Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
July 29, 2014
arrowPress Releases
July 29, 2014
PR Newswire
View All

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:

Interview: Don Bluth's Return To Games With  Tapper World Tour
Interview: Don Bluth's Return To Games With Tapper World Tour
March 14, 2011 | By Chris Morris

March 14, 2011 | By Chris Morris

Don Bluth will be the first to tell you he's a filmmaker, not a game maker. But despite the fact that he has just two titles to his credit, the Hollywood veteran has still managed to make a lasting impression on the video game industry.

Dragon's Lair, in some ways, was the front runner for the modern graphics era. While Dirk the Daring & Co. were hand-animated, the title let players and developers know that games could be just as eye-popping as works on the big screen.

Now, 28 years after that arcade classic, Bluth and his artistic partner Gary Goldman are working on another title, teaming with Warner Bros. and Square One Studios for Tapper World Tour, an iPhone/iPad app that updates the classic Tapper arcade quarter-gobbler from Bally Midway and blends it with Bluths distinctive animation style.

While Bluth says he always kept an eye on gaming, he chose to stick with the Hollywood path, directing features like "An American Tail," "The Land Before Time" and "All Dogs Go to Heaven." He never really gave a lot of thought about exploring games further, he says. So what drove him back this time?

"I think failure at making movies," he half-jokes. "When we did 'The Secret of NIMH,' it didnt do what we thought it would. It did not do well financially. The thing that bailed us out was making Dragons Lair, the game. So when we made [our] last picture with Fox 'Titan AE '- and Fox decided to go into CGI animation, I said 'well I guess were not making pictures any more. Lets look at games.'"

For Tapper World Tour, (due out later this spring) Bluth designed each of the game's characters and hand animated various segments that appear throughout the game. It's the first time he has done animation in years, he says. The game will also feature 100 levels centering around the same basic gameplay of the original game firing drinks down to thirsty patrons before they reach the end of the bar.

Bluth, of course, has had a long career in Hollywood and didn't need to return to games, despite the lack of demand for traditionally animated films these days. There were a few things that intrigued him, however.

The first was the diversity of the team. The wide range of talent in today's game business and the way those developers and artists work together, he says, was intriguing to him. Warner and Square One have had 50 people working on the app since last June far from the quick turnaround and nimble teams that typically work on iOS apps.

Primarily, though, it was the chance to focus on characters. Few games today focus on the characters, he says. Rather, the attention is entirely on action.

With games, it seems theres a great similarity in all of them, he says. They are violent. I have a sword or I have a bat or I have a hammer and I can hit you with it. The interesting thing about a game is when you can go deeper into [the lead character] and he has a [purpose or driving desire]. That pulls me in.

(Several gamers will likely take issue with his thoughts. It's worth reiterating that at age 73, Bluth is not a player.)

Tapper World Tour is a remake of an arcade game, but its creators say the game will try to distinguish its characters though their unique look and characteristics.

"The character side of [the game], and the entertainment side of it that's the stuff that gets me interested," says Bluth. "To me, that is entertainment and it's more like the movie business. That's the thing that pulled me into this whole project."

Related Jobs

2K — Novato, California, United States

Sr Analyst, UseràData & Monetization
Sony Online Entertainment, San Diego
Sony Online Entertainment, San Diego — San Diego, California, United States

UI Programmer, PlanetSide 2
Camy Electronics & Plastics
Camy Electronics & Plastics — Los Angeles, California, United States

Sales and Marketing Assistant
Red 5 Studios
Red 5 Studios — Laguna Hills, California, United States

Localization Project Manager


Brad Borne
profile image
As an animator / game designer, I don't think I can express how disapointed that Don Bluth is working on an iPhone remake, and not, say, an action adventure game, or an RPG, or a stylized platformer, or anything remotely character driven.

Megan Fox
profile image
Very much agreed. Who knows, it may work out, but given his desire to actually get into the character? A remake of the "Tapper" Arcade game seems like a very odd choice.

I'd very much like to see a Bluth-animated adventure game or RPG, though. Yowza. Come on Bluth, give it a go!

Mike Smith
profile image
@Brad I'm sure if he were offered him the opportunity and the financial backing he would do it. Also, the game might end up being more character driven than you think. We'll have to wait and see.

Mike Smith
profile image
I sure hope the animation is better than what I saw in the trailer though...


Terence Daniels
profile image
A lot of those games are really annoying, digital, and faceless; at least this time there are some good characters to look at, drawn in a style that is native to the animated medium. I think if I wasn't drinking at a bar I could at least fantasize about it.