AN INTERVIEW WITH GARI BIASILLO
I'm currently programming the Sony Playstation version of Wild 9's.
What was your first computer?
My first computer that I got my hands on was a ZX-80 then a BBC Micro.
I first bought a Commodore Vic-20 but returned it with-in a week and
spent the extra money to get a Commodore-64.
What came first, the music or the programming?
Music came first as I played piano from an early age. I progressed
to grade 3, then I got my hands on a Korg Mono Synthersizer and
decided that this was for me, so i packed in piano.
How did you get your break into the games world?
Computer Gamer published my first game in 1985 when I was 14 years
old. It was in the good old days when magazines published computer
listings. The program was called 'Game of Death' for the C-64 and had a
V-Blank assembly language music driver, my first attempt at 6502.
My first job was with Interceptor Micro's (aka. Players) when I was aged 15.
I went to there offices & demo'd my music drivers and scrollers. I was offered
the job but waited until I was finished my school exams before working for
them when I turned 16.
What 8bit based work are you most proud of?
I would have to name 'Slayer' for the C-64, a shoot-'em up. It featured
a Color Scoller, 32 Sprite MultiPlexer & Samples. When Zzap!64
reviewed it, they awarded it 90%. I also composed the music for this
What in your opinion is your best piece of music?
Target Renegade has always been a favourite of mine. I only wish I
had time to complete the scores but deadlines are deadlines. Joe Blade was
short and sweet but it was cool, in fact this score landed me a job with
How exactly did you go about composing the music? I assume you do it on synths
or whatever first, but howdo you get it from that to a computer?
When I composed music for computer games, it was a matter of laboriously
hand typing in codes. I later wrote a MIDI reader for the C-64 so i
could play on a Synth directly into the computer.
Nowadays, the task is much simpler. Just record your music on tape & press
it on to CD.
How was it converted to other formats as the 64, CPC and speccy were radically
different in sound capabilities?
Was it a worry that the end product wouldn't end up sounding like your
The different formats never sounded the same, It was a big headache.
The C-64's SID chip and the Spectrum/Amstrads Yamaha Chips both had their
good and bad points. Overall, i prefered the SID chip.
Do you still do music then or is it just programming now?
I still compose music but just for a hobby. 3D graphics programming has
always been my favourite ever since I played Elite on the BBC.
Other than your own, was there any music that you particularly liked or
any other computer musicians whose work you admired?
Martin Gallway has always been my favourite. I had the opportunity
of working with him at Ocean but he left 6 months after I joined the
How did you meet up with DP?
I was working for Iguana Entertainment at the time. I'd just finished coding the 3D Engines for the Sony Playstation, Sega Saturn
& IBM PC and felt that I needed a change of environment. Shiny's
track record and location suited me and one thing led to another...
Iguana are another American Company?
Yes, they are located in Austin, Texas.
How did you come to leave Ocean?
I founded my own Company, Imperial Software.
Never heard of them, sorry. What happened to that then?
I founded Imperial Software with an long-time friend Mike Williams who
was a graphics artist. We freelanced mainly for Hewson Consultants creating
the titles Slayer (c64), Steel (c64, Amiga & ST), MoonFall (Amiga, St),
Future Basketball (Amiga, ST) which was licensed to Hudson Soft who ported it
to the SNES. Between Slayer & Steel c64, we also wrote Shanghai Warriors (c64).
Our parting title was Onlsaught (Genesis) for Accolade. I also composed the music
for Slayer & Steel (c64, Amiga & ST versions).
After this, designed the game "Pele' Soccer" for Accolade.
How did you end up moving across the pond?
Having worked for Iguana UK, I transfered to Iguana US when I was offered
Name your top 10 8bit games if you an remember any :)
Slayer, Shanghai Warriors, Target Renegade, Arkanoid 2.
Did it bug you that everybody spelt your name Gary?
Did it cause problems cashing all those wage cheques? :)
Not really, I have two versions of my name (Gary & Gari). I prefer
Gari though. Gazza is my nickname.
Do you think games have improved in any way over what they were in the 80's?
As a whole, yes but I think that the best is yet to come. I think that the
main problem at the moment is that games focus too much on the 3D aspect of
the game and sometimes forget the importance of game play. Don't get me
wrong, I think that the asthetics needs to be A1 but if you have no gameplay,
you have no game...
Yeah, i thought Duke Nukem worked well because they added stuff like the
speech etc which made it a more enjoyable game from a single player point of
view. Of course that doesn't seem to count nowadays, even when not that many
people have access to networks, at least not over here ;)
What about originality? Are there any companies you admire for pushing games
forward or do you think everybody is guilty of jumping on the 3d bandwagon?
The recent games that have impressed me are F1GP2 by Geoff Crammond and Mario 64.
They have attention to detail in different ways.
Mario is simple but fun. You can run around for hours, not actually completing
anything but you have fun interacting in the world. I personally think that a
game will be great if you can do exactly this. I mean, if you can have real good
fun in a world without enemy interaction, then when you put them in you've got an
excellent game on your hands.
What do you views as being the future platform for games, the consoles
or PC based gaming?
The new 3D graphics boards for the PC excite me a lot. The ability to write
a game in hi-res at 60 frames a second meane that they will give the consoles
a real run for their money.
Do you think that consoles will result in a shortage of decent games
programmers or designers without the fertile breeding ground that the
programmable 8bits gave us?
There is a real shortage now. You can still get your hands all dirty with
a PC though so the opportunity is still there.
I would like to thank Gari for contacting me in the first place and offering
to do this interview. Also thanks for getting me in touch with Nick Jones.