I recently got a chance to ask Mat Thomas, who was on the Lemmings Revolution development team at Psygnosis, some questions. My questions along with his answers are below. Thanks to Mat for taking time out of his busy schedule (he's now working at Acclaim) for this interview. Enjoy!
Q: Were you involved with the development of any of the Lemmings games that were released before Lemmings Revolution?
A: No. I joined Sony/Psygnosis Leeds where I was assigned to the Lemmings Revolution team.
Q: If not, did you play the original Lemmings?
A: Yes I have played all the Lemmings games. Being a huge fan even before I started game design, I think even today the Lemmings games play very well. DMA Design (now Rockstar North - the creators of GTA 3 and Vice City) created a classic game which will be forever remembered.
Q: What is your favorite Lemmings Revolution level?
A: My favourite level is Lemmings Four The Drop. A fantasticly simple puzzle. I am very proud of the levels I developed such as 'Tanks' A Lot (which was released with a horrible bug!) and Scale That Wall too - I created a total of about 30 levels. There were some genuinely first class quality levels created by myself, Mark McGinley, Kevin Finnigan, and Jody Cobb - the design team at Psygnosis/Sony Leeds.
Q: What is your favorite original Lemmings level?
A: Being a huge fan of the original multiplayer aspect, I would have to say that these levels were the best for me. Utterly simple but completely open to manipulation and sabotage when attempting to out-do your opposing Lemmings!
Q: Which Lemmings game is your favorite?
A: Definitely the first Lemmings game, especially on the Amiga! Wonderful game.
Q: When creating levels for Lemmings, how do you come up with ideas?
A: Well we had a fabulous editor developed by a programmer called Ben Dixon. It was very easy to mock up and create levels and made life easy. The key to level design with Lemmings is trying to think of ways to use the skills presented to the players in different ways. Inspiration came from each other, and other mediums such as the earlier Lemmings games and dare I say it, films! Goonies, one of my levels was inspired by the named film - I tried to put in as many gadgets to give that feeling of technology driving the level. Our team created nearly 200 levels for Lemmings Revolution which allowed us to pick the cream of the crop which was very useful.
Q: Do you think any new Lemmings games will be released in the future?
A: If I had to say, I would say yes. It is such a huge license that I cannot see how the game could be just left in a cupbaord somewhere. Lemmings is a seminal puzzler loved by all - a return to what made Lemmings great would be ideal. I am sure someone somewhere is thinking how to bring Lemmings into the new millenium.
Q: What did/do the other members of the Lemmings Revolution development team think of Lemmings?
A: Well naturally, the entire development team were delighted to work on such a famous series and we took the challenge. Unfortunately when Sony canned the game, we were all devestated. We still had plenty of time to implement new skills but this was all stopped. I am just thankful to Take 2 for taking the game and publishing it albeit in a cutted down format.
Q: If you could add a new skill to Lemmings, what would it be (excluding skills used in any previous Lemmings game)?
A: I'd like to see some kind of growth skill - make your lemming huge allowing them to bash through huge walls and the like! We can only dream I guess!
Q: What is your favorite tribe from Lemmings 2: The Tribes?
A: The Circus lemmings were great as were the space ones. Lemmings 2 was good if a bit too much too soon...
Q: How did you become a game developer?
A: Left Leeds university here in England and started working for Psygnosis/Sony. I was asked my the then studio manager, Jonathan Freedman to work on Lemmings Revolution - how could I resist! After Lemmings I went to work at Codemasters, and now I work at Acclaim working as a lead designer on new games.
Q: What are some of your other favorite video games, both old and new(er)?
A: I love all video games although I have a fondness for old games such The Last Ninja series, Double Dragon, the Super Mario games and Sensible Soccer. Modern day great games are hard to come by but I love the simplicity of Ico, and of course the GTA series. All fantastic games.
Q: Why do you think the Lemmings game series has been so long lasting (many sequels)?
A: Well it is a wonderful puzzle game which in my opinion, is yet to be beaten. Delightful stuff. I just hope we haven't seen the last of the series.
Q: If you were going to create a new Lemmings game, what would it be like?
A: Hmmm, a new Lemmings game. I would be tempted to take the game back to basics maybe. Capture the essence of the game once again in 2D but with improved levels, skills and levels. I would also seriously look at how extensive multiplayer gaming could be included. That would be cool!