RVG Interviews: Chris Blackbourn.

RVG’s latest interview is with Chris Blackbourn, most commonly known as the creator of the awesome Skidmarks racing games on 16-Bit systems. Chris takes some time out of his busy schedule where he is creating the next installment to the Skidmarks line of games.

The Interview.

Zapiy

Thanks for agreeing to the interview, could you take a moment to tell a little about you and how you got in the games industry?

Chris

Thanks for the questions! I always knew I wanted to be a computer programmer, I got my first computer a Vic-20 at the age of 9 and just started making games in BASIC. I guess I just never stopped.

Zapiy

You developed prototypes of Skidmarks for Playstation and Jaguar do you have these still?

Chris

Yeah that was so much fun! Unfortunately I don’t have working versions anymore. The Playstation was especially challenging cause we were jumping from 2.5D to full 3D and everything gets a lot more complicated and the content gets a lot more expensive to make.

For the Jaguar, we went for a more conventional 2D approach. The hardware was so much fun to develop for, but the sales meant there just wasn’t a large enough market to continue the project.

Greyfox

What is the gaming industry like in NZ?

Chris

It’s really taking off. There’s a lot of talent here, with Weta Digital from the Lord of the Rings films, and the Indie games scene is starting to heat up too!

Greyfox

What are you up to these days??

Chris

I’m making #EpicSkidmarks! Rebooting the original content from the Amiga onto a new wave of devices and fully multiplayer over the internet.

5)Whats the reasoning behind the name Acid Software?

You’d have to ask Simon about that one! @isocities

 

Greyfox

Whats next for you, any sneak peaks?

Chris

Right now I’m adding the Cows and Caravan’s into #EpicSkidmarks, really focused on getting a fun teams racing experience that captures that awesome feel of the original of playing with your friends.

Zapiy

What were the real draw backs to creating games for the Megadrive and Amiga back in the day?

Chris

Lack of a community. Before google, we had to re-invent everything from scratch. With Unity it’s so quick to prototype out ideas and collaborate with other devs over the internet.

Zapiy

Have you created any special tools to help you create your games?

Chris

Lots! I wrote my own engine, cooker, even text editor!

Zapiy

Is there any thoughts on making any new retro games?

Chris

We’re all about recreating Super Skidmarks as #EpicSkidmarks using a retro vibe, but on modern hardware.

I hear of some devs who like to go full retro, classic tools and classic hardware but writing all new games. I imagine that’s super fun, but to turn away from modern tools feels a bit more like performance-art than a serious project to delight your players.

If there’s sufficient interest, we might also look at backporting #EpicSkidmarks to run on existing Amigas, using modern toolchains and dev tools to target retro hardware, so the guy in the #VR headset might be able to race head to head with the girl on the Amiga CD32.

Greyfox

What was it like working at Lionhead Studios / Microsoft and any stories you could tell us about your time there?

Chris

Really awesome, there’s some crazy talented people there. Everyone there is so passionate about making amazing games. Keeping up with Peter Molyneux’s crazy ideas (and announcements?!) was always a challenge!

Greyfox

Are you shocked at the current resurgence in retro related gaming?

Chris

I think it’s awesome. The classic games were laser focused on gameplay, there wasn’t enough CPU resources to do anything else! I’ve found that when you take some of those mechanics and wrap them in polygons, they can feel really cliched because they’ve been copied so many times. It makes a lot of sense to me that gamers are going back and playing the originals and having a blast.

Zapiy

What systems do you own and which was your favourite? (retro)

Chris

I find physical hardware really bulky, so for an (impatient) software guy like me, tinkering with emulators, MAME, dolphon etc, is where the fun is at. I think I still have some Amigas, one of the first PowerPC macbooks, and a PDP11 in storage, does that count?

Zapiy

What games and genres were your favs?

Chris

Racing games. All of them. That’s one of the reasons I joined the Watch_Dogs team at Ubisoft.

Zapiy

Who in the industry did you idolize when you was starting out?

Chris

The graphics pioneers, people like James Blinn, Bui Phong and Ed Catmull. Oh, Eugene Jarvis too!

Zapiy

Do you have any other unfinished projects for retro titles that you might share?

Chris

Skidmarks is my world right now.

Finally a huge thanks to Chris for taking part in this interview.

Comment Here

Retro head and key holder of RVG.

zapiy

Retro head and key holder of RVG.

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