Interview with Shaun Hollingworth
January 1997

 

How did you get started in computers?

When a colleague lent me a Sinclair ZX81. I immediately had to buy one of my own, quickly followed by two Spectrums, an 'Interface 1' and Microdrives etc. My friend Paul, (later my best man) worked in a software shop, called 'Just Micro' in Sheffield, which was owned by Gremlin's Ian Stewart.

They were just setting up Gremlin, and I was busy having learned Z80 machine code. I was asked to do a game, based on the pigeon that Tony Crowther did on the CBM 64, and I was horrified. All that scrolling. Anyway, the game was designed, and coded in a few weeks, working furiously at night. Anyway Ian Stewart was happy with it, and offered me a full time job, So I left my Radio Rentals technician's position and I've been in the industry ever since then.

When did you first see a Spectrum and what were your first impressions?

I thought it was ok, for the money, and the time. The BBC was also a good machine, but with less memory, and a much bigger price ticket.

What was your first game?

ARRGGGTHHHHHHHHHHHHH a Spectrum version of Percy the Potty Pigeon done in about five weeks....

What have you done on the Speccy?

Not in chronological order:

The above P.P. (blush), Thunderbirds (Teque blush) The Flintstones (Teque blush)

Grumpy Gumphrey, Terramex Toobin (at Krisalis) Pacmania (at Krisalis) Manchester United Europe, (Management section) A Free five level monty mole game (with Pete Harrap)

Now all the other's were co-authored, with by present partner Mr P Harrap, and another Mr Chris Kerry. We had like an (ahem) production line going at Gremlin Graphics...

Way of the Tiger, Bounder, Trailblazer, Future Knight, W.o.t.t. 'Avenger', Auf Wiedersehen Monty, Death Wish 3. (for my sins...)

What do you think of your games? Which is your personal favourite?

OK I guess. Trailblazer, and Bounder, and I didn't design either of them!

How did you leave the Spectrum scene? Were you sad to leave?

I still did odd speccy bits, right up to the end. But mostly I was doing Acorn Archimedes conversions, such as Lemmings and many others.

What are you doing now?

PC games programming at the moment.

What were the best/worse things about the Speccy?

Good things: Price (for the time) Easy for novice to learn. (My dad is still dabbling with it, in Basic!) Plenty of good well written books available Z80 CPU

Bad things: Attribute clash. No sound chip. (on the 48k machine) Hard to pixel scroll. Especially horizontally.

What were your favourite Speccy games and why?

I guess my all time favourite was the Hobbit, followed by Manic Miner, and Jet Set Willy....

Favourite Speccy coders/artists/musicians?

Matthew Smith, caused the most havoc I think. By far.

Do you use an emulator to play your old games (or any others)?

Yes. Mostly others.

What was the last Speccy game you wrote? Did you leave anything unfinished? (and if so is there any chance we'll ever get to see it!)

I think it was the MUFC in Europe management front end. I had to come off the Acorn for a while, to do that, as someone left unexpectedly.

Don't you ever feel like writing another Speccy game nowadays just for old times sake? ;-)

Yeah, sometimes. Starting with:

ld hl,16384
ld de,16385
ld (hl),l
ld bc,6911
ldir

What do you think about modern games? Can they compete with the classics? Aren't they all presentation and no gameplay?

Driven by images, rather than game enjoyment. But things are starting to change I think....

Is there anything you miss about the old days?

Yeah. To be able to put an idea together, and knock out a commercially viable game in a few months. Now it's years, and teams of people are required to turn such a product around....

Any amusing anecdotes/stories etc about the old days?

I'll get back on that.......

Have you anything to say to people who still use the Speccy today?

Hello Dad!

 


Thanks to Shaun for doing the interview.

Interview conducted by Philip Bee.
Text Copyright (c) Philip Bee and Shaun Hollingworth.