8-Bit Software Online Conversion

Interview With Steve Hanson Crispin Boylan Steve is the managing director of Superior Software, and recently he kindly agreed to answer some questions about Superior Software, here is what he had to say: 1. When did you first start to become involved with Superior Software, and what motivated you to do so? In 1988 on a formal basis. Previous to that my brother Richard quite often discussed with me aspects concerned with Superior Software. I became formally involved after one of Superior's key managers left the company. I was interested in developing a new career in what was then an exciting area of work for a small company. 2. Were you involved in any of the writing of the games or development? I was not involved in writing any games, but helped in developing games such as: Ricochet, Sim City, Citadel 2 for the BBC/Electron and Air Supremacy and The Last Ninja for the Acorn 32 bit computers. 3. What do you think of the support the BBC Micro still has, and why do you think people are still interested in it, when so many other computers have come and gone? The massive number of people still interested in the BBC Micro is quite amazing. This is I think based partly on the large number of machines sold, including vast numbers still in use in schools, colleges and universities, but also on the relative ease with which programs could/can be written on it. 4. What are your favourite BBC Games? The Repton games that my brother developed take a lot of beating; I've spent a lot of time playing Repton Infinity. Imogen, The Sentinel and Sim City are quite brilliant games and for two players I've found Skirmish to be very addictive. I've never particularly got into the big games like Elite and Exile, but prefer the simple puzzle type of games like Perplexity and Pipemania or arcade adventures such as Citadel and Ricochet. Referring back to Sim City: as well as finding it an enjoyable game to play, I also got a lot of pleasure out of the programming skills of Peter Scott, who carried out the conversion and produced not only an excellent BBC Micro version, but also an Electron version. That required incredible skill. As a matter of interest, only two people ever obtained the prize-winning score of 950+ out of 1000, and in both cases they had played the game almost continuously over several months! 5. What are your plans for Superior Software at the present time? The plans at present are to continue to supply our full catalogue of BBC and Electron products and to actively support anyone who wishes to develop additional titles or compilations. For example, we are working closely with David Bradforth at Pro-Action who has been extending the Play It Again Sam range. 6. Were there any games that you would have liked to have been published by Superior Software, but in the end they went to another publishing house? Most of the best ones were eventually published by Superior in compilations. It would of course have been nice to have been the initial publisher of some of these, but, one mustn't be greedy! 7. What do you think the 'secret' behind Superior Software's success is? Superior Software's success was based almost entirely on the initiative, hard work and integrity of my brother Richard. Very few of the hundreds of software houses that were set up in the early 1980's survived more than a few years (or even a few months or weeks in some cases!). Superior Software has always remained a profitable company and, for most of its history (until recently), a dynamic and forward-looking company. Unfortunately, various curious marketing decisions by Acorn Computers (among other factors) led to a very rapid decline in their computer sales and in effect "pulled the rug" from under the software side of the business in the late 1980's. Would a 16 bit competitor to the Amiga and Atari ST, at an affordable price, have kept the Acorn market alive? 8. Do you still own a BBC Micro, and if so, do you still use it for games or anything else? Yes I still have 5 BBC Micros, 2 BBC Masters and 3 Electrons. I tend to play games when I'm testing stock items and find that I can spend a lot of time on some of the simpler games such as Mr.Wiz, Percy Penguin and Frak!. 9. Were you surprised by the way that Acorn have been pushed out of the running for home computers by the PC? Referring back to my answer to question 7, possibly the Archimedes was "a computer too far". The mass market was probably lost at that stage. Maybe the march of the PC was inevitable with the mass power of the US market behind it. Quantity can often win out over quality. 10. Are there any things which you regret doing at Superior Software? Regret is the wrong word. Some things one might have done differently in retrospect, but then who can foretell the outcome. Overall, I think Superior Software has always tried to approach business with a sense of integrity and has provided lots and lots of pleasure over the years to a very wide range of people. That can't be bad! I'd like to thank Steve for his kindness in answering this set of questions, I hope you enjoyed this interview, and look out for more 'stars' of the BBC Scene in future updates of the site!! If you have any questions about this interview, then don't hesitate to mail me! My Address viewtronix@easynet.co.uk