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PC classic commentary: Tyrian 2000 with Alexander Brandon

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PC Gamer's classic commentaries are special interviews with the developers of some of our favorite games. Join us for an hour with a classic game and the inside stories of its creation.

Before he composed the music for Jazz Jackrabbit, or Unreal Tournament, or Deus Ex, Alexander Brandon helped design one of the PC's all-time great SHMUPs. That game was Tyrian, which Epic MegaGames published as shareware in 1995. Compared to most Japanese SHMUPs, Tyrian was utterly packed with features—a story mode and an arcade mode, tons of weapons and upgrades, secret levels, secret modes, multiple ships. And at the time, its smooth 2D parallax scrolling was a mini technical marvel. Brandon wrote music for Tyrian, but he also contributed to writing and design. Our hour-long chat is full of stories from the early days of Epic and the 1990s freeware scene.

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games. When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old RPG or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).