Interview with Adrian Robert Cummings

I (Adrian Cummings) and three old friends (Rob Brooks, David Boggust & Jason Lihou) had always had an interest in computer games from the C64 days and even before then of course, and we all bought Amiga 1000s as soon as they made it into to the UK stores in 1985-86 I recall (I still have mine recently refurbished to this day on my desk!). Together we created many small game demos and a lot of graphics that were never used - mainly all written in 68000 asm.

This was an attempt to create an 8 way scrolling shooter for Amiga. Rob Brooks was coder and I did the graphics - it never came to anything of course, but we were inspired by the early Psygnosis stuff to want to create something really cool - again it didn't happen though :)

I think there are some sprites on my Amiga HD in a directory called 'Nostalgia Trip' but I would need to take a look in due course.

I think we started this in 1989'ish?

The graphics by me were all almost 99.9% completed (again I may still have them on Amiga HD).

I was graphic artist (Rob was coder).

We had a massive argument after I got bored that the deal we had back then with U.S. Gold wasn't moving along as expected. I rang up the publisher as the artist and I don't think Rob liked it so we fell out for a while - the publisher it turned out weren't all that serious it turned out so they never got released - not that there was much code to release! :P

Yes he is that person :)

Yes we were attempting to mimick the current publisher at the time and generate title for them I think, hence the similar look and feel. We actually put together the demo on a bank holiday weekend in about 10 hours with the view to meeting with the publisher again to try and get an early deal (we'd met them before I recall and they liked our style) but again it never worked out :)

Not sure but it must have been late 80s early 90s?

Just as game demo and nothing more (we lacked true direction I think heh).

About 1987'88?

It actually became quite evolved so I guess around 33% maybe more!

Yes we tried really hard back then (Rob, Dave and myself) but lacked commitment for personal reasons - else I think we came close with this one - It was inspired by Space Force arcade (tho I can't remeber the name now really).

This was one of my own when I split off for a bit from the other guys, I worked as a software engineer for a boiler manufacturer (software monitoring etc). and because I had an extreme interest in all things electronic and Kraftwerk's music, I ended up coming up with my first attempt at a game demo on my own which I planned to publish myself - I couldn't finish the demo due to work (my real day job) and my still by then newbie 68000 coding standards... but this little 'spark' was enough later it proved to start Mutation Software on my own years in the future, so was a very important corner to turn in life for me at least.

Yes that was the precursor to Mutation Software back then.

I can't really remember to be honest.

It was just a one level badly coded demo - but at least everything in it was all mine by this time.

No just homebrew release to be sold mail order perhaps - but never complete of course anyway.

This one must have been around 1988-89?

Oh no another demo :)

Yes we had gotten an office by then with another guy who used to sell Amiga games in the mags of the day. And it became our pen name when I got back with Rob.

It was easy in the sense that you just came up with the idea - stuck on a floppy and took it to them at ECTS or just sent in on floppy. They liked it and it was looking really good with Rob doing a fine job on the 8 way tile scroll in 50fps - nice! I was then writing music on Amiga and keyboards and we started to implant all my choons into these demos to add appeal.

We were going to make the finished game really big in terms of gameplay in that you had to actually race across the USA - I think looking back we could have done it but man that would have been one boring game heh :) I think it was inspired by Crusin USA arcade game somehow!?... we all spent too much of our youth in those places - I used to get through £40 in one afternoon on a weekend :)

Oh dear hehe - this one had Rob coding, Dave came back onboard and did the starfield code and trusty old me on graphics... It must have been around early 90s for a show that Psygnosis were exhibiting at - again the demo was written to show what we could do. We left Rob to go in the stand at the show to try and meet them. I recall they liked it a lot as a potential Bitmap Bros. basher but again nothing came of it - all that work to date and nothing - sad eh :)

See above.

Yes we thought we were the Bitmap 'Sisters' back then - but we were nothing more than a bunch of girls it turned out that couldn't get a game finished let alone to market! :)

About 10% Just another game concept demo that made use of software parallax scrolling in 16 colours per playfield - it looked nice back then!

Oh we loved them!

We had the skills but we lacked direction and commitment once again!

Up until about now - everything you have read before this point to a great extent. The initial spark came with Man Machine and I felt we were not getting anywhere as a team which by then was beginning to wind me up more than a little. Dave left for Uni, Rob went on to work with Images Design (Now Climax Group) and I left my day job and started my small business with not a lot of cash - big leap of faith in my own ability for me personally!

Ah the scary part. Without going into great detail (it is along story) I met this publisher through a magazine advert. They liked my own software, and it went on to be published (my first commercially published titles on my own!). Being very green to the actual process of publication rather then development, I kind of got ripped off and became really depressed for about 18 months and it really threw me back a few steps in life so to speak - a very nasty time indeed :/

After I got back on my feet I vowed never to be so green again with a publisher. I wrote a few more demos and then the big break came with Core Design, It was long overdue I can tell you back then!

This was one of the game concept demos I wrote when I was in my dark period in life believe it or not heh, and I still think it would have been really cool had I finished it - it had the 'makings' of a nice little platformer. I still love the mini arcade in the demo that features my earlier game Bug Bash and a mini Fruit Machine. Well I thought they were cool anyway :)

Yes by then I already knew that my own style was far more cute and cartoony than say Rob's or Dave's and it later went on to become my sort of trademark graphical style.

Yes in many ways I soon came to the conclusion that I was better on my own (once I had learnt enough 68000 skills from Rob mainly) and that my imagination was stifled by others - it just seemed to work 100% better alone and I began to finish titles with moderate ease.

This was my big break commercially with Doodlebug after 9 months work alone and they were great to work with and very refreshing in terms of publication and cashflow.

Yes, Bug Bash and Vac Suit Jack were the precursors in terms of design to Doodlebug. Cyberpunks was the result of early Man Machine ideas that Core liked but somehow managed to end up more inspired by Aliens the movie back then, which of course I am still a great fan of. Also Cyberpunks was heavily inspired by Alien Syndrome Arcade - another game that ate all my cash down the arcades with Rob and Dave heh :)

Yes this was also for Core and I had a lot of it working and ready. I switch on my A1200 one morning to start work and heard a strange high pitch noise coming from the hard drive - on later inspection (it took me days to get over the shock) I found that the drive had suffered a head crash - the 2.5 inch 20Gb drive was only 3 months old too - very bad!. I lost all of the Core story like animation too for the front of the game that was going to be a classic - all I have left or managed to salvage was the title screen (the snake graphic in it will be part reused soon on a forthcoming mobile game for Overloaded can you believe hehe). We use to have a saying 'Backups or Whack ups! :)

It started not long after Doodlebug was published and ended when the drive went down tha pan about 3 months later sadly.

It was a Sonic style high speed platformer with a bit more depth in terms of story.

This was the result of Core ringing me up one day and telling me they had heard the news that the Amiga in all incarnations was about to die in the marketplace as a viable platform - I went into shock again and thought bugger that I'll keep going it alone with the cash that I had made back then.

Tin Toy Adventure as a self-published title did about 3000 units, Tommy Gun did about 550 and Castle Kingdoms did really bad at around 200 units. By then I knew it was really over - the golden days had passed and I had to move to PC to stay alive perhaps - very sad as I gave a lot of my personal life to he Amiga - the best computer ever!

Yes they were all in line for release after the first three titles, but when the end had come with Castle Kingdoms (which was an attempt to support the older A500 not just newer A1200) it proved to be a big mistake in terms of sales which then started to affect future development.

Not really too much, although there are quite a few graphics from Monster Football (later tried to port it to PC but failed) and some pencil artwork for the others in a file around here somewhere.

Before Mutation Software days I got to know Karl at Images Design (now CEO CLimax) through Rob and Jas and I got offered to do the airbrush art and later game pixel artwork for the range of games.

Yes I think here are still 'some graphics' on the Amiga HD but I would need to locate them and dig em out.

Some others (all demos) from the pre Mutation Software Rob and Dave Amiga/Atari ST days were Pod (Platformer), Eliminator (Robotron clone?),Morning Milkie (Paperboy clone) Egg (Platformer never went too far after getting ripped off by Microtec/Big Shot) and I think there were about 10 other concepts that never made it but without going through my old Amiga HD I have since forgotten many of them.

Yes I later went on to work in PC, Gameboy Color, Gameboy Advance, PS1 and in 2004 Mutation finally died and I moved into Mobile Phone games development. and now supply content to publishing partners Overloaded/Mobile Media.

  • The Marble Madness port (I bought my Amiga because of it and also after seeing the boing demo at Which Computer Show in 1985!)
  • Shadow of the Beast
  • Gods
  • Magic Pockets
  • Hybris
  • Shanghai
  • It Came From The Desert
  • Space Battle
  • Archon
  • Chuck Rock
  • Dr. Fruit
  • Xenon 2 - Megablast?
and many more better games than I actually wrote heh!