Software Portfolio 1984 - 2000
1984 - 1992
All BBC Micro/Electron versions unless stated.
TYNESOFT BUSINESS SERVICES / SOFTWARE (1984)
Educational. NOT the same company as Tynesoft Ltd. My first bit of software ever and the first to use the name changing loader!
SPACE CAVERNS (co-author)
First game I was involved in. I did it with Jason Sobell. We made a whole £5 in royalties and the twat didn't give me my half!
My first properly released game, my first experience of being ripped off. Amounts vary, but I reckon that [name removed] stole about £8000 in royalties from me. I was very innocent at the time and should have known better.
FRANKENSTEIN 2000 (Electron assembler version)
Did this because Dave Croft's version was in BASIC! The original Electron version was way too slow. By the time I re-did it, it was 10 times better that the BBC, but still s**t!
ZELDA VS THE BUGEYES
ICON / AUDIOGENIC
Game No. 2. A conversion from a Spectrum game, hence Mode 1 and the cute gfx.
Written as a bet with Peter Johnson. He wondered how quickly you could write a game and get paid for it. I won! It was a straight Lunar Rescue game done in my spare time over a 3 day period, for £500.
WINTER OLYMPIAD (co-author)
WINTER OLYMPICS 88 (co-author)
SUMMER OLYMPIAD (co-author)
COMMONWEALTH GAMES (co-author)
Did these with Dave Croft. All big sellers, they were the backbone of Tynesoft's business for a long while. Winter Olympiad was our first game after ICON/AUDIOGENIC together; unfortunately it was a conversion from the C16. At this point Tynesoft was just getting going and there were no 16-bit machines about so to speak. As a result we used the graphics we were given (OOF!) and did it purely for the dosh. We took something like £1500 each for it, no royalties. At the time, both of us were skint and on the dole. So we snapped it up. If we had took the royalties, we'd have got something like £8,000 each - OUCH!
Have you seen the cover to Commonwealth Games? It's an athlete on the podium, just won gold and is waving to the crowd. The 16-bit versions of the game were all banned in Germany - looked too much like a Hitler style salute. They eventually got round it by mirroring the athlete and giving him 2 arms in the air. We did laugh though!
Quick rip-off of Bugeyes 1 / Zelda Meets the Bugeyes. Purely a graphical change, and bugger all else ...
US DRAG RACING (C16 ONLY)
Almost as laughable as the BBC & Electron versions by Dave Croft, written on a BBC for the C16. It worked really well, strangely enough. When we did this it was done in teletext, ported to the C16 and it worked - at Tynesoft we did stuff like that. It's quite funny when I think about it now, because it was a development method well ahead of its time! Gary Partis did stuff like this all the time, but with the likes of the PC and ST/Amiga. That's why graphically a lot of our later efforts looked so good, especially the presentation stuff as it was all converted from 16-bit machines direct to Mode 1 on the BBC!
IAN BOTHAMS TEST MATCH (co-author)
I don't like cricket, so lets get that out the way with first. This was co-written with Dave Crofts again, but has a good story to go with it ... actually two good stories ...
The game was released twice. The first time, it sold about 400 copies in a month. Then Ian Botham was all over the news for smoking cannabis and all of a sudden, 1000's of copies were flying out per week. It was incredible - we really were shocked. It was my first number one game ever. Not only was it number 1 in the BBC chart, but it made it into the top 10 on all formats. That was some going at the time, because of the popularity of the C64 and Speccy.
The second story is even funnier .... this was classic Tynesoft (I never actually worked as an employee for Tynesoft - I was always self employed, right up until 1994). After the success of the BBC version, people were crying out for an Electron version. Dave thought he could do it by himself, while I was working on Blockbusters for Domark (get this if you haven't got it, it's cute!). Unfortunately, Dave is a slap/dash artist and we still laugh about this now ... most of the directional stuff and the ball being hit runs from a random number generator. In particular a memory location that didn't exist on the Electron. So, being the clever boy that he is, he didn't actually test the game on an Electron. It must be the only cricket game on any platform where it was IMPOSSIBLE to actually hit the ball. At this point that famous quote from the Falklands war comes to mind, in relation to the disks and tapes - 'I watched them all go out and then all come back again'. For months, even years later, some 4,000 rogue copies came back to Tynesoft. We used to get phone calls routed to the programmer's office (Boys Club) about faulty cricket games. When I was working at home on conversion work for Audiogenic/Domark etc., the programmers at Tynesoft (twats) used to redirect the calls to MY home number, particularly Dave Croft (the s**t) who thought it was extremely funny. This was just one of the practical jokes that went on constantly.
SPY VS SPY
The longest I ever took to write a BBC game, about 5 months. It had to be identical to the original and we were given no help or data from the originators. I had to play thru the game and manually sketch everything down. Eventually, I wasn't getting anywhere with the gfx so I managed to dump some from the Amstrad CPC version. Everything after that was a walk in the park. Another No. 1 and the best reviews I'd ever had.
INDOOR SPORTS (co-author)
I still like this today. I'd love to write this for the Gameboy; the original was such a classic. Tynesoft also did the C16 version and the lad that did the background screen with the dartboard on was dyslexic. He managed to put a 12 at the top of the board instead of a 20. For a laugh I left it in. If you look closely on the BBC version you might see a slight flicker on the 20 at the top. The 20 is actually a sprite being printed over the top!
Known sometimes as BUGEYES 3, although it was never meant to be.
RODEO GAMES (also APPLE II)
SUPERMAN (also APPLE II)
These two were conversions of 16-bit games and came out O.K. I did conversions for the Apple II, using a similar method to US Drag Racing, except in Mode 5. When the code was ported, the only difference between the BBC/Electron and Apple II was the file handling (by Gary Partis) and the screen stuff. The Apple and BBC were VERY similar, surprisingly so. Rodeo Games was published by First Star in the States (they did Spy vs Spy and Boulderdash) and it was a huge success for them, purely down to the fact that it didn't look like any other Apple II game. It looked identical to the Electron version!
SPACE CAVERNS 2
Space Caverns re-written in machine code for a compilation tape. Wot a beauty (NOT!).
BEVERLY HILLS COP
TYNESOFT's final game ...
It was a bit of a shock when Tynesoft went bust. It was a bit unexpected, even though there had been cashflow problems. They were brought down by their sister company, a printing works. What happened was that they tried to become a big printing operation, bought loads of hi-tech equipment (stuff that cost hundreds of thousands of quid) and then couldn't pay for it. They tried to use non-labour workers and got blacklisted by the local unions. It had to be the stupidest move you've ever seen. They had a good staff of programmers and artists, low costs and a good user base. People bought the games in the thousands every month. Tynesoft had a party once because their turnover reached the £1 million mark. It was a fantastic feat at the time and it was all thrown away on a whim .... really sad. However the fun didn't end there - there was still weird stuff to happen. The staff heard the receivers were on the way, so there was a massive free-for-all. Typical - all happened on the day I wasn't in. Twats (again). However, the stories were entered into legend about the number of trips Gary Partis made in his car that day, ferrying stuff to his house, never to be seen again. Anyhow, within weeks I was approached by the receiver to finish Beverly Hills Cop, which I did with Stephen Robson who was a Spectrum programmer back then. As you can guess it was a bit of an abortion from start to finish. A side story to all this was that everything that got done on the game got seen personally by Eddie Murphy, which excited us at the time. Tynesoft was showing no signs of impending doom, so we regularly sent stuff to the States. Unfortunately, one of the programmers thought it would be funny if he drew a bone through Eddie's nose as he sat on the bonnet of the car (on the game cover). It was missed by him and almost went to duplication like that!
When Tynesoft went bust, it split acrimoniously into Flair Software and ID Ltd (no, not the Quake lot!). I worked for both up until 1997 when the majority of the staff were laid off by Flair Software who, strangely enough, only do religious or hunting games for the U.S. - work that one out.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT 2
My worst effort ever - a case of take the money and run. This just couldn't be squeezed onto a BBC and be good. I think it just hid so nobody could find it!
DOMARK / TENGEN (ATARI)
EMLYN HUGHES ARCADE QUIZ
EMLYN HUGHES SOCCER
The above three are floating about somewhere. They never got released because of the death of the BBC market around 1992, which was a shame because they were quite good. [Emlyn Hughes Quiz & Loopz WERE actually released by Audiogenic in '92]
I did all three really quickly: Loopz was completed in 27 days and the two Emlyn Hughes games were done back to back. One was a neat soccer game, the other a pub quiz style arcade machine. Just as I was finished, the BBC market had effectively died. I was a victim of my own success to some extent. I'd done 3 games in less than 7 months and there wasn't anything left to do. I remember thinking at the time it was the end of an era. Most of the other programmers I knew were already into the 16-bit machines like the ST, Amiga and PC.
PAST PC PROJECTS
1983 - 1997
INTERNATIONAL SPORTS (co-author)
HUCKLEBERRY HOUND (quickie)
CANYON CAPERS (quickie)
VILLA CRESPO (USA)
SHOCKWAVE EXPRESS (approx 20%)
FLAIR SOFTWARE / WELLA
WINTER OLYMPICS (approx 33%)
FLAIR SOFTWARE (1997)
This was Spy vs Spy for the PC. Got good reviews but was only released in Europe. Lots of in-jokes in the gfx and hidden in the code. My last game for Flair and on the PC.
70% Complete. Not published due to a dispute between THQ & Codemasters.
MTV SPORTS SKATEBOARDING FEAT. ANDY MACDONALD (co-author)
DARK BLACK / THQ
SCOOTER GAME (provisional title)