Author Topic: RVG Interviews Andrew Hewson.  (Read 1765 times)

Offline zapiy

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RVG Interviews Andrew Hewson.
« on: February 23, 2015, 15:45:23 PM »
[align=center:b5hxdbq2][size=140]On of the true pioneers of the UK computer industry, Hewson started off publishing books and games for the humble Sinclair ZX81 before working their way up to the 16-bit home computers and consoles. 21st Century Entertainment were started up not long after Hewson left the scene and are most famous for their hugely popular pinball games.

Hewson's games library contains hit after hit and I am sure all of you own at least one of their games in your collection, you can look at their Moby Games profile HERE and games list HERE.[/size][/align:b5hxdbq2]Rogue Trooper

Q) Andrew, before I dive in with the questions, please allow me to say a HUGE thank you to you. You were responsible for such a huge chunk of my gaming life it's unreal, I had a scan through your games list and at rough count, there's well over 20 games published by Hewson that I have such fond memories of, your a living legend.

Q) Hewson games always seemed to have that extra degree of polish to them, more often than not, as a C64 owner your games so often had stunning music (Cybernoid 1+2, Stormlord 1+2, Firelord, Marauder, Netherworld, Battle Valley, Slayer, Zamzara, Subterranea etc). So was the audio side of a game something you were keen for your products to embrace?

It is my strongly held opinion that sound effects and music create the emotional content of an otherwise entirely visual product. My own personal favourite is the bell which tolls on the Nightmare table of Pinball Dreams. The sound is cold and empty and hollow and makes you feel that the end of the world has been and gone and that you left as the own living thing in a dead landscape.

Of course I can take no personal credit for any of this. My role was simply to stand by holding the reins so to speak whilst other people who were a lot more talented than I could ever be, came up with the goods.

Q) Zamzara: simply stunning for a budget game with a main sprite straight out of the film Enemy Mine, but am I right in thinking it, along with the stunning Moonfall and Octopolis, were the coders only 3 games he ever made? If so do you have any idea why he quit after just 2 games and do you know what became of him? Also how did you get hold of the games? Did he approach you directly? I'd love to know more on how these games came about.


Q) Saw film and arcade game influences in many of your games (Enemy Mine, The Black Hole Robots in Steel, R-Type Snakes in Slayer etc) did they ever get you in any hot water? And what of the topless fairy lasses in Stormlord and lass in Insects In Space? Any prudes complain?

Q) C64 Rana Rama...looked very much like a Speccy port, still played like a gem, but what's story behind the conversion? We C64 owners expected more, sniff!

Q) See the Atari 7800 listed among supported formats, but you never did any Atari 8-bit Micro games did you? (I only discovered your works when I moved from the 800XL to the C64) did you never consider the Atari 8 Bit range a worthy market? Not even for your budget range? If not, why?

Dunno, it never really crossed my mind to get involved. Atari seemed a step backwards to me.

Q)Looking at people you had working on your games (Steve Turner, Andrew Braybrook, Nick Jones, Raf Cecco, Stephen Roberts etc) would it be fair to say Hewson had pretty much the cream of the 8-bit coding scene on-board at one time or another? And how on earth did you manage to secure such talent?

Q) How was your relationship with Zzap 64 (pretty much THE C64 bible back then)? Know your company placed a lot of adverts in the magazine, had games getting some fantastic scores, but often they were a little too harsh i thought Marauder only 66%, Exolon only 64% etc, let alone Eagles coming in at 47%. Did it piss you off a little to see a product scored lower than you'd hoped for? And did it have a knock-on effect on sales?

Q) Also rumour has it Hewson started making its games hard on purpose, as to give Zzap reviewers a real challenge, any truth in this? And if so, what about us mere mortals who lacked the ninja-gaming skills of the Zzap crew. I really struggled with Zynaps, no checkpoints? Ohhh man!

[align=center:b5hxdbq2]My motto is that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. I not interested in ripping people off. Life is too short.

Q) Your 4th Dimension compilation, just bloody superb VFM, were there ever plans for a Vol. 2?

Q) How did the licensing of Stormlord to Razorsoft for the MD/Genesis conversion come about? And did you ever look at their version, if so any thoughts? (I think it added 4? extra levels if nothing else).

Q) Steel turned up on ST/Amiga on a Zero magazine cover disk (which was fantastic as I got a 16-bit version of a C64 fave of mine, for free!). How did that come about and were there ever any other Hewson games given away on magazine cover disks/tapes?

We licensed lots of past products for magazine cover disks. It was a helpful income stream for a period.

Q) Rubicon C64, looked stunning, sounded fantastic, but release was delayed as Hewson went under, 21st century Entertainment was born. Did the delay effect the 8-bit version in terms of sales? (in fact, I assume it was released at retail, only ever seen it running on video) and where did the coding team, 'Twisted Minds' come from?

Q) Ammotrack (an ST P.D game that I nabbed off a magazine cover disk) was originally from your back catalogue but was 'lost' when Hewson (sadly) went under. Can you recall how it ended up in terms of a P.D release and did any other unreleased titles from you suffer the same fate?

Q) On average, how long was someone like say Andrew Braybrook given to finish a game? And when they said 'I need more time', how flexible were you in giving them the time needed to finish a game? Basically what was your release policy? It'll ship when ready, or something like, you can have say 3 months more, then it's shipping?

Q) Uridium+, which turned up on compilation, was if I recall an 'improved' version of the original, which also gave the player a few extra levels. Did any of your other releases feature such bonus stuff when re-released? Very generous approach I must say.

Q) Iridis Alpha was something of a departure for a Hewson release. Can you tell us a little how it came about as a joint Llamasoft/Hewson project? And also how the business relationship worked out (don't think Jeff had any other releases on Hewson label).

Q) Andrew, you were working with 16-bit computers back in 1973 when you were working for the British Museum, but they were size of a small room etc, were you 'surprised' by advances in home micro tech some 15 years later when you started developing games for ST/Amiga?

Q) Was it true most of your coders worked 'out-of-house'? And if so, what would you say were the pros & cons of such a system? Did coders appreciate the freedom? How often did you check on progress they were making?.

Q) Telecomsoft 'lured away' your Graftgold coders behind Morpheus and Magnetron at a PCW show, which led to a rather unpleasant legal battle, before being settled. Just how narked off to put it mildly, were you to have this happen to you? And if you don't mind me asking, in hindsight, could the situation have been avoided?

Q) Can you explain how Atari 7800 version of Nebulus came to be in hands of US Gold for the USA release and why the name change to Tower Toppler?

TrekMDNo, sorry.

Q) Apart from Tower Toppler and Pinball Fantasies on the Jaguar, were there plans for additional games for other Atari systems?

No, I was never a great Atari fan.


Q) How come the Atari ST got a port of Rana Rama and the Amiga didn't?

Q) Do you think that looking back on it, the Spectrum probably could have handled a full port of Paradroid, maybe a version for the 128K Spectrum?

Q) Was the inclusion of the mini-games in certain games of yours (e.g. Paradroid droid control and the same in the Quazatron, the "Ranarama" rune casting in Rana Rama) to differentiate them from arcade games and offer a unique gameplay experience for the home computer formats?


Q) How come 20th Century Software focused on pinball games? Was there a specific reason for this?

Q) Hewson started off by publishing books to help people program, how did you get into programming yourself and did you spot this as a gap in the market?

To be honest, I wanted to write a book, or books, in order to prove to myself that I could. The ZX80 book and the others were all a way of testing myself.

Q) Is there any reason you never got into publishing console games with Hewson, rather than just making a few games for other publishers here and there?

Q) Did you see that somebody converted Stormlord to the vintage Oric 1 computer a few years ago (very impressively I may add), if so what did you think of it?

Q) Do you ever regret calling a day on Hewson? Do you feel you could have taken the label further?

Q) What persuaded you to get back into games development with 20th Century Software?

Three weeks later, a friend tapped me on the shoulder and asked me how much I would need to pick up the pieces. I told him and he raised the finance and a support team (which is what I really needed). Suddenly we were back in business.

Q) And finally what became of 20th Century Software and what have you done since?

Own: Jaguar, Lynx, Dreamcast, Saturn, MegaDrive, MegaCD, 32X, GameGear, PS3, PS, PSP, Wii, GameCube, N64, DS, GBA, GBC, GBP, GB,  Xbox, 3DO, CDi,  WonderSwan, WonderSwan Colour NGPC


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