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Pookeyhead 5th April 2010, 10:34 Quote
Awesome! I nice trip down memory lane, but educational too. I enjoyed reading that :)
Dave Lister 5th April 2010, 10:35 Quote
Nice little read !
vampalan 5th April 2010, 10:38 Quote
I would like to point out that the talent pool for games programmers suffers from market economics, as in programmers need to choose between the super long hours with relatively lower pay in games compared to working in a bank with normal hours and relatively high pay, I've even know games programmers leave for banks after they decided that the life style of working with games isnt for them. There's lots of evidence of this on the web.
Darkedge 5th April 2010, 10:39 Quote
oops "After Bullfrog’s continued success it was merged into Lionhead, which was later acquired by Microsoft"
Bullfrog was bought by EA and became EA Guildford, Peter M wen to to form Lionhead which has been bought by MS.

Good article but could say more about our last big publisher developer - Codies
Hustler 5th April 2010, 11:22 Quote
I think part of the problem is the inherent British mistrust of all things corporate and big business.

We Brits have a natural tendency to dislike working in companies like EA, Ubisoft, Activision, etc,etc...which are little more than software factory production lines . Its why British game houses never achieve a critical mass to compete.

As soon as the brightest talent within a small company feel they are becoming part of a big corporate entity, they always seem to leave and set up another small company, its what happened to Rare and numerous other once great British softco's.

Its that independent streak that is out greatest strength and weakness. It produces small companies like those which make the likes of Tomb Raider, Batman AA, Little Big Planet, GTA, etc etc.....

Then when they taste success, the big overseas sharks move in, and the founders of those companies cant resist the big payday and sell out.... Media Molecule and Rocksteady being the latest examples....and i wouldnt be surprised to see members of their teams start to drift away over the next couple of years as the drudgery of working on LBP 6 or Batman 5 starts to rot away their independent soul, and the cycle starts all over again.
PQuiff 5th April 2010, 12:30 Quote
Cracking article. TYVM.

And that electron had the memory/joystick expansion. How posh did you have to be to have one of those.
amacieli 5th April 2010, 12:37 Quote
Jeff Linter. Ultimate bedroom coder, and extraordinarily-twisted mind. Revenge of the Mutant Camels, anyone?
Hustler 5th April 2010, 12:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by amacieli
Jeff Minter. Ultimate bedroom coder, and extraordinarily-twisted mind. Revenge of the Mutant Camels, anyone?

Corrected.....shame on you.
mjm25 5th April 2010, 13:25 Quote
nice bank holiday read with a cup of coffee and a cheese toasty that was. yum to all three.
V3ctor 5th April 2010, 13:37 Quote
Great stuff... I really liked this story :)

“I can’t knock on the door of three big UK publishers and say ‘Hi! Do you want to work with your local developers?’ because we’ve only got Codemasters left and they aren’t in a strong position, apparently,” he said. “So, we go to America, Japan, China, France for publishers because we haven’t got anywhere else to go.”

Why is Codemasters in a "bad" situation... Every racing game they get out is a hit... I buy everygame from them, I'm really waiting is for their F1 game... :O

http://www.codemasters.com/map.php?displaymap=true&phrom=/f12010/index.php
Evildead666 5th April 2010, 14:40 Quote
Dragon was a welsh company, they did the Dragon 32, and I think they may have done a Dragon 64/128.
Around the time of the Commodore Vic 20.

I remember seeing a picture of a young bloke sitting on the Porsche he had just bought with the payments from his video game, It was in Computer + Video Games (C+VG) ;)
Back in the early 80's.

A Great read, some of those games are just as enjoyable nowadays as they were then. Especially the adventure games, Elder Scrolls anyone ? The Pawn, Guild of Thieves , and that one where you got to fly the cheese...Mercenary :)

http://www.archive.org/details/C64GVA256-Mercenary
azrael- 5th April 2010, 16:26 Quote
Interesting article, but there was, in my opinion, too little focus on the 80s and especially on luminaries of that decade like Antony Crowther (yes, he was mentioned once) and Jeff Minter (still going strong to this day).

But this really took me down memory lane. Been tinkering with computers and games since 1981 (first on the ZX81 and the TI-99/4A, later on the C64 and the Amiga), so I was able to witness many of these milestones. At one point I even considered moving to the UK and getting into the game business for real. :)

Bah... I'm feeling even older now...
frontline 5th April 2010, 16:38 Quote
Acorn Atom, now that was hardcore! - could be bought in kit form, first home computer that my brother owned. Mine was the spectrum 128k with the built-in dodgy cassette player.

I remember trying to track down games for the Atom on sale in computer magazines at the time, it was hard to find decent games, but there were a few.
Gunsmith 5th April 2010, 16:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by amacieli
Revenge of the Mutant Camels, anyone?

I remember playing that on my Atari ST
CardJoe 5th April 2010, 17:05 Quote
God, I used to love Mutant Camels. I can still remember some of the passwords for the levels off the top of my head.
amacieli 5th April 2010, 17:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hustler
Quote:
Originally Posted by amacieli
Jeff Minter. Ultimate bedroom coder, and extraordinarily-twisted mind. Revenge of the Mutant Camels, anyone?

Corrected.....shame on you.

Deep shame is now being felt.
memeroot 5th April 2010, 18:41 Quote
a complete missreading of the uk software development situation, most of us simply moved to earning 100k + in industry.
if games gave similar returns without the risk involved we'd still be there.. some are in the renued flash markets.
the3 simple fact is that coding became out dated, undervalued, and underrated... there are so many jokers in the it world it isnt funny.

coding is seen as a commodity, the best of the uk is still the best but the dross is overwhelming.
memeroot 5th April 2010, 18:43 Quote
kids should be taught to code not to use a mouse - the basic logic is common from euclid to assembler to c... now where is the hash key
Boogle 5th April 2010, 21:12 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by memeroot
a complete missreading of the uk software development situation, most of us simply moved to earning 100k + in industry.
if games gave similar returns without the risk involved we'd still be there.. some are in the renued flash markets.
the3 simple fact is that coding became out dated, undervalued, and underrated... there are so many jokers in the it world it isnt funny.

coding is seen as a commodity, the best of the uk is still the best but the dross is overwhelming.

^ What he said. Coding is very much seen as a commodity, clients don't see a single difference between agencies so they want miracles for little outlay. I work on web applications and the number of people who think making a web app is as simple as writing a word doc is astounding. I swear they think the features they don't use in Word are for making apps. Then there's the flood of young 'talent' who have coasted through college / uni and think they make a fortune knocking complete tosh together. Utterly destroying the industry and causing even more outsourcing.

Programming is skilled labour, and anything significant requires significant forward-planning. I wouldn't be surprised if the NHS project is spiralling out of control simply because the people behind it keep amending the spec, and the suppliers are more than happy to oblige since the funding seems limitless.

Seriously you would have to be an idiot to go into game dev. Sure it's entertaining - initially, but the excessive hours, poor pay, and the utter slating you'll get from the community mean you'll end up suicidal. Apparently in the US studios go out of their way to hire (almost exclusively) young single men simply because they don't have a family to go home to, and they're happy to work for very little simply cause they're working on games. I guess at least 'game dev' sounds OK, 'web applications developer' is an instant turn off, regardless of any prefixes (senior / lead / god).

What Hustler said is bang on - the best talent deteste working in large companies. I'm guilty of exactly what he said - as soon as beaurocracy starts moving in, I'm off :p What would be ideal was if the big companies went up to an independent and gave them financial security without lording it over. The best thing they could do is ensure there are deadlines, small devs can be terrible for wanting perfection and when there's money available - release dates will never occur. Look at Final Fantasy 13 and GT5...
vampalan 5th April 2010, 22:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogle

Seriously you would have to be an idiot to go into game dev. Sure it's entertaining - initially, but the excessive hours, poor pay, and the utter slating you'll get from the community mean you'll end up suicidal.
I knew a person that was working in a games dev in the UK that hung himself over one Christmas break.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boogle

The best thing they could do is ensure there are deadlines, small devs can be terrible for wanting perfection and when there's money available - release dates will never occur. Look at Final Fantasy 13 and GT5...

GT5 is worth the wait. :D Dont forget Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3. :P
kenco_uk 6th April 2010, 00:35 Quote
I realise there's more to come, but how about Mastertronic and their £1.99/£2.99 range of games? I went mad for them on the C64. Those Darling brothers churned out games like there was no tomorrow.

Anyone remember the BBC Micro game where you had up/down/left/right control of a rocket in a side scrolling environment, with various things to avoid? I think you had to pick up fuel as well iirc.

Thalamus' games, for me, seemed to be very polished with great soundtracks and graphics. Armalyte was very memorable as it was one game I completed to find out if I got a gold code at the end of the game. I actually rang their helpline up about it and they explained to me that it was actually a gold cassette that would've won me a prize. But, as they were impressed by my leet gaming skillz, they sent me some promo posters for their games - awesome! Wish I'd still got them.

I can still remember Amiga Power's tag line for the Frontier review.. Elite was fronty, Elite II is Frontier :D

Wasn't Worms designed by a competition winner? A sort of 'win a place at our studios' thing?

Wipeout was amazing on the PS - I caught a few glances of it when it was first released, but my main love at the time was for Destruction Derby. My childhood dreams in 3d on a 15" screen.. awesome. I couldn't get enough.

I remember Geoff Crammond's Formula 1 on the Amiga - that was stunning. I actually was Nigel Mansell.

Isn't there (or hasn't there been) another gaming alliance previously set up?

I also hope there is an article that focuses on music in games, pinpointing masters of the SID chip in particular. Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway, Ben Daglish, David Whittaker, Jeroen Tel and Tim Follin produced some of the catchiest riffs.
azrael- 6th April 2010, 01:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenco_uk
<snip>

Anyone remember the BBC Micro game where you had up/down/left/right control of a rocket in a side scrolling environment, with various things to avoid? I think you had to pick up fuel as well iirc.

<snip>

I also hope there is an article that focuses on music in games, pinpointing masters of the SID chip in particular. Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway, Ben Daglish, David Whittaker, Jeroen Tel and Tim Follin produced some of the catchiest riffs.
Was that Thrust you're thinking of? If so, then it came for the C64 as well.

Spot on regarding the music on the C64. That was just ace. My personal favourites have to be pretty much anything Martin Galway did and Rob Hubbard's Crazy Comets.

All of this brings me back to when I awaited the latest issue of Zzap! 64 each month. Those were the days! :)
Gizmo1990 6th April 2010, 01:55 Quote
Hustler, I salute you. Nail On Head.

You either work in the games industry or have a very good understanding of it over the years.
kenco_uk 6th April 2010, 09:22 Quote
I've still got my US Gold mug from my Zzap!64 subscription.

azrael- - It wasn't Thrust.. it was called something like Space Wars, but not. All in basic 2d sprites, quite colourful.
Tsung 6th April 2010, 09:40 Quote
From your original description I would of said "Thrust" as well :/. The only other game I can think of is Scramble (old arcade game), a clone of which was called Rocketraid ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_DvnCXaHvE ) on the BBC B.
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