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How Dizzy's success sent Codemasters into a spin

On being the Stock, Aitken and Waterman of the computer world

Paul Ransom: "Yeah, the Stock, Aitken and Waterman analogy. I guess it's fairly accurate really, in that we've got a formula for success and we're selling stuff people buy. Sometimes you get a bit ashamed of it I suppose, but people enjoy it, so we must be doing something worthwhile."

On not doing shoot-'em-ups any more

Paul Ransom: "We don't want anything to do with shoot-'em-ups basically – they're just not very successful for us. Sky High Stuntman's pretty slick, approaching Bitmap standards, but it's the first one we've done in ages, and we don't have immediate plans for more. I think it's perhaps because it's much harder to add any feeling of individuality or character to a straight blasting game."

On not doing Simulators any more

Paul Ransom: "It wasn't a conscious decision to stop doing Simulators as such – and indeed we might do more next year – but fewer people who come to us seem interested in doing them anymore. We're often led by programmers coming along and saying what they want to do, and most have been interested in cute games lately. Some are very proficient – they bring in complete game designs and characters they've created. It's great for us, because very little needs to be done with them before release."

David Darling: "You're right, there haven't been all that many Simulators lately, have there? We stopped doing them because companies like Alternative started doing some crappy 'Simulators' which spoiled the whole idea for us a bit. They've got money problems now so it obviously didn't work too well!

"In actual fact, though it's good to have healthy competition, we don't really think of the other original budget people as our main competition – it's more the Oceans and US Golds of this world we're worried about."

On games for kids

Paul Ransom: "It's true, the age group for our games does go very low – perhaps it's because the characters are cute, perhaps it's because the Codies have got a reputation of doing games for kids, I don't know. That doesn't mean we don't get lots of adults playing them though, particularly things like the Dizzy games which actually have some quite intricate puzzles in them.

"You'd be really shocked at how esoteric some of them are, but what we try to do is make it so they've ridiculously obvious once you know how to do them. You want to kick yourself for not having thought of the answer before!

"Lots of the adult game player we get are the type who like and trust our games and will go through them with the kids – it's very much a family thing – and in fact we're probably educating the kids in many ways."

Richard Darling: "We're quite proud of the fact that we produce games that anyone can get into instantly, and that means that they have to appeal to all age groups. That said though, we're aware that on the 16-bit machines many people are into more mature games, and that's something we're planning to get involved with too.

"Though it's not been properly decided, I don't think, we'll probably put these out on a different label – though we won't be hiding the fact that they're Code Masters games, they will still have our name on them too. I think the idea is that they'll be like sort of sophisticated, grown up and less cartoony versions of the Dizzy games – the characters will be more realistic, there'll be more text in them (though they won't be text adventures), and so on. We very much admire the interface in The Secret of Monkey Island, so that'll be an influence too."