Tim is a very nice man indeed: mild mannered, affable, lovable and loving beyond measure, as well as a DIY expert. This last point explains the Black & Decker pressed against my kneecap. He has an endless fund of witty remarks and rejoinders, a collection of game industry anecdotes, a goodly selection of jokes old and new, a steely will and a twitchy trigger finger.
All have stood him in good stead in his steady rise to near sainthood in the games industry. His personal profile may not be as high as some, but his track record is enviable. Tim began programming professionally in 1985, working on Amstrad CPC titles (only games archaeologists would recognise a CPC now!) along with conversions to Spectrum, Commodore 64, Atari 800 and IBM PC/Tandy formats. The list of early games is impressive and quite long. In the games industry of today this is the equivalent of having done your early work in Latin - or possibly Linear B. Something very old anyway. Tim also had extensive experience of working on the FMTowns, a Fujitsu machine developed for the Japanese market on which he did R&D work for Psygnosis . Tim has, in short, been there, done that and got loads of T-shirts in the process.
He still owns and runs The Creative Assembly - now a company of around 70 people - that he founded in 1987. Initially, though, Tim kept the company small so that he could pursue his love of programming games, but by 1996 it was clear that single-team developers were going to find the future an ‘interesting’ time (as in the Chinese curse). Enter, stage left, an experienced development manager bearing a cup of tea: Mike Simpson.
Meanwhile, back to Tim. He has successfully guided the company to its present 70 staff (or so) in the UK and Australia. They are working on assorted Total War products, the franchise and brand that CA have created for themselves over the last 6 years. Now Total War is one of the more successful brands in the games business, and poised to become even bigger with upcoming TV shows on both sides of the Atlantic using the game engine. E3 2003 confirmed this, when Rome: Total War was presented to wide critical acclaim (and a few awards too!). In large part the roots of this success have to be traced back to Tim, as he has the rare ability to spot nincompoops who want jobs for what they really are, and a talent for managing intellectual property that is sadly lacking elsewhere in the industry…