This Gang of Five Recluse Loves Vectors - it's Martin Wheeler!

by Paul Morrison

It's always fascinating to interview one of our Gods.  Learning about their introductions to computers, the processes behind their games or music or artwork and what they've done since "the glory days" is enlightening, every time.

I do like to keep as much of it as possible for the book, but sometimes, especially with regard to the current day stuff, it's worth sharing some of it here, too.  It's almost like a promotional tool, in a way, as quite a few of these folks are doing things today that many of you will be interested in.

Recently, I interviewed Martin Wheeler.  His tale is something of a roller-coaster ride, as you will see when this book is finally finished!  Even though he started out in a way that you or I would call living the dream, having his first game (Dr. Franky & the Monsters) published by Virgin at the age of just fourteen, behind the scenes it wasn't exactly like that.

Dr. Franky & the Monsters. I couldn't do that now, let alone at fourteen.

Dr. Franky & the Monsters. I couldn't do that now, let alone at fourteen.

"It wasn't easy being at a big comprehensive school", notes Martin. "I got picked on because of my apparent success. I came home covered in bruises on several occasions - one of the hard kids tried to extort money from me."

Still, at least the school would be proud, you would imagine?  Not so, as Martin points out: "There was even some hostility from the staff, because I had never been included in the computer studies class - and the fact that I publicised that did not reflect well on the school."

Whoops.  Always best to leave those comments until you're out of harm's way, in hindsight.  Still, there were definite positives to having a game published at that age, as Martin remembers: "I remember going on a shopping spree, buying bleached jeans, florescent socks and the sort of pullover only Ronnie Corbett could get away with."

Eighties fashion. Wasn't it something else? Long gone now, and little-mourned.

Not Martin Wheeler.

Not Martin Wheeler.

After the Gang of Five days, and an ill-fated spell with System 3, Martin diversified somewhat. He worked on a number of Game Boy games, including a game he remains particularly proud of... IGN's Strategy Game of the Year for 2000, Warlocked, for the GB Color.
Martin also went back to something he had always had a love for... music. "I have been composing and recording music since the mid-eighties but it wasn't until 2002 that I finally got round to releasing my own record on vinyl."

Not before time, then! But how was it received?

"With airplay from John Peel and Daniel Miller (founder of Mute Records) it gained a bit of a cult following and in 2003 I signed a record deal with UK techno label Soma Records."

Awesome stuff! So, Martin, tell us who we need to be looking out for please.

"I have since released five albums under the name Vector Lovers - find them here on iTunes."
These girls do appear to love vectors!

These girls do appear to love vectors!

Martin has also kept his programming hand in. Using iOS as his platform, he produced a couple of striking games on his own. There's the Sentinel-esque Surveillant, and also the like-not-much-else-really Go Robo! Check them out while you wait for the next release, which will be on the Recluse Industries label, founded by Martin in November 2013.

"We're currently developing a 1st person sci-fi adventure game called VIGIL. It's part tragic love story, part psycho thriller and all being well, will be ready for release at the end of the year. Follow @recluse_games on Twitter for updates on our progress."

I'd like to thank Martin for his time. If you enjoyed this article, look out for a much-expanded version of it when the They Were Our Gods book is finished.

Finally, check out Martin's website here: Recluse Industries