Macrocom: Revolutionaries of Form and Function

Seven Spirits of Ra

MobyGames: The theme was unmistakably ancient Egyptian mythology, which was (and still is) very unconventional. What was the motivation for using Egyptian mythology as the basis of gameplay?

Neal White III: Rand was once a Mason. He loved the Egyptian mythology and shared a few Mason secrets that he was supposed to keep private.

Rand E. Bohrer: I deny this, of course. But I did want to do the Osiris resurrection myth. As Osiris journeys through the Land of the Dead he has to find and overcome all the spirit doubles of the animals that had devoured his dismembered body -- and when he does, he acquires their powers and can assume their shapes. When he's finished his journey he's a shape shifter with all kinds of powers who is ready to fight the ruler of the underworld, Set, (the guy who had killed him in the first place) in a grand paper/scissors/stone battle. (You are snake, so Set turns into a hawk, you turn into crocodile, etc.) I've heard, from more than one Sega person, that this was the inspiration for the shape shifter idea at the center of "Alterbeast" (which came out about a year later). I'd like think that was true and the strange fate of Icon in Japan does make it plausable. Anyway, "Alterbeast" was the game they gave away with the first Sega game machines. It was a typical Japanese "post modern" pastiche of Norse, Greek, Egyptian, and Marvel Comic Superhero mythology. I liked our plot better -- but it was probably too egghead. Lately, I found out about copies of the manual -- which explains the mythology -- being circulated in PanAfricanist circles. So you never know.

MobyGames: There is a mixture of tweaked text-mode graphics and conventional CGA graphics in Seven Spirits of Ra. Considering your original decision and effort to use a tweaked text mode, why the decision to mix tweaked and conventional graphics modes?

Neal White III: We needed more control over the pixels on the screens that were used to give clues to the player.

MobyGames: I remember receiving a direct mailing from Sir-Tech in 1987 promoting the game. Do you felt that Sir-Tech did a good job marketing the game, and was it considered a minor or major success?

Neal White III: I think they did a good job. I left the company just before 7 Spirits was released. If it had been a major success, I'm sure Macrocom would have continued making games. Basically, we ran out of money. The PC gaming market was just too small at the time.

Rand E. Bohrer: Another thing, our "superior" mode was tied to the hardware. When the EGA boards came out, some of the clones didn't do the backwards compatability bit too well and messed up the mode we used. SirTech really would have been in trouble if it had pushed the marketing hard after the EGAs got prevelant. I learned its not wise to program closely to the hardware, from a consumer products marketing and development point of view -- because the hardware always changes faster than you think.

Continued: Past, Present, and Future

Table of Contents: Macrocom: Revolutionaries of Form and Function