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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.)