Euro 2012, Fun, Games Design, Kevin Toms, The 80s

The “Delivery”. It happened in 1984..

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

and try it online here!

Addictive Games, Football Manager, Kevin Toms, The 80s

30 years ago Football Manager- did I go too far?

Did I go too far, putting my pictures on the covers and in the ads? I know what I believed and still believe. I believe that creating games is just as much an art form as creating music or writing books. And with those two things, because people like the style of the authors, their identity is published with the book, and often photos, especially with music. So I did the same.

Football Manager ZX81 packaging


Why wasn’t it widely done? Partly because the games writers at that time didn’t see that. Jeff Minter et al were exceptions. And, later, when corporate interests took over, they wanted to keep some of the writers quiet, under control. If those guys knew their worth they might leave, or ask for more money. In my case I was self publishing so I made the decisions.

As I used to say, if I like U2, I don’t care what label they are on, I just care that the new music is from U2. Imagine a world of music where it’s “New Rock Music 52” from Virgin, instead of U2’s latest, not so good.

Football Manager from the early 80s

So did I go too far? I don’t think so, although I was breaking new ground making many mistakes. Tell you something though, when I did that, as a person I was very shy, not confident at all.

(This one wasn’t my decision):

Addictive Games, Games, Games Design, Software Star, The 80s

27 years ago: Software Star was good

It was always overshadowed by Football Manager, but I played it a year or two ago on emulator and it is a fun game still. I like some of the ideas I had in it. Here’s a bit of trivia, one person wrote to me that the game was immoral because you could be more successful by using Hype instead of Honesty. So it was encouraging people to be dishonest!! Is Hype dishonest? There is a question.

Software Star title screen... monitors!!


Addictive Games, Football Manager, Software Development and Delivery, The 80s

30 years ago Football Manager – bugs

Of course there were bugs, not much software has none, but, I think the game was very robust. In fact, nobody ever reported a crash to me, and I never had to patch the original game.

This weekend, working on the new game, I spent a few hours battling what seemed like a subtle bug. It wasn’t. It was a flaw in the development tool, the interface designer. A few curses after finding it, it felt good that everything worked once more. 🙂

There is a fault in this packaging though:–

Football Manager 2 Expansion kit packaging