Interview with Ian G. Harling Part1 - Part2|Chris Glaister


Check out the highlight of this website! I had the opportunity to interview two of the persons behind The Lost Patrol: IAN G. HARLING (graphics & design) and CHRIS GLAISTER (music & FX, Amiga).


There`s more to come soon!

|Ian G Harling (part 2)|

Q: Were you content with the finished game? Anything you wanted to add back then that didn`t make it into the release-version?

A: Only in parts. The game was a shadow of what it was meant to be. Ocean made us take out interrogation scenes, deeper sub-games, more movie sequences and all kinds of things, leaving the game as just a shell. I'd like to revisit the game now and try to do a far better, more accurate title that would, I hope, terrify the player as much as being a real soldier back then would.


Q: What was it like seeing the finished game in stores around europe? How was the feedback to the game like (hmmm, positive I guess)? Since the game is well known, was it a commercial success? Do you know how many units were sold?

A: We may never truly know whether it was a commercial success or not, but I think it was - we just never benefited from it. It was great to go into shops in London and see it on the shelves though. After all that hard work it was very odd, very surreal to see it finished. The magazines pretty much as a whole gave the game good reviews, but I remember one reviewer (an anoying little sod that I can never remember the name of - Gary something...), I think at 'The One' magazine. At the time we were responsible for much of our own PR, so took the game round the mag's ourselves. The reviewer called us in to demo the game, saying that it was too hard for him and he was making no headway and couldn't get past the sub-games. So I spent the afternoon showing him how to play it. When the review he wrote came out he said that he'd found the game disappointingly easy and gave us a 4 out of 10 or something....!


Q: Why was 'The Lost Patrol' Shadow Developments only release? Why did you split up (damn, I always wanted to see a sequel...)? Were there more games planned or did you work on other games? Why did you leave the game industry?

A: We wanted to move into other types of games that were becoming popular at the time and had designs and graphics for another 4 titles or so. One of them, 'Flag' showed real promise, but as it was too original for its time, it was pulled before we could complete it. Shadow 'closing' happened over a few years as time changed and we realised that without a half million pound budget and a massive team behind us, publishers would no longer consider our work. Neither Simon nor myself wanted to take the step into opening a 'real' publishing house (life is far too short!), so we had to stop. We still talk about game ideas from time to time, but the software industry has changed so much now we probably have little chance of developing them.
Simon still works in the industry, but after a couple of years as a games journalist/ sub-
editor and a couple more years in PR I decided that I wanted to try other things other than graphics - it's a very demanding job and the burnout rate is very high. Over the years I've worked on about 30 games since Lost Patrol: Zool arcade version, Cybermorph, Hero Quest, etc....all great fun. But there's been little demand for hand drawn graphics for a long time, and it's only starting to come back now with the advent of mobile phone gaming.

: Talking about the good old times, what are your feelings when remembering those days? Any thoughts about the game-market and computers (Amiga) in generall back then compared to today?

A: They were great times. Damned hard work, but I Ioved every minute of it. Very few modern games have inspired me I have to say. I think I can get more out of 'Mr Do' than most of the titles on sale at present. When I was involved in PR one part of my job required me to go to publishers and tell them what I thought of their new titles and estimate what kind of scores they would get. Most, 9 out of 10, were actually appalling, despite having months of development and tens of thousands of pounds thrown at them. They failed really because the basic game premise wasn't strong enough, and they hoped that by keep adding on gaming extras they could turn them into something decent. But a good story line or a vague idea about gameplay isn't a good reason to begin development. If they'd just put more thought into the planning and ideas stage, most could have saved themselves literally millions of pounds.
In many cases though, games that I said were truly abysmal were still brought out (remember Microids 'football' game?) and cost the companies involved dearly. They just didn't want to hear the truth. But I have to say that nowadays most publishers think of games as just a technical process - with artists and programmers a necessary evil they have to bear - and that if they get all the mechanics of the game right then gameplay will follow. But no strong core gaming theme, no game.

: Is there maybe a chance for us to enjoy another game with your graphics again someday (don`t say no, please!)?

A: I'd love to, but to be honest there are very few games that use bitmap screens anymore, it's mostly all 3D stuff and that doesn't appeal to me in the same way as actually drawing something. I'm looking into maybe doing some phone games, I've got a lot of graphics already done for ideas for new games I've had over the years, It would be nice to do some of these ideas. I'm still open to offers!:)


Q: Ok, final question: What do you think about making a website dedicated to a 14 years old game? Crazy? Stupid? Cool? ;-)

A: Flattering and cool to be honest! Around the time of bringing the game out we got a little publicity and it sold well, but I never heard of anyone expressing much interest in it even 6 months later. I had no idea that it had many sales in Europe or how it had been received (though I did get an award for the graphics from a French Magazine). That anyone should even care about it now is pretty amazing. I just wish we'd been able to make the game as it was meant to have been, maybe more people would be interested.

Again, Ian, thanks a lot for spending your time on this interview and all the best wishes for your future!