Warren Davis (Q*Bert) Creator Chat Coming Today!

The weeks before a chat never go as planned and this one was no different. Here Warren Davis, one of the creators of Q*Bert, is dropping by Coinopspace.com to have a chat with our members and I barely can find the time to write up an informational post. So, if you are reading this before the chat tomorrow, here are some articles and tid bits that might be interesting to guide the questions for discussion.

The well known history of Warren Davis and Gottlieb

The interesting thing about Warren was that Q*Bert was his first major game. Warren had helped program some other game at Gottlieb with another programmer (which I am assuming was either Argus or Videoman), and then he took over a project that was basically some characters developed by Jeff Lee and a three dimensional grid designed by Kan Yabumoto. A number of times Warren is quoted as wanting to make things ‘easy to implement’ and had a true focus on simple usability. Q*Bert wasn’t an obvious hit at first, but had some significant staying power.

From there, Warren appears to have rocketed forward. He didn’t really have too much of an interest to work on a Q*Bert sequel, even though FMHC Q*Bert (Faster, Harder, More Challenging) was developed a year later and was never released (too close together with the original and players were just getting down the controls of the first Q*Bert). Warren went on to a huge project in US vs. Them, a laser disc game with the theme of protecting the earth against aliens, the game involved some serious outdoor photography and live action footage. Warren supervised the video footage shoot over Chicago (which involved some helicopters) and forest scenes in Kalamazoo. A massive, bet the farm type undertaking, if I were to read into the situation at the time.

Warren’s work on US vs. Them

US vs. Them is released in a time when the interest in games and laser discs as a whole has dwindled and never sees any true success, even though the development team raised the bar on what could be done with the technology. Gottlieb had already been spun off as Mylstar and didn’t have much juice left.

From there, looking at Arcade-History.com, it appears that Warren had made enough industry contacts to do some work for Williams. Warren worked on Joust 2 and NARC. Hopefully in the chat he’ll talk a little bit about that transition, whether he was a consultant, or a full time employee of Williams.

Then, somehow, he made a return to Mylstar, which was now Premier and work on a game called Exterminator before he started to work for Midway for 6-7 years in the 90’s.

So, it will be interesting to hear his insights into how a creative talent with such a great resume moves from one game company to another. How the politics worked, what his status was, what a reputation did for you and how much pressure there was to recreate former successes in a declining market.

And of course, I am interested to hear how Warren then got into acting, if his production and supervision on US vs. Them spawned some of that interest, or if there was something else.

So, it should be a great chat.

Relevant Warren Davis / Q*Bert Links

Much of the paraphrased information above can be found on the following links concerning Warren. Warren has done a handful of interviews over the years, the most prolific one published at Coinop.org. I know he’s done a live interview for Retro Gaming Radio, but I haven’t been able to get a copy of that content to hear the questions that were asked.

If you want to learn more about Warren and his game development history and Q*Bert history, read up on these links, they’re some of the better ones in the myriad of Google results.

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