Assent of Everiss
Your Spectrum, December 1983
Picture a giant office-cum-bedroom
infested with 50 computer terminals atop plush desks and scattered
higgledly-piggledy around the expensive, carpeted floor. The
machines are powerful Sage IVs. It's here games are developed,
to be squirted down to the host machines - such as the Spectrum.
It's a jungle where Imagine employs close on 100 programmers,
technicians, artists and musicians. It's even home of games
whizzkid Eugene Evans.
Bruce Everiss (right) is a 26 year-old smooth, silk-suited
micro-veteran and he's Imagine's operations director. We asked
him what's coming along Spectrum-wise. "We've got three
more titles on the way over the next month or so. Cosmic
Cruiser's a space game and BC Bill's a cutie game
about a prehistoric guy who lives in a cave and has to catch
his food. The thing that both games have in common is very
good graphics and sound."
So what's the best-seller on Spectrum? "Well, it's always
the latest title. We've just brought out Pedro and
it seems to be getting into some people's charts. Overall,
I think Arcadia is the biggest. By a large margin most
are for the Spectrum, but this situation is changing as the
How about the QL? "When there are lots of QLs out there,
obviously it will be natural for us to write for it - because
we've got lots of 68000 experience. In fact, we do have products
we could adapt for the QL - but we'll have to wait and see.
There's no point in letting the cat out of the bag."
Pedro was the first Imagine games cassette to feature
a jazzy new inlay card and apparently the presentation's going
to get better all the time. "A large number of small
things came together at once. They've got screen photographs
and a game description. We've gone to fifth colour on the
front side (vastly improving the appearance and adding a fourth
flap). They've got a programmer profile, company profile and
very extensive playing instructions. All sorts of things.
Everything that anybody could possibly put together on an
insert card - we've done it."
Talk switched to the 'first you see it, then you don't' price
reduction to under the £4 barrier. What kind of planning
went into such nervous pitching? "We knew that dropping
the price would increase sales, but what we hadn't bargained
for was the industry reaction - which was universally unfavourable,
from both the distributors and other software houses. The
feeling was that if we did do it, it would upset the marketplace
to such a degree that it would put many smaller software houses
out of business.
"What we're concerned with is giving the customers value
for money. The average price of a computer game in this country
is £7.20, and if you look at Valhalla and Alchemist
it's fairly obvious where the value for money is. On the other
hand, it's now possible to write a fairly simple game in a
week - which obviously you could sell for £1.99, or
whatever. That's what Mastertronic are doing." So, what
about Imagine's next range of games - the Megagames - at around
the £30 mark?
"Looking at Bandersnatch, which is coming out
sometime in the Summer, it's already beginning to look like
it's going to contain three man-year's work. We've got 17
people working on this project - and at £30, there's
going to be so much there that it's still going to be great
Anybody in the know at Imagine gets a little cagey when you
ask about the so-called Megagames - and even Everiss isn't
saying that much more. "The thing about it is that the
game is so big and complex and involved - and it contains
several new areas, things that have never been done before.
We aren't going to release it until it's perfect - the only
analogy that we can use without giving the game away is that
it's going to make anything that's gone before look like Noughts
"No-one's even seen them yet! They're so secret that
most people at Imagine know nothing about them. Even the people
who are working on the project only know sufficient to do
their own piece of the work - we give them information on
a 'need to know' basis. What we're worried about is somebody
else finding out what we're doing and emulating it."
That was interesting because much of Imagine's business now
seems fraught with secrecy and intrigue - perhaps it's the
price of success. For instance, there's the Marshall Cavendish
affair where Imagine was going to produce games to accompany
Input magazine. Eventually the project was dropped.
Everiss counters rumours that they were late and the product
wasn't up to scratch.
"The idea was that each fortnight it would have a game
on it for several machines. But the original concept was that
these should be average run-of-the-mill games. As we started
developing the games, we put them out to be play-tested -
which involves comparing them against the reviewer's favourite
game. So the games were enhanced and enhanced and so on, so
that in the end they became so good that it wasn't worth our
while putting them though Marshall Cavendish."
Imagine has been active in trying to stamp out software piracy.
The company mailed out a letter to magazines asking them to
be careful not to publicise or advertise any offending material.
Did it work? "I think that some of the weeklies are filtering
their adverts more thoroughly and the Advertising Execs have
acted quite strongly to support our point. The trouble is
that we only have so much time and money to put into things
- and we can't spend all our time trying to wipe out piracy.
"We've done as much as we can. The Guild of Software
Houses won't let us join, if we were in GOSH then obviously
we could all work together - sort out common problems. But
I think we're too big for them. I think that they want to
keep it as a small, mutual backslapping organisation really."
Finally, there was the question of the new company's logo
- is Imagine being renamed?
"Ah yes, the Creative Technology Group Ltd. That's the
name for the overall organisation that we're intending to
put in with Imagine Software. It's the name of a company that
Imagine would eventually become. That's the concept - but
it's not actually put through yet."