Martyn Brown Co Founder Team 17

 

 

2016-03-09_0852_001Originally founded as 17-Bit Software and later named Team17,

Team 17 created game such Alien Breed and Worms.

Martyn Brown is the Co Founder of Team 17.

Interview Peter Ward


10569149_10154000801275477_883422023_nWell, oddly enough I wanted to be a chemist. I had always been fascinated about games and technology but never considered I’d be able to do that for a living – and besides in your teens you don’t really think that way. School tried to convince me that an office job or in a bank was for me, but I’d got other ideas. I went to technical college and had a course on electrical engineering which had low level programming too and things went on from there. I went to work as an assistant in a games shop in Leeds in the mid 80’s and ended up staying there. I’d had a game launched in 1984 on the Speccy (which I did with a pal from Wakefield College) but I still didn’t consider that was going to be any kind of career any soon.


When I realised games were for me…

I think this was a realisation after working with a lot of talented people; Rico Holmes, Andreas Tadic, Allister Brimble doing demos. We loved the Amiga and looked at a lot of the games being released and realised we could surely do better than the 16 colour Atari ports and underwhelming technical performance. It was full on from there…


2016-03-09_094917bit to Team17…

17bit was formed in the mid-late 80’s and I curated a PD collection as well as helping release own stuff and encouraging/working with Allister & Rico in particular. In late 1990 the idea to bring everyone together really took shape and 17Bit became Team17.


2016-03-09_0858Team17 role…

Initially it was a bit of everything, bringing the team together, directing & co-designing elements of the titles, seeing them through to production, kind of like the hub/glue that made it stick. I also looked for and discussed new titles and talent.


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Click here for Allister Brimble’s Interview

Regarding Allister…

It’s fair to say that I’d already got a great relationship with Allister ahead of Team17 being formed and it was just natural that I’d want to keep working with him. I took a decision very early on to produce 1meg only games and use half the memory on audio effects and music to complete a really strong audio-visual impact in our games. Allister worked like a trojan on our titles and took immense professional pride in his work – and he also worked with great friends, who are still that to this day.  We’re still in touch now and again although our paths don’t really cross project wise.


Funny and frustrating…

2016-03-09_0854We had an awful lot of fun at Team17, some totally hilarious evenings and crazy things went on and it’s hard to pin point one thing in particular and there are many I can’t really detail in public. Frustrating wise, was the end of the amiga as a viable commercial consideration in the mid 90s, the piracy that made it borderline worth it at all and then the dark ages of the games industry mid 90s to mid 2000’s when lots of studios closed and it was very very hard work to thrive. Lots of good people got hurt in that time.


Favourite game at Team17…

I’m lucky to have worked on quite a few good titles, the early ones were great fun as it was all so new and wild west and felt so free but it was also amazing to work on Worms too which went stellar.


2016-03-09_0914_0012016-03-09_0916Unreleased games…

This happens at most games companies, sometimes the concepts just don’t work out. Especially in latter days when the cost of publishing/marketing outweighs the decision to develop. Its not always possible to just make good games, despite everyone’s best efforts. King of Thieves had great art but just didn’t really work as a game, Witchwood just couldn’t really get going and Battle Rally wasn’t the game we wanted due to prolonged publisher interference.


2016-03-09_0902Amiga Power…

Too much was made of this, just differing views.


Leaving…

It was tough but I think it was time for both myself and the company to move on and try different things, it happens, people need new challenges and companies sometimes need a reboot. I’ve not regretted it and Team17 themselves are doing well. There’s no plans to work directly with Team17 again but then again, we’re an independent company self publishing right now.


2016-03-09_0900Currently…

I’m working with a great bunch of people on casual mobile titles (sports RPG’s) and it’s a great vibe. Millions of people play our games and the audience/industry is very different from the past. We don’t really have much to do with corporate nonsense these days (a bunch of us founded a studio for activision which was frustrating in the end). I understand people like the old times, small teams (although thats where we’re at) but times move on. I think there are still very good small indie titles being developed and quality console stuff. I don’t like overly cynical f2p mobile stuff but then the world is a very different place with the smartphones out there.


Favourites…

I’ve probably put the most time into the Civ games, but also loved mass effect series. I don’t really have the time these days to commit to larger games. I tend to check things out and tinker with games, but post kids, marriage, running a business, my game time is heavily fragmented. I liked my Xbox 360, PS3 and like the PS4, I wasn’t massively into the 16bit consoles and I wouldnt call myself a retrogamer – although I love my mame cab in my kitchen 🙂2016-03-09_0852 2016-03-09_0857