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Jaz Rignall Interview

CVG, ZZAP and Mean Machines man looks back

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I can't really single out anything in particular I'm proud of - I tend to consider the magazines as a whole, rather than a sum of their parts, because they're put together by a team of people who are responsible for the thing collectively.

I definitely think ZZAP! 64 from 85-87 had a lot going for it, because we had a team that really gelled together, and the first two or so years of Mean Machines were packed full of funny stuff - again, because the team was full of very funny, creative people that loved what they did.

When that team was broken up and the magazine was split into Nintendo and Sega versions, neither were as good as the original because we lost that rapport and crazy competitive humour.

Have you still got Rad Automatic locked away in his basement? MrMoobs

Hehehe. I haven't seen him in a long while! The last time I heard about him he was working on Time Out. Funny, funny guy for sure.

Would it ever be possible to release a 'best of compilation' of classic gaming magazines? (ZZAP!64, C&VG, Complete Guide to Consoles, Mean Machines, Nintendo Magazine System, Mean Machines Sega). JamieO

That would be a cool idea for sure. One day when I have the time, I'd love to put together some kind of online celebration of the olden days where people can come and reminisce on some kind of forum thingy.

Perhaps we could even get some of the original team to contribute, which could be a laff. But I just need to find the time, which I never have 'cos I'm too freakin' busy playing Warcraft...

Do you think modern games are as fun as the older ones, or have production values started to overshadow the gameplay somewhat? - peteuplink

Games have aged badly on the whole - which to me is a really good thing, because if the games were the same as they were 20 years ago, I wouldn't be playing them any more because I would have gotten bored of them.

That evolutionary process is key to keeping things fresh and interesting. Comparing today's games with ones from years ago is a little bit apples to oranges. But I think you can sort of judge them on a similar level by simply saying the best games from 20 years ago kept me enthralled and playing all night, and the best games today do exactly the same.

The technology might change, but the emotional experience and sheer sense of fun is the same as ever, and I'm really glad about that. And people still make really crap games, just like they did back then. The more things change, the more they stay the same, it seems.

In regards production values - do we need a huge, rendered intro story? Do we need licensed music? Some people like it. Some people don't. But if the game itself is really cool and fun, then who cares? That's what it's all about at the end of the day - the game itself. We can argue whether the window dressing is necessary - but as long as the game itself rocks, it's all a moot point really.

Wasn't there a guy in your team called Gary Liddon that quit to start programming and develop games for Thalamus or something? How did it go? And are you still in contact with him or other members of the Zzap!64 staff? - gnokgnik

Gary was a very talented guy and was particularly good at helping programmers realise their vision by pushing them technically - they'd do something and he'd see a way of doing it even better.

It was that expertise that helped turn Thalamus into a publisher of truly great games - Delta, Sanxion and Hunter's Moon were all really good. I still occasionally hear from the original ZZAP team, just to say hello and whatnot.

Last but not least - this one's been asked a few times - when did the mullet go? CVG Gav

Hmmm. I think it was in 1994 that the thing that started as a Howard Jones haircut, but then became a Duran Duran 'do, then a Mohican, then a mullet, then el mullet supremo and finally a "90's ad exec ponytail" was finally all chopped off and became something much less crap and infinitely more sensible. Now I've got a "just pulled off my crash helmet" haircut, because I just did.

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