Game Inspirations: Brian Reynolds, Big Huge Games

ronat.jpg When thinking of something development-related (and interesting!) I could post as guest editor this week, I decided connecting to notable game developers - and getting them to spill the beans about what games inspired them growing up - would be a neat thing to do.

So, the first of these micro-Q&As chats to Brian Reynolds, CEO of Big Huge Games, and co-creator of classic strategy games including Civilization II and Alpha Centauri (while at Microprose), Rise Of Nations - and even the Xbox Live Arcade version of Catan. What classic title made him the designer he is today? You can find out after the jump...reynolds.jpg What was the first video game you were ever inspired by, growing up?

The "Original Adventure" (also known in later years as the Colossal Cave Adventure — you know, the bird and the snake and XYZZY).

When and where did you play it?

At my father's office in about 1979. He worked at a defence contractor and would take me to work on the weekends sometimes when he was in an overtime crunch. I'd sit at the terminal of the PDP-11 they had there (a minicomputer with a CPU-plus-hard-drive unit about the size of a tall thin refrigerator) and play. Even more fun was playing on the teletype, where you could go back over the "transcript" of your play at the end.

How did it make you feel?

It made me desperately want to make my own games. So desperate that I sat and read the entire FORTRAN manual and started doing it! I wrote all kinds of games in junior high school and even sold one to Softside Magazine for $200 in 1981, which seemed like a lot of money to me at the time. Needless to say the money bought me more memory for my home computer which I'd finally gotten that year.

How did it influence your future game making?

I made "text adventures" for years after that, and learned much of my programming skills doing it (including a complete BASIC port of the Original Adventure, the FORTRAN source for which I'd discovered on the PDP, and an assembly language adventure game of my own design which I signed with Avalon Hill - though it was never released because of the imminent death of the TRS-80, and my being too young to afford other computers to port it onto!)

Thinking of the Colossal Cave still brings back the original joy-of-computer-games to me, particularly the wide-open world of creating your own games. Back in those days if you wanted to play a computer game you mostly had to make it yourself, which was a great starting point for ending up doing this for a living.


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