Mike Lamb Interview by Peter Ward
What did you want to do when you were at school for a career and what was your first job?
Astronaut, footballer, secret agent. My first job was picking tomatoes in a green house
The Commodore PET was your first computer is that your favourite computer? or do you have a different favourite such as when you owned a Spectrum?
I liked the proper keyboard. Even now I hate laptops for the same reason. I guess my favorite retro was the Amstrad.
When and how did you to get into game industry?
My friend’s brother wrote Galaxians for Artic. He made a bunch of money of it – deservedly it was a bloody good version. I thought I could do something like that so I ordered a Spectrum.
I understand you created a pool game whilst at University as your first game and you had several cash offers but opted for royalties did you make good money from this?
Yeah it worked out all right. I was making more than my dad before I left university.
I understand when making Steve Davis snooker he got more royalties than you do you have his picture on a dart board at home?
That’s the way it goes. No hard feelings.
Whats was your favourite CDS game you made?
Snooker was better than Pook
Our you still in touch with Giles Hunter of CDS?
Not really. He’s a good bloke though.
I understand Gary Bracey(Interviewed for RGM) started the same time as you and some other staff who was your best friend/friends at Ocean?
It was a good craic at Ocean for a while. Gary hired a lot of people at the same time. We were all new to Manchester so we made friends quickly. I was good friends with a couple of Glaswegians – John Meegan and James Higgins.
Gary done a great job with driving Ocean on upwards this must have been great place to work?
Ocean had some great licenses, but the games were letting them down. They wanted a bigger in-house facility so they had more control over the quality. There was a bit of tension between some of the older staff and us new guys, but for the most part it was fine.
What was your first day at Ocean like and who made you feel welcome?
I met John Meegan. I wasn’t used to a Glasgow acent and I couldn’t understand him. There’s only so many times you can ask someone to repeat themselves so I ended up nodding along to everything he said.
Your first project at Ocean?
What is the funniest thing and most frustrating thing that happened to you at Ocean?
Ocean was a laugh a minute. I don’t really want to embarass anyone (or myself) though
What is your favourite game you have worked on during your time at Ocean?
Probably Robocop on the Gameboy. I got to make adapt the Ocean dev system with Steve LaVache – it was a bit of a change from making games.
I understand that you done the Spectrum versions of Robocop and Batman the Movie might I add I love and still play :-); Please tell me what the best part of making the game and the most frustrating part?
Best part of Robocop was the way the game came together. Everything more or less worked first time – which is just as well since we had a tight deadline. It was great that everyone expected Operation Wolf would be Christmas no 1 and we came in and pipped them.
Did you get on set of these movies or meet any of the cast?
We got to go to Pinewood for Batman. Sadly filming had finished by then and we were looking at sets.
You left Ocean in early 90’s was it a tough decision to leave and head off to a USA?
Not really. It was something I always wanted to do ever since I wanted to be an astronaut.
Would you ever like to reunite the old Ocean team for a new project and are you in touch with many of the old team?
We’d never do it because we’re all busy with other stuff, but we should be forced into it for 6 months sometime. I’ve no idea if the game would turn out any good but we’d have a laugh.
It must of been exciting to move to the states and scary? Was it a big culture shock working at Malibu?
Malibu hired a lot of UK programmers, so we were comfortable
You made one of my favourite boxing games Evander Holyfield must have been challenging to make did you meet the man himself?
You setup Leftfield did you enjoy being your own boss?
Less than I thought I would. I didn’t mind being my own boss but it’s not so easy with other people.
What was your favourite game you made and least favourite and why?
Probably Excitebike 64. I always was comfortable with maths and there was quite a bit of physics involved. We had a good team working on it too.
What happened to the unreleased versions of Slam N Jam for saturn and ps1?
I think they were released. I remember being in a game store and the clerk was running them down compared to the polygon engine competitors 🙁
Tell us what your current working on?
I sold out of Left Field after Backyard Football. I was planning on retiring but I ended up writing software for online poker players.
I enjoy some modern games but feel more love for the smaller teams of the past I feel the fun factor has gone in modern games and are more like movie productions; games can be bug ridden now as patches can be made. in the past we didn’t have updates and in app purchases.
What is your view of our industry now?
I’m not really into games so much. There’s a bit of a chocolate factory effect about the industry for me – i.e. the workers get sick of candy.
But I’d agree some of the planning you need for bigger projects takes the fun out. There are some nice mobile games but everyone I talk to making them is having a hard time. It’s very hit-driven with 90% of what is released not making money.
Here are some questions about retro games:
My favourite computer was my Amiga and my favourite console the Megadrive do you have a favourite?
Amstrad for the proper keyboard and decent monitor. Nintendo 64 for the controller.
What is your favourite retro game?
Do you still game on the current consoles if so whats your favourite game?
Mario 64. I still play it on emulator occassionally. My kid is getting into it too.
Whats the worst game you have ever played?
Probably one of the early Megadrive carts. I mean we had some rubbish on the Spectrum but it only cost a fiver for a game. Those early Megadrive games were really bad and expensive.
Finally what game or feature would you like to see on Retrogamesmaster in the future?
Has anyone made a decent web-based emulator? Also a assembler/debugger so we could hack around with the games.