42 Years Experiencing Life, The Universe and Game Development

xarkXark wrote 11/01/2023 at 22:27 • 3 min read • Like

As of October 2023 I have retired from a long and rewarding 42 year career in game development (mostly engineering and programming).

I count myself as having been very lucky to have had such an interesting and successful career as well as being able to experience first hand the game industry changing and growing through several "eras".  I got a phone call at the age of 17 (they called me) asking if I wanted to program video games for a living, and I never looked back (they also offered to drive me to/from work, since I had no car yet).  My first full-time game development job (or any job) was on the Atari 2600 in 1981, using MP/M as a development system (and with reverse engineered documentation and a 6502 in-circuit emulator device).

Ever since I discovered electronics and eventually computers, I have been fascinated by them and drawn to learn more about them.  There is always more to learn, and game development was really great for new systems and challenges every few years.  Computers are the closest thing to "magic" I have found - with the ability to turn time and an idea into something "real" (and get paid to do it).

The game industry has gotten so successful, that games and games teams are now large, complex and specialized (and generally getting even larger and more specialized).  While this is exciting and amazing games are being created, I miss the challenge of creating something with a small team and technical limitations which can help to "encourage" creativity (and not be as concerned with "marketability").  Bottom line is I just haven't been able to "creatively hack" on code and technology as much as I would like to doing modern game development (the stakes are too high).

That said, Mass Media/2K is stronger than ever within 2K Games and I believe has a very bright future ahead.

In recent years as a hobby, I have been having a lot of fun with small "retro computer" and "neo-retro" projects (using hardware, software and FPGAs) and now I hope to be able to focus more time on that (stay tuned).  I am still somewhat young (at least for someone retiring, since I started young) and in reasonably good health, so I hope I might have some years of quality hacking ahead of me.


Here is a summary of my 42 year game development career:

1981-1985       McToy/MCT                   
Mostly contract game development for Sega (Buck Rogers, Mt. Dew Tapper etc.).  Also did some work on embedded electronics and pre-release Amiga computer.

1985-1989       Datasoft/IntelliCreations (later Software Toolworks) 

- Worked on Alternate Reality: The City and co-designed/developed Alternate Reality: The Dungeon (and other games)

1989-1990       Micro-Illusions

 - Worked on various (mostly) Amiga games and tools

1990-1991       Cinemaware

 - Worked on game engine code for Amiga, PC and others.  Started on CD-i development.

1991-1995       Philips Interactive/POV Entertainment Group

 - Worked on numerous CD-i titles (Voyeur, Zombie Dinos, Thunder in Paradise etc.) and engine/technology development.

1995-1996       Time Warner Interactive

 - PC games (3D Table Sports) and tools

1996-2007       Mass Media Inc.

  - Numerous games for a large number of systems (starting with Starcraft conversion for Nintendo 64)

2007-2011       Mass Media/THQ (studio purchased by THQ)

 - Worked on numerous THQ titles, including Saints Row 1/2, Darksiders, Space Marine etc.

2011-2018       Mass Media Games (studio went private again after THQ closure)

 - Jak and Daxter Collection (PS3 and PS Vita) also helping on 2K Games titles (XCOM2, Mafia 3 etc.)

2018-2023       Mass Media/2K (studio purchased by Take Two/2K)

 - Various 2K Games titles (and I bid the company farewell as Technical Director in October 2023)

At some point I'd like to write-up more notes and stories about some of the more interesting projects I have been involved with (ask me if you have any questions).

Next up for me: The 2023 Hackaday Supercon (hope to see you there - look for a guy with suspenders and a gray pony tail and hit me up). 😎