A few weeks ago Terry Mancey joined the fun in the STOS Facebook group. He is most well known for the game Steg the Slug. After playing this amazing platform puzzler, I wanted to learn more about its creator. I contacted Terry and he agreed to an interview. Check it out!
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2) The coding begins
3) History with computer(games)
4) Steg the Slug enters the picture
5) The Oliver Twins
7) Leaving the games industry
9) Current activities
10) Favorite game
12) What's next?
13) The Atari scene
14) Last words
1) Who is Terry Mancey?
I live in Devon with my partner Sharon who I have been with for 23 years. We have a daughter Laura and I have two step-sons Sam and Alex along with 4 grandchildren aged 1, 2, 5 and 6.
Up until 1998 I worked in the games industry. In recent years I have worked on changing the landscape as we know it with The Times Newspaper, BoardPad and Brave, a web browser with your interests at heart.
2) When did you know you wanted to become a programmer? Did you study it in school? How did you stumble into this business?
When I was 11 years old (I am now 47) my parents bought me my first computer from WH Smith, a Sinclair ZX81 along with a cassette recorder and a 16K RAM pack held on to the ZX81 by velcro, thus called the Wobble pack.
My first program, a Fruit Machine simulator, was typed in line by line from a computer magazine and not long after running my first program the RAM pack wobbled and I lost everything.
During these early years of computers my teachers were not very supportive however my parents believed in what I was doing and the rest is history.
3) Were you already a computer (game) fan before you started coding for a living? What is your history with computers?
I was a computer game fan for many years before my first games were released by Scetlander in 1990. I was enjoying games such as Chucky Egg, Tranz Am and Knight Lore.
I got my first computer a ZX81 in 1981, a ZX Spectrum in 1982 and the ZX Spectrum +3 in 1987 where I taught myself Z80 assembly language., followed by the Atari ST in 1988 where myself and a friend Kevin Hearson, taught ourselves 68000 assembly language.
4) Steg the Slug must be your biggest ST game. I noticed this game was available on many platforms and for each platform a different programmer was credited. What exactly was your part in this game? Can you tell us a bit about the history of this project?
I sent a demo reel to Codemasters via snail mail and after a few months Paul Ranson who was a product manager contacted me to see if I was interested in two up and coming projects a shoot-em up or Steg the Slug.
I chose the latter, and working from the specification which was written on a single A4 sheet of paper, along with mock-ups of the 10 levels, I worked closely with an artist and a musician to define the very first version of the game which was then converted to other platforms.
5) You also worked on Dizzy Panic. Have you ever met the Oliver Twins? Tell us about this project.
I never did meet the Oliver Twins at Codemasters however I have connected up with them on LinkedIn. I had a bet with Paul Ranson that I could write both the Atari ST and Amiga versions of this game within 2 weeks. If I remember correctly, I won :-)
6) Looking at your impressive resumé, you have worked on more games for different systems. What games are you most proud being part of and why?
The games I am most proud of is Steg the Slug as it pushed the hardware to its limit (including fully animated backgrounds) and the vast range of educational software helping children reach the required standards in each of their subjects.
7) Why did you leave the games industry?
In 1999 I decided to leave the games industry so that I could return to Devon to be with family, unfortunately the closest work for the games industry was in Bristol where I lived for nearly two years and I took the decision to move on.
8) Have you met 'famous' indviduals in the business? Are you still in touch with your old team mates?
I have connected up with old team mates via LinkedIn but we do not keep in touch on a regular basis.
9) What keeps you busy these days? Professionally and in your spare time.
I am busy nowadays enjoying the theatre, cinema, fishing, dining out and spending time with the family.
10) Are you a gamer? And what is your all time favorite game?
I rarely play games nowadays but when I do have time, I love nothing more than to play a game of FIFA.
11) You are very active in the STOS Facebook group. Do you feel the itch to pick up the Atari ST again and start doing something creative on this classic system? ;-)
I would love to go back to STOS Basic and 68000 assembly language however right now with other commitments, I just do not have the time, but I hope in the near future that this will change.
12) Is there still something you really like to accomplish in life?
From being young I have always wanted to learn how to fly and to get a private pilot's licence which give me something I have always wanted to accomplish in life.
13) What do you think about the Atari ST scene of today? Do you still follow it a bit?
Only recently when I heard of the STOS Facebook page did I start to follow the scene again. It is great to see and hear from familiar faces.
14) Do you have any last words of wisdom?
I decry the current tendency to seek patents on algorithms. There are better ways to earn a living than to prevent other people from making use of one’s contributions to computer science - Donald Knuth
15) Terry, before I leave, please tell me ... What are Tyungunz? ;-)
I have reached out to Paul Ranson for an answer to this :-) and I will send an update once he replies...
Thank you for your time, Terry. All the best and hope to hear from you again in the STOS group! ;-)
Knight Lore - one of the biggest games on the Speccy, created by company 'Ultimate', which later became 'Rare'
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