you get started in computers?
Through owning a Speccy. I used to play arcade games
(Space Invaders was still around then), and wondered
how they worked. Then I saw adverts for similar games
that you could buy for home computers and consoles
(e.g. ZX-81and Atari). I didn't want to just play
other people's games on a console because I had my own
ideas. So I decided to buy a ZX-81.
did you first see a Spectrum and what were your first
I had just decided to get a ZX-81 when I saw the first
adverts for the Spectrum. It did colour, which always
impresses me, and had "hi-res" graphics. Of
course it couldn't do colour AND hi-res graphics at
the same time, but no-one knew at the time. There was
a picture of a 3-D graph on an orange screen, and some
Microdrives. It could play games too, so that was it -
I had to have one. I ordered one, and it arrived a
mere 6 months later. It was worth the wait.
was your first game?
The first one I remember playing was a version of
Defender by Quicksilva. As for the first one I
programmed; I did a version of the "trench
run" from the Star Wars arcade game. This amused
me for hours. The first game I had published was a
deservedly little-known effort called
Games have you had published on the Spectrum?
Subterranean Stryker; Star Firebirds; Vectron; Future
Games; The Sentinel; Bubble Bobble; Black Lamp; Bionic
Commando; LED Storm; Robot Attack; Ghouls 'n' Ghosts.
do you think of your games? Which is your personal
There were some rather poor ones, but some pretty good
ones too. I have a few favorites, for different
reasons. I had lots of fun programming Bubble Bobble
and Bionic Commando - they were both great arcade
games. Ghouls 'n' Ghosts was fun too - that was a
great arcade game, and probably my best programming.
The Sentinel was special too, but I can't take much of
the credit for that one as I borrowed a lot of code.
were the best/worse things about working with the
best thing was that you were in control of everything.
The entire machine was available, with no interfering
operating system. It was beautifully simple - just
some RAM and a processor to shuffle it around. Once
you'd learnt the language, you could make it do
anything. The worst thing was... I suppose it could
have had a more flexible display mode. The attribute
clash problem was always there, so you had to do
things in low-res or monochrome to some extent.
did you leave the Spectrum scene? Were you sad to
It was when the Gameboy appeared. A new Z80-based
machine with a much more vast user-base was very
tempting. I didn't see that there was much more to do
with the Speccy either - I'd pushed it pretty hard
with my last couple of titles. It was sad to leave it
behind; but I still own one or two.
games have you had published since the Spectrum days
and what are you doing now?
the Spectrum, I've worked on these published titles:
Spiderman and the X-Men (SNES)
Toy Story (SNES)
Shadow Master (PC)
Quake 2 (PlayStation)
Pocket Soccer (GameBoy Colour) - released March 2001
now I've left the computer industry altogether. I'm at
theological college, and I'm training to be a priest
in the Church of England. Is that different enough?
were your favorite Spectrum games and why?
Most impressive at the time was probably Knightlore.
The 3-D graphics were just a quantum leap from
anything else. Manic Miner was more fun to play,
though - and it was a beautifully simple program.
The Stampers were always at the forefront; I think
Keith Burkhill also deserves a mention (for Ghosts 'n'
Goblins.) As for musicians, I'll give you one guess...
would'nt be Tim Follin would it Mike? - ed)
you use an emulator to play any of your old games?
Yes, I have an emulator on my laptop with all my old
games and one or two others.
was the last Spectrum game you wrote? Did you leave
anything unfinished? (and if so is there any chance
we'll ever get to see it!)
The last one was Ghouls 'n' Ghosts. There was
something I wrote once that never saw the light of day
- it was on 5 1/4 disks, and my drive broke - so I
abandoned it. Lost forever, I'm afraid!
you ever feel like throwing together another Spectrum
game nowadays just for old times sake? The reception
on the net would be unbelievable.
If I had a few months on a desert island with my
laptop, maybe. Otherwise, there are just too many
other things to do.
do you think about modern games? Can they compete with
the classics? Aren't they all presentation and no game
I think that today there is the *possibility* for that
to be the case - and it's certainly true of far too
many games. But it's not necessarily always the case.
There are some great games around - I'd point to
Half-Life, and the Command & Conquer series as
examples of modern games that have more advanced
gameplay than was ever seen on the Spectrum.
there anything or anybody that you miss about the old
There was always a good sense of camaraderie in the
speccy days, friendly rivalry with the C64
programmers, and lots of great characters (off and on
the screen!) I'm still in touch with some of the
people from those days, so I suppose that's something
to take away from the industry.
amusing anecdotes/stories etc about the old days?
Can't remember any now! But I'm sure there were
you anything to say to people who still use the
easier to use an emulator. Anyone interested in
videogames should play some of the Spectrum classics
just to get a feel of how things have developed. The
world wasn't created already containing PlayStation 2!