Like most kids growing up in the 1980’s I spent a great amount of time with my brother hanging out at the local arcades, spending hours playing all of the latest games to come to our small home town of Big Bear Lake, California, although as you might expect it could get costly for kids in high school at the time.
To cut down on the cost of the arcade runs my brother bought an Atari Home Computer system to play games on, but being located in the mountains didn’t give us access to a lot of the computer stores selling games.
So, the best option was to buy a lot of computer magazines like Soft Side that had game programs that you could type in. Although, typing in pages and pages of code without knowing what it was doing was bound to introduce bugs that would need to be fixed if you wanted to play the game, and so my introduction to game programming started.
But it wouldn’t take long before I wanted to start designing and programming my own games, but the limitations of programming in Basic was driving me nuts, that’s when I stepped up to programming in 6502 Assembly Language.
Now, any programmer starting out in the 1980s will tell you that switching from an Interpreted Programming Language to Assembly is liken-to a Spiritual Awakening for geeks, and so it was with me.
With the power of the programming God’s now in my hands it wasn’t long before I wanted to move from doing little programming experiments to wanting to create my own original game, that’s when I created “Diamond Hunter”. I little random game where you have to blast your way through a mine, collect as many Diamonds and you can and escape before the mine floods.
It wasn’t a complicated game, but it looked good, played well and was bug free, and it was the first game I had developed with publishing in mind, Dynacomp.
Dynacomp was a big shareware game publisher at the time that focused on selling their games through a catalog during the 1980's that sold games for just about every computer system of the time.
ALTOS - APPLE II - ATARI - CANON AS100 - COMMODORE - COMPAQ - CP/M HEATH Z100 - IBM PC - KAYPRO MORROW - NEC PC - NORTH STAR - OSBORNE - SUPERBRAIN - TRS 80
While I didn’t make that much money off of my first venture in professional game development, the idea that other people around the country could now enjoy my work really had me hooked.
While I would continue to develop a whole bunch of video games for the Atari 8-Bit and eventually on the Atari ST Home Computers but I wasn’t making a living at it, so it would be a long time before I got my big break into working in-house for a game developer.
During this time I would work many different jobs, such as Plastic Mold Injection Operator, Alarm Installer, Busboy/ Pie Maker, Factory Worker and eventually working as an Auto Mechanic for Pep-Boys.
This turned out to be a blessing, for during this time I didn’t have much time for programming so I focused on creating large scale paper designs.
While I had done a lot of simple games over the years, my passion was for Dungeons and Dragons games, like Wizardry, Dungeon Master and Ultima, and the game I was working on design for was called The Wizards Eye.
The first draft of my game design was done around the end of 1990, but I still didn’t have much time to work on its development, so I thought I would pitch it to Virgin Games as a game I would come in and develop it for them.
I didn't have much hope of it being accepted, for I had already pitched some of my RPG games on the Atari to Interplay with no luck, but as they say, no guts not glory 🙂