An informal interview with Thomas Giguere, programmer of
video games including "Outworld" and "Alien Blitz" for the VIC-20.
[Ward Shrake made his first contacts with Mr. Giguere via email. He introduced himself as a fan and historian of the Vic20, gave his web site address and asked if Mr. Giguere would mind answering some questions about his experiences programming for the Vic20.]
"Yes, its been a while, but I used to write for the Vic20. I still have a
couple stored in a box somewhere in the house." And later... "No
problem...always fun to talk about old times. You might have to answer some
questions yourself. Pete was the creative talent behind much of our s/w, but if
I can add anything I would be happy to."
[We exchanged some emails over time. Ward asked lots of questions. Mr. Giguere took some time out from holiday travels, and answered most of Ward's questions all at once.]
About the Space Invaders game he cowrote with Peter Fokos:
"Alien Blitz - Peter and I teamed on, we wrote it first in Basic and it
was so slow... Then Pete started getting into assembly language and had plenty
of speed. We were so impressed that we never went back to Basic. I remember
Peter and I talking about how we would have to put in delays to make it
About an original game he wrote: "Outworld - solo effort, but plenty of critique from the team. We all would test and play each others games to try to find bugs and just make them better. We considered it very bad form to let any bugs get out the door, and be immortalized on a cartridge."
About an unreleased game collectors knew nothing about: "Cave Quest - Never made it out the door, Kind of an adventure game where you would go looking for treasure and clues. Had bats too! Also, had a bug I could never find, but a new distributor from England never agreed to publish the game anyway. Don't remember why we didn't go to UMI on this one-I recall that we were trying to branch out a bit, as UMI didn't always pay on time."
[Ward asked what other computers Mr. Giguere had worked on, prior to the VIC-20.]
"At one point we actually started working with the ZX-20 which was a 1 K
machine, used the TV as a monitor, and came in a kit. Black and white only. Very
cheap, so we thought it might really take off. It didn't of course, and it was
hard to do anything in that space. I still remember getting teased about one of
my games called 'Cropduster'."
[Ward had asked about Mr. Giguere's computer-related experiences, prior to Tensor.]
"Very exciting, worked in aerospace with Pete and Tom Arranaga (Pres of Tensor), where I learned Fortran. Strange beginning for video game programmers!"
[What had Mr. Giguere done, after the days of the Vic20?]
"We got into Commodore 64 games, much easier to write with the video and sound chip built in. I worked on helicopter game with Toby ??? for a while, but by this time the games coming out were starting to get more sophisticated. Team games (programmer, artist, sound guy, etc.), so this game didn't have enough going for it."
[How did it feel to be one of the first third-party companies to sell Vic20 software?]
"We knew that we were cutting edge. It was cool to see our software on the shelves."
[Ward wishes to thank Mr. Giguere for his patience
generosity in granting me the opportunity to interview him.]
Interview conducted by Ward Shrake via email from Oct 1998 to Jan 1999.