Transformers
Transformers by Ocean
One thing Martin seemed to stress very strongly was his faith in that remarkable device, the SID chip. 'I've already found an interesting way to get more than one sound from a single voice simultaneously but it's a trade secret,' he said. But more to the point, 'I don't believe in using something like MIDI to transfer something (from a synth) to the machine which the voices might not be able to handle. I prefer working purely within the limitations of the machine itself.' CLICK! I was confronted by a dead phone line! Martin was obviously entering a new reception area.

While waiting to be re-connected, I wondered whether he had any reservations about taking advantage of some of the Commodore's capabilities such as the filters. 'No, the filters are too unreliable. A brilliant result on one machine is no guarantee of satisfactory sound on ano-ther. The filters have been gre-atly improved on the C128, though. Perhaps when more people have upgraded to that, I'll take advantage of them not until then though.'

So how do the tunes get from his mind into the silicon maze of an eight bit micro? He is inspired by a number of sources; the electronic orchestrations of Jean Michel Jarre and frantic, jazz-funk slapping base sounds from UB40 are two diverse but prominent influences.

Colin, one of the programming team has souped up an assembler with the result that once Martin has constructed his work on a small keyboard, pure data is all that needs to be transfered to the computer. In a way, this is a pity because the explanation belies the complexity of such a fine tuned (if you'll pardon the pun) process.

There are other considerations as well. Martin develops the music at the same time the game itself is being programmed. He only has a relatively small space in which to work, in terms of memory. Rambo's eight or nine major themes had to fit inside 8K! How he did it is another of his 'trade secrets' no doubt. But it appears to cause no real problems and he seems content to work in whatever memory environment he has to.

Some of the voices and effects have seen their way onto more than one game (though in a modified form). Martin does have a few favourites. 'There's one that resembles a trumpet sound I used in Hypersports (CLICK- wait- another coffee) which I like to re-use as long as it doesn't become repetitive.'
Jean Michel Jarre

So does he think he's taken the use of old SID as far as is possible? 'No. In that piece you did on Rob Hubbard, you said that he had stretched the SID chip to its limits and that's ridiculous. There are plenty of things you can do with it yet.' Well, that sounds promising if nothing else. CLICK - Thank goodness for that. I was running out of ideas for questions. Interrogation over the phone was never one of my strong points.

Finally, I asked Martin if there were any other things he would enjoy working on. He wouldn't mind doing an entire game him-self but realises that his forte is obviously programming original musical themes for others' games. But you never can tell. Apart from that, he sounded distinctly enthusiastic about playing on an Amiga and putting that through its paces (but who can blame him). Whatever the Micro Maestro turns his digital fingers to next, it's sure to add hitherto unforseen depth and attraction to the game to which it. is applied. In a field which is rapidly becoming the domain of specialists, Martin Galway is becoming set to leave the others behind.

And so I headed out of the Ocean offices and off to see some friends. The cold winter night had fallen. The city grime and gloom alleviated only by the Christmas lights across town failed to deaden my enthusiasm for a city so full of remarkably talented people (after all, I come from there). I reached Piccadilly and caught my (late) bus. Listening to a treasured recording of Duke's Travels on my Walkman, I sat back and thought, now that was a different kind of interview!


Article reproduced from Zzap! 64 magazine February 1986 edition.
Although all text appears unchanged, some photographs or images have been added or modified for aesthetic purposes.

Thank you to the following websites which were used for sourcing some images that appear in this article:
Amazon.co.uk, Ocean Experience.