Amiga PD Charityware
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INTERVIEW WITH RONNIE SIMPSON
Amigapd would like to thank Ronnie Simpson for for taking time to answer some questions about his wonderful AMOS games for the Amiga including Block Buster and Arcadia.
You can find out more about Ronnie Simpson's programming past at his website.
We would also like to thank Lifeschool again from the Lemon Amiga forum for helping with research for this interview.
This interview was completed June 2012.
You've worked with computers since the very early days – which generation of computers did you enjoy working on the most and why?
There are two which stand out, the BBC micro because of the support it was given from the education authorities which actively encouraged millions of new users to ‘have a go’ and get to grips with programming. Also it was the first computer I owned which produced a decent well documented manual to help introduce and instruct on the inbuilt BBC basic programming language. The other is the Amiga with its custom chips and hardware sprites and a fanatical community which kept everyone on their toes wondering what was coming next.
You mention on your website that you tried lots of basic programming languages on the Amiga including Blitz, GFA and Amiga Basic before eventually settling on Amos, what was it about AMOS that made it your programming language of choice for the Amiga?
I think the thing that attracted me to AMOS was its ability to ‘hit the hardware’ from within the language and the inbuilt AMAL (AMOS animation language) which allowed me to do things with blisteringly fast (for the time) with both hardware and software sprites that I had never been able to come close to in the past. Oh! And don’t forget the music banks and compiler.
Were there any genres of games which werent suited to being created in AMOS?
I can’t see it would have been used much for text driven adventures etc. But since I never tried I don’t suppose I qualified to answer for sure.
You mention that as a result of the collapse of Deja Vu Licenceware company you lost your program disks. Which games did you publish through Deja Vu and which ones do you no longer have the original disks for?
I must have had about a dozen or so games with Deja Vu although not all were Licenceware. I had all of these and my other work destroyed when my Amiga HDD went belly up. I have managed to find a few of them since and the only one I would really like a copy of is ‘Guess Who?’ Lesson now learned and I regularly now back everything up in triplicate.
What was the reason for choosing Deja Vu Licenceware rather than other licenceware companies that existed at the time such as F1 Licenceware or adopting a self publishing shareware model?
The official Europress updates for AMOS were released through this company and because all my programs at that time were written using AMOS, it kind of made it the logical choice for me.
Which of your Amiga games are you most proud of and why?
‘Dilemma’ is my personal favourite and as far as I’m aware of, this type of program had never been done in a computer version, coupled with the fact it was well received in the press and by the public domain. As I mentioned in the web-site, I received hundreds of postcards from all over the world and not one of them with a bad word, people took the time to do things like that back in the early days.
Were there any unfinished Amiga amiga game projects you were involved with?
I’m struggling to answer this one, I do remember being angry when I realised that programming for the Amiga was becoming pointless following the sale of the custom chip technology to a company that had little chance of developing it further. I no doubt had a few projects on the go but I can’t rember what they were now.
Your game Arcadia led to Richard Vanner at Europress contacting you to do a version for 'Easy Amos'- was this the first commercial interest you received about your games or had you been actively looking to join a software developer?
I never (and still don’t) program with the intention of making any money from anything I produce, I program because I enjoy it. Although a dedicated and avid programmer I never was that ambitious and the call from Richard Vanner came out of the blue, I only accepted the job to program Block-Buster because I was pleased that someone had shown some interest in my work.
After writing Block-Buster you joined the development team of AMOS Professional – what was the best thing about being involved with this project?
Working on AMOS Pro. was a dream job for me, it not only got me my first modem fitted for free when I did not even know the internet existed (to receive the code as it was produced by François Lionet) and I got to watch this brilliant language grow and develop as the months went on. Best of all it made me feel an important part of a great team.
Before commodore went bankrupt did Europress have plans to make an update of AMOS to take advantage of the Amiga 1200 and if so were you involved in starting that project?
Europress’s next project following AMOS Pro. was Klik & Play I was offered the same role in the development team for this project, but I declined. The reason being that this was more or less a construction kit with very little actual programming involved in producing games. I felt I wanted to keep to my roots and continue with my own coding. (told you I was not ambitious).
What advice would you give someone who is interested in creating their first game using basic?
Don't try to run before you can walk, taking on too big a project can be disheartening when it takes too long to see the results. Even a small game will give you great satisfaction and encourage you to greater things. Also read the help files and try to understand fully each command available to you it’s amazing how much time you can save.
Download Ronnie Simpson Games
A download of this game will be made available in the near future.
To play dilemma select modern classics at the first menu.
AmigaPd would like to thank Ronnie Simpson for answering the questions and wish him all the best with his current projects.
We hope you enjoyed reading the interview - remember AmigaPd is charityware - please visit our just giving page to support our chosen charity Mencap.