Returning to Your Roots

Part of this week was going to be set aside for considering the restart of my computer game company. It has been languishing since 8 days after the release of our first 2D game Groundhog Hunt.

On that day, I found out my wife had cancer.

Games went on hold, except for my brief attempt to create a game for cancer patients. I’ll revisit that game and finish it one day, Like several of the games I have worked on or shelved due to various issues it is simply something that I know I will return to until it is done.  I’m rather tenacious that way.

Anyway, the list of things to get my company back in gear is rather long, including catching up on the latest technology and the business news.  So I set aside time for reading up on all my back issues of Gamasutra.  I did research on rebuilding my website with modern tools.  I looked at a half dozen game engines across a spectrum of different genres.  I seriously considered if I even WANTED to restart the whole thing.

I haven’t answered that question yet.  I want to make sure I know the scope of the whole thing before I make the decision.  I noticed that I always made everybody else’s game and never made the one’s I wanted.  Maybe if I took it back to being a hobby I could work on what I wanted to.  But one thing that I did decide to do that wasn’t all business.  I went back to my roots.  I got copies of all the games I remember that motivated me to want to make games in the first place.  It’s been an interesting time revisiting tools and old games.

Old games aren’t always that pretty to revisit.  With time the errors become more visible.  Back then there was a lot more experimentation because the field was new.  Games that you have the fondest memories of can be the hardest to deal with.  It’s not just the poor graphics, or the tinny audio.  It’s the uneven game balance, the difficult UI, the over the top attempt to display every possible nuance of game play on a 300×200 screen.

The game industry has matured.  But interestingly one game, for me, has held up.  Myst.

The Masterpiece Edition buffed up the screen resolution a bit, but it didn’t matter.  It is flawed, to be sure, but the audio is sill compelling, the puzzles are still fun, and the underlying story of a father betrayed by his own children is still a tour de force.

I realize that nowadays Myst is considered by many to be a hack game and something that it is easy to throw stones at.  But as someone who was around when it arrived… it changed everything, at least for me.

From the moment I saw it I wanted to make worlds like that.  I found out about 3D and more than anything I wanted to make Myst worlds that you could wander around in.  I studied VRML, and cardboard glasses with plastic red and blue lenses.  I tried io-glasses, I tried shutter glasses.  But the speed, the technology, was never quite there.  So, I waited.  I kept trying, but always there was something technological that kept me from being able to make the worlds I wanted.

I made my first game in 1973.  I saw Myst in 1993.  In 2013 I became aware of a resurgence in interest in VR.  I figure if I start working on my own right now I MIGHT have the VR game that I wanted… by 2033?  It would make an interesting hobby in my old age.

I should shoot for 2023.  Fifty years seems like a reasonable amount of time to wait for what I want.  Then I can spend ten years expanding it – for fun.  I can do that.

Like I said.  I can be tenacious.



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