Pitfall!'s Creator Likens His Fame to Being a Child Star

Illustration for article titled Pitfall!'s Creator Likens His Fame to Being a Child Star

There were a lot of one-hit wonders in the 1980s, but David Crane isn't one of them. The Activision programmer was behind Decathlon for the Atari 2600, Ghostbusters, one of the first great film-to-game adaptations on PC, and later, A Boy and His Blob. But he'll forever be known as Pitfall!'s creator, almost typecast as such.

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Pitfall! in many regards was the first breakout original console game, something that didn't depend on the popularity of an arcade title and a successful port to the underpowered machines of the day. It was such a mainstream hit that it became one of the inaugural segments in the Saturday Supercade cartoon lineup, and one of the first console-only games to be adapted into another medium.

But it's come at a cost. Crane told Gamasutra it was a little like being a child actor, known for his first role and not taken seriously in other work. He felt pressured to "go back to the jungle" for an encore, drafting a concept for a 2D platformer calling on Pitfall!'s motifs. Problem is, he asked for $900,000 through Kickstarter to make it, and is nowhere close to reaching that total.

"Everyone turned against me as soon as they saw [the price]," Crane told Gamasutra. ""I had people telling me that I was ruining Kickstarter for indie developers by asking for that amount of money."

It's not looking good for Crane. With 6 days to go, the project has raised only $22,000. "It's just amazing how there is no vision of what Kickstarter is supposed to be," he said. "People won't let go of what they think it is."

Living in Pitfall's Shadow [Gamasutra]

DISCUSSION

dragonfliet
dragonfliet

Good. The gamasutra article pissed me off. This project isn't failing because people have pigeon holed him or because of the price, it's because he has no experience.

What's that, you say? No experience, what about Pitfall and a Boy and his blob?

The problem with his experience is that it is outdated as fuck. Almost all of his games were for the Atari (most were bad), with a handful of games after that—nearly all of them bad. What has he been doing since? You know, for the last 18 years after his last terrible game? Who the hell knows. Certainly not making games.

And then there is the pitch. Ugh. Let's here how they describe the gameplay: "Our stalwart explorer enters the scene, a traditional side-scrolling view. It’s immediately familiar and accessible. But it will only take a few steps into the Jungle to see we’re in unexplored territory. The environment is a lush, vibrant 3D space, not simply a backdrop. The camera moves with us and helps us see what we need to see, from whatever angle necessary, to keep the experience smooth and action-packed, varied in perspective but always simple and true to its platform game roots." HUH? So, we know nothing.

Okay, how about the sound? "The game will have top-notch sound design, providing as much spacial depth as the visuals themselves. Techniques that allow us to create environments and tension through sound effects and music will be employed, supporting the storytelling and sometimes integral to the plot itself....As for the music itself, it will be dynamic, reactive to gameplay and as emotionally stirring as any movie soundtrack." Oh wow, dynamic sound! HOLY CRAP, THAT MUST BE AMAZING TO A GUY WHO HASN'T MADE A GAME IN 18 YEARS!

Which is to say: we have a guy who hasn't made a single frickin game in almost two decades pitching a game that hasn't been thought through yet, that has only the barest bones of a team (none of whom have done anything interesting) and he wants $900,000? THAT sounds like a worthwhile cause.