Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Where are they now? - Glen R. Dahlgren

Real men explore the tunnels of Venus without shirts... or any regard for the boiling temperatures apparently

Although I never played the game when it was originally released, I did have a go at Frederik Pohl's Gateway several years later. While the game's interface and graphics looked dated by the late 1990s there was something appealing about playing an interactive fiction game with graphics, especially a sci-fi one based on an award winning novel. The music was also pretty good too and the main theme to Gateway as well as the Chapter 1 music still echo in my head to this day (I even made it my ringtone at one stage).

But who were the people behind the development of this game? Well they were obviously people from the now defunct Legend Entertainment, and the producers of the game were Michael Lindner, Mike Verdu and Glen R. Dahlgren. For today, I'd like to delve a bit into the career of Glen Dahlgren and we'll revisit the Mikes another time :).

Dahlgren completed a Bachelor of Computer Science at Penn State University in 1990. During the 1980s, he was already programming games for the TRS-80 Coco, one such game being 1986's Dragon Blade which was a fantasy interactive fiction game with graphics. After graduating from university he managed to secure a job at a fledgling development studio composed of Infocom veterans called Legend Entertainment. Dahlgren worked on a few projects during his first couple of years at Legend Entertainment (all Interactive Fiction DOS games with graphics) such as 1991's Timequest, 1991's Spellcasting 201, 1992's Spellcasting 301 and, of course, 1992's Frederik Pohl's Gateway.

In 1993, Dahlgren was promoted into more senior roles as a game director/lead designer. He continued to work on Interactive Fiction games with graphics such as 1993's Gateway II: Homeworld, 1993's Eric the Unready, 1993's Companions of Xanth and 1994's Death Gate.

The late 1990s marked a change of direction for Legend Entertainment as they abandoned the ageing interactive fiction genre for first person games. The company was also bought over by GT Interactive in 1998 and then acquired by Infogrames in 1999 (who eventually rebranded themselves as Atari). Dahlgren worked on the 1999 game adaptation of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time and also worked as a designer and producer for 2003's Unreal II. Dahlgren was promoted to Creative Director the year before and became part of the senior management team, but sadly it was only a couple of years after his promotion that Legend Entertainment was shutdown by Atari for good.

Dahlgren joined Perpetual Entertainment and worked there for three years on the game that would eventually become Star Trek Online (which is still running to this day - lots of Trekkies out there no doubt).

From 2007 onwards, Dahlgren worked at a variety of companies as a game designer and mostly for mobile games in recent years. He started his current job as Director of Game Design at KLab America in 2012 and he's still there to this day. So what exactly does KLab America develop? Well, they have a mobile game called Lord of the Dragons and a mobile game based on the popular TV series Glee. Can't say I'm exactly too interested in either game but if Dahlgren ever decided to develop a story-driven game on the PC again, I'll be watching it closely!

LINKS:
[ Wikipedia: Legend Entertainment ]
[ MobyGames: Glen R. Dahlgren ]
[ Official website for KLab America ]

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