Tony first got interested in computer games in the late 1980s. Heâ€™d played a few games, including the classics such as Space Invaders and Pacman, in the arcades but they never really grabbed his attention and long term devotion. Then he bought an Acorn Electron computer and started playing text adventures on it â€“ he was hooked! Something about exploring and solving puzzles via a computer fascinated him and he talks fondly of the excitement he felt when he played those old text-only adventures.
About that time he was getting pretty frustrated in his job and wanted to do something different and took a night course in computing at the local technical college and found he had a natural ability for programming. He decided that he wanted to do something that combined his programming skills with his creativity and decided to program a computer game of his own. He played a game published by Superior Software called â€œCitadelï¿½? and liked the way it combined adventure elements such as finding keys and solving puzzles with arcade elements such as avoiding enemy creatures and jumping onto moving platforms. He decided to make a game in a similar vein.
He started programming his first game in the language â€˜Basicâ€™. It took him a year to produce a working game â€“ he had written all his own tools as well as having to learn the intricacies of the Electron hardware. He reworked the code in assembly language as he found that â€˜Basicâ€™ wasnâ€™t powerful enough for him to achieve his vision. He submitted it to Superior Software and was astonished when they immediately offered to publish the game. With a few minor changes â€˜Questâ€™ was published in 1988 to fabulous reviews and Tony even wrote an article for Electron User magazine (available for download on the internet): link here
After Questâ€™s success Tony was very enthusiastic about producing more games and decided to make a more ambitious one with similar game-play to Quest but featuring a number of separate scenarios. He wrote the tools to make the game and produced a couple of scenarios but unfortunately by this time publishers were moving to the next generation of hardware and the BBC market was dwindling.
However Superior did publish the two scenarios already produced as separate games on a compilation package called â€˜Play It Again Samâ€™. â€œCamelotï¿½? shipped in 1989; it was a standard arcade adventure but with the interesting twist in the game design, which made use of three separate consumables; health, time and ammunition. Health deteriorated whenever the playerâ€™s character collided with an enemy; the player was working against the clock; and used up ammunition when they shot at an enemy. All three could be replenished by collecting power-ups that were scattered around the 70 odd levels. This provided the player with interesting tactical choice in each area. This game-play worked really well and the game got excellent reveiws.
The second of the two adventure games, â€˜Star Portâ€™, used basically the same engine as Camelot.Tony changed the game design to differentiate it from his other games and to challenge game development generally. He developed a sub-game within the game â€“ whatâ€™s now known as the puzzle element. â€˜Star Portâ€™ shipped in 1990 and also got good reviews.
After three adventure games Tony wanted to do something different. Heâ€™d played a few Shoot-Em-Ups in the arcades and loved the dynamics of the game and the very visceral feel they had so decided to make something similar for the BBC micro. The game is one of the few on the BBC Micro to use an advanced technique called â€˜double bufferingâ€™.
Cyborg Warriors was Tonyâ€™s last game to be published by Superior Software and was probably his best for the Acorn market. By this time the market had all but disappeared and he decided to formalize his learning by doing a degree. He attended Keele University (UK) as a mature student and completed a double degree in Computer Science/Electronic Engineering. After University he wrote software for gambling machines but yearned for those heady days of computer game development. His yearnings were satisfied when he joined Reflections Interactive in 1998 and worked on the original PS1 version of DriverÂ®. He was the Lead Programmer on the sequel but emigrated to Australia at the end of 1999 before it was completed.
Tony has worked on a number of other projects since then (recorded on Moby games) including producing the PC version of the critical and commercial hit Bioshock for 2K games, RPG Fallout Tactics for Microforte and the FPS Tribes: Vengeance for Irrational Games. In the two decades that Tony has been in the games industry, many changes have occurred with budgets and technology growing exponentially, allowing producers to make games that could only have been dreamed of 20 years ago. But Tony believes that the fundamental tenets of a good game, such as good design and quality are unchanged. Charlie Dog Games enshrines itself in these tenets and strives to make good quality, well designed and original games