|Crowther on Minter
In recent months Jeff Minter has had interviews in about five different magazines, and in some of them heís been saying things about Tony Crowther, implying that all your games are very similar, all with scroll routines, and that youíre not too good. Does it hurt you when you read that?
I donít know, I do in a way, but I find itís a complimentí because Iím being mentioned, because he knows Iím there - and so do a lot of other people. I know Iím not bad because people are buying these programs Iím writing. Whatever I write they go into the charts. They may not get that high in some cases, but they still go in the charts. I donít see why I should be criticised just because all my games are scrolling. Iíd say there are two types of screen you can have - a flick screen or a scrolling screen. I find a scrolling screen more advanced, and itís also harder to write on, than a flick screen.
Do you like Minterís games?
I wonít answer that! (laughs) - I do like one of his, Hovver Bovver, thatís the only one I do like though. Only because Iím too thick to understand them - thatís my problem.
Do you see you and Minter as big rivals?
I donít know. What Iíd like to do is to get together with him and write a game, splitting the profits 50-50.
That sounds interesting - have you put the idea to him?
No, I havenít talked to him about it, because he wonít talk to me. We donít even get to that stage! I donít really mind what he says about me, because I really like the guy.
You mentioned earlier that you were quite a competitive guy. Would
you really like to be clearly recognised as the number 1 UK games programmer?
Iím not sure if I am aIready! (laughs)
But would you like to be clearly recognised as that?
Um. . . I donít know, I donít think you can class anyone like that - because not everyoneís going to like my games, just like not everyone likes Minterís games. But I think everyone knows Iím here. Like I rang up Currah a while back and said: hello, itís Tony Crowther, and they said: not THE Tony Crowther - you get all of this. Everyone knows who I am, itís really good.
That gives you a buzz?
Yeah, it does.
Where do you get the ideas for the amazing graphics that you have in games like Suicide Express, or should I call it Black Thunder?
What happened was I started doing Suicide and I disappeared off to Spain. And when youíre on the beach, sunbathing away, you get really bored. I got a little pad and started drawing things like giant mushrooms, mazes, even things like the words in stone. So when I got home I just put it straight in.
What do you think of the games market as a whole at the moment, do you think itís in decline?
In what sense?
Well, people talk about the home micro boom being over.
The boom is over, yes. Iím still worried if people are going to go on buying software. Eight quid a shot is so expensive - Iíd love to release programs at four quid, but itís not advisable for us because we donít get much money that way. I know theyíre even more expensive than records, thatís what worries me about the price of software - you sometimes find you get more enjoyment from a record than you do from a program. It makes the programmer think then because heís got to put so much in it that he keeps them happy for at least two or three hours.
In all, you mean? - for the gameís entire lifetime?
For someone who buys the thing heís got to be happy for at least three hours.
A lot longer than that, surely.
No, I buy a record, listen to it once and never hear it again. Right? So Iím only happy with it for about an hour. With software youíre paying twice as much, so Iím saying that if you play a game for three hours youíve got your moneyís worth.
Do you think quite a lot of software on the market wonít even hold peopleís interest for that long?
I donít think they will, some of them. I can only play games for about 10 minutes in some cases. In some cases I play up to three hours.
Long term, what are your plans? Do you want to keep writing games?
I want to keep writing games as long as the marketís there. As far as I know I can keep writing games till it comes out of my ears because I enjoy doing it. With writing them so fast itís really nice because I can spend three weeks on a program and then a full month just thinking about it. You just sit there with a book - when youíre bored you can scribble, watch telly. Thatís the beauty of it - Ďcos obviously the software house canít release more than so many, they wouldnít be able to cope with it.
Do you have anything else lined up after your next program?
No, but then Iíve got a month to think about it - thatís the beauty of it.
'I don't like playing games'
Tony Crowther always insists that he doesnít Ďlikeí playing games - on the other hand, heíll admit that those below did Ďkeep me happyí for a while. His verdicts:
GHOSTBUSTERS: ĎCompleted it the second or third time I played it.í
CLIFF HANGER: íKept me happy for a reasonable amount of time. Really funny.í
BOOGA BOO ĎPlayed it for a long time.í
DINKY DOO ĎI developed a cheat version which was a lot more fun.í
THE GUARDIAN ĎI cheated on that too, and got right up to level 99. Thereís a bug up there somewhere. The aliens start running away from you!í
STAFF OF KARNATH ĎI like the 3D background, but not the sprites.í
POLE POSITION ĎKept me happy.í
IMPOSSIBLE MISSION ĎPlayed it for half an hour, didnít finish it.í
BOULDER DASH ĎItís good, I played it a lot until my copy went wrong. Itís written completely without sprites.í
Crowther the person
ATTACHMENTS: Engaged for 18 months to Lisa, gorgeous, after meeting in nightclub. No marriage date.
OTHER INTERESTS: Travelling, going to exhibitions (really enjoyed recent visit to Las Vegas), woodwork (once built a crossbow!), sewing using a sewing machine (Lisa canít)
FAVOURITE TV: Donít watch much except videos, Last of the Summer Wine
FAVOURITE MOVIES: Clint Eastwood, horror
FAVOURITE FOOD: Snack pots
FAVOURITE DRINK: Yorkshire bitter. Plenty.