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David Fox

Game designer (Zak McKracken, Maniac Mansion)

in designer, developer, game, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hey, I'm David Fox, long-time game designer and more recently, app developer. Back in 1977, my wife, Annie Fox, and I started the first public access microcomputer center, Marin Computer Center. We reviewed games from new publishers like Brøderbund and Adventure International for Creative Computing magazine. Then I created my first game, Mix and Match Muppets for Children's Television Workshop. Right around the time I completed my book, Computer Animation Primer, I heard that Lucasfilm was starting a new Games Group. I got an interview, showed them my manuscript, and was hired as their first game designer (employee #3).

During my 10 years there, the name changed from Lucasfilm Games to LucasArts, and I designed/programmed/project led a bunch of games. My favorites were my first, Rescue on Fractalus! and Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders. I also worked on Maniac Mansion and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure. I took a hiatus from games, and just released my first game in 20 years, Rube Works: The Official Rube Goldberg Invention Game for iOS, Android, Mac, PC, Linux.

What hardware do you use?

I'm a Mac guy from way back. Our first Mac was a 128KB Mac Plus. First hard drive was a whopping 20MB (figured that would be more than enough storage for years!). Now I'm on a MacBook Pro with a 23" Cinema Display, an iPad Air, and an iPhone 4s (I update about every 3 years). We also have various Android tablets (Nook, Kindle Fire, Nexus) for testing.

But back at the Marin Computer Center, we had 9 Processor Technology Sol-20s with 16K-24K of RAM connected to audio tape recorders so you could load in BASIC and other programs, 1 Equibox with dual 8" floppy drives, 5 Apple ][s connected to a single shared 10MB hard drive, 30 Atari 800s and 400s, a TRS-80, Commodore PET, an Apple 1 in a briefcase (on loan from Mitch Waite), a VCS 2600 on a video projector, and probably a few more... I like my MacBook Pro better!

And what software?

On my Mac, I run the current OS X (currently Mavericks). I spend most of my time using Photoshop, BBEdit, Dreamweaver, Adobe Premiere, QuickTime 7 and QuickTime Player, InDesign, GarageBand, Audacity, Podcast Maker, Keynote, iPhoto, iMovie, iTunes, Word, Excel, Quicken, Pages, Numbers, Preview, Interarchy, Skype, Messages. I use Corona SDK and Unity 3D for app development along with Xcode, AppViz 2 to track our apps on the App Store, and ScreenFlow for video screen capture. For social media, lots of Twitter (using Twitter's app on Mac and iPad), some Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+.

My favorite browser is Safari, but I also use Chrome and Firefox. Firebug on Firefox is great for debugging/testing CSS code.

What would be your dream setup?

I'd love a newer MacBook Pro... or maybe a Mac Pro, but I haven't used a desktop Mac for about 7 years. A larger monitor would be awesome, as would infinitely fast Internet (50Mbs is nice but...) Other than that, I pretty much have what I want. Oh, how about a Tesla while I'm dreaming.