Mike Singleton, the creator of numerous seminal 80s classics passed away last week.
Born in 1951, Singleton became one of the most renowned and influential British game developers in the 1980s, with a string of hugely ambitious titles including the 1984 Spectrum strategy adventure Lords Of Midnight, and its equally lauded sequel, Doomdark's Revenge.
Despite the severe memory constraints of the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad, Singleton consistently had a knack of producing breakthrough titles that took gaming to new heights.
Upon Lords Of Midnight's release for fledgling publisher Beyond, few games featured more than 100 locations, but - out of nowhere - Singleton's instant classic boasted an unprecedented 4000 locations and over 100 playable characters. The sequel went even further, with 6000 locations, and it was clear that Singleton was one of the era's true development stars.
Lords of Midnight
But Singleton didn't linger on a particular series or milk a style of game for long, and generally produced two games a year for more than a decade.
His run of hit titles continued throughout the eighties, including Dark Sceptre, Carrier Command, and Star Trek: The Rebel Universe,
But his career hit another peak with the release of his 1989 first-person action RPG title Midwinter on Amiga, Atari ST and PC.
A Eurogamer retrospective in 2010 claimed that Bethesda's Elder Scrolls and Fallout titles owe a "huge debt to Midwinter"
Dan Whitehead commented: "That most of Midwinter's best ideas are still considered fairly cutting edge and are integral to most action games today is a testament to just how far Mike Singleton's team pushed the boundaries of how games could be played, using hardware that was downright primitive."
Midwinter's sequel was released a year later to equally effusive reviews, but like a lot of British development geniuses, Singleton's output completely dried up once consoles began to gain traction in the mid 1990s. His PC remake of Lords Of Midnight in 1995 was to prove one of his last.
In the noughties, Singleton maintained a low profile, but contributed to titles including Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, Gauntlet Seven Sorrows and GRID.
However, in recent years, despite battling mouth cancer and suffering an undiagnosed heart attack, Singleton teamed up with Christopher Wild in 2010 to work on bringing Lords Of Midnight to iPhone and iPad.
Wild commented yesterday on his blog: "Over the last two years Mike and I have talked almost every week, and sometimes every day for weeks on end. And the development of the game became about much more than just Lords of Midnight, it became about making a outlet for Eye of the Moon – the legendary, official, original, 3rd part of the trilogy."
In the wake of Mike's death, Wild says he wants to "step back, remove the bling, and put out a simple but faithful version [of Lords Of Midnight] with the original graphics. Doing any more than that without Mike’s input just seems wrong."
Mike Singleton leaves a lasting legacy. Lords Of Midnight was, in the words of his close friend Christopher Wild: "one of the greatest, but overlooked games of all time, by one of the the best, but under appreciated developer, there has ever been."