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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: Interviews: Eddie Edwards

Interviews: Eddie Edwards

Posted by Tim Fountain on 00:00, 6/11/2000 | , ,
Eddie Edwards of Doom and Wolfenstien 3D fame has kindly agreed to do an interview for Acorn Arcade. Eddie recently completed his conversion of Doom to the Acorn and it has now been released through R-Comp.

Acorn Arcade: R-Comp have recently released their Doom conversion. Was it completely written by you or were you given assistance in front-ends and play-testing?
Eddie Edwards: Well, the game was pretty much finished already (since I'd done 6 months work on it back in 1995) so I didn't need much assistance. The scope of the "new" project was to do hires versions, windowed versions and add the associated RISC OS niceties (e.g. drag-and-drop save, double-click on a WAD file to launch DOOM, etc.) I did all this in about 3 weeks. As far as R-Comp is concerned, they sorted the deal out with Id and GTi and actually produced some boxes. They were very helpful in supplying me with MIDI software from ESP and a PC card, and of course if it wasn't for them then DOOM as a product just wouldn't exist! In terms of actually making the product, though, I am entirely responsible (for better or worse!).
Acorn Arcade: Which, from your point of view, was the easiest conversion out of Wolfenstien and Doom?
Eddie Edwards: Tricky one! In both cases, the graphics engine was the hardest bit and the music was the biggest headache (well, I was proud of the SoundBlaster emulator in Wolf 3D, even if everyone else thinks it's crap!) DOOM was the hardest to speed up; fortunately I came up with a new optimisation two weeks before the release, which added 30 to the speed. Until then I wasn't too happy with it.
The thing is, the two projects were very different indeed (which might seem strange from a cursory view of the screens of the two games!) Wolf 3D was a pure-assembly program which involved hand-compiling all the game code which was written in C. This was pretty easy and above-all fun to do (since for every 8 lines of assembler something new and cool happened in the game). However, the corresponding code in DOOM is about 10 times as large (i.e. all the code to move monsters, platforms and doors). This code, apart from the odd bug-fix, is a simple re-compile of the PC code and I didn't do much work at all in this area. What I did do, though, was a hell of a lot of profiling (I wrote my own profiler for the job!) and a hell of a lot of going through dozens of C files doing global optimization (such as changing most of the 16-bit variables in PC DOOM to faster 32-bit variables). The optimization is what counts! It's a simple job to make a working re-compile of DOOM (as certain net.people have done) and it's a pretty simple job doing a proper RISC OS port (i.e. doing proper sound and keyboard drivers, that sort of thing). The hard bit is getting it running fast, and this took 90 of the effort. Wolf 3D was fast from the word go, so the work was a lot more straightforward.
Acorn Arcade: Wolfenstien and Doom must be your most famous games but have you written or helped to write any others and where are they now?
Eddie Edwards: "Where are they now?" being a highly apt Spinal Tap quote ... my last game was a game called QAD which was published by Philips Media (RIP) for DOS only (although we did do a PlayStation port, which was never released). It was the most soul-destroying experience of my life. I won't go into the ins and outs, but basically we had more than our fair share of bad luck and the project slipped and slipped until I ended up spending 6 months doing late-nights and weekends to get the thing finished! It's done now, thank God!
Other than that, I did some work on Matchday 3, which is out for the PC and PlayStation in about a month (published by Acclaim) and was designed by the great Jon Ritman, author of the *original* Matchday, no less! I'm working with his company on their next project, which is an arcade adventure for the Nintendo 64.
My complete discography is as follows (quoted from my CV):
    1985: Space Trek I/II/II; The Time Machine Search; Dream Machine (Broomsoft/Dragon 32)
    1986: Dragon WIMP System (Dragonfire Software/Dragon 64)
    1990: Jet Set Willy, Airball (Freeware/RISC OS)
    1991: Manic Miner (Freeware/RISC OS)
    1991: Obsidian: Choose Your Fate (Demo, 90 mins)
    1992: Obsidian: Uterus Tomb (Demo, 40 mins)
    1993-1995: SNAP-IX V5 (Data Connection Ltd/UNIX SVR4)
    1994: Wolfenstein 3D (Powerslave Software/RISC OS)
    1995-1998: DOOM (R-Comp Interactive/RISC OS)
    1995-1997: QAD (Philips Media/DOS)
    1997: Matchday 3 (Acclaim/Win95/PlayStation)
    1998-: ******* **** (*****/RISC OS)
    1998-: ProjectX (*****/Nintendo 64)
SNAP-IX V5, if you're wondering, is a UNIX implementation of IBM's SNA APPN stack, with the bugs fixed.
Acorn Arcade: What do you have planned for the future? Will you continue to port id games, will you start on a native game or will you just go and do something else?
Eddie Edwards: Well I've mentioned ProjectX, the game I'm doing with Jon Ritman's company, Cranberry Source. I've also got my first commission - a conversion for RISC OS - but I can't say anything more about that at this stage.
Acorn Arcade: What is your personal favourite game on any platform?
Eddie Edwards: Well, I think GoldenEye is amazing although I've only actually played it for 20 minutes so I can't really say it's my favourite. Wipeout 2097 is probably it for me at the moment - racing with weapons in the future with mad strobing tunnels and a kick-ass soundtrack. I'm very nostalgic for Space Harrier, too (although I played it on a PC emulator the other week and it does show its age!)
Acorn Arcade: What do you think is in store for the Acorn games market in the coming year and the new millennium?
Eddie Edwards: There's a big problem about to hit the Acorn market which is this: are people like 3Dfx, Creative Labs (XBlaster) and Microsoft going to give Acorn people the technical information required to produce RISC OS (or Galileo) drivers for their PCI cards, or not? If they are forthcoming, and Acorn can put some 3Dfx drivers out, then I think things are going to look very, very exciting, at least for RPC-II owners! A RPC-II with 5 ARMXX processors and 2 3Dfx cards should be able to run a pretty bloody amazing simulation, which (after all) is what 3D games basically are. I dream of setting one GIPS CPU generating all the sound for a frame, while another handles IRQs and 3D rendering, another one runs a fantastically accurate physics simulation, another handles all game "intelligence", and the last just runs a huge neural net for your computer opponent! It will be a long, long time before that sort of compute power hits the consoles, or even the PC. Sadly, it'll be at least a year before it hits my desk, but life goes on!
Acorn Arcade: There has been much talk lately of the 'illegal' doom port that was distributed some months ago now. How did this half-finished version of the game get out?
Eddie Edwards: I trusted three people with a copy; two out of three ain't bad.
Acorn Arcade: Did you realise that the blue guards on Wolfenstien are actually saying "Mein leben!" (translates to "My life!") when they die and not just mumbling?
Eddie Edwards: I did realise that, although it took a while longer to realize that the first end-of-level guardian says "Morte" ("Death") and not, "More tea?" Also, did you know that the Wolf 3D theme tune is in fact an old SS drinking song? My mum told me that (she helped out at Acorn World '94 - on her 49th birthday, bless her).
Acorn Arcade: Thank-you for doing this interview, you will now be immortalised in the archives of Acorn Arcade!
Eddie Edwards: I don't quite know what to say.
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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: Interviews: Eddie Edwards