Pitfall!’s Creator Likens His Fame To Being A Child Star

Pitfall!’s Creator Likens His Fame To Being A Child Star

There were a lot of one-hit wonders in the 1980s, but David Crane isn’t one of them. The Activision programmer was behind Decathlon for the Atari 2600, Ghostbusters, one of the first great film-to-game adaptations on PC, and later, A Boy and His Blob. But he’ll forever be known as Pitfall!‘s creator, almost typecast as such.

Pitfall! in many regards was the first breakout original console game, something that didn’t depend on the popularity of an arcade title and a successful port to the underpowered machines of the day. It was such a mainstream hit that it became one of the inaugural segments in the Saturday Supercade cartoon lineup, and one of the first console-only games to be adapted into another medium.

But it’s come at a cost. Crane told Gamasutra it was a little like being a child actor, known for his first role and not taken seriously in other work. He felt pressured to “go back to the jungle” for an encore, drafting a concept for a 2D platformer calling on Pitfall!‘s motifs. Problem is, he asked for $US900,000 through Kickstarter to make it, and is nowhere close to reaching that total.

Convinced that the world wanted him to “go back to the jungle” and make another game like Pitfall!, Crane put together a small, independent team, drafted up a partial design for a new 2D platformer that brings to mind the old days but utilizes modern day technology (it’s being made in Unity), and launched a Kickstarter campaign seeking $US900,000.

“Everyone turned against me as soon as they saw [the price],” Crane told Gamasutra. “”I had people telling me that I was ruining Kickstarter for indie developers by asking for that amount of money.”

It’s not looking good for Crane. With six days to go, the project has raised only $US22,000. “It’s just amazing how there is no vision of what Kickstarter is supposed to be,” he said. “People won’t let go of what they think it is.”

Living in Pitfall’s Shadow [Gamasutra]


  • Proof that not all kickstarters are guaranteed successes Mr Crane. You went in with the idea that you were a surefire hit and when it failed (yes, there IS that inherent risk) you spat the dummy. Grow up a little.

  • That pitch… He’s quite up himself.

    It’s a lot of money, and they’re showing nothing. And co-founding Activision can’t be helping his popularity…. Surely he can just release it himself?

  • A 2D platformer for 900k?? Where’s the business case? It’s not like there’s a rich legacy or backstory to draw from – it was run, jump, run, jump. Pitfall 2 was more exploration but I found it too hard to finish.

  • The whole pitch is about how good Crane is and barely even touches on the game at all. It even winds up on the on the idea of “hey give me 900 grand and i’ll use your ideas to make a game”

    So of course no one gave him any money….

  • With such a titular statement. WtF. Research.!!!!!! Why was activvision created by Atari employees????????? RESEARCH. Understand the history of game making before opening your mouth.

  • $900,000 is pretty small for a game budget, but I think the fans have spoken and there’s no massive demand, otherwise they’d be a lot closer to the target by now.

    Pitfall was pretty special and all, and I LOVED A Boy and his Blob, but 2D platforming is actually a pretty healthy genre still, not an underfunded niche like adventure games or space sims or the more eclectic branches of strategy games that really do need the money else they wouldn’t get made at all. Fans have not been starving for a game ‘like Pitfall’, and with nothing more to the pitch than that and a bit of name weight behind it… yeah, not surprised.

    The child star analogy does hold up, though, I’ll give him that.

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