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Michael M. Simpson

Tea and Biscuits

Should the BBC ever need a new Doctor Who, we know where to find a moderately convincing Timelord. Left to his own devices Mike Simpson has appalling taste in jumpers, the air of a slightly bemused - but very nice - missionary who has wandered into an amusing cannibal convention, a quietly evil sense of humour, and a brain the size of a small planet. Fuelled entirely by tea and other people’s biscuits, he has forgotten more about games and game development than most people will ever know. The final clinching point is that his office is bigger on the inside than the outside - no, really. Otherwise the sheer untidiness of it all would spill out into the rest of Sussex…

Mike began his career in the sensible end of the computer industry as a chip designer in 1985, but fortunately escaped from terminal sensibleness and took to games instead. On balance, this was a good move. His first game, Swords and Sorcery (for the Spectrum and Amstrad) won a Game of the Year Award in 1985. Mike also claims it was the first computer RPG.

Shogun Total War
Since then, he has worked on so many games that there are enough boxes to recreate Stonehenge in miniature, which is kind of cool but completely pointless. And not just as a programmer: he’s brought a broadside of managerial expertise to bear on titles for PSS, Mirrorsoft and Psygnosis before joining CA in 1997. Once there, he became a lynchpin of the whole operation, and acted as the creative force, a guru if you will, for the soon-to-be awesome Total War brand. He had a hand in the design of Shogun: Total War, its expansion pack Mongol Invasion, Medieval: Total War and its expansion Viking Invasion and now is overseeing Rome: Total War and keeping a benevolent eye on another super-secret product. In the process Total War became an awesome brand, instead of a ‘soon-to-be etc.’!

We could go mad and list the 50 games he’s had his name on, but really, this would only make everyone else in the biz look like slackers. Suffice to say that he’s helped move CA from having a single team of 7 people to being a company 10 times the size spread across 10 time zones (but in two office-shaped clumps, not a thin layer like some bizarre human-flavoured jam). He’s also remained a jolly nice chap too, which is more than can be said for many of the slackers…

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