Foundation of Revolution Software
"Above a fruit shop, in a freezing half-office ..."
Revolution Software, Ltd., an English game company based in York, was founded in 1990 and has been developing adventure games ever since. Its history starts with a meeting of the co-founders in 1989.
One of the co-founders and initiator of the company was Charles Cecil. He began his career in the gaming industry in the early eighties, when most adventure games were still games without graphics or animation, and players had to type in commands using a text parser.
Charles Cecil ca 1992
Charles Cecil ca 2010
Studying mechanical engineering at Manchester University (1980-1985), Cecil started to work at Artic Computing, a young game company located at Brandesburton near Hull. The company was set up by a fellow student Richard Turner, whom he had met on a course sponsored by Ford.
At Artic Cecil wrote his very first game, a text adventure called Adventure 'B' (1981). It was followed by Adventure 'C', and Adventure 'D'.
3 They sold their first games for a few pounds at microfairs, small tables where they sat while gamers came along to buy their games. 4
Tony Warriner ca 1992
Tony Warriner ca 2010
At Artic Computing they were looking for great products, and a game called Obsidian was sent in for consideration, which Cecil considered to be brilliant.
The young author was Tony Warriner, who lived close to where Artic was based. Cecil invited him to the offices, took him for lunch, and convinced him to let Artic publish the game. As was typical for those days, Warriner, as a bed-room coder, had done all the work himself: he designed and programmed the game, created the graphics and sound effects. Warriner then came to work for Artic. (5)
When Cecil, after the closure of Artic Computing, started Paragon Programming in 1986, Warriner came to work with him.
6 They parted when Cecil went to work for U.S. Gold (1987), where he was offered the role of Software Development Manager. 7 U.S. Gold was, according to Cecil in various interviews and presentations, 8 an example of the nature of the big publishing companies of the late eighties. Their primary focus was marketing, their secondary sales, and then came development.
At Artic they had had direct contact with their customers, the gamers, but these companies lost contact with their audiences; the audience was just a way of making money. They completely controlled the supply and demand side of the market, and the revenues for small development companies where very low (about 7-10%). 9 This situation would have a great impact on his future company Revolution Software.
Norin Carmody ca 1996
Norin Carmody ca 2005
In 1988 Cecil moved to Activision, Ltd. to manage their European development studios.
10 Noirin Carmody, upcoming co-founder of Revolution, was at that time Activision's General Manager." 11
When Revolution came into being she was Cecil's girlfriend, and later she would become his wife. 12 After a while Activision started running into some difficulties, and Cecil was told that he would have to move onto a part-time contract. He asked them if he could start up his own development studio and, fortunately, they agreed.