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[Haze] Interview

Introduction

Today we are lucky enough to spend a few minutes with another MAME developer. This time it's developer [Haze].

1. Name, Age, Location, etc.

David Haywood, 24, Derby UK.

2. Any opening comments?

I'd like to apologise to anybody else I said I'd do an interview for, between life and working on MAME I never managed to find the time to answer.

3. Where do you work and what do you do?

Currently unemployed but studying, trying to sort out my life after a bit of a rocky patch due to family issues when I was younger.

4. Where did the name [Haze] and your signature at mame.net come from?

I guess Haze is just an evolution of my surname, from online gaming days. I can't remember exactly how it came about. The signature is a line from REM's Disappear and while I can't really say I like the album that line stood out. Lyrics can be interpreted in many ways to me I guess the line sums up some kind of insignificance, drifting in and out of hobbies without any real commitment. The irony of course being that MAME is something I've stuck with for a long time.

5. Can you tell us some of your early Arcade/Gaming Memories?

PAC-MAN was released the year before I was born, and in all honestly I can only remember seeing one or two PAC-MAN machines when I was younger, I missed that generation of gaming. There are one or two classics I remember playing as a kid, Rally X, Moon Cresta, Out Run, 3 Screen Buggy Boy, and the monolithic Afterburner II cabinet. I was glad to see Turbo Out Run emulated a few months ago as the last time I saw one of those working I couldn't even reach the controls.

Personal arcade memories are few and far between, and by the time I could really appreciate such games the industry was in a pretty rapid state of decline, and usually the only time I saw any significant number of arcade titles was when on holiday somewhere with family rather than locally.

Spectrum LogoMost of my memories are of the home systems I owned, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Amiga, SMS and Mega Drive . The Spectrum was my introduction to programming, I wrote several simple games in BASIC as a child, creating my own challenge appealed to me. None of those games exist anymore, a limited number of cassette tapes meant older games were replaced with newer ones, and eventually erased completely. It’s a shame, some days I’d like to be able to see exactly what I wrote back then, no doubt the code was awful but it will forever remain a lost part of my childhood.

I always remember being disappointed by Arcade conversions to the Spectrum. Out Run in monochrome just didn’t feel like the real deal in any way. Original games were, for the most part, much better and in no short supply. Games with level editors always appealed to me more than those without again this was probably the desire to create my own challenges. Kikstart II immediately comes to mind as one of those games I spent a large amount of time with for this reason, as does ‘A Whole New Ball Game’ but other titles are harder to remember.

I also enjoyed many Codemasters games on the Spectrum, with the Codemasters mark quickly becoming something I associated with high quality games at prices I could afford as a kid without having to raid the bargain bin (although some of the games in there weren’t too bad. Pi-R-Squared remains something of a unique game, and Werewolves of London got many hours of play)

Other games of note would include Doomsday Castle, Feud!, Fred, Starquake, Stop the Express, Psst and Wizards Lair, but there are many, many more.

The Spectrum remains a favourite platform of mine as far as emulation is concerned, and thankfully there are some very good emulators, which near perfectly reproduce the feeling of the original machines, right down to the tape loading. Unfortunately many of the Spectrum games have aged quite badly, especially compared to Arcade games, you could spend a lifetime making remakes of Spectrum games which deserve them. The Head Over Heels remake (http://retrospec.sgn.net/games/hoh/ ) is nothing short of amazing.

The Amstrad CPC had a few games I remember too, High Steel (build your own skyscraper), Fruity Frank (a colourful Mr. Do clone), UN Squadron (before I knew it was an arcade game) and a fair number of others I can’t remember.

Looking over sites with screenshots / reviews of old 8-bit games is always nostalgic, and more often than not I’ll see another title which I once loved but had forgotten about.

The Amiga was an introduction to strategy games, which would later become one of my favourite genres. The likes of Civilization, K240, Syndicate, Populous, Power Monger, and Theme Park, Utopia occupied a large amount of my time, games where planning and thinking were important to success.

The large selection of ‘Public Domain’ games available for the Amiga made up a substantial amount of my catalogue, with many great games providing hours of fun. Scorched Tanks with its large arsenal of weaponry and crazy shields was one of the most played, Fruit Salad was a cute arcade style game, Deluxe Galaga added a new dimension of game play to the classic arcade title, and Super Obliteration was one of the best ‘Pang’ clones I’ve played. The Assassins games compilations cover a large percentage of the best Amiga PD games and are worth checking out in an emulator if you ever have a few days free.

Coverdisks were also a good source of games and demos on the Amiga, Gravity Power (a special version of Gravity Force 2 made for Amiga Power) is probably the game I spent most time competing against friends on, it also had a full level designer with which I made many levels, sadly since lost. (I wish I’d been more careful with these things…)

Frontier: Elite II was a galaxy on a single disk in retrospect maybe a little shallow but at the time immersive.

Pinball Dreams / Fantasies / Illusions always provided a personal challenge in setting new High Scores.

Project X, and Apidya were amongst the first shooters I could actually stand to play, a genre where arcades without a doubt held the upper hand for a long time due to their ability to handle far more complex scenes full of bullets.

The Amiga was also one of the more frustrating machines to own, with many disk swaps required to load many games, irritating protection schemes on originals which meant disks couldn’t be copied and usually failed quickly create just as many bad memories of the system as good ones. Unfortunately because of the way in which many of the games were designed the disk swapping can even make the games frustrating under emulators today as many fail to take advantage of additional disk drives, or can’t be installed to hard disk.

Memories of the SMS and Mega Drive were less significant, there were a couple of good games (Wonderboy III – Dragon’s Trap, Toe Jam & Earl etc.), but in general the high prices and inability to write my own software meant the machines had a more limited appeal despite having some very good games. A problem which still exists with modern consoles today.

This answer still only represents a brief overview of my memories, I feel guilty for excluding some games that deserve mentioning but a full answer would take years of research and span several books.

6. Top 3 favourite video games of all time?

Choosing a top 3 is a near impossible task, many games have their individual charms and I don't feel it fair to judge one as better than another in many cases. The only game I'd say was certainly one of the top 3 is the original RollerCoaster Tycoon for the PC (not the expansion packs, and certainly not the 2nd game as that was dire, although the 3rd is very good aside from a couple of crashing bugs and poor scenario design) Aside from RollerCoaster Tycoon there are a couple of other games I'd throw into the mix:

Wani Wani World ( Mega Drive )

I picked this up as part of an exchange, swapping one English Mega Drive game for 4 Japanese ones at a local store many years ago. I don't remember exactly what I exchanged but I picked up Japanese carts for this, Super Fantasy Zone, Strider, and an RPG, which never got played because I have no understanding of Japanese. Out of the 4 carts I'd gambled on this was a very pleasant surprise and remained my favourite Mega Drive game throughout the time the system was in use.

The game is a more refined version of Kaneko’s arcade release ‘The Berlin Wall’ and retains many of the same characters and game play. Best enjoyed as a 2-player game you must clear each level of enemies by digging holes and watching them fall into them. Cute graphics, addictive game play and some of the best bosses I’ve seen on the Mega Drive meant it was a hard game to put down.

My only regret with this one I didn't really look after the games too well, the shop in which the exchange was made didn't really value the Japanese titles so nor did I and as a result they're in pretty bad condition now (although still working last time I checked)

Parasol Stars (PC Engine / NES)

Parasol StarsI owned this for the NES, but the NES version is probably the weakest of all the machines it was released on.

For some inexplicable reason Taito never released this as a real arcade machine. The game is a sequel of sorts to Bubble Bobble / Rainbow Islands (another two of my favourites) with game play closer to the original Bubble Bobble than Rainbow Islands.

Bright colourful graphics, and everything you’d expect from a cutesy Taito game, the PCE version especially is superb and easily one of the best games released on that system.

Fantastic Dizzy (SMS)

Fantastic DizzyThe Dizzy series was a big part of my childhood, I’d always look forward to the release of a new game in the series back on the Spectrum, but was a series that never really made the transition to 16-bit platforms very well. Fantastic Dizzy is actually no exception to this, with me preferring the SMS version over the Mega Drive release.

Fantastic Dizzy combines elements from all the previous titles into one huge adventure and manages to do that exceptionally well featuring some puzzles from previous games, some new ones and a wide range of sub-games based on some of the more action based Dizzy titles.

It’s a long game, a very long game, and I only ever managed to complete it once on the actual SMS but it was a satisfying experience.

Monkey Island Series (PC / Amiga)

Monkey IslandWith the exception of the 4th in the series, which was ruined by the non point-and-click control method and poor 3d graphics, the Monkey Island games stand out as some of the most well written graphical adventures to date. Scripts and dialogs combine a perfect blend of humour with mystery and adventure as you guide Guybrush Threepwood though his adventures on the high seas.

Day of the Tentacle may be arguably a better game in this genre, but I didn’t have the chance to play that one when it was first released which means I don’t have quite such fond memories of it.

The lack of arcade games may be something of a surprise considering I spend so much time working on MAME, that’s not to say I don’t like arcade games, on a different day I may have included some. The likes of Out Run and Puyo Puyo are undeniably great games, and New Zealand Story probably deserves a place here as it borders on perfection, but then my list is also missing a large number of Amiga games I enjoyed such as the original Settlers, or Morph and many of the Spectrum games I mentioned previously.

7. Do you own any consoles or Arcade Cabinets?

I don't really have the space to operate a full cabinet, although I do own the Mega Drive as mentioned above, an SMS, and a Dreamcast.