July, 2005 to present
Shiftless Wastrel & Layabout
In the middle of 2005 I decided that they hadn’t built the day job that could hold me; since then, apart from the occasional freelance job, I’ve tried to do only those things that wouldn’t exist if I wasn’t here to make them.
So what does that mean? Well, I’ve built online stores where I can peddle my art on posters, T-shirts, and other merchandise; I built the Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual site with its interactive and serial stories. In 2013 I added the Pulp-O-Mizer (“The world’s most advanced pulp magazine cover generator”) and, for about six weeks, the crowd went wild.
Among the freelance work I’ve done during this period is a CD package and booklet for Leslie Fish’s Avalon is Risen. This was a treat for me: I’d done the songbook and cover design for her Cold Iron back in the late 80’s.
I’ve now sold my illustrated novel Slaves of the Switchboard of Doom to Tor Books, and in 2017 we can all discover how that worked out.
July, 2003 to June, 2005
Art Director, Destineer Studios
My tour of duty at Destineer involved two Minnesota winters and the production of Close Combat: First to Fight, a military tactical combat game based on the real life training – though not the real life engagements – of the US Marines.
The game was set in an imaginary conflict in Beirut. We pretty much returned the “Paris of the Middle East” to its war-torn condition of the 1980’s. I’ve always felt a little guilty about that.
I was lucky to have a small but excellent art team for the project, which like so many games was produced on a short schedule and with a tight budget.
October, 1999 to October, 2002
Art Director, Taldren
At Taldren I worked on Starfleet Command Volume II, built the web sites for Taldren and Interplay’s Starfleet Command II site, and also redesigned the original Starfleet Command web site. We established some very lively forums for the promotion of the game.
In addition I put together the CD-ROMS for press previews as well as the Bonus CD-ROM that was given away with preorders of the game.
After SFC II and Starfleet Command: Orion Pirates, the franchise moved over to Activision. I served as Art Director on Starfleet Command III before I moved on.
April, 1997 to July, 1998
Web Development Manager, JB Oxford & Company
During one of the frequent downturns in the games business I spent some time on the public-facing web sites for JB Oxford & Company and their subsidiary, Stocks4Less.
If I tell you that the film Boiler Room seems to have been based on JBO, you’ll probably know everything you need to know. The day of the FBI raid was, hands down, my favorite day at the office. In any office I can think of.
October, 1996 to April, 1997
Art Director, Legacy Software
In my brief time at Legacy Software we worked on a variety of online and CD-ROM projects.
My own emphasis was on the online side. Legacy developed Passport2, an Internet – based group of applications that ranged from competitive games through educational activities to financial and other professional information services.
I also designed the web sites for Legacy, for Passport2 and for our “Backstage Chat” event at the 23rd annual Peoples’ Choice Awards. Finally, I was our producer for a live online chat at the First Annual Netguide Awards show in March of 1997.
June, 1994 to October, 1996
Chief Art Director, the Dreamers Guild
The Dreamers Guild was a game development company which created games for both retail and online publishers. At the Guild, I ran the art department – that meant that I hired and cultivated artists, assigned them to individual projects, and supervised their art directors, who typically were promoted from within.
In addition I was the art director on several Guild titles. One of these was the award-winning I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream (for Cyberdreams). I did try to keep my hand in in making art and animation, so I frequently contributed “cutaway” or incidental animations, as well as introductions, for the Guild’s games (see Faery Tale Adventure II: the Halls of the Dead, for example).
But wait, there’s more! I still got to do the odd game design, like Skulls, Bones, and Buccaneers (for MPG-Net) and Blood & Plunder (for America Online).
December, 1990 to June, 1994
Partner, Terra Nova Development
With Michal Todorovic, I founded this software development company in Ventura, California. Our most ambitious project was The Labyrinth of Time, one of the first games to truly exploit the capacity of CD-ROM media. We were also among the first to use 3D modelling and rendering tools to create an impossible, but photorealistic, game environment. The game was published by Electronic Arts for the Amiga/CD32, the PC, and Macintosh.
In addition to The Labyrinth, we ourselves published Magic Lantern. This was a true color animation compressor and player for the Amiga. Oh, and I also created a couple of versions of a 3D object set for Imagine and Lightwave 3D. The set was called Diner Objects and included a Wurlitzer jukebox.
The Labyrinth of Time has recently been re-released for modern Windows, Macintosh and Linux computers by the Wyrmkeep Entertainment Company.
1988 – 1994, and beyond
Freelance Computer Game Artist
During these years I worked on a number of projects for several different clients, among them Silent Software, Epyx, Electronic Arts, Virgin, Gold Disk, and Novalogic. Among these were Mindroll (Amiga and CGA, EGA and VGA versions for the PC), Spirit of Excalibur (Amiga/CDTV version) and Vengeance of Excalibur (Amiga/CDTV and PC versions).
At the same time I wrote extensively for Amiga magazines, including a column in .info. I wrote quite a few reviews of graphics software and tested some nifty gadgets, and I also wrote articles for Amiga World and Amazing Computing.
While at Terra Nova Development I didn’t do much freelance work, but I did make an exception for Activision when they hired me to do the introduction sequence for Return to Zork. Later, I moonlighted on the Caesar’s Palace 95 games for Interplay.
Art & Illustration
At seventeen I was already doing a bit of commercial art and illustration. There were some t-shirt designs for a local shirt shop, some comics, and other dribs and drabs, but the thing that seemed to take off was illustration work for TSR’s The Dragon magazine, the APAzine Alarums and Excursions, Wee Warriors, and (later) Dave Hargrave’s Multiversal Trading Company.
Now, what’s great about that is that I became part of a kind of history: the early history of tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and Arduin. What’s less great, as I look back, is that I was awfully young; my youth is what I see when I look at that work now. I’d be doing much more interesting illustration just a few years later. But because of the history of the games it’s that very early, very young work that’s remembered.
I’ve written a bit more about my complicated relationship with the young guy whose body I’ve inherited. You can see that here.
After I was done with that whole period of my life (say, from 1979 on), I divided my time between commercial art, on the one hand, and illustrative but uncommercial paintings, on the other. These pictures were usually executed in watercolor or ink.
I did some work for small record labels like Sundown Records (Dance of the Renaissance, Earth Quest), Firebird Arts and Music (Cold Iron, Captain Jack & the Mermaid, Dream of Light Horses, Swing the Cat) and Swanharp Music (Love for Love).
On a larger scale are two murals in California – one, with Mark Hiteshew, in downtown San Luis Obispo; and one in the children’s area of the Thousand Oaks Public Library.
But in the mid to late 80’s I spent less time on the visual arts and more on building musical instruments. That lasted until, in 1987, I discovered that computers – which I’d fiddled with since the early 80’s – had finally gotten interesting.
Honors & Awards
Awarded a Fellowship by the Elizabeth T. Greenshields Memorial Foundation (1979-1980). I suspect and hope that I am now a Former Fellow. Because that sounds cool.
Winner of the BADGE Killer Demo Contest, 1988 & 1989