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Long before ripping out spines in Mortal Kombat or carrying out hit and runs in GTA, Bad Taste Software were attempting to push the barriers of acceptability with a game focused on the conception and birth of Prince Harry in Di’s Baby

Posted by fgasking on Dec 21, 2011 20:47 (Dec 21, 2011 20:47)

Developer Keith Wood speaks to Frank Gasking about dealing with Microdeal, collecting royal ‘deposits’ and conceptions fit for a Prince…

Retro Fusion: So what got you started in game development?

Keith Wood: I did computer studies at Sixth Form College. My first programming was in Fortran, writing programs on specially formatted forms which were sent off for some poor key-punch operator to type into punched cards. In 1983 I acquired first an Oric, then an Atari (800 I think it was definitely an 800 – the long term is restored now!), and finally the C64. When Microdeal came looking for people to do games programming for them, the only machine that wasn't being covered was the Oric, so they asked me to knock something up. (Actually Microdeal gave me all these machines – in the order mentioned)

RF: And just how was Di’s Baby, erm, conceived?

KW: Up until Christmas 1983 a home programmer could knock up any old rubbish and it would sell. Things changed dramatically in early 1984, things just stopped selling. By mid 1984 at Microdeal we had an emergency meeting to discuss what could be done. In our market area the big success had been Manic Miner. It was a good game of course, but it seemed to us (rightly or wrongly) that it had benefited by riding on the publicity surrounding the Miner's strike. We concluded that we needed a topical game. Trouble is, how can you predict what WILL be topical when the game is finished? The only thing we could think of was Di's Baby. Several people in the meeting didn't like the idea. I did! The title created itself. Someone said "that's a bit in bad taste, isn't it?”

RF: Ah, and so creating ‘Bad Taste Software’! Surely compared to Manic Miner, Di’s Baby risked a lot of controversy?

KW: We took a decision not to market the game until the baby was born and confirmed healthy (we accepted had there been a problem we would bin the game). I saw the controversy itself as a benefit (free publicity), but equally I thought it important to counter by pointing out that the contents of the game should actually be less offensive than most of what else was selling. Most games consist of trying to kill people, when you think about it, that is what is really in bad taste. Most of what happens in the Di's Baby game is experienced by any parent. So my contention is that it is society in general that is in bad taste, and the games simply reflected that.

RF: So why did Microdeal distance themselves from the game?

KW: I don't remember exactly why; but I think it was along the lines of they normally target children for their products, and they didn't want their name associated in case it caused adverse publicity and affected their mainstream sales.

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#2 Dec 28, 2011 01:31:29 ( Dec 28, 2011 01:31 )

 Harmless fun imo
#1 Dec 24, 2011 01:19:46 ( Dec 24, 2011 01:19 )

 Nice interview, good work Frank!
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