Col­lected Works

Laid-back Lla­ma­soft founder Jeff Min­ter re­flects on a decades-long ca­reer mak­ing tripped-out games

EDGE - - SECTIONS - BY BEN MAXWELL Pho­tog­ra­phy Will Ire­land

CENTIPEDE

De­vel­oper/pub­lisher dK’Tron­ics For­mat ZX81 Re­lease 1982

GRIDRUNNER

De­vel­oper Lla­ma­soft Pub­lisher HESware, Quick­silva For­mat Atari 8bit, C64, VIC-20, ZX Spec­trum Re­lease 1982

HOVER BOVVER

De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Lla­ma­soft For­mat Atari 8bit , Com­modore 64, In­tel­livi­sion, PC Re­lease 1983

LLAMATRON: 2112

De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Llamatron For­mat Amiga, ST, PC Re­lease 1991

TEMPEST 2000

De­vel­oper Lla­ma­soft Pub­lisher Atari, In­ter­play For­mat Jaguar, PlayS­ta­tion, PC, Saturn Re­lease 1994

TEMPEST 3000

De­vel­oper Lla­ma­soft Pub­lisher Has­bro In­ter­ac­tive For­mat Nuon Re­lease 2000

TXK

De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Lla­ma­soft For­mat Vita Re­lease 2014

SPACE GI­RAFFE

De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Lla­ma­soft For­mat 360, PC, Xbox One Re­lease 2007

MINO­TAUR RES­CUE

De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Lla­ma­soft For­mat iOS Re­lease 2011

POLYBIUS

De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Lla­ma­soft For­mat PS4, PSVR Re­lease 2017

Back in 1978, a 16-year-old Jeff Min­ter wan­dered into a room at his sixth-form col­lege and found a fel­low stu­dent sit­ting in front of a de­vice which looked some­thing like a cross be­tween a tele­vi­sion and a cal­cu­la­tor. On the screen was a crude mass of pix­els the per­son was con­trol­ling. Min­ter had en­coun­tered com­put­ers in the past, and had al­ready been ex­posed to a few ar­cade games by this point, but when he asked how this par­tic­u­lar game had found its way into the col­lege de­vice, the boy’s an­swer changed his life: “I typed it in,” he replied.

As a re­sult, Min­ter – who nowa­days lives in Wales, where he has a flock of sheep and a va­ri­ety of other live­stock, many of which have made their way into his games – has spent the best part of four decades typ­ing things into com­put­ers, carv­ing out a charis­matic style that is in­stantly recog­nis­able. His lat­est ven­ture, PSVR shooter Polybius, rep­re­sents some­thing of a zenith for his quest to in­duce a zen state in any­one who plays his games. But we’ll start 35 years ago, when Min­ter was busy dream­ing up his own ver­sion of Atari’s Centipede.

CENTIPEDE De­vel­oper/pub­lisher dK’Tron­ics For­mat ZX81 Re­lease 1982

“I’d never ac­tu­ally played ar­cade Centipede. I’d seen it from a dis­tance on the other side of a pub, so I knew what the idea was. But I didn’t re­alise that the player craft went up and down, be­cause I hadn’t played it. So I just made a

Centipede- style game on the ZX81. It was the first time that I ever thought there might be some de­gree of fame at­tached to mak­ing games. I re­mem­ber I was queu­ing up to get into one of the ZX Mi­cro­fairs, and there were th­ese two lads in front of me talk­ing about the games they’d been play­ing the other night. One of them men­tioned play­ing Centipede, and I said, “Do you mean dK’Tron­ics Centipede? Be­cause I made that.” And he said, “You must be Jeff Min­ter!”

Look­ing back on the game now, it’s well ropey. It re­ally is quite rough. But at the time, the re­view­ers seemed to re­ally like it. They liked the pre­sen­ta­tion I did with the big centipede that wag­gled its an­ten­nas. It was writ­ten in hy­brid BA­SIC and as­sem­bler – well, ma­chine code, be­cause you didn’t have an as­sem­bler back then. That’s what got me started.

We also did a ver­sion for dK’Tron­ics’ Graph­ics ROM. It was a lit­tle ROM that you put in the ZX81 which gave you ac­cess

to loads of al­ter­nate char­ac­ter sets. But I ac­tu­ally fell out with Dave Hee­las, who ran the com­pany, over that. It was also a funny time in my ca­reer be­cause dK’Tron­ics and I fell out quite a lot in the early days – there were a lot of dodgy ar­range­ments go­ing on, and of­ten I seemed to end up on the wrong end of them.

I de­signed all the graph­ics for this ROM – five com­plete sets, all plot­ted out on graph pa­per, be­fore work­ing out the hex [val­ues] and hand­ing it in. But then he didn’t cut me in with any­thing at all. He was sell­ing that for £30 for sev­eral years, so he must have done all right out of it. In the end we man­aged to get him to cough up £500, very grudg­ingly. I just as­sumed that if I was work­ing with him on some­thing that I would get at least some sliver of it. I did do a ver­sion of Centipede on that, and a ver­sion of Space In­vaders, ac­tu­ally – which was the only ver­sion of

Space In­vaders I’ve ever done. But it was that kind of stuff that prompted us to start Lla­ma­soft.”

GRIDRUNNER De­vel­oper Lla­ma­soft Pub­lisher HESware, Quick­silva For­mat Atari 8bit, C64, VIC-20, ZX Spec­trum Re­lease 1982

“Gridrunner is when I re­ally started to re­alise that I’d have a lot more fun if I started try­ing to put my own stuff in there, rather than just port­ing things. There were loads and loads of Centipede games on the VIC-20 at the time, so while I quite fan­cied do­ing a Centipede- style game, I didn’t want to just make an­other one. Also, at that time Atari were just start­ing to throw their weight around and be­gin­ning to has­sle peo­ple. So I started to add things to it – it had the whole thing with the bombs and the cross lasers. But I took some things away, as well – I didn’t have as many mush­rooms. It worked out re­ally nicely. It was hand-as­sem­bled on a VIC-20 and made in a week, start to fin­ish. I started on a Mon­day morn­ing and fin­ished on the Sun­day af­ter­noon – I re­mem­ber Wed­nes­day night was Bas­ingstoke Com­puter Club, and I took in a half-fin­ished ver­sion to show peo­ple at the club! They seemed to quite like it. I had some good times at that club and made some good friends there.

The shop was run by Basil de Fer­ranti, and he was a lovely guy, but not the most tech­ni­cal bloke in the world. One time I was in the shop and I’d writ­ten a lit­tle pro­gram on the VIC-20 that copied the char­ac­ter set down into RAM, but copied it in­verted, and then switched it so that ba­si­cally the com­puter was work­ing but all the char­ac­ters were up­side down. I called him over and said, “You might have to send this one back – I think they might have plugged the char­ac­ter-gen­er­a­tor chip in up­side down!” He was at the point of un­plug­ging it and send­ing it back when I told him I’d just been mess­ing with his head [laughs].

But Gridrunner was prob­a­bly the best week’s work I ever did – the game ended up do­ing re­ally well on car­tridge in the US, and it’s one of the few times in my ca­reer that we ac­tu­ally made some de­cent money. But money is an an­noy­ance, re­ally – I think the more things are mo­ti­vated by it, the more shit they tend to be. In a way, I re­ally wish that I could have had one big hit that would give me enough in the back­ground so I wouldn’t have to worry about it and scrab­ble around try­ing to get money all the time – it pisses me off no end. It gets in the way of be­ing able to do what you want to do. What I do, I do mostly for the love of it. I’m ob­vi­ously not aim­ing for the mass­mar­ket, be­cause I find that quite bor­ing. I make games that I want to play, and I hope that there will be enough of a mar­ket for them to at least fund me to get to the next one.

I don’t re­ally want that much money, to be hon­est with you – there’s not a lot I would do with it. I sup­pose I could buy my­self a new car or what­ever, but I’ve got one that works at the mo­ment. I can’t re­ally go on mas­sive hol­i­days be­cause I’ve got the flock to look af­ter. I don’t re­ally want many things – I’m not re­ally a thing kind of per­son. All my favourite toys are the ones which I use for de­vel­op­ment any­way, and I tend to get given those. I just don’t like the way money changes

“MONEY IS AN AN­NOY­ANCE – THE MORE THINGS ARE MO­TI­VATED BY IT, THE MORE SHIT THEY TEND TO BE”

peo­ple. If I’d made a game like An­gry Birds, and ended up with mil­lions and mil­lions of quid, I’d be think­ing, ‘I can do what­ever the fuck I want for the rest of my life!’ And I’d be com­ing up with all sorts of mad stuff. But they’re just go­ing, An­gry Birds,

An­gry Birds, An­gry Birds… Why? You’ve got free­dom – why just sit in a rut pro­duc­ing the same thing again and again? It’s ob­vi­ously be­cause they’re more in­ter­ested in mak­ing money than they are in mak­ing games. The way it should be is that you con­cen­trate on mak­ing some­thing nice, and then hope­fully the money will fol­low. Rather than con­cen­trate on mak­ing money and then hop­ing your game’s all right. I think a lot of places have got it the wrong way round, and I try to keep things what I con­sider to be the right way around.”

HOVER BOVVER De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Lla­ma­soft For­mat Atari 8bit , Com­modore 64, In­tel­livi­sion, PC Re­lease 1983

“Hover Bovver isn’t in my usual shoot-’em-up genre, and it was co-de­signed be­tween me and my dad. We went to a com­puter show in Birm­ing­ham, I think, and we were stay­ing in this quite posh bed-and-break­fast farm­house in Soli­hull some­where. The place had lovely grounds, and one morn­ing we were get­ting ready to go to the show, hav­ing a full English break­fast – I re­mem­ber the scram­bled eggs were glo­ri­ous – look­ing out of the win­dow, and there was the grounds­man mow­ing the lawn out­side. I re­mem­ber say­ing to my dad: “We could make a game about that”.

So we started toss­ing the idea back and forth be­tween the two of us, and all th­ese sim­ple rules – the dog chas­ing you, bor­row­ing the lawn­mover from a neigh­bour – emerged and sounded like they would come to­gether into a very Bri­tish, al­most Terry & June-style, game. The only thing we couldn’t de­cide straight away was what we should call it. But in the car on the way to the show, I re­mem­ber hear­ing one of the old Qual­cast ad­verts where they kept go­ing on about, “It’s a lot less bovver than a hover,” and so I went, “It’s got to be called Hover Bovver, re­ally”.

We de­signed it ver­bally, and when I got home I turned it into ac­tual code. Those ideas ended up be­ing just as fun in the game as I imag­ined they would be, but I’m par­tic­u­larly fond of this one be­cause my dad did love his games. I re­mem­ber get­ting him into games with my first Atari VCS that I brought home from univer­sity. He protested that I was too old to play games, so I gave him the joy­stick and got him to play Space In­vaders, and then I didn’t get it back for sev­eral hours. From that point on he was com­pletely into games for the rest of his life – he’d al­ways have the lat­est con­soles, and my mum used to say she was a com­puter-game wi­dow. All the fam­ily were quite in­volved with Lla­ma­soft – they all helped out when we did ex­hi­bi­tions and stuff like that. My mum did a lot of the business side of things be­cause she was far bet­ter at that than I am – I’m a rub­bish busi­nessper­son. But it was par­tic­u­larly nice to have my dad ac­tu­ally co-de­sign a game with me.”

LLAMATRON: 2112 De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Lla­ma­soft For­mat Amiga, Atari ST, PC Re­lease 1991

“I love Robotron, but Llamatron il­lus­trates quite nicely the dif­fer­ence be­tween pro­gram­ming for the ar­cade and pro­gram­ming for the home. Llamatron looks like Robotron, ini­tially it plays like Robotron, too, but it’s a lot more gen­tle. Robotron’s job is to kick your arse as quickly as pos­si­ble, to get you to put an­other coin in the ma­chine, whereas in

Llamatron I wanted there to be a bit of a jour­ney, and so there are 100 lev­els and it’s much more le­nient. It won’t kill you so quickly, it’s got loads of powerups, and there’s stuff to dis­cover on ev­ery level. I mean, I get quite an­noyed about stuff like free-to-play, and peo­ple will say, “It’s only like an ar­cade game where you have to put in 10p for each go”. But I’m not into de­sign­ing that kind of ex­pe­ri­ence – I don’t want to de­sign a game whose main ob­jec­tive is to get you to put money into it con­stantly. I want to de­sign some­thing that’s a nice, well-rounded whole that you’ll en­joy sit­ting down to. I’ll make my money, hope­fully, when you buy my next game be­cause you liked the first one.

No­body seemed to be in­ter­ested in that kind of game at the time, so we

de­cided to do it as share­ware. And this was proper share­ware where you give the whole game out and you only ask peo­ple to pay if they like it. It was a time when we were run­ning out of money, but we had it dis­trib­uted on the cover of ST For­mat and we did re­ally well. But that also caused some con­tro­versy: some of the soft­ware houses didn’t like the idea of mag­a­zines dis­tribut­ing en­tire games on the cover disk. They felt threat­ened by that, be­cause they thought peo­ple might not go out and spend money on their games. But for me it was a re­ally heart­warm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence – we des­per­ately needed to get some cash­flow go­ing. We had peo­ple who weren’t only send­ing £5, but also let­ters say­ing how much they ap­pre­ci­ated it, and how much they en­joyed the game. We even had peo­ple send­ing us more money than we asked for. It was re­ally pure, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen any­thing like that since.”

TEMPEST 2000 De­vel­oper Lla­ma­soft Pub­lisher Atari, In­ter­play For­mat Jaguar, PlayS­ta­tion, PC, Saturn Re­lease 1994

“I’d al­ways loved Tempest. The first time I saw it in an ar­cade, I was just en­tranced by it. It was just so dif­fer­ent­look­ing, very ab­stract, and that re­ally fast, shooty game­play was right up my street. You can see right there the ba­sis for my love of that kind of style that’s gone on through­out the years. But get­ting to do a ver­sion sur­prised me. I was at a Jaguar de­vel­op­ment con­ven­tion and wasn’t re­ally sure what I was go­ing to do, if any­thing, on the Jaguar. I’d done some work on the Atari ST in the UK, I’d also worked on the can­celled Pan­ther sys­tem briefly, and Atari had pub­lished a cou­ple of my games and were in­ter­ested in show­ing me the Jaguar. To­wards the end of the con­fer­ence they asked if any­body was in­ter­ested in do­ing some con­ver­sions of Atari ar­cade ti­tles, and started call­ing out game names. When they said “Tempest”, I was like, “Fuck­ing hell – yes”. I was a bit scared be­cause I hadn’t done any 3D at that point. Ev­ery­thing I’d done had been sprites and tile maps, and I’m not that good at maths. So I was think­ing, ‘Oh, no, I’m go­ing to have to learn some shit if I’m go­ing to do this’. It was a bit of a strug­gle at first, but af­ter a cou­ple of months I had a very rea­son­able ver­sion of Tempest go­ing. I sent that in, but then I started think­ing, ‘How am I go­ing to make this my own?’ So I started fill­ing in the poly­gons and added the things that shat­tered. Ac­tu­ally, I got told off by John Mathieson, the guy that de­signed the Jaguar, for that. I had a few run-ins with him. The ef­fect was ac­tu­ally run­ning some­thing that was sup­posed to be used the other way around to try to sim­u­late tex­ture map­ping un­der cer­tain con­di­tions, but it proved quite ef­fec­tive my way.

I dis­cov­ered an­other thing at that time, which ab­so­lutely blew my mind. I sat down and had my morn­ing spliff, and when I fin­ished it I thought, ‘I won­der what hap­pens if I make a sprite be the im­age of the pre­vi­ous screen?’ So I put that on­screen and started to spin it and got all that feed­back, and I was like, “Fuck­ing hell! That’s amaz­ing!” And so I hooked up the joy­pad to some of the pa­ram­e­ters and sat there the whole day go­ing, “Woah – this is great!” That’s lasted me for so many years – I’ve used it in so many dif­fer­ent things.

When the Jaguar launched, I got in­vited out to New York to go to the launch party, and John was there, too, of course. We’d both been drink­ing, and he

“IT WAS RE­ALLY PURE, AND I DON’T THINK I’VE EVER SEEN ANY­THING LIKE THAT SINCE”

came up to me and said, “I’ve seen Tempest

2000. It re­ally doesn’t use my ma­chine that well at all, and re­ally, for Atari, it’s a makeweight game – no­body thinks that much of it.” And so I was like, “Oh, thanks, John”. But then, of course, when it came out he had to eat his words! We went on to be­come good friends af­ter that, and we laughed and laughed about it later on. I think we were both a bit tired and emo­tional at the time [laughs].

TEMPEST 3000 De­vel­oper Lla­ma­soft Pub­lisher Has­bro In­ter­ac­tive For­mat Nuon Re­lease 2000 TXK De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Lla­ma­soft Plat­form Vita Re­lease 2014

“I was very happy with 2000, but there were cer­tain things I didn’t like about it – the frame­work could get choppy when it’s un­der load, and th­ese days it looks a bit blocky. I think with TxK I’m sat­is­fied that that’s pretty much the de­fin­i­tive ver­sion – as far as I want to go in that di­rec­tion. And I also had the op­por­tu­nity to do

Tempest 3000 on VM Labs’ Nuon. That was a fuck­ing chal­lenge, I can tell you. It was a 54Mhz chip, it doesn’t have any hard­ware as­sist for graph­ics, and ev­ery pixel has got a sig­nif­i­cant cal­cu­la­tion go­ing on. So it’s ef­fec­tively do­ing the same kind of stuff that you do with a shader th­ese days. The chip has four dif­fer­ent pro­cess­ing el­e­ments, and you had to pro­gram them in par­al­lel. I had three and a half when I first started, but grad­u­ally more and more sys­tem re­sources got taken up and so I got shoved off one, and shoved off an­other un­til there wasn’t a lot left. Each of th­ese CPUs had 4K mem­ory, so you had to page stuff in and out con­stantly, and it was just a tremen­dous dance to get any­thing out of it. When I look at it now, I know that the fram­er­ate is too choppy, and the res­o­lu­tion isn’t what it should be, but con­sid­er­ing the re­sources I had to do that in, I think I did bloody well.”

SPACE GI­RAFFE De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Lla­ma­soft For­mat 360, PC, Xbox One Re­lease 2007

“Even though it looked Tem­pesty, there were quite a lot of dif­fer­ences in the game­play – if you played it like Tempest, then you wouldn’t do very well. In a way that worked against it, though, and I wish I’d made it look less Tem­pesty be­cause then peo­ple might have found it eas­ier to ac­cess the new play style. Peo­ple took a look at the web and thought, “Oh, it’s

Tempest.” So I did my­self a dis­ser­vice there. But that game was in­tended to be the con­flu­ence of my par­tic­u­lar style of videogames, and the light­ing stuff I did – it was built right on top of the Neon en­gine which we’d just used for mak­ing the Xbox 360 mu­sic vi­su­aliser.

I had the idea that I wanted to use the en­vi­ron­ment as part of the dif­fi­culty, but some peo­ple re­ally ob­jected to that. They thought it was their god-given right to see ev­ery­thing in per­fect clar­ity and not have any psy­che­delic warp­ing go­ing on be­cause that was against the rules. But to me, there were no rules. Part of the skill of the game was learn­ing how to read the stuff. All the cues were still in there: if you look at level 64, the first time you see it, you just think, ‘How the fuck can any­body see any­thing in that?’ But when you learn it, you can play that level through with­out los­ing a life. A lot of cues were moved out to the au­dio. Yes, it was ex­per­i­men­tal, but I’m very proud of it, even though it was sharply di­vi­sive and quite a lot of peo­ple hated it.

I think it’s re­mem­bered a lot more fondly now, though, and peo­ple are

“THEY THOUGHT IT WAS THEIR GOD-GIVEN RIGHT TO SEE EV­ERY­THING IN PER­FECT CLAR­ITY”

re­al­is­ing that it’s ac­tu­ally a bit of a clas­sic of its kind. I think it’s far bet­ter to make some­thing which causes peo­ple to have a strong opin­ion than it is to cre­ate some­thing that’s for­got­ten years later. So I stand by Space Gi­raffe, and I still play it to this day. To play it well you al­most have to let your de­fences down and let all that stuff wash over you, and then you find you’ve achieved this kind of zen state. I’m al­ways look­ing for that in the games I de­sign. I want to get play­ers into this kind of trance state be­cause for me that’s when gam­ing feels best – when you’re re­ally locked into it and you’re in flow.”

MINO­TAUR RES­CUE De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Lla­ma­soft For­mat iOS Re­lease 2011

“I re­ally thought there might be a way we could sur­vive do­ing nice, fun lit­tle games on mo­bile de­vices. There are so many of them out there that, even if soft­ware is be­ing hope­lessly de­val­ued by the hor­ri­ble 69p price point, you’d think there would be enough to sus­tain them. But un­for­tu­nately it didn’t hap­pen be­cause dis­cov­er­abil­ity is aw­ful on mo­bile. If I’d been able to charge the same price as my VIC-20 games – a fiver – then I could have hap­pily stayed there do­ing those games even with the num­bers I was get­ting. But no, the mo­ment you start to put the price up above a quid, peo­ple think it’s too ex­pen­sive. I mean, fuck off.

But I’m re­ally proud of the games I made on mo­bile de­vices. Each of them was a re­ally nice game, and Mino­taur Res­cue is a lit­tle gem. I was fas­ci­nated by the idea of how to get good con­trols out of a touch­screen de­vice, and I ended up get­ting that to feel pretty nice. Peo­ple think that I hate mo­bile gam­ing per se, but it’s not that at all – I just hate the fact that the ecosys­tem is in­cred­i­bly toxic to de­vel­op­ers. I re­ally en­joyed the short-form de­vel­op­ment – spend­ing a month mak­ing one thing, and then mov­ing on to an­other thing. I mean, I love Polybius but it’s been a long slog and has taken me much longer than I hoped it would. So it was quite a joy do­ing those lit­tle games.

But with each one, I’d re­lease it and hope it would get some­where, and I’d end up get­ting 50p back. Then I’d be crushed, and have to build up my en­thu­si­asm again. Then the same thing would hap­pen. All the while I was get­ting ex­cel­lent user re­views, and in all the places where you’d think it would be im­por­tant to get good re­views, like Touch Ar­cade. But noth­ing made the slight­est bit of dif­fer­ence. Af­ter two years of that, I was worn out – I was ab­so­lutely emo­tion­ally crushed, ex­hausted, and I was out of money. It ac­tu­ally ended up cost­ing me money to make the games. In a way, that two years was the worst time in my ca­reer, I think. I re­ally ended up quite bro­ken up about it.

Then I did TxK on Vita, sup­pos­edly a niche sys­tem, and it’s so much bet­ter than ten games that I’ve done on this de­vice that’s sup­pos­edly got bil­lions of users. That’s why I don’t do mo­bile.”

POLYBIUS De­vel­oper/pub­lisher Lla­ma­soft For­mat PS4, PSVR Re­lease 2017

“There will be a non-VR ver­sion of Polybius, but one of the things that I learned with the Ocu­lus Rift ver­sion of

TxK is that it just feels re­ally good be­ing in there. It adds to the ex­pe­ri­ence a lot, so I thought it would re­ally nice to put play­ers in­side an ar­cade game. And, of course, the in­spi­ra­tion was this leg­end of

Polybius which was sup­posed to be this game which put peo­ple in trances and did things to their heads. It just seemed to be the ob­vi­ous theme for it.

We spent ages at the start build­ing the en­gine, and that’s a lot of work. The pay­off is that we can do things like 2x over­sam­pling and na­tive 120fps, which most peo­ple can’t do at the mo­ment. But this time last year we had some of the en­gine built, but I didn’t have any game at all. I thought, ‘Fuck­ing hell, I need to sit down and get some­thing down, be­cause if I don’t get the game go­ing soon, I’ll run out of money again’. So I put to­gether a demo in the space of about a week and started to play that. I put on some Prodigy and started rush­ing through the gates, and it all felt re­ally good.

While it looks re­ally hairy, we haven’t had a sin­gle bad re­ac­tion to the clas­sic vir­tual-re­al­ity mo­tion sick­ness. I want to take peo­ple to trip-out city, but in a re­ally safe way.”

88

Jeff Min­ter’s ver­sion of Centipede was based on glimps­ing the ma­chine from across a pub, and isn’t a faith­ful recre­ation as a re­sult. In Min­ter’s take, the player’s laser base can’t rise from the ground, their are fewer ‘mush­rooms’, and no spi­ders

Though Centipede was orig­i­nally writ­ten for and pub­lished by dK’Tron­ics, a dis­agree­ment be­tween Min­ter and the com­pany’s founder even­tu­ally saw Lla­ma­soft sell­ing the ZX81 game in­de­pen­dently

Gridrunner was built on the con­cept of Centipede, but in­tro­duced the tit­u­lar lay­out, as well as in­ter­mit­tent laser beams

HoverBovver is a game of lawn­mow­ing in­volv­ing var­i­ous threats, in­clud­ing your neigh­bour, the mower’s owner

The share­ware-dis­trib­uted Llamatron:2112 is Min­ter’s live­stock-filled take on Eu­gene Jarvis’s Robotron

Tem­pest2000 has be­come syn­ony­mous with Atari’s Jaguar con­sole, and was widely con­sid­ered to be one of the few good rea­sons to in­vest in the hard­ware. It was a dream project for Min­ter, and went on to be­come one of his most ac­claimed ti­tles

While to the unini­ti­ated, many of Min­ter’s games look like Tempest, TxK was ac­tu­ally only his third spin on the idea – and, he feels, the ul­ti­mate it­er­a­tion. The psy­che­delic shooter was a nat­u­ral fit for Vita, whose OLED screen en­sured crisp vi­su­als

The vis­ually in­tense Space Gi­raffe uses code from 360’s Neon light synth, which Min­ter cre­ated with Ivan Zorzin

Few got to ex­pe­ri­ence Tem­pest3000, a hard­ware­con­strained ver­sion for the ill-fated Nuon ar­chi­tec­ture

Polybius feels like the cul­mi­na­tion of Min­ter’s quest to in­duce trance states in play­ers, and is a great fit for PSVR

Min­toau­rRes­cue is an up-to-four­player iOS game in which you must res­cue, nat­u­rally, en­dan­gered mino­taurs

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