Macrocom: Revolutionaries of Form and Function

Introduction

A small and interesting pocket in PC gaming's history is filled with products like ICON: Quest for the Ring and Seven Spirits of Ra, both developed by a small company called Macrocom. Unconventional only begins to describe these two products, which not only pushed the early IBM PC to its technical limits, but also broke new ground in gameplay ideas and execution. You'd be hard pressed to find a more unique game than ICON in the 1980s, for example: Based on Wagner's Reingold opera (!), it featured 16-color graphics on a video card that was only technically capable of 4-colors in graphics mode. The gameplay was real-time, and was calculated and animated at 60 frames per second. And this was in 1984 -- their later project, Seven Spirits of Ra in 1987, was even more ambitious as it tackled the Osiris resurrection myth of ancient Egyptian mythology.

It would be easy to claim that we're making all of this up just to fill Feature Article space, but we're not. The story of Macrocom's projects is a long and interesting one, so I was extremely pleased when Neal White III and Rand E. Bohrer, the founders of Macrocom and developers of ICON and Spirits, took the time for an interview. What follows is answers to our questions about Macrocom's beginnings, history, projects, and what they're doing today. It covers such diverse subjects as the Masons, mythology, and how Japanese engineers pirating your game can make you famous. I swear we are not making any of this up. Read on.

Continued: Macrocom's History

Table of Contents: Macrocom: Revolutionaries of Form and Function