Adventurer #15
31 июля 2004

Interface - gaming like it used to be! (cronosoft interview)

GAMING  LIKE  IT  USED  TO  BE!  -  proclaims  a  slogan at the
Cronosoft  site.  The  label  that returns us to the days, when
game  industry was not conquered by multinational corporations,
making  money  on titles instead of playability. The days, when
individuals  explored unknown territories of just born computer
gaming.  This  is  so unusual in the modern world, dominated by
high tech, that I couldn't resist the desire to know more about
the label and the man behind it.

elfh> Introduce  yourself,  please.  When  did  you  get  your first
Speccy?

simon> My  name  is Simon Ullyatt, and I live in Boston, U.K. I got my
first  computer (a ZX81) in 1982, and moves on to the Speccy in
1984, at the height of it's popularity here in England.

elfh> How  did  you  start  Cronosoft?  I  mean,  what  initiated the
process?

simon> Earlier  this  year, I finished my involvement with the last UK
Oric/Atmos  computer  magazine  'Rhetoric'  when  the  magazine
closed  down,  so  I wanted a new project to work on. I noticed
that  there  was  several  groups  and  people  working hard to
promote the 8-bit (or retro) scene in all sorts of ways, though
very few groups actually 'release' the software on cassette, in
the  way  that it was many years ago, when these computers were
mainstream.

simon> I  thought  I  would  try the idea of promoting, packaging, and
distributing  software  for  anyone who may be interested, with
the  ideal goal of providing the programmers with a payment for
every copy sold.

Ideally,  if  programmers  can receive a little extra money for
their efforts, they may write even more new software!

elfh> What is your opinion about the place retrogaming handles in the
modern world? What could be the future of this passion?

simon> I  think  that retrogaming will always exist. Even with today's
more  modern  systems, like the PS2, Xbox, Gamecube, eventually
there  will  come  a  time,  when  the  systems  are  no longer
profitable  for  the  mainstream  corporations,  and  they will
disappear into history.

Sadly,  when  that  happens,  there are thousands of people who
still  love  their  old  machines,  and  would love to buy more
software (if it was available).

Happily, the power of the internet, enables these people to get
together, and make something new :)

elfh> What  criteria  do  you  adhere,  while  selecting  games to be
released?

simon> It  is  important,  that the gameplay is good. The game doesn't
have  to  be  original,  or  to  have great graphics, but it is
important  that  the  game  would be enjoyable to play. I would
not, for example, reject a game if it was written using a BASIC
Compiler,  or  a tool such as 'THE QUILL' or 'GRAPHIC ADVENTURE
CREATOR'. Gameplay and 'Lasting Enjoyment' is more important.

elfh> Do  you  play  those  games  yourself? How much time you devote
Cronosoft?  (as  I  know,  you  copy all the tapes personally -
isn't it a tedious work? What about the stuff promoting?)

simon> Yes!  Definately!  I  love  playing the games, and it is a real
honour to be one of the first people to play a new game :)

I  devote  however  much  time  is needed to Cronosoft... I can
'make' time if necessary, as it's really a very enjoyable thing
-  especially when someone who has bought a game writes back to
say how great it is! It really makes it all worth the effort. I
do  copy  all of the tapes myself, and print and cut out all of
the inlays, which can be tedious work, but to be able to supply
the games and make people happy, is great!

Promoting  the  software is fun, as yesterday (1st November) we
travelled  to a computer show in Norwich to promote the release
of a new game, and met lots of interesting Spectrum fans there.

elfh> What was the most successful release to your opinion?

simon> It's  hard  to  say...  all of the titles have sales around the
same  amount,  though  EGGHEAD  IN  SPACE  is probably the best
seller. I have high hopes for our new game ROUGH JUSTICE :)

elfh> Is spectrum a leading platform for Cronosoft, or you appreciate
all eight-bit machines equally?

simon> Yes,  at  the moment, the Spectrum is our main platform, with 5
titles.  We  have  4  more  titles  due on the Spectrum for the
future  too.  We  also  have  1  game for the Commodore 64, and
another  planned  for the Acorn Electron/BBC format. I am happy
to  release  software on all systems - Spectrum, ZX81, C64, Vic
20, Oric, Sord M5, Dragon 32, and many others...! The reason we
have so many Spectrum releases so far, is that is what has been
submitted to me :) With the Spectrum being my first computer, I
will always have a special interest in that format though!

elfh> What  pushes  you  forward?  What are the future plans of label
evolution? What are you dreaming about?

simon> I would love the label to become more well known, with more and
more  releases,  on all formats. I really hope that we can make
enough  sales to eventually start manufacturing cartridge based
games  too,  for  systems  such  as  the  ATARI  2600, GAMEBOY,
Nintendo  NES  and  others. Also, I'd love to support some more
obscure  systems like the SORD M5, TI99, and SHARP MZ range. As
we  have very few costs, then it is still worthwhile to support
these formats, even if we only sold 5 copies of a game!

elfh> Do  you  know about russian individuals releasing the games for
the speccy on non profit basis? For example last summer brought
us  some  new  titles - most of it are arcade ones: 'Lethargy',
'Milos Kasmus', 'Fire And Ice', 'Death Valley', etc.

simon> No, I wasn't aware of this, but I know how popular the Spectrum
is  in  Russia  and Eastern Europe, and I have seen the amazing
talent  and  skill  that Russian coders have shown, pushing the
Spectrum to it's absolute limits! I would love to hear from any
Russian programmers that would like to release software through
our label.

elfh> Don't  you  want  to  use a diskette as a medium along with the
tape  (for  the  speccy,  I  mean)  or  it  is  the  matter  of
ideology/spirit?

simon> Eventually,  I hope to expand the range, to include disk. There
is a small problem, in that there are so many disk formats, and
also  with a large number of Spectrum users in the UK having to
use  the  now  obselte  3  inch  disks, which are hard to find.
Although  tape isn't perfect, it allows EVERY Spectrum owner to
be  able  to  access  the software. I can also supply .TAP/.TZX
files  by  email,  if they would like to use the software on an
emulator.

elfh> What  means  Cronosoft  for  you (work, hobby, nostalgy, escape
from our days reality)?

simon> I don't think of it as work - ! It's definately for fun, and to
do  something  to  help  the  scene.  I get very bored with the
latest  PC  and  console  games  - the spirit of the 1980's and
1990's  has  gone  from  today's  software.  It's an attempt to
recapture  what  was  good  about  being  a Spectrum (or other)
computer  owner.  It is very enjoyable, and I'm really happy to
be   a  part  of  the  scene,  and  to  communicate  with  such
enthusiastic, dedicated, and interesting people.

elfh> How  do  you  explain  a  phenomenon  of  'man  in the machine'
integrity?  It  works  great  in  the  old  classic games, even
without  all  those  high-tech inventions. Human imagination is
the key?

simon> I'm  not  quite sure what you mean here... Human imagination is
the  key  to all great games. High Technology is unimportant to
make  a  good game. The best games come from 1, or a few people
working  together  on  a  great idea. Today's SONY/XBOX console
games,  involve  hundreds  of  people,  with  a large amount of
money,  all writing games to a 'set project' arranged under the
licensed  name of a movie, or character. There's no imagination
in  that, and there's no incentive for the programmers of these
games  to be able to make the games great, as they are not free
to  use  their own ideas. With an old computer, you are free to
make  whatever  you  want!  No  restrictions,  no deadlines, no
rules...!

elfh> Maybe some final words to the readers?

simon> I'd  like to say 'greetings' to all of our Russian friends, and
I  hope  that  you continue to show the world what the Spectrum
can  do!  I'd  very  much  like to hear from anyone :) My email
address is: chaosmongers@yahoo.com

elfh> Thanks also to you, for the interview :)

simon> Best wishes, Simon (CHAOSMONGERS) www.cronosoft.co.uk 



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