Profile, A&B February 1988
Tracked down at last! One of your more frequent requests to The Arcade was for a profile of Kevin Edwards, whose Galaforce from Superior last year was a great favourite.
Well, good things come to those who wait and, after bumping into Kevin at a recent show, he agreed to put himself in the spotlight and reveal his innermost self. Not to mention admitting to a couple of relatively unimpressive early games! Just remember, Kevin, confession is good for the soul.
So, Kevin Edwards, software programmer and protection expert, this is your life -
I first became interested in microcomputers when I started computer studies at school. All of my early programming experience was on the school's Commodore PET - 8K RAM, cassette storage. About a year later I was bought a Nascom 2 (a British made 32K RAM kit computer). I wrote many programs on my Nascom and soon learnt Z80 machine code and hand assembled my own arcade style games - none of them were ever completed as I kept moving onto new ideas.
Over the next few years I saw the arrival of the Commodore VIC 20, C64, Spectrum and many others. Nearly all of these new micros were capable of colour graphics and sound. However, I resisted the temptation to buy any of them until the arrival of a new Acorn micro. I saved up and eventually bought a BBC model A. This was soon upgraded to 32k RAM with User VIA so I could play the early Acornsoft games - Planetoids mainly. I still use this micro to write games on.
After learning BBC BASIC, I progressed to 6502 assembler, which I knew a little about from programming on the PET. During this period I had a break from programming because of my 'O' levels.
I stayed on at the same school to take my A' levels, computer studies included. During 1983 I played around with lots of ideas and programming techniques - on the BBC - and didn't really get my teeth into any real projects.
During the summer holidays I was offered a 6 week job at Optima software writing BBC programs. It was there that I wrote Optimon - a simple machine code monitor - and Atomic Protector - a maze game similar in concept to Pacman. Both programs were marketed but didn't sell very well.
The following summer - right after my 'A' level exams - I worked for Database Software on a program called Micro Olympics. I joined near the completion of the Spectrum and Commodore 64 versions. After this experience I decided that I was much happier working with the BBC Micro than the Spectrum or C64.
A few weeks later I was offered a full time job in the editorial department of The Micro User/Electron User. I spent the next 18 months with Database publications and learned a lot about the BBC Micro and met many other BBC programmers and enthusiasts. During my spare time I used to write protection systems for several software houses. For some strange reason I found this fun as well as rewarding. I protected many games, including Knight Lore, Alien 8, Wizadore, Beach Head, Yie-Ar Kung Fu, Match Day, Lunar Jetman, Nightshade, Stryker's Run ... etc
By early '86 I had decided that I wanted to concentrate more on programming and hoped to get some of my own software published, so I decided to take a risk and leave Database to become a freelance programmer.
Everything went well and in September 86 Superior Software published BBC and Electron versions of my shoot 'em up game Galaforce. It didn't quite have the same impact as Elite when it was launched but received many excellent reviews. I was very happy with the royalties I received and started looking for ideas for my next game.
My next project was Crazee Rider, a fun motorcycle racing game in which you compete against other riders at famous race circuits. This shot into the top half of the BBC software charts immediately and is still selling very well.
I like to keep my future project ideas as secret as possible. For the immediate future I can see no reason why I won't be writing BBC and Electron games. There may also be an Archimedes game in 88 if the market grows enough.
1983 Atomic Protector (BBC)
1983 Optimon (BBC)
1986 Galaforce (BBC and Electron)
1987 Crazee Rider (BBC, Electron and Master enhanced)
1988 ?Who knows?
That's the official Edwards story but what about all of our unanswered questions? Don't be impatient, we're on the case.
Tell us about the cheat modes in your games.
I have not put any cheats in my games to date.
Okay then, what about unfinished or unreleased gems?
All but one of my unfinished projects didn't get past the 2nd week of coding. The exception to this was a 1983 BBC Micro game called Storky, a sideways scrolling game in which you controlled a stork who bounced a basketball! The graphics by Chris Roberts were very good in 1983 but are ok by today's standards. Storky was abandoned after a couple of months for no apparent reason. I might use the idea for a future game if I can bring the game scenario up to date.
What equipment do you use?
I develop my games on a Master 128 with second processor. Graphics are now created on an Archimedes using my own sprite editor module written in August '87 - my first Archimedes program.
Why, with your talent, have you written so few games?
I tend to write games at a slow pace and spend more time thinking about how to do things faster and smoother. I find that rushing any piece of software results in bad coding, unless you know exactly what to do from past experience.
What then is the easiest part of your job?
The hardest part in writing a game is coming up with an original idea. The programming is the easy bit - assuming there's enough memory.
And your favourite games?
I don't have a favourite game as such. Very few games keep my attention for more than a couple of minutes nowadays. Arcade games such as Out Run are great to watch, but unfortunately a good micro conversion of them is impossible.
And finally, Kevin, what about some hard biographical info?
What? Must I? Okay, then.
Name: Kevin J.T Edwards.
Age: 21, single.
Occupation: Freelance programmer.
Home Address: Altrincham, Cheshire.
Interests: Computing, amateur radio, music, role playing games and reading.
Likes: Humourous films, the ARM, Ferraris, Mission Hi-fi equipment (good man! - Ed.), Tenerife, the 'Old Orleans' restaurant in Cambridge.
Dislikes: Smoke filled pubs, noisy discos/clubs and 'trendy' people.
This article appeared in the February 1988 edition of "A & B Computing", published by Argus Press.
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