Jeff Minter

name = Jeff Minter
residence =
other_names = Yak

image_size = 200px
caption = Jeff Minter speaking at Alternative Party 2003
birth_name =
birth_date = birth date and age|1962|4|22|
birth_place = Reading, England, UK
known =
occupation = programmer, game designer
title =
party =
boards =
website =
employer = Llamasoft (founder)

Jeff 'Yak' Minter (born in Reading, April 22 1962) is a British computer/video game designer and programmer. He is the founder of software house Llamasoft and his recent works include the light synthesizer (called Neon) built into the Xbox 360 console and the Xbox Live Arcade video game Space Giraffe.

Many of his games include certain distinctive elements—they are often arcade style shoot-em-ups. His fondness of llamas, sheep, camels etc. often leads to them appearing in his games or the titles ("Llamatron", "Llamazap", "Attack of the Mutant Camels, Revenge of the Mutant Camels, Sheep in Space", etc.). Also many feature something of a psychedelic element, as in some of the earliest 'light synthesizer' programs such as his "Trip-a-Tron".

In online forums and informal game credits pages Minter usually signs as "Yak", which is, in his own words

"a pseudonym chosen a long time ago, back in the days when hi-score tables on coin-op machines only held three letters, and I settled on Yak because the yak is a scruffy hairy beast - a lot like me ;-)."

Early years

Jeff Minter became interested in computers while attending secondary school. He teamed up with Richard Jones, a fellow pupil, and together they started writing their own games on their school's Commodore PET. They soon parted ways. Jones went on to commercial projects, some of them in the software market (e.g., "Interceptor Micros").


In 1981 Jeff Minter started writing and selling Sinclair ZX80 video games. In 1982 he founded software house Llamasoft (a company that creates games rather than sells or distributes them is often called a house). His first game through Llamasoft was "Andes Attack" (US version: "Aggressor"): a "Defender" clone for the Commodore VIC-20, but with little llamas instead of spaceships (a fan of "Defender", he would remake it again as "Defender 2000"). His second Llamasoft game, "Gridrunner", was written in a week and was his first commercial success both in the UK and in the U.S..

Minter went on to develop a number of classic games, all written in assembly language, for the later home computers (such as the Commodore 64, Atari 400/800 and Atari ST) which were marketed mainly by word of mouth and by the odd magazine advertisement. These games included: "Gridrunner", "Matrix", "Hellgate", "Hover Bovver", "Attack of the Mutant Camels", "Revenge of the Mutant Camels", "Revenge of the Mutant Camels 2", "Laser Zone", "Mama Llama", "Metagalactic Llamas Battle at the Edge of Time", "Sheep in Space", "Void Runner", and "Iridis Alpha".

After the collapse of the home computer market he worked for Atari and for (now-defunct) VM Labs. For Atari he produced "Tempest 2000" (1994) on the Jaguar, a remake of Dave Theurer's classic "Tempest" of 1981. Minter also produced "Defender 2000" (1995) on the Jaguar, a remake of Eugene Jarvis's classic "Defender". Minter also produced the Virtual Light Machine (VLM) for the Jaguar CD-ROM add-on. For VM Labs, Minter designed software for the Nuon chip. Jeff Minter also created the VLM2 (Light Synth) & Tempest 3000 for the Nuon.

Later came a short spell writing games for the Pocket PC platform, some of which also had PC conversions (using a customized Pocket PC emulator). During this time, Minter released three games: "Deflex", "Hover Bovver" (reworkings of his own early 80s games of the same name), and the PC/Macintosh game "Gridrunner++."

In 2002, Jeff began work on a project for the Nintendo GameCube with the name of "Unity" — the combination of the two main threads of Jeff's work: light synthesis and classic arcade style shooting. Jeff was writing this game for Peter Molyneux's Lionhead Studios but the project was cancelled in December 2004.

The version of the VLM to be used within "Unity" has since been reprogrammed and significantly expanded. Now named Neon, it has been used in the Xbox 360 media visualisation. []

His most recent release is "Space Giraffe", an action arcade game with similarities to "Tempest". "Space Giraffe" was released for Xbox 360 on 22 August, 2007 through Xbox Live Arcade for 400 Microsoft Points, or 5 USD.

External links

* [ Llamasoft official website] , Llamasoft's history, and other resources
* [ The Llamasoft Archive] , contains Llamasoft's software (now freeware) & other resources
* [ Jeff Minter's Google TechTalk, March 2007]
* [ "the history of llamasoft"] , by Jeff Minter
* [ An interview with Jeff Minter] from
* [ A netmeeting/interview with Jeff Minter] , held by B3ta
* [ Blog]
* [ The Inquirer article on his early games]
* [ Gamasutra Interview, April 2007]
* [,12816/ Jeff Minter] at Moby Games
* [ Llamasoft Ltd.] at MobyGames

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  • Space Giraffe — Infobox VG| title = Space Giraffe developer = Llamasoft publisher = Llamasoft designer = Jeff Minter, Ivan Zorzin engine = release = Xbox 360: August 22, 2007 [ Llamasoft Blog » Available Wednesday 22nd August …   Wikipedia

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  • Hover Bovver — Infobox VG| title = Hover Bovver developer = Jeff Minter publisher = Llamasoft designer = Jeff Minter engine = released = 1984 genre = Action / Puzzle modes = Single player ratings = platforms = Atari 8 bit, C64, Windows media = requirements =… …   Wikipedia

  • Revenge of the Mutant Camels — Attack of the Mutant Camels Entwickler: Jeff Minter Verleger: Llamasoft, HESware (USA) Publikation: 1983 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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