This blog will focus on the game industry, as that's my business and my passion. You will get a true insiders look at a variety of topics, from company branding, royalties rates for star developers, game design principles, book and game reviews, rating game advertisements, the importance of story and emotion in games, to you-name-it.
For me it all started in 1975, breaking into my school's computer lab late at night, creating games on a Wang 2000 personal computer, long before they were called PCs. Back then state-of-the-art was a 12-line, green text display, 60 characters across. At the time, I lived in the heart of Australia, Alice Springs. I was 13 and had discovered my future.
Almost 30 years later, I've written for several national publications (such as long gone COMPUTE!), over 200 columns for The Dallas Morning News, and co-authored a book on beating arcade games. But all of this was in the early- to mid-80's, before things really took off.
By the later 80's, having written some 100 small games on various computers I'd owned -- Commodore PET, Commodore 64, Amiga 1000, and several IBM PCs (including the original pre-hard-drive Intel 8088 version, bought the year it came out) -- I was beginning to explore shareware as an avenue for making money with all of these games I'd made. Shareware had started in 1982, but was not exactly making anyone wealthy, except for a handful of authors, such as the creators of PC-Write, PC-File, and PKWare. No one was making money in by releasing their games as shareware. This is where luck and opportunity met preparation, and Apogee was born.
Apogee became wildly successful in the shareware arena, starting with very successful series of Kroz games from 1987 through 1990, at which point I quit my day job and began to treat Apogee as a real, full-time business. The first thing I did was recruit more game developers, convincing them of the virtues of shareware, and that Apogee was the expert in shareware marketing. And we were! In 1987 I pioneered the multi-episode method of releasing one-third of a game as shareware, and selling the remainder of the game directly to buyers. This was the key to being successful in the shareware market, and even though my kroz games were not flashy compared to other shareware games at the time, I was the only one making the big bucks -- around $50k to $100k a year.
Mid-1990 I began talking to John Romero, a game coder at Softdisk, and eventually convinced him and his two co-worker friends, John Carmack and Tom Hall, to give shareware a try. They made Commander Keen in about four months and we released the game to the world on BBS's mid-Dec. 1990. A month later I sent them a check for $10,000, and they, too, saw that the future was shareware.
Well, this was suppose to be a brief background post, but it's already well beyond that! Apogee went on to release some 35 games (all but a few solid money earners, including several massive hits). In the mid-1990's we changed our name to 3D Realms, a strategic move to ride the growing 3D action game category.
In 1998 3D Realms became a founding member of Gathering of Developers, a publisher based in Dallas. I was a co-owner and one of the board of directors, and learned much about the publisher side of the business. Eventually, G.o.D. sold itself in full to Take-Two Interactive.
Nowadays 3D Realms is best known for the creating Duke Nukem and co-creating Max Payne (with Remedy). 3D Realms is one of the world's most successful fully independent PC game developers -- this means we do not require financial help in creating games, thus allowing us to make the games we want to make, with the level of execution and polish we want to give them. (And yes, many can say we've abused this freedom!) We have uniquely positioned ourselves as specialists in character-based 3D action games. We've also developed a methodology which we believe enables us to create successful game brands with a soaring degree of confidence, and as of this date we have a major unannounced game well underway that will, like Max Payne, be an proving ground for our techniques.
In this blog I will discuss a wide range of game development topics, ranging from pure design, to the business side, from marketing to game reviews. There's not much I won't touch upon, and those who know me (or who used to read my ".plan files" from the late 90's) know that I don't hold back my opinions. The fur will often fly, that much I can promise.
My company bio page has a few more details, and a fairly good recommended reading list.