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Jeff Minter

Jeff Minter (born in Reading, April 24 1962) was one of the most innovative and distinctive British computer/video game designers and programmers of the 1980s and 1990s.

Minter's games are as recognizable as the oeuvre of a literary writer. Almost all his games include certain distinctive elements—they are often arcade style shoot-em-ups. His fondness of llamas, sheep, camels and similar often leads to them appearing in his games or the titles (Llamatron, Llamazap, Attack of the Mutant Camels etc.). Also many feature something of a psychedelic element, as in some of the earliest 'light synthesizer' programs such as his Trip-a-Tron.

Jeff Minter became interested in computers while attending secondary school. He teamed up with Richard Jones, a fellow pupil, and together they started writing their own games on their school's Commodore PET. Jones was never talented for programming in the way that Minter was, and they soon parted ways. Jones went on to other commercial projects (Interceptor Micros), some of which included selling software, but never gained the fame that Minter earned.

In 1981 Jeff Minter started writing and selling ZX80 video games. In 1982 he founded Llamasoft (a computer company that creates games rather than sells or distributes them is often called a house). His first game through Llamasoft was Andes Attack (US version: Aggressor): a Defender clone for the Commodore VIC-20, but with little llamas instead of spaceships (a great fan of Defender he would remake it again, and better, as Defender 2000). His second Llamasoft game, Gridrunner, was written in a week and was his first real success both in the UK and in the USA.

Minter went on to develop a number of classic games, all written in assembler, for the later home computers (such as the Commodore 64 or Atari ST) which were marketed mainly by word of mouth and by the odd magazine advertisement. After the collapse of the home computer market he worked for (doomed) Atari and for (doomed) VM Labs. For Atari he produced Tempest 2000 (1994) on the Jaguar, a remake of Dave Theurer's 1981 game.

After a short spell writing games for the PocketPC platform, Jeff is now working on a project for the Gamecube that goes by the name of Unity. Unity is the combination of the two main threads of Jeff's previous work: light synthesis and arcade style shooting. Jeff is writing this game for Peter Molyneux's Lionhead Studios.

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