Designer, illustrator, game developer, and Digital Eel co-founder Bill "Phosphorous" Sears passed away Friday due to ongoing heart troubles. He was in his late 50s.
Sears spent most of his development career in the commercial realm, working for companies that included Realtime Associates, KnowWonder, and casual game studio GameHouse.
In 2001 he co-founded independent Seattle area developer Digital Eel with former Looking Glass developers Rich Carlson and Ikka Keranen.
There Sears championed independent game development while continuing to work in the corporate industry, and contributed design, art, and even some sound to titles that include this year's Data Jammers: FastForward and BrainPipe, recipient of the Excellence in Audio award at the 2009 Independent Games Festival.
"Bill was such a good friend and ally, and being able to collaborate with him and dream up crazy stuff together was so fun and surprising, and so fruitful," said Carlson in an email to Gamasutra. "Knowing Bill and creating with him was an absolutely priceless experience of a lifetime. Bill's exuberance and creativity and humor will be sorely missed."
Bill's influences included lowbrow funny animal art (he was known to display original Rat Fink pieces in his work space), underground culture and psychedelia. His irreverence and humor was legendary in the workplace.
"I used to use Bill's desk as a landmark for people visiting the office. I would direct them to the restroom by saying it's just past the pirate hut," Z2Live game designer Ian Adams recalls. "The roof was an old painting, and the walls were Jolly Rogers. Inside he had an alien head, hot rod artwork, a black light, and rum."
"I will miss Bill. It was nice knowing a person who would CC the VP of games on an email with the subject 'Corporate Pukes.' It lets you believe that honesty and passion can be a part of someone for their entire career."
Sears is survived by wife Glenda, daughter Leeah and son Corbin. A gathering is being planned for those who knew him, those wishing to coordinate should direct their inquiries to Digital Eel.