Hugh Riley

TitlePublisherPlatformYear
Bangkok KnightsSystem 3Commodore 641987
Last Ninja, TheSystem 3Commodore 641987
Last Ninja 2, TheSystem 3Commodore 641988
DominatorSystem 3Commodore 641989
HammerfistActivision IncAmstrad CPC1990
Teenage Mutant Hero TurtlesImage WorksAtari ST1990
Time MachineActivision IncAmstrad CPC1990
Back to the Future 3Image WorksCommodore 641991
Alien 3Acclaim EntertainmentSega Game Gear1992
AladdinVirgin GamesCommodore Amiga1994


Company History



Softography



From Then to Now



Interviews


Added: 7 Feb 2017
Welcome dear readers! What a pleasure it is to be interviewing one of the people I really looked up to in my younger game playing days! He is responsible for the artwork of many successful games, titles such as Last Ninja 2, Hammerfist, Time Machine and many more. Soon we also hope to present an unreleased game by him called "3 days in Carpathia"...



J)
Please introduce yourself to the readers Hugh...

H)
Thanks David. I am currently animating Unreal 2 for the PC.


J)
I remember seeing your name in quite a few games, especially some classic ones from System 3. Is it possible you could tell us when you first started on computers, the games and companies you were involved with up until the present day?


H)
I bought a C64 on credit, supposedly for the kids’ education, but mainly to do small animations for my own enjoyment. I got recognition by winning an art competition that Commodore ran and that brought some commissions. The prize was equipment (ultimately including an Amiga) and also a modem which I used to put the artwork on Compunet as AEW1. This in turn brought more work and got me off the dole.

System 3 saw my stuff and offered me The Last Ninja and then a string of other 64 games. After Ninja 2, John Twiddy and I left to set up Vivid Image. I moved on after Hammerfist and Time Machine (which came out on most formats but didn't make money) to work freelance for Probe.

For the next few years I was involved in a whole bunch of games across different formats, some as the sole artist and others as collaborator. After that I left the industry for a year, forming a partnership to make educational software but came back in 1996 to work for NMS, in-house for the first time, and learn 3D.

I was offered work in Washington DC by Bethesda Softworks and finally made the crossing in 1997. In 1999 I moved across the Potomac to work for Legend who was just starting Unreal 2 and here I am, doing a little modelling but specialising in animation.

If you want a full list of projects I worked on (backwards):
Unreal 2, Morrowind, Redguard, Risk, Mass Destruction, Battleship, Wordbird, Jellyboy, Boomer, Incredible Hulk, Hurricanes, Aliens 3, Robocop 3, Supremacy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sega Chess, Back to the Future 3, Time Machine, Hammerfist, Vendetta, Tusker, Dominator, Last Ninja 2, Predator, Bangkok Knights, Leviathan, Last Ninja, Three Days in Carpathia and Mission of Mercy.

I also worked on Q'd Up, Aladdin, Babies, Mortal Kombat 2, Looney Tunes, Gunship, Terminator, Outrun Europa, California Games 2 and Smash TV.



J)
An impressive list, the bulk of which seems to be emanating from the C64? With your painting on the 64, which tools did you prefer to use? or did you make your own customized tools to match the game or project you were working on?

H)
Wigmore Mouse, Koala Pad and a joystick sprite editor whose name I can't remember. There were a lot of custom tools, specifically font editors and screen assemblers, written for me as well.


J)
Is user-friendliness the main thing or is it the greater amount of options that make the better editor?

H)
Both. It helped that I was usually working so closely with the programmers that they put all the functionality I wanted in the layout I requested.



J)
Yes, I certainly understand this, a major influence in the outcome for sure. Out of every project on the C64 you were a part of, which was the most challenging and which was your favourite? (for what reasons?)

H)
Challenging - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles coin-op conversion – there was a hell of a lot to port over. I think we managed to get the look and feel and most of the major elements across. Favourite - The Last Ninja – absolute magic. My first real game. It was exciting to make, got magazine covers and went straight to #1 on all the charts. What more could you ask for?



J)
What artwork in real life gives you inspiration or ideas to help create graphics?

H)
I think I probably get more inspiration from real life than art. Weird bugs, complex plant-life, strange weather, scary relationships, diseases that sort of thing. I respect a lot of people - Cezanne, Dave McKean, Ant Pereira, anybody that lets me glimpse the other dimension - everybody has something to offer.


J)
During the time that you were working on the C64, whose work did you most admire?

H)
Bob Stevenson - without a doubt. He was extraordinary and pushed the limits from the very beginning.


J)
Together with Enigma, I am working on a website that is called 'Games That Weren't' (hosted by Cyber Systems), this site concentrates on games that were never finished or released on the C64. Were there any games which you worked on which never saw the light of day?

H)
Mission of Mercy - with Richard Kay who later started Software Creations. It was a non-scrolling platform game on a spaceship with evil monsters that your spaceman had to defeat. We had an arcade game in the recreation area called Mission of Mercy on which you could play the whole game within the game to find out what was coming next.

3 Days in Carpathia - sequel to Valkyrie 17 - with George Stevens (Stevenson?) and the Ramjam Corp. This was a text adventure written with The Biro using character set screens livened up with moving sprites, including a dodo which fixated on you as Mother when it hatched. All the words were in Carpathian until you found a dictionary.




J)
What impressed you most about the C64 at the time and for what reasons?

H)
It was relatively cheap and easy to program graphics. The colours were much richer than the BBC or the Spectrum and sprites were fun to animate.


J)
Was the C64 just a step in your gaming life or was it a major inspiration?

H)
It changed my life. I was on the dole struggling to support 5 children with odd jobs. Suddenly I was having fun and earning money.


J)
Life has many great twists; I enjoyed phreaking phone systems, now I work for a major telephone company. Do you still own a C64 today?

H)
There's one in the cellar. I keep meaning to wire the drive into my PC and see what I've got.

(ED: since this interview, Joe Forster has supplied Hugh with a xe1541 cable so he can transfer his work from C64 to PC, will keep you posted on this)


J)
Please tell us your favourites:

C64 graphician: Bob Stevenson
C64 programmer: John Twiddy
C64 musician: Jeroen Tel
C64 game: The way of the exploding fist
Food: thai
Drink: vintage port
Movie: Roxie Hart
Music: Banco de gaia



J)
Ever had any disagreements with individuals or software houses?

H)
No real nastiness. I can't be arsed to fight the big egos so I generally just move on. Mostly I've worked with really good people. I have been shafted a couple of times but that's life.


J)
What are your current activities these days?

H)
Unreal 2 is taking more and more of my time. I like to mess about on the river when I can. I have a couple of personal animation projects I'm looking forward to messing with (as always).


J)
Any hints or tips for the new game designers still out there?

H)
Play the really old games and see what made them so much fun. Mostly they were extremely abstract and encapsulated game play. Now we have sensory overload but the central experience doesn't seem to have changed that much. Advanced AI could make a huge difference though. Then the emphasis will be on creating environments.


J)
Please feel free to say some hellos...

H)
I'd quite like to say hello to Jason Perkins if he's out there.


J)
Thanks for your time Hugh, any last words to leave a final impression on the audience?

H)
I just hope I don't come across as a pompous twat. I'm still having a good time.



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