Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Matt, but i’ve been known as NeutronIC on various forums for a long time too. I’m 42 years old, and part of me wishes I hadn’t read that, because it didn’t seem quite so bad until I read it back again, so yeah, thanks for making me do that.
I’ve had a varied career in IT starting out in Internet Service Provision for a couple of smaller regional ISP’s and a large national ISP before moving in to software engineering as a contractor for British Telecom for about 5 years. After that I went on to do online banking security authentication software and then creating and maintaining telephone and multi media call center systems for local government and housing agencies – they are those things that say “we really appreciate your call, please hold” when you call in to various organisations. Currently (and hopefully for a long time to come!) I work for Dovetail Games as a Senior Producer, working on the next generation Train Simulation game.
I’ve managed various Linux, DEC Unix and Windows systems, different hardware platforms such as the Alpha and Intel x86 / x64 platforms, and i’ve used most programming languages in one form or another from Assembly language (68000, Z80, 8086), Java, C#, C, C++, Perl, Python, Lua and who knows what else over the years! My preferred programming language is most definitely C# and my least favourite – generally – is C++ – though i’d caveat by saying I recognise C++ excels at certain things other languages are weak at and in those cases i’d certainly advocate its use… but for the most part i’m really more about using the right tool for the right job!
How did you get into computer gaming?
Starting with gaming on an Atari 800 (Jumbo Jet Simulator!) and moving on to a Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48, then the Spectrum 128 before moving to our first PC (Amstrad PC1640!) gaming has always been a big part of how I spend my spare time. Simulators and management games have always been at the forefront of my interest, racing games coming second and shooters third – with sports games coming nowhere at all on the list frankly 🙂
The advent of “Wolfenstein 3D” pushed shooters to the fore – as they probably did for a lot of people – with Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, Heretic, Hexen, Shadow Warrior, Quake, Half Life and Unreal pushing and pushing the boundaries all the time. One of my favourite first person games though was always No One Lives Forever – a really nicely implemented crime game with a cheesy James Bond vibe, lots of gadgets to employ and just a really nice set of production values.
How did you get into Minecraft?
Beaten in to submission by my daughter! Initially I bought us copies of Minecraft to play on our tablets / phones and we would sit on a bed for an hour or so playing multiplayer building our worlds and working together. It was time I always enjoyed so even though I didn’t get it to start with it was a good opportunity to just engage with her and play. It wasn’t long before I was identifying things I wanted to do and starting to play it on my own even when my daughter wanted to do something else. Eventually she asked me why I didn’t just buy myself a copy of the PC version (she already had it) – so I did…
We played on our own world briefly and at the same time I was starting to stream live on Twitch with the Train Simulator. She’d asked if she could get involved with the streaming because she enjoys watching YouTube videos so we decided to start streaming “Daddy Daughter Minecraft” and after an episode or two we renamed it to “Down the Mineshaft” and started inviting others such as EasilyConfused and Haddock1000 to come along.
Initially the server was closed and we just streamed what we were doing on the server, but there was a lot of interest in logging in and being a part of the world we were creating. After stepping up and learning how to secure the server we finally went public and opened it up 24/7 – and then kinda brings us roughly to where the DownTheMineshaft server and stream are now.
What interests you most about Minecraft?
Lots of things. Sometimes it’s just the simple pleasures of smashing blocks, mining, discovering what’s down there. It’s quite peaceful and relaxing, there’s no real pressure as long as you take care of basic needs (keep food in etc) and you can bash away gathering resources as long as you want. I also enjoy creating the minecart tracks, discovering new areas and one of the most ingenious aspects of Minecraft which is the mechanics and redstone aspects – the way that you can create working machines and automate things is fascinating and elevates this game to a whole new level. Don’t let the simplistic graphics fool you, there’s more to this game than most other gloriously beautiful games.
Recently i’ve started learning to develop plugins and I have a couple of them nearly ready to publish, one that allows people to ignore other people and another that puts stop watches, clocks and so forth in big timers in the world.
So what do you do on the DTM server?
I’m one of the original founders of the server and I help out, but limited time availability means that by and large it’s down to the other operators to do a lot of the heavy lifting. I help out with more technical aspects of the server configuration. Currently i’m thoroughly enjoying tearing an area of the world to pieces massively mining it to gather resources for efforts elsewhere on the server!
I also host the DownTheMineshaft stream, including the DTM News Live segment that has become popular among viewers. What goes on within the stream however is once again primarily coordinated by the other operators and I just act as the host for all their hard work!
What do you want to see in future versions of Minecraft?
I want to see more in the way of vehicles, and particular more components that can be built on – for example, I want a vehicle block which can be driven and moved around, but can also be built on so that I can build a car or ship the way I want it to look and then drive it around the world. I’d also like to see the minecart system expanded to include more track options and again more options for the trains themselves.
The key thing I don’t really want to see however is anything which takes away or distracts from the elegant simplicity of Minecraft, because at that point it risks becoming a different game entirely.
So what is your DTM character all about?
Really nothing much different to me in general! Currently i’m mining in a massive way upsetting all the environmentalists by burning down forests, draining lakes and digging an enormous hole in the world but I try not to let that bother me too much 🙂
What do you do when you are not playing Minecraft?
Lots of work, making games is surprisingly hard work! I spend most evenings hosting my Train Sim Live stream where I drive trains on Train Simulator for 3-4 hours a night, and I also host a coding stream where I sit and write some software while people watch and comment. I’ve also recently got in to Subnautica (another survival game) and have been streaming some of that.
My dad has an amazing model railway (Onehouse Model Railway) and a lot of weekends see that getting extensive use too!
What music are you into?
My music tastes are too hard to classify to be honest. By and large I actually find it hard to listen to music for various reasons… I really enjoy it, but music I like one day I hate the next all depending on what i’m doing, what mood i’m in and whether i’m trying to think (or trying not to think). Find the RIGHT bit of music and it helps massively but I usually end up going “no, skip, skip, skip, skip” and 10 minutes later realise I’m clearly not in a musical mood 🙂
However – music which I generally like are Jean Michel Jarre, Aqua, T’Pau, Elton John, Dido, Roxette, most classical (but NOT opera, absolutely NOT opera!) and generally anything fairly easily listening. There’s loads of different bands, I probably like something from everyone and not everything anyone makes. I’ve only ever been to one live music concert, which was Jean Michel Jarre Oxygene 7-13 in Wembley Stadium.