Spectrum 30 was an opportunity for me. An opportunity to meet people who played my games and to talk about the process of creating them, marketing them and doing things the way I did. I got asked lots of great, searching questions, and fun ones, like where the beard is now!
So I’ll be talking about 30 years since writing Football Manager at the Spectrum 30 event in Cambridge on Saturday. I am looking forward to it, I love meeting people, and it feels like going to a ZX Microfair which is being revived there.
When I think about these things, I can think of many things to say, but I have to try to stay on topic .
Completing this game now, will certainly feel like closing a loop!
Well no, I’m not planning that! And as you now can see in recent pictures I don’t have a grey old beard.
But the game itself, yes it is at an advanced stage now. The only problem I have is that I am still getting new ideas. But, it is just a case of continuing, continuing, continuing until it’s ready.
But I’ll say this, writing it has been an experience of re-discovery. Re-discovery of how much I just really enjoy writing computer games.
This caught me by surprise at Games Britannia. They were there and asked me to do this. I had a about 5 minutes warning. So I was relieved it looked OK. They asked me why I put my picture on the cover.
People, including Miles Jacobson, kindly mentioned that in its day my Football Manager was innovative in concept and design. There was nothing else like it and it set a new direction and genre of games. I was unfettered by having to match what is popular, and trying to vary on that. Before smart phones came along and disrupted the games industry business models there was a lot of “playing safe” with designs. It’s understandable. If you are investing millions into a game development, then you want to be sure of a return on it. Whilst being radical in design will perhaps (that is the point, perhaps!) produce a better game, playing safe and cloning a current games model will at least guarantee that a percentage of the market will like it.
I didn’t have to play safe then and I don’t have to play safe now. I am not trying to copy anything else, I am just trying to produce something I am proud of, and to my own standards. It’s pretty damned healthy motivation actually!
Games Britannia was a real step into the past for me. There were lots of old C64s, Amstrads, Spectrums etc, playing the old games. And lots of people playing on them. Good to see. I have a few discussions with people, and one thing that crops up is that there is a similarity of those early 80s pioneering years of creating games and now. In particular, with iOS and Android, it is possible to create a game yourself, publish it yourself, and market it yourself. You are not blocked in any way from getting to market with whatever you want, or believe in as a product.
This is unquestionably true, the similarity. It is one of things I am taking advantage of with launching my new game.
The good thing is that this opening up of access to markets has unleashed creativity and innovation in games design.
Games Britannia Replayed was an enjoyable experience. Thanks Mark for the invite, thanks to Miles of Sports Interactive for adding fun and entertainment to the day. And thanks to the organizers.
However, if I am going to do penalty shoots against Miles again I am going to need to practice!
It was great to meet people who knew my original games and are interested in what I am writing now. I showed some screenshots for the first time. Not exciting ones, buy maybe interesting once I explain them a bit. I’ll do that more and more in the coming weeks.
As the picture shows, less than a couple of weeks now, I will be in Sheffield. I am looking forward to it. It should be fun. A chance to talk about the whole history of Football Manager, right back to my beginnings of it!
It was a cold evening, the wind was howling outside. I was in England, trying to relax after the busy week. Then came the call, one of THOSE calls. I knew by the pause before he spoke who it was. He took his time. “Kevin, I have a job for you, but it must be finished by Monday!”. His voice always alarmed me a little. He was a very small man, a little over 4 feet 6, and with his small frame his voice was light, sometimes you could mistake it for a young child’s voice. But there was always a tension in his voice, an air of demand. It was like a child wanting to get his way, except this man was much more threatening than any child.
“Monday he said, at the latest!”. He described the job to me. I didn’t want to do it, and under time pressure too. I didn’t have a choice. I owed him. Something he never let me forget. And he took his payback, frequently. This time the job didn’t seem so bad. My weekend would be gone. But I could do this one.
So I made plans, thought it through. If I kept sharp, kept focused, I could set it up Saturday, and make the “delivery” on Sunday.
It was a tougher assignment than I thought. There were problems. Unexpected people “in the way”. But I “sidestepped” them. By late Saturday night the set up was in place. A good night’s sleep, Sunday was going to be a long day….
And so it was, this assignment was nothing more than a hard grind, laying low, my only focus to get the job done as painlessly as possible. It’s true, other people suffered. I kept away from some others, I didn’t want them to see me in this world, see what I really did.
By Sunday midnight, it was complete, I’d done the man’s bidding. I called. “Good” he said, with little appreciation in his voice. “You did good”.
Did I want to do good for this man? -Maybe one day I’ll have a choice….
- Well it wasn’t quite like that but I was reminded on Twitter that in 1984, I wrote a game for a computer magazine that was published as a listing. It was called
“European Championship Cup”.
I did write it over one weekend, under time pressure to deliver!!
You can see about it here, and