The Minds Behind the Games

Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers

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About the Book

Featuring interviews with the creators of 36 popular video games—including Deus Ex, Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, Wasteland and NBA Jam—this book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of some of the most influential and iconic (and sometimes forgotten) games of all time. Recounting endless hours of painstaking development, the challenges of working with mega publishers and the uncertainties of public reception, the interviewees reveal the creative processes that produced some of gaming’s classic titles.

About the Author(s)

Patrick Hickey, Jr., is the founder and editor-in-chief of ReviewFix.com and a lecturer of English and journalism at Kingsborough Community College, in Brooklyn, New York. Over the past decade, his video game coverage has been featured in national ad campaigns by Nintendo, Disney and EA Sports.

Matthew Wilhelm Kapell teaches American studies and humanities at Pace University and lives in Brooklyn.

Bibliographic Details

Patrick Hickey, Jr.
Series Editor Matthew Wilhelm Kapell

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: 74 photos, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7110-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3123-3
Imprint: McFarland
Series: Studies in Gaming

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Foreword by Brett Weiss 1
Preface 3
Introduction 6
Michael Mendheim, Mutant League Football: The Gruesome ­Sports-Hybrid That Could 11
Petri Järvilehto, Max Payne: From the Basement to the Norse God of Noir 17
Mike Skupa, Bully: Jimmy Beats World 23
Ryuichi Nishizawa, Wonder Boy in Monster Land: Countdown to Major
­Tom-Tom 29
Howard Scott Warshaw, E.T.: The ­Extra-Terrestrial: The Best Game Ever Made in Five Weeks 34
David Crane and Garry Kitchen, A Boy and His Blob: The Best Game
Ever Made in Six Weeks 40
Sarah Jane Avory, Fighting Force: From Streets of Rage 3D to Core Classic 45
Dane Bigham, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?: Explorational Not Educational 50
Richard Rouse III, The Suffering: The Shining in the Darkness 55
Rob Fulop, David Crane and James Riley, Night Trap: The Truth About Catz and Dogz 61
Greg Johnson, ToeJam & Earl: Sega’s Funky and Fantastic “Other” Mascots 72
Julia ­Keren-Detar and Itay Keren, Mushroom 11: Appetite for Destruction 77
Kan Gao, To the Moon: John’s Tale 82
Emeric Thoa and Audrey Leprince, Squids: The Game That Beat Those Angry Birds, for a Little While 87
Matt Thorson and Alec Holowka, Towerfall: From Arrows on the Ouya
to Ascending on the PlayStation 4 and Beyond 92
Eric Holmes, Hulk Ultimate Destruction: The Big Green Monster That
Could, and Did 97
Jamie Fristrom, Spider-Man 2: Great Power = Great Fun 102
Howard Scott Warshaw, Yars’ Revenge: From Star Castle Port to ­Game-Changing Shooter 107
Dan Geisler and Randy Breen, Road Rash: The Game That Kicked
Hang-On and Akira, in the Face 113
Mike Posehn and Richard Robbins, Desert Strike: From Killer Choplifter Clone to Classic 119
Garry Kitchen, Bart vs. the Space Mutants: The First and Best Simpsons Game Ever 124
Jane Jensen, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers: Voodoo Chile 129
Ron Gilbert, David Fox and Gary Winnick, Maniac Mansion: ­Point-and-Click’s Original ­SCUMM-Bags 134
Clayton Kauzlaric, Voodoo Vince: Pain for Pleasure 139
Warren Spector, Deus Ex: From Troublemaking Shooter to ­Genre-Defining Conspiracy Theory 144
Jon Van Caneghem, King’s Bounty: Putting the “Heroes” into “Might
and Magic” 149
Garry Kitchen, Super Battletank: Even Better Than the Real Thing 153
Taichi Ishizuka, The Firemen: Through the Fire and Flames 158
Dave Wishnowski, Pro Wrestling X: A ­Decade-Long Dream in Development 163
Mark Turmell, WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game: Scotch and
Treadmills 170
John Tobias, Mortal Kombat: Enter the Fatality 174
Michael Brook, NHLPA ’93: Fighting for Fun Before “If it’s in the game,
it’s in the game” 179
Craig Broadbooks, NHL FaceOff: A Christmas Story 185
Mark Turmell, NBA Jam: The Birth of Boomshakalaka 191
David A. Palmer, Doom: The Little Jaguar That Could 196
Ken St. Andre and Brian Fargo, Wasteland: Fallout’s Unlikely Papa 200
Conclusion 206
Index 207

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “A wealth of knowledge about the journey of video game development, detailed by the people who made it all happen…interesting and entertaining…fascinating book chock full of information you’re probably not going to get anywhere else…valuable”—Retrovolve
  • “A passion project that finally gives the greatest minds in video games their due…a must-read for classic gaming fans and anyone interested in learning about the thought process of gaming”—Old School Gamer Magazine
  • “A must read”—Against the Grain
  • The Minds Behind the Games reads like a personal voiceover for a ESPN 30-for-30 documentary on every classic video game mentioned in the book. This is a must-read for classic gaming fans and anyone interested in learning about the thought process of game developers.”—Brian Mazique, Forbes
  • “Patrick interviews some of the greatest pioneers of the gaming industry in his book. He treats us to a factual, yet accessible look at some of the most influential games ever, created through first-hand interviews with the developers.”—Pete Paquette, Senior Animator, Bioshock: Infinite, Overwatch, Madden NFL 18
  • “Fantastic. One part serious journalism and the other a love letter to the history of gaming.”—Anthony Frisina, author of The Regulator
  • “From arcade rats to indie developers, Hickey gives an intimate look at the personalities behind gaming with the passion of a fanboy and the attention of a scholar.”—Cesar R. Bustamante, Jr., New York Daily News
  • “This book will make your inner gamer do the time warp again and again.”—Chris Butera, founder, Bonesaw webzine
  • “I love the WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game chapter, which perfectly captures the aura surrounding that title—its development and release during such a transitionary phase for Wrestling—and how it smartly serves as a fun and exemplary reminder of the game’s uniqueness in being a fighting game at heart, hybridized…and stylized with mystical, whimsical gimmick-specific elements effectively creating a ‘game for everyone,’ during a time when that was an impossible task.”—Joel Gertner, Extreme Championship Wrestling Legend
  • “Hickey’s discussions of the NHL Faceoff brought back huge memories for me. Being able to play a season, insert yourself in the lineup and play to hoist the Stanley Cup made the dreams of my youth come alive on the television. Thanks for allowing me to re-live my past with the telling of these stories.”—Gary Harding, 1240 SportsTalk Radio