Amazon UK Bitmap Brothers Interview
Posted: Monday, 06 November 2000
Playability, Playability, Playability
An interview with Mike Montgomery, MD of Bitmap Brothers
Originally starting on the ZX 81, Mike Montgomery is the MD for the Bitmap Brothers and has been responsible for some of the milestones in gaming history such as Gods, Speedball and Z. He works with a small team of designers in Wapping, South London creating games that concentrate above all else on playability.
Amazon.co.uk: If you weren't in game design, what would you be doing now?
Bitmap Brothers: Probably doing nothing. I got into the game industry because it was fun and at the time looked like a good laugh. Now, all these years later, it is still a good laugh.
Amazon.co.uk: How is Speedball 2100 different from Speedball 2?
Bitmap Brothers: Speedball 2100 is really a reworking of the original, rather than taking the game and turning it into something completely different. Although saying that, we have worked hard bringing the game into the 21st century. A lot of people believe that every game must now be in 3-D, but in my mind, if the game works well in 2-D or there are elements that are old technology, but still work better than the new technology, why change it? Yes there are a number of elements that have changed in Speedball 2100 over the original Speedball 2, but at the crux of it, the game is still what everybody knows and loves
Amazon.co.uk: What are your top 10 games?
Dungeon Master--fantastically involving game with superb puzzles and inspiration for Cadaver.
Space Invaders (table top)--hours of fun for such a simplistic game.
Lands of Lore II--nearest thing to Dungeon Master, with the same feel
Cadaver--game I most enjoyed writing.
Oids--gameplay was superb.
Gran Turismo--excellent learning curve--really pulled me into the game.
Goldeneye--great game where the gameplay was unaffected by the licence.
Counterstrike--the Half Life mod--multiplayer and team based aspects the best--all my staff play it every day.
Homeworld--a tactical game with great looks and musical score.
Tomb Raider 4--reminiscent of many platform games in 2-D--3-D does work and I watched all the FMVs.
Amazon.co.uk: What are your 10 worst games?
Missile Command--my sister was excellent at this and always beat me--used to wheel it home from the pub in a wheelbarrow. I found my Dad playing it one night--first and only time he ever played a game!
Lands of Lore III--no understanding of what you're supposed to do--a classic example of a 2-D game in 3-D that didn't work.
Gran Turismo 2--very uninspiring after the original.
Pong--never got the hang of this.
Shadow of the Beast
Roller Coaster Tycoon--initially a great game but once built you can't get them to match up--very frustrating.
Braveheart--lent them my laser disc and never got it back!
Quake--has started a genre that publishers have ploughed too much faith into.
Tetirs--far too clever for me.
Amazon.co.uk: What's your favourite platform of all time?
Bitmap Brothers: The Amiga, because it was so easy to program, and where it all started.
Amazon.co.uk: How did you get started in the industry?
Bitmap Brothers: It all started when I worked for Woolworths. One day while working, we got a computer printout of the layout of the store. To me, the idea of a computer was a novelty, I had never seen one before and certainly never had one at home. It intrigued me so much that I invested in a Spectrum ZX 81 and then started copying programs out of the monthly magazines at the time. Well to my surprise, a number of these programs were riddled with bugs, so I set about fixing them and then sending the fixes back to the magazines.
After some time, I wanted to see how good I was, whether it was something I could do more of, or whether it was merely just something that everyone else was still miles better. So I booked an appointment with a games developer. When I got there and showed them what I was capable of, they offered me a job. And the rest is history, as they say.
Amazon.co.uk: Where do you get your inspiration from?
Bitmap Brothers: Everywhere, whether it be other games, films, real-life experiences. Speedball was based on the game of real tennis. It started as a simulation and then changed to what it has become today.
Amazon.co.uk: What in your mind makes a good game?
Bitmap Brothers: Playability. You can have the most graphically designed masterpiece, the most technically advanced programming behind it all, but without playability all of these things stand for nothing. The game has got to make you want to lose sleep over.
Amazon.co.uk: If you were to stop making games tomorrow, what game would you like to be remembered for?
Bitmap Brothers: All of them. In my mind, no one game that I have developed has been better than the others.
Amazon.co.uk: What's next on the agenda?
Bitmap Brothers: Z2 the follow up to Z is in production at the moment, and we are looking at developing titles for the X-box and PS2.
Taken from Amazon UK
Bitmap Brothers pages
Official Speedball 2100 Site
Official Z: Steel Soldiers Site
Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe
Z: Steel Soldiers
EON Digital Entertainment
Take 2 Interactive