Thursday, 16 August 2012

Day 82 - Who were your Gods?

I realise that I'm talking about all the things I'm going to do with this book... the people I'm going to feature, the games I'm going to write about.  And I've got a very long list of both.  But it's not exhaustive.  It couldn't be.

Having said that, this is called They Were Our Gods, not They Were My Gods.  Now, I have my vision for the book, and that's important.  I won't just start jumping to the tune of others every time I'm given a suggestion.  But I do welcome suggestions, and I've always said that.

I also think it's important to be open and to have a dialogue going here.  And I'd like to further that where possible.  The more this is talked about, the better, as far as I'm concerned.  I love receiving comments on my pieces, whether they're good or bad (and to be fair, there haven't been any bad ones yet).

Bear in mind that I do have a Twitter feed and a Facebook page; you can find them at the right hand side of this blog.  Please follow me or like my page if you don't already.  I'd welcome more discussion in those places, too.

And so, to the point of this post: who were your Gods?  Like I said, my list is extensive but not exhaustive.  If you had a particular game or programmer that you thought was great, even if they were obscure or nobody else liked them, then they could still warrant inclusion in a book of this type.  I've certainly got some obscure personal favourites down that I want to mention, so don't be shy!  Shout up, and we can get a great discussion going.


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  2. I've already mentioned my love for Paradroid, so Andrew Braybrook is a given, but I've put a bit of thought into some others that might not be on everyone's list (such as Jon Ritman). Here's a few that are still quite mainstream, but I guess that doesn't hurt:

    Dave Reidy - author of the classic "Skool" games and, in my opinion, way ahead of his time with the sandbox type of game. Might be hard to get hold of (Retro Gamer managed it once) but worth it to get some more insights into the wonderful digital environments he created.

    Don Priestley - famous for his huge sprites in games like Trap Door and Popeye. I still remember loading Trap Door for the first time and being shocked at being able to control something that took up a good chunk of the screen! His games always had a sense of fun too, although Through The Trap Door was too hard (but that's another issue!).

    Stephen Crow - Firelord blew me away with its fast paced action combined with exploring and trading elements. I didn't realise at the time he was also responsible for Starquake, another favourite. I would imagine he is one of the most accomplished coders on the Speccy, up there with the sadly now departed Jonathan Smith.

    Fergus McNeil - I hated text adventures when I was a kid. Sorcerer of Claymorgue Castle put me off of them big time when I got it as part of the "10 Computer Hits" compilation. Then I came across Bored of the Rings and I never looked back. Little did I know that he lived in the same road as where I went to school, and would interview him for a fanzine I did as part of a project - but that's another story. Very friendly guy (at least, he was 25 years ago!) and shouldn't be that hard to get hold of.

    Paul Woakes - Not sure if anyone has ever got hold of him for an interview, but Damocles was the first game to really open my eyes as to what you could achieve in 3D. I spent dozens of hours exploring every nook and cranny in the universe he put together, and loved the fact there were multiple solutions to what was a remarkably open ended game. Mercenary didn't really do it for me, as I wasn't a huge fan of vector graphics (Star Wars being perhaps the only exception), but once he made the leap to filled 3D for the sequel I was hooked.

  3. Good list! So good, I've already got four of them down for inclusion. Good shout on Fergus McNeil though, I've added him to my substantial folder.

    1. I suspected you might have a few on my list already down, but it's nice to know for sure. If your book ends up with just 25% of the people that you want to include, it's still going to be a cracking read.

      Text adventure writers tend to get overlooked, so if you could get Fergus McNeill (it's double L, I spotted my error after I had posted!) that would be great. I previously mentioned Peter Torrance too, but I know there is some question over whether he is British or not.

      After a bit more thinking, here's a much more obscure one for you - M. J. Child. He (or she!) wrote two games for Mastertronic on the Speccy - Locomotion and Action Biker.

      I loved Locomotion (a sliding tile puzzle game) so much that I ripped it off by replacing the train/track with a car/road and creating my own game (Manic Manoeuvre), that got published on an Amiga Power coverdisk.

      Action Biker is a game that gets no love on the WoS forums, but I love it as I used to play it with my Dad. We would drive the little motorbike around the streets, going in the different houses to try and find items - and ultimately complete the game - but I can see why people don't enjoy it. It's unfair in places, and the little tune that plays when you go in a house ends up driving you crazy, but overall we had a lot of fun and it was just £1.99. The C64 version is completely different (I assume it's by a different author), being a scrolling isometric explore and collect game, and most people seem to prefer it (I think it's great too).

      I know it might not be worth the effort to track down M. J. Child for two lesser known games, but I'd certainly be very interested!

    2. Well, it's like I said... they were OUR Gods, not just mine. If someone was a God to someone, they're worth including. To be honest, things like this have been making me have a slight re-think over the last week or so... more of that in an upcoming post.

  4. Nick Jones... produced some cracking C64 titles, albeit some conversions of Rafael Cecco's classic Speccy games. Dave Collier, who did arcade conversions for Ocean in the same way that Stephen Ruddy would later for Software Creations.

  5. Some good shouts there. Dave Collier was actually the first person I contacted. Some questions are with him... I just hope the number of them didn't frighten him off!

  6. Just discovered you via Twitter so dunno if these have already been covered. There's the obvious ones (Sandy White, Matthew Smith, Jeff Minter) and I love Mousey's suggestions. Chris Hinsley and Neil Strudwick of Mikro-Gen et al. William Tang (Melbourne House) was responsible for so much of my joy though I didn't realize it at the time.

    And an unknown(s) - who did all the airbrush-everything cover art and posters for Software Projects' games? My bedroom wall was covered with promo posters from Software Projects and Ultimate after my mum wrote to them and asked for free stuff.

    Yeah, I was a Speccy kid.

  7. Sir Geoff Crammond
    Malcolm Evans (creator of the Trashman games on the Spectrum and 3D Monster Maze)
    Gollop Brothers
    Pickford Brothers!
    Tony Crowther (Liberation)

  8. coolpowers: glad you found me. I'm glad whenever anyone finds me! The Mikro-Gen crew are a good additional shout. Box and poster artists are an interesting idea. I wonder how many of them could be tracked down?

    taketwotablets: good names, although if I can actually get hold of Geoff Crammond and get him to contribute I'll eat my hat, and put a photo of me eating said hat inside the front cover of the book when it's finished.