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Classic Games (Games) Entertainment Games

Darling Brothers, UK Indie Game Devs, Upgraded to CBE 110

scriptedfun writes "The BBC reports that David and Richard Darling, the brother tandem who founded Codemasters back in the mid-'80s from their bedroom, were recently made Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for their 'services to the computer games industry.' Their story is definitely inspiring for modern-day independent game developers." Naming such honorees annually is one of the perks of being Queen.
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Darling Brothers, UK Indie Game Devs, Upgraded to CBE

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  • D: (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    And yet, I can't name a single Codemasters game off the top of my head.
    • Re:D: (Score:5, Informative)

      by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @05:16AM (#23798719) Homepage
      How old are you and which country? Not meant as a patronising question, it's a genuine one. If you're around my generation (I'm 36) and from the UK, chances are you will have heard of them. Spindizzy and Micro Machines being the top ones - they're stars of the 8-bit and 16-bit era really. I know they've done a lot since, but that's still what I know them for.

      • by BuckoA51 ( 1119431 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @06:39AM (#23799011)
        Spindizzy is not a Codemasters game, you are thinking of Dizzy. Spindizzy was a Marble Madness clone from Electric Dreams Software.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Plus most of the good games for the Spectrum & C64 were from the UK. The UK consistently produced the best coding & games during the 80s, but has not been anywhere near as dominant in the 90's and beyond.
        For those of us growing up with C64 the Codemasters guys were much more famous than rock stars.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I admit I've never been huge on names, but I don't remember many of the rest of the folks knowing the names of the developers very well.

          The names that got remembered, at least in the C64 scene, were the musicians.

    • Re:D: (Score:5, Informative)

      by Spad ( 470073 ) <slashdot.spad@co@uk> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @05:16AM (#23798721) Homepage []

      The Dizzy Series
      Colin McRae series
      Micro Machines
      Operation Flashpoint
      The TOCA series

      It's a good back-catalogue, though I was always more a fan of Bullfrog before EA ate them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Fweeky ( 41046 )
        I'm pretty sure they're only *publishers* of some of those games; Operation Flashpoint, for instance, was developed by Prague developers Bohemia Interactive. And that turned out to be bit of a clusterfuck, with BI going on to develop the sequel, ArmA, with another publisher, and Codemasters making their own using just the name.
        • Oops. Here I was waiting for the Sequel (rather than an expansion pack) all these years! OpFlashpoint was one of the best games I've ever ever ever played, so immersive that I stayed up for almost 3 days solid until I'd completed it. Thanks for the heads up, I should probably get that even if it will tempt me to spend money on my old PC gaming rig just for one game. Armed Assault 2 looks like it will be out on PS3 at least :)
    • Re:D: (Score:5, Informative)

      by AAWood ( 918613 ) <{aawood} {at} {}> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @05:18AM (#23798725)
      Colin McRae Rally is probably the series they're most known for in recent times, and most old-schoolers will probably think of the Dizzy games first, and Micro Machines second. Personally, I remember them for things like Jet Bike Ski Simulator on the Spectrum. Came complete with classic incomprehensible speech synthesis, but at least you didn't need an add-in speech cartridge.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I doubt I could tell you who wrote any particular game. I know the game companies are "famous" but matching up software to who wrote it ? Not a chance. As I'm writing this I'm struggling to think who wrote Doom - I know Carmack, Cash et al did it - but the name of the company escapes me ! ( Looked at the box - it's ID software * slaps head, DOH! * ) I looked at the Codemasters site as I know that I've heard of them - they've done some well regarded stuff.
      • And here I was thinking that id were one of the most prominent software houses for any geek to know ;) I mean I wouldn't say I knew exhaustively who made what, but I knew Codemasters made Colin Mcrae and released Operation Flashpoint, Valve make Half-Life, id make Doom/Quake, 3D Realms make Duke Nukem (well, they used to ;) ), EA make a never ending multitude of yearly sports games, and need for speed, Naughty Dog make Crash Bandicoot games (which I generally am not that interested in, but Crash Team Racing
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by keeboo ( 724305 )
      The only game I can remember from them is Vampire, which has a MSX version (and looked awful like any game ported from Spectrum).
      Spectrum users probably know more games from them.
      • whoops! (Score:3, Funny)

        by thermian ( 1267986 )
        Now you've done it, giving the Spectrum two mentions in one post.

        I can feel the urge to re-awaken the old 'spectrum vs Commodore 64' argument rising.

        • Re:whoops! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by keeboo ( 724305 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @06:19AM (#23798961)
          Uh-oh... Peace, man! :)

          From where I am C64 did not exist, it was more like MSX vs Spectrum vs Apple II.
          The problem with Spectrum-to-MSX ports (and Codemasters are not alone) it's that developers simply added a Spectrum hardware emulator layer (both machines used Z80 processors) and, presto, port done.
          Often the game was slower than the original version.

          There are games which list 'joystick' as 'kempston' in the MSX version. C'mon!
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Dogtanian ( 588974 )

            From where I am C64 did not exist, it was more like MSX vs Spectrum vs Apple II.

            I assume that you're not from the UK (where Codemasters are from) then; in terms of user base and (consequentially) software that supported the machine, MSX was (at best) a very minor player here. Since Codemasters were originally selling in the UK market, that'd be why they didn't do many MSX games.

            Here it was ZX Spectrum (first) vs. C64 (clear second, but still successful) vs. Amstrad CPC (some way behind, but still usually a chosen "third format" for mainstream games).

            Owners of other formats, e.g. A

        • Easy there tiger, do you not have to say it three times in succession for the proceedings to commence? Like Beetlejuice, Candyman or Chuck Norris?
        • Go for it... the Commode was a piece of trash, and everyone knows the CPC was the best ;)

          Speccy was okay once Sugar got his claws into it and marketed the bastard properly though.
        • European kids had old computer arguments...

          American kids had Sega vs. Nintendo arguments.
    • by sa1lnr ( 669048 ) [] was my first experience with Codemasters.
    • Grid is an amazing game. I'm usually not into racing games... this game though is fantastic.

      Reviewers [] are saying it's like going to dinner with a supermodel only to discover she's also as witty as a stand-up comic.
    • When I saw the title of TFA I thought it was about John and Michael Darling []
    • the Brian Lara Cricket series!

      Easily the best cricket computer game of the past decade. Most releases have been big hits in the various parts of the world where Cricket is popular.
  • by DCFC ( 933633 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @05:57AM (#23798861)
    Firstly of course the award is not decided by the Queen. She is a constitutional monarch, and all such decisions are in theory made by minsters. Even they don't make most of the minor ones, delegating it to committees. This level of award confers such rights as your daughter being able to marry in St. Pauls Cathedral (the one Princess Di got married in), but little else. I'd also take exception to the notion that game development in the UK or elsewhere is a desirable career. It is so badly paid that it cannot be offshored to India because Indians won't work for that little. EA games and several other firms have been prosecuted for violations of minimum wage laws. Game developers are treated with a contempt that I have not seen in any industry (I've been a chemist, worked in banking, education, IT, journalism, night clubs and most recently headhunting), and none treat their staff so badly. Even the one nude model I know gets more respect from her employers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thermian ( 1267986 )
      Indeed, I originally intended to work in the gaming industry when I graduated from uni, but was warned off from it by a lecturer who'd spent some time in the real world before taking up his lectureship. His reasoning was that I'd end up in cubicle land writing small bits of games over which I had no say, and from what I have since learned, he was spot on.

      It seems the industry is getting worse in recent years, but its not uniform. There are some companies where the staff seem to be well paid and have fun, bu
      • by flnca ( 1022891 )
        It all depends on the structure of the company, and on the personality of its top dogs. I've been in the software industry for 17 years, and the work environment varied in every company. Watching out for signs in job interviews is essential. But when you need a job very urgently, you don't usually pay attention to that.
    • by flnca ( 1022891 )
      When I was in my teen age, I was occasionally contacted by games companies to write games for them. But I declined every time, because I didn't want to get paid a lollipop and an ice cream for many hours of work. Stupid me! My games could've entered the annals of history! ;-)

      Some of the guys I've known back then (and also some years later) have made a living on games programming; but they founded their own games companies.
    • "Commanders of the Order of the British Empire"?

      Is that anything like a Level 70 Elite Tauren Chieftain?

      Do you get any special powers when you become a Commander of the Order of the British Empire? Like, for example, can you force all the non-CBEs to avert their eyes?

      I mean, if no special powers come with being a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, then what good is it? Do you get like a t-shirt with that? A t-shirt would be pretty cool, especially if you could make the commoners avert their ey
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by DCFC ( 933633 )
        There are moves to make British honours more modern and politcally correct. The British Empire is of course Belize, the Falkland Island, Rockall, bits of Antarctica, and Gibraltar.

        Sadly that does mean instead of Commander of the British Empire, one would be
        Facilitator of the move towards general consensus on climate change.
        Chairperson of goodwill towards all nations.

        • The British Empire is of course Belize, the Falkland Island, Rockall, bits of Antarctica, and Gibraltar.

          Actually there seems to be a bit more than that [] -- a few more Caribbean islands (including Bermuda of course), the Pitcairn Islands, St Helena and a few other islands in the Atlantic, a few atolls in the Indian Ocean, and a couple of chunks of Cyprus. Intriguing.

          • >The British Empire is...
            Rather smaller than it was as part of the deal America made with us post WW2 to avoind bankruptcy was to break up the Empire.
          • by DCFC ( 933633 )
            Good point.
            If you do it by surface area, then the British Empire is in fact still truly huge.

            Britain asserts sovereignty over a 200 mile radius from any land it controls that isn't controlled by some else.

            Thus the Falkands, and the bits of land around there, give about half a million square miles of sea.
            Ditto Pitcairn etc.

            As I recall, The Falklands became a Royal Navy base in part because coal was easily extracted locally. The surveys are not yet incomplete, but there appears to be serious amounts of oil th
    • I'm a professional game developer. I often tell people, "I tell my mother I'm a meth dealer instead of a game developer so that she'll have at least a bit of respect for me."

      Sadly, that's not too far off the mark.

      The one upside is that if you stick with it long enough, you can become a veteran of this industry much faster than in others. I've "only" been developing games professionally for about 10 years now, but I am one of the most experienced people, particularly in online game development. I'm no Ric
  • Codemasters (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pentagram ( 40862 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @06:02AM (#23798887) Homepage
    I was always a fan of Codemasters back in their Spectrum days (come on, it's time for a new generation of Dizzy games) so when someone from the company came to my university to give a talk on working for Codemasters I went along to see if I could be persuaded. Rather than selling the idea to me though, it really put me off. The gist of the talk was that Codemasters weren't interested in producing good games, only games that sold well. The guy actually said that the company wasn't interested in people who wanted to work on producing good games. I understood the point in principle, but the emphasis on commercialism ensured that I never even considered applying to them.
    • Was that the GDTW in Liverpool a couple of years ago?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Steinfiend ( 700505 )
      I don't know from direct experience with the Codemasters company if this is true, but from playing a lot of their games back in the 80's, that would be pretty obvious. The did have some GREAT games that sucked many of my hours away, but for each gem there were maybe 10 disasters. Yet to look at the back of the tape you'd think they were all the best game ever. How many times can they write, "This Game is Amazing! - Richard Darling" before my weak, 10 year old brain realized Richard Darling directly profi
    • Rather than selling the idea to me though, it really put me off. The gist of the talk was that Codemasters weren't interested in producing good games, only games that sold well.

      When you're in business trying to make a buck, the definition of "good games" and the definition of "games that sell well" intersect almost entirely. Every so often, you hit a game that does both; Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, or Portal, for example. But most of the time it's one or the other. Beyond Good and Evil, for example, is
      • The problem is most people (even the ones who claim to love games) just aren't interested in good or original games.

        They want the same game they played last week, but with different graphics and character names.

        As you say, occasionally a gem will be succesful, with Portal being the best example recently, but I have friends who slated even that (it was "too short", and naturally they wanted "more weapons").

        Just look at the number of franchises that are onto their 4th iteration now. We've recently had GTA IV,
  • Actually not (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by eclectro ( 227083 )
    The Darlings [] are actually a musical group living in a shotgun shack in the hills near Mayberry.

    The queen doesn't know anything.
  • by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @06:05AM (#23798901) Homepage
    I can see it now, in about 5 years a bunch of natural light evading geeks lined in front of the Queen:

    (To the first one)
    "Please accept this MBE for fragging 50 players in under a minute without taking damage"
    "Thank you, Ma'am"

    (To the second one)
    "Please accept this MBE for pulling off a 53 hit combo in Street Fighter IV"
    "Thank you, Ma'am"

    (To the third one)
    "Please accept this MBE for obtaining 100% completion in GTA V"
    "Thank you, Ma'am"

  • elite (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jacquesm ( 154384 ) <j&ww,com> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @06:12AM (#23798935) Homepage
    I move to nominate David Braben and Ian Bell
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      That would be interesting just to see the two in the same room together. I don't think they've spoken for over 20 years...
    • Seconded. Mind you, they cost me about five months of my childhood, and I STILL didn't get past Deadly on the ZX Spectrum.
      • same here. We tried faking it by decoding the elite status file but after the third layer of encryption we hit a message that said: "Does your mother know you're doing this ?", which means we were more or less meant to get to that level (and it took weeks), we gave up after that...

        I really think Braben and Bell should deserve this honour well ahead of the cut & paste 2d gaming crews with the exception of Jeff Minter possibly (but I don't think he was British).
  • Not the Queen... (Score:5, Informative)

    by while(true) ( 626738 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @06:15AM (#23798947)
    It's actually the Honours Committees [] that puts together the list of people to be honored and they are guided by guidelines set up by the Prime Minister.
  • So their games have been upgraded to run on the PS3?
  • Must be a mushy atmosphere, where they work. "Hello Darling", "Bye, Darling", "We should add some blood and gore here, Darling".
  • When they were just starting out. They sort of ripped off my cousins company by getting a load of stuff out of them and not paying. Years later they sent him the cheque with interest after meeting up on Facebook
  • I met the Darling brothers, albeit very briefly, at a computer show back in the 80s. I was just a little kid trying to pitch a game I'd written for the Spectrum, with hopes of making it rich like those guys. The game was actually quite fun, but it was just a little strategy thing, hardly the sort of thing Codemasters would release. Worst of all, it was written in Basic (though I didn't tell them that!) Unsurprisingly, they didn't seem too impressed.

    I have a bit of a history of trying to use Basic for enti

  • Man I loved the Codies (as they were known by fellow Spec-chums). The Dizzy series of games was pretty decent, and in fact there's a lot of love for this game out there on the net, as I recently had cause to do a bit of searching. Micromachines was also pure genius.

    Especially with the Megadrive (Genesis) cartridge coming with an extra 2 controller ports built in for some 4 player action, but something rings a bell, i'm sure you caould have 8 people playing??

    Each person using one end of the controller as

  • good games for girls []

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