The future for multi-player gaming looks bright indeed. The
Today, Chris Crawford is probably best known for his contributions to the dialog of game design, including his founding of the Computer Game Developers Conference, publishing the
Journal of Computer Game Design
, and writing the book
The Art of Computer Game Design
. In particular,
The Art of Computer Game Design
, though written in 1983, remains the best work ever published on the subject, and
What initially attracted you to making a computer play a game?
That actually started back in 1966, when I was a high school sophomore, and a friend of mine named David Zeuch introduced me to the Avalon Hill board
What made you at first think it would be
The difficulties of organizing the artificial intelligence for it. I thought, That s just going to be impossible. And the hex-grid motion, I figured that was probably computable, and in fact it turns out it s not that difficult. But I figured that doing armored tactical planning on the computer, at the time, seemed ridiculous. Now, you have to remember that was twenty-five years ago, and given the state of AI back then, I was really on rather solid ground thinking it impossible. But as it happens I
What made you think it would be worthwhile to put games on the computer?
I was driven by one thing and that was blind play. I was very
So from that early work, how did you come to work at Atari?
Well, actually a bit more transpired first. I got a Commodore Pet and programmed that in BASIC with some assembly language routines to handle the hex-grid stuff. I had shown my tactical armored game at some wargame conventions and everyone had been very impressed. So then I actually made Tanktics into a commercial product and sold it on the Commodore Pet for fifteen bucks. And then I did another game called Legionnaire , also on the Commodore Pet. And based on that I got a job at Atari, doing game design there. Actually, I was one of the few job candidates they had ever had who had any experience designing computer games. It s hard to appreciate just how tiny everything was. The very notion of a computer game was, itself, very esoteric.
What was the atmosphere like at Atari then?
It was heady. Again, it s very difficult for people nowadays to appreciate how different things were just twenty years ago. I remember a conversation with Dennis Koble. We met one morning in the parking lot as we were coming into work, and we were chatting on the way in. And I remember saying, You know, some day game design will be a developed profession. And he said, Yeah, maybe someday we ll be like rock stars! And we both laughed at how absurd that thought was. There were, in the world, a couple
For example, I remember a meeting where the department manager said, All right everybody, we need to print up new business cards for everybody, and we need to select what kind of title you want. And there was something of a debate among the staff whether they wanted to be listed as Game Designer or Programmer. I remember people saying, Gee, you know, if we put our titles down as Game Designer, we may not be able to get another job. And I think we ended up going with Game Programmer. But game design was nowhere near the thing it is today, it was just a very obscure thing. I remember telling people when they d ask me, What do you do? And I d say, I design games for Atari. And they d say, Wow. That s really
Were you able to do whatever you wanted in terms of game design?
It depended on what you were doing. If you were doing a VCS [Atari 2600] game, then you talked your games over with your supervisor, but there was considerable freedom. The feeling was, We need plenty of games anyway, and we really need the creativity here, so just follow your nose, see what works, see if you can come up with anything interesting. And in general the supervisor gave you a lot of latitude, unless you were doing a straight rip-off of somebody else s design. So in that area we had lots of freedom. But once you got your design complete, there would be a design review where all of the other designers would look it over and make their comments. This wasn t a marketing thing, it was a design level review.
Everybody wanted to program the computer [the Atari 800] because it was so much more powerful than the VCS. So at the time I started, in 1979, the policy was that you had to prove yourself by doing a game on the VCS first. And only then could you go to the computer. Well, I mumbled and grumbled; I didn t like that idea at all. But I learned the VCS, and I did a game on it. However, another policy they had was that all games had to be done in 2K of ROM. They were just coming out with the 4K ROMs, but at the time those were rather expensive. And so the feeling was, You can t do a 4K ROM. You ve got to prove yourself,
And I did one called
, which I think was rather clever and worked in 2K. Although I got it done in record time, I finished it just as Atari was starting to get its 4K games out. Everybody started
So your biggest commercial success while at Atari was Eastern Front (1941). But I understand that you had trouble convincing people that a wargame would be successful. Were you confident a lot of people would like it?
No no, I didn t really care. My feeling was, this is the game I wanted to design, so I did it in my spare time. This was nights and weekends. Meanwhile, I was doing plenty of other stuff at work. In October or November of 1980 I was promoted away from game design. I was basically the first hardware evangelist. I did for the Atari what Guy Kawasaki did for the Macintosh. And, actually, I was successful at that. I did a very good job of
So anyway, I started that task in October or November of 1980, and as part of that I was putting out these software demos to show off the various features of the Atari. And I told myself, I m finally going to take the time to teach myself this scrolling feature that everybody
We released it through APX [the Atari Program Exchange] in August of 1981 and it was a huge success. It was
So you actually made the fancy graphical effects first, and then built the game around that?
That s a phase every designer has to go through. You start off designing around cute techie tricks, and as you mature as a designer you put that behind you.
So you ended up releasing the source code for Eastern Front (1941). What motivated you to do that?
It was an extremely unconventional act. My feeling was, this is a fast-moving field. I m good. I ll have new, wonderful technological discoveries by the time other people start using this. I ll be on to something else. I didn t feel any sense of possessiveness: This is mine, I don t want anybody else to know. My feeling was and continues to be that we all profit more from the general advance of the industry. But I m not an intellectual property anarchist. I do believe people have rights to claim certain things as theirs. I just feel that this should be done with great restraint, and only in situations where there is something very big which took a
of work. I felt this was just a little techie
So did your evangelism work take away from the amount of time you were able to
Well, I was software evangelist for only a year. I was then asked by Alan Kay to join his research team. In fact, I was the first guy he invited. For about three months the Atari Research Division consisted of Alan Kay, myself, Alan s administrative assistant, Wanda Royce, and my employee, Larry Summers. And the only place they could put us back then was in the executive suites, there was a spare room there. And there were Larry and I doing programming in the executive suites. Ray Kassar, the Atari president, was a very stuffy, straightlaced guy. And he really resented our being up there. I mean, it really bothered him. So we got a new building real quick.
Yes, it was released, but it was released just as Atari was going down in flames, so nobody had any opportunity to see it.
was an immensely important game in that I tackled interpersonal relationships. I had realized very early that computer games had an emotional sterility about them, and I spent a long time thinking about that. I finally decided that the crucial factor was the absence of
So what was the gameplay like?
It was solely about what I call circumferential relationships
What was the
There was a sense of catastrophe. It turns out that it was solely a matter of momentum. That is, all that really
Everyone just convinced themselves that bust was upon us and everyone decided, Oh, we re all going to die, so let s just die. The underlying forces had not changed by much.
So things were able to pick up. Unfortunately, the recovery surprised everybody by its shape. The initial collapse discredited video games, but not really computer games as much.
I went to work on
Balance of Power
. My big hope then was that we could maybe rebuild the industry along more rational lines. And, you know, there was a real chance there. That was the crucial moment of truth for the computer games industry, the period from 85 through 87. And it took the wrong
How do you think Wing Commander sealed the fate of the industry?
The big question for the industry in 1985 was what, if anything, will sell? Nobody seemed to know for sure, but there were a few strands. The fact that Balance of Power was a huge hit suggested to people that perhaps serious games might have a future, or at least games that weren t video games. And there was a lot of excitement about exploring some of those ideas. The other games that were a big success back then were the whole series of Infocom games, which continued to do well right through the crash.
Balance of Power
Because they were clearly different from video games.
Yes. And you put those two together, and it pointed strongly in one direction. So there was a lot of effort in that direction. The industry was still torn because it was so much easier to design the video games, and they did seem to sell to a group of people who weren t affected by the crash. We really teetered on that fence: which way are we going to go ” video games or a broad range of game possibilities? What sealed it was
, for two reasons. The main thing that
did that doomed the industry was that it bought market share. That is,
was a hugely expensive program to write. It s funny; Chris Roberts has denied that it cost much, but that s because of some creative internal accounting. Back in those days, around 1990, a typical budget for a game would be $100,000 to $200,000. There were some done cheaper, but $300,000 was a very expensive game.
probably cost about $1,000,000. By the standards of the day that was considered absurd. And in fact, I ve been told by an Origin insider that
by itself never paid back its investment, but that the follow-ups and add-ons did. But what they were really doing was spending so much money that it would only work if it became the top hit. It did. The problem then was, they ve raised the bar for the whole industry, we all have to produce $1,000,000 games, and unfortunately they can only work if each one is the number one game. And you can only have one number one game. So that, in turn, forced the industry to become much more conservative. We ve got these huge expenses, we simply can t make money turning out a number twenty game. Anything less than being in the top ten will lose money. So very quickly it became a hit-driven business. That was already starting in the late 80s, but
sealed it. So once it became a hit-driven industry, the whole marketing strategy, economics, and everything changed, in my opinion, much for the
It was right before the crash that you wrote The Art of Computer Game Design , wasn t it?
Yes, actually I started that as soon as I joined Atari Research. It s funny, one of my goals at Atari Research was, Let s really sharpen up the whole field of game design. So I, in essence, tried to create a computer game developer s conference within Atari. I tried to set up a Friday afternoon seminar. And some politics got in the way. I sent out invitations to all the designers throughout Atari, and some pig-headed guy who was running the software group at coin-op was furious that I didn t route it through him. I didn t follow the hierarchy properly, and he therefore sent out a memo forbidding any of his
Do you still look back on the book positively?
There s really no other book like it at all.
Yes, all the other attempts just turn out to be programming books. It is shameful that no one has gone beyond that book.
Ever since you published that book, you have been very concerned with sharing your thoughts about game design with the community. I m curious why that is.
There are two very separate reasons. First, sharpening my own thinking through writing, which I do a great deal of. And second, communicating ideas to others. There is some overlap. Most of the time I write for myself. I have reams and reams of little design
However, I will sometimes write an essay solely for public consumption, put it up on the web or something, and that is done with a very different purpose. But I often write with both purposes.
So did your writings about game design lead to your establishing the Computer Game Developers Conference?
I had started off by founding the
Journal of Computer Game Design
. That turned out to be quite a success; it rose up to one hundred to one hundred fifty subscribers rather quickly. And by the time it reached that level, I realized that it really would be possible to have a conference, there were enough people out there. So I decided to have a little
Everybody had an equal share in the conference. We set up the conference, and it was a huge success, and it just grew and grew every year.
Did you foresee it growing to be the
No, and to some extent that reflects a violation of my initial intentions. We had some clear disputes within the board: is this a show, like E3, or is this an academic conference, like AAAI? My feeling was that the
So after Atari you became an independent game developer. Why did you do that instead of opting to return to a big company?
Well, at first it was forced on me. But then, once I got going, I was working on Balance of Power and it was an independent project. It was more inertia than anything else.
Do you prefer being independent?
Yes, I am very much a solitary worker. I am very concerned with my efficiency and how much I get done. When you re working with other people, you spend a lot of time just holding their hand, explaining things to them, helping them out, rather than actually getting anything done. I felt I had a lot of ideas, and if I really wanted to explore them I had to explore them alone.
So what originally started you working on Balance of Power ?
It was a sort of a culmination. My interest in wargames arose because I was part of the Vietnam generation. While a lot of people wanted to resist the war, I wanted to understand war so that I could ultimately do something about it. I felt that protesting in the
But you thought the concept was compelling enough to be worth it?
Yes. I really wanted to do an un-wargame. We have plenty of wargames.
And in Balance of Power when you get to the point of having a war you have lost.
Yes, that was very much the point of the game. I don t know if you remember, but if there was a war, the screen would go black, and it would say, We do not reward failure. That was very much a surprise to many people.
Balance of Power II: The 1990 Edition
At any time were you concerned that the game was too different?
I did not expect it to become a hit, but I felt it was important to do. This was exactly the same thing that happened with Eastern Front . I did Eastern Front for myself and then, lo and behold, everybody loved it. Well, that s very nice. I did Balance of Power for myself and, gee, everybody loved it. But I also did other games for myself that were dismal failures, commercially speaking.
How did you go about balancing
People talk about realism versus playability as if it s a dilemma. I see it more as a matter of sharpening things. An artist, painting a portrait, will deliberately accentuate certain
I ve read that Trust & Betrayal: The Legacy of Siboot is your favorite of your games. Why is that?
Every game I have done has been original, with the exception of the second Balance of Power , which I did at the urgent request of my publisher. With that one exception everything I have done has been a new design. But with Siboot I went much further out than with any other game, that is, in terms of just how far I took the design beyond the conventions of game design. Siboot was easily the most advanced. I explored ideas with Siboot that people still have not even come close to. We were talking about Gossip as in some ways ahead of other games. Siboot went way, way beyond Gossip . The other thing about Siboot was it wasn t just one good idea. There were at least three major ideas in Siboot , each one of them worthy of a game all by itself.
And then there were lots of other little ideas. Here s an example of a little idea. There s now a user interface concept called tool tips. If you put the cursor over something and leave it there for a few seconds, it pops up some descriptive text. I anticipated that and came up with something vaguely similar, where you could click and hold on a button to see its functionality. That was four years before tool tips were first noted as a
Trust & Betrayal: The Legacy of Siboot
So what were the three major innovations?
First, the language, use of language as the primary interface element. You talk to the other
Do you think the unconventionality of the project hurt Siboot s popularity?
Well, yes and no. Actually, it was only sold on the Mac. There was never a PC version done. I think we sold about four thousand copies on the Mac, which by the standards of the day was disappointing but not horrible. The general rule back then was that you d sell five to ten times as many on the PC as you d sell on the Mac. So we re talking twenty to forty thousand copies if there d been a PC port. But the publisher
So, as with Gossip , was your goal to put people in the games?
Yes. And I took that concept of people not things much, much further with
. Another innovation was the
So you did Balance of Power II solely at the insistence of the publisher?
Yes. I had done Siboot , and they had published it, and it was obvious that it wasn t going to make money for them. They were obviously disappointed. They d been asking about a sequel. They pressed me hard this time, and I felt I owed them one. So I did the Balance of Power sequel.
So you didn t have great hopes to better the original?
No, and in fact I felt that
Balance of Power II
was little more than a clean-up of
. It s funny, though. By the standards of the industry, it was a major new version and deserved to be called Second Edition. But by my standards it was just tidying up, adding some
So where did the idea for Guns & Butter come from?
At about the same time, the three best game designers in the world, independently, all got the same idea. Each of us said, I m going to do a conquer-the-world game, an
game. (Those three were Sid Meier, Dan Bunten, and myself.) It is interesting how each of us took a completely different route. We all know how Sid took his, and it was an immense success. Sid, Dan, and I got together at one point to discuss how the three of us approached our designs. Sid had a very clear notion: he was going to make it fun. He didn t give a damn about anything else, it was going to be fun. He said, I have
My approach was to make it educational, and Dan s approach was to make it social. Dan came up with this wonderful little game,
, where you really interacted with the other people playing. I think that game was an undiscovered jewel. It bombed even worse than
. He had endless trouble with Electronic Arts. I don t see why he stuck with them, because they kept wanting him to put shoot- em-up elements into his games,
Balance of Power II: The 1990 Edition
My conquer-the-world game,
, was really more about macroeconomics. In fact, during development, it was called
. I think it s reasonably successful as a game to teach about how history really develops, but that s all. It was certainly one of my poorest games, no question. It really didn t have that much creativity. There were some cute ideas, but where that game had cute ideas,
had thunderclaps of genius. For example,
had this nifty little algorithm for generating continents. I also developed a wonderful algorithm for giving
Guns & Butter
Guns & Butter has some interesting ideas about balancing complex systems. But you think it did not work?
No, it didn t work, largely because I completely blew the handling of trade and alliances. That was a disaster. I think if I d given that game another six months it probably would have worked out just fine, but I rushed it.
Balance of the Planet seems to be an extremely educationally oriented game. Was that your intent?
Oh, absolutely. I had no intent whatsoever to make something that was fun. My feeling was, OK, there are all of those shoot- em-ups and so forth, and I m not going to try to
WillWright s SimEarth came out just shortly after Balance of the Planet . It s interesting to compare the two. Of course, his is more of a toy and yours is much more goal oriented.
SimEarth was not one of Will s better efforts. He s done brilliant stuff, but I think he didn t have a clear purpose with SimEarth . It was kind of, OK, here s this planet, and here are these geological processes, and here are these life forms, and There was no design focus to it. He seems to have said, Let s take SimCity and do it to the whole Earth. That kind of extrapolatory approach to design never works well. And it didn t work well for him. It was certainly more successful than Balance of the Planet , because it was a lot better looking and had plenty of cute features. But it was not as educational as Balance of the Planet.
Balance of the Planet
SimEarth had a lot of interesting systems in it, but it was difficult to understand what was going on.
It was more that all of the different systems, they sort of didn t add up to anything. He had all of these simplifications, but they weren t purposeful simplifications. They were
That s exactly the problem. Many people do see fun as the sine qua non. That s one way that the game design industry has gone down the wrong
Balance of the Planet
So you think the games industry has reached that same point of stagnation?
Yes. Only they re not even trying to get out; they haven t even realized yet that there s a problem.
So I guess that s what led to your leaving the games industry and starting work on the Erasmatron.
Well, there were two factors in that. Yes, I had been steadily drifting away from the games industry. The hallmark of that was the Dragon Speech I gave. That lecture was I ll just tell you how it ended. In the lecture, I d been talking about the dragon as the metaphor for this artistic goal. And, right at the end of the speech, in essence I
This was at the Computer Game Developers Conference?
Yes. A lot of people thought, Well, Chris gave his swan song, he ll never come back. But in fact I came back the
So that drove you into working on the Erasmatron?
I had been evolving in that direction. But what made it a negative move was A, the industry was editorially going in directions I did not like, and B, the industry was going in moral and social directions that I did not like.
So how did the Erasmatron project come about?
I set out to do interactive storytelling. I said, I m going to go back, and I m going to do my King Arthur game now. Because I had done a King Arthur game at Atari that I was proud of, that had a lot of good ideas, but I felt it did not do
Just about that time, I ran into a lady named Edith Bjornson, who was with the Markle Foundation. She suggested that I take the technology in a different direction, as an enabling technology to permit non-technical people to create their own storyworlds. I very much liked the idea. So Markle
How do you mean?
It takes too much effort to create a sufficiently entertaining end result. Laura Mixon worked on
for nearly eighteen months. But
just didn t work. It was not entertaining, it was not even finished. There were places where it would just stop. Yet she worked longer and harder on it than she was expected to. There wasn t any failure on her part. The failure on my part was
So you haven t concluded that making a story-world is just an
Well, there s no question in my mind that creating a story-world with Erasmatron 2 is immensely easier than with Erasmatron 1. Erasmatron 2 dramatically cleans up the process of creating a story-world, cutting the time required
Is that something you re hoping to provide with the Le Morte D Arthur project?
I don t know. I ve had some kind of writer s block with that project and I don t understand why. I think one factor is a sense of demoralization. I ve put nine years into this project, and so far it s been a failure. With the exception of the Markle funding, nobody s interested. There are always a few pots bubbling. Right now there are three separate groups who have expressed interest in this. So it s not as if I ever reach a point where I can say it s dead. There s always something going on, and there s always the hope that it will go somewhere, but these things never go
What would an ideal Erasmatron storytelling experience be like?
I ll describe it in two ways ” tactical and strategic. Tactical being what the audience experiences moment to moment, and strategic being the overall experience. Tactically, the audience will see a static image on the screen representing whatever has just happened. It will show the face of the person who just did whatever happened, as well as anybody else who s on the same stage. It will have some text explaining what has happened. The other thing I want to use is something like a comics technique. That is, comics show action between frames very well. So it might require two
With the smiley face in one corner and the
Right. My guess is we would want to move on that triangle far away from the photorealism corner. We d want to be somewhere much closer to abstraction and representation. So I think we re talking about a more abstract type of display. And then there will be your menu of choices, expressed as complete sentences. This is what the player is permitted to say or do. Strategically, the big difference is that all story-worlds have a very meandering character to them. Barroom Brawl doesn t, because it s a single scene. Corporate Meeting is a single scene and even it meanders a bit. We have figured out how to cope with that problem. I had thought that plot points would do enough, but Laura and I have now come up with a scheme. I don t want to describe this as a new discovery; rather this is a concept that has been slowly brewing for several years now. We re putting flesh on its bones and I think it will work.
The idea is that there is something like a core plot that is beyond the control of the player. However, the player does control lots of interactions that will not just influence but ultimately determine the final outcome of the plot. For example, consider a murder mystery, such as
. Basically at some point, time is going to run out, and either the
I ve come up with another concept for
Le Morte D Arthur
that I m tempted to go with, which would
So the player is led in a direction more than in the current version.
We re not asking you to be creative or come up with new social innovations, we ll simply present you at various points with opportunities to initiate new innovations, to say, All right, do you think it s time to teach these people sanitation, or do you think it s time to teach them how to use the stirrup? And each one takes time. And there s still this steady plot that develops as you help this society pull itself up by its bootstraps. But there s still an awful lot of interaction going on. What we re developing here is a concept of semi-plot or pseudo-plot or a skeletal plot that can proceed in the way that a plot is supposed to. You still have a plot, but it doesn t
So the player has more involvement than they would reading a book, but not total freedom either.
Yes. The idea is that you want to use dramatic constraints, not artificial constraints. This is a drama. It s got to
So you re quick not to call your Erasmatron system a game of any kind. Why is that?
The differentiation is two-fold. The first reason is marketing. Right now, computer games mean
, or something like that. The associations with that term are all about shoot- em-ups, resource management, and those associations are very clearly defined in the public s mind. If I call this a game, they re going to apply associations that are misleading. Moreover, the
Why do you think facial expressions are so important for storytelling?
Because facial expression is one of the fundamental forms of human communication. It s funny; other people think graphics where I m thinking communication. What goes on between user and computer is primarily a matter of communication. I am deeply desirous of optimizing that communication. That means designing the computer display to most closely match the receptive powers of the human mind. And the two things that we are very good at are facial recognition and linguistic
When I was playing with the Erasmaganza, sometimes it would present me with three different actions to choose from, and I wouldn t want to do any of them. In that way, it feels a bit like an old adventure game with a branching dialog tree. Do you see that as a problem?
The real issue is not Gee, you only get three things. The real issue here is that you re not permitted to say dramatically reasonable things, and that s a flaw in the design of the story-world. Both of the demo story-worlds have that problem, because they re very tiny story-worlds. If you want to get away from that you must have a much larger story-world. Brawl has about fifty or sixty verbs and Meeting has about a hundred. I used to think that five hundred verbs was the threshold for entertainment value. I now think it s more like a thousand verbs. But Meeting just doesn t give you very many options because it s so tiny.
The Corporate Meeting story-world in the Erasmatron
As to whether the user will ever be satisfied with the finite number of options he s given, I don t see a problem there at all. Certainly you re not permitted nuance in such an arrangement. But you should have all dramatically reasonable options. Besides, if we gave you some system where you could apply nuance so that you could say, I m going to say this with a slightly
The system that Siboot uses to construct sentences with icons and the inverse parser is an interesting one. Why did you opt not to use a system like that for the Erasmatron?
Because the vast number of sentences in
are selfcompleting. In
, you could click on just one icon and often the rest of the
Have you had a chance to play The Sims ? It seems that a lot of people succeed in using that game as a sort of tool for interactive storytelling.
Trust & Betrayal: The Legacy of Siboot
is not an attempt to produce interactive storytelling. I had some e-mail with WillWright about
, and he acknowledges that it isn t an interactive storytelling platform, but he pointed out that many people use it that way.
is exactly what it claims to be ” a simulation, not a drama. No drama simulates the real world. In Shakespeare s play, in the middle of Henry V s speech to the soldiers at Agincourt, he doesn t say, Just a minute, guys, I have to take a pee. However, in
, he does. Once when I was playing
, a little girl couldn t get to sleep because there were spooks coming and frightening her. The spooks are a very nice touch, by the way. They kept her awake all night long, and she wandered all around until she fell asleep, because a sim who stays up too long is
Will built an excellent physical simulator. But it has no people content. It s a direct violation of my people not things argument in that it focuses on the things aspect of life, on all the mechanical details. Going to the bathroom is a major module in that program, whereas emotional processes simply aren t there. I don t want to criticize a brilliant product: Will set out with a clear goal and he achieved it, and that s wonderful. But he didn t set out to do what I m doing and, lo and behold, he didn t achieve it. I
So what makes you want to
It s a hell of a lot more relevant. Furthermore, I think it s a hell of a lot more interesting than game design. The design problems of computer games nowadays bore me, because they re not very involved problems. They tend to be very small models, quite easy to calculate. I continue to be appalled at the low level of intelligence in a lot of these games. The computer opponent is really stupid, and that s about the only element that still interests me. I might like to do a game with some really good AI, where the computer opponent can really outsmart you, and I don t mean that in the sense of chess, I mean that in something complicated like a wargame. But wargames themselves are obvious. I feel that I have mastered that formand so why should I continue to indulge in it? There are so many other, more important
Do you ever fear that you will always be dissatisfied with the Erasmatron?
I consider this to be my life s work. This is the culmination of everything I ve been leading up to. I have no doubts that if I continue working on this I can continue to improve this technology. I have major
Maybe it would be good if they go down that path, leaving the real problem area free for me and the other people who are serious about interactive storytelling. There are
Not at all, and in fact I m surprised at the shallowness of that argument. The easy refutation is the example of grandpa sitting down with his little granddaughter to tell her a story: Once upon a time, there was a girl who had a horse. And the little girl says, Was it a white horse? And grandpa does not say, Shut up, kid, you are ruining my
In your games work, you created both the content and the technology, whereas with the Erasmatron you re focusing on creating just the technology, which will allow other people to create the content. Why did you shift your efforts in that direction?
There are lots of people who could provide artistic content, but I m the only person who can provide the tool. I therefore have a moral obligation to concentrate on the talent that is unique to me. However, there are still some other things I want to do. There s so much going on, I have to very carefully allocate my time, and a lot of good projects are sitting on the back
So as a result you don t get much chance to work on Le Morte D Arthur .
Right, I have to just let it burble around in my
So what s next for the Erasmatron technology?
Well, the basic technology is, I feel, ready to go commercially right now. We still need to build a front end and so forth, but we are ready to begin the commercialization process immediately. My next primary task is to commercialize this technology. I m not sure how to proceed on that point.
Would you ever be interested in working on a more traditional game again?
At this point I would be interested and willing to
Chris Crawford Gameography
Tanktics , 1978
Legionnaire , 1979
Energy Czar , 1981
SCRAM , 1981
Tanktics (updated for Atari 800) , 1981
Eastern Front (1941), 1981
Legionnaire (updated for Atari 800) , 1982
Gossip , 1983
Excalibur , 1983
Balance of Power , 1985
Patton vs. Rommel , 1986
Trust & Betrayal: The Legacy of Siboot , 1987
Balance of Power II: The 1990 Edition , 1988
The Global Dilemma: Guns & Butter , 1990
Balance of the Planet , 1990
Patton Strikes Back , 1991
The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses
Game Design Workshop, Second Edition: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games (Gama Network Series)
Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon--The Story Behind the Craze That Touched Our Lives and Changed the World