Everyone knows of the love we have for The Bitmap Brothers but we’ve hardly mentioned the Renegade software label that they created in order to release some of their classic titles. I’m pleased to say that our Adrian caught up with one of Renegade’s leading lights, the legend and also fellow south Londoner Graeme Boxall!
How did you first get into the video game industry and what was the first game you ever worked on?
It was quite bizarre how I got a job as a tester at TelecomSoft back in 1985. I was asking Anita Sinclair of Magnetic Scrolls about Guild of Thieves and she just asked me if I was looking for a job and took my telephone number.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a true gaming classic – what was it like working on this title and do you have a personal favourite turtle?
The Nintendo version was great. Our conversions were done very quickly and missed some of the subtleties of the original game but it sold incredibly well. I haven’t watched TMHT for years and although I recall the turtles are named after Renaissance artists. The only one I remember is Michaelangelo so I will say he is my favourite.
We have had the great opportunity to talk to Jon Hare a couple of times regarding Sensible Soccer – what was it like working for Jon and what was your exact role on this iconic football game?
I was part of the team at Renegade that persuaded Jops to sign with Renegade and after that fulfilled many roles. I mostly rang them up to remind them of the date we needed the master for duplication!
Fire & Ice was a well-polished enjoyable platformer which was really well received on the Amiga. Did you have high hopes this game would compete against Sonic and Mario?
I never really thought of it as a competitor to console faves. All I ever thought about was that it would get delivered and the public would like it.
Is it true Fire & Ice was being made on the Megadrive, but was never released?
Graftgold were working on Sega Mega Drive ports for Renegade but I don’t remember Fire and Ice being one of them. They did start work on Ruff and Tumble, another Amiga platformer from Renegade.
Chaos Engine (Soldiers of Fortune to our US readers) was a personal favourite of mine when growing up – what was it like managing this game and did you know you were working on a future classic?
From the first time I saw TCE I knew it would be huge, huge hit. Eric, Mike and Steve K (The Bitmaps) were an incredible force at that time.
I really liked the amazing steam punk setting of Chaos Engine. If you travelled back in time and found yourself in the same setting, which Chaos Engine character would you most like to be accompanied with and why?
I would say The Thug as his visuals are based on me (we did not know this! – Ed) but there’s no point having two of the same character so I think the doctor as I am a caring person and wanted to be a doctor whilst I was growing up.
Do you think there is room for an updated version of Chaos Engine for today’s market?
Most certainly, as long as Eric (Matthews) was involved in it.
I spent much of my youth playing (and creating levels for) Duke Nukem 3D. What was it like working on this amazing game and did you know you were working on a true gaming classic at the time?
I knew it was a classic back in the mid 90s as the whole of the test department were playing it. If testers give up their lunch time to play a game you know it is good. The other games they played were Starcraft and Descent (that says it all – Ed).
When Duke Nukem Forever was (eventually) released it was met with poor reviews. Would you like the opportunity to add new life to this character or do you think this ship has sailed?
The game was a victim of the original’s success. Expectation was so high after taking 10 years to make. Crazy.
If you could travel back in time and work on any video game, whichgame would you have loved to be involved in?
Interesting question. My favourite game is Speedball 2 which I worked on and so really happy about that. I would have loved to have been a tester on Infocom text adventures.
Which video game did you have the most fun working on?
At the time none of them were fun as it was real hard work getting the games finished. I enjoyed the camaraderie we had as a team finishing Duke Nukem. The whole department lived in the offices for day on end.
In our twitter chat you mentioned that our hometown of Croydon (UK) has a rich gaming history, could you tell us a little bit more?
Well, you mentioned TMHT and that was actually managed and developed in Croydon by Probe! Fergus McGovern who owned Probe was one of the original industry whizz kids! Sadly he died earlier this year (sorry to hear that – Ed). Probe was bought by Acclaim studios but closed soon after. HotGen which was formed by Fergus and is now run by Terry Haynes and Fish (Mark Fisher) is in Croydon. Reef Entertainment are in Beddington Lane and Headstrong (ex Kuju studio) are there plus lots of freelancers from Probe days!
Crikey! We should be proud of our little town! What projects are you currently working on?
I’ m a taking an enforced break from the industry at the moment 🙁
We’re sorry to hear that Graeme, would be a shame if it was a definite break! Talking of spare time though, If you could share a few pints with a video game character who would you choose?
Lara Croft 😉
Don’t blame you! Thanks for your time Graeme, was ace talking to you. We wish you all the best and hope that you get back to the industry soon.