From Game Developer Research Institute
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- 1 Happy 2nd Anniversary, GDRI!
- 2 New Interviews and Interview Update
- 3 Kenji Eno and New Interviews
- 4 AGDAM Wrap-Up
- 5 "Great Donkey Kong Ripoff" or "Greatest Donkey Kong Ripoff?"
- 6 New Interview, YouTube Favorites
- 7 Upcoming Interviews
- 8 Jerry Lawson Interview
- 9 AGDAM Continues
- 10 Behind the Scenes at Sega Midwest
Happy 2nd Anniversary, GDRI!
It was two years ago today that I finished installing the MediaWiki software that is the backbone of this site, thus launching GDRI. Amazing...As we enter our third year of operation, let's take a look at what we've accomplished so far:
- 138 company entries
- (120 "featured" + 4 "unknown" + 14 "WIP")
- 21 interviews
New Interviews and Interview Update
- Tom Sloper, formerly of Activision, talks about all kinds of things in this extensive interview. Don't miss it! About a year and a half ago, I tried asking him about what games Western Technologies developed for the Vectrex, and he gave me homework that I never finished. Fortunately, this turned out better. I may have some more questions to ask, but I said I wouldn't e-mail him again, so who knows...
- Charlie Heath discusses Microsmiths, which he co-founded.
- Interview update: New questions/info regarding Aftershock and yet another unreleased 32X game have been added to the Jim Reichert interview.
Kenji Eno and New Interviews
A great new interview with Kenji Eno went up last week on 1up.com (seems to be an expanded version of what was in the latest EGM). Most relevant to GDRI was when he talked about Interlink (the first company he worked at) and EIM (the first company he started). According to him, he worked on FC Ultraman Club 2 at Interlink, so I have removed that from the EIM entry and started an Interlink entry. That throws into doubt some of the other games we have listed in the EIM entry, so I have shaded them red until more information comes in.
I tried tracking him down last year, but instead he found me - through my clip of Sega Genesis World Heroes on YouTube. The "he" I'm referring to is Jim Reichert, formerly of Sega Midwest and the man who bears a lot of responsibility for the aforementioned questionable World Heroes conversion. Find out more about that game, an unreleased 32X game, and what it was like working at Sega Midwest.
August is under way, and that means American Game Developer Appreciation Month is now behind us. I will be completely honest - AGDAM didn't go as well as I would have liked (but why was I expecting it to go well to begin with?). Let's summize, shall we?
Interviews - Despite numerous attempts, I only managed to snag one interview during the month, and that was with former Parker Brothers contractors Bob Halliday and Chase Sebor. We talked about an unreleased Q*bert game and Montezuma's Revenge (the game).
Among the people I tried contacting was Voldi Way, founder of WayForward Technologies. I forgot I even e-mailed him when I received a reply early Friday morning. You'll be seeing that interview soon.
And don't forget - courtesy of RetroGaming Radio, we brought you an excellent interview with the great Jerry Lawson, the chief engineer behind the pioneering Fairchild Channel F console and the founder of Videosoft. If you haven't listened to it, do it now! I will be taking it down on August 18 - God willing.
YouTube - I had plans to do more with our YouTube channel, but I was never really in the mood. I did get a few videos of American-made games up, however: SMS Carmen Sandiego, SMS Montezuma's Revenge, NES Drac's Night Out, 2600 Robot Tank, 2600 Solaris.
"Great Donkey Kong Ripoff" or "Greatest Donkey Kong Ripoff?"
It also wins the award for "Best Use of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as Background Music in a Video Game."
New Interview, YouTube Favorites
My interview with contract programmers Bob Halliday and Chase Sebor is now up! Don't mind the mess - We are currently experimenting with putting interviews on static pages instead of on the wiki itself.
I've still heard nothing more from Qix creator Randy Pfeiffer, but my great interview with Mindware (formerly MNM Software) president Mikito Ichikawa should be coming soon. I had to do it through a Mindware employee, who is still translating the answers as I type.
Finally, why don't you subscribe to my YouTube favorites? Plenty of interesting video game and non-video game-related videos. As for the game-related ones, here's some that tie in nicely with American Game Developer Appreciation Month:
- Into the Valley of the Space Invaders - Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 - 1982 documentary produced by the now-defunct Field Communications, which owned various broadcast TV stations in the US. Includes interviews with people from Atari.
- Atari Games 20th Anniversary - Part 1 | Part 2 - Originally produced for Atari Games employees eyes only. Too bad the company didn't last another 20 years. User "gdstark" (actually former Atari/Atari Games programmer Gary Stark) has more great stuff like promo videos for T-Mek and Guardians of the Hood.
Stay tuned to GDRI for exciting interviews like these:
- Bob Halliday and Chase Sebor, who did contract work for Parker Brothers, talk about their games, including an unreleased one featuring the lovable Q*bert.
- Mindware (formerly MNM Software) president Mikito Ichikawa tells us about his company, pinball, and how he met legendary game musician Yuzo Koshiro.
And in the "maybe" category:
- Randy Pfeiffer, the man behind the original Qix. He replied to my first e-mail in a timely manner. Then I sent him some questions, and I have yet to hear back from him.
Jerry Lawson Interview
If there's one reason the decade-old RetroGaming Radio is the best retro gaming-related audio program on the Internet, it's host Shane R. Monroe's interviews at Classic Gaming Expo (too bad there won't be one this year). We've been given permission to post one of his best featuring Jerry Lawson (right) from CGE 2005. Not only is Lawson funny, but he has plenty of interesting stories (and I'm all about interesting stories). In case you didn't know, Jerry Lawson was the chief engineer behind the Fairchild Channel F, one of the first systems to use programmable ROM cartridges, and started a development company called Videosoft (which I started an entry for last week as part of AGDAM), among other things which you'll hear about. I only plan on having this up for the next 30 days, so download it now.
Download: Part 1 | Part 2
In my haste on Friday, I failed to mention it was the 4th of July. I hope all our American visitors had a good holiday. American Game Developer Appreciation Month rolls on just the same, though. We looked at Designer Software and WayForward Technologies over the three-day weekend. That turned out to be a bit of a mess. Hopefully, we'll at least have a WayForward entry soon.
I've tried to contact three Americans since last week. I'm still waiting for a reply to the first e-mail, the second one bounced back, and the last one I just sent this morning. In the same timeframe, I've received somewhat-substantive responses from two Japanese people.
On an unrelated note, I've started the Credits Dump, so plop your staff rolls and credits in there if you got 'em.
Behind the Scenes at Sega Midwest
I came across this last November when we were talking about Sega Midwest Studio at the Sega-16.com Forums. It's a public access-cum-Internet show called Rox. A young Jim Reichert, who programmed World Heroes for the Sega Genesis, appeared on several episodes including this one entitled "Head Jobz," which tackles the subject of jobs - as in the things people do for a living. One segment features Reichert at his job as a programmer at Sega Midwest. He mentions a 32X game called AfterShock, which was never released, and you'll get to see footage from it. However, it looks more like a proof of concept than actual gameplay. I don't know the exact time the segment starts, but it's early in the show.