Oliver Twins Interview

The Oliver Twins just dropped in to say hi and answer a few questions. It's about time as well, now they can take their rightful place as CPC Legends!
Here's what they had to say for themselves:
What was your first experience of tech?
OT) Wow... long time ago...
PO) I remember at Junior school, must have been about ’77 seeing someone with a RED LED digital watch. You had to push the button for the RED LED to show.
AO) About a year later we got a Merlin.
PO) Our Friend Ivan, gave us access to his Dad’s Apple II in about 1980 – and we got absolutely addicted to games like Tax-Man & Zork & Night Mission
AO) For Christmas ’80 our parents bought us a Binatone TV Game console, which played variations on Pong.
PO) but we got our first computer, a ZX81 in late 1981 when our brother bought a second hand one and put it under the family TV.
share something about the Amstrad CPC, nobody else knows?
OT) um...
PO) we moved onto the Amstrad, because we wanted to sell games and felt that the quality of the games on the BBC was superior to what we could produce. We saw Amstrad as a soft market, since the games from the 464 weren’t technically that advanced. So by the time we bought in, we went straight to the just released Amstrad 664, with Disc Drive and Colour screen. A computer with a decent keyboard, 64k RAM, a Disc Drive and a built in Colour monitor – wow! It was amazing!
AO) and with the addition of the MAXAM ROM plugged on the back, it was really good to program and we picked up Z80 very quickly, coming from the 6502 assembler of the BBC Micro.
PO)..oh and the horizontal top on the Disc drive made an excellent heated coffee mat!
AO)... our favourite game on the Amstrad was Ikari Warriors, but we also really liked Outrun, Commando, Bounder, Spin Dizzy & Bomb Jack
Will the appeal of retro gaming will continue to grow?
OT) Many people things from there childhood that they have very fond memories of.
PO) Right now, there’s a lot of middle age people who grew up on the home computer games of the 80’s.
AO) These people aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and they are joined by those that are now reminiscent about the games of the 90’s
PO) So the fondness of the retro game will grow – but also expand to cover an increasing wide scope of computers and consoles and games.
Do you prefer older or newer games?
OT) They are very different.
PO) Today’s games range from the simple to the amazing complex and mind-blowing visuals...
AO) but Retro games had a simple, clean elegance. For that reason I’ll plumb for Retro.
PO) and I’ll go for Retro based on the fond memories I had of playing them – games like Pac-Man! (well Tax-Man on Apple II & Snapper on BBC Micro)
What's the worst computer you've ever used?
PO) ... um... whilst we got the bug for coding from the ZX81 – boy was it crude! Pushing hard on the paper keyboard to get a letter to appear on screen. 1 K of RAM. And it was so slow! Black and White, a dodgy power lead connection, a beeper for sound. Basically it gave you an appreciation of the things you know you had to buy another computer to get.
AO) before the ZX81, you didn’t know what people were talking about when the said 1K of RAM isn’t enough. When you’ve only got 1K you discover within a few days... it’s not enough! And you desperately need a decent keyboard, colour and proper sound.
How about programming, do you still enjoy it?
PO) I love the theory of coding, controlling computers – but I’ll be honest. I’ve not done it in years. I simply dont have the time. I stopped at 68000 (Megadrive) in ’92.
AO) I carried on a lot longer, learning, C & C++ and wrote a lot of PlayStation code, for games like Firo & Klawd, WarGames, Frogger 2, Chicken Run and Glover.
If you could bring back one obsolete bit of kit, what would it be?
AO) The BBC Micro – for schools. Still nothing beats this as a learning platform. It’s the simplicity of turning it on and being presented a blinking cursor and being able to write basic immediately. Then once you’ve mastered this being able to integrate assembler into the basic to replace.
Is Britain still relevant in the games industry?
PO) Absolutely – the UK Game developers punch well above their weight in the global industry. There are many great developers, and for the size and population of our small country we produce many global best sellers.
AO) The UK Government is incredibly supportive of our industry and we’ve established a campaign to raise the profile of all the UK game developers...www.MadeinCreativeUK.com
If you could change anything, what would it be?
AO) The console manufacturers need to embrace frequent digital updates, it the future.
When can we expect a next generation Dizzy game, he's not really disappeared for ever, has he?
PO) Let’s see what happens, never say never.
Are you particularly emotional about any of your games?
AO) We are immensely proud of the legacy of our Dizzy games. They helped inspire a generation and bring so much lasting fondness to so many people. Loads of people in the games industry now, grew up on Dizzy and it helped steer them to a fore-filling careers in games.
Were the Darling brothers cool to work with?
PO) When we first met the Darlings in 1986 we got on brilliantly as we had the same skills and ambitions. As we continued to write games and they took on large scale publishing we grew apart.
What are the most poignant highs and lows of your career?
AO) Winning the Saturday show in October ’83, was a high point, without that boost in confidence.
PO) Meeting the Darlings and them offering us £10,000 for Super Robin Hood, from a couple of pages of design ideas. Then working extremely hard to make it in just a month! Setting a working practice that we then continued for 5+ years!
How many copies of your games were sold?
PO) There’s no quick answer to that except to say millions!
AO) Games on the 8 bit & 16 bit computers were considered successes if you could get about 100,000 copies sold. Most, especially our Codemasters games did that! wink emoticon
PO) Breakout hits were 250,000 – 500,000 - but this was largely a UK market with some over seas, mostly European sales.
AO) But then on the consoles and with games needing to recoup the development and marketing costs Megadrive
PO) PlayStation games were considered successful if they sold over 1 million copies – but across North America and Europe. We had a few exceeded this. J
What about a favourite game?
PO) Pac-Man – an elegant and pure game play experience – created with so little memory and power. It opened games to a much wider audience and inspired so many people across the globe.
AO) Mario Cart – classic! Which ever version! So much fun! So well balanced.
If today was your last on Earth, do you think it's a strong finish?
PO) I hope not!
AO) We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved and the games we’ve written.
PO) SkySaga is definitely heading in the right direction...
AO) but we want to be around to see how it grows – but as a game and as a community of passionate creative players.


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