Raining Cats & Dogs

A rejection letter for one of my first games, written in BASIC on the Atari 400 in 1983, adapted from a listing somewhere and featuring four-step animation on the character. It was truly crap. Nick was being kind and I respect him to this day not just for this letter, but for the subsequent advice he gave, which encouraged me to persevere until I got a game published (written in 6502 this time) by Artic, Storm in a Teacup.

It’s now well over 28 years since I received this letter and I still haven’t found what my dad might have called “a proper job”, choosing instead to remain in what has since become “the video games industry”.

I would later (circa 1990) go on to contract to Virgin Games, making music for some of their titles for the PC and putting together their logo for them with my subsequent friend Alexander Martin. I’d previously of course worked with my friend David Eastman, of Conflict and Floor 13 fame, both of those excellent titles were published by Virgin, featuring my music, libraries, and porting assistance, and I’d later go on to do music for a game or two for them. I actually don’t recall what. About this time, Core Design’s Jeremy Heath-Smith heard my music demos, which were doing the rounds and impressed, contracted me to do some music for some of Core’s games. I dimly recall doing Thunderhawk, Corporation and a bit of Heimdall I think.

As for Virgin, I’d join them as a Producer in 1997, working on several titles, including the PC Format Gold-award winning “F16: Aggressor”.

I still have friends from Virgin days, one of whom I still work with on a day-to-day basis. We called ourselves “Bunch A Monkeys”, or BAM. You might even see us credited in some titles of that era…

Letter from Virgin Games rejecting Raining Cats and Dogs

Artic Computing – Letter from Chris Thornton

This was in response to my first machine code game on the 8-bit Atari in 1983 – Storm in a Teacup (yeah, I know, I should sue!)

I used a pseudonym as you can see. It didn’t last. Chris knew I wasn’t a James Kent because all the names I included in the credits list were definitely not of the “James Kent” variety and very much of the “Shahid Ahmad and family” variety.

Still, it suited me. I used the name James Kent for a couple of games before I decided to drop it. In the end, calling myself James was just a test to see if it was racism that was the main factor behind my games getting rejected. It wasn’t. My earlier games had been rejected because they were shit and written in BASIC. Storm in a Teacup was shit too, but it was written in Assembler, got me about £300 and up to Hull for a day or two.

A 17 year old being picked up from Hull station in an XR3i was quite a thing back then. It was a white XR3i, but it didn’t matter.

I liked Chris a lot. He was a funny guy, genuine and decent. I’d love to know what he’s up to today. Anyone know? Anyway, enjoy this letter.

Letter from Artic  1