs come to you?
I met Andrew Bailey at school and he was involved with writing games, so he asked me to write some music for his C64 game Druid. This was finally done over a weekend using a keyboard overlay. I wasn't looking for that work; it was just something I did for a friend.

What attracted you to the C64 as a development platform? In your opinion, was it as special as we like to think it was?
There is no doubt that, at the time, the C64 was something special, but I don’t think I appreciated it fully. I was used to using keyboard synthesizers and found it hard to use and (Did I mention the keyboard overlay already?) particularly special to 'play'. At the time, I was not good at programming and so I didn’t really get into it. I wish I had!

What C64 games did you work on? Please be as detailed as possible.
Druid and Druid 2.

What companies did you work for, either in-house or freelance, and in what capacity?
All my work has been for Andrew Bailey, but some later stuff was used by Bullfrog in their Amiga games.

Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
In front of the C64, musically, it was about two weeks of trying to get used to the music program we had and use that overlay without it slipping off to one side in the middle of playing something. Other than that, I cannot tell you about any typical day.

When you were assigned to a game, how much time did you usually have to complete your work?
I never really had that problem with deadlines. I just did some sounds or music, played around with it and there it was. No stress.

What tools, development kits, etc. did you use, and did you create any yourself to fulfil a need?
For the C64, it was so long ago now that I cannot even remember the name of the package we used. By today's standards it was not very powerful, but at the time I remember thinking it was amazing. Later, on the Amiga, Andrew wrote a program called Adrum that we used as an engine for all the later music. But you probably don’t want to know about that or indeed the quad core running Native Instruments that I use today.

Were there any games you worked on which never saw the light of day?
Not on the C64, no. There were a couple of Bullfrog games on the Amiga I think.

Which game are you most proud of, which was the most fun to do, which became a real challenge, and which ended up giving you the biggest headache?
I guess the fact that so many people find the Druid music any good makes me feel very proud to have been involved with it. It was intended to be a simple little tune, but I love listening to the remixes. Some really seem to capture the sound I had in my head for it.

If you had the chance to edit your CV of past games, which ones would you add, edit or remove?
Nothing comes to mind here.

Are there any particular games you would have liked to have worked on or converted from arcade?
Er, no, but I loved Asteroids as a kid. Mindless blasting!

Did you get much of a chance to play games as well as create them? Any favourites?
Believe it or not, but I just don’t play computer games. This is mostly because I’m completely rubbish at controlling them and long for a ”mind to machine interface” that would allow me to react fast enough. That said, I enjoyed Tomb Raider on the Sega and Code Name Mat on the ZX Spectrum. Other than that, I don’t get much of a chance anyway, but I appreciate the work that has to go into them. The old family Atari used to get a regular beating. Man, I loved all those different cartridges, and to my mind it’s still the quickest loading games machine I have seen. Again, Asteroids was the best thing ever on that one.

What games did you feel were appalling and you could have done better, given the chance?
I can't think of any, no.

Was there a particular programmer, artist and/or musician who influenced you and possibly inspired some of your own work, or did inspiration come from somewhere else?
For me, it was the music of Jean Michel Jarre that most got me into synthesizer music and my uncle Peter for buying me my first keyboard. For computing, it was Andrew Bailey that provided me the motivation to do anything with it on a computer, otherwise I would have had little or no interest in it.

Please share some memories from the old days! (Like something a colleague did or said, your time on the demo scene, crackers stealing development disks, going to computer shows, etc.).
Sorry, but I really don’t have anything from the C64 days. I helped name Bullfrog in Les Edgar's office for the Adrum program that Andrew and I worked on, but again, that was for the Amiga.

What made you eventually stop creating games for the C64?
We got an Amiga.

What are you up to these days?
Nowadays for a living, and having finally learnt to actually code, I write C# and Java applications for scientists discovering new drugs. Oddly enough, as it turns out, in the building opposite to where Peter Molyneux now works. How weird is that? Andrew has recently asked me to do some more music for him for his Golem Crusades game, so I have been tempted back to creating some music again. It has been a long time, but perhaps I might be persuaded to do some more after that!

Thank you for helping us preserve an important part of computer and gaming history! Do you have any parting comments with which to leave a final impression on our readers? Feel free to greet anyone you know.
To anyone who has enjoyed the music I have created, I am truly honoured and grateful for the many nice comments made and remixes that I have heard. I had no idea that the little tunes I created in my bedroom would go so far! Thank you one and all.

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