22 Dec 2022 — Filed in: Bonus | Season 5
I was on a panel about shareware games at PAX Australia in October, with Halloween Harry / Alien Carnage co-creator John Passfield, indie developer and bookshop owner Terry Burdak, and ACMI games curator Arieh Offman. This is the full audio from that panel.
Photo by Rob Caporetto
See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: PAX, john passfield, terry burdak, shareware, arieh offman, acmi, halloween harry, alien carnage
01 Mar 2022 — Filed in: Soundbites | Season 5
The founder of influential old website The Home of the Underdogs, Sarinee Achavanuntakul, discusses the difference between "abandonware" and piracy, and explains why the former needs to exist.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: sarinee achavanuntakul, home of the underdogs, preservation, piracy
31 Dec 2021 — Filed in: Season 5 | Episodes
It all started with a Macintosh ad: 'You too can be a knowledge worker.' This is the story of Brian Thomas' 15-year odyssey at the helm of one of the strangest pieces of multimedia software ever created — If Monks Had Macs. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: ludiphilia, if monks had macs, brian thomas, mac, hypercard, multimedia
26 Oct 2021 — Filed in: Season 5 | Episodes
To celebrate the 25th birthday of my favourite game franchise, I thought I'd pull out the old Tomb Raider grid episodes from Season 1 and merge them into one. I also put some time into cleaning up the audio, though it'll still sound rough compared to newer episodes — given the lower-fidelity recordings I was using then. Here's the original episode description:
Every aspect of the original Core Design Tomb Raider series (and by extension the franchise's success post-Core) 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
, based on interviews with Heather Stevens (née Gibson) and Gavin Rummery as well as my past work covering Tomb Raider's history as a freelancer. The second part, which was originally a separate release, also includes discussion of the place that such a grid system has — or might have — in game design today. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: tomb raider, lara croft, gavin rummery, heather stevens, andy sandham, core design, game design
02 Oct 2021 — Filed in: Season 5 | Episodes
There was no encyclopaedia nor fleshed-out database of video games in 1999. There were barely even any reliable or comprehensive lists
of video games. Not until Jim Leonard decided he needed to build one.
He called it MobyGames
, and 22 years later it's the de facto source for credits, screenshots, and other general information about video games. It is the "IMDB of video games". This is its story. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: mobygames, jim leonard, clint basinger, lazy game reviews, john romero, matej jan, retronator, john sczepaniak, tomer gabel
05 Aug 2021 — Filed in: Interviews
I speak to games historian and graphic designer Kate Willaert about her research and current projects, as well as her efforts to turn this work into a job.
We also voice our complaints about Google's Usenet archives, discuss the horrible world of YouTube publishing, the struggles of getting your work seen/read/heard as a content creator today, the value of a good hook for getting people interested in history, how to structure a historical narrative, our font choices for writing draft scripts, and much, much more.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: kate willaert, moonlander, they create worlds, magazines, 1970s, lunar lander, female protagonists, carmen sandiego, games history explorers
19 May 2021 — Filed in: Season 5 | Episodes
How a game designed in a week helped to change everything — for the company that made it, for a local industry in turmoil, and for a global industry in transition.
Features interviews with Defiant Development co-founder Morgan Jaffit and Firemint founder / Flight Control creator Rob Murray, along with a clip of former Touch Arcade editor Eli Hodapp.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: flight control, mobile games, iphone, rob murray, morgan jaffit, australia, firemint, defiant development
28 Apr 2021 — Filed in: Interviews
The Strong Museum of Play's digital games curator Andrew Borman describes his deep passion for uncovering and preserving cancelled, unreleased, and prototype games. This is so much more than a vocation for him, and here you get to hear all the stories and insights he shared with me when I interviewed him for the season 4 finale, The Ghosts of Games That Never Were
. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: games history explorers, the strong museum of play, andrew borman, game preservation, cancelled games, unreleased games, games that weren't
24 Feb 2021 — Filed in: Season 4 | Soundbites
When I interviewed the legendary game designer Chris Crawford for episode 30
, on his famous Dragon Speech, I asked him if he'd have pursued this dragon had he known he'd still be chasing it three decades later. He admitted that he probably would have not. He'd have instead put his energy into making more simulations, teaching people to think in a way that he only recently realised is rare.
He calls it process-intensive thinking, and here, in this excerpt from our interview, he explains what that means, why he thinks it's rare, and how he believes it will eventually reshape our society. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: chris crawford
29 Jan 2021 — Filed in: Season 4
What about the games that never make it to market? Do they have stories worth telling, or lessons worth learning? These are the ghosts of games that never were.
With help from The Video Game History Foundation
's Frank Cifaldi, The Strong Museum of Play
's Andrew Borman, Games That Weren't
author/curator Frank Gasking, Tomb Raider superfan
Ash Kaprielov, and a couple of old developer interviews, I round out season four by looking at the life and death (and afterlife) of Half-Life for Mac, Desert Bus, Citizens
, and Core Design's Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition — along with the strange fascination we have with games that didn't
See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: cancelled games, unreleased games, games that weren't, frank cifaldi, frank gasking, andrew borman, gavin rummery, rebecca heineman, ash Kaprielov, tomb raider, strong museum of play, video game history foundation, game preservation, half-life, desert bus
17 Jan 2021 — Filed in: Soundbites | Season 4
If you've listened to episode 30 of the show, even if you weren't previously aware of his work, you'll know what a brilliant orator Chris Crawford is. The Dragon Speech, that famous moment where he charged out of the games industry — by literally charging out of the room — was arguably his magnum opus. And it was only possible thanks to Chris's mastery of the spoken word.
Here he describes his approach to public speaking and gives tips on how everyone can give better speeches. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: chris crawford, speaking
24 Dec 2020 — Filed in: Bonus
Given the hellish year we've had in 2020, I thought it'd be fun to close the year with a touch of levity...in the form of my cat, interrupting me, and just generally wanting to be podcast famous.
Happy holidays. May your 2021 be blessed with joy and happiness and dreams fulfilled. Or at least better tidings than this year brought. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: max, cat, outtakes, christmas
23 Dec 2020 — Filed in: Interviews
I speak to Bitmap Books
founder/publisher/owner/designer Sam Dyer about the hows and whys of publishing visually-led, high-quality books about games history, including why he loves to publish them and why they are so much more than just "picture books" — indeed, as we cover in the interview, there's both a huge amount of care and craft that goes into making them and we can learn so, so
much from looking at the graphical evolution of the medium. We also discuss the challenges and processes of book publishing, the history of Bitmap Books, and Bitmap's current and upcoming projects. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: bitmap books, sam dyer, games history explorers, books, publishing
09 Dec 2020 — Filed in: Season 4 | Episodes
It was "the greatest speech he ever gave in his life", and it marked a turning point in his pursuit of his dream, but it had the note of a eulogy. This is the story of how — and why — the legendary designer Chris Crawford left the games industry in an opening-day lecture at the 1993 Game Developers Conference, an event that he had founded just six years prior.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: chris crawford, balance of power, balance of the planet, gdc, games as art, interactive storytelling
27 Nov 2020 — Filed in: Soundbites | Season 4
Utopia and Intellivision World Series Baseball designer Don Daglow, one of the original five game programmers in Mattel's Intellivision group, describes his years spent at the company dodging forklifts, dumpster diving, listening to toys being smashed, and sharing a space with the rest of the electronics division. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: intellivision, don daglow, mattel
02 Nov 2020 — Filed in: Season 4 | Episodes
When Don Daglow pitched management at Mattel on an Intellivision game about trying to build a perfect society, he thought he was just creating a "line filler" in their product calendar. Instead he made one of the most important games of all time.
See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: don daglow, utopia, intellivision, game design, richard bannister, retro games for mac
26 Oct 2020 — Filed in: Interviews
This is a sponsored post, but don't let that turn you off. I made a point of doing the interview as I would any other — and Richard Bannister has some fun stories to tell.
Richard Bannister is best-known for his Mac-native emulator ports of BSNES, Nestopia, Genesis Plus, and Boycott Advance, plus some two-dozen others, which he built and maintained through the 2000s and returned to relatively recently after a long hiatus. But he also has a fantastic game music player called Audio Overload (with Mac and Windows versions) that supports more than 30 console/handheld/computer file formats.
And this year, during a period of unemployment, he decided to flex his creative muscles and make some games. He's up to 20 in all, each inspired by a classic arcade game or early home computer puzzle game — and very often by multiple variants of a particular game — and he's selling them on the Mac App Store
. In this interview we discuss this Retro Games for Mac collection
— its inspirations, design, development, cheat codes(!), and future plans — as well as his 90s shareware games and his contributions to the emulator scene. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: indie spotlight, retro games for mac, richard bannister, emulation, indie games, clones, sponsored, arcade
28 Sep 2020 — Filed in: Season 4 | Episodes
On the rise and, um...fade out(?)
of Chris Sawyer, the genius creator of bestselling, critically-acclaimed simulation games Transport Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon — who made a career out of working at the cutting-edge, in bare metal assembly code that he wrote and optimised (and optimised again) on his own.
Until the cutting-edge left him behind.
See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: chris sawyer, transport tycoon, rollercoaster tycoon, simulation, game design, programming
22 Sep 2020 — Filed in: Season 4 | Soundbites
Former Links, PGA Championship Golf, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour lead Vance Cook explains how and why his team(s) created new ways to swing a virtual golf club — beginning with the C-shaped gauge in Links and leading into "TrueSwing" on Front Page Sports Golf and PGA Championship, and then ending with the motion-controller (Wiimote) swing in Tiger Woods Wii.
Also listen for insights into the difference between sports games that aim for simulation versus those that aim for the "emotional experience". See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: vance cook, links, golf, sports games, game design
30 Aug 2020 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 4
In 1990, in a bid to move ahead of their rivals, Access Software reinvented virtual golf. Their game Links set the template for golf games over the next decade, with a technological tour de force, and along the way it dominated bestselling PC games charts month after month, year after year. Until suddenly it didn't.
This is the story of Links and the huge shadow it cast over its genre. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: access software, links, golf, sports games, kevin homer, vance cook
03 Aug 2020 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 4
I go inside Australia's only permanent video game console museum and find that what makes it special is more than just the size of its collection — or the fact that it exists.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: the nostalgia box, museum, covid-19, australia, perth
25 Jul 2020 — Filed in: Interviews
I speak to Kelsey Lewin, a video game historian and collector, retro games store owner, and self-proclaimed Wonderswan enthusiast, about the challenges — and also the merits — of researching and archiving the artefacts connected to games development and culture, both past and present. She also shares her insights on how the growth in retro gaming helps fuel interest in games history, why some of the most interesting stories are far beyond the typical narratives of games history, what quirky things we can find when looking into the Wonderswan and its inventor, the famed Game Boy hardware designer Gunpei Yokoi, and much more.
Kelsey co-directs the Video Game History Foundation with Frank Cifaldi, where the two of them have been doing amazing work in preserving and archiving the artefacts of games development and culture — not so much the games themselves, but rather more the packaging and documentation, the source code, the marketing materials, the magazines, etc. And she also co-owns Pink Gorilla Games, a retro games store located in Seattle. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: games history explorers, video game history foundation, pink gorilla games, kelsey lewin, gunpei yokoi, nintendo, wonderswan, game preservation
30 Jun 2020 — Filed in: Soundbites
Glenn Brensinger, former sysop of Software Creations, talks about how his then-boss Dan Linton's "Home of the Authors" Software Creations bulletin-board system (BBS) served as a sort of prototypical Steam.
The interview was done as part of my research for my upcoming book Shareware Heroes: Independent Games at the Dawn of the Internet, which is on Kickstarter
until July 8th. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: bbs, software creations, dan linton, glenn brensinger, shareware
09 Jun 2020 — Filed in: Interviews
The man behind The CRPG Addict, a blog dedicated to playing through the entire history of computer role-playing games in roughly-chronological order, discusses his decade-long (and counting!) conquest and the roots of his passion.
We also explore how his approach has changed as he's learnt more about the genre's history, the merits and failings of a scoring system for comparing games, the value of talking about a tiny niche within a niche in such detail, how he learnt to stop feeling guilty about loving role-playing games, and more.
See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: games history explorers, rpgs, crpg addict, plato, rogue
09 Apr 2020 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 3
It began as an impromptu April Fools' Day gag, but Pimps at Sea was the joke that kept on giving. This is the story of how a chance encounter on the streets of Chicago led to a semi-annual tradition, an industry/fan-favourite insider joke, and a cult classic multiplayer game.
See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: bungie, matt soell, pimps at sea, joke games, comedy, halo
01 Apr 2020 — Filed in: Interviews
I speak to librarian, games critic, and blogger Phil Salvador about his website The Obscuritory and his research and writing on games unplayed and unknown. In a far-reaching interview, conducted in late February, 2020 (and thus before the full brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the West), we explore the challenges, rewards, and lessons we've each found in writing about little-known areas of games history, as well as the importance of being kind and much, much more.
This is the third entry in a new series of interviews I'm running alongside the main show — every month(ish) I'll talk to a different person who's exploring games history, in one way or another, to learn about the many ways people are preserving the games industry's past as well as to further our understanding of how this wonderful medium (and the industry that's built around it) has come to be the way it is now.
See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: games history explorers, obscuritory, weird games, phil salvador
16 Mar 2020 — Filed in: Soundbites
Nintendo Power founding editor and former Nintendo of America marketing executive Gail Tilden remembers her beginnings at the company — before the NES, before Nintendo Power, and even before desktop publishing. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: gail tilden, nintendo, 90s gaming, 1990s, marketing, nintendo power
27 Feb 2020 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 3
How 2006 PS2 hit Bully (aka Canis Canem Edit) showed an alternate future for Rockstar and the open-world genre, with its compromised-yet-brilliant schoolyard satire — here I dive deep into the game, not for its overblown controversies but rather for its struggles against technological limitations and its triumphs in world-building, satire, and focused, more intimate and structured open-world game design. And I wonder why, nearly 15 years on, open-world games continue to strive for bigger and bigger playgrounds filled with more and more trivial collectibles rather than building on the legacy of Bully's deliberate, glorious smallness.
See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: bully, rockstar, open world, ps2, dma design, game design, satire, comedy
11 Feb 2020 — Filed in: Interviews
I speak to the creator of Shmuplations.com, a large repository of translated interviews with Japanese game developers, about his approach to doing the translations, his insights on the Japanese games industry, and the highs and lows (and struggles) of running a time-intensive side hustle.
This is the second entry in a new series of interviews I'm running alongside the main show — every month(ish) I'll talk to a different person who's exploring games history, in one way or another, to learn about the many ways people are preserving the games industry's past as well as to further our understanding of how this wonderful medium (and the industry that's built around it) has come to be the way it is now.
See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: shmuplations, games history explorers, japanese games, 1980s, 1990s, game design
30 Jan 2020 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 3
In war, no information is complete. No intelligence absolute. No view of the enemy unobstructed. There’s no such thing as perfect knowledge. It is a realm of uncertainty, where decisions are made on flawed and often outdated data — as though looking through a fog.
Hence the term, the fog of war, a military phrase with origins in the musings of a 19th century Prussian general called Carl von Clausewitz. A phrase that’s since found its way into video game lexicon, and video game design, as we explore here. (Featuring interview clips with former Blizzard lead programmer Patrick Wyatt about the fog of war in Warcraft II and StarCraft.) See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: fog of war, warcraft, blizzard, game design, wargaming, strategy, close combat, adventure, rogue, patrick wyatt, empire
10 Jan 2020 — Filed in: Soundbites | Season 3
Here's some great game design wisdom from one of the legends of the business — Age of Empires, Sid Meier's Civilization, and Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon co-creator Bruce Shelley. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: age of empires, bruce shelley, game design
24 Dec 2019 — Filed in: Season 3 | Episodes
The sound designers from Age of Empires I and II, brothers Chris and Stephen Rippy, tell the story behind the iconic "wololo" priest chant — for converting enemy units to your side — that's since become a popular meme, as I delve into its strange legacy. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: age of empires, sound, chris rippy, stephen rippy, ensemble studios, microsoft, fan culture
28 Nov 2019 — Filed in: Bonus | Season 3
While I'm away on my honeymoon, here's my complete talk from PAX Australia 2019, on the rise and fall of legendary shareware publisher Ambrosia Software.The synopsis:
For Mac gamers in the 90s, the people of Ambrosia Software were rockstars. Heroes. And with brilliant games like Maelstrom, Escape Velocity, Harry the Handsome Executive, Apeiron, and more, plus a company newsletter that spoke directly to the fans, they could do no wrong. In light of Ambrosia's recent closure (finally!), Secret History of Mac Gaming author Richard Moss recounts the studio's high and lowpoints and tells the stories behind its best games. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: ambrosia software, mac, shareware, 90s gaming, PAX
22 Nov 2019 — Filed in: Season 3 | Episodes
It’s strange to think of a time before jumping was a standard video game action, to be expected whenever and wherever you have control over an individual character. A time before you could hop onto enemies’ heads and not die, or swing on ropes, or move back and forth across a vast level — many times wider than the screen.
But these ideas were rare, and just beginning to find their way into video game lexicon, when David Crane came along and with one single game turned them into tropes. With just one game that had begun as a simple tech demo of a running man. One game that would go on to define a console generation, amid 64 consecutive weeks atop the Billboard bestsellers chart and a whopping four million lifetime sales on a gaming system that itself sold 30 million units.
That one game is Pitfall!, or Jungle Runner, as it was called during development, an Indiana Jones-like adventure distilled into the (home console) video game technology of the era.
This is the story of Pitfall!'s creation and its phenomenal legacy, pieced together from myriad sources — interviews, reviews, history articles, promo videos, book chapters, retrospectives, and a 2011 postmortem delivered at the Game Developers' Conference by none other than David Crane himself. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: pitfall, atari 2600, david crane, game design, programming, 1980s, platformers
08 Nov 2019 — Filed in: Season 3 | Episodes
How a quest to put sound in an early Mac game helped usher in a revolution in computer game audio design and production.
Features interviews with tech entrepreneur Charlie Jackson and former Adobe and Microsoft executive Eric Zocher, who together co-founded 1980s software company Silicon Beach Software — a pioneer in creative software tools and desktop publishing, as well as the publisher of several popular games (two of which we cover here: Airborne and the original Mac version of Dark Castle). See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: silicon beach, dark castle, airborne, eric zocher, charlie jackson, mark stephen pierce, jonathan gay, mac, 1980s, music, sound, audio design, voice acting, dick noel
05 Oct 2019 — Filed in: Interviews
I interview Gamegeschiedenis van Nederland 1978-2018 (Games History of the Netherlands) author Tom Lenting about his book and the history of the Dutch games industry.
This is the first in a new series of interviews I'm running alongside the main show — every month I'll talk to a different person who's exploring games history, in one way or another, to further our understanding of how this wonderful medium (and the industry that's built around it) has come to be the way it is now. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: tom lenting, the netherlands, cd-i, guerrilla games, philips, vlambeer, mac, games history explorers
03 Sep 2019 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 2
On the rise and fall of the Premier Manager series of soccer management games — a former PC gaming juggernaut that lost its way amidst a shuffle of developers and publishers — and the part it played in the broader consolidation and homogenisation of sports games (of all kinds) over the past 20 years or so.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: game design, gremlin, infogrames, premier manager, british games, business, championship manager, football manager, sports interactive, soccer, sports games, amiga, pc
16 Aug 2019 — Filed in: Soundbites | Season 2
When the United States Senate held congressional hearings on video game violence in 1993 and '94, Sega CEO Tom Kalinske went to bat in defence of the industry — and the medium. But he faced major obstacles just getting the senators to understand that the audience for video games was much
broader than teenage and pre-teen boys. In this excerpt from an interview I conducted with Tom earlier this year, he describes the experience and lays out his frustrations with the senators. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: tom kalinske, sega, congressional hearings on video game violence, girl games
25 Jul 2019 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 2
Far from a mere "Worms in 3D", Hogs of War was its own breed of madness. Hear the story of how it evolved from a concept of "Command and Conquer with pigs", what made it such a well-designed satire, and how this underrated PlayStation game saw the funny side of serious global conflict.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: game design, gremlin, worms, hogs of war, infogrames, ps1, artillery, british games, multiplayer games, command and conquer, comedy, satire
01 Jul 2019 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 2
How Nintendo and its mascot created a genre, and a combat-racing franchise heavyweight, and in the process gave us a masterclass in game balance, with the best-selling 1992 Super Nintendo game Super Mario Kart.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: game design, super mario kart, nintendo, super nintendo, mario, racing, multiplayer games, japanese games
08 Jun 2019 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 2
Sega Rally Championship changed everything for the racing genre, and the 1995 off-road arcade hit was an incredible game too. This is the story of its development, critical reception, and long-term legacy.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: game design, sega rally championship, sega, rally games, tetsuya mizuguchi, japanese games, multiplayer games, ridge racer, racing, daytona usa, arcade, kenji sasaki, colin mcrae, sega saturn
06 Jun 2019 — Filed in: Season 2 | Soundbites
For the 35th anniversary of Tetris' original Russian version, I pulled out this clip from my interview with Henk Rogers — co-founder of The Tetris Company and the dude who got Tetris handheld and console publishing rights back in the 1980s (and also creator of what was arguably the first JRPG, The Black Onyx).
Listen for Henk's memories about the strategy inherent in the game's scoring system and the story of how they fixed a bias in the Game Boy version's random number generator.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: game design, alexey pajitnov, game boy, henk rogers, nintendo, tetris
16 May 2019 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 2
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.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: boss button, boss key, roger wagner, brøderbund, hackers, spacewar, boss coming, games at work, bezare, maze, apple ii, plato, dave lebling, brand fortner, plato, windows 95, dos, mac, pc
01 May 2019 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 2
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. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: game design, apple ii, arcade, brøderbund, doug smith, level editors, lode runner, puzzle games, donkey kong, mainframe games
12 Feb 2019 — Filed in: Soundbites
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.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: game design, puzzle games, scott kim, heaven and earth, secret history of mac gaming
02 Feb 2019 — Filed in: Interviews
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. It's 14 current and former game developers talking about the early Macintosh computer and how it inspired them to make something insanely great.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: game design, mac, rand miller, robyn miller, the colony, david alan smith, scott kim, tony goodman, bill appleton, macpaint, glenda adams, the manhole, darrell myers, roy harvey, eric zocher, silicon beach, charlie jackson, lisa computer, 1984, ben haller, brian thomas, if monks had macs, gordon walton, secret history of mac gaming
23 Nov 2018 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 1
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.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: game design, girl games, laura groppe, brenda laurel, business, theresa duncan, barbie, mattel, teen digital diva, marketing, 90s gaming
01 Nov 2018 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 1
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.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: microsoft, pc, ed fries, jon kimmich, ed ventura, stuart moulder, age of empires, flight simulator, xbox, close combat, games publishing, rick goodman, business, marketing
01 Sep 2018 — Filed in: Soundbites | Season 1
Jon Kimmich 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 (I posted a different quote on Twitter during the week).
Here he tells us about knowing when a game has that "magic" that means it's going to be a hit, with Halo and Age of Empires as examples.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: age of empires, halo, jon kimmich, microsoft, pc, xbox, business
19 Jul 2018 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 1
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.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: game design, bomberman, hudson soft, shoji mizuno, japanese games, multiplayer games, eric and the floaters, dynablaster
14 Jun 2018 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 1
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.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: game design, catz, dogz, hexing, night trap, petz, pf magic, rob fulop, simulation, virtual pets, us congressional hearings into video game violence
28 Mar 2018 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 1
On the late Mike Singleton and the importance of Midwinter and The Lords of Midnight, his two great works. After switching from high school English teaching to professional game development in the 1980s, Mike quickly rose to the top of the industry. His games pushed the limits of what was possible, and he routinely crafted worlds that were way ahead of their time.
Here, based on archival research and old magazine interviews, I present part of his incredible story. See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: game design, amiga, atari st, midwinter, mike singleton, open world, the lords of midnight, british games
18 Feb 2018 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 1
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.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: game design, 3D, core design, lara croft, level editors, tomb raider, gavin rummery, heather stevens, andy sandham, toby gard
23 Dec 2017 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 1
Every aspect of the original Core Design Tomb Raider series (and by extension the franchise's success post-Core) 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, based on interviews with Heather Stevens (née Gibson) and Gavin Rummery as well as my past work covering Tomb Raider's history as a freelancer.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: game design, 3D, lara croft, tomb raider, toby gard, heather stevens, gavin rummery, core design, level editors
11 Nov 2017 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 1
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.
Featuring quotes from Steve Demeter, founder of one of the first fan translation groups, Demiforce, who was the driving force behind three high-profile ROM hacks — the Final Fantasy II and Radical Dreamers translation projects, and the Earthbound Zero prototype release.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: chrono trigger, demiforce, earthbound, emulation, fan translations, final fantasy, nes, radical dreamers, rom hacking, super nintendo, steve demeter
04 Nov 2017 — Filed in: Soundbites | Season 1
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.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: 8-bit, art, business, cancelled games, mark ferrari, marketing, tv game, x-men, colour cycling, palette shifting, dithering
23 Oct 2017 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 1
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.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: game design, 3D, fifa, ea sports, isometric, marc aubanel, soccer, sports games, 3DO
15 Oct 2017 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 1
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.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: ambrosia software, bugs, cythera, jason whong, mac, macworld, marketing, PR, shareware
01 Oct 2017 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 1
This is the story of illustrator Mark Ferrari, whose artwork was so good it forced Lucasfilm Games to figure out how to make a graphics technique called dithering compress to fit on floppy disks — in the process winning awards and triggering the use of dither in the wider games industry — and who pioneered the use of two background illustration tricks that gave the illusion of animation. He became world-renowned for his colour cycling and palette shifting techniques, which could be used to make a single computer illustration appear alive.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: graphic adventures, colour cycling, deluxe paint, dithering, art, gary winnick, loom, lucasarts, lucasfilm, mark ferrari, palette shifting, scumm, seize the day, thimbleweed park, illustration
22 Sep 2017 — Filed in: Soundbites
Steve Capps, one of the creators of the Macintosh and a Microsoft executive in the 1990s, tells a story from his days of working alongside Bill Gates.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: apple, bill gates, browser gaming, microsoft, social gaming, steve capps
16 Sep 2017 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 1
The story of the one of the earliest flight simulator games, Airfight, a favourite among the PLATO community back in 1973, based on an interview with its creator. Airfight was a multiplayer flight combat sim with wireframe graphics and real-time chat, and it was an influence on the first home computer flight simulator, subLOGIC's fittingly-named 1980 game Flight Simulator for the Apple II and TRS-80.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: game design, airfight, brand fortner, bruce artwick, flight simulator, multiplayer games, plato, silas warner, simulation, sublogic
10 Sep 2017 — Filed in: Interviews | Season 1
An extended interview with Pocket Gamer co-founder Jon Jordan, who these days writes mostly about the business of mobile games at Pocket Gamer's sister site PocketGamer.biz. These full interview postings will normally be for Patreon backers only
, but since I've only just launched the show I thought it'd be good to give you a taste of what you'll be getting when you make a monthly pledge of $3 or more.
We covered a lot of ground in the interview — far more than I could fit into the Race to the Bottom episode
. And Jon had some great insights into how the business and design of iOS gaming has evolved over time.
Listen for talk about how surprising it was to see the iPhone become a great games platform, what the early days of iPhone gaming were like, how the business and design of iOS gaming has evolved over time, and what's likely to be in store for the future of the App Store.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: app store, bonus content, iphone, jon jordan, mobile games, pocket gamer
06 Sep 2017 — Filed in: Episodes | Season 1
In the early days of the iPhone App Store, game developers found themselves locked in a race to a $0.99 price point that none of them wanted to become standard. This is the story of how that happened, and how it affected mobile games going forward.See full show notes and episode player…
Tags: airwings, app store, brian greenstone, enigmo, iphone, mobile games, pangea, pocket gamer, marketing, business