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Jeff Minter

The legendary Llama master on retro gaming, assorted beasties and his new software synth Neon for Xbox 360

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So what's your ongoing fascination with beasties like llamas?

Jeff Minter: I always liked beasties - and I always liked games - so it seemed sensible to put them together. There'll always be beastie references in whatever I do - it depends on what platform I'm working on.

Having produced so many of them (Trip-A-Tron, Psychedelia etc), what's the fascination with light synthesisers?

Jeff Minter: I just always wanted to have one and no-one was making them. I first had the idea for Neon in 1990, but the tech didn't exist for a modular visual synthesiser, the hardware wasn't up to it: now it is. It's very compact, very efficient and produces fantastic visuals. It takes things to a new level; others will look at it and they'll have to raise their game. Plus, great visualization software will follow, which is good for everyone, whatever platform.


What was your best game and platform?

Jeff Minter: Ancipital on the Commodore 64 - although Llamatron was the most universally accessible. Platform-wise, I enjoyed the Atari Jaguar - it was new and experimental, a big step up on anything else around at the time.

You have a reputation for picking lost causes when it comes to hardware (Jaguar, the ill-fated Nuon console). Why is that?

Jeff Minter: I work on things that interest me. Nuon arose because some friends from Atari were starting up and asked if I wanted to get involved - to have a part in the chip design, which I'd never done before. I had other offers from larger companies, but I chose that. I'm not motivated by the most money and Microsoft isn't exactly a lost cause...

Any current game you would have liked to work on?

Jeff Minter: Katamari Damacy (insane Japanese PlayStation 2 game). It's superb, full of humour and totally unique. I would have put the right 'baah' sound in though. At the moment, if you roll over a sheep it makes a goat sound - that really annoys me!

Any advice for would-be farmers and/or games developers?

Jeff Minter: Make stuff you love, don't watch the market. Games development won't always be about big business: now that distribution is online, smaller publishers and platforms have a chance. You don't have to be hooked up to a big company to succeed.

...And Microsoft?

Jeff Minter: I don't work for them - I work with them...

Has this interview whetted your appetites for more Minter madness? Make sure you check out our Xbox 360 sister site in the next couple of days, where they promise to serve some intriguing surprises and delights and lashings more Jeff Minter goodness.

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