The Manchester Years
Once I'd torn myself away from MicroProse, I moved up to Manchester and joined Software Creations, as Lead Programmer. Paul Hibbard and Steve Perry (both former staff of MicroProse) were working there too, so I wasn't entirely alone. The office was located on Cheetham Hill Road, in North Manchester, and was constantly surrounded by
hookers Lovely Ladies, so it was a bit of a culture shock on the whole. I worked on the following couple of games here, as Lead Programmer.
Nicktoons Racing was a 3D racing game, based on Nicktoons characters. Memories are a little vague on this one (I blame the Manchester night life), but I was heading a team of three programmers, and a whole gaggle of artists. Development was greatly hampered by Hasbro (them again) insisting on a non-3D accelerated version. What a nightmare! My only really clear memory is working until 2:00am trying to create a Windows installer for it. Still, it got generally good reviews - and let's face it - that's all that really matters.
2002 Fifa World Cup
I often regard this as the worst six months of my life!
I am not a great sportsman. At school, I spent all my time running away from the ball. I took up the cello to get out of games, though it was a sport in itself trying to get that thing home on the bus.
So, to ask me to work on a football game was never going to end well, and I have, until now, wiped the whole experience from my mind.
The XBox was pretty new at this time - it still hadn't been released. In fact, all we had to develop on was a prototype XBox board, inside a PC case. When we eventually tried it on an actual XBox development box, and it worked first time, there was much celebration (obviously dampened by the football aspect).
Still, it got released, got pretty good reviews, and I never had to look at it ever again.
The End (Part One)
Suddenly it was all over. One day we were writing games, the next we heard the words "That's it. The money's run out. We're shutting down". This was the first time an announcement like this affected me personally, but it wouldn't be the last. All was not lost though, because along came Acclaim...