Interview with Nigel Critten

It was all due to Aaron Fothergill of the AMOS club, I used to bug him with questions about TOME and SpriteX, eventually we became friends. I was just starting writing extensions for AMOS and he was a really useful guy to know, still friends with him now.

I was working on an AGA extension for AMOS, and Aaron was just finishing Jetstrike and they wanted to do a CD32 version, I said that my AGA extension would do everything they needed, at the time I didn't know that, but thought I could work it out in time. it all worked out, then a couple of games came up Rasputin needed some tweaking, and Aaron put my name forward, went down to see them and the rest is history.

I read your interview with Alec Smith and to be honest my experience ended in a very similar manner, but to start with it was great, and I was very happy to be working on what I thought was a great game.

Yes, they were both written in AMOS, using AMOS extensions written in 68000 assembly.

I wrote the AGA extension to AMOS, it was actually written especially for Jetstrike, but was later expanded into a full extension. I also wrote an extension for the CD32 controller, which did all the interfacing with the CD32 libraries as well. I still very happy how they came out.

It was quite a challenge actually, I was originally going to write it so all the drawing commands had their own AGA versions, but that was going to prove a mammoth task and I would never have completed it on time, so I came up with something quite clever, if I say so myself, it replaced the copper list created and used by AMOS, and allowed us to run a dual playfield display, as each playfield was 4 bit was could then use the original AMOS colour, draw commands. It did mean that if jetstrike crashed while being debugged you were left in a mess because it wouldn't drop back to the editor, you had to put the AMOS copperlist back before quiting. I really enjoyed writing that, it was great to work it out and actually get it running... and the dual playfield scrolling was something I was very pleased with, they were all mine because we couldn't use AMOS original commands for that.

As far as I was concerned the game was complete but Rasputin wanted it speeding up and a few tweaks. It was a great game and I was happy to work on it. - What was your role on the game? Originally it was to tidy up what was there, tweak it and speed it up.

I wouldn't have called myself an AMOS expert at all, I did have experience with 68000 as well, but far from an expert.

Dispute with Rasputin on my part probably, I couldn't achieve what they wanted in the time scale they gave me, originally it was a quick tweak and polish with a bit of redrawing on the graphics. The graphic artist who was redrawing them was just making a mess of it, and I just wasn't given anything that actually worked.

Then the code, it was an adventurous game, and AMOS really wasn't up to it, I started recoding sections, but it was really hard to get any sort of speed increase, so after a lot of thinking the only way was to rewrite a lot of it in 68000, this was going to take ages, Rasputin didn't like it and things got messy. So I stopped work, I didn't get paid either, but from what I've heard that wasn't a surprise.

Do you mean finding the disks? I've never lost them, Harold has been in the back of my mind for a long while, I got involved with the Yaroze, PS One, and used the tiles and sprites to test the routines out, they never made it into a released game sadly. But I did a full backup of all my Amiga stuff and nearly all of it has been sitting on my PC for a long while, when I found your site I had to share them. I hope Alec doesn't mind, we never actually spoke at the time.

I am yes, I had a couple of PC games published a few years ago, a remake of Hopping Mad, and an original 3D game called Removal Man, both for idigicon. They were great fun to write, and really pushed myself with Removal Man, I did start another game Milkman which was again great fun to work on, you could jump in and out of the milk float and go driving around in it, but that one was never finished, maybe a job for PC games that weren't :)

At the moment I'm working on a game for the iPhone/iPad and Windows Phone 7, and hopefully more to follow.