Shaun McClure - Imagitec Design Jul 16, 2015 10:33:59 GMT
Post by The Laird on Jul 16, 2015 10:33:59 GMT
Just a bit of background first, how did you get your start in the industry?
It was the typical story in the early eighties – my mate taught himself machine code and so I was the designated artist. We worked on a Spectrum game called “Excalibur - Sword of kings” - yeah, lame I know, but I was 14 and my mate was 15. I designed the game itself, then worked out the graphics on graph paper, not having a decent graphics program at the time. We thought we’d be rich, but I think we earn’t about 60 quid each in royalties. But in the middle of it, I’d managed to get Melbourne Draw to do graphics on, was sending out demo cassettes and I started to get commissions. I was also doing free work for indie studios, with the promise of a credit, which I could use as a reference. I basically built up from that until I joined a tiny dev team, in a place called Wath, called Wise Owl Software that were doing games for Gremlin and Ocean. (amusingly they changed their name to H2o and then went into liquidation).
Do you remember when you first heard about the Jaguar and what was your initial reaction to it?
Oh god – another machine we have to cater for!
When did you first come into contact with it and what did you think of it?
That was when I was working at Imagitec Design. To be honest I was a bit unimpressed at first. The Jaguar logo looked a bit cheesy and the controller was chunky and didn’t look that exciting – I think if it had a cooler design, maybe black, with glowing lights and so on, it would have looked better, but it looked cheap and nasty.
Tell me about your involvement with the Jaguar, what games did you work on etc.?
I worked on Bubsy, Raiden, Tempest 2000 and I think I did some of the art in Dino Dudes too. Oh and Brutal Sports football for Teque London.
You worked on some of the very first games for the Atari Jaguar in Raiden and Dino Dudes. What was it like working with the Jag and its graphics chip that was so far ahead of anything else out there at the time, did it remove a lot of the limits you had previously encountered?
Yes it was a god send! I didn’t have to fit everything into one universal palette – bliss!
Speaking of Raiden, it was criticised by some of the press for being old hat and just another “quick and dirty port” while other complained about the large status panel at the side. What are your thoughts on this?
This is a questions for the programmers really. I was working from home at the time and I just had a list of art requirements. I didn’t actually see it playing on the Jaguar until a couple of years ago! But quick and dirty sounds about right, the company I was freelancing for (Imagitec Design) often had those “Quickie” jobs…
One of the other games you are listed as having worked on is Space Junk for the Falcon and Jaguar CD. It was a very ambitious project with lots of great ideas and digitised graphics, what challenges did you have working on that and what became of it?
Oh that was it! But I am afraid this is another question for the programmers – I’m just a lowly artist. We generally made the graphics as high end as possible, and reduced colours if we had to for machines that needed it.
Were there any other unreleased Jaguar games that you worked on?
Well, none for the Jag that I can recall but I do remember Gremlin were going to buy the rights to “Rollerball” who’s tag line was “it never was a game”, so that was quite apt when it got canned. We basically couldn’t make a game of it – the game in the film doesn’t work in “real” life. And there was a West Life game I got put on once (yeah, I know, I know), which was basically a quiz game that “rewarded” you with videos of the band, and music, and so on, then for some reason we were told we no longer had the rights to use any music or videos or even photos of the band. I had to go through replacing photos with caricatures, which I’m pretty terrible at, until one of the directors realised that we were flogging a dead horse.
Ahh…the fun I’ve had over the years!
What was the Jaguar like to work with? Good and bad points!
Well as an artist, it was exactly like that of any other machine except we had much more colours to play with! Unfortunately most of the titles I worked on, and in fact, most of the titles that came out for the Jaguar, were cartoony, and its difficult to show off the power of the graphics when drawing simplistic cartoony graphics (incidentally I had no say in the style of the games).
Can you tell me any interesting stories about your involvement with the machine?
Erm, well I think someone died in the shady looking Sun tan parlour next door when we were working late one night on a Jaguar game (it was a disguised brothel!).
Are you a gamer and do you have any retro consoles that you still play with?
I’ve found myself travelling about quite a bit recently in life – I spent 4 years living in America and I had to get rid of all my old consoles before I went. Then I came back, so I miss them now! I still play games on emulators though. I like PC games, I love first person shooters and I’ve recently revisited old games such as Civilisation and Dungeon Master.
So do you have a favourite game for the Jaguar and why that game?
Aliens Vs Predator, mainly because I love FPS games. It was actually quite a flawed game in many ways, but it was the best of the bunch I have played.
In your opinion why do you think the Jaguar was a commercial failure?
It was supposed to be next gen, but there was no evidence to the lay person to show that at the time. I think we only worked on it because Atari were pretty desperate for titles for it. Most people in the games industry wrote it off very early sadly and stuck to the more mainstream consoles.
What do you think Atari could have done differently?
Paid serious money to some legendary teams to produce a few blockbuster titles and give them away with the machine. No offence to Jeff Minter, but he will never be a next gen programmer – endlessly churning out psychedelic takes on old arcade games does not make the Jaguar look futuristic and cool.
Did you find it was more difficult working within Atari’s guidelines compared to other companies?
Well, they all had their quirks – there are strict guide lines on graphics – no overt religious images, such as crosses and so on – which you don’t think about until you have to do a graveyard scene… I don’t think any of them were particular difficult – they all wanted their games to be special, and they made you work hard to get the best they could out of you.
Why do you think the Jaguar should be remembered? (or not as the case may be!)
I don’t understand a lot of the rampant Jaguar love from Atari fans – I suspect it is like most nostalgia things – its more sentimental than logical.
Why do you think the Jaguar gets such a bad press these days and do you think it is justified?
Well, it was a failure and a lot of the games weren’t exactly stunning (speaking as someone that developed on them) and it just looked naff in general to me, so in many ways I can understand it.
You can visit Shaun McClure's own website HERE!
This interview was conducted by Kieren Hawken and is not to be shared elsewhere without strict permission.