Several experts contributed to the game’s design. Dr. James Palen, M.D. of St. Francis Medical Center, Cape Girardeau, Mo., contributed the medical algorithms. Professor John Kingsbury of Cornell University provided information on toxic wild plants. Dr. Lanny Miller of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory provided the thermal models. Kimball Garrett of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History provided information on wildlife habitats. Dr. Robert Wolff of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory conducted database research.
Wilderness developers Wes Huntress and Charlie Kohlhase were both employees of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboraratory, and made the game in their spare time. Wes Huntress was a Senior Scientist at JPL and went on to become NASA's Director of Solar System Exploration. Charlie Kohlhase was the Voyager space probe Mission Designer.
This game was originally to be published by Edu-Ware. However, after Management Sciences America (MSA) purchased Edu-Ware, the rights to the game were purchased by Electric Transit. Electric Transit was founded by three ex-Edu-Ware employees and Wilderness' chief programmer, Wes Huntress.
Wilderness was the first game sold through Electronic Art's Affiliated Label distribution program. After a year, Electric Transit ended their relationship with Electronic Arts and distributed the game through Spectrum Holobyte.
Wilderness won Family Computing's "Best Adventure Game of the Year" award and was placed on Science '85's "Ten Best Educational Software of the Year" list.