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The Icon Bar: General: Gordon J. Key
 
  Gordon J. Key
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Jason Togneri Message #115291, posted by filecore at 17:48, 7/9/2010

Posts: 3867
Anybody know how to get in touch with him these days?
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Gordon J Key Message #115469, posted by blackangel at 16:54, 25/9/2010, in reply to message #115291
Member
Posts: 4
I have just registered so it should now be quite easy!

Gordon
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Martin Bazley Message #115470, posted by swirlythingy at 20:07, 25/9/2010, in reply to message #115469

Posts: 460
...Wow. shock

Is this an appropriate time to plug Chris's online Apocalypse insult generator?
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David Holden Message #115480, posted by apdl at 07:54, 27/9/2010, in reply to message #115469
Member
Posts: 138
Gordon, could you contact me please as I have some money for you but I haven't had any replies to my e-mails so the address I have must be out of date.
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Jason Togneri Message #115481, posted by filecore at 09:45, 27/9/2010, in reply to message #115480

Posts: 3867
And yeah, I'll get back to you with a list of questions, Gordon. I need an FAQ done for my Haunted House site, but first I need to think of something vaguely intelligent to ask! Feel free to volunteer information though. Always loved your games.
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Andrew Rawnsley Message #115484, posted by arawnsley at 11:33, 27/9/2010, in reply to message #115469
R-Comp chap
Posts: 470
Assuming this *is* Gordon, the RISC OS market could sure use your ARM coding skills once more smile
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Jason Togneri Message #115487, posted by filecore at 14:18, 27/9/2010, in reply to message #115484

Posts: 3867
Assuming this *is* Gordon
I have been assured that it most certainly is...
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Stephen Scott Message #115488, posted by sa_scott at 15:43, 27/9/2010, in reply to message #115487
Member
Posts: 70
Can it really be?

If so, and as there is no smiley to represent bowing to you in a sort of "We're not worthy" fashion, I can only indicate that I am a happy:

Bunnies!
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Gordon J Key Message #115496, posted by blackangel at 22:25, 27/9/2010, in reply to message #115480
Member
Posts: 4
Gordon, could you contact me please as I have some money for you but I haven't had any replies to my e-mails so the address I have must be out of date.
Hello David,

That eleventh word is guaranteed to catch my attention! I dropped the freeserve email some time ago due to excessive spam and also lost all my contacts when a rubbish PC committed suicide. My home address hasnít changed but if you need it contact me on gordon@unit131.co.uk and Iíll send you the details.

Thanks,
Gordon
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Gordon J Key Message #115497, posted by blackangel at 22:42, 27/9/2010, in reply to message #115488
Member
Posts: 4
Can it really be?

If so, and as there is no smiley to represent bowing to you in a sort of "We're not worthy" fashion, I can only indicate that I am a happy:

Bunnies!
I can most certainly assure you that I am me, at least I was when I looked in the mirror this morning! Rather less hair than I had when I started in 1983 with Quadline in Micro User but definitely me.

Gordon
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RISC OS LIBERATION FRONT Message #115499, posted by rolf at 00:33, 28/9/2010, in reply to message #115497
Member
Posts: 3
Will you part with some of your erstwhile hair, clothing or insight for the upcoming new dawn?
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vanpeebles Message #115504, posted by vanpeebles at 08:23, 28/9/2010, in reply to message #115469
Member
Posts: 198
Wow again! Do you have any stories or funny moments about developing those classic games?
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Jason Togneri Message #115505, posted by filecore at 09:06, 28/9/2010, in reply to message #115504

Posts: 3867
Do you have any stories
*cough* Haunted House website forthcoming - this is precisely the reason I wanted to get in touch with him in the first place! You guys are stealing my thunder here Rage

That said, my list of questions for Mr. Key is rather flimsy at the moment, so I'm open to suggestions!
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vanpeebles Message #115507, posted by vanpeebles at 11:57, 28/9/2010, in reply to message #115505
Member
Posts: 198
Hehehehe, sorry! I'd love to know where the sound for the ICL basement computer came from, I still think it's the best gaming noise. *HOOPHOOPCHUGCGUG*
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Jeffrey Lee Message #115508, posted by Phlamethrower at 14:02, 28/9/2010, in reply to message #115505
PhlamethrowerHot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot stuff

Posts: 15065
That said, my list of questions for Mr. Key is rather flimsy at the moment, so I'm open to suggestions!
* How did you get started in the games industry
* What did you do after leaving the Acorn games scene
* If you could remake Haunted House now, what would you change and why?
* What Acorn game of yours are you most proud of, and why?
* How do you feel about all the fancy new gimicks in gaming? (touchscreen-only smartphones that Apple seem to think are the best gaming devices in the whole world, Wiimote waggle, Microsoft Kinect, etc.)
* Who's on your list of programmer/game designer heroes?
* And finally, how much research did you undertake to ensure the accuracy of the cloth animation in E-Type? (you know what I'm talking about wink)
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Stephen Scott Message #115509, posted by sa_scott at 14:29, 28/9/2010, in reply to message #115508
Member
Posts: 70
* And finally, how much research did you undertake to ensure the accuracy of the cloth animation in E-Type? (you know what I'm talking about wink)
* and what was all that about with knocking down policemen? smile

As to the 'cloth simulation', i guess it was based on the bbc micro dust cover tongue

Gordon, your type in games for The Micro User were fantastic. Pendragon, McBrolly and Block Breaker were my personal favourites. When are they coming onto the iPhone? tongue

[Edited by sa_scott at 14:30, 28/9/2010]
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Phil Mellor Message #115511, posted by monkeyson2 at 16:26, 28/9/2010, in reply to message #115509
monkeyson2Please don't let them make me be a monkey butler

Posts: 12380
Damn, you people asked all the good questions. Looking forward to hearing the answers.

What does the J stand for? smile
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VinceH Message #115512, posted by VincceH at 18:12, 28/9/2010, in reply to message #115511
VincceH
Lowering the tone since the dawn of time

Posts: 1591
Damn, you people asked all the good questions. Looking forward to hearing the answers.

What does the J stand for? smile
Guesses:

Jellybean
Jitterbug
Jigumbob
Juxtapose
Jigamaree
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Jason Togneri Message #115513, posted by filecore at 18:13, 28/9/2010, in reply to message #115511

Posts: 3867
Furthermore:

*how did you plan the rooms/puzzles of Haunted House out?
*is the house based on anything in real life, or is it all made up?
*what swayed your choice of antiques?
*how much of it is real (the van, for example, looks like a resampled photo)?
*do you have any images, source code, notes, snippets, or any other interesting files lying around that you'd be happy to release?
*what would you say to an updated version for modern computers?
*would you give such a project your blessing (and any assistance, see above), assuming copyright issues were a non-issue?

[Edited by filecore at 18:15, 28/9/2010]
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Jason Togneri Message #115514, posted by filecore at 18:14, 28/9/2010, in reply to message #115512

Posts: 3867
Jellybean
Jitterbug
Jigumbob
Juxtapose
Jigamaree
I'm guessing "Jay" as per Homer J. Simpson.
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Gordon J Key Message #115521, posted by blackangel at 21:41, 28/9/2010, in reply to message #115514
Member
Posts: 4
That looks like a lot of questions to answer, I will try to answer them all but not necessarily in the order askedÖ. Sorry in advance for any spelling of grammar errors.

Q: How did you get started in the games industry?
I was always been interested in electronics as a child and built my first valve radio at the age of 11 in the early 60ís. I was also fascinated with science fiction and assembled assorted pseudo Ďrobotsí that progressed from simple bump and turn devices through to a beast that made a limited intelligent choices via a matrix of relay based binary switches, it would remember an approximation of its route around a room and could eventually avoid fixed obstructions, unfortunately as the circuitry was based on relays, it used to eat batteries and forgot everything when switched off!! in the late 70ís and early 80ís I bought a series of micro computers, starting with a kit based ZX80 which I hated as crashed it you looked at it the wrong way. After a Commodore Vic20 on which I taught myself to program, I progressed onto a fourth based machine that I canít think of the name of but it looked a white ZX81 but was easier to program in machine code. In 1982 I bought a BBC model B and after writing several games and things I sent Quadline off to the Micro User who published it and many more. I eventually sent them Clogger and whilst they wanted to publish it, the code was far too big to be a type in game so they passed it on to Impact Software and the rest is history.

Q: Do you have any stories or funny moments about developing those classic games?
Sorry no, it was mostly a lot of hard slog that wasnít half as interesting as it was when I used to write them simply for myself.

Q: The ICL computer? If I remember correctly it was based on a sound I recorded from an episode of Blakeís 7 and jiggled around a bit.

Q: What did you do after leaving the Acorn games scene?
Iím afraid I defected to the PC market and initially wrote some graphics control software for a small fleet of Dredgers working on the Tees and other companies around the country. As the dredger arm was lowered a simulation on the control computer showed its position, depth etc. This fitted in with my love of electronics and robotics as I had to design the full system. Unfortunately my main memory is getting seasick on one of the trial runs, as once full the dredger had to go outside the three mile limit to dump the spoil and it was very rough. I then moved back to games in the form of educational programs for the PC, they were quick and easy to do and paid reasonably well. That lasted until all the incarnations of Impact Software / Fourth Dimension / 10 out of 10 / Plus Factor/ Full Marks/ SatSoft / Arcade Education / etc. etc. eventually came to an end in 2001. Deciding on a change in life I have been running a small antiques business since then, (No I donít drive a white LDV van and do house clearances!). I still write any software I need for myself but have not written anything commercially since starting in the antiques trade.

Q: the rest of Jeffrey Leeís questions.
You will probably think I am very boring but I have never played games, not even my own and have never really looked at other programmers work unless asked to do so by my publishers, in the early days I did watch my kids playing games that I had converted from tape to floppy for them, but never had the desire to play them myself. To me the actual writing is the pleasure and when I have finished something I find it tedious to go back to it as I am no lover of repetition. If you look at my games you can tell the ones that I wrote of my own accord and the ones that I wrote because my publishers wanted them written. I wrote E-Type myself and sent it for publication, Powerband was wanted by the publisher who pestered throughout the writing. I wrote Haunted House myself and Time Machine was wanted by the publisherÖ Look at the programs and you will see what I mean.
Before writing Time Machine I had been working on a sequel to Haunted House, this was to be called ďHobís LaneĒ and was a far better program than Time Machine but my publishers were worried that it may be too sinister for the market and they wanted it replaced with a Doctor Who copy.
One more point, here are some things that donít need research if you have imagination.

Q: Knocking down policemen?
The BBC version of E-Type was wanted by my publisher in a rush, in fact they advertised a release date before I even started to work on it! All in all it took a little over two weeks to write and at the last minute I realised that there was no way to refuel and also no more memory to add the necessary graphics, you will need to know that this was only realised at around 11PM on the night before the program was to be officially released! The only thing to be done was to give some fuel for hitting an object already in the program, I opted for the policemen as they already appeared on every track. This may not have been the best decision I have made but it involved the least work and no redesigning of the tracks.

Q: What does the J stand for?
This is a little like Morseís first name, a well kept secret and I will Endeavour to keep it that way as it makes me sound like a chauffeur! and No to all the guesses!

Q: In answer to Jasonís questions:
The rooms were not planned, they just grew as the program did, in fact I never planned any of my games, they all evolved as they were written and seldom ended up as initially envisaged.
The front of the house is actually a painting of the front of my own house.
The antiques were all taken from my own collection, either drawn, painted or photographed and then scanned, no digital cameras or sophisticated art packages then!
If it looks real it was!
I do still have the source code for all my games and for all the other Fourth Dimension games, though they are all on floppy so I donít know if they will be readable. I did have them all on a large (for the time) 240MB SCSI drive but it died along with itís content.
I did start to convert Hobís Lane to the PC at one time but it got put to one side as I had to earn a living, that is the problem with releasing future games, it used to take between 3 to 6 months to write a game working full time. Without a publisher who is willing to pay advance royalties it is not practical.
The problem with someone else converting my software is the way I write, it is very convoluted and totally un-commented, I couldnít understand the flow if I looked back on a game so others have similar difficulty. The only time I ever commented code was when it was specially written for use in other writers programs. If you wish to discuss this further please email me directly.

Gordon
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Stephen Scott Message #115524, posted by sa_scott at 22:07, 28/9/2010, in reply to message #115521
Member
Posts: 70
Thanks for your post Gordon. I seem to recall a minor news item in a late 89/early 90 edition of Micro User, about the concern the Police Federation had for your E-type game.

But let's face it, it's hardly Grand Theft Auto: Vice City eh?

You've made a clear distinction between the games you wanted to create, and those you were not so keen on. The type in listings were definitely a labour of love for you, their quality was outstanding.

The only thing I didn't like about your listing games was having to wait so long for them to assemble. But the wait was always worth it! big grin
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Jeffrey Lee Message #115526, posted by Phlamethrower at 23:06, 28/9/2010, in reply to message #115521
PhlamethrowerHot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot stuff

Posts: 15065
You will probably think I am very boring ...
Not at all! Anyone who creates a semi-intelligent robot using just a bunch of relays is far from boring smile
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vanpeebles Message #115540, posted by vanpeebles at 08:13, 30/9/2010, in reply to message #115521
Member
Posts: 198
What a superb read smile How far did Hob's Lane get on the Acorn? Also was that the name of the street on Quatermass and the Pit?
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Trevor Johnson Message #115570, posted by trevj at 15:24, 5/10/2010, in reply to message #115521
Member
Posts: 660
Thanks - I read that with much interest.

Incidentally, the Micro User's Clogger demo disk is currently up for auction.
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John Hoare Message #115571, posted by moss at 18:51, 5/10/2010, in reply to message #115570

Posts: 9346
Incidentally, the Micro User's Clogger demo disk is currently up for auction.
Ah, I had that demo disc. Always loved playing Clogger - and I remember especially liking the music - but I was so useless at games that I never got past the second level, and so never bought the full game. I am rubbish.

Thanks for the interesting answers, Gordon!
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Trevor Johnson Message #115577, posted by trevj at 08:42, 6/10/2010, in reply to message #115571
Member
Posts: 660
I am rubbish.
Perhaps you'd fare better in a native RISC OS port of Captain Cleanup!
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Martin Wilson Message #115589, posted by bonzobanana at 22:34, 6/10/2010, in reply to message #115521
Member
Posts: 16
Just like to thank Gordon for his contribution to the Acorn scene. It was great times back then and part of it was some very enjoyable games.
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Alan Robertson Message #115591, posted by nytrex at 12:14, 7/10/2010, in reply to message #115589
Member
Posts: 30
Just like to thank Gordon for his contribution to the Acorn scene. It was great times back then and part of it was some very enjoyable games.
I remember buying Apocalypse and just being amazed at how fast it was on my lovely A3000. Was so much fun to play. A real shame that Gordon is no longer programming games.
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Philip Webster Message #115662, posted by pwx at 10:43, 18/10/2010, in reply to message #115591
Member
Posts: 227
I too am a massive fan of Apocalypse. Remember the scores Micro User gave it in the review?

I'd love to hear some of the stories behind the development of many of the games. There must be so many tales to tell.

Who did the 'Very well done' voice when a planet was cleared? Who was ELIZA (the cheat code to skip a planet)? Who wrote the 'Llanerk drive system' text file on disk 1 of the Real McCoy version? Who came up with the odd names for the various enemies, and the ideas for the amusing 'debriefing generator' output?

Did it sell many copies? It deserved to!
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The Icon Bar: General: Gordon J. Key