Interview: Stewart Gilray

Interview: Stewart Gilray [Hosted by The Mercenary Site]
Date: 16 July, 2014
Interviewer: The Mercenary Site
Interviewee: Stewart Gilray


The Mercenary Site: Please provide a one-liner introduction

Stewart Gilray: Hello, my name is Stewart and I am a Novagen addict!

The Mercenary Site: How long have/did you work in the videogames industry?

Stewart Gilray: I started working in the industry back in 1988, so this is my 26 year! GULP!

The Mercenary Site: Which companies did you work with? Any titles we’d know?

Stewart Gilray: Here’s a list …

Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty – PS4/PS3/VITA/PC/Mac/Xbox One – 2014
Gravity Crash Ultra – VITA – 2014
Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee HD – PS3/VITA – 2012/2014
Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD – PS3/VITA/PC – 2011/2012
Gravity Crash – PS3/PSP – 2009
Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure – PS2/Wii/DS – 2008
Arctic Tale – Wii/DS – 2008
Pinball Challenge Deluxe – GBA – 2003
Soldier of Fortune – Dreamcast – 2002
Spec Ops: Ranger Elite – PS1 – 2001
Dragon Riders: Chronicles of Pern – 2001
In Cold Blood – PS1/PC – 2000
Tank Racer – PS1/PC – 1998
Xenocracy – PS1/PC/Mac – 1998/1999
Slam Tilt – Amiga/PC – 1996/1997
Synnergist – PC – 1996
Pinball Illusions – PC/Amiga – 1995
Pinball Fantasies – Jaguar – 1995
Pinball Fantasies – PS1 – 1995
Pinball World – PC – 1995
Marvin’s Marvellous Adventure – Amiga/CD32 – 1994
Pinball Dreams 2 – PC/SNES – 1994
Pinball Fantasies – PC/Amiga/Falcon/SNES – 1993
Pinball Dreams – PC – 1993
Populous II – Amiga – 1992
DarkMere – Amiga – 1992
Rubicon – Amiga/ST – 1991
Birds of Prey – Amiga – 1990
PowerMonger – Amiga/PC/SNES – 1990
Lost Soul – Atari ST – 1989

The Mercenary Site: What’s your all-time favourite computer or console?

Stewart Gilray: Hmmmm PlayStation. That covers ALL of them! 😀

The Mercenary Site: Did you work with Novagen?

Stewart Gilray: Not really, was always a fan, but tried to work with them in 1998, to no avail.

The Mercenary Site: What’s your favourite anecdote of this time?

Stewart Gilray: Oh lordy, now you’re asking! it was a LOOOOOOONG time ago 🙂

The Mercenary Site: Your name was in the Novagen Cabinet in Damocles (though not correctly spelled). Can you tell us why?

Stewart Gilray: I think I phoned Bruce up monthly for about 18 months before the game came out asking if it was nearly finished 🙂

The Mercenary Site: Did you know your name would be there or did you find it by yourself?

Stewart Gilray: I had no idea actually. I rang Bruce up and he said did I see my name in the safe? I said no I’d seen a few, read out “Steve Gill” and he said, oh wait it’s “Stewart Gilray” isn’t it?! Ooops 🙂 but the thought was there.

The Mercenary Site: How did you meet Steven Sargent, whose name is also in the Novagen Cabinet?

Stewart Gilray: I met Steve when he worked at Grandslam games. He worked with a guy at Grandslam called Paul Chamberlain, whom I knew from the Hewson days when I did work for them.

The Mercenary Site: Are you still in contact with any Novagener?

Stewart Gilray: I still talk to Paul and Tim occasionally.

The Mercenary Site: In 1995, were you aware a PC version was in the works?

Stewart Gilray: I remember seeing a piece in EDGE or something about it, and tried to get a hold of Bruce but couldn’t at the time.

The Mercenary Site: Around 1998 you tried to bring back in the works the PC version of Damocles. Can you tell us how you decided to try this? Were Paul and Bruce motivated to work on it again? Why was it dropped in the end?

Stewart Gilray: So in 1998 when I worked for Grolier Interactive I managed to track them down, and started talking, and he mentioned that Psygnosis had shelved the project. So I went to see him, and Paul and Tim up at the offices in Birmingham, then Bruce and Paul came to see me at my offices in Oxford, and we were in serious discussions about taking it over, but Psygnosis/Sony said no. So it was dead in the water.

The Mercenary Site: What are your memories of the game for PC, how was it like?

Stewart Gilray: I’ll be brutally honest it needed a lot of work in my opinion. It was 100% software rendering with ZERO visual effects, it was basically just a textured version of the original. I tried to get Paul onto DirectX, so had the SDK sent to him, but it was right at that point that we heard back from Psygnosis. I do remember one of the artists at Grolier, Paul Carrick, wanting a look at it, so I pulled him into the meeting room, and Paul Woakes, gave him a demo of it, he was happy, but we both knew it needed work to do well.

The Mercenary Site: Were there any other attempts since then you’d be aware of?

Stewart Gilray: To bring the PC version out? not that I know of.

The Mercenary Site: Is there a particular developer (code, gfx, whatever) whom you consider as a genius / pioneer / extra-talented?

Stewart Gilray: Back in the day it was either John M Philips or Stephen Crow, today, I think there are teams of people that do amazing work, Naughty Dog for example, Q-Games, Hello Games.

The Mercenary Site: How do you feel about people considering the ’80s as the videogaming golden age, and the associated hero-worship of some of the people that were part of this?

Stewart Gilray: Hmmmm not sure that’s entirely right, they were certainly simpler times back then, but better? Not so sure.

The Mercenary Site: Have you tried the MDDClone?

Stewart Gilray: I have actually, curious how they managed it to be honest, reverse engineered or emulated?
(Note from webmaster: it’s reverse engineered indeed)

The Mercenary Site: Have you visited The Mercenary Site? If so, any feedback?

Stewart Gilray: You know I have, I pop over every so often to see what’s happening, if anything 🙂

The Mercenary Site: What are you up to these days? What keeps you up at night?

Stewart Gilray: Well we’re at the very tail end of development on Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, which hits PS4 NEXT week! :O so that’s been keeping me up past midnight for months now!

The Mercenary Site: Anything else to say?

Stewart Gilray: Can I sleep yet please?