Jon Heywood aka Inchdix back homepage search
interviewed by Matthias Heyermann aka Dimpfelmoser in July 2002
(with additional questions from Richard Lawther and Tina Barrett)

Matthias: "All but one of your levels (Return to Alexandria) are in the Top50. Would you be disappointed if your next level just falls short?"

Jon Heywood

Jon: "What next level? ... LOL. Possibly... But the fact is that I am more than happy that I have such good ratings already (thanks to all the reviewers that have enjoyed my levels). As far as I am concerned, as long as the review is fair and the player has devoted the time and effort, then the review stands... regardless of the scores (though there is one review for Celtic Folly, which I think is totally abberant... you know the one I mean)."

Matthias: "I sure do. Where was the jury when we needed it most? But do you seriously believe that many people (apart from the reviewers and levelbuilders) actually read the reviews?"

Jon: "You are probably right... but I bet they look at the scores and seeing as that particular one is a notch or two above yours, it's the first thing people see. At the end of the day, though, it don't really matter. The series still gets played and 99% enjoy it... good enough for me!"

Matthias: "Do you check your positions in the top 50 at the beginning of each mon?"

Jon: "I do check the top 50 occassionaly but I am more likely to look at the full list, besides my ratings are pretty much static. However, I look at the reviews page virtually every day."

Tina: "Are you totally absorbed by the level editor phenomena?"

Jon: "I can be... as I said, I check the forums on a daily basis, but at the same time, I built a stack of rooms for the split version of Serpentine Gorge maybe 2 weeks ago and have still yet to finish texturing them... so I guess its a yes and no to this one!"

Serpentine Gorge

Richard: "What is your favourite level of the original TR games?"

Jon: "Does this have to be an absolute final choice? All of the levels in the first 3 games are fantastic. Most of the TR4 levels are equally as good and a couple of the TRC levels scrape in too... if I really must choose then its either 'Palace of Midas', 'The Wreck of the Maria-Doria' or 'Luds Gate', Why? ...there is so much variation in these levels... both take ages to complete yet never let you go... they are 'must complete' levels and more to the point... they are levels in which you want to do and see every single thing."

Richard: "“Do you think the setting of interest rates is a satisfactory means of controlling inflationary pressures within a national or global economy?"

Jon: "I know very little about either politics or economics and deliberatly avoid even thinking about such things usually, but here goes... assuming that inflation is generally caused by the demand for a certain commodity exceeding the supply for it, artificially adjusting the potential price and availablity for that commodidity at best only temporarily masks the demand. Besides, the way I personally see things, the rate of inflation within any economy is very misleading... its too broad in its definition... for example, the inflation rate in the uk is probably under 2%, according to government figures... You would hope that the cost of living is on par with this... unfortunately, I seriously doubt it. Whereas technology is probably cheaper than its ever been, the cost of housing has more than doubled in the past 5 years. Now consider the fact that most salaries will have increased at or a little above the rate of inflation during that same 5 year period, the UK at least, is in the situation where a lot of people simply cannot afford adequate housing. Increasing interest rates would effectively make it even more difficult and therefore reduce demand... or does it? Not really, people still need a place to live! What it really boils down to, in my mind, is that inflation is manufactured and manipulated and certainly does not reflect the true state of an economy. Therefore it follows that interest rates are the same... they merely compensate a very tangled web of incompetence and deceit. They are a temporary cure that has an insidious side effect of draining the poorest to the advantage of the richest. In short: NO... artificial adjustments are inadequate and pointless in the long term."

Matthias: "How much rent do you pay?"

Jon: "I don't actually rent my home... I am currently paying a mortgage, which costs me roughly £465 per month... though this figure is variable and is the first thing that would be affected by any change in interest rates. I live in a place called Hornchurch which is about 15 miles north-east of central London (the less expensive side of London that is!). My home is situated on the limits of Hornchurch and is in fact much closer to the very busy,entertainment-orientated, town of Romford. This basically means that I am very close to every amenity that I could hope for but at the same time, just far enough away to avoid contact with the nastier side of Romfords nightlife..."

Matthias: "Is there anyone who has artistically survived stardom?"

Jon: "I dunno, ask a star... LOL. Seriously... I think it takes a certain mentality to acheive stardom. If you are not able to bare your soul in public (in whatever medium) you are unlikely to make it as a star. Essentially I think everyone compromises their integrity at some point and the majority of "stars" must be even more likely to do so... does the actress do the nude scene and collect $1m, does the rock band allow their record company to delete 'fuck' from their song so it gets air time... usually yes. Those who actively seek to be a star will make those compromises... there are those who have acheived fame through no intent of their own and have either been destroyed by it (Kurt Cobain springs to mind) or survived intact... though the truth is I doubt I could name one!"

The Hidden Garden

Matthias: "All your levels are kind of traditional TR games and you're obviously know what you are good at. Once you finished the Hidden Garden series (Hidden Garden, Emerald Lakes, Firewalk, Obsidian Heights & Serpentine Gorge), could you imagine to come up with something harshly different within Lara's World?"

Jon: "No... I will only every make levels that are 'true' TR. I have no intention of ever making something outside of the TR realm. I do not want to 'bastardise' Lara or Tombraiding into something it is not. There is room for expansion and new ideas but I don't ever want to alter the genre."

Matthias: "Quite outstanding in your levels is the atmosphere (as well as textures and lightning); what is the trick to make it all so..., well, real?"

Jon: "If you are actually asking how I build my levels... here goes... To coin a phrase... It's simply attention to detail... I virtually never use the editors time saving features... I adjust each floor, ceiling and wall sector individually... I very rarely build a room that is more than 12 clicks high as connecting rooms on the vertical plane will give texturing problems (squashed or stretched texture look terrible!). I use lots of half or quarter textures and rotate or reverse them (to avoid the 'wallpaper' effect)... When I light my rooms, I allways start with a fairly low ambience, then most importantly, add a 'sun'... a very handy object and much underused I suspect... adding Light and shadow is pretty straight forward after this, as is setting the colour for statics... sound is another matter, I would like to do more here but it could mean unneccessarily large downloads... something that may put off potential players... we shall see... Just a note here: I personally think that 'atmosphere' is probably the single most important aspect of a TR level, especially in my levels... there may be 200 or more rooms in each of the Hidden Garden levels but the player will have to traverse those rooms several times in every instance. If an area is not pleasing to the player, they will soon get bored and most likely move on to something else."

Matthias: "Do all of your friends know how much time you spend designing custom levels?"

Jon: "NO... building is pretty much a solitary thing... there are a few close friends who know that I make levels, none of them (bar maybe one) even know the sub-culture exists, let alone how involved in it I am... not that I am shy to tell them, but I am not one to beat my own drum..."

Matthias: "Has your wife played all your levels and if not, are you a bit miffed because of that (as you had probably a look at all her pictures)?"

Obsidian Heights

Jon: "Unfortunately, my wife (Valerie) wouldnt have a clue as to which end of the joypad to hold, let alone perform any of Lara's more complicated moves... she has simply never been interested in games... she considers they are for kids I think... LOL. I show her nearly everything I build though and she is pretty supportive (funny thing, she thought Obsidian Heights was unrealistic and that all that 'blue stuff' was kinda crappy!)... It's ok though. I fully appreciate that she will never be totally interested in gaming or what I do with the editor (unless I can make a career from it... yeah right!!!)... just as I cannot be totally absorbed by her inerests in art or Egypt (or whatever... LOL)."

Matthias: "On the site that you link to many of your posts I found this statement: 'Being an artist, I like to explore new horizons and encounter all kinds of people and cultures'. Do you think it's the privilege of the artist to explore new horizons and encounter all kinds of people and culture; or do you perhaps agree with Joseph Beuys, who said: Everyone is an artist?"

Jon: "Hmmmm... I dont neccessarily agree that everyone is an artist... what I would say is that everyone has a unique talent even if that 'talent' is being totally talentless... LOL. However I think everyone has something to offer to the world, given the chance......As regards exploring new horizons etc etc... Is it the privilege of an 'artist'? SHIT NO! It's the DUTY of all human beings... the mind and heart are wonderful things... stagnation deadens them."

Matthias: "Ages ago a post from you promted me to reveal the story behind my nickname. What is your story?"

Jon: "Why do I use Inchdix as a 'handle'? ... its a sad fact of life... LOL. Actually It started when I first wanted to register at the old Eidos forums, I wanted to have 'Heyman' as a nick... it was unavailable... so I tried again and simply typed in something stupid out of pure ennui... the rest you can guess... I decided to stick with it, after all its more comical than offensive and as an added bonus I can pretty much use it any place I register... after all, who else would want to use Inchdix as a nickname... LOL."

Tina: "If Lara Croft had not existed in the game world, what do you think you would be doing now?"

Jon: "Possibly playing other games... I bought a PS2 last year and have yet to play a single game on it! Hmmm... maybe not... what if Sony hadn't cut an 'exclusive' deal with Eidos regarding TR games... it's just feasible that I might be playing 'Sonic the Hedgehog 9' on dreamcast now! Probably though, I would be attending to all those 'home improvement' type things that I should have done last year... LOL."

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