May 16th, 2019 | Season 2 | 22 mins 23 secs
1980s, 1990s, apple ii, boss button, boss coming, boss key, brand fortner, broderbund, computer games, dave lebling, dos, maze, plato, roger wagner, spacewar, windows 95
Before computers had proper multitasking support and quick shortcuts for changing apps, playing games when you're not supposed to be could be super risky. But if there's one thing that's been a constant in technology, it's that wherever there are computers, there are also games. And for a while, in the 1980s and 90s, many game developers actually put in a special key command that would bring up a fake productivity screen. This is the story of the rise and fall of the boss button.
May 1st, 2019 | Season 2 | 24 mins 32 secs
apple ii, arcade, brøderbund, doug smith, game design, game development, level editors, lode runner, puzzle
The story of how a terrible description of the Donkey Kong arcade game led to the creation of Lode Runner, one of the greatest games of all time and one of the earliest games with a built-in level editor.
February 12th, 2019 | 4 mins 47 secs
game design, heaven and earth, puzzle games, scott kim, soundbite
Legendary puzzle designer Scott Kim discusses the process and principles of puzzle-making for games. This is excerpted from an interview I conducted while researching my book The Secret History of Mac Gaming.
February 2nd, 2019 | 1 hr 3 mins
bonus, interview, mac
For any of you who aren't aware, last week was the 35th anniversary of the release of the original Mac. I published a Medium article to celebrate the milestone, and here now you can listen to an audio version of that — 14 current and former game developers talking about the early Macintosh computer and how it inspired them to make something insanely great.
November 23rd, 2018 | Season 1 | 40 mins 7 secs
barbie, girl games inc, girl games movement, laura groppe, mattel
On the 90s girl games movement, and its assault on the status quo of the video game market, featuring Girl Games Inc founder and former filmmaker Laura Groppe.
November 1st, 2018 | Season 1 | 35 mins 27 secs
age of empires, ed fries, ed ventura, jon kimmich, microsoft, pc, publishing, stuart moulder, windows, xbox
Before something like the Xbox could ever hope to exist, Microsoft first needed to learn how to be a successful games publisher on the PC. This is the story — or part of it — of how Microsoft got games, featuring input from four key Microsoft Game Studios people — Ed Fries, Stuart Moulder, Ed Ventura, Jon Kimmich — and Age of Empires co-creator Rick Goodman.
September 1st, 2018 | Season 1 | 5 mins 50 secs
age of empires, halo, jon kimmich, microsoft, pc, soundbite, xbox
This is from my interview with Jon Kimmich, who worked as a "product planner" and "program manager" in Microsoft's games group in the late 1990s and then in Microsoft Game Studios until 2004. He's since continued to work in bizdev roles in the games industry and has lots of fascinating insights.
Here he tells us about knowing when a game has that "magic" that means it's going to be a hit.
July 19th, 2018 | Season 1 | 20 mins 27 secs
bomberman, dyna blaster, dynablaster, eric and the floaters, history, hudson soft, japanese, multiplayer, nintendo, shoji mizuno, video game
On June 11th, 2018, character designer and artist Shoji Mizuno passed away. He was a key figure back in the 1990s at the now-defunct Hudson Soft, a renowned Japanese games publisher — having directed art or design, or sometimes both, on more than a dozen games in the popular Bomberman franchise as well as providing original character designs for the Beyblade anime series.
Since this year is also the 35th anniversary of the release of the first Bomberman game on the MSX, I thought now would be a good time to look back on how the explosive puzzle franchise made its way into the world — and into the hearts of millions.
June 14th, 2018 | Season 1 | 32 mins 57 secs
catz, dogz, hexing, night trap, petz, pf magic, rob fulop, simulation, virtual pets
Frustrated by the unjustified furore that surrounded his tame interactive movie game, designer Rob Fulop turned to Santa for help. And with a clever business model he and his team at PF Magic invented a new kind of game, one in which you adopt and care for a digital animal -- a virtual dog or cat, or something more exotic, with a personality and needs and quirks not unlike a real one.
March 28th, 2018 | Season 1 | 30 mins 32 secs
1980s, amiga, atari st, midwinter, mike singleton, the lords of midnight
On the late Mike Singleton and the importance of Midwinter and The Lords of Midnight, his two great works.
February 18th, 2018 | Season 1 | 37 mins 37 secs
3d, blockbuster games, core design, game design, game development, lara croft, level editors, rise of the tomb raider, tomb raider
Continuing the story from Part 1, this is how the original Tomb Raider's grid-based engine/level editor impacted on the series, on Lara Croft's rise to fame, and on the shifting sands of blockbuster game development. This episode also discusses the place that such a grid system has — or might have — in game design today. Featuring input from former Core Design artists and level designers Heather Stevens and Andy Sandham as well as programmer Gavin Rummery.
December 23rd, 2017 | Season 1 | 31 mins 30 secs
3d, core design, documentary, game design, game development, lara croft, level editors, tomb raider
Every aspect of Tomb Raider comes back to the grid that lies beneath it — the majority of the puzzles; the platforming; the cavernous chambers and ruins and outdoor areas that provide a sense of isolation, of solitude and discovery; and Lara Croft's iconic acrobatic movement style. And yet it never would have happened if not for one pragmatic choice made by a programmer early in the game's development.
This is the story of how that came to be, and how it made Tomb Raider…well, Tomb Raider.
November 11th, 2017 | Season 1 | 37 mins 4 secs
chrono trigger, console games, demiforce, earthbound, emulation, fan translations, final fantasy, nes, radical dreamers, rom hacking, snes, steve demeter
At the dawn of emulation and the World Wide Web, a group of fans discovered the Nintendo and Super Nintendo games that never made it over from Japan. One of them decided to hack into a few of these and translate them, unofficially, with help from some friends -- starting with Final Fantasy II for the NES.
November 4th, 2017 | Season 1 | 11 mins 55 secs
8-bit, art, bonus, business, cancelled game, mark ferrari, marketing, soundbite, tv game, x-men
The story of a cancelled X-Men TV controller game, as told by former LucasArts illustrator Mark Ferrari, who is a world-renowned and innovative pixel artist responsible for popularising multiple graphical techniques — including dithering, colour cycling, and palette shifting. And an inside look at the downside of having marketing-focused gatekeepers in charge of what products hit store shelves.
October 23rd, 2017 | Season 1 | 32 mins 11 secs
16-bit, 32-bit, 3d, 3do, console games, ea sports, fifa, isometric, marc aubanel, soccer, sport
A story from the dawn of 3D sports games, and the forgotten link between the 16-bit isometric and 32-bit 3D EA Sports games — this is how FIFA 3DO transformed the way sport was represented in video games.
October 15th, 2017 | Season 1 | 32 mins 16 secs
ambrosia software, bugs, cythera, jason whong, mac gaming, macworld, marketing, pr
How a marketing guy at shareware game publisher Ambrosia Software ended up eating bugs in front of hundreds of people at Macworld New York 2000.