Steve Hales: Slime, Dimension X, Fort Apocalypse
Steve Hales published several games with Synapse Software: Slime, Dimension X, Fort Apocalypse, and Mindwheel. His first job was reverse engineering the Atari 2600 to create the Starpath Supercharger. His game for that platform was Suicide Mission, an Asteroids clone.
This interview took place on October 21, 2015. In it we discuss Ihor Wolosenko and Cathryn Mataga, whom I previously interviewed; and Mike Potter and Bob Polin, whose interviews are forthcoming.
Steve has released the source code for Fort Apocalypse. He and I talked about the possibility of also releasing the code for his other games. In March 2016 he emailed me, “I did a deep look into my archives, and didn’t find anything useful. I have one more place to look, but its not near me at all, so it will take a few months to look.” However, he does have Mindwheel running on a web site at http://mindwheelgame.com and his more modern game, Squirrel Warz for iOS, is available at http://www.squirrelwarz.com. Check the show notes for those links as well as links to Steve’s other projects.
Our interview starts with us talking about the recovery and scanning of the Star Raiders source code. Although he didn’t create Star Raiders, Steve is the person who found the source code printout for Star Raiders in his files, and lent it to me to scan.
“[Dimension X] didn’t really come out that well. It was actually my first lesson in a failure of something that was fun.”
“Solo developers of the time, their games were sometimes pretty great but sometimes mostly not. Electronic Arts brought, because of what Trip Hawkins learned, he brought the Hollywood studio system to the games industry.”
Steve’s web site: http://www.igorlabs.com
Steve’s SquirrelWarz game for iOS: http://www.squirrelwarz.com
Steve on Twitter: http://twitter.com/heyigor
AtariMania’s list of Steve’s games: http://www.atarimania.com/list_games_atari-400-800-xl-xe-hales-steve_team_530_8_G.html
Halcyon Days interview with Steve: http://www.dadgum.com/halcyon/BOOK/HALES.HTM
Fort Apocalypse Source Code: http://atariage.com/forums/topic/239792-fort-apocalypse-source-code-is-out/
Star Raiders source code: https://archive.org/details/AtariStarRaidersSourceCode