"Distributors don't buy a game if it's original - they buy games with lots of hype. That's bad news."

The distributors buy a certain type of game - a game with pretty graphics and backed by full page colour ads. They don't look to see if a game is different or original. They buy games with a lot of hype behind them, and programmers with really good games may not be able to get their games sold. That is bad news when a distributor can lock you out like that. I have had the same trouble with Ancipital. The distributors have gone for something else - they haven't even looked at Ancipital.
How can you be sure they haven't seen it?
Because they would have bought it!
That's a very complacent attitude.
OK it's a complacent attitude, but it's not a

Big K - Jeff Minter
"Some reviewers don't even bother to read instructions... They don't know what they're doing"

bad game, it's original and the response I've had from people who bought it is that they've loved it.
So what the hell more do they want?
Have you not spoken to the distributors over the problem. Why aren't they buying it?
It's like talking to a brick wall. They go on about marketing - what it comes down to basically is that they buy stuff with hype behind it.
So they're saying to you take 'X' number of colour page ads and we'll buy the game off you?
They're not saying that, but just look at the games they're buying! US Gold and Ocean! Ocean have something like 16 pages of colour ads in the computer press. Look at any Ocean game and compare it to some of mine and you can't say it's better. I've got one of the largest followings of people who like my style of game in the country, I've worked hard to develop a following and I like to think I satisfy them. It annoys me when these guys can't get hold of my games because it gives the pirates a chance to step in.
Do you have any plans to write for other machines such as Amstrad or MSX?
We will probably be doing some conversions for MSX and Amstrad.
So you're talking conversions rather than writing new games?
I personally wouldn't write on the Amstrad.
Why - no sprites?
I don't think I could give it my best, I'd be writing in Z80 on a machine that was totally bit-mapped.
Again - no sprites.
It's not so much that I can't use machines without any sprites, because I use the VIC quite well. I'm now used to the style of development using sprites, and I think I write better games with a sprite-based machine.
You passionately believe in games - it's not just a job for you?
Oh no, it's not really a job at all, it's something I would be doing anyway if I had a 'normal' job. I've spoken to many people throughout the industry and i've mentioned Jeff Minter and they've said Jeff isn't well liked. I personally have said to them it's because you have such strong beliefs on games and gaming styles. Do you think that's the reason why people tend to switch off when one says Jeff Minter and Llamasoft?
Well, maybe. I'm just apart from the rest of the industry, I'm not doing what they're doing.
Which is...?
Look, the main reason these guys have formed a software house is to make a lot of money. Every other software house is run by people who aren't really games hackers at heart and they don't get a kick out of designing video games.

Big K - Jeff Minter
"I've always been into Pink Floyd and that sort of thing. It's the way i'm most relaxed"
They're just in it for the money?
To different levels. - Someone like Taskset is different because those guys like games and enjoy designing. What I see is that no other software house barring Taskset is developing a style of their own. I tend to be a little more experimental - I do games because I like to do that game. People who like my games tend to be very passionately into them or don't like them at all - there's very little middle ground. I don't release a lot of titles because it's very cynical just to flood the market.

Big K - Jeff Minter
"I like Taskset - their stuff is witty and pretty original. Activision's is nicely done with good ideas - the games are simple and enjoyable to play"

You don't plan to release a game every two or three weeks?
No! Say somebody likes my games and suddenly I start producing three games a month - how's the poor kid going to be able to buy all these games?
So you're talking quality. A game can be produced to a far higher standard over two or three months...
I'm not a particularly fast coder - I like to tinker around with the stuff.
What do you say to people like Tony Crowther who knock out a game in two weeks?
Well I think he's a talented programmer, but I can't say I'm entralled with his stuff. It's good, it's very competently coded, but there's nothing very original there. Loco was an arcade game, then there was Son of Blagger, a scrolling Manic Miner, then Potty Pigeon, Monty Mole and Suicide Express - all of which are variations on the smooth scroll theme.