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Interview with David Fox

David Fox, one of the mainstays of the LucasArts adventure games, can be considered responsible for what's the particular style of those games. We could chat with him about the genre and his experience at Skywalker Ranch, as you're about to read.

# By Paco García |

Interview with David Fox

AyC: In August 1992 you left LucasArts after working almost 10 years in the company. It was precisely when the constantly growing audience of adventure games made its future very promising. What got you out of LucasArts?

DF:In 1990, after I had been there for 8 years, I left LucasArts and joined a small team on a special project at Lucasfilm. Our division was called Rebel Arts and Technology, and we were working on a location based entertainment project that was to go into theme parks, called the Mirage project. We teamed up with Hughes Simulation - they had the simulation expertise, and we did much of the creative design of the games. We ended up with a working prototype, playing a flight game in the Star Wars universe. But, unfortunately, we were a bit ahead of the price curve, and the systems were just too expensive for entertainment. That was when the graphics processors (big boxes, like the Evans & Sutherland ESIG 2000) cost half a million dollars. You can now get way better imagery on a $200 graphics card!

So, the project was closed down, and I decided to leave the company. I didn’t want to go back to games - I wanted to work in Virtual Reality.

AyC: Even so, you went on in the entertaining world linked to Rocket Science Games and alternating between your work in this company (in which also worked another of our beloved ones, Brian Moriarty) and educative products for children, just as other designers and scriptwriters like Dave Grossman, Ron Gilbert or Josh Mandel have done. We, as die-hard enthusiasts, can’t help asking ourselves, why educative games?

DF:I think it comes from the strong sense I had that I wanted to make a positive impact on the planet. That’s still a strong driving force for me.

AyC: It was in 1996 after the release of Obsidian when you got out of adventure gamers’ sight. Nevertheless, you are still interested in the adventure community (this interview is a proof indeed). Do you still play adventure games in your spare time? If so, what do you think about the latest releases in the genre?

DF:I’m sorry to say that I haven’t played any games for several years now. I know I’d still enjoy them. Maybe too much. I’d end up staying up all night trying to finish a game. So, maybe I’m avoiding them because I have so many other things I’m now working on that I don’t want the distraction. I did spend a year at Xulu Entertainment (http://www.xulu.com) in many ways, this was what the Mirage project should have been. But they ran out of financing before the project could be brought to the public.

AyC: It is inevitable to compare the old game industry to today’s one. There are many different opinions but they all agree that now everything it is much more ‘wild’ than before. You are plenty experienced in the software world, so what do you think about this matter? Has the industry improved, or is it getting worse?

DF:I’m not very tapped into the industry right now. In some ways, it feels like the game industry is now much closer to the way the film industry operates. This is partly because of the cost for creating an A-level game... no company wants to risk millions of dollars on an experimental project.

AyC: Sometimes in this huge desert that the game industry is one can find an oasis in the amateur groups, who are getting stronger and support the adventure genre, which they use to sort of get to the top of the undergrounds. Some groups even make freeware unofficial sequels to those games they have played long ago and loved since then. This breaks many of the copyright laws, but even so, some fans have already made amateur games with the characters of the old Lucas products. Zak McKracken is one of the most used by fans for their stories, and there were once several "sequels" for the original game being made by different groups at the same time. What do you think about this movement?

DF:I love it! I’ve seen some of the art for the Zak sequels, and it tickles me to see how people have kept the characters and vision alive.

AyC: And finally, our classical question to all the ‘celebrities’ we interview: what would you say to all those fans who wish to become a David Fox in the future?

DF: Find something you REALLY want to do, and then do what it takes to do it. As Steve Arnold (General Manager of LucasArts during the 80s) would say, you have to have "fire in the belly" to be successful. If you weren’t totally into the project, and didn’t put your all into it, you’d know it and so would the public. I like the phrase, "Follow your bliss."

Thanks for a wonderful set of questions! Made me think and recall some really great years!

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