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Sandbox: Curious Chip meets creators of Dizzy

We’re a little, teeny, tiny bit excited about this. We absolutely loved the game Dizzy when we were younger, and we got to chat to the Oliver Twins about what made them fall in love with games and what motivated them to start making their own. They also gave us some brilliant words of wisdom for all of us when it comes to making our own games. Read on…

The Oliver Twins

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and what you do…

We, are Philip & Andrew Oliver, often called the Oliver Twins.  We’ve been making games for around 35 years.  We currently own and run, together with Richard Smithies, a games studio called Radiant Worlds in Leamington Spa, (U.K.) making a large F2P game called SkySaga. It’s a cartoon style online UGC game where players explore and create in a rich fantasy world.

What or who first inspired you to make games?

We got into games as teenagers back in the early 80’s, we found this new form of entertainment quite mind-blowing. We were only looking at games like Pong, Space Invaders and Pac-Man, but we just wanted to know how they worked and by buying various home computers, we worked out how these were created and really wanted to make our own games.

PacMan

What was the first game you ever made? And what did it feel like once you made it?

Every demo, or early game was just another learning step, so it’s difficult to name one as the starting point. However, several games stand out as step changes. We wrote Strategy at age 15 Strategy (renamed Gambit when published) that won a national TV competition, and that gave us a huge boat in confidence. Two years later and after many relatively unsuccessful published games we created Super Robin Hood, our first Codemasters game that went straight to number 1 the charts, earning us over £10k for 6 weeks work. We’ve made so many games, some more successful than others, but we always enjoyed the experience, learned new things and this drove us to make better games!

You’ve made a lot of amazing games but which one meant the most to you and why?

We’ve made over 100 games, each has it’s own merits, but highlights must include:

Dizzy (1987) (and it’s many sequels and spin-offs): It’s still so fondly remembered by so many 30 years after its first release. Many people in the industry today say this game that inspired them to learn the skills required to take up game development as a career including Notch – creator of Minecraft.

Grand Prix Simulator (1987): The first Codemasters car racing games, and a run away sales success.

Glover (1998): The start of a log running relationship with Hasbro that include the PlayStation Action Man games and Frogger 2.

Fusion Frenzy (2001):  The world’s first Xbox game and whilst rushed, it had some really fun multiplayer party games.

Dead To Rights Retribution (2010): An extremely fun 3rd person shooter, with some amazing levels.

Puss In Boots (2011): Captured the amazing visual qualities of the movie, in a really entertaining game.

SkySaga (2017): Our latest game is just incredible in it’s size, scope and ambition. The art, technology, design are all at the forefront of gaming as a service.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt along the way?

Never take things for granted. Always do your best and ensure that you keep a good team happy and motivated, and remember; there’s always new things to learn and achieve.

Who inspires you today?

In games, it’s more about teams like Naughty Dog, with incredible games like Uncharted.

But when it comes to individuals, we have to say that Elon Musk has taken over from Steve Jobs, in the ability to use technology to make the world better and inspire people.

What one thing do you think the next generation of games designers need to know?

Ensure you play and analyze lots of different style games. And remember, if everyone is playing a certain game, it clearly has an attraction. It may not appeal to you, but you should take a look and work out why it appeals to its audience. Analyse and deconstruct its success factors.

Top 3 games (not including your own):

1 – Pac-Man (1980) : It was the first character driven game and opened the appeal of video games to a much wider audience. It was the main game to inspire us to make video games. It was a real honour to be responsible for creating the 30th Anniversary Pac-Man game – Pac-Man World 3.

2 – Elite (1985) :  It was massively ahead of it’s time in technology and design – featuring 3D graphics – albeit wire-frame. It immersed players into a massive space trading and combat game all written in just 20k of memory!

3 – Mario Kart (1992): It’s just so much fun! It has massive appeal and has kept every iteration growing, whilst keeping true to its original design principles.

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