Thomas Ribault is a Frenchman living in Dublin, slave to one of the many GAFA-like companies in the area. He did a lot of video game journalism in his younger years, tried his hand at Academics and even meddled a bit with Video Game Localisation. He enjoys the simple things of life like drawing or hiking in the middle of nowhere. He might write more video game related books, who knows?

HG101 Presents: Épopée - Tales from French Game Developers by Thomas Ribault

Epopee - Tales from French Game Developers includes thirteen expansive interviews with key people from the development scene in France, each retelling their long and fruitful career in big companies and smaller, independent structures alike. Discover a national industry you had never thought about. Shiver at the gauntlets those people underwent to follow their dreams. Enjoy a "je-ne-sais-quoi" of French culture and idioms while learning about game-making.The creation and development of many games will be discussed, including the following, and many more! Alone in the Dark, Cold Fear, Evil Twin, Little Big Adventure, Mars: War Logs, North & South, Prisoner of Ice, Seasons After Fall, Styx: Shards of Shadow, V-Rally, and Zombi.


What I love most about curating these bundles is getting endless opportunities to read about how games in other countries take shape. Thomas Ribault rounds up some of the best stories I've ever heard in game development, opening yet another window into the industry that anyone interested in playing or making games should look through. – David L. Craddock




The beginning of home computing in France is a bit messy. In the UK, the ZX81 was a huge success because it was very cheap and sold by mail and at WH Smith. There was no such thing in France: there were lots of models sold in computer shops, and they were often expensive. Several game developers started programming on TI-99/4A, ZX81 and even the obscure Memotech MTX 512. In 1984, the French computer stock included 170,000 ZX81, 30,000 ZX Spectrum and 50,000 Oric 1; the C64 hardly sold more than the ZX81 because of its poor distribution. Some French hardware manufacturers made their own models of computers: Exelvision and the EXL 100, with its wireless keyboard and joysticks/numeric pads, Micronique and its Hector HRX, Matra with the Alice, whose only redeeming feature is its box illustration by Moebius, and the most important one, Thomson with the TO7 and the MO5. The TO7 featured an internal ROM cartridge player and an optical pen to draw on the TV screen. The MO5, whose software was incompatible with the TO7, was cheaper, had more RAM (48 Ko instead of 8 Ko for the TO7), but a separate tape player, and it was famous for its rubber keys. Both had a graphic resolution slightly superior to the ZX Spectrum.

The success of the Thomson computers was ensured by the famous government plan Infor-matique pour tous (computing for everyone). In February of 1985, the government submitted a bill for the growing French software industry, with copyright and anti-piracy laws, and bought more than 120,000 computers to equip French schools and help children to discover computing. Apple had promised to install its European computer factories in France and nearly got the deal, but finally almost all computers ordered were Thomson models. This plan only had a short-term effect : the teachers weren't always trained to use computers, and soon the machines were abandoned. However, lots of children discovered the computers with a MO5 or a TO7/70, an upgraded version of the TO7, and these two models became, with the Minitel, the most iconic 8-bit computers in France in the 80's - the French video games preservation association MO5.COM owes them its name.