The New Star Games developer gets the rapid-fire question treatment

FAQ: New Star Soccer creator Simon Read

Who are you and what do you do?
I am Simon Read, founder of New Star Games and creator of New Star Soccer (pictured right).

What are you working on right now?
I am currently updating New Star Soccer, which we will continue to improve throughout this year and beyond, but I have also begun work on a new title which we will announce in due course.

What was the first video game or product that you ever worked on in the industry?
Oh, that’s a tricky question. I used to make games when I was a teenager and released an Amiga game called Captain Bonus into the public domain. It was very much inspired by Another World and wasn’t very good. I then had a hiatus from coding for a few years before making World Cup Manager in 2002.

What was the first video game you ever played, and did you enjoy it?
It was a Pong clone that my grandad owned: a Prinztronic Video Sport machine which I still have in its box. I doubt it is worth anything much, it’s more of a sentimental thing to me.

What was the most recent video game you ever played, and did you enjoy it?
The most recent was Castles in the Sky which I loved. The perfect length for me.

What is your favourite game ever, and for what reason?
I’ll probably go with Kick Off 2. It came into my life when videogames were all that I really cared about. Before music, before girls, before real life.

My mate and I played it constantly and then at some point we realised we could import our own tactics from Dino Dini’s other great masterpiece, Player Manager. That increased its lifespan by at least another year.

How many hours a week do you spend playing video games?
Nowhere near enough. I guess around three or four. I have a new baby boy and a toddler which doesn’t leave a lot of free time, especially when I enjoy making games at least as much as playing them.

What area of the industry needs more ‘investment’? Ah, I’m not really the person to ask. Until recently I’ve always worked alone, funding my own games. I was on the outer fringes of the whole scene and didn’t really pay any attention to the issues and politics involved. It was just a hobby for me and I continue to try to treat my work in that way.

What do you enjoy about the video games industry today?
It’s a bit of a double-edged sword but I am loving the sheer number of games we are seeing and the quality that is coming out on a daily basis.

There are similarities to when I was a kid in the Eighties and Nineties where I was lucky if I could buy a new full-priced game every now and then, but there were also loads of budget titles for £1.99 that you could buy more regularly. It feels a bit like that with the whole current console/mobile situation but the quality and quantity is just so much higher. Unfortunately I don’t have enough time to play everything that I want to.

What disappoints you about the video games industry today?
The negativity that seems to be building towards mobile gaming is disappointing. Sure there are some terrible free-to-play games out there and yes the top-grossing charts have stagnated, but to me it feels like the moments before the kettle boils, when everything goes quiet. We are working things out and maybe it will take a year or two but mobile gaming isn’t going away so we have to figure it out.

Of all the games you have worked on, which has been your favourite to work on?
I have to say the mobile version of New Star Soccer. There were five PC versions before it, along with a few other titles like tennis and grand prix, and they were all enjoyable experiences but ultimately they were each a part of the journey towards making a game that millions of people have played and hopefully enjoyed. And it seemed so incredibly easy to create, it just came together naturally.

What game that you were not involved with would you most liked to have worked on?
Oh, something mental like Hotline Miami. Something completely different to the kind of games I make.

What other video games developer do you most admire?
People like Riva Celso and Cliff Harris were a big inspiration for me. Indies who were making a living from games without needing Steam and long before mobile gaming became a kind of El Dorado. Those guys were the pioneers for me and I tried to gleen as much knowledge from them as possible.

What hobbies, collections or interests do you have that are completely unrelated to video games?
I love sport in general, particularly boxing, and football obviously. I play the guitar too. I used to be in a band at school and we would play Stone Roses covers and a few of our own tracks. I hardly touched my guitar for about 15 years but we actually got together again recently. Yeah, it’s a mid-life crisis.

What is your favourite book, movie, TV show and album of all time?
I don’t really have a favourite book but I guess The God Delusion was one of the most influential. One of the few books that I can say actually changed my life. Movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. TV show without doubt has to be Northern Exposure. Album, Loveless by My Bloody Valentine.

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