Interview with Steve Hughes
November 1997

 

How did you get started in computers?

I won a ZX81 in a competition in 1982

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

My friend got one shortly after it came out. It looked 1e6 times better than the ZX81, but made a funny buzzing noise.

What was your first game?

Published? Beetlemania on the speccy.

What have you done on the Speccy?

A bunch of crap games you'll never have heard of, let me see...

Beetlemania
Bedlam
Two Gun Turtle
Micro Mouse goes Debugging
Arena
Hocus Focus
Rasterscan
Hyperbowl

and some others I've forgotten...

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

None of the speccy games (sorry) - they were all very poor.

Solar Jetman on the NES was my favourite.

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

We got an Amiga, I got to play with it. I was delighted to see the back of the speccy.

What are you doing now?

N64 stuff. Working with some of the same people.

What were the best/worse things about the Speccy?

Best; it's cheapness and accessibility to the beginner programmer, it's nice little editor and Basic, it's reliable cassette interface.

Worst; the keyboard, the funny buzzing noise on early models, the stupid printer interface, the microdrives, the silly great border around the display, the 3rd rate IO system, the floating byte on IM-2.

What were your favourite Speccy games and why?

The usual. The first Ultimate games, 3d Ant attack, Manic Miner, JSW. Some others, the Don Priestly games (spawn of evil ?) and the Microsphere games.

I liked those games with innovative coding and user interface ideas more than the routine stuff. I don't believe that any speccy game had particularly involving gameplay - especially when compared to modern games.

Favourite Speccy coders/artists/musicians?

As implicated in the above. Chris Stamper / Don Priestly...

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

No.

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!)

Can't remember. Nothing unfinished.

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

Um.

Is it easier to write for the consoles than it was on the Speccy - less hardware restrictions etc?

No. Writing on a speccy with a modern dev kit would be a dream. But the consoles have a far steeper learning curve.

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

No. The the good ones are vastly superior in every way.

Is there anything you miss about the old days?

The simplicity and innocence. The sense of discovery and innovation.

Any amusing anecdotes/stories etc about the old days?

Hmm, I'd rather not. The parade of eccentrics and yahoos in the game dev business in those days was even more disturbing than it is today. Many are still around today (god help us!), and you never know, one of them might end up as my boss.

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

Each to their own. A little bit of nostalgia is ok. But I'll take my PC thanks all the same.


Thanks to Steve for doing the interview.

Interview conducted by Philip Bee.
Text Copyright (c) Philip Bee and Steve Hughes.