Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Where are they now? - Damon Slye

Damon Syle - Creator of flight sim Red Baron

For today's "Where are they now?" we have a man who was instrumental in developing well loved flight sims for the games industry as well as founding a major development house in the 80s. The man I'm talking about is Damon Slye and before we take a look at where he is now, let's take a look at how he got involved in the gaming industry.

Damon Slye first started creating computer games back in 1977 but it wouldn't be until 1981 that he would start on what he calls his "first game project" called Stellar 7. Stellar 7 was a 3D tank game that looks very primitive by today's standards with its four colours and wireframe 3D models, but it was quite revolutionary for its day when it was released on the Apple II in 1983 (not to mention he programmed the game in assembler!).

It was in 1983 when Damon would co-found game development studio Dynamix with Jeff Tunnell. The company started small but grew to 150 employees at its peak. It was also sold to Sierra On-Line in 1989 before it was officially disbanded in 2001.

After Stellar 7, Damon led the development of another tank game for release on the Amiga and it would be Electronic Arts's first original game for that platform. The game was called Arcticfox and was released in 1986.

[Red Baron was] probably Damon's most famous game and 4th best computer game of all time according to Computer Gaming World.

Damon and his colleagues at Dynamix would go on to develop several more simulation-style games such as Abrams Battle Tank (1988), A-10 Tank Killer (1989) (the only of his games I've actually played but important as it introduced me to the world of modern warfare), the remake of Stellar 7 (1990), Red Baron (1990) (probably Damon's most famous game and 4th best computer game of all time according to Computer Gaming World), Aces of the Pacific (1992) and Aces over Europe (1993).

Damon left Dynamix in 1994 and after a 12 year hiatus eventually got back into game development after co-founding a new development studio in 2007 with ex-Dynamix employees. The new studio was called Mad Otter Games and Damon led the development of Ace of Aces (2008) and a free-to-play MMORPG called Villagers and Heroes (2011).

Damon and Mad Otter Games attempted to raise $250,000 through Kickstarter in late 2013 for a new Red Baron game but it failed abysmally (which is actually a big surprise to me considering how popular it was).

In terms of recent projects it seems that Damon and Mad Otter Games are still updating the game Villagers and Heroes with it being released on Steam only a few months ago. While this is a far cry from the kind of games Damon used to work on there are some neat features in Villagers and Heroes, the most enticing being the ability to grow your own town with friends but I suspect games like Minecraft and its clones might provide quite a bit of competition in that regard though.

I wish Damon all the best with any future projects - it's good to know that developers of his calibre are still in the business.

LINKS:
[ Wikipedia: Damon Slye ]
[ MobyGames: Damon Slye ]
[ Mad Otter Games: About Damon Slye ]
[ Kickstarter: Red Baron ]

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