Interview with Jonathan Smyth (Jonathan Temples)

I sort of fell into it when I was around 16 years of age. My cousin David Clarke and I lived very close then and used to play on my Commodore Vic20 then we got c64's and we started to experiment. My cousin was very gifted in maths and that sort of thing so he picked up coding very easily. I was always good at art and drawing so naturally this opened up a new way of my arty expression on the Commodore 64 and Amiga. We started our first published game around 1990.

My cousin David Clarke used to go to Belfast every Saturday with me and we got friendly with Ashley Hogg in a computer store called 'The Model Shop". We decided to publish a game so then needed a name for the 3 of us to write games under so 'Genesis Software' was born.

When CJ’s Elephant Antics was released we were happy for it to just get an average review and rating. But to our amazement the C64 version got a Silver Medal from ZZap64 and other accolades from similar magazines. The info we got was people in the business were talking and saying who are Genesis Software etc. When they found out it was 3 teenagers from Northern Ireland aged about 19 years of age writing a game as a hobby and this was our first game it sort of shocked a few people. I was studying A'level Art at college after leaving school and all of a sudden Codemasters started phoning me asking to see if I wanted to do freelancing for them and posting graphics over to England from Northern Ireland in Jiffy's post bags. There was no emails or internet then so this process was a lot slower. Lucky for me all the graphics I sent always went down well and changes were always few.

The advantages were cheap rent. But the disadvantages was that when David had to go to England for meetings the airfare then was expensive. One other disadvantage was that one time the head from Thalamus, I think Mr Birch was his name called over to see us during the 'Nobby the Aarvark" project in Belfast and stepped of the plane from the airport and seeing armored army vehicles and soldiers armed to the teeth on the local roads and armed police made him go a bit nervous and he couldn't wait to get back on the plane to England.

Creating graphics on the C64 I used Tony Crowther's excellent free from a magazine once "Commodore Format" or could be "Your Commodore" Sprite and character package. This was one mother of all art packages then and FREE. Other art programmes came out but I always used this for sprites and Characters. For my bitmaps and loading screens I used Neo Geo's Mouse package which I bought for around £60. Using a mouse instead of keys or joystick then in 1990 was the coolest thing and was like so cool back then. I even illustrated a few bitmap chunks or graphics and David converted them into charcters and sprites for me. A year or so later on the Amiga I used Deluxe Paint for sprites and characters and David and Ashley always wrote character block programs for me to build maps up with. They normally had options for character combinations such as blocks in 2x2 or 4x4 combos.

Nobby was Developed first on the C64 and Ashley was a C64 coder as well at the time. He was learing how to code on the Amiga as David had the C64 coding for Genesis. Once Ashley got up to speed with the Amiga coding Thalamus offered him the change to code the Amiga version. The versions was going to be based on the same levels and layout except for the submarine and maybe the space station were Ashley had coded a cool 3D routine and couldn't wait to add this in. The Amiga was going to have larger enemies and off course a massive silver steam train on the desert level railway tracks were as the C64 only has a small rail cart.

David only had verbal input like myself and Ashley was the sole coder on the Amiga version.

David and I evolved this from things we couldn't put into CJ's at the time. We both used to come up with weird and wacky ideas and David was a huge fan of New Zealand Story. We used to say" people expect a car or a plane so let's just do something mad instead."

Ashley told me to do a sprite a certain size which was around medium size on screen so when he scaled it up It was scaleable upwards in size on screen to a point and was not too pixelated on screen and didn't slow the code down.

I would love to say 'Yes' but no it's just normal 2D with scaling objects.

Maybe if we had progressed more with it and if time had been on our side.

From what I can remember we were around 3 Levels in coded and 4 levels graphically designed so it must have been 55% complete.

David and Ashley always spoke to them so I can't comment. All I can say was they give me a lot of freedom with my graphics and our ideas.

I remember Ashley working on this around my exams at college so he spent a lot of time coded it but I don't think It was ever released.

I never knew the Amiga version got reviewed. Ashley coded this one sometimes on his own at his house so as I was working freelancing on other Codemaster projects I lost track of this. I remember this one took longer to work on as Ashley and Thalamus were always stopping and starting the project. I generally did graphics for David and Ashley when they asked me so when I wasn't asked I'd be working on other projects.

Nintendo came in with their NES and took the gaming world by storm and then Codemasters and all the other gaming companies focused on this. I needed to work in house in England on these and as I had a girlfriend I sure wasn't going to leave her then to go to England. My cousin David and friend Ashley did and did very well out of it. David's now a wedding photographer in East Sussex and Ashley's still coding. I graduated as a graphic designer and never really enjoyed it as much as I did working on computer games but in Belfast the games industry was dead and graphic designed paid the bills.

Well I feel i'm getting my old life back again as I have been illustrating for 3 years now with my website

I have teamed up with someone I meet 10 years ago thanks to his dad at a graphic design place I worked at. We just meet 2 years ago again at the new Apple store in Belfast, and were now doing APPS for the iPhone, iTouch and iPad. Check out the graphics on my website. I hope to have an iPad, Second World War tank game finished by Oct 2010 with lovely Amiga style graphics all hand drawn and rendered with no 3D in sight. I really want to get back in the scene and get back to gaming. I feel the iPad and iPod has put gaming back to what it should be - small games that you play , not just one huge game that takes a year to complete and costs £50. Bring the good old days back with games from £2 and coded by small creative groups or companies where the fun and love comes out during the project and making money is secondary to the love of what your creating.

David told me recently when we were drinking together in a lovely bar near the coast of East Sussex where he lives now that he enjoyed that time in his life as he was the sole coder from start to finish unlike his later projects in England were he was just one coder in a team of coders. If any of your family members need a wedding photographer he's the man. He could always take a great picture.........

Thanks for listening and I hope I haven't bored you too much!!!!