Homebrew Legends Interviews: Roy Widding – Megastyle.

MegastyleHere we have our latest interview with Roy “Rotteroy” Widding, from awesome C64 developer team “Megastyle”. These guys have released some fantastic games all of which you can find on their itch.io page.

HBL

Thank you for agreeing to our interview, please take a moment to tell us a little about you?

Rotteroy

Thank you for spending time on interviewing me about me and my group. I am Rotteroy, and the founder of the C64 demo / game developing group Megastyle. I spend most of my sparetime pixelling and making sid music, and sometime it even ends up in a game.

HBL

What was the first game you created?

Rotteroy

My first commercial title was “Burgertime’97”, where I did the graphics. The game was programmed by one of my childhoodfriends, Scroll/Megastyle and released by Loadstar in 1997. I have been involved in games before that time too, but i consider Burgertime’97 as my first serious game.

HBL

Can you tell about us about Megastyle, how it started, its mission statement and so on?

Rotteroy

Well, today we are 9 members in Megastyle. Some of the members has a background from the game industry, like Sparkler (Funcom / Innerloop), Endruion (RGCD / Psytronik), Docster (Miscgames), Microbit (Psygnosis/Sony). The others (me, Drumtex, Scroll, FX and Rage) are just old geezers who has our game developing brackground from the hombrew scene. Megastyle started as a demo group and was around 89-90 ranked very high in the diskmag charts. We first got in touch with the game industry in 1989. It was on a demo party i Trondheim/Norway where Walter Konrad from Double Density asked us if we wanted to make a budget game for them. We started working on a game called “Strobe” together with a musician called Henning Rokling. Since we had no experience with making serious games, we did so many rookie mistakes that the game was never finished. For instance, we started making the title screen with lots of fancy effects (Almost like a demo), a huge highscorelist, a big multicolor logo in the sideborder and other fancy stuff. So when the important part of the game was about to be made (the game), we had a very uninspired coder and little memory left… If I remember correct, the softwarehouse Hewson also offered us quite a lot of money for this game. But we never finished it… And went back to demo making instead… During the next years we started coding several games that never was finished (Pimple Panic, Arwag, Zorro In Wonderland) and some titles that we released ourself like wordzap, twintris and a couple of adventure games. After that we had a silent period for more than 10 years. Around 2016 I found a game by Scroll that was 90% finished. The game was called SNAFU and was a c64 remake of the Intellivision title. It only missed a title screen and the music. I made a remake of the Intellivision music, improved the graphics a little and one of our coders added a 4 player mode for it. Since then we have made a lot of small games, all in 4k size: Lumberjack, Spike, Dodge, Tacky, Vector Runner, Kalle Kloakk 4k and last but not least Trump Tower. All these games are under 4k and available for free on CSDB. Originallity on these are maybe not the most impressive, as most of them are pure c64 remakes of cellphone onebutton games. But they are easy to play with either the SIBUGA controller, and ofcourse ordinary joysticks too… They are really worth checking out. We have also made bigger games lately.

Captain Cloudberry

Last summer we made a “typing of the dead” styled western game called Tombstones – released by Reset Magazine, with cartoonish animations and western music. In the game you have to duel with a lot of gunslingers so you can retire for gunslinger life., To prove you are the fastest, you have to be quick on the keyboard and press a decided button so fast that the gunslinger on the other side of the screen doesnt shoot you first. After that we released “Captain Cloudberry”, where you have to fight a witch whit your airplane and destroy all her deadly balloons randomly placed in the air. The tricky bit is that your plane is damaged by after crashing with a hanglider, so it only rotates one way, something that makes it tricky to navigate around deadly clouds. Both these games was released for free last year, and can be found on our itch page or on CSDB. Our latest release is Exploding Fish, an underwater aquatic adventure made by Microbit (Chris Stanley), me, and Merman (Andrew Fisher). You have to navigate in 14 underwater sceneries to get to the boss stage where you have to fight an evil professor in a heavy underwater battle. I must mention that all these 3 games will be released as physical tapes for collectors. Tombstones will be made as a very limited tape with only 30 copies. Exploding Fish will be made in 50 copies. Reason so few is that we are doing most of the work ourself, and if we ever should get them finished we have to have a very small stock. The Captain Cloudberry game will be released as a cover tape for the great magazine “K&A plus magazine”, and I think this tape will be finished later this summer. This casette will also include a single button controller “Sibuga” i mentioned earlier, so this is a real gem for the collectors.

HBL

Why the name Megastyle?

Rotteroy

That name has followed us from 1988. I was sitting in my bedroom together with Brooz and Sleepwalker (ex members) discussing what our group should be called. I remember that we where looking around in magazines for inspiration. I was looking in a heavy metal magazine on record titles, but did not find any we liked. Then we found an ad in a Playboy Magazine where the word Megastyle was printed. We tought that was cool, and picked it as our groupname and added an “inc” behind it: Megastyle Inc. (MSI) …. Pubertal inspiration … Later we had a period where we was trying to be a little more serious and we changed the “Inc” into “Productions”. Today we just use the name Megastyle, without anything behind it. But the ones who has known us for 30 years still calls us MSI 😊

HBL

What do you for a living now?

Rotteroy

I work as a instructor in a security company. I’m also a board member of an american football club where I take care of media and press. And the little piece of sparetime left then is being with my family and my c64.

HBL

Whats next?

Rotteroy

Next project for the C64 is called “Mancave – Wife Free Zone”. It’s a plattformer where you control the 48 year old Richard Morningwood in his family home. The game starts when he comes home from work and discover his kids in his mancave, turning it upside down. They find his secret collection of adult magazines, and hides them all around his house. Richard then have to find and secure all the magazine before his wife gets home and finds the magazines. To top it all, the carpenter Freddy, has started doing some work inside his house, leaving holes in the floor and even worse.. Freddy has a huge crush on Richard, and Richard doesnt really know how to handle the attention from Freddy. And then on the next level, his mother in law comes to visit. An old angry woman (her name is Mrs. Schrimpodour) who throws fake teeth and insults after him.. The game is made by me, Microbit (Chris S.) and FC (David E.) with loading picture by Sparkler (Rune S.) More members will hopefully help us with this project later, so the list of credits will probably be longer.
We have also teamed up with game coder Endurion (coder of Soulless, Guns’n’ghosts, Get Them, +++), and we hope to bring some new c64 games to the scene together with him too.

HBL

Any thoughts for doing games on other systems? (CPC464, Dreamcast or Spectrum)

Rotteroy

I have always been fascinated by these systems, but never owned any of them. Maybe if I was hanging in an environment with coders developing on these It could be possible, but as for now I dont know any so I doubt it will happen. Our swedish member FX is working on some amiga and nintendo graphics from time to time, so I hope there could be something for that plattform from him.

HBL

Are you surprised with the resurgence in retro gaming?

Rotteroy

When the c64 scene slowly faded away around 1993, at that time I could not dream about it beeing so active in 2018. But on the other side, I have always had my C128 on a desk in home office or in my mancave. So personally I have never left the retrogaming scene, instead I have just become more and more involved in it. On the other side there are probably a lot of systems that will not rise like this. I dont hear alot of people in my age booting up windows 3.11 on their 486-DX2 to play mineswiper…. Or I might be wrong, I have never tried to find a scene for windows 3.11 …

HBL

Do you have any games that are just sitting on your drives unfinished that you may release one day?

Rotteroy

Yes, or at least my coder team has. FX has come very far on a plattformer, and Drumtex is into a remake project that I think will be very cool. I also have some storyboards I have written that I hope my team will be a part of too. As I am a member of Out Of Order Softworks too, I can say that I have been involved in a huge adventure game for them aswell. but I live far away from the other developers, and I am not able to follow the progress of this. Im really looking forward to see the physical release of this.

HBL

Can you tell us what prompted you to get involved in Retro Game Development?

Rotteroy

When I first got my c64, back in 1986, I was fascinated with the creating possibilities, and started early to make simple basic games with my friends. So the interest has always been there. But from 2000 – 2012 I was totally inactive in the C64 scene. I think it was around 2012/2013 I started seriously to produce stuff on my c64 again, and I did some game music (that I still havent spread outside Megastyle). But this planted a seed in the old members and we chatted more and more about making games again. Then I and DMX (Vidar B.) made a windows version of the old game Mr. Robot. After that things the retro gaming snowball just got bigger and bigger, and today I have a lot of titles on my CV 😊

HBL

What games at the time (and now) would you say are your biggest inspirations?

Rotteroy

From the past I think games like Hoover Boover, Monty On The Run, Kung Fu Master and such titles inspired me a lot. I also had some favourites on the Amiga, mainly the Sierra and Lucasart games. I would really like to do an adventure game like Police Quest or Larry for the 64, but I think my biggest problem would be to write an interesting story. Earlier this summer i met both Ron GIlbert and Al Lowe at retrospillmessen in Sandefjord in Norway. It was very interesting to hear they talk about game developing back in the days. Modern games are also inspiring. Like the game Jason Aldred did: “Galencia”. Great use of music and graphics, a nice story and everything wrapped nice together into one of the best c64 games reelased in modern times.

HBL

What is the biggest challenge you face with the limitations of the hardware, particularly as you continue to expand features title-to-title? (Memory? Graphical capability? Speed?)

Rotteroy

The limitation is whats fun. I think doing something on a modern PC gives you more or less unlimited freedom, and I dont find that challenging at all. When I am making music for games I use goattracker, and it swallows a lot of the memory. I think the soundtrack I have made for “Mancave” is 8k unpacked. So far… When making 4k games I have to work harder with the limitations. Reusing chars and sprites as much as possible so the coder will have a few extra bytes here and there can be a little challenge. But thats whats makes this interesting for me. The challenge.

HBL

Do you have timelines built in to the management of these games?

Rotteroy

Not at all. This is hobby only, and things will be ready when it is ready. In Megastyle we have 2 rules: “#1 : There is no such things as a deadline” and “#2 when you get a deadline look to rule#1”

HBL

Do you actually meet each other at events? (team members)

Rotteroy

Yes we do sometimes. I, Sparkler and Drumtex lives so close that it is 35 minutes by car to get to eachother. We use to visit retro gaming conventions and such together. Also, during summer holidays we are often visiting our home town at the same time, so members who comes from the same place usually hook up then too… We have talked about making a gathering for all guys one day, but we live in Norway, Sweden, Germany and UK so its hard to coordinate.

HBL

How long does it take to create the graphics and music that you create? Is there a set routine that you use?

Rotteroy

Music is mostly made in Goattracker, but time depends on how many tunes and how much memory I have. When we started Mancave, I made title, ingame, game over and highscore after work in a couple of days. But then we decided to have cutscene, game completed and end sequence music… I also try to make melodies that give people a little retro feeling. In Mancave, where the main charakter is a middleaged man who hates to get old and misses his youth, I have made a lot of sid versions of old favourites that I listened to myself back in the days. I think you can find references to Van Halen, Led Zeppelin and Queen among others in the soundtrack. just now it is 12 tunes. Earlier I have found inspiration from “Oliver Onions”, “France Gall”, “Eric Idle” to mention some. My workdisk has very many unreleased tunes to, so my HVSC directory could probably been bigger if I released them…

HBL

Which game you guys have released would you recommend to a first timer in this scene?

Rotteroy

Burgertime’97 or Captain Cloudberry. Burgertime ’97 was based on the Intellivision version, and by listening to feedback from players in forums and databases, many consider this as one of the best Burgertime version on the c64. It gives a great arcade experience. I still get mails from gamers who writes me just to tell me how much they enjoy games. Also for a total newcomer, I think Captain Cloudberry could be the thing. This is a one button game where you fly around in the sky picking up balloons. The gameplay could easily been made for an Ipad with touch screen controller, so I guess most kids from the Ipad generation would find it fun to play.

HBL

Who’s games from back in the back would you same most inspired you and why?

Rotteroy

Im so bad at remembering names, but when I think back there where a couple of developers i remember the name of: The Darling Brothers (Last V8), Shaun Southern (Kikstart), Jeff Minter (hoover Bover), Archer Mclean (Int, Karate) to mention a few. Games made by these coders was often very enjoyable, and I returned to playing them day after day… I must mention Karl Hørnell too… Even if some of his games are very simple half basic games, some of his lates works is very very good. Karl was, and still is, a very good c64 developer, and if you know his story from when he was a kid who coded c64 games for Players and how his life has developed untill today, You cant be anything else than impressed… And to top it all, when he returned to his roots and c64 game developing last year my day was done!!…. I was also into demos that time, and I was very inspired by coders like Sodan to mention one… He also did the amazing Crackers Revenge game. My interest in the demo scene has strangely dropped a lot by the years. Today I can watch a demo if it is recorded on youtube, but I never download and watch on my emulator or real hardware

HBL

What games company from back then was your fav and why? (Bitmap, Sensible, Gremlin and so on)

Rotteroy

I was a huge fan of the games from Imagine and Mastertronic. I had a lot of Mastertronic titles, but that was because they where cheap.

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