Moby Poll: What kind of game collector are you?

Christopher Blackwell

Developer Biography

An autobiography, as I'm probably not interesting enough for someone else to write about.

I started my career in the game business in 1990 working part time for Maxis in the mail room while attending college. I was studying comp sci and math. I really wanted to do something technical so I tried to get a job in testing or support. I don't know why but I never landed one of these jobs. I got frustrated and finally left to do tech support for Spectrum Holobyte. This turned out to be a very frustrating job, so I wound up applying back at Maxis and they hired me into tech support. While in support I wrote a number of tools to help customers troubleshoot. Everyone was surprised I could program and they offered me a job as an entry level programmer.

That was pretty cool! My first programming task was to port the Windows 3.1 version of SimCity to Windows 95, an as yet unreleased operating system. I did this and we released it as one of the first games for Windows 95. After that I worked on several other projects, one which was canned, and then I started to work on Sim Park. Around this time the company went public and there was a big shift in the company culture which didn't jibe with me. I left the company in fall of 95.

Having an adventurous spirit I interviewed for several jobs and wound up taking one with Sanctuary Woods Multimedia Corp in Victoria, Canada. I think I took it mostly because I thought it would be cool to live in Canada for a while. The first thing I worked on at SancWoods was porting their DOS engine to Windows 95. I completed the port and we prepared a version of Orion Burger, an adventure game, which never got released for the PC (it did for the Mac) since our studio was purchased by Disney Interactive.

Now I worked for Disney and this was my first foray into Kids software. At the time Disney wanted to support Windows 3.1 but also wanted the cross platform abilities of the old SancWoods engine (which was completely 32 bit.) So I went to the task of creating a new engine with my coworker and friend, Nick Porcino. We shipped several products with this engine including Ready to Read with Pooh, Ready to Write with Pooh, Timon and Pumbas Typing Adventure and a few others. At this point we decided Win31 was a dead market so we went back to Win95 only. This opened the door to create yet another engine, on which we created several games including Hercules Hades Challenge and Lion King 2 Jungle Games. This last project proved to be a debacle for me, causing a rift between management and myself, so I decided it was time to seek other employment.

So in fall of 1999, I went to work for Humongous Entertainment. While here I was responsible for loading the systems programming group so I maintained the SCUMM engine and wrote lots of tools and technology. I helped ship several games while at HE, including Putt Putt Enters the Circus, Putt Putts One Stop Fun Shop, Pajama Sam 3 and One Stop Fun Shop, Spy Fox 2, Freddie Fish 4 and One Stop Fun Shop and probably a few others I can't remember.

Then, in mid 2000, HE was purchased by Infogrames. The founders of HE, Ron Gilbert and Shelly Day decided it was time to move on, and started a new company. We were working on some great games, unfortunately due to a mixture of factors, the company was soon to go out of business.

At the time I was an avid Asheron's Call player, so it was natural for me to go work for Turbine. I had my hands in Asheron's Call 2 as well as Lord of the Rings Online. Unfortunately my wife didn't like living in Boston at all so we moved back to the west coast.

I found work at an online poker software provider in Victoria, BC, though it quickly became apparent they weren't long for the world, so I left after about a year and moved back to Washington state.

Initially I was working for Monolith on The Matrix Online, however when the game was sold to Sony I was laid off after only a few months. Fortunately, I quickly found another job at Gas Powered Games, and hopefully it's here to stay! I've shipped Supreme Commander and am currently working on Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance.




Contributed by Chris Blackwell (6) on May 25, 2001. [revised by : B.L. Stryker (20703) and Chris Blackwell (6)].