Following the review of Richard Welsh’s program, FRANK THE FLEA, in the April issue, we have received quite a few ‘home grown’ programs for review. Maybe something is starting...
Quite a few people shared our view that Frank The Flea was an interesting, value for money game — despite the fact that the review clearly stated that copies were only available direct from Megasoft on payment of £1.00 plus post and packing, Auntie Aggie fielded some twenty five orders in her department. Not bad going for a brand new software house!
Conversations with SIMON GOODWIN who lives in TECH TIPS and with DEREK BREWSTER our adventure reviewer set the old cogs whirring — both Simon and Derek quite often receive ‘home grown’ programs in their mailbags despatched from CRASH Towers, and every now and again some thing worthy of a closer look pops up.
Running a small software house when you’re on your own isn’t easy — as the interview with Stewart Green of Data Design Systems in the May issue revealed. There’s so much to do: actually writing the program isn’t the end of the process by any means — there’s inlays to produce, duplication to arrange, sales to make and, hopefully, cash to bank!
The whole software industry first began with Do-It-All-Yourself outfits, often operating from the the Front Room where all the duplication and packaging went on and early ZX Microfairs were full of folks selling their own home-produced wares.
Some of these people have made their money, left the software marketplace and gone on to pastures new. Others have carried on, forming proper businesses, hiring staff and getting bigger and better. But, in a way, the market has turned full circle now, and it is dominated by large commercial concerns who produce expensive products backed with large advertising budgets and professional sales teams, dealing with the High Street shops and distributors.
It’s not easy to break into selling your own software today — and with the advent of large companies who work to commercial margins there’s almost certainly quite a few decent programs out there that only ever get sold to friends, relatives and people in the street.
We thought it would be a nice idea to give wider exposure to some of the up and coming software authors who have yet to get a game published on a fully commercial basis, and who knows — one day there might even be scope for a budget price compilation of the best of the little proggies that never quite make it to market.
Derek Brewster gets a lot of Quilled programs in his post, and regularly receives letters from readers asking how to go about writing adventure games, and the design of a good adventure game for the Spectrum is a regular topic in SIGNPOST. By the time you read this, our beloved Dec Martened Editor will have zoomed up the motorway to persuade Derek to put together a feature on designing adventure games and programming them — either straight from the keyboard or via The Quill, Graphic Adventure Creator or another suitable utility. Would be adventure writers, look out for that one!
On the TECH TIPS front, Simon Goodwin reckons the range of ‘serious’ software in the shops is severely limited by commercial considerations. There’s not much money to be made selling specialist material through the conventional and he feels that there must be lots of utility software out in the wide world that is worthy of a larger audience. He’ll be explaining the type of ‘minority interest’ utility software that could be covered in TECH TIPS next issue, so if you have a whizzo routine that serves a useful purpose (other than Centigrade to Fahrenheit or hex to decimal converters and so on) Simon would be interested to hear from you.
Don’t panic as you read this! We’re certainly not going to break with tradition and start publishing listings — but if you have any ideas on how we should go about encouraging some less major programs out of the woodwork, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Next month in HOME GROWN SOFTWARE we’ll take a closer look at the programs we’ve already received.