"BOB SMITH: DRAGON MASTER"|
(Appeared in the Volume 2, 1983 issue of Imagic's "Numb Thumb News")
Numb Thumb News talks with Bob Smith, creator of the new hit,
Dragonfire. This talented designer has a diverse background. He's
been a sailboat builder and carpenter. At Imagic, Bob also produced
Star Voyager and Riddle of the Sphinx.
NTN:Bob, we can see that you haven't been wating time. You've created
three Imagic games in a year and a half!
Smith:Yeah, well...there's nothing I'd rather do. I grew up in a game-
playing family. Every Christmas morning we'd get out of those giant
thousand-piece jig-saw puzzles, and in a day or so it'd all be put
together. I still like board games, card games---you name it.
NTN:How did you get started with computer games?
Smith:My first "computer" game was played on a calculator. It was a crude
version of "Battleship," and I wrote it on an HP-25 I used for boat
designing. Of course, the graphics weren't too exciting. Then, I
was working at a lumber yard and I talked the boss into getting a
computer. He said OK if I'd do everything. I bought a kit, built
the computer and wrote the software. I learned a lot, but I knew it
would be a lot more fun to write programs that could entertain you,
not just count your inventory.
Smith:A couple of years later I was using a personal computer at night to
learn assembly language. I sold my first game to Creative Computing
in 1979. Atari hired me a year later.
NTN:How do you approach a new game design?
Smith:I like to start with the play. Dragonfire is really based on the old
game of "Jacks"--you know, where you throw a ball in the air and try
to pick up all the goodies before it comes down. That turned out to
be the "Prince", picking up treasures before the Dragon hits him.
NTN:What do you do in your spare time?
Smith:I go sailing some--not as much as I used to. I play video games and
hit the arcades once in a while. And I read a lot, maybe 3 or 4
books a week...science fiction, mostly.
NTN:Sounds like a pretty good life. How would you advise a young person
to prepare for a game designing career?
Smith:Well, you've got to learn computer programming and logic, of course.
So get a good foundation in math or science. But be sure to keep
your creative imagination active. Have your mind open to any
possibility. And listen to others in your field. I've gotten a lot
of help from other programmers. We're all still learning, from the
computers and each other.
NTN:Speaking of learning, have you got any tips for Dragonfire players?
Smith:When you're crossing the bridge, remember that after a fireball
leaves the screen there's a minimum time delay before the next one is
launched at that level. The time to make the final dash is just
after the top fireball has passed overhead. Then make the Prince
jump just as he reaches the doorway into the treasure room.
NTN:How about in the treasure room?
Smith:Use a swooping pattern. Remember, it's not the dragon that gets
you--it's the Dragonfire! Concentrate on those bursts of fire and
you can almost always duck around them. And don't come out of the
hideout until the dragon's facing the other way.
NTN:One more question: Confidentially, Bob, what's your best Dragonfire
Smith:Just over 15,000. But I heard that a couple of kids have gotten
30,000. That's game playing!
Typed by Keita Iida