Geoff Crammond’s interest in programming games began in the early 80’s. A systems engineer in the defense industry, he programmed his first game ‘Super Invaders’ for the BBC in 1981. He loved realism in his games and aspired to become a professional game programmer. Crammond’s dream came true with his first spitfire simulator, ‘Aviator’ which was marketed for the BBC Micro by Acornsoft. Released around 1983, Aviator was quite a breakthrough in air simulation games although it had monochrome Mode 5 graphics and minimum features as compared to modern-day simulators. It had crudely rendered landscapes and some of the scenes; especially lakes, rectangular fields, and hills were drawn as vector graphics. The game was a typical shoot ‘em up where the spitfire had to tackle alien vessels.
Falling in Love with Formula 1
Geoff Crammond’s dream of becoming a professional game programmer materialized in 1984 when he started working on ‘REVS’, a Formula 3 Sim racing game. He was not interested in motor racing games, but his first Sim racing game completely changed his perspective. The Formula 3 Simulator project in 1984 made him a big fan of Formula 1 racing. REVS debuted on the BBC Micro platform featuring the Silverstone circuit. It included practice, qualifying and race sessions, the most important elements of Formula 1 racing. The game received rave reviews because of its depth, re-playability, AI and realism. It was released for the Commodore 64 entitled Revs Plus in 1986 with three extra tracks including Nurburging and Brands Hatch.
Crammond is also credited for creating a 3D puzzle game called ‘Sentinel’. It was published on the BBC Micro by a company called Firebird in 1986. He tried to make this game quite challenging as he programmed more than ten thousand levels. Sentinel had all the aspects of the puzzle strategy genre. Its huge commercial success resulted in a sequel, “Sentinel Returns” in 1998 on the PlayStation and Windows platforms.
From REVS to F1 Grand Prix
Geoff Crammond’s next big motor racing game, Stunt Car Racer, was released in 1989. The game was a bit offbeat as it concentrated more on stunts than racing. Points were awarded for the most outrageous stunts on circuits. Amiga and Atari ST gamers loved this game as it had an excellent physics engine and offered a realistic feel while driving. But his sole aim was to develop Formula One Grand Prix series of games. He developed the first game of the series in 1992, the F1 Grand Prix. It was released on the Amiga platform by MicroProse entertainment. Based on the 1991 F1 season, it gained huge popularity and soon was released on the PC and Atari ST platforms.
The amazing success of the F1GP prompted Crammond to work on its sequel. He took three long years to develop Grand Prix 2. It got released in 1996 for the PC platform. His third sequel, however, was over hyped and received average reviews and lukewarm responses from his fans. But with the release of Grand Prix 4 in 2002 (PC), he silenced his critics and competitors as it was regarded the most accurate Sim racing game of the series.
There were some rumors of a sequel of Crammond’s Stunt Car Racer, but it never turned up as the publishers Lost Toys disappeared from the gaming industry in 2003 and the game was rumored to be cancelled. Formula 1 racing fans are eagerly waiting for his next Sim racing game.