Interview With The Mad Hatter

I recently gave an e-mail interview to the Mad Hatter, all about the times he used to edit the Adventuring column in the micro user, this is what happened.

Was computer journalism always a fascination of yours, or were you just a frustrated programmer?

I just sort of fell into computer journalism....and then loved the contact with readers: I had letters from boys and girls as young as 10, teenagers of course, people serving in the Armed Forces and University Lecturers - including one who taught me at Leeds!

How did you get the column in the Micro User that you are so famed for?

The bloke who first ran the Micro User adventure columns was a Maths lecturer at Sheffield University. He got a bit busy and, since I solved one of the earlier Level9 adventures before he did, a) asked me to write a review to be included in his column and then later, when he got too busy, suggested to the then Editor that I was asked to take over - and I did..

Why did you call yourself the Mad Hatter?

First adventure columnist wrote under the pen name Alice (his first name was Alex) and I thought I'd keep the Alice in Wonderland theme going. Thought I was daft to take on something extra when I was already pretty busy and so Mad Hatter sprang readily to mind.

Of all the adventure games you played which one is the one that sticks most fondly in your mind?

I think Lords of Time by Level9 although some of the peter Killworth gems are also fantastic - like Philosophers Quest (possibly because my degree is in Philosophy and History).

What is the worst text adventure you ever played?

No doubt whatever about that one: Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less - based on the Jeffrey Archer book which was included in the bundle (pretty good) but my last sentence in the review was 'the game comes on a floppy disk, value 50p, and this is the worth of the game. Not a penny more, not a penny less' (or words to that effect)

Did you really complete all those adventures yourself, or did you cheat a lot of the time?

I always gave credit if I used someone else's solutions to an adventure: wouldn't be fair otherwise - and folk quite enjoyed seeing their names in print.

When you started running the Elite section of the Mad Hatter pages, did you get a lot of false claims, or do you now know secrets about the game that no-one else does?

Don't know about false claims...I did make it to ELITE status 10 times so I knew a bit about the game. Never found any secrets as such and never came across the Cloak and Dagger ship on the Beeb version although a lot of readers claimed to have seen it. The cloaking device figured in Warren and Clive's version of Elite for the Arc, and was also on the Atari and Amiga versions; dunno about the PC ones (first was by all accounts a turkey, Elite+ was better).

What was it that made you love Elite so much?

The mixture of strategy and Shoot 'em up appealed - and when you are good at something that helps, too.

Do you miss the text adventure now that it has gone commercially or do you still play the old classics?

I feel kind of nostalgic about the old text games, but their day is, sadly past history now (though a very honourable bit of history) and I have got fond of RPGs on the PC and 'god-games' like Civilization 2 (I still play that a bit).

Are there any games you never finished, but would have liked to?

I never quite managed to complete Acheton even though I was given an audit trail, which I used for the early moves to speed up a review with a tight deadline. Probably never will finish it now...

I hope you enjoyed this article, and come back soon as I am always getting more interviews!