Page 3 of 6
His first game, "Wheeler Dealers," a stock market simulation for four players produced by Canada's Speakeasy Software, was introduced for the Apple II PC in 1978. While revolutionary both in packaging and gameplay, the complex controllers required meant the game sold for $35 at a time when most games went for $15, which is probably why it moved only 50 total copies. Three more games followed, all of them multiplayer and progressively more complicated, before Bunten was approached in 1982 by Trip Hawkins, who had recently founded a game publishing company called Electronic Arts. At the time, Hawkins was crisscrossing the country, seeking hotshot game design companies to help get EA off the ground, while pushing the idea of game developers as auteurs on the level of film directors or musicians.
Susan Lee-Merrow was a producer at EA in the first years of the company. She said that in the beginning, the company promoted the first group of game designers hired as rock stars, creating packaging and ads that looked like album covers.
A famous publicity shot of the Ozark Softscape team created for EA shows programmers Bill Bunten, Jim Rushing, Alan Watson and Dan Bunten lounging picturesquely on a bench with a dog while a hot blonde sips a drink nearby, the four looking decidedly more like Lynyrd Skynyrd than a bunch of game geeks.
Lee-Merrow remembers Dani Bunten as a "good talker," who was intensely interested in how people communicate and interact. She compares Bunten to the film director Steven Spielberg, in that both were about to create art that spans multiple genres. "Dani went across all genres," Lee-Merrow said. "I think that was the real contribution. You never knew what you were going to get next, but it was all spectacular."
EA's Trip Hawkins wanted to acquire the rights to an earlier Bunten game called "Cartels and Cutthroats," but the publisher of that game, SSI, wouldn't sell. Bunten — who by then had formed Ozark Softscape, headquartered in a rented house near Little Rock's Broadmoor Lake — told Hawkins that it didn't matter. He could make a better game, and could deliver it in less than a year.
Called "Planet Pioneers" during development, that game would eventually become the classic cooperative/competitive multiplayer game "M.U.L.E." The plot of the game is based on a scene in the classic science fiction novel "Time Enough for Love" by author Robert A. Heinlein, in which space prospectors employ cyborg mules as pack animals. The concept of "M.U.L.E." is a kind of outer-space gold rush, set on the distant planet of Irata (Atari, spelled backwards). Players can bid on land at auction, gamble at a pub, hunt an elusive beast known as the Wampus, form alliances with or against other players, or harvest elements that can be used or sold (shades of "Minecraft" and "Farmville") with the help of a cyborg M.U.L.E. — Multiple Use Labor Element (EA reportedly wanted to change the title to "Moguls from Mars," but Bunten liked the title, the Ozark Softscape team stuck to their guns, and the game was eventually published with the acronym intact).
This should be a welcome opportunity to Arkansas environmentalists who want to reduce their carbon…
Just wondering when Ar is suppose to get Medical use of Marijuana..in 2013 cuz i…
Home Energy Rx (http://www.homeenergyrx.com/faq_5017_ct.as…) offers free home energy evaluations if you meet…
A&E Feature / To-Do List / In Brief / Movie Reviews / Music Reviews / Theater Reviews / A&E News / Art Notes / Graham Gordy / Books / Media / Dining Reviews / Dining Guide / What's Cookin' / Calendar / The Televisionist / Movie Listings / Gallery Listings