Gregg Barnett was studying computer science at The University of Melbourne, when he answered an advertisement in “The Age” newspaper for a programmer. He had (and still has) a passion for programming and film. He saw designing electronic games as a way of combining these two interests. Barnett arrived at Beam Software’s offices in 1982 with a demo of a car driving game that he had been working on, and got the job.
Barnett was experienced with the Commodore 64 and his first job at Beam was to convert “The Hobbit” for to the Commodore 64 , and to create versions of “Hungry Horace” and “Horace Goes Skiing”. He went on to produce a more elaborate version of “The Hobbit” with sound and richer graphics in 1985 for by the Commodore 64 disk drive. With plenty of ideas for games of his own he put forward an idea for a martial arts game. “The Way of the Exploding Fist” which combined Barnett’s interests in sport simulation and interface design. He mapped the real karate moves to the joystick in a fluid way making the game feel good to play and drawing on his love cinematic flair worked with Greg Holland on great animations and added the unforgettable scream on the loader. “The Way of the Exploding Fist” became one of Beam’s most successful games. Barnett also worked on design for “Rock n’ Wrestle” and “Aussie Games” always looking for some way to push the technology to offer something new. In 1987 Barnett was appointed Software Development Manager, where he managed all game development. By the end of the 1980s, he was a director and shareholder in the company.
After the sale of Melbourne House it was harder for Beam’s employees to get a chance to make the games they wanted. In the latter part of the 1980s and the early 1990s, Barnett worked closely with Nintendo on Beam’s NES and SNES title and conversions. Tired of working with these constraints, he left Beam in 1992, to co-found his own company, Perfect Entertainment, based in the United Kingdom. There he could again make original titles. At Perfect Entertainment, his first game, “Disc World”, was based on Terry Pratchett’s well-known series of books.
Gregg Barnett is currently the Creative Director of Dhruva Interactive, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India.
References: Gregg Barnett Interview with ACMI 2006; Gregg Barnett Interview 29 December 2012