Close to the Edge
Given that Andy’s early releases were all through companies owned by Tim Langdell, a man now best known for his overprotectiveness of the word ‘Edge’, we were keen to know what he was like when Andy knew him. “Tim was very charming and I was always appreciative of him understanding the technical side of what I was doing,” Andy assures us. “I’m not sure if he coded himself but he seemed to understand the techniques.” And was Tim as forthcoming when it came to royalty payments? Andy pauses before answering. “Well, it started off good and then kind of declined and turned into a struggle. But just receiving payments when I was still at school was cool. I got a few thousand for those Spectrum games, which wasn’t fantastic but for a schoolboy it beat doing a paper round.” we’re going to have to stick that in the game now!’ He really went to town with the press.”
Andy started at Bullfrog in November 1993 and worked on his version of Theme Park throughout the following year. He began by implementing the isometric display and making best use of the console’s controller in lieu of a mouse. “They were still working on the PC version and I was working on mine alongside them,” he explains, “and because that was still in flux, it made it tricky for me to convert it. Plus there were a lot of technical limitations on the Mega Drive, including much less memory, and at some points I did wonder whether it was possible. But I kept going, bit by bit…”
Andy’s work on the theme park building simulator was impressive enough to be named as the Mega Drive’s ‘Best Strategy Game’ in 1995, a source of enduring pride for him. After its release, he was immediately moved over to work on Sega’s new Cd-based machine, the Saturn, a console renowned for its complicated internal architecture. “I was intrigued by the Saturn,” muses Andy. “It was powerful and had a lot of 2D capabilities and I liked the idea of the RISC processors, which I hadn’t programmed before. Basically, EA came to Bullfrog and said they needed a game out by a certain date so could we do something quickly to help with their numbers that financial year?”
Bullfrog agreed and the result was Hi-octane,a Wipeout wannabe that never really emerged from its vapour trail. Andy handled the Saturn version, a considerable challenge given the console’s shortcomings when it came to implementing 3D at a decent framerate, and he diplomatically concludes the game “could’ve been better with more time”. On its release, Andy decided to take a break from the games business and follow a long-held dream of being a waiter. It was an adventure that took him to the exotic shores of Tenerife and the less salubrious floors of the Pizza Hut in Newbury. After almost a year out, he returned to Bullfrog to briefly work on the Saturn
Spectrum) was Andy’s credible clone of Missile Command.