My name is Jeff Tunnell, and all I have ever wanted to do with my career is make fun games. In order to do that, I have started companies, raised money, sold companies, ran studios, hired many people, and maybe sold a little of my soul. MBG is a place for me to help people that want to get into the game business learn how to do so, perhaps with less pain than was inflicted on me. I hope to help you with game design issues, business strategy, and even some marketing advice. I’ll cover anything that can help you realize your dream of making great games.

We just came off a great exit with PushButton Labs where we made the PushButton Engine, an Open Source, Flash game engine, and games like Social City for Facebook. Prior to PBL, I was co-founder of Dynamix (sold to Sierra) and GarageGames (sold to IAC). I have produced and directed over 70 games including The Incredible Machine, Trophy Bass, and Starsiege: Tribes.

Here some extremely old history that has been carried around since I started this blog.

Jeff Tunnell’s Claim to fame summary: Co-founder of Dynamix, a development studio for Sierra/Vivendi/Universal where I designed, produced, or executive produced over 70 original game titles including The Incredible Machine, Trophy Bass, Starsiege, and Tribes. Currently co-founder of GarageGames, where our biggest claim to fame is selling the Torque Game Engine to Indie developers for only $100 per programmer (Torque used to be the game engine behind Tribes, but now is available in 2D, as a next generation shader engine, on XBox360, and is being developed for portable platforms and Playstation as well).

Longer Version: I’ve been making games longer than most people have been playing them. In 1981, I bought my first Apple II computer and immediately started the world’s first software store, Computertutor. I don’t have proof it was the first, but I know that I beat the guys that did claim they were first. While I was nailing the baggies of Sierra’s adventure games to my outside bedroom wall (we cut another door into our house), I was frantically programming Electronic Playground in Applesoft BASIC and trying to get into the business.

After moving the store from my house to a real location, I met Damon Slye. He was working on Stellar 7 and he knew 6502 Assembly, instantly making him a God in my eyes, so I hired him to work in my store. I asked Damon to write some fast graphics code for my game, and the result was so awesome that I quickly realized that coding was not going to be my ticket, so I concentrated on design, production, and learning to run the business.

A couple of months later, I sold off the software store, and Damon and I started Software Entertainment Company (SEC, don’t worry, the names get better later), a company to sell our two games. We put everything we had into that company, but found out it was already too late to get into the industry with little money.

Electronic Arts had just raised the whopping sum of five million dollars, and several of the other publishing companies were getting bigger by the minute. I remember the day that I told Damon we should start a development company. He asked, “what is a development company?”, because they didn’t exist at the time.

So, we started Dynamix (see, I told you names get better) with absolutely no money, but some intellectual property in the form of code and games. Soon, we had a contract with Electronic Arts. It was the usual “hook, line, and sinker” contract (more like a book) stating the EA had First Option and First Right of Refusal on all of our products. We were starving, there were no such thing as Intellectual Property lawyers to warn us off, so we took it, hook, line, and sinker.

To be continued…

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    lol, I'm hooked. Please continue soon…

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  • Sean

    Roughly fifteen years ago, when I was in first grade, you were involved in putting out a game with Sierra called Turbo Science. I don't know how much you personally worked on that particular project, but looking back, I think that game may have had a profound effect on my scientific development.

    I tracked down an old copy of that game today, and, in playing it, I realize how challenging so many of the questions actually are. I am a successful college student today, but nothing around today would have put my little first-grade mind into its zone of proximal development like it did when that game came out.