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INTERVIEW: MO WARDEN

Please provide a one-liner introduction
Mo Warden, graphic designer of Backlash, Damocles and Merc III. More info at http://stormhour.com/featured-photographer-mo-warden/

How long have/did you work in the videogames industry?
From 1985 to 1992. I started a computer club at the local school in 1982, because I wanted to have contact with other computer users (I had a C64 then). One of the regular members was an Amstrad user, and he saw my graphics and asked me to take part in a game project. I learnt a lot about working in a team, designing a game from nothing, and how not to get ripped off.

Which companies did you work with? Any titles we'd know?
Apart from Paul Woakes and Novagen: Psygnosis, US Gold, Domark, Anco, Dimension Creative Designs. I've worked with Jeff Minter, Tony Takoushi and a lot of talented programmers that you probably haven't heard of.

How long did you work with Novagen?
About 5 years.

What exactly was your role?
Graphic designer. I designed the textures, control interfaces, and most of the 3D maps.

What's your favourite anecdote of this time?
When we were designing Backlash, I had to design the "attackers" as images (as opposed to 3D objects) and size them from 128 x 128 pixels down to 1/4 pixel, using colour to fade them out. When I took the finished designs to Paul, he used a magnifying glass to check the small ones!

What's your all-time favourite computer or console?
Whatever I have now.

What's your all-time favourite game?
No Man's Sky, I don't play it a lot but I was hooked by it almost immediately. I also like Everybody's Gone To The Rapture which is a very unusual and clever game, and quite relaxing. I don't play much of anything these days.

Is there a particular developer (code, gfx, whatever) whom you consider as a genius / pioneer / extra-talented?
Not really. I've met a lot of very talented people over the years so it's difficult to pick one, apart from Paul, of course. Jeff Minter, too.

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?
I wasn't particularly aware of this. I still get occasional emails from Novagen fans but there is no "hero worship"!

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 have a copy of MDDClone and think it's very good. It doesn't worry me that it's freely available but it's not my copyright! I think it's a good idea to distribute the old games as most are impossible to find by any other means.

Have you visited The Mercenary Site? If so, any feedback?
Yes, I have. An interesting site!

You have left the games industry - can you explain why? No chance to see you back?
No, not a chance. After Psygnosis refused to release Damocles I lost my faith in the industry that is supposed to support people like me. It was more complicated than that.

What are you up to these days? What keeps you up at night?
I'm in IT support and am a freelance web designer. And what keeps me up at night is movies, strong coffee and deadlines!

Mo Warden
12th May 1999, updated 25th February 2020

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