Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Where are they now? - Gary Winnick


Garry Winnick. Co-creator of Maniac Mansion.

Some of you have probably not heard of Gary Winnick but I bet many of you would've heard of his ex-Lucasarts colleague, Ron Gilbert (which I based a Where are they now? article on yonks ago). Why do I mention Ron Gilbert? Well firstly because, as mentioned, he's probably more famous but also because one of Gary's most famous and popular collaborations was with Mr Gilbert - an old point 'n' click adventure game called Maniac Mansion. Maniac Mansion would in fact become so popular that they even decided to broadcast a TV series (loosely) based on the game! Check out the video below:



Before we find out what Gary's up to nowadays, let's take a look back at how he started in the gaming biz.

Gary graduated from Monterey Peninsula College (Monterey being a town south of San Francisco for those not from the U.S.) with a degree in business and art before starting his career in 1976 at Continuity Associates New York where he worked with comic book legends Neal Adams and Dick Giordano. After befriending Frank Cirocco, he and Gary formed their own art studio when returning to California called Horizon Zero Graphiques (now known as Lightsource Studios). The studio creates comics, illustrations, packaging, character and game art for several clients until quite recently, but their major client in the early 80s was Atari (Frank and Gary's art studio would also go on to do work for Sega, Electronic Arts, Nintendo, Yahoo, Playdom and Zynga).

In 1984, Gary became an artist and animator for Lucasfilm Games but it wasn't until 1987 that he would co-design a game with Ron Gilbert that would become known as one of the classic point 'n' click adventure games: Maniac Mansion. Gary continued to work on several games with Lucasfilm/LucasArts until the early 90s. Some of his more famous works include artwork for Zak McKraken and the Alien Mindbenders (1989), Loom (1990) and the NES game, Defenders of Dynatron City (1992) which even had its own cartoon pilot (it never went any further though). Gary also supervised the Lucasfilm art department while it worked on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and The Secret of Monkey Island (1990). What seems to be Gary's last piece of work at LucasArts was working as a writer for the sequel of Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle, one of my favourite games of all time.

After a short stint with Spectrum Holobyte between 1993-1994, Gary co-founded an independent game development studio called Orbital Studios in 1994 that was funded through a multi-product deal by Virgin Interactive. After two years, Gary returned to Lightsource Studios in 1996 and continued to do contract art development work for 14 years for a variety of game developers.

In 2010, Gary again co-founded a game development studio but this time with ex-LucasArts employees. The company was called Suddenly Social and Gary worked on two "proof-of-technology" titles while over there before leaving in 2012.

In 2013, Gary sought funding to print a comic he had been working on in his spare time since 2010 called "Bad Dreams". Gary attempted to raise $15,000 through a Kickstarter project but unfortunately less than $5,000 was raised. Thankfully, an independent comic book publisher called Red 5 decided that they would publish Gary's "Bad Dreams" and it was released this year in April.

Gary seems to still be working on comics but is also receptive to contract work from game developers. Who knows if he'll ever end up making another point 'n' click adventure. If he does, let's hope it's a Maniac Mansion III (but of course that would be up to Disney considering they now hold LucasArts's IP).

SOURCES:
[ LINK: Gary Winnick's MobyGames profile ]
[ LINK: Garry Winnick's Wikipedia page ]
[ LINK: Bad Dreams Facebook Page ]
[ LINK: Gary Winnick's most recent home page ]

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