Decision Development Corporation 1990-1993

Calling Dick Tracy… Calling Dick Tracy

Apple-II software jobs were still hanging on by a thread when I started working for Decision Development Corporation. They had a job to do a Dick Tracy game on the Apple-II. When I called, they were a bit reluctant to interview me. I was a tad arrogant when I stated, “Oh, you don’t want state of the art coding, with double Hi-res screens, 3 voice sounds with a drum track and my newest 25khz PCM sound code for human voice.” After a brief pause, they called me down to show them what I can do for them. I was hired and soon met David Mullich at Disney Software. They had a video tape of the Nintendo version of the game and a skeleton IBM version. I said its very doable on the Apple-II.

I worked for about a year on the project. I was trained by the Disney artists and I even have a letter stating that Disney was amazed at the quality of artwork I was producing without being a professional artist. That my style was very close to their licensing guide. The mugshots were the hardest to do. I created my own camera capture routine and took the photos from the movie and digitized them for use on the Apple-II. I then went past the 140 horizontal pixel resolution on the Apple-II and pushed it to 280 pixels and beyond. It was the only way I could “move Flattop’s nose 1/2 pixel to the right” per Disney’s art changes request.

Now I had the original handwritten scores for Dick Tracy in hand. I quickly coded them for my 3 voice + drum driver. Now for the opening voice, “Calling Dick Tracy…Calling Dick Tracy“. After recording it from the source tape, I compressed it into the disk and all was pretty much done, or was it? During this time I met up several times with David and discussed how the IBM and Commodore 64 versions were doing. The Apple-II version had better sound, graphics and gameplay. David showed them the Apple-II version and wanted the IBM programmers to duplicate it. They couldn’t, he then showed it to the Commodore 64 programmers, same answer as the IBM team. I was a “one person team” that handled the coding, artwork design and music/sound effects. Disney ended up canning the project and NOT to release the state-of-art Apple-II version without having the IBM and Commodroe 64 versions to back it up. So there goes another year of my life and having another stillborn game go unreleased.


Needless to say, I was heart broken after all that work I put into Dick Tracy, only to have it shelved. My next project was to recreate the Plymouth Pilgrim’s crossing and settlements in the New World. I worked with my friend, Brooke Boering, on this one. He was in his 60’s at the time and wondered if he could handle the programming. I would do all of the graphics and hard parts for him and he would handle the historical part of the game. The project went very well, and I further dove into FM synth hardware. I created the music for the game using my own instrument tables for the Sound Blaster FM chip. I then coded the PC speaker to duplicate the music as much as it could. I created a 3D driver for the sailing across the Atlantic section and within the bay.

Now came the “chores” section. I made a logging game where you ride a log down the river to the settlement to increase your “wood” supply for cooking. A fishing game for the food and fertilizer used for growing crops. The turkey shoot was another fun game to create for the project. If you hit the turkey with your bullet, its feathers would fly off leaving a naked turkey covering itself. The game chats had characters with moving mouths and eyes. Chatting with the ship’s captain or a nearby indian chief allowed you to trade your goods for other needed supplies.


This game went well and was followed by the earlier 1607 Jamestown simulation called NobleQuest. More characters, a walkaround map, and more things to do, just to survive to the end of the game. Brooke also co-authored this game with me. This time we embedded video clips into the game and now you had to manage your workers (slaves) as well as doing other timely tasks in the game. Everyone in the game now could be seen speaking. PilgrimQuest and NobleQuest were in the can.

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