The Men Behind the Mysterious Manhunter: New York

By Jerry Albright


Sierra: How did you get your start?
Murry's: We started out in the Pac-Man days around 1980. We were working on the Heathkit computer doing arcade games. We did that for about a year or two, and then decided that was too much work. We basically were responsible for packaging, the entire business end of the product, in addition to the programming and everything else. That was too much. So then we decided to work on the IBM, which led us to Sierra. We approached them with the idea for Championship Boxing and that became our first IBM game.

Sierra: How do you get your game ideas?
Murry's: Well, we've always had a head full of ideas, different kinds of projects we have wanted to do. We basically started working through the different game ideas we enjoyed, beginning with sports simulation, then on to war strategy, and now here we are with adventure games, the first one being Manhunter.

Sierra: What inspired Manhunter?
Murry's: We wanted to design a horror game, so we played with that idea for ahile. But it didn't quite click, so we came up with a science-fiction game, and worked on that for awhile, but that didn't quite work out either. Finally, after about six months we came up with the Manhunter concept, and we liked it because it has elements of both horror and science-fiction, and it also has a good dose of humor to balance out the horror. We also like the fact that the aliens haven't taken over the world yet and it takes place in the near future, which gave us great freedom to include a wide variety of suprise elements into the game.

Sierra: What is a Manhunter?
Murry's: It's this guy's first day on the job, so he's basically like you or me, kind of in the dark. It's all new to him. He's just part of the crowd like anyone else… until the day when the aliens contact him and say hey, your going to be a Manhunter.

Sierra: You wanted to make the player feel he has actually become the main character in the game. How did you accomplish that?
Murry's: We made it the Manhunter's first day on the job so that the player would feel on par with the character before he/she is playing. We also used a first-person perspective, which allows the player to see a situation the way the character would, although we do switch to third-person perspective occasionally for effect or to clarify what is transpiring around the player.

Sierra: What lies next in the Manhunter universe?
Murry's: When working out the background for the Manhunter scenario, we were actually thinking two or three stories ahead. We already have a general plotline for what would transpire after the events of Manhunter, if indeed the story were to continue.

Sierra: Continuing to look forward, what do you see in the future of computer games?
Murry's: Right now, games are still fairly narrow compared to what they could be… they are either sports simulations, strategy war games, adventure games, and so on. Eventually, with the advancement of computer technology, you could have an adventure game where the character is a pilot, and that would incorporate a complete flight simulator. That pilot may have to go to war, at which time the game could incorporate a full-scale war strategy game.

Sierra: Do you see any of this time of game-planning taking place?
Murry's: Some of that is beginning to happen, the combining of different elements to create one game. But it will be some time before you see a full-blown feature length game that will have all the elements of real-life strategy and simulation at the same time.

Sierra: What do you consider the ultimate computer game?
Murry's: Games that add an extension to your life. Not everybody can climb Mount Everest or step into the ring against Mike Tyson… the idea is that when some plays a game they actually think they are doing what the game sets them out to do. With Manhunter and it's follow up, we hope to incorporate the elements of gameplay that will have players believe they have just experienced a living nightmare, while having a good time, of course.

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