THE BITMAP BROTHERS
How the Bitmaps planned the hype

"The hype surrounding ourselves was all planned.", Mike Montgomery admits, "We wanted to change the attitude people have towards programmers. When you open magazines and see people dressed up looking really stupid it doesn't help our case as programmers to be taken seriously."

Steve Kelly
Steve Kelly

Eric Matthews
Eric Matthews

Mike Montgomery
Mike Montgomery

The Bitmap Brothers originally got together when Mike Montgomery was working for Leisure Software (Scrabble and Cluedo) and Steve Kelly was working for Psion on games like Matchpoint and Chequered Flag for the Sinclair Spectrum. "Steve came down to our Offices to get some information regarding the game.", Mike recalls. "We started talking and became friends. Steve was also doing some work with Eric (Matthews, the third Brother) and then Eric did some work for Leisure Genius on a program l was involved with. It was like a triangle forming up."

Before the Trio became The Bitmap Brothers, Steve Kelly wrote QL Karate on the Sinclair QL for Eidersoft in 1986, it was ported to the Atari ST as ST Karate and to the Amiga under the name...Amiga Karate ;)

Amiga Karate - Credits for Mike Montgomery & Steve KellyAmiga Karate - Credits for Eric Matthews
ST Karate
ST Karate

"Then Xenon came up and we thought it was time we got together as a group to do this project. We all got on so well we continued. Then came Speedball." And the rest, as they say, is Software history.

A "not so well known" fact is that Xenon was originally called Kelly X at first, but a rumour said that a preview copy leaked from Mastertronic, so the name was changed into Xenon.
Another interesting fact about Xenon is that it was also available as Coin-Op in the Arcades running on modified Amiga hardware.
Kelly X - Preview Copy Arcadia Systems Preview Copy

What about Xenon 2? Did the Bitmaps actually do the programming themselves? "No. Xenon 2 was programmed by The Assembly Line," says Mike, "and at that time Steve and l were working on Cadaver, so we were actually involved with the design and graphics."

According to the Renegade philosophy, what really matters are the creative ideas that go into a project. The intention of Renegade is to share the workload to achieve the best results. On the day FORMAT visited, for instance, Richard Joseph was in the office to put the final music touches to Speeball 2. The idea for Renegade originated when Eric Matthews came up with the concept of working with Bomb the Bass on one of their games - Xenon 2. "Games have always really fascinated me," says Martin Heath, "so when I met Eric, l thought, great, it's an ideal way to do two things. Firstly, l can help out somebody in games and secondly, find new ways to promote music." It all grew from there.

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