How long have/did you work in the videogames industry ?
A few months in 1989. I worked with Mark Bedford on Damocles on Saturdays and during the school holidays while we were both still at school
What exactly was your role ?
I would like to say I was great programmer but truthfully Mark and I weren't technically proficient enough to do any programming. Our job was to write down co-ordinates from sketches made on graph paper which the graphic programmers then used. We also got to do some beta testing which all the kids at school were really jealous about. Getting paid to play games!!
What's your favourite anecdote of this time ?
The office we worked at was above a travel agents. The access was via an entrance at the rear of the travel agents and this meant we had access to their kitchen and toilet. The toilet to our office wasn't very nice so I decided that it would be ok to use the travel agent one.
The ladies from the travel agent were waiting angrily for me when I came out. This was extremely embarrassing to me as a spotty teenager and muttering apologies I ran quickly upstairs to inform Bruce. He went and smoothed things over with them. Our toilet was quickly improved so it did have a positive outcome.
Are you still in contact with any other Novageners ?
No. I lost touch with Mark after we left school in 1990.
What's your all-time favourite computer or console ?
My favourite computer is the Atari ST. I started gaming on a Atari 2600 console before moving onto the powerful ;-) ZX spectrum (48K !!).
I delivered newspapers for a year and a half to save up for an Atari ST until my parents finally felt sorry for me and gave me the extra money I needed. I actually had the first ST at me school by about 6 hours which was a very big deal at that age.
What's your all-time favourite game?
I have a favourite per platform.
Atari 2600 - Yars' Revenge. Not much to it really, take out the shield with your insect type space ship and then destroy the cannon while avoiding being shot. Very addictive though.
ZX Spectrum - The famous games Manic miner and follow up Jet Set Willy. Highly addictive platform games. Simple graphics, great game play.
Atari ST - I can't really think of a favourite as I played so many different things on the ST. Spy vs. Spy was great fun as my brother and I had some great battles.
Before I started working at Novagen I liked Mercenary and was impressed by the 3D, although it wasn't until Bruce gave me a map and guide book that I had any idea what to do. I was really blown away by what they had done for Damocles but have only ever played the demo version. I must try the full game out one day.
Is there a particular developer (code, gfx, whatever) whom you consider as a genius / pioneer / extra-talented ?
Any of the developers from the 80's working with very (by today's standards) basic kit. Amazing what was achieved.
How do you feel about people considering the '80s as the videogaming golden age, and the associated hero-worship of some of the people that were part of this ?
Yes it was the golden age and considering what they had to work with I think the hero worship is well earned. Less fancy graphics & music but more game play than a lot of today's games.
The controversial question - about emulation! Have you noticed the number of emulators on the net ? Have you heard about MDDClone - the PC version of Mercenary made by a fan ? Does it bother you if such a clone is freely distributed ? What do you think when you see some of the other games you may have worked on freely available on the net ?
I don't have an issue with emulation and the free distribution as these games aren't going to make any money these days against what is now available. It allows people to remember the games from their youth and show their kids the "proper" games that we used to play.
Have you visited The Mercenary Site? If so, any feedback ?
Great site. Nice that Mercenary isn't forgotten. Keep up the good work.
What are you up to these days? What keeps you up at night ?
DIY, kids and the occasional server crash at Cadbury.
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