|Scott, coincidentally the best Mario Cart player in Dallas, heads off to
[ Developers Rule at 3D Realms ]
While living in Australia, began writing computer games in 1975 on a
Wang 2000 and have since written over 100 games, large and small, up
until 1990, with over 20 commercially released on disk magazines such
as I.B.Magazette and Softdisk (Big Blue Disk). During the mid-80's I
wrote professionally for several national gaming magazines, including
COMPUTE!, as well as writing a weekly syndicated column for four years
for The Dallas Morning News (titled "Video Vision" the first two
years, then renamed "Computer Fun" for another two years). In the
early 80's also co-authored (with George Broussard) a book on beating
A few of the more recognizable games I wrote during this time:
Beyond the Titanic -- an Infocom-sized
text-only adventure game (PC)
Supernova -- a move advanced text
adventure game (PC)
Trek Trivia -- a ten episode, 1000-question series featuring classic
Kroz -- A total of seven episodes, these are the games that launched
Apogee in 1987
Computers I've owned: Commodore PET (1979), VIC-20, C-64, Amiga 1000
and the original IBM PC (8086). As a programmer, I learned and used at
various times FORTRAN, COBOL, BASIC, Modula, Prolog, Pascal and C.
(Most games I wrote during the 80's used Turbo Pascal.)
In 1990 I quit my day job to focus on Apogee full-time. (Apogee had
been a part-time business since late 1987.) Immediately recruited
several key developers to join me as shareware game developers,
including id Software (before they were id) and Todd Replogle (author
of the first three Duke Nukem games). Also at this time turned Apogee
into a partnership by teaming up with long-time friend and game maker,
Much of my education came by spending far too much time and money
playing arcade, video and computer games throughout the 80's, as well
as working at two arcade locations for several years early in that
decade. Foolishly dropped $1000 upon $1000 of quarters during that
time -- best investment I ever made.
Apogee/3D Realms Duties
Managing the company includes
setting goals and a company mission, dealing with publishers and other
partners, making agreements/deals with these partners, and providing our
developers whatever is needed to help them do their job better. Also oversee
most of the marketing tasks and work with our publisher with their marketing
of our games.
Development-wise, I work with all external developer partners, providing
design guidance and marketing direction. Also maintain a role with all
internally developed games. My primary concern with our games is to be
innovative, creative and push into areas where no one else has been before.
Projects Worked on
Everything ever released by us. Completely wrote games such as Beyond the Titanic,
Supernova, Trek Trivia, and all seven Kroz games. Designed levels for many of our later
released games, including the entire first episode of the first Duke Nukem.
Founded Apogee in 1987. Spent a lot of wasted time in college--I've always
been more interested in pursuing a career in the game industry, be it a
writer or developer, and college always seemed to be in the way. Finally
dropped out with only a semester to go before graduating. (Would not
recommend this approach for everyone.)
Honored in a 1996 issue of Next Generation magazine as one of "The 75 Most
Important People in the Game Industry." One of only eight people to be
honored with the Shareware Industry Foundations' "Lifetime
Achievement Award." Member of the Association of Shareware
Professionals' "Hall of Fame." In 1997, listed in Computer Gaming World as
one of the 15 most influential people in the games industry. In 1997, part
of a group of 30 in Next Generation magazine as one of the "most important
people in the American game industry." Was a founder of the Shareware Trade
Association and Resources (STAR), which was instrumental in fixing some of
the shareware industry's biggest problems. Was a founder of Gathering of
Other Interests / Hobbies
Love downhill snow skiing on blacks, double blacks and off-trail, and like disc golf,
tennis, bowling, poker, paintball, jet skiing, water skiing, knee-boarding, off-road
motorcycling and about anything athletic and adventurous. Have a black belt in Tang Soo
Do, Korean karate. Also an avid drummer with a 25-piece custom designed mahogany MasterCraft Pearl kit
based on two of my
favorite drummers: Neil Peart (Rush) and Terry Bozzio (back when he was in Missing
Persons). I can't play like these guys, but my drum set looks good!
Check out this picture as well as this
picture of my kit.
Favorite Computer Games
Arcades: Missile Command, Asteroids, Forgotten Worlds and Tempest
Computer games: M.U.L.E., Archon, Ultima III, Enchanter, Planetfall, Space Quest 3,
Jumpman, You Don't Know Jack, and Sword of Kadash.
I get quite a few emails about game development
books, marketing and business books, so I decided to make it easier to
answer these emails, I'd just add them to my bio page.
Game Design & Development Books
Chris Crawford on Game Design (ISBN:
From his bio: "Chris Crawford is the 'grand old
man' of computing game design...Chris has 14 published games to his
credit...He founded, edited, and wrote most of The Journal of Computer Game
Design...[and] He founded the Computer Game Developers' Conference [now the
GDC]." So why haven't you heard of Chris recently? Since the early 90's he's
been focused on developing technology for interactive storytelling. Still,
despite his departure from mainstream game development, Chris' professional
experience, since 1979 starting at Atari, and his intellectual involvement
with the industry, has led to him being one of the industry's top thinkers
and his often penetrating viewpoints should not be ignored. The first half
of the book brings together his overall design theories, while the second
half details his war stories, creating his own games, and the lessons
learned and applied while doing so. Great reading.
Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers (ISBN:
A lucid melding of Joseph Campbell's pioneering
work on mythology (specifically, Hero with a Thousand Faces) along with Carl
Jung's work on psychological work on archetypes. An indispensable guide for
those interested in creating heroic characters and epic stories. Includes
tons of examples from real movies, such as Star Wars, that rely deeply on
the material explained here.
Architecture & Design (ISBN: 1576104257)
Co-authored by Andrew Rollings & Dave Morris.
This best book covering the topic of game design and development on the
market, as of Dec. 2001. I knew this was going to be a good book when in its
Introduction I read: "We reject the assertion that gameplay is entirely
unpredictable and thus cannot be designed." This book is full of
fundamentally good game design advice, beating other game design books hands
down--and I've read them all.
Creation and Careers
Edited by Marc Saltzman, this book is an
extensive collection of interviews with industry pros; it's fascinating to
hear their advice and development stories.
Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, 20th Anniversary Edition
I'll ask for you, "What does this marketing book
have to do with game design?" Everything. Project leaders and lead game
designers must read this book if they really want to understand the science
of consumer behavior. Bottom line, the key principles of positioning will
help game designers create more innovative and unique games. Duke Nukem and
Max Payne have much to owe to this book and others by these same authors, Al
Ries and Jack Trout. This is perhaps the most important book I've ever read,
as it provides the key to understanding how consumers think and why they
choose one product over a competitor's.
Here's a few other books from these uber-marketing
gurus that I highly recommend:
Reinventing Comics (ISBN: 0060953500)
Author Scott McCloud is a deep thinker about the
comics industry, and a great many of his insights apply directly to the game
Storytelling & Visual Narrative (ISBN: 0961472820)
Game designers have a lot to learn from author
Will Eisner, one of the legendary masters of comics. Also recommended is his
first book on this topic, "Comics & Sequential Art."
Comics Guide to Writing Comics (ISBN: 0823010279)
Another valuable resource for game designers
interested in telling better stories and creating more compelling game
Characters and Viewpoint (ISBN: 0898799279)
Orson Scott Card (author of "Ender's
Game," one of the best science fiction books of all-time), is a
professor of writing and has a lot to teach game designers about
constructing interesting characters. I've been lucky enough to talk to Orson
(he used to write for the game industry) and from experience I know his
insights are right on the money.
Sense (ISBN: 0070389969)
Many writers will recommend another fine book,
by Robert McKee, but I prefer Story Sense hands down. Anyone in the business
of writing stories for games should read this book, and learn precisely what
makes an interesting story, with a well structured plot, subplots,
characters, motives and pacing. One of my favorite quotes from the book:
"Write simple stories with complex characters."
on Leadership (ISBN: 0735202974)
The greatest general in United States history
was also one of the greatest of all war leaders. His style applies equally
well to business leadership. The more you know about Patton, the more you
appreciate his brilliance. There is no better book on the subject. (Also, I
audio version, which has a voice actor speaking Patton's lines and
wisdom in an undeniably Patton-like manner--highly entertaining.)
The Future of Your Company Depends on It (ISBN: 0694516287)
One of the top-five best books ever in my
library. If you run a business, you must read this book.
Break All the Rules (ISBN: 0684852861)
People often confuse leadership and management,
when they are very different. Patton wrote the rules on leadership, and this
book, based on a Gallup poll of over 100,000 managers, over 25 years,
reveals the fundamental difference between a great manager and a
not-so-great one. This is truly the best book on the management of employees
ever written, and the insights ring with absolute verisimilitude. Anyone
managing people, such as a project leader, must read this book. It's not an
Discipline of Market Leaders (ISBN: 0201407191)
Another break-through book that shows how
companies must focus on one thing at the expense of other things. For
example, McDonald's focuses on efficiency of food processing at the expense
of food quality and customer service. A company must make sacrifices like
this in order to focus on their key concept, i.e. fast food. Again, company
owners need to read this.
Great: Why some companies make the leap and others don't (ISBN:
Easily the best book I've read on what it takes
to create and run a successful company, and many other the hard-researched
principles that come from this book jive perfectly with other books I
recommend for business. But here, author Jim Collins and his team of
researches, compare successful companies with not-so-successful companies in
the same industry, and determine exactly why some soared while their
counterpoints, with the same opportunities, flopped. Just the Hedgehog
Concept and the Level 5 Leader concept are worth the price of this book.
Truly a must-read book for anyone in ownership or management.
Advertising & PR Books
on Advertising (ISBN: 039472903X)
Ogilvy was one modern advertising's greatest
pioneers (in fact, I think he's still alive and working). This book, written
in 1985, is full of powerful insights that are still, for the most part,
overlooked by the game industry. Game ads wouldn't suck so bad if industry
marketing types would read this book.
Anatomy of Buzz (ISBN: 0385496672)
The game industry still seems to think that buzz
is created by over-hype and giving out hundreds of pre-release screen shots.
This book will cure that mental disease.
Advertising Methods (ISBN: 0130957011)
The author, John Caples, is one of the few
people to thoroughly research the field of advertising. He turned the art of
advertising into the science of advertising. But looking at the ads of the
game industry, it's obvious no one has learned from this book, as I can flip
through any game publication and point out the flaws and missed
opportunities of nearly every advertisement. Don't let your advertisement be
just another ineffective artsy waste of space--construct it properly so that
it actually does its job for you...sell your game!
History of the Industry
Ultimate History of Video Games (ISBN: 0761536434)
Steve Kent is a regular game industry writer for
MSN. His book is the most detailed account of the origins of the game
industry, through to the current generation of consoles. This book is packed
with interviews and comments from the people who made it all happen, such as
Atari founder, Nolan Bushnell.
Supercade (ISBN: 0262024926)
If beautiful glossy pictures are your thing,
this is a must-have coffee table book, showing nearly every early arcade and
computer game in full-color glory, along with plenty of history-loaded text.
A behind-the-scenes look at how AOL beat MSN.
Steve Case hands it to Bill Gates in one of the few battles Microsoft has
ever lost. Not entirely game industry related, but too good to leave off the
Why science books, you ask? I'm a big fan
of quantum and relativistic science, so I thought I'd share. ;-)
History of Nearly Everything
Unquestionably, the best all-around book on
science and its origins I've read. The author is researching this material
as he's writing his book, and we feel his excitement and astonishment as we
take his journey. Plenty of dry humor along the way too, because knowing
what we now know, it's funny to discover the mistakes we made along the way,
such as predicting the Earth's age to no more than 20 million year because
the Sun's fuel couldn't have latest any longer!, or that the science
community practically ignored Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity for a
decade because he was merely a worker at the patent office -- yet his theory
utterly change the way we view our universe. A diverse range of topics,
from the astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, paleontology, evolution and
much more is covered and often connected to each other.
Elegant Universe (ISBN: 0375708111)
The best book currently available that tells how
we came from E=MC^2 to M-Theory. A great book for the novice to this
fascinating, eye-opening subject.
Universe in a Nutshell (ISBN: 055380202X)
More advanced than "The
Elegant Universe." Hawking is one of the world's best at explaining how the
universe works, and this follow-up book to his "A
Brief History of Time" is on the cutting-edge of where science currently
stands with regard to finding the ultimate theory of everything. Most people
walking the Earth nowadays have no idea that the universe is perhaps more
mind-boggling than any science fiction author's fantasy. Don't be one of
Incredibly, there are people who actually
read my recommended books -- I have the emails to prove it! And the
hunger is not satisfied, more recommendations have been
requested...often demanded. Here's a quick list of further reading,
though I'd still recommend the books above first.
Jump Start Your Business Brain (ISBN: 1558706429)
Great all around book for those starting and
running a small business. Much good advice.
The Power of Simplicity (ISBN: 0071373322)
Helps solidify one of positioning's strongest
The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding (ISBN: 0060007737)
The importance of branding your product cannot
be underestimated. Just look at the things you buy, like food, clothes,
cars, computers. We live in a brand driven society.
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
This book is interesting, insightful, but
perhaps not as useful as the author would hope. I've yet to figure out how
to apply his findings, but it's none-the-less very educational.
Harvard Business Review on Brand Management (ISBN: 1578511445)
Backs up many of the principles on positioning..
Buzz: Harness the Power of Influence and Create Demand (ISBN:
Word-of-mouth advertising (a.k.a. buzz) is
easily the most important type of advertising your product can get. It
crushes the importance of all other advertising. learn how to exploit it.
Discover Your Genius : How to Think Like History's Ten Most
Revolutionary Minds (ISBN: 0060937904)
Skip the workshops at the end our each section,
but the historical window opened on each these revolutionaries is utterly
fascinating, entertaining and eye-opening.
How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day
This is a great companion book to the one above
(Discover Your Genius), by the same author.
The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story (ISBN: 0140296468)
This is the story of Jim Clark, Silicon Valley's
greatest tech entrepreneur, and founder of Silicon Graphics, Netscape and
Healtheon (now WebMD). Engaging behind-the-scenes account of this driven
One Up On Wall Street : How To Use What You Already Know To Make Money
In The Market (ISBN: 0743200403)
I have quite a number of books on stock
investing, and I'll throw this one out as the best one I've read.
Peter Lynch, the author, was the most successful of all mutual fund managers
up until his retirement. Here he spills the beans on his winning
Stretching Scientifically: A Guide to Flexibility Training (ISBN:
As a fairly hardcore martial artist, I have
quite a library of related books and video tapes (over 200 combined). This
one stands out because MOST people do not stretch properly--for example,
it's incorrect, and possibly damaging, to do static or passive (non dynamic)
stretches before karate classes, yet MOST martial arts schools include these
types of stretches as part of their pre-technical workout routine. Learn
the correct way to stretch, and how to rapidly improve your flexibility
range for real world combat usage.
More to come when I get the chance.