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Today only, save on used books and help us reach 15,000 books sold to double the donations. Early in 1990, I got a call from my high school friend and college art classmate Dan Burke asking me if I'd like to work as a graphic artist for a video game company called Color Dreams. From the beginning of 1990 to near the end of 1990, I worked as a graphic artist on King Neptune's Adventure, and the unreleased Frantic Fruit, and probably a couple other titles I'm forgetting at the moment. One factoid regarding Secret Scout: I suggested that health items should randomly explode and cause damage instead of giving health. At this point it is 1991 and Secret Scout is released, and little did I know it'd be the very last Color Dreams game. Around this time, we were still developing a game based on the movie Hellraiser which was to use the Wolfenstein 3D engine we licensed from id Software. Also around this time Lawton acquired a Nintendo Super Famicom (SNES), I believe from Japan, since it wasn't released in the U.S. The rest of my time at Color Dreams was spent developing odd games here and there that didn't really go anywhere. One painfully obvious factoid about Free Fall: I really only made the game for my own amusement and never expected to sell it, thus its lack of mass appeal and completeness.
This is how I looked all suited-up for alien battle in the 1993 Mindcraft game Strike Squad. I was only an official employee of Color Dreams for about 6 months until one evening when I got a call from co-owner Eddy Lin. By now Color Dreams had shifted its attention to making Christian-themed games under the company name Wisdom Tree. Lawton asked me to program a game called Maggots, where you play a maggot trying to escape from inside the human body.
There I worked on a few PC games including Tegel's Mercenaries and I co-developed Strike Squad with Burke and Robert Bonifacio. I wasn't sure what that meant, but seeing as how I wanted to get into some kind of art career, I jumped at the chance and took my portfolio of nude models to co-owner Dan Lawton a few nights later. He informed me, there at work, that I was no longer needed and I should get my stuff and leave.


Basically the game was about a guy trying to escape the Amazon jungle while battling indigenous tribes and booby traps.
Then the company folded (hopefully not due to our game!), and my friend Tony convinced me to go to art school in San Francisco, so that's what we did. He hesitantly hired me, and the next day I quit my job at a retail clothing store and started my journey in the world of unlicensed video games.
I created the characters (I think Nina designed some too, like "Treadster"), background graphics, music, and also programmed it (which really meant editing the previous code).
Lawton, of course, reversed engineered it and wanted to port our Christian games to the system. Disillusioned with the whole scene, I dropped out after one semester, and went to work for SEGA of America as a game tester.
I am proud to be a part of that and to somehow in some small way be a trivia question in the video game industry.
Dan Lawton was not too thrilled with the graphics and asked Nina Stanley to clean them up, so she did. We just didn't think Christian games would sell, but that didn't stop us from having fun putting together the first Wisdom Tree game Bible Adventures.
I remember during my last days at Wisdom Tree I sketched out a design for a Christian game, but I can't remember if it was for 3D Noah's Ark, or some other game that was lost to time. I worked there for a few years and then moved on to Sony Computer Entertainment, also as a tester.
Lawton then had the idea for a cart containing small, addictive games, instead of one major theme. One of the last times I saw Lawton, he was reverse engineering a video camera to figure out how to make web cams.
Lawton had this idea to have the actor Lee Majors (Six Million Dollar Man) endorse the game, but Majors wanted too much money so that deal fell through. It wasn't easy pasting together the notes since each note is a piece of code with its own attributes for tone, duration, volume, etc.
They eventually folded, but not before I moved to Central California to marry my girlfriend in 1999.
He showed off some of my current graphics (for an unreleased game I am forgetting at the moment. The code for Secret Scout would soon morph into another Color Dreams title, Operation Secret Storm, about the first Gulf War.


In the photo below, you can see in the background just behind my left shoulder, sheet music of traditional Christian hymns I was recreating note-by-note for Bible Adventures, with a Casio keyboard laying around for musical support. I only remember a gravestone.) saying my style has a bit of humor to it, trying to look at the positive angle (he was always like that).
I know some higher-ups at the company weren't too pleased with the music, but they were somehow convinced to use it anyway. The reason I was let go was because Eddy didn't think my artistic style was "Japanese" enough. The game reminded me a bit of the movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (partly because of that little kid in the movie who wore a baseball cap), so as an homage I tacked on in the Temple of Demise to the title. The development team was rather small, consisting of just several of us: Dan Lawton, Dan Burke, Jim Treadway, Vance Kozik, Nina Stanley, and myself.
Inspired by the game Lemmings, I came up with a game about little people falling off a cliff and the player has to save them with a giant hand, while dodging obstacles. The working title was Hand Job, but I eventually changed the name to Free Fall, because well basically these little people were free falling. On the drive to getting coffee, not only did we both witness a pick-up truck slam into a cement wall (true story), but he also asked me if I'd like to program games using his proprietary programming language. If memory serves me correctly, I had learned some of the language rather quickly during my employment, but I can't remember in what capacity I was using it.
Four of us rented a house in Newport Beach where we spent plenty of nights going to bars and coming home to party some more and play Sonic The Hedgehog. This is more than likely some inside joke from my bizarre friend Tony who gets credit at the end.
During the making of this game, I was heavily into the Dada art movement, so I'm sure there was some influence there. Here is an entertaining review of Free Fall for which I provided the emulation ROMs so you can actually play it (if you dare).
I was not prepared to go back to retail sales, and a freelance income sounded better than nothing. Free Fall was never released, but Lawton was eager to put together a Christian-themed multi-game cartridge, so he bought the rights from me to alter Free Fall into Fish Fall and release it on Wisdom Tree's Sunday Funday with other games.




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