I have known Jez San for a long time. I joined Argonaut Software when I was 18; when Argonaut was still tiny, having just moved out from being based in a house, and had its first proper offices.
I was very lucky to have gone to a school both with an amazing computer teacher and also other pupils, several years above me, that were all incredible talents (all who went on to do great things)… Rich Clucas was one of them. When Rich left school he went to work for Jez and subsequently, when I finished my A Level’s, invited me along for an interview.
When I first walked into the office and tried to find someone in charge, one of the rooms I entered had three staff seated behind desks, but something was strange about the positioning: each desk was facing inwards to the centre of the room and each chair (plus occupant) was inserted into each of the corners of the room. Back then monitors were huge CRT monstrosities that took up a large part of the desk, but upon closer inspection I could note a certain level of blockading around each desk as if to create a personal fortress.
I found out later this arrangement was due to regular outbreaks of war amongst the three. These three were some of the greatest programming minds in video games, between them invented new processor chipsets, 3d graphics libraries, and built games over the next 10 years that would sell 10’s of millions (back then BIG numbers) — but in that room they threw pretty much anything at each other, things got so bad that one of them actually was hospitalised.
I tell this story just to give a sense of what it was like to work there, gloriously chaotic, but with the best minds and huge amounts of creativity.
King Arthurs World came about because I had been given the task of building a graphics editor for the Super Nintendo. What Nintendo themselves supplied was a huge hulking beast of hardware that had very limited capabilities. Jez and Rick had been building our own hardware pipeline to allow games to be uploaded directly to a cartridge and needed something better on the graphics front to ease the burden of Artists getting graphics into the games.
Although I probably never finished having to maintain the editor it did give me the opportunity to also experiment with coding for the SNES as well. This was around the time of Lemmings and I wanted to experiment with building a side-scrolling tiled map, it literally started as some differing gradient ground and a parallax background.
I have always been into my fantasy books, age 10 reading the ‘Dragonlance Chronicles’ and probably had read ‘Lord of the Rings’ 10 times before I was 16, so it’s not surprising that the simple scrolling map was soon festooned with medieval characters that wandered around on the map, you couldn’t do much other than order them around (and maybe have a fight — I can’t remember!) — but when I showed it to Jez he immediately could see potential and within a few weeks (or so it seemed to me at the time) had sold the concept to a publisher.
And so ‘King Arthurs World’ was born, that was 25 years ago.
Over the coming Month’s I will be writing up some of the memories of building KAW (King Arthur’s World) as background to how in the last year I got back together again with Jez to recreate KAW for modern platforms.
Our website for the game is being worked on but you can see the first screenshot of the game — https://www.kingarthursworld.com/