An interview with Rob Northen
I was lucky enough to locate Rob Northen on the internet who very kindly agreed to answer a few (which turned into a lot!) of questions relating mostly to the Amiga and his copy protection systems.
How old were you when you got your first computer and what was it?
I was 20 when I bought my first computer. It was an Apple ][ Europlus and cost me Â£475 - an excellent price in those days. I remember the day the courier delivered it. As I opened my first PC, connected the cables and switched it on, I was enraptured! At that time I was in my first year studying Computer Science at the South Bank University of London (in those days it was a Polytechnic). I was really only interested in programming but I had to cover other subjects like maths, accounts and AI.
How did you get involved in programming?
After leaving school at 18 I had no idea what subject I wanted to study, so I took a year out and went to work as a technical clerk for British Aerospace in Weybridge, Surrey. After being let loose on their IBM main-frames and writing short programs using IBM's exec programming language it became clear early on what I wanted to do. Interestingly, one of the first programs I wrote for myself there was a script that faked the login screen that prompted users to enter their passwords. Of course, once I had their password it was quickly saved to file, the exec program terminated and returned to the proper login script - it fooled quite a few people!
Which computers have you been involved with over the years? Which is/was your favourite?
My first paid computer work was whilst studying at the South Bank (1981-1983). I wrote some printer drivers and a 68000 menu driven assembler for the Apple ][ for Simon Computers, Croydon. This taught me a lot about writing tight efficient code - I had very little rom space to work with and every single byte of memory was precious. I remember working for hours/days trying to optimise the 6502 code and squeeze out every spare byte possible.
Soon after leaving South Bank (1984) I worked for Acornsoft, the software arm of Acorn Computers who made the BBC Micro. During my short stay there I wrote a protection system for them. This was to replace their existing disc protection that was written for them by Jez San of Argonaut. Jez had used illegal 6502 opcodes, which were not going to be supported by the newer 65C02 that would replace the 6502 and be used in the BBC machines. One of the earlier titles using my protection was in the game Elite by David Braben and Ian Bell. This used a primitive, but effective form of self-modifying code at the start of the program to hide the clever bits written by David and Ian. I remember them being very protective of their code in Elite, particularly the math routines.
I left Acornsoft after six months (1985) to work part-time for them, still protecting their disc games. Around the same time Acorn had decided to ditch the Intel 8271 floppy disk controller used in all BBC machines until then in favour of the newer Western Digital 1770 disk controller. I think either Intel was going to scrap the 8271 or Acorn was able to get the 1770 cheaper. Either way, the 8271 was out and the 1770 was in. The replacement of the disk controller was to coincide with the launch of Acorn's new Advanced Disk Filing System. The only trouble was the ADFS was incompatible with the older DFS and all its floppy games! And Acorn had no plans to support DFS any longer. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to write a new version of the DFS for the 1770. This is what I did and I sold it to Acorn. It was around this time I setup Copylock Software.
For the next 2 years or so (1985-1986), I wrote a number of BBC ROM products, including Advanced Disk Toolkit (similar to Disk Doctor, but far better!) and Advanced Disk Investigator, which had a number of features including a protected disk copier!
As for my favourite computer, the answer has to be the one that I work on at the time! I love 'em all!
When did you write the first copy protection system and how long did it take? Which systems was it developed on?
I suppose the first Copylock System was for the Atari ST in 1987, prior to that I had protected most of Acornsoft's floppy games, but the system used then was quite primitive in comparison and not known under the Copylock name.
It's difficult to give a time scale, because the protection system 'evolved'. I used ideas and techniques drawn from earlier experiences.
The host machine was always used to write the software, unlike the actual format of the floppy disk that was created on a Trace machine (the same hardware used by the floppy duplication companies). These were expensive pieces of kit (I paid Â£15,000 for mine!) and it was not until around 1990 that I could afford to buy one, and a cut-down one at that!
How did the name Copylock come about? Is there any special meaning to it or is it just a name you picked?
I setup the company Copylock Software soon after leaving Acornsoft. I was going to trade under this name protecting games for Acornsoft. I can't remember exactly why I chose Copylock, probably because I just thought the name sounded good.
Which are your favourite Amiga games and software publishers? Are there any examples which spring to mind as being great for one reason or another?
The honest answer here is I didn't/don't spend much time playing any particular game. I'd probably spend 1/2 hour or an hour max playing a game, sometimes only ten minutes, but the main reason for playing the game was to test the game after I had protected it.
Two companies spring to mind. Ocean Software and Domark. They gave me a lot of business and paid up without hassle.
Have you created any other Amiga software apart from your loading routines, copylock and ProPack (ie. have you ever written any games?)
Only my own in house software for creating/testing encryption systems and non-standard disk formats.
Have you any idea the total number of Amiga games which ended up using your protection system and/or loading routines?
Between 1988 and 1996 around 500 commercial Amiga games were protected with the Copylock system. The majority were done between 1989 and 1992. See list at end.
Were there any companies which you particularly liked working with for whatever reason?
I worked for dozens of companies on and off. Some well known like Ocean, Domark, US Gold, Microprose, Activision, Psygnosis, Electronic Arts, Bull Frog, DMA Design, Team 17, Probe, Virgin Interactive, Acclaim, Ubisoft, Infogrames and Titus and some less well known like Hewson, Grandslam, Prism Leisure, Softek, Entertainment International, System 3, Tynesoft, Zeppelin, Iguana, Audiogenic and The Sales Curve. I have to say the vast majority of the people at these companies were great guys and gals to work with.
I remember protecting a game in Dec '89 for Ocean called Operation Wolf. There was a rush on to get it out in time for Xmas and I was only given a few hours to protect it before sending it off to the disk duplicator in Telford. I protected it and couriered it back up the country by taxi only to discover an incompatibility in the protection with earlier Amigas. This was fixed and another master sent to the duplicator in the early hours. Meanwhile Ocean had discovered bugs in the game and sent another master down to me to be protected yet again. The taxi company did very well that day! For my efforts Ocean paid for me to visit their French HQ near Paris. Thanks Lorraine and Gary!
Were there any individuals or companies which blatantly ripped you off or didn't follow instructions properly, released faulty games etc?
Surprisingly, very few (that I know about!). Maybe they found the encryption too hard to copy!
Were you involved in the production of many games using your protection, or was it generally a case of they request a copylock and you simply provide it to them? Did this type of arrangement work well?
I was never involved in the actual production of the game itself. The publisher/developer would either send me the final unprotected master or I would send out keydisks for the programmer to implement the protection.
In the early days I would produce the final protected master myself and send it back to the publisher or straight onto the duplicator. Later, when I had developed routines straightforward enough for the game developers to implement themselves I would send out a set of Copylock Keydisks each with a unique serial number embedded in the format of the disk. This was the preferred method, as it would leave me more time to develop better routines. When I could afford to buy a Trace 1006 duplicator I was able to create my own keydisks and experiment with new methods of track and sector formatting.
Yes, this arrangement worked very well. I sent out literally hundreds of jiffy bags containing Copylock routines and keydisks to publishers and game developers.
How actually did the process work of getting the protection onto a game? Can you explain what the process was?
When I produced the final protected master myself I would have to replace the game's loader with my own encrypted loader. This would go through various anti-hacking routines, check for the protected disk format and finally run the original game loader. The problems with this method were that I'd have to find enough free space on the master disk for the protected track and the new loader. Also, the protection would only be called once at the start of the game.
When I sent out the Copylock routines and keydisks to the programmers, they were able to implement a far better protection because the checks were embedded in the game and would be called at various stages of game play. Each programmer would receive a different set of keydisks that would have a unique serial number. When my code was called it would either return 0 if the protection failed or a 32-bit serial number of the keydisk. Later, I would make the checks more subtle by returning the serial number to an address passed as a parameter in one of the data registers or exclusive-or-ing the contents of a memory address with the serial number. All these operations were performed within my anti-hacking code to make the hacker's job far harder. Some programmers would CRC checksum the area of code around my routines as well. I would advise the programmers never to do an actual compare of the keydisk's serial number, such as:
but to incorporate somehow the number into their own data, which would be used later in the game.
When the game was ready for duplication it would be sent to the duplicator who would have my Trace code installed on their machines that would allow them to read-in and duplicate the protected disks.
What hardware did you personally use to write the copylocks?
A floppy diskette duplication machine called the Trace 1006 was used to create the keydisks. This was by far the most popular machine used by the commercial disk duplicators. It consisted of a Unix box with a floppy disk controller board and a 3.5" and 5.25" disk loader. Mine cost me Â£15,000 in 1990.
Would you please describe the process of how games are duplicated?
In the days of the Amiga, floppy diskette duplication was big business and the company that dominated the disk duplication hardware was called Trace. They made two sizes of duplicator, the 1006, which could have up to 6 loaders connected to it and the 1020 which could have up to 20. Each loader had either a single 3.5" or 5.25" floppy drive and a hopper that would hold around 100 disks would feed the disks into the drive. The drives would be no different to a floppy drive you'd find in a PC. The box that drove the loaders used Trace's own software running under the Unix operating system.
The process of duplicating a master diskette worked like this. The publisher would deliver the final protected game to the duplicator, sometimes by hand if the job was a rush. The duplicator would place the master disk in one of the loaders and create an image file of the whole disk by 'reading-in' every track of the disk. Trace would supply format files to read-in standard formatted disks, but if the format was non-standard, as in a protected disk then the duplicator would have to write a format file of their own to read-in the floppy. I always supplied the format files for Copylock protected disks. This made the duplicators job a lot easier. Format files could be supplied in object form (uneditable) or source (editable). I used both.
Once an image file had been built successfully, the duplicator would then be able to make duplicates of the original master disk. The image file would contain every byte of data of every track from the original master. The time to make a disk would depend on how complex the protection was and how many tracks of the disk were used. A standard format disk with verification on would require two passes per track - one to write the image, the other to verify the track - and take approximately 40 seconds. A Copylock disk would take about the same because the protection was usually on only one track. An Amiga PDOS disk which used an extended disk format took perhaps 60 seconds. These machines would be working night and day with someone standing by to feed the hoppers with blank floppies.
How did you write the encrypted trace-mode code? I've heard it's given to games companies in dc.w format unlike the ProPack decrunchers.
The original version of the source was written on the Atari ST using HiSoft's DevPac. An Amiga version was written soon after. The code was just processor dependent. The same code was used for the Amiga and the ST.
Did you ever investigate peoples Rob Northen hacking tools, and if so, did you make any changes because of them?
Although I knew some must have existed, I never really came across them.
How exactly did you encrypt the disks, and do you still have the source code?
A game's program code/data was encrypted using a program I supplied with the Copylock keydisks to the games programmer (I called the program PROTECT). It could be used to encrypt AmigaDos files or straight data files. Quite often the programmer would not encrypt the game, but just rely on calling the Keydisk code to tell him if the protected disk was still in the drive.
The PROTECT program was able to produce protected files with many levels of encryption. I tried to introduce as many random elements of encoding as I could. No two protected files of the same unprotected file would ever be the same. As I had a lot of experience of writing assembler myself, my aim was to write a system that even I would find difficult to break. I used DevPac ST and DevPac Amiga for the Atari and Amiga versions of PROTECT respectively.
As for the protected floppy disk, this was created not by the host machine, but by using the same Trace machine as used by the disk duplicators. At the very beginning, a guy called Paul Caton working at Trace in the UK wrote a program on the Trace that would create Copylock Keydisks. I was then able to send out this program to any duplicator that had a Trace machine to create blank keydisks for me. The Trace program had to be changed often to create keydisks with different serial numbers.
The method used on the floppy to create a Copylock track was to use a format that the Amiga drive could read without error, but was unable to write. This normally involved changing the bitcell size of outputted bytes written to the track. The Amiga drives, and for that matter ST and PC too, are quite tolerant of reading data at varying bitcells, within reason. Fortunately, these drives will always write data at a constant bitcell.
It was in 1987 that I first used this technique reliably on the Atari ST. One of the tracks on the floppy, probably track 0, had one of the sectors on the track written using a reduced bitcell. Using a carefully written piece of code I was able to detect this special sector by comparing the times to read in both types of sector. From memory, I think the 'slow' sector had to take at least 15% longer to read than the other sectors or it failed the protection test. I used a similar technique, and variations of it, for the Amiga.
A friend remembers in some German computer magazine interview with you that you left your phone number in some software and pirates rang to say how far they had hacked your code. Can you tell me a little more about this and how long it lasted? Did you ever find out who they were?
This is true. I wanted to test how effective the protection was, so I buried my telephone number in the heart of the encryption. I did receive a call from a German hacker several weeks after the game was released (I think the game was called R-Type on the Atari ST) very early one morning. I don't remember receiving any other calls. In my opinion the protection had passed its test!
Did you have any enemies?
This one made me laugh. The answer is No. Mind you, I don't have any friends either! lol
Just as crackers seemed to see removing protection as a challenge, was it an interesting challenge for you to come up with new ways to prevent software being copied? Richard Aplin (in the startup-sequence for Final Fight) had a huge rant abusing crackers and saying that it was an unfair battle as once the protection was set in place that's it. It would be good if the protection system could detect it was being modified and alter itself like a game of chess, but this is not practical. What are your views on this? Do you think anything is uncopyable or is nothing safe?
It was undoubtedly the challenge that was the motivating force behind Copylock. The challenge was to produce the best protection for a games machine the world had seen.
The better the protection the greater the challenge. It's just a matter of time.
What are your views on crackers?
We've all got to start somewhere. Breaking into a program can teach you a hell of a lot about programming. 99% of my programming knowledge is self-taught. You can learn a great deal by looking at well-written code.
When did you become aware of the copylock decoding features built into certain hardware such as the Action Replay cartridge? What are your opinions on this?
They are? The best protection systems are always a great challenge to the better hackers and hacking devices. The number of games protected with Copylock is a testimony to this.
I guess you kept up to date with copy protection schemes over the years, I heard Gary Bracey of Ocean lost his job over the Robocop 3 protection. Apparently he was bragging in the press about how great it was going to be, yet when it was cracked on the day of release he said the group involved had gotten a pre-release version weeks in advance (which they deny). Did you hear any other interesting horror stories such as these over the years?
I very much doubt this. Gary Bracey was a great asset to Ocean and was well respected.
When did you finally quit the Amiga?
I never actually 'quit' the Amiga, the work just dried up when publishers stopped releasing the games. By around 1994/1995 new game releases were getting few and far between. Ironically, publishers were releasing a lot of game compilations then and sending me games to remove the protection.
What did you think contributed to the death of the Amiga? Commodore's (lack of) support and sitting around waiting while the PC overtook the Amiga, stupid hardware/downgrades they put out (CDTV, A600, no hard drive as standard, lack of HD floppy drive), large scale piracy, consoles?
Yes, probably all these. I remember when the CD32 was first launched and most Amiga games up to that point had been using their own disk routines or mine for loading. The CD32 was different and required the developers to change their ways and use the OS to load their games. Up to then they would invariably ditch the OS and hit the hardware directly. I decided to write loader routines for the CD32 and contacted Commodore in the UK and US. They refused to help in any way, so I hacked the OS and wrote my own. Sadly, the CD32 never really made it as a games console - a case of too little too late.
Do you still keep up to date with Amiga news or consider the Amiga dead? What about emulators, do you use WinUAE or Fellow often or just in a moment of gaming retro?
No. I have a copy of WinUAE installed on my PC with a few dozen games that my sons now play. Super Frog being their current favourite.
Have you heard about the JST and WHDLoad HD patching systems for installing games and demos on the Amiga? A small slave is written for each game/demo which is usually only a couple of kilobytes in length and often improves the original game by saving high scores, fixing bugs, speeding up decrunchers, making games run from icons and they all quit back to Workbench when you are finished. One problem with these programs is they do not emulate the ILLEGAL commands used in copylocks so the copylocks must be removed to install the games! At the time of writing there are over 750 patches which work on ORIGINAL copies of the software on the site with several more being released every week!
No. Sounds a great idea. Good luck to them.
Are you still involved in copy protection systems on other platforms? If not, what are you currently doing these days?
Copy protection is over for me now. It was great fun whilst it lasted, but now I have a different challenge. Still working for myself, I trade financial futures using my own technical analysis systems. This, for me, represents the ultimate challenge. The rewards are unlimited.
Amiga games that use the Rob Northen Copylock Protection System.
(Note: there are other Amiga games not listed here that don't use Copylock but do use the Rob Northen PDOS disk format, Propack Compression, or Amiga Disk Routines)
3D Construction Set, 3D Pool, 5th Gear, A Rock Star Ate My Hamster, Afterburner, Alien Breed Special Edition, Alien Syndrome, Aliens 3, Altered Beast, APB, Arcade Trivia, Archipelagos, Argonaut, Arkanoid 2, Armada, Armageddon Man, Armalyte, Army Moves, Assassin, Astaroth, Back to the Future Part 2, Back to the Future Part 3, Backlash, Badlands, Banshee, Barbarian, Barbarian 2, Bart Versus the World, Batman Returns, Batman the Movie, Battle Master, Battle Valley, Battleships, Battletoads, Beach Volley, Beast Busters, Bermuda Project, Beverley Hills Cop, Big Run, Bignose the Caveman, Black Lamp, Blade Warrior, Blastar, Blasteroids, Blinky, Blob, Bloodwych, BMX Simulator, Bob's Bad Day, Body Blows, Bomber, Bombjack, Bombuzal, Boredino, Brat, Bubble & Sqweek, Bubble Bobble, Bubble Dizzy, Buggy Boy, Burning Rubber, Butcher Hill, Cabal, Cadaver Levels, California Games, Cannon Fodder 2, Captain Dynamo, Captain Planet, Captive, Carl Lewis Challenge, Carrier Command, Car-Vup, Castle Master, Championship Run, Chaos Engine, Chase HQ, Chase HQ / Hard Drivin', Chronicles of Omega, Chuck Rock, Chuck Rock 2, Cisco Heat, CJ in the USA, CJ's Elephant Antics, Cloud Kingdoms, Conflict Europe, Cool Spot, Cool World, Corporation, Cosmic Pirates, Cosmic Spacehead, Crazy Cars, Crossbow, Crystal Dragon, Crystal Kingdoms, Curse of Enchantia, Custodian, Cyber Punks, Cyberball, Cybernoid, Cybernoid 2, Cytron, D/Generation, Daley Thompson Olympic Challenge, Dark Stone, Darkmere, Dark Side, Dawn Patrol, Days of Thunder, Defender 2, Defender of the Crown, Deuteros, Devious Design, Die Hard 2, Dominator, Don't Drop Off, Doodle Bug, Double Dragon 3, Dr. Doom, Dr. Fruit, Dragon Spirit, Dragons Breed, Duckula 2, Dynamite Dux, Eco, Ed The Duck, Elf Quest, Emlyn Hughes International Soccer, Epic, Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters, Euro Football Champ, European Champions, European Championship '92, Exile, Exolon, Exterminator, Extra Time, F-16 Combat Pilot, F-29 Retaliator, FA Premier League Football, Falcon 2, Falcon Collection, Falcon Missions, Fantastic Dizzy, Fantasy Manager, Fantasy World Dizzy, Fast Food, Fighting Soccer, Final Blow, Fire And Ice, Fireball, Firehawk, First Contact, First Division Manager, First Samurai, Flight of the Intruder, Flippit And Magnose, Flying Shark, Football Manager: World Cup Edition, Football Manager 2, Football Manager 2 Expansion Kit, Franco Baresi, Frenetic, Fruit Machine, Future Basketball, Galaxy Force, Garfield, Garfield's Winter Tail, Ghost Busters 2, Global Gladiators, G-Loc, Gods, Graeme Souness Soccer Manager, Graham Gooches Cricket, Gravity, Grid Start, Guardian Angel, Hard Drivin', Hard Drivin' 2, Heimdall, Heimdall 2, Hell Raider, Hellfire Attack, Helter Skelter, Hero Quest, Honda RVF, Hook, Hostile Breed, Hotshot, Hover Hawk, Hoversprint, Hudson Hawk, Hunt for Red October, Hunter, Hydra, Hyperforce, IK+, Incredible Shrinking Sphere, Indy Heat, Insects In Space, International Championship Wrestling, International Ice Hockey, Interphase, It Came From The Desert 2, Italy 1990, James Pond, Jaws, Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker, Joan of Arc, Jockey Wilson Darts, Jungle Strike, Kamikazi, Karting Grand Prix, Kennedy Approach, Kenny Dalglish Soccer Manager, Kick Off, Kick Off 3, Kid Chaos, Klax, Knightmare, Krusty's Fun House, Las Vegas, Last Battle, Last Ninja 2, LED storm, Legend, Lemmings, Lemmings 2, Let Sleeping Gods Lie, Lethal Weapon, License To Kill, Liquid Kid, Little Puff, Lombard Rally, Loopz, Lords of the Rising Sun, Lost Patrol, Magic Land Dizzy, Magic Pockets, Manhattan Dealers, Manix, Match of the Day, McDonald Land, Mean Machines, Megalomania, Mercenary, Miami Chase, Micro Machines, Microprose Soccer, Midnight Resistance, Mig-29, Mig-29 2, Millennium 2.2, Monty Python, Moonshine, Moonstone, Motorhead, Mr. Do Run Run, Munsters, Mutant League Hockey, Myth, NAM, NARC, Navy Seals, NBA Jam, Nebulus, Neighbours, Netherworld, New Zealand Story, Nigel Mansell Grand Prix, Nightbreed, Ninja Spirit, Ninja Warriors, Nitroboost Challenge, Odyssey, Oh No More Lemmings!, Omnicron Conspiracy, Onslaught, Operation Thunderbolt, Operation Wolf, Outrun / Super Cycle, Overlord, Pandora, Panic Dizzy, Paperboy 2, Paradroid, Parasol Stars, Passing Shot, Paul Gascoine Super Soccer, Peanuts, Personal Nightmare, Phobia, Photon Storm, Pipemania, Pirates, Pitfighter, Pixmate, Platoon, Pool, Popeye 2, Populous, Populous 2, Power Drive, Powerboat, Powerdrift, Precious Metal, Predator, Predator 2, Prime Mover, Prince of the Yolk Folk, Pro Boxing Simulator, Pro Tracker, Project X, Prophecy One, Pub Trivia, Pushover, Puzznic, Pyramax, Qix, Quadralien, Quartet, Quest of Agravain, Quick Snax, Qwak, Race Driver, Raffles, Rainbow, Islands, Rally Cross, Rambo 3, RBI, Renegade, Resolution 101, Return of the Jedi, Rick Dangerous, Rick Dangerous +, Rick Dangerous 2, Robin Hood, Robocop, Robocop 3, Robokid, Robozone, Rocket Ranger, Rodeo Games, Rodland, Rollercoaster Rumbler, Round the Bend, R-Type, R-Type 2, Ruff 'n' Tumble, Rugby World Cup, Run the Gauntlet, Ryder Cup, Saint Dragon, Santa's Christmas Capers, SAS Combat, SCI, Scrabble, Sensible Soccer, Sensible Soccer International Edition, Sensible World of Moon Soccer, Sensible World of Soccer, Seymour Goes to Hollywood, Shadow Warrior, Shadowlands, Shak Fu, Sharkey's Moll, She Fox, Shockwave, Shoot-Em-Up Contruction Kit, Shut It!, Silly Putty, Simulcra, Skeleton Krew, Ski Simulator, Skull And Crossbones, Sky High Stuntman, Skychase, Skyshark, Slayer, Sleep Walker, Sly Spy Secret Agent, Snoopy, Soccer Pinball, Solder of Light, Sooty, Sooty and Sweep Numbers, Space Crusade, Space Gun, Speedball, Speedball 2, Spellbound Dizzy, Spellfire the Sorceror, Sphericules, Spike in Transylvania, Spindizzy Worlds, Stack Up, Star Breaker, Stargoose, Star Wars, Steel, Steg, Steigar, Stormlord, Strike Force Harrier, Strip Poker, Stun Runner, Stunt Car Racer, Super Allstars, Super Frog, Super Grandprix, Super Seymour, Super Space Invaders, Super Tennis Champs, Super Wonder Boy, Superstar Ice Hockey, SWIV, Target Renegade, Tennis, Terminator 2, Thai Boxing, The Addams Family, The Ball Game, The Dark Man, The Final Battle, The Games Winter Edition, The Krystal, The Simpsons, The Spy Who Loved Me, The Sword and the Rose, The Three Stooges, Theme Park Mystery, THMT Electric Crayon, Thomas the Tank Engine, Thundercats, Thunderjaws, Tiger Road, Time, Time Machine, Time Scanner, Titanic Blinky, Toki, Toobin, Top Wrestling, Tornado, Torvak, Total Eclipse, Total Recall, Tower of Babel, Tracksuit Manager, Tracksuit Manager '90, Treasure Island Dizzy, Turn 'n' Burn, Turtles, Tuskar, TV Sports Basketball, TV Sports Football, Universal Monsters, Uridium 2, Vader, Vector Football, Victory Road, Vindicators, Violator, Vixen, Voyager, Walker, Warhead, Warlock, Warzone, Waterloo, Weird Dreams, Wembley International Soccer, Whizz & Liz, WizKid, Wicked, Willows, Wing Commander, Wings, Wings of Fury, Winter Olympiad, Wizball, Wolf Child, Wolfpack, Wonder Dog, World Class Rugby, World Soccer, Worlds of Legend, Wreckers, WWF European Rampage, WWF Wrestlemania, Xenon 2, XR35, Xybots, Zombies, Zone Warrior, Zynaps
A huge thanks to Rob Northen for kindly answering all my questions! I at least hope you get a little fame out of this interview! Also thanks to Frank, Phil, Ralf and Stuart for providing me with some of the questions!
Starting out creating graphics for early pioneer Steve Bak, Chris moved into programming games and went on to create one of the Amiga's flagship characters - James Pond.
Well known for his slick Amiga games Midnight Resistance and RoboCop 2, Ian Moran worked at Special FX from mid 1989 until 1992 when he was one of 5 founding members that formed Rage software.
John was one half of the formidable Random Access/Sales Curve programming team that worked on some of the Amiga's most fondly remembered games. His first 16-bit game was the Atari ST version of Silkworm, although some code was shared with Ron Pieket's Amiga version. He helped on Ninja Warriors, SWIV and Rodland, and wrote Saint Dragon and Indy Heat.
The programming legend responsible for the superb games Silkworm, Ninja Warriors, SWIV, Rodland and Q-Bic, Ron answers a plethora of technical questions about his games. If you ever wanted to know the story behind how the Sales Curve was setup, the amazing SWIV map, sprite-multiplexing, hardware scrolling and the dynamic load-while-you-play system, you've come to the right place.