My Life In Games: Tarsier Studios’ Dave Mervik picks his all-time favourite titles

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My Life In Games: Tarsier Studios’ Dave Mervik picks his all-time favourite titles

Statik’s lead narrative designer talks about the games that have stuck with him

Over the coming months we’ll be catching up with developers from all over the world to ask them how games and gaming have made them who they are today. From their first memories of holding a controller, to the mind-blowing games that challenged the way they think about the medium, we chart the titles that have shaped the top developers working today.

First up, it’s Tarsier Studios’ David Mervik, lead narrative designer for not one, but two acclaimed titles out this week on PS4: surreal VR puzzler Statik and creepy adventure horror Little Nightmares.

We sat down with Dave and asked him to cast his mind back to…

1. The first game you remember playing

“It’s actually a game we used to play at school called Granny’s Garden. I was only like six or seven and the teacher wheeled in this thing on a trolley she told us was a ‘BBC’.

“We all got right into it and every week we’d form into pairs and go after that witch again. At the time we had no idea they were sneakily making us learn things – it just felt like we were getting to skive for an hour!”

2. The game that made you want to be a developer

“I honestly don’t think there was one – I kind of stumbled into the games industry! There is, however, a game that made me never want to be a game developer.

“My brother used to follow an Acorn Electron magazine called ‘Input’ that featured programming code for a sort of DIY ‘Jetpac’ game. He and my dad stayed up for weeks programming it and then, after all the hard work, it just crashed. They spent ages trying to fix it, but never could. I remember thinking what a waste of time it was (which is just one of the many reasons I am not a programmer!).”

3. The game that you wish you had made


Portal. It proved that game dialogue didn’t have to be vacuous; that it could service the game whilst establishing its personality. You can feel the writers’ confidence in creating GLADOS and although it would have been easy to homogenise her, instead they created a benchmark for smart, funny characters in games – annoyingly…”

4. The last game you played that made me rethink the medium

Papers Please

Papers Please takes that credit. Other than being surprised that a passport control simulator could be so much fun, it was how it subtly shifted in my mind-set that stayed with me. I grew ever more suspicious of the characters that appeared in front of me, wondering what they were hiding and what threat they presented to my ailing family.”

“To me, that aspect of the game design is a work of art. It showed that there is so much to be gained from dissolving the wall between the player and the game, which is why I’m so excited by VR.”

5. The last game soundtrack you whistled in the shower

“Bloody Stardew Valley! Right now, when I’m not playing the game, I’m whistling the (wonderfully catchy) soundtrack and it’s slowly driving me around the bend!

“I had brief respite after watching trailer for the Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap (another childhood love!) and couldn’t stop whistling the ‘Monster Town’ theme… which also drove me around the bend!”

6. The last game that you saw the end credits for


“I think it was Firewatch – and I didn’t want the end to be the end. It surprised me with its ability to grab your attention with a premise that, on the surface, seemed unexciting. How utterly wrong I was!

“By the end, it had created such a weird, dreamy atmosphere that I just didn’t want to let go. When the credits rolled, I hoped there might be a little something extra – a reward for those people that watched to the end of the credits (like in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).”

7. Your favourite multiplayer game

Circuit Breakers, without a doubt! When I was studying, this was the game we played more than any other and I’ve never found anything that beats it.

“We only ever played one track over and over again: Egypt 2 (I think). There was something about it – we just couldn’t get enough. Alliances would form and dissolve within seconds and no amount of driving prowess could ever compete with a perfectly-timed shunt over a cliff edge… that’s when you realise that you only need one multiplayer game in your life (and probably only one track, too).”

Statik – Tarsier’s first foray into virtual reality gaming – launched earlier this week and Little Nightmares, a creepy haunted-house-cum-puzzle-platfomer launches Friday 28th April. You can download both from PlayStation Store.

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  • Mental note: watch to the end of credits on Little Nightmares.

  • “It’s actually a game we used to play at school called Granny’s Garden. I was only like six or seven and the teacher wheeled in this thing on a trolley she told us was a ‘BBC” <– yeah, any time the computer (whether it was the BBC Micro or a few years later the Acorn Archimedes) got wheeled into our classroom felt like a special schoolday. And nowadays schools are full of them and kids all carry incredibly far more advanced computers in their pockets. Crazy how fast technology has evolved. And yet I still find myself enjoying a load of 8 and 16 bit games often more than their closest modern day equivalents often enjoying brand new releases for vintage computers too.

    • I had a BBC micro I played Granny’s Garden but I loved playing pole position on do you remember Dragon 32 had on of them zx spectrum 48k amstrad c64 with colour monitor commodore amiga..Sega master system Sega mega drive.. PlayStation one at launch from Comet with Rayman..ps2 not at launch…PS3 at launch with resistance fall of man I think that was my launch game..PS4 at launch with shadowfall… PS PRO at launch..there a couple of games machines Izvestia owned over the years now waiting for PS5 can’t be much longer as Sony not going to let Microsoft steal they thunder with the Scorpio

    • I still have my Amstrad CPC464 and still play on it. Had it for 31 years and it still works perfectly! Still got my Amiga 1200 too and again that works perfectly 24 years on. BUILT TO LAST! :)

      I hope there isn’t a PS5 this soon. PS4’s barely even halfway through it’s lifespan. Not sure who’s gonna even buy Scorpio at the silly price it’s gonna have to be and the huge lack of worthy exclusives the Xbox brand currently has compared to the many, many excellent PS exclusives that cater to all sorts of people. And then you have the whole thing about Japan not really giving a crud about Xbox anyways. :P

  • It’s always interesting to learn more about developers and what influences the games they make, nice piece.

    I’ll definitely be picking this game up at some point….if I ever stop playing HZD ;)

  • I love that you remember Granny’s garden. I went to computer club after school in the early nineties and I loved playing it. I’ve had my eye on little nightmares for a while, can’t wait to try it!

  • Great list of games and especially loving the Granny’s Garden support on here – so many lunch breaks were spent playing that one.

    Little Nightmares looks awesome too :)

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