Interview With Andy Eltis

by Dieter Koenig, September 2011

I was searching for former Videopac programmers at GST for many years, when I received the following email in August 2011:

“I’ve just read your interview about GST that developed the VideoPac games for Philips. My dad (A C Eltis) was one of the programmers and we still have a console in the garage. We used to play it as kids! Just thought i would let you know as it was quite funny to see his name mentioned.

Cheers, Thomas”

Thomas is the son of Andy Eltis and was so kind to forward my mail to his dad who contacted me thereafter, so I could make a short interview. Andy Eltis lives in the United Kingdom.

“Hello Dieter

It’s good to see someone still remembers the G7000! It was all a long time ago and my memories have faded but I’ll do my best.

Best wishes
Andy”

Andy, how did your career as game programmer start?

I moved from Marconi Avionics to work for GST as they needed someone to work at the CAD Centre Cambridge. I helped develop pressure vessel design software there using Fortran. Then the opportunity to work on games for Philips came up and I started working on those. I had no prior games experience.

How was the work at GST?

It was enjoyable – particularly the games. We were a small team and occasionally travelled to Eindhoven to meet with Philips. we particularly enjoyed the Rijsttafel there.

Who were the other members of the Videopac team at GST?

Jake Dowding, Graham Conduit, Mick Rouse and I think Paul Johnson and another guy I can’t remember.

How did you learn Videopac programming?

I’m not sure. There must have been some specs for the G7000 that we consulted. 8048 assembler was fairly straightforward. Everything was interrupt driven, frame flyback and line flyback. The game processing was done during frame flyback. Occasionally we used line flyback for clever stuff like changing the display colour mid scan.

Did GST Video have their own development systems or were they supplied by Philips?

Supplied by Philips I think. We used an ICE (in-circuit emulator) that allowed us to connect to the G7000 hardware from the unix development machine.

The known GST Video games for the Philips Videopac so far are Super Bee, Norseman, Blobbers, Interpol, Shark Hunter and Martian Threat. Did GST develop more games for the Videopac system?

Yes, Looney Balloon (which I wrote). I also wrote Blobbers and Norseman (I think).

How was the work at Norseman? It must have been different, because it only runs on the G7400 console.

I don’t remember anything about it really – sorry!

Did you have contact with other teams that developed games for the Videopac system? We know that there were teams in England, Hungary and Sweden at least …

No.

Philips discontinued the Videopac system sometime in 1984 to move on to the MSX system. But before that, did you hear anything of a successor for the G7400? A Philips G7600 for example?

No, I don’t recall.

Did Philips ever ask you to write games for the MSX system when they decided that this was in some kind the successor of the Videopac system?

Not that I recall.

What happend when Philips pulled the plug from the Videopac system?

I don’t really remember that event. Maybe we’d already moved to MSX.

What are you doing today?

I work as a project architect for Capgemini.

Many thanks for the interview and for your games, Andy!

Edit Page