We spoke to Sam Dyer just over a week into his new Commodore 64 Book Kickstarter. Already funded we wanted to know more about his plans for the book and dare we say it some exclusive info on the campaign!
Back the book here: http://www.c64book.co.uk
Sam Dyer - Bitmap Books www.bitmapbooks.co.uk
GYL: Thanks for speaking to us Sam...First question to ask is just how do you find the time to create these retro gaming books - it must be a labour of love for you?
Sam Dyer: Not easily! I have a family and full-time job so I work Bitmap Books around that. It started off as a hobby and still is. I look at it as an escape from my day job as I get to design books about games - something that would never happen at work! If I get busy at work or the family needs me then the books take a back seat. I also have a very understanding wife! I get such a kick out of producing the books and they are a true labour of love.
GYL: Do you think books have a big part to play in the history of games and how they are documented?
Sam Dyer: Absolutely. It’s SO important that the games industry is properly documented. None of us are around for ever and the beauty of a book is that it’s timeless and can continue to tell the story for years to come.
GYL: Tell us about this 2nd book and maybe 3/4 key highlights for you?
Sam Dyer: The second book will build on the first edition, adding more content and filling in any gaps that were left out previously. The first book was very visual and light on text but the second book features artist interviews, developer profiles and features on the demo scene, magazines, unreleased games and the Ocean loader. It will be in the same style as the first book and also feature many games with loads of new contributors.
GYL: From a production point of view we see that this has a slip case to house both book 1 and 2 for the Commodore 64. Was this a fan request or something you planned to do?
Sam Dyer: It was really important to me that the initial book backers didn’t have to re-buy the first book again to get the second. A slipcase seemed like the most elegant solution to house both books and complete the C64 commpendium series. This has been well received and there’s also a combined hardback version for those who didn’t own the first book.
GYL: What C64 games artwork do you think stands out in this book? - choose a few and tell us what makes them special from the designers perspective
Sam Dyer: Some of the games that came out later in the C64's life really stand out in this book. Games such as Sly Spy, RoboCod, Blues Brothers and Midnight Resistance had stunning graphics. The second book digs beneath the surface of the obvious game choices and I think the readers will hopefully find this aspect interesting.
GYL: Tell us about the contributors to the book - any new faces?
Sam Dyer: Yes, there are roughly 20 new contributors to the second book. These include ex-Zzap!64 editor Julian Rignall, Stephen Crow (Starquake), Andrew Morris (Mr Chip Software), Brian Fargo (Inteplay) and Ivan Davies (Special FX).
There are loads more and probably more that will emerge as the book progresses.
GYL: Do you have any exclusives in this book?
Sam Dyer: I think that some of the artist interviews we’ve done are pretty exclusive. Some of the people are not often interviewed and this offers something exclusive to the editorial.
GYL: What about the art of the book - as a visual commpendium - why does the C64 excel in this area?
Sam Dyer: I think most 8-bit computers had a great art style but I’ve always had a soft spot for the C64 colour palette and pixel art. Whether it was the coloured loading bars, loading screens or in-game GFX, the C64 was a cool computer and when presented in a book, it just seems to work. It’s not just the C64 though, in our previous book on the ZX Spectrum, the pixel art in that looked out of this world - so vibrant and well defined.
There’s something quite surreal about seeing something so primitive that would have been created on a fuzzy monitor in print which the pixels crisply printed. You can really see the craft and love that went into every pixel. If there are any gamers out there who used to own or still own a C64 - why should they buy this book and it's predecessor?
I think both books strike a good balance between words and visuals. They can be picked up, flicked though and the imagery will transport you back to your childhood.
We’ve put a lot of effort into the writing and production of the books and as a graphic designer, the books are presented in a professional way that lets the pixel art be the main star of the show. They really are a labour of love and I think that shows in the final book.
GYL: Finally - out of the 2 C64 books, if you had to choose 3 games you loved out of them - what would they be?
Sam Dyer: Aztec Challenge, Midnight Resistance and Beyond The Forbidden Forest. All three are perfect and hugely nostalgic for me.
Back the book here: http://www.c64book.co.uk