Interview with Kevin Toms
I'm am glad to introduce you (is it really needed?) Kevin Toms.
In the early 1980s Mr Toms created and coded one of the most innovative products in video games history: Football Manager.
Nothing like it had ever been seen on a computer and since its inception it has represented a milestone in the history of video games. Its influence has extended well beyond the 8-bit computers of the 1980s as we continue to see football management games released across all platforms today. Since his days with addictive games Kevin has worked as a freelancer developing software for several companies. More recently he has come back to writing games and we will take this opportunity to get to know him better.
We would like to learn as much as possible about you and would appreciate if you could add some more detail to our introduction. I think a short bio would be very interesting. For example, when you were born, were you live, are you married, have you got any children, your hobbies etc. (Please don't feel pressured and only give as much detail as you are comfortable with).
Rob sorry, but my private life is something I like to keep private, but I'll answer some things.
I was born in Devon, England. I now live in New Zealand. I love Soccer ( I used to call it Football before I moved here!), Music, enjoying life, trying to have fun, and I also love good comedy.
Although originality was one of its strongest points, Football manager could never have existed without... football. Assuming you are a football fan, which team do you support?
I grew up with a lowly team, Torquay United, more recently I watch the Football Kingz in New Zealand, which play in the Australian Soccer League. So we are always playing Australians.
When you were coding the Football Manager games did you give the teams you liked a better rating or skill level than they perhaps deserved?
No, I always write games without the idea of cheating. For example, I like to be able to still enjoy playing myself, even with the advantage of knowing how it works.
You initially coded FM on the ZX81 and ZX spectrum, were you satisfied with the conversions to other machines like the Commodore 64? Do you think that the people responsible for converting the game to other formats kept faithful to the original?
Some conversions were better than others. From memory, I liked the Spectrum original, Amstrad CPC, and Atari ST. I am proud of the graphics on the BBC Micro, which we looked good even though they were constructed from 2 by 3 teletext graphics!
In Football Manager how are the random and skill elements balanced in percentage terms and how did you achieve this?
I guess this kind of balance is a games designer's art. It is something you have a feel for.
Many of today's gamers grew up on a gaming diet that included titles like Football Manager. Some of us even spent entire summer holidays, hunched over our computers, in darkened rooms, simply waiting for scores to update. Do you think that modern games are missing some of the elements that caused us to do this?
Yes, what you are talking about is good playability. Sometimes games are just good technology, and not good to play.
Time has passed and you're once again creating games, would you ever be tempted to try coding a vintage computer again?
No, because I have continued to develop software and my skills have moved on.
Almost 20 years have passed and people are still playing your Football Manager games either on emulators or on their original computers. Could you ever have foreseen large numbers of people still being interested in 8-bit games and computers?
No, with just one possible warning of that. The original Spectrum game was still selling 10 years after its launch.
You must be aware that a lot of old games can now be downloaded from the internet. Who holds the copyright for your games and how do you feel about them being downloaded ?
Sorry, Rob, no public comment on this one.
How about games today? In a previous interview you said that Championship Manager wasn't your 'kind of game'. What kind and genre of game do you like to play? Also, can you tell us a little more about your next game?
I can't tell you too much yet, except that I have long term plans for it, and it will be written with my style of design. In the meantime, I have created a free utility product for people to run their own round-robin leagues and spice up games or sports they are already playing. It is called Kevin Toms Game Manager. At http://www.kevintoms.com
You're also pretty famous as the only coder to be on the cover of their game, I think this fact will follow you forever. Perhaps you can imagine what I'm about to ask you: how do you look today? Is there a chance that us football manager freaks will see your smile again?
Yes, my current appearance is noticeably different. When I have a good photo, I will put it out there!!
Thanks again for the interview, Kevin. We'll never forget the months passed playing at Football Manager!
Thank you very much!
# - postato da Roberto - 06 March 2007 [17:51]
# - postato da doyle - 30 December 2007 [15:10]
# - postato da albman - 09 January 2008 [00:02]