Bozo is very sophisticated in its handling of sprites and backgrounds, and some of the code which was developed for it may be used in further Taskset character games. Andy's understandable dislike for pirates and copyists stems from the effort put into the planning and writing of original games. "Not only have you spent months writing something, but you've sweated over the original concept and the debugging stage. For instance, when we finished Bozo we found that at one stage it was possible to make the character walk up vertical walls - not what we intended at all! It's a long process ironing out these bugs, and if someone avoids it all by taking your idea and rewriting it, they're making nonsense of that effort you put in. That's why you won't catch us doing versions of other people's games. We've got more ideas of our own than we've got time to develop anyway, so we're unlikely to buy in programs."

Andy believes that the customers who make copies of tapes for their friends aren't the villains of the piece. "It's just not true that every copy made means a purchase lost. At around £5.99 lots of people make copies because they can't afford to pay full prices. The real villains are the mass duplicators who run off 5,000 at a time, and the moves made to stop them so far aren't achieving much. Software Project's idea of putting a colour code on their inserts won't stop people who own four-colour presses. We're involved in a couple of court cases at the moment, and hope this will set a useful precedent."

Bozo's Night Out
Bozo's Night Out by Taskset

Asked whether a cut in prices would deter pirates, Andy was doubtful. "I've seen some of the games put out by cut-price firms, and some of them are so bad they could use them in Bridlington Hospital instead of a stomach pump.

OK, some of them are fair, but in any case I can't see the idea of cheap software lasting - if you're working with a normal dealer system where every step in the chain has to take a percentage, I can't see any way to keep going with these sort of low prices.

We haven't changed our prices up or down since Taskset started, though if I thought we could get away with a price drop I'd do it tomorrow. Basically you need sales revenue to put into development costs, and although the production process won't get any quicker the games will be better - so in the end the punter will win either way.

It's up to the buyer to be more discerning too - you can't expect software houses to put on their packs 'This one isn't too hot but please buy it anyway'. It's worth reading reviews in the computer magazines, though if I was a kid I don't know if I'd be able to afford to buy all the magazines and still have enough money for the software!"
Andy also had lots to say about overseas markets. "It's interesting to note how things vary from country to country. West Germany is very much disk based, the USA uses disk and tape but prices are higher, and the UK is very largely tape based. We're now putting all our games on disk, in fact we were one of the first companies to do so; but we're also using Pavloda, from Melbourne House, on our tapes. This makes tape loading times similar to disk loading times, so I don't see the advantage of having a disk drive unless you want to do major programming or use business software."

Apart from the in-house programming utilities Taskset is developing, Andy doesn't have much time for the idea of writing serious software. "You need a certain kind of mind to enjoy writing or using spreadsheets or databases. I just prefer games." Programmer Tony Gibson added, "I once wrote a word processing program and quite enjoyed it - but I'm happier with games even though I don't play them much. I just like looking over people's shoulders as they play, and my idea of a good game is one where you can get a lot of fun just out of doing that!"