Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Where are they now? - David P. Gray

Hugo's House of Horrors

For those who were active with graphical adventure games in the early 90s, you've probably heard of the game Hugo's House of Horrors. While its graphics seem amateurish, especially nowadays this game was a solid competitor to graphics adventure games by the giants of adventure games: Sierra and Lucasarts. Of course, it probably helped that the game was shareware too but what you might find amazing is that the game was developed by one man: David P. Gray. So who is this David P. Gray and what's he doing now?

Well, there's not actually that much information on the man but he does mention during a 2013 interview that he spent a good deal of time playing arcade games during his university years and it's probably this continuing passion for games that prompted him to start developing them on his own. He was always a fan of the granddaddy of adventure games that originally came out in 1976, William Crowther's Colossal Cave Adventure (a.k.a. ADVENT, Colossal Cave or simply Adventure, which is where the genre derived its name from), so it's probably no surprise that he wanted to develop an adventure game himself. Despite David's first game having a story very similar to Lucasarts's 1987 Maniac Mansion, David has never played the game and actually drew a lot of inspiration from Sierra's 1987 Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards. So in 1989, David developed Hugo's House of Horrors and in 1990 it was released to the public.

Hugo's House of Horrors was quite a success but David thinks the game was just at the right place at the right time. The game was an early example (if not the first example) of a shareware graphical adventure game and it quickly filled the shareware shelves of stores along with the catalogues of low cost disk vendors.

David released two graphical adventure game sequels to the first Hugo game with Hugo II: Whodunit? in 1991 and Hugo III: Jungle of Doom in 1992.

After completing the Hugo adventure game trilogy, David wanted to make one last game with Hugo as the protagonist but decided to develop a 3D game, with similar visuals to Wolfenstein 3D. Due to the technical difficulties in creating a 3D engine from scratch David took much more time than he wanted in developing what would be called Nitemare-3D: it took him 18 months to develop compared to the 3 months it took to develop the first Hugo game. Considering Doom was released in 1993, Nitemare-3D was a bit outdated in the graphics department although its saving grace was that it was more puzzle-oriented than your average First Person Shooter. The game did receive some glowing reviews and it even won the 1995 Ziff-Davis European Shareware Award for Best Game. However after this gruelling experience, David decided to return to making simpler, casual games as an individual developer.

In 1996, David released Jigsaws Galore a digital jigsaw puzzle game that allows you to import images and create your own. Despite its simple concept the game occupies most of David's time nowadays and the customer base has reached the point where he can barely continue as a one-person outfit anymore. About a year ago, David planned to port the game to iPad and Android and it seems that he's at least got the game on iOS as it was released on the iTunes Store in only two months ago.

Will David ever make another Hugo game? It's very unlikely. David seems quite content for the series to remain in the past and he has "no overwhelming urge or need to reboot the series". So if you're wanting another Hugo game, you're out of luck. If you like jigsaw puzzles though, why not check out Jigsaws Galore?

LINKS:
[ MobyGames: David P. Gray ]
[ Gray Design Associates Official Website ]
[ Wikipedia: Hugo's House of Horrors ]
[ Retrodrome: Interview with David P. Gray by JoshWoodzy dated 20 Feb 2013 ]

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