I can't believe I got away with it for so long! Everything seems half
finished. I wish I could go back and alter little bits here and there.
The 'auto-stabbing' action in Green Beret was a bug introduced at the
last minute, as was the strange absence of baddies in the later stages of Terra
I'm proud of my 'Cobra-Scroll' routine. That was quite clever. The
Spectrum's 'stack' was pointed at the screen and graphic data was
'pushed' onto it, drawing sixteen pixels with one instruction.
Some of the in-game sound routines where also good.
QWas it a challenge working on all those spin-offs and
conversions or would you have preferred to work with
more original ideas?
The only real challenge was finishing within the deadline. Three or
four months allotted for each project didn't leave much time for development.
That's why all those Ocean games look and play the same. I think Terra Cresta took about a month to write, and it shows!
Q What was the Spectrum like to work with? What were its
The Spectrum didn't have any redeeming features at all, really, but it
was fast. It was fun trying to invent new ways of doing things. Of course everyone hated the awful sound and the dreaded attribute clash!
Q Do you have a favourite Spectrum game?
I like most of the Ultimate ones. I was addicted to Artic's Galaxians
point. Imagine's Jumping Jack is good.
Q How did you leave the Spectrum?
I moved over to Atari ST development after Batman The Caped Crusader,
although I did write Hyper Active, a Spectrum cover game for Sinclair
some time later. This was the late 80's and there wasn't much of an 8
market left. It was about this time that I did the background computer
displays for the Red Dwarf II television series.
Do you miss the old days at all? How do you think they
compare to today's games industry?
It didn't seem like a job in the old days. I liked getting paid for
hobby. Now the machines are much more advanced so it's easier to get a
end product without that much effort. I don't think programmers are as
inventive any more. Everything is done for them. Sure, the games are
generally bigger and flashier, but so is the price. I can't believe
would pay fifty quid for a game.
Did you leave any Spectrum projects unfinished?
A No. The only unfinished games where Mr. Do! on the Gameboy, which
had a limited release in its incomplete form, and something called
Buster on the Super Nintendo.
Any anecdotes from your time at Ocean?
People used to glue things to the ceiling in unreachable places.
Someone claiming to have written Knight Lore came for a job, but he
clearly hadn't and didn't.
I remember John Ritman (Match Day, Head Over Heels) having a go at me
for wasting memory by storing graphics in pre-shifted positions (this was
done for speed).
We turned Martin Galway's (the musician) room completely upside down
The first version of Street Hawk, done in a Defender style, was deemed
rubbish so it had to be rewritten. However, Ocean were committed to releasing
this version through various catalogues because they were printed months in
advance. I remember that they removed all identification marks, return
address, etc, off the packaging. If anyone has a copy it's probably a
What have you been up to since leaving the 8-bit scene?
A After working on the ST (Red Heat, Midnight Resistance, Recoil, Hudson
Hawk) I moved onto the Gameboy (Mr. Do!), then the Super Nintendo
(Cluster Buster), and finally the Megadrive (Power Drive).
During the summer of '95 I decided I'd had enough and left the games
industry to have a well earned rest. No, I haven't been in jail!
In March 2000 I was approached by Rage Software to develop mobile phone
software. I've just completed a WAP adventure game for Orange called
My thanks to Jof for the interview. You can find his website here.