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20 years of thanks
by Andy Satterthwaite on 09/01/13 11:30:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

This weekend marked my 20th anniversary in the games industry.

In that time, I’ve programmed, produced, designed, owned a company, moved countries, made a ton of games (some of which people have actually heard of) and, most of all, worked with a huge amount of amazing people.

This is a thank you to everyone I’ve had the privilege of working with in some capacity … If you’re not listed below, if I’ve got facts wrong, if I’ve got your name wrong, or whatever, then sorry … but still thanks!

Starting at the beginning:

Thanks to whoever it was at school (Matt Reid?) that first showed me how to program on a Commodore Pet.

Thanks to the C64 owners who let me play Fort Apocalypse for far, far too long.

Thanks to Vicky Finny, a girl I tried to impress through programming (yeah, I know, but I was 13 and this was 1983).

Thanks to Chuckie Egg, a brilliant game that released just as I was trying to finish my first platformer (coincidentally about a farmer collecting eggs and avoiding chickens) … you taught me the valuable lesson that ideas are easy, it’s execution that counts.

Thanks to Ian McMurtrie who truly out-geeked me in gaming and programming, but made me think that this was a career possibility.

Thanks to Sheffield Polytechnic, who accepted me on to a degree course in Computing & Mathematics, even though I’d completely screwed up my A levels … and thanks to EVERYONE on that course, you were all amazing and truly made me feel worthy for the first time (particular shouts to Baz, Andy, Martin, Debbie & Stan)

Thanks to the company who gave me my first programming job as my degree placement – I don’t even remember your name (just that you were based in Great Dunmow), but thanks for having faith in me … and also thank to the guy there who worked on “Leander” – the first person I’d met who’d ever worked on a REAL game!

Thanks to Warwick Uni, who accepted me on to a Masters degree when I had no idea what else to do.

And thanks to Amiga Format for just being a great magazine and having the all important advert for a job at Psygnosis …

And then in to the job …

Summer 1993 an advert in Amiga Format catches my eye … I spend 3 days crafting the most perfect job application advert ever!

Thanks to John White, Graham Stafford and Dominic Mallinson for interviewing me and giving me a job as a humble programmer

Thanks to everyone who put up with me learning the ropes (particularly Dave Smith). Thanks to the Phoenix Rising team for actually listening to my design ideas and thanks to Psygnosis in general for encouraging us to submit concepts (all of mine back then were terrible, but …)

Thanks to the Wipeout (PS1) team for letting me sneak in and play builds at lunchtime. Thanks to Jed Adams, Andy Yelland, Chris Eden and everyone who worked with me on the Wipeout PC version – what a god awful project that was … and it truly let me know that I was not cut out to be a coder.

Which segways nicely in to: Thanks (again) to Graham Stafford for encouraging me to apply for one of the “Internal Producer” positions; thanks to Sarah (a million times thanks for everything, but in this case …) for putting up with nights of anguish as I realized that I so wanted this job; thanks to everyone who interviewed me and thought I could do it – and most of all for listening to my pleas to work on the Wipeout sequel.

(I can barely believe I’m saying this, but) thanks to Morgan O’Rahilly for being the toughest, angriest boss ever, but somehow teaching me just about everything I needed to know to produce a game.

Beyond thanks to the Wipeout 2097 team: Chris, Nick, Nick, Nicky, Stu, Lee, Dave, Eve, Pol, Rob, Jim – you made my first product as a producer absolutely f**king amazing. If you don’t all tell yourselves how great you are every single day then start doing so right now!

Thanks to Ian Grieve for making me feel like a rock star in Japan promoting the game … and then believing in me enough to bring me on to “save” Colony Wars.

And of course, thanks to the Colony Wars team for working a million hours a day to ship that stupidly over ambitions project … a year late; and Lisa Cheney for championing that game like no one in marketing has ever championed anything (I still remember those cinema ads playing alongside “Face Off”)

Then teleport forward to 1998 …

The Curly Monsters years

In Summer 1998, Lee Carus, Nick Burcombe and Chris Roberts (all disgruntled with how things were going at Sony Psygnosis at the time) approached me and asked if I’d be their producer if we started our own company. By far the single most flattering and confidence boosting question anyone has ever asked me.

Thanks to all the (now mostly defunct) companies who took my calls, arranging clandestine meetings and listening to our naïve proposals

Thanks to Gremlin for offering us a contract; and then thanks even more to Ian Hetherington for believing in us enough to put in his own money, as seed funding, while he found us a better contract than Gremlin!

Thanks to the team at Ocean for really backing us on Jet-X … and no thanks at all to Infogrammes for completely failing to believe in the product, when you bought out Ocean, and renaming the game to a pun that only worked in a French accent [aside: The then re-named “N-GEN Racing” did manage to score 90%+ reviews]. But thanks to Feargus Carrol for sticking up for us with Infogrammes management, at the end, and letting them know what they were losing.

Thanks to Microsoft for signing us to make “Wipeout for Xbox” and then supporting us fantastically (until you kind of screwed up the Quantum Redshift box art, but …) I can’t remember you all, but huge thanks to Dave Bridgham & Jeff Shea in particular.

Thanks most of all to Lee, Chris, Nick, Linky, Neil, Paul, Jon & Macca … you couldn’t ask for a better bunch of guys to work with – it was stressful, it was fun, it was “an experience”.

It’s a huge shame that Curly Monsters kind of died with the failure of QR, we believed in it so much that I (for one) just felt like giving up, but somehow things always work out …

Sidhe / PikPok

Christmas 2002, while holidaying in New Zealand, I meet Mario Wynands, MD of Sidhe – a small Wellington based games company, that had produced a couple of ports and a Barbie game, but had some crazy ambition.

While Curly Monsters went through its death-throws all I could think about was maybe, just maybe, moving down to New Zealand and working with these guys – being a big fish in a small pond (rather than a tiny cog in a huge mixed metaphor)

So, I supposed I should say thanks to all the companies in the UK who interviewed me that spring 2003, but my heart wasn’t in it – I was waiting to hear about moving to the other side of the world … and in May the news came through.

Thanks again (it should just go without saying really) to Sarah, my wife, for supporting me (encouraging me) in this crazy endeavor … even more so when just a few weeks after accepting the job we found out she was pregnant … what better thing to do than sell your house, move to the other side of the world, start a job, find new friends, have a baby etc. all with no family support at all (‘cause they’re 12,000 miles away!)?

So, back to the work thanks … my 10 years at Sidhe, and now PikPok have seen me work with so many cool people on so many varied products that I am bound to miss saying thanks to lots and lots of people specifically – so, just thanks to all of you but, while I’m trying to be specific …

Thanks to Mario and Tyrone for taking a chance on me in the beginning, and putting up with me ever since.

Thanks to Aaron Allport for doing the concept art for “Super Stunt Buggy” (later to become GripShift) that allowed me to pitch that game internally … thanks to all at Sidhe who voted for it, and then thanks to Cory, Andreas & Dan for building that game, and making it awesome (even if there were some deranged changes of direction during its development)

Thanks to all on the Melbourne Cup Challenge team, for sticking with us while we attempted to make the world’s best horse racing game (I think we did pretty well) – motion capturing galloping horses with Weta will always be an industry highlight for me.

Thanks to Warner Bros, the Wachowski Bros., and everyone who was involved in Speed Racer – honestly, when I look back at the videos of that game I am sooo impressed with what we accomplished.

Thanks to Nick Cattell for turning my ideas for Shatter in to pictures that the world could understand (honestly, without concept artists I would never have got any of my ideas off the ground, ever!). And huge thanks to Alan Bell and the Shatter team for turning my game pitch in to something a hundred times better than I envisioned … more than happy to take my little bit of credit for that epic.

Thanks to Jon Brown for far too many laughs while we shared an office, and for helping with my first attempt at script writing when we were designing Battle Force 5 - one day our dice game will rule.

Thanks to Adult Swim for believing in Monsters Ate My Condo when nobody else did – and then thanks, beyond thanks, to everyone who worked on it (particularly Peter, Joe, Andrew, Tom & Jeramiah) – that game and the sequel Super MAMC are still some of my proudest achievements.

Thanks to all the other teams and people I have worked with in my capacities as Senior Producer, Executive Producer and Development Director – thanks for listening, when you did.

And with that we’re just about up to the here & now. So future thanks to everyone who will be working with me from here on in, particularly as I sink in to my new role as Design Director … I’m 20 years in … who know what the hell’s going to happen in the next 20!

Thanks for reading!


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Comments


Jonathan Jennings
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Congrats Andy! It's great hearing a story about someone who's gotten to see numerous faces of the industry and managed to sustain a long career. Thanks for the overview of a true veterans career!

Nick Burcombe
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Fantastic post Andy, it was an absolutely pleasure working with you, you're still the best producer I've ever worked with and it was even better to have a catch up this year in San Fran. I'm very glad that my 23 years in the biz is sprinkled with games that we made together. We can all be very proud of what we've achieved for sure. Here's to the next 20! :)


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