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August 9, 2020
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Changing The Ending

by William Volk on 08/16/19 10:27:00 am   Expert Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

-- C.S. Lewis

Everyone makes mistakes. I’ve made some big ones. But if I eliminated relationships, financial, lifestyle and lousy stock picks the one mistake that stands out so far above the rest is this …

Controller Game

(I wrote this in 1982. It sold for $25 a copy.  Thanks to co-designer Frank D. Kelley and Avalon Hill).

I didn’t realize just how amazing and unusual it was to have the very first three games I wrote get published by a significant video-game publisher. I didn’t appreciate this GIFT I had received.

Although I achieved some level of success in Video Games (VP at Activision at one point), I missed the fantastic opportunity to have a very different life.

I felt that I needed to have a REAL JOB. I gave up the idea of being an independent game developer. Maybe I was too greedy (ok, I was). Ivy-educated, I just assumed that I needed to go corporate.

There were occasional forays into Indie-gaming. Pyramid of Peril in ‘85, some of the early Mac stuff, but there were always in the content of some sort of company.

You can’t go back. And while I have regrets, I also have gratitude for having a career in games that spans four decades, not to mention being able to work on some great games.

But I still wonder, “what if?” Of course, it could have worked out badly. I wasn’t the best coder, and maybe the first three games (and the two Mac ones that followed) were a fluke. And then the idea of The Climate Trail appeared in my head. And so I had a chance to change the ending. Not just for my game career, but perhaps how people viewed the climate crises.

So even though I know The Climate Trail is just a mix of a homage to The Oregon Trail with a climate theme and a bit of visual novel, it feels great to be doing a game again. It would be exceptional if people liked this little game, but I'm content just to apply my game experience to something I care about deeply.

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