Andrew Docking is probably most famous for his work on the racing game Drifter, but he is also the front man for Insomnia-Studios, who are working on a new Acorn title, 'Firestarter'.
Acorn Arcade: Your most recent Acorn game which saw the light of day was Drifter. What was it that inspired you to make this Wipeout clone?
Andrew Docking: At the time the idea started to take root I hadn't actually seen Wipeout, so the concept didn't stem directly from that particular game.
The bare bones of the idea came about in July '95 while lazing around on the beach in the South of France, and watching a some blokes flying micro-lites. I just thought it might be fun to race the things, and blow them up, of course. And like all brilliant ideas, I didn't give it a second thought until I started work on it in August '96.
Acorn Arcade: Did you include any cheats in Drifter that you'd like to tell us about?
Andrew Docking: Hold keys Q, E, G, and M during the intro credits and click the
mouse. This allows you to skip straight to the final track.
Acorn Arcade: I hear that you were commissioned to write a game by Acorn, what sort of game was it and how was it to be released?
Andrew Docking: Originally it was going to be another Wipeout clone, but the action would take place within an expansive freeform landscape. The primary objective was to take full advantage of Risc PC hardware, and the new StrongArm chip.
Acorn's purpose was to package it with Risc PCs, although it soon became clear to us it just wasn't a viable proposition in business terms. We started look for other opportunities that would allow us to continue with the project while still ensuring a Risc PC release.
Acorn Arcade: We also heard that you worked on an arcade machine project for a theme park application. What sort of game was this and what Acorn hardware was to be included in the machine?
Andrew Docking: We were asked to do a series of games on a variety of themes, in dedicated rooms, so they weren't arcade machines in the conventional sense. For example, a number of the games were to introduce live footage of the player into the action, and a variety of devices like wind machines were to be used to add to experience.
However, the director in charge of the project was poached by another company, and as a result the project died a premature death.
Acorn Arcade: Do you anticipate any release for FireStarter on any platform in the near future?
Andrew Docking: The exact status of the project is a little uncertain at this moment in time. We'll know one way or the other by christmas whether we will continue with the project.
Acorn Arcade: Rumours have been circulating for a while now concerning a sequel to Drifter. What's your official line on this?
Andrew Docking: The official line? I think the phrase 'not f***ing likely!' fits the bill perfectly.
Acorn Arcade: Oregan and Insomnia studios have both kept quite a distance from the Acorn desktop market in recent years, what has the Oregan Technology Group been up to lately?
Andrew Docking: Oregan's business interests no longer have any great connection to Acorn, and they seem to be doing very nicely indeed at the moment.
I'm not really at liberty to disclose any details about what Oregan's up to at the moment. The main reason is that some information is of a sensitive nature, and more to the point, they haven't told me a great deal ;-P
Acorn Arcade: AA: How many Acorn coders currently work at Insomnia Studios/Oregan?
Andrew Docking: A whole bunch of (literally) ex-Acorn coders in the Cambridge office, and an assorted gaggle of networking gurus in Ashby de la Zouch... and
not quite so many under the Insomnia umbrella...
Acorn Arcade: AA: Do you feel that Acorn's abandoning of the desktop computer market has jeopardised your work or that it is another window of opportunity because of their focus on thin-client applications?
Andrew Docking: They obviously abondoned it for a reason, ie it was the source of a serious leakage of funds and I can see a certain twisted sense in their logic. Personally, I think it's a real shame, but we'd expected it for well over a year. And as you say, it prompted us to focus on alternative avenues.
As for Acorn's focus on thin-client applications - if their track record is anything to go by - I don't think they'll be particularly successful. But there's no doubt that someone will, and that's what we're looking out for...
Acorn Arcade: What is your favourite game on any platform at the moment?
Andrew Docking: Metal Gear Solid - although I've only played the import version for a short while - it certainly appealed to me like no other game on the market. Gran Turismo probably took up a little more time than most aswell.
Acorn Arcade: What plans do you have for the future?
Andrew Docking: To get Insomnia properly off the ground with a significant development project on a mainstream platform. If that doesn't work I'll spend some time with another developer, and try again later... ad infinitum if necessary ;-).
Acorn Arcade: Thanks for doing this interview, we'd like to wish you the best of luck wherever you end up in life!
Andrew Docking: Thanks very much!