Legends are remembered, but the cautionary tale of Manic Miner’s Matt Smith serves to show how you can burn out all too quickly.
Manic Miner is one of the classic 8 bit games, and an object lesson in how to make a lot out of a little; it was completed in just eight weeks and got much more out of only 48K than anyone thought possible. The sequel, Jet Set Willy was equally well recieved, despite a longer gestation and some game killing bugs… and then Smith, the name behind both games, vanished, leaving behind a sequel (“Manic Miner Meets The Taxman“) and an unreleased title, Attack of the Mutant Zombie Flesh Eating Chickens From Mars.
Smith went MIA for many years, only reappearing in the past decade to being a “legend”, as the Guardian reports. If you’re in the gaming scene it’s a relatively well known story, but from a programmer’s point of view, what it highlights is the need for organisation. Speaking to the Guardian, Elite Systems’ Steve Wilcox notes that
“He’s unique really. So smart, but so untogether. He could be a significant star if he wanted. I’d love to see him do more, but I’ve no confidence we’ll ever see another game, sadly.”
Whatever happened to the ‘JD Salinger of gaming’? [The Guardian]