Mel Croucher | Video Games and Computers

This part of the website covers Mel's ups and downs in the world of computerised entertainment. For a preview on what he's working on right now, peer In The Pipeline. To catch up on what's current and recently released, click on Latest Stuff. For a rundown of every title he has inflicted on a bemused public - it's all here in Past Stuff. And to see how being a pioneer and a success are not necessarily related, spend a little time for reflection with Mel's Computer Firsts.

Allergy Warning | May Contain Nuts

"Mel Croucher's name comes up rather a lot. He's rarely listed alongside the giants of game design, but talk to any of the developers and his name is like catnip. Most hail him as an insipration. Some go further and use the word Hero."
Mel Croucher: the 8-bit Frank Zappa (Dan Whitehead, Eurogamer, 2013)

"We're not exactly spoiled for choice when it comes to the gaming equivalent of Captain Beefheart or Pablo Picasso. In fact, if you're looking for a true two-fingers-to-convention maverick spirit driven by a genuine need to pioneer games, the list boils down to just one name: Mel Croucher. The anarchistic intellectual rebel, Croucher's games have yet to be equalled in terms of oddball spirit or lunatic ambition."
In The Chair (Now Gamer, 2009)

"Mel Croucher is without doubt one of the most important voices and artists who has worked in videogames. With an independent spirit, a mercurial mix of guts and humour, Mel Croucher has been an inspiring figure to me."
Llaura NicAodh, Games Creator (BAFTA New Talent In Games, 2016)

"Somewhere between Shakespeare and Pink Floyd's The Wall, there is Deus Ex Machina. 50 minutes of awe designed by the visionary Mel Croucher."
Future And Reality Of Gaming (Jaroslav Svelch, lecturer, Charles University, Prague, 2009)

"The home computer revolution was a major triumph for UK industry, and the modest Sinclair Spectrum was to play host to what can arguably be considered the world's earliest computer simulation of dementia symptoms. Providing a convincing psychological replication of dementia would be a daunting prospect for even today's advanced computing technology; in the eighties, the very concept seemed unthinkable. But pioneering programmer Mel Croucher was never a man to let expectation curtail his ambitions. Croucher was a legend of the British 8-bit computing scene - a ground-breaking free thinker who effortlessly redefined generic conventions even in an industry noted for its creative flexibility. Developing wildly eccentric games which inspired many later programmers, Croucher's games defied categorisation just as their sheer inventiveness left many consumers scratching their heads in bafflement.
A programmer ahead of his time, in 1986 Croucher was to create a game which many would herald as being the most elaborate of all his projects: iD. Collaborating with Colin Jones, a similarly ambitious and unconventional programmer, iD was a game that defied anything even approaching easy explanation. The game came with little in the way of user instructions, leaving the player presented with a one-to-one interaction between themselves and an artificial intelligence. Only one thing seemed to be certain: that no two people were ever to have the same experience when engaging with the game.
This is a game which puts at its centre the experience of conscious thought and encourages consideration of all aspects of personal psychology and independence. This concept would seem laudable enough today, when postmodern aspects of artificial intelligence development seem ever more relevant, but this was a game developed in the mid-eighties which took up less memory than required to display a website logo on a modern PC. As a model for depicting complex psychology the game would influence many later coders and certainly laid the early groundwork for considerably more sophisticated depictions that we have come to recognise in modern video gaming. The Mel Croucher legacy is experimentation and the cutting edge. Certainly it would be an intriguing prospect to witness Croucher's ground-breaking program let loose on today's PCs. But whatever may happen in the future, there is no doubting the game's significance in its original eighties format, or the sweeping aspiration which helped it stand out from the crowd in a market that was saturated by literally thousands of competitors."
Digital Interpretations Of Demenetia (Dr Tom Christie, 2014)