By Peter Ward
What was your first gaming experience?
Jesus that’s going back a bit, i suppose it was pong back in the 70s, my came home one day with a machine that plugged into the TV and had two controllers so we could play a bat and ball game not sure if it was the Atari pong or one of the Binatone knock offs, either way with two brothers and a sister we played it for hours.
What got you into programming games?
In September 1982, I went to my brother’s friend’s house and saw a commodore 64 for the first time, we spent a day typing in and playing with the balloon program from the book of basic that came with the commodore 64, i was hooked so the very next day I went and bought a Commodore 64 and Tape deck from Dixons for £250, which was a lot of money back then, luckily Dixons were offering credit so I signed up and took it home that day.
At that time I was a truck mechanic working for the National Freight Corporation on shifts, my shifts were 4 10 hour days on, then 4 days off, then 5 days on and days off, which was great as that meant I could spend 4 days straight playing with my new toy, it did not stop there as i would also play with it as soon as I got home from work till the early hours in the morning and all weekend for the rest of the time.
What development tools or coding did you use?
Tools there’s a laugh back in 1982 there were no tools, so i wrote my own, i wrote a character/sprite editor initially in basic which i later converted to machine code as soon as I discovered what it was from the C64 Programmer’s Reference Guide and the Mon64 cartridge was released in about 1983.
What is your pet coding peeve?
Spaces instead of tabs! When you spend as much time with your head in code as i do you need it nicely aligned/layed out and readable, i once came across someone’s code where all the variable and function names were swear words, I kid you not, I write nice clean code and i also don’t go in for the Hungarian notation that some still use thinking they are being professional. Back in the day it was necessary to have pForPointer and bForBoolean but today with modern compilers and IDE’s you only have to put the mouse over the variable to find out what type it is in fact now in C++ they have a type called Auto which lets the compiler define its type based on its usage, so what that aAuto?
What do you think is the greatest coding achievement on the zx spectrum?
Firstly i have never coded a ZX Spectrum in my life, the Spectrum next is my first foray into the Spectrum world, but coding achievements in general, wow, there have been so many over the years don’t forget i have been continually making games now for over 40 years, so in that time I have coded for the c64, Commodore Plus 4, Amiga, CDTV, CD32, Atari St, Sega Mega drive, PC, Android and IOS, I think i have written more lines of code than JK Rowling has written sentences, I certainly have more published works than her.
Who are your hero coders of the past?
It’s not so much coders as I can code with the best, my math skills are not as good as say John Carmack or Tim Sweeney but give me some sprites and a few kilobytes of ram and I will make you a game, can we say the same for them? True hero’s are people like Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Sotashi Nakamoto and Yuri Gagarin.
What music do you code to?
What hurdles did you have making your current game?
Firstly I had to learn z80, then I had to learn the Spectrum next, once I got them under my belt it has been plain sailing apart from having to reorganize the memory every now and then due to the banking system.
What game do you wish you had written?
I don’t envy other peoples work or the rewards they have received for it, to be fair I don’t play many games as i spend a lot of my time looking of what they have done, like my favourite games are the Mario series, but playing that and seeing how the programmer made Mario slip on the edge of a block when landing too close the edge, subtle but perfect polish its stuff like that that makes me polish my games as much as I can.
What is your favourite Spectrum loading Screen?
Again I don’t play many games and if I did it would not be on the Spectrum so I have no idea what they look like.
After the completion of the game what game will you make?
Unfortunately TX-1696 will probably be my last game, there is talk with Bret ‘Bapstarcade’ Pritchard and Richard ‘Man in his techno Shed’ Faulkner about making a sequel to TX-1696, but that all depends on a lot of things, as I have been sitting in this chair for 40 years and I want to buy a Catamaran to sail around the World before I die.
What other games have you made?
1986 ‘Happiest Days of Your Life’ ported from the ZX Spectrum to the Commodore 64.
1987 ‘Super Robin Hood’ ported from the ZX Spectrum to the Commodore 64.
1987 ‘Bushido’ original title a Gauntlet style game for the Commodore 64.
1988 ‘Scorpius’ original title a scrolling shoot em’ up for the Commodore 64
1988 ‘GI Hero’ ported from the ZX Spectrum to the Commodore 64.
1989 ‘Street Warriors’ original title a beat em’ up for the Commodore 64
1989 ‘Bounce’n’ original title a isometric puzzle game for the Commodore 64.
1989 ‘Skateboard Joust’ ported from the ZX Spectrum to the Commodore 64.
1990 ‘Autotest’ original title a top down driving game for the Commodore 64.
1990 ‘Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles’ Commodore Amiga and Atari ST for Merchandise Licence.
1990 ‘Traitor’ original title a Scrolling shoot em’ up for the Commodore Amiga and Atari St.
1990 ‘Xenon 2’ ported from the Commodore Amiga to the Sega Genesis.
1990 ‘Weird Dreams’ ported from the Amiga to the Commodore 64.
1991 ‘Xenon 2’ ported from the Commodore Amiga to CDTV
1991 ‘The Captain is Dead’ Original title for the Amiga and Atari ST
1992 ‘McDonald Land’ Commodore 64 for the Hamburger chain Merchandise Licence.
1992 ‘Zyconix’ original title, a Tetris typ game for Commodore Amiga and Atari St.
1992 ‘Terminator 2’ ported from Nintendo SNES to the Sega Mega drive.
1992 ‘Super Methane Brothers’ original title for the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST.
1993 ‘Sensible Soccer ported’ from the Amiga to the CD32.
1994 ‘Jellyboy’ port from the SNES to the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST.
1994 ‘Magicians Castle’ original title for the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST
1994 ‘Clay Fighters 2’ ported from the Nintendo SNES to the Sega Genesis.
1994 ‘Apocalypse’ original title for the Commodore Amiga
1995 ‘Death Mask’ original title for the Commodore Amiga
1995 ‘Marsupilami’ original title for the Sega Genesis from the Marsupilami books
2004 ‘Monkey Madness’ original title for the PC casual games market
2010 ‘Tonga’ original Title for the PC and Blackberry, Android and IOS
2012 ‘Monkey Mofo’ Original Title for the Blackberry, Android and IOS
2013 ‘Catchy Catchy’ Original Title for Android.
2014 ‘Lucky Diamond Slots’ original Title for Android
2014 ‘Texas Poker Slots’ original Title for Android
2014 ‘Word Junkie’ original Title for Android
2016 ‘Color Shape’ original Title for Android
2017 ‘SkyFight.io’ original Free HTML5 MMO
There are probably a couple more but I cant remember its been so long ago
What’s the best 8 bit computer and why?
Originally the C64, because of the graphics, memory and sound, however the spectrum next kicks arse over all the 8-bit and 16-bit computers from the 80s and 90s it is truly an awesome machine.
What is your favourite retro game?
Super Mario worlds, I like that better than Super Mario Galaxy even though it was a great coding achievement.
What’s the worst game you have ever played?
Which Spectrum Developer past or present would you like us to interview?
What feature would you like to see on zxspectrumnow?
Type in games for the spectrum next