Having decided to use an idea, what are the mechanics of writing a game? Walker quickly asserts that all writing is done in machine code and nothing else. "I don't like anything getting between me and the chips." He doesn't know Basic anyway - and probably doesn't want to.

To make the writing process easier, Taskset has invested heav-ily in development hardware. Such as the Apple II micros (they run with the 6502 processor similar to the 64's) they use as development machines, running the Merlin as-sembler package. Then there's the Omninet local area network. That connects the input/output ports of all the Apples, enabling them not only to transfer programs and data to each other but to share a 10 megabyte Winchester hard disk, which stores all the work done and can be accessed by anyone on the network.

Not only that, Taskset has spent a great deal of time writing its own utilities. "We couldn't buy the utilities we wanted so we wrote them ourselves; they all link together. We've written a compact machine-code monitor too." Another example of that much-prized independence?
Koala Pad Technologies
Koala Pad Touch Tablet by Koala Technologies Corp.

More recently, Taskset discovered the Koala Pad graphics tablet and is now using it to generate graphics, having written their own utilities for it. "The impact has been enormous," enthuses Walker. "We can generate in a day what would have taken a week to complete. That means we can afford to experiment with ideas much more."

Walker insists that the new utilities won't make Taskset produce games more quickly. "We can't produce games quickly because we're a small company, and machine code won't rush. We don't want to either, I don't want Taskset to become a big conglomerate. We're staying small so that we can, all be Indians." by that he probably means everybody stays a part of the team and gets equal shares in the glory.

But Taskset has grown despite these assertions, and Walker has taken on an accountant and a marketing man, suitably called Andy Nutter, to allow him to do what he enjoys write games. And probably to shirk the mundane yet essential job of administration.

Computer games is now big business, no longer the cottage industry of yore. And Walker won't hesitate to stress the importance of good management, especially when bankruptcy casualties among software houses are becoming uncomfortably regular. But he'll claim immaturity as the main cause of a company's demise rather than the activities of organised games counterfeiters.

"I don't think piracy is responsible for any software house's down-fall. We've been badly hit too. And we're doing, something about it. I hate it because it involves me in a lot of work and money, and that offends me." What he's doing is embarking on a long and tortuous period of legal action. Taskset could join the Guild of Software Houses and take joint action. But Walker hasn't got round to it. "It's just not the all-important problem."