By Kevin Blake, Winter 2000

A very revealing little piece, this! A behind-the-scenes look at what went on behind closed doors at one of the largest software publishers for the BBC/Electron series - Tynesoft. It contains lots of juicy gossip on some of the more familiar Acorn programmers, all of whom worked for Tynesoft at one stage in their career. But be forewarned that the events depicted in Part Two certainly do border on the extreme ...

Here's a small list of the less risqué things I can talk about at Tynesoft. Better known as Tynesoft Boys Club.

Can't really tell you any more, I'd probably be hunted down and killed!

However, Kevin did reveal four more damning facts. But because of their explicit nature, they may only be viewed AFTER you have made a conscious decision to see them (i.e. clicked the link below).

Under no circumstances should you proceed if you feel such topics as excretion, genital disfigurement and, erm, 'canine stimulation' are likely to offend.


Continue to Part Two

Tynesoft Staff: Image 1

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I believe I took this picture in 1987. I can vaguely remember Dave Croft asking me to take a picture of him posing in front of his new RX7 sports car ... then everyone wanted to be in on the act. Left to right as follows ...

Mike Landruff aka Mikbox 'I have the girth' (Artist)
Settled down now and living in Cramlington, Northumberland.

Sparky (Programmer)
Wrote the now infamous Supergran and Rig Attack. After Tynesoft went belly up he moved on to Flair Software, until last year. Now runs a very successful pub called the Sun Inn.

Baldrick (Artist)
Sacked by Tynesoft but re-hired by Flair (Tynesoft 2) in the mid-nineties for Amiga work. Last seen working for IG (Interactive Games) in Fulham.

Gary Grey aka Gazza (16 bit Programmer)
Left Tynesoft for Audiogenic, then Codemasters. Currently works for Darkblack Entertainment.

Bruce Nesbitt (Programmer)
Did Wizzy's Mansion, Jack the Nipper and lots of 16-bit titles in the 80's. More recently co-authored 'Z' for the Bitmap Brothers ... is about to finish 'Z 2: Steel Soldiers'. Calmed down a lot since the 80's it must be said ....

Paul Drummond (Artist)
Don't know where he is currently, but after Tynesoft worked for Flair Software and on the Simon the Sorceror Games.

Phil Scott (Artist/Programmer)
A mere child in this pic. Went on to Flair, then Rage Software. He started as an artist doing some of the gfx for Indoor Sports, but quickly established himself as a programmer. Currently a leading member of Nvidia's Dev Team.

Gary Partis (Programmer)
Probably the most talented programmer I've ever met especially in hardware application. Moved mainly into the business side of things after Tynesoft, running his own company now, I believe.

Dave Croft (Programmer)
Did tons of stuff for Tynesoft and Icon, then became a manager for Audiogenic. More recently a division head for ST Microelectronics.

Mike Hedley (Atari/Amiga Specialist)
Worked on most of the 16-bit versions of Tynesoft's games. Moved on to Flair after the closure and subsequently on to Rage Software where he now does PS2.

Steve Tall (Atari/Amiga Programmer)
Also worked on most of the 16-bit versions of Tynesoft's games. Moved to the Bitmap Bros and responsible for some of their most successful stuff to date i.e. Gods and Z. Now lives in Las Vegas working for Westwood Studios where he was lead programmer on Command and Conquer Tiberium Sun.

Dave Mann aka Chris Robson (Programmer)
Another Icon refugee like myself and Dave Croft. Well know as a cutting edge programmer of the time - looks no different now than he did then - kinda scarey! Did a lot of quality stuff including Contraption, Mousetrap, Jet Set Willy 1/2.

Tynesoft Staff: Image 2

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As above to some extent, except:

Bottom left
Brian Jobling (Atari and other 8-bit programmer)
Went on to become the owner of Zepplin Games who then much later became Eutechnix ...

Middle Right
Julian Jameson (C16 programmer)
Did decent conversions of BBC stuff to the C16 and Plus Four. Much better known these days as the programmer of most versions of Cannon Fodder.

Follow up from David Croft:

I've read all the stuff that Kevin Blake has sent you regarding the Tynesoft Boys Club. I'm the David Croft mentioned (although I took my wife's surname of Lloyd when we were married 4 years ago (a women's equality thing!!)).

One thing that Kevin's article seemed to lack, is any juicy tit-bits that referred to himself - more than just an oversight me thinks! Anyway, allow me to paint a picture of Kevin ...

I don't think Kevin has actually ever had a job, he chooses to work on a freelance basis from his bedroom at his parents home in Newcastle. This room is about 10 square metres and packed full of hundreds of DVD's, Videos, games, a BIG TV, Desk, double bed, lots and lots of empty crisp packets (Kevin's staple diet) and hundreds of second hand computer bits which he uses to build PC's. Recently, I offered Kevin a job at the company I now work for as product director, Wanova. After his first day, Kevin missed him mum too much so quit and went home :-(

The first time I worked with Kevin was on a cricket sim - Ian Botham's Test Match (yes the one he's slagged off primarily because he can't play it). Now, although we were supposed to be splitting the proceeds of this 50-50, I ended up doing most of the work as Kevin was also writing a 'Bug Eyes' game at the time. This was to be a conversion of an Australian Cricket sim called 'Hozzat' which ran (in 2 player only mode) on a C64. Our brief was to convert it to the BBC and make it one or two player (remember 64k in the commodore, 32 in the Beeb). Kevin wanted to do a cop out and write it in low res, 4 colour mode but said no, we'll do it in mode 1 (hi res) (I'm hard like that!). We had about 8k to fit in the code and graphics. I knew nothing about cricket (except that you hit a ball and ran) and therefore agreed to handle the coding of the arcade sections and graphics generation whilst Kevin handled the simple scoreboard coding. After 6 weeks, we completed the project with the required 1 or 2 player mode and the addition of a computer v computer mode where the game would play a whole test match against itself - really neat! Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that, for an 8k bit of code, the game was quite an achievement (scoreboard was a bit crap though!).

Well, I guess this article signals the end of my friendship with Kevin so I guess I'd better sign off (for now anyway!)

Photos from Gary Partis: