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Terry Greer

Me - What I've done




Spectrum animated cartoons

Adventure game graphics

Last Ninja 2


Microprose Misc (Pizza Tycoon/Navy Strike.

XCom - Terror from the deep

XCom - Apocalypse

XCom - Alliance

Citizens (Ghosts of games that never were)

Master of Orion 2



Flaklypa Grand prix

Blitz Pitches (Ghosts of games that never were)

Blitz Tech



For a period of about a year or so I worked for a company called Searchlight Systems.

Searchlight systems already had a comprehensive secure server back-end for doing the actual game logic on and ensuring it was kept well away from the client, along with a payment system. It also had a traditional gambling suite of games that were licensable and customizable for people who wanted to set up their own online casino.


However the company’s main aim was to tackle low stakes gambling games for the masses and attract new non-gamblers onto  the PC desktop via a floating ‘app-like’ window that would sit on the desktop.




They also wanted to get onto the early mobile phones. Although the only phones around then were the early SMS and WAP phones – with tiny black and white LCD screens.

(See right).

I never thought the MS side would take off until something better came along as these screens were tiny, couldn’t animate and updating them was via SMS messages.

SMS messages were quite expensive.


The Quingo 'App'

The window approach however had a lot of promise.


The work consisted of creating a new look for gambling games, along with creating ways that people could play head to head for real cash.


Graphic design

A design studio was used for the initial look and they did some outstanding work, but they weren’t used to creating graphics for games. For example when asked to do a 16 colour graphic they’d create one in RGB with so much antialaising that it couldn’t be compressed into less than 256 colours. This meant I had to do a lot of touch up work. In some cases it was far easier to just use the style as a guide and create the graphics from scratch.


The games and presentation though were really smart and very different to anything at the time.



We started with a mix of traditional gambling games (such as Blackjack and Roulette) and some original ones such as Break the Bank (based on mastermind-like mechanics) and Treasure Quest - a scratch-card like adventure where you had to get to the top of a pyramid without dying to win the jackpot (although you could cash out at anytime).


We were also thinking of head to head gambling games such as Backgammon, Battleships and Poker.


The intent was to eventually move into other games such as Tetris and more hard-core games in which we could eventually offer tournaments such as multiplayer shooters and RTS games.


The interface was web-based and very customisable using a separate 256 colour mask to define active areas - this meant that buttons could be any shape. the only limiting factor was the main game window and the slide out pane for additional information and messages.


Quingo's demise

Ultimately though it was an idea ahead of its time and it failed after about a year.

I still think the main failure was that there wasn’t at that time an easy way of making micro payments. At that time you had to use a credit card and the cost of the transaction made anything less than about £10 uneconomic. Which meant that people had to go through the process of  starting an account and paying funds into it before they could play for real money. Once the player had set up an account with money in we could offer gambling for very low stakes – but that initial hurdle was inescapable (and totally at odds with the concept of low stakes impulse gambling) and its the reason why it failed. The market is very different today.


Lessons learnt

Looking back on it now it’s hard to not see how prophetic a lot of the screen layouts were, they wouldn’t look out of place now on a smart phone.


I learnt a lot there – not the least of which was how to make games accessible to non-gamers along with the need to do so. It was the first time I’d ever watched anyone who had never played any game before sit down and struggle with what I thought (at the time) were blindly simple controls. Of course they weren’t blindingly simple, at least not to those coming at a game blindly, as up to that point games had always subconsciously assumed some basic interface experience.


It was an interesting time and I also learnt great deal about the gambling industry and the psychology behind it – very useful for the free to play generation of games in either just showing what works, and in giving me a yardstick for measuring how ethical these types of mechanics are.