Heavy on the Mockery
Your Sinclair, July 1986

There has to be something devilish about the men who could come up with a game as fiendish as Heavy On The Magick. Devilishly clever at any rate. To find out we told YS's roving reporter, Phil South, to go to hell. Fortunately, he just took the train to Dudley where he met the men to whom hex means rather more than just code - Gargoyle's Greg Foilis and Royston Carter.

How long's Gargoyle been going -- and why Gargoyle?

Greg: We've been in existence for about two and a half years. Roy and I have been computing now for about 17 years... We were in a research installation doing commerical software production. Which was fine, but we were never going to be rich. We thought we'd try something else. So far this hasn't worked... because we're still not rich. But I could say we're happier...

Roy: It'd be a lie...

Greg: ...but I could say it. The reason we're called Gargoyle is because, believe it or not, we were going to write for the Dragon. And there's a French version of the Dragon called La Gargoyle. Then we decided not to write for the Dragon, but we were stuck with the name by then.

It's always been our intention to write business... And then it's all off to Rio and damn the computer business, I think! You, me, and Ronnie Biggs.

So which of you is into Aleister Crowley?

Greg: I've been known to be. That's me, from a long while back. When I was eighteen or nineteen... about three years ago... (cough) ... sorr-ree... About nineteen years ago, in fact, and on and off since then. I was a member of something called the Birmingham Occult Society, can you believe that? All these people dressed like Benny in Crossroads doing invocations... "ooo, Astarott!" (chortle).

Roy: It was twenty-one years ago you were eighteen.

Greg: Look, it doesn't matter! (Ahem) Stop splitting hairs... not that you can. (Indicates Roy's expanding forehead area.) Hmm, yes, the occult and all things associated with that, Cabalah, Tarot... I always wanted to be really evil, but I haven't graduated as yet. I'm just a little bit evil.

So how do you go about squeezing 255 rooms into a Spectrum?

Greg: What we actually do is we lie. There are only 48 rooms with locked doors at the end that you can't get past. No, seriously... actually, that's not a bad thought. We always compress everything as much as we can.

There's a strong sense of individual style running through your games; an identity. How did it evolve?

Greg: There will be a certain amount of similarity because it's us doing it. It's like if Mark Knopfler writes three albums you're going to know they're all by Dire Straits. As it is, all our games look like Dire Straits... that's not right is it? Sorry, lost me thread there.

So who draws the pictures then?

Roy: I program, and he does the pictures. Having seen me draw the pictures we decided that Greg had better do them.

Greg: He thought ducks had big ears.

Roy: Only pictures of ducks, I knew real ducks hadn't. It's called artistic expression.

Greg: Well, that's fair enough. With our big figures we can actually do quite a lot, now. So we'll use that approach in some other arcade type games. An arcade game controlling a figure of that size should be quite something.

You're going into arcade games?

Greg: Yes, we're going to produce a new label devoted to arcade games. And they'll be somewhere around the £7.95 mark. Which obviously won't work 'cos all the budget games will be out then, selling for around 22p a copy...

Roy: ...with money back on the cassette.

So you've got some really brilliant ideas?

Greg: We've got some ideas which we don't think have ever been done in arcade games...

Roy: ...which we won't talk about...

Greg: ...which we won't talk about... 'cos we don't want to bring this out till September and somebody might nick 'em.

Roy: We'd certainly nick anybody else's idea.

Greg: The name of the new label...

Roy: ...once again...

Greg: ...we won't tell you that either. But it'll be something really flash like "Good Software", or "Fab Software".

Roy: We wanted to call it Imagine, but somebody said that it'd already been done.

Greg: Yeah, John Lennon did it.

Who did the music in Heavy On The Magick?

Greg: It was actually done by people called Mark Time, who did the music for Fairlight. We had a chat with them, described what the game was about, then they went away and wrote a piece of music -- they now do it on a 128! One of the lads we've just hired, incidentally, has a grade eight in music, which is quite good, apparently. He's also got a certificate for dog handling...

Roy: Can't think of any way we can apply that.

Greg: No... or, Barbara Woodhouse's Dogs game?

Roy: One Man And His Dog - The Game?

Greg: One Man And His Dog! With a foreword by Phil Drabble. Hey, now we're talking aren't we? The Archers, Jack Charlton's Fishing and One Man And His Dog. Great.

Roy: Actually, half the problem with the industry at the moment, is the people who're out for a quick buck rather than trying to...

Greg: What? A quick...?

Roy: A quick buck.

Greg: Ah!

Roy: Hmmm. Rather than trying to write stuff that's good. They see an idea and think they'll have a quick go at it, and discard it if it fails.

So, how do you picture your average Gargoyle Games player?

Greg: He probably thinks Ben Elton's really great. Favourite program's gotta be Saturday Live. Probably kids himself he can really hear the Snap, Crackle, Pop in Rice Krispies.

Roy: You can, can't you?

Greg: Wears striped shirts, that kind of thing. Definitely aimed at the YDM, the Young Downwardly Mobile population. About 14 and over.

Roy: We get calls from sort of 60 years of age downwards...

Greg: Yeah, I wish they'd stop ringing us up, those 60 year olds clogging the line up... "Ello dear, 'ow d'ya turn it on?"

So, you get people who always buy your games, sort of Gargoyle fans?

Greg: That's definitely the case, yes. We get thous... hundr... or... we got four letters. All from my mum, I think. No, we do get people on the phone who are Gargoyle fans, and who'll buy any Gargoyle game that comes out. And I don't blame them! Good games!

What do you think Gargoyle means to people?

Greg: Gargoyle? Er, I think it means... Greg And Roys Games Offer You Limitless Enjoyment.

Roy: Hey, that's not bad, on the spur of the moment.

Greg: No, it wasn't was it? It's wacky, isn't it?

Roy: What do you think Gargoyle means?

Just a minute, I'm interviewing you! I think it's the fact that all your games have a sense of humour.

Greg: Tsk! I dunno, you try and make a serious statement about life! Yes! I would say there's an element of humour in there that sneaks through. That's why we failed as monks, 'cos we couldn't take it seriously. Although Royston did get further than I did because he's already got the hairstyle.

Roy: The undertaking business was a bit of a failure as well.

Greg: I actually had a hearse! Terrific thing, it was, did all of about eight miles an hour. I'd get people walking past me as I was driving. 'Course he never told me that, the guy who sold it me. It still had the rails in it, and some flower petals...

Roy: And a corpse.

Greg: Yeah, we ditched him at a service station. We put him in one of the Forte restaurants, and nobody noticed. All the rest of the people looked like that! Smut was the other thing we wanted to put in our games. But we didn't think it'd go down too well. P'raps we should do it. Depends on Smiths really. No, only kidding.

Have any of you ever been trainspotters?

Greg: That's one of those questions you're not prepared for. My leg was a trainspotter once.

Roy: I think I may have been a trainspotter once, but I never could figure out why. I had an anorak once!

Greg: Yeah, but he couldn't get it off. He's claustrophobic. If ever I want a good left I walk round behind him and put me hands over his eyes... (sounds of chuckling off into the distance)

Footnote: For those of you who are wondering who Aleister Crowley was, let me explain. Ahem! Mr Crowley was a noted occult expert, writer, part-time devil worshipper and morally dubious weirdo of the 1930's. He is singular amongst other such weirdos in that he holds a cult status amongst many people based on his writings on the occult and related matters. (Many thanks to Horace Pipebender of the Castle Rathbone Institute Of Occult Studies.)

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