RVG Interviews: Langford Productions.

It’s a pleasure to announce our latest RVG Interview, this time with homebrew coder Richard Langford, Richard has made three Amiga games that you will read about below and of late he has released to amazing windows based games that pay homage to the Spectrum, known as Project ZX.

The Interview

Zapiy

Thank you for agreeing to our interview, please take a moment to tell us a little about you?

Richard

No worries – I’m basically a bit of a nerd with far too much time on my hands! When I was younger my big thing was drawing cartoon strips, like the ones found in the comics of the day – Whizzer and Chips, Buster etc. But as with many people at the time, all other hobbies took a back seat when gaming consoles (I had an Atari 2600) and computers came along. I dabbled a bit with Spectrum Basic but didn’t really make any games until the Amiga came along. I made a few Amiga games which I put on the huge Public Domain scene at the time, but then video cameras became popular and I had another new hobby!

I continued playing games every now and then, mostly on Nintendo consoles, but I didn’t really get back into making games until I discovered Game Maker for Windows and haven’t looked back since! I’ve made 6 or 7 remakes of classic games from days gone by and, more recently the nostalgia inducing games Project ZX and Project ZX 2. I’m certainly not a professional programmer – it’s always been a ‘spare time’ thing, but I like to see what I can come up with and share the results around the retro gaming groups.

Greyfox

What was the first game you created?

Richard

The first game was on a Dragon 32 computer. There was one where my mum worked that had been promised to me once they’d finished with it. I had to wait a while for it but was given the manual in the meantime which I read from cover to cover. Once I had hold of the machine itself I wrote a very simple Donkey Kong type game pretty much in the first week! I can’t remember if it was any good, but I doubt it! Next was a simple BASIC music maker for the Spectrum which appeared as a type-in in Home Computing Weekly in 1984. If anyone is really desperate for something to do the listing is up there on my website ready to be typed in!

Zapiy

What do you for a living now?

Richard

Unfortunately, after over 32 years working on shift in I.T. I was made redundant towards the end of last year. I’d pretty much give anything a go – I even tried bus driving but found I wasn’t very good at it so decided to stop before I killed someone! If anyone knows of anything suitable let me know – the money’s running out!! Hahaha.

Greyfox

What was it that started you interested in doing game mash-up games like the Project ZX ones?

Richard

I absolutely loved the Spectrum. It had a certain, unmistakable look about it both in the graphics and the machine itself. I spent some night shifts drawing various Spectrum models in vector graphics just to pass the time then thought maybe I could use them somehow in a game. After a few false starts it finally struck me to make a shoot-em-up with the main ship flying through the inside of a ZX Spectrum. It grew from there.

TrekMD

How long does it take you to create your Windows-based Project ZX games?

Richard

John Davies (who helped design ZX2) and I were talking about designing a new game once Project ZX was finished. The ideas went from this and that until finally we decided to take the best out of the ideas we were having and make Project ZX 2. At the time I was on a break in the Isle of Wight for my 49th birthday and Project ZX2 was uploaded to my website on April 10th – my 50th birthday… so exactly one year. I think the original game possibly took a little longer as I didn’t have quite so much time on my hands.

Zapiy

Any thoughts of doing some Spectrum games?

Richard

I’ve dabbled with AGD but always seemed to run out of memory with whatever I tried. I do have a Spectrum Next on order though, so as soon as the cased ones are distributed I might look at doing something there.

Zapiy

Can you tell us about your Amiga games?

Richard

I made three games on the Amiga. I can’t recall what order they were made in. One of the games was called Wally World. It started off not as a game, but as a slideshow to show off some of the pictures I’d drawn – pixel by pixel in those days, no scanning! – pictures of Sonic, Bugs Bunny and all sorts – see – I was ripping off other people’s IP long before Project ZX came along! To make it a little more interesting I invested in AMOS (anyone who had an Amiga will remember AMOS) and added a simple Hunchback style game over the top of the screens to string them together.
The other two Amiga games were remakes of Spectrum games, Cookie and The Pyramid. All three games received favourable reviews in “The One Amiga” magazine’s PD section with Cookie appearing on their cover disk. Looking back, The Pyramid wasn’t actually too much like the Spectrum original at all and I have since made a Windows version that follows the original far more closely.

Zapiy

What limitations did you find with making Amiga?

Richard

At the time I didn’t think there were any limitations at all with the Amiga – it could do just about anything as far as I was aware – such an amazing leap on from the Spectrum. I think the only real limitations were my own! Despite having been heavily into drawing before computers came along I never quite made the jump into pixel art, especially with all the colours the Amiga was allowing me to use. For some reason my work always seemed a little flat! Fortunately for Project ZX 2 I had the help of Andy Green to produce some amazing pixel art loading screens and Mark R Jones, formerly of Ocean Software, to design a nice Jetboot Joe sprite for me. Incidently there is also a hidden level in ProjectZX 2 containing a whole bunch of fantastic sprites Mark produced for Ocean that were never used for one reason or another back in the day!

TrekMD

Why Langford Productions?

Richard

It’s my name! hahaha. I used to call myself ‘Langford Video’. When Camcorders first made it big, I was there. I would make daft video skits with friends, I was always the one with the camera on holidays, at one point I even had a side-line making Wedding videos. Even now I often make the odd little cartoon out of drawings I’ve produced on the PC. Once I’d started making games for Windows and vector art I thought I might as well put all my work together and show it off on a website. ‘Langford Video’ no longer covered it so ‘Langford Productions’ was born.

TrekMD

Whats next?

Richard

I was learning HTML5, CSS and Java script, and am now struggling to learn Java all in the hope of finding a new, more interesting job than I had before, so the game making may be on hold for a while. But I’d like to come up with something totally original next time – still very much nostalgia based but with completely original graphics and sound etc rather than stuff ‘borrowed’ from old games!

Zapiy

Are you surprised with the resurgence in retro gaming?

Richard

Absolutely not at all. Everything seems to go around in circles. When I was at school in the 80s, the music of the 60s was very popular. Nowadays the music of the 80s is very popular again, so why wouldn’t it happen with computer games too? Personally, I’m not a fan of the latest huge, cinematic games on today’s consoles. If I want to watch a movie I’ll watch a movie – I don’t want to be in it! Sometimes you just need a five or ten minute gaming fix, and retro games are perfect for that!

Zapiy

Any thoughts for doing games on other systems? CPC464, Dreamcast or Spectrum.

Richard

I will certainly be giving the Spectrum Next more than the once over when it arrives, but I think if I make any games on it I’d like those games to be playable on any Spectrum, not just the Next. But then, once it arrives I may get carried away….

Greyfox

Do you have any games that are just sitting on your drives unfinished that you may release one day?

Zapiy

I started a remake of the arcade game ‘Kangaroo’. The hardest thing for me in making that game was getting all the collision detection as awful as it was in the original. I was really pleased with how it was coming along though and can’t really remember why I abandoned it when it was so nearly finished. It’s still about on my PC though, so it could possibly appear at some point – in the meantime I have a video of what was done so far on my YouTube channel – lvideo4867.

Finally

A huge thanks to Richard for taking time out to have a chat with us at RVG.

Please visit Langford Productions to experience a wonder comic capers website.

Discussion Thread

Retro head and key holder of RVG.

zapiy

Retro head and key holder of RVG.