If you're a long-time gamer, there's a good chance you've heard of David Crane.

Widely considered to be one of the most influential video game creators to have ever laid down code, Crane is responsible for some truly groundbreaking classics. Among his more notable creations are Pitfall! (the first platform game), Pitfall II: Lost Caverns, Ghostbusters and Little Computer People. Another of his creations you may have heard of is a little game publishing and development house known as Activision. Very recently, he was honored by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences who, later this month, will present him with its first Pioneer Award, which recognizes videogaming visionaries who paved the way in the industry's early days.

Last week, Crane issued a press release announcing the creation of a new game studio, AppStar Games, a joint venture with noted game developer Garry Kitchen. AppStar will focus on "small footprint" games for connected devices, the iPhone being among the studio's targeted platforms.

“Garry and I have worked together on a number of successful ventures over the years, generating hundreds of millions of dollars for investors and stakeholders. We’re very excited about the dramatic shift that is occurring in the game industry with the advent of direct-to- consumer distribution of our titles. AppStar Games is committed to taking a leadership role in that transition by delivering the highest quality product in the marketplace”, said Crane, CTO of AppStar.

Crane and Kitchen leave behind Skyworks Interactive, which they co-founded in 1995, that has been focused heavily on the iPhone platform since the App Store opened in 2008, with a notable number of releases including the very successful Arcade Bowling and Arcade Hoops Basketball.

AppStar Games expects to publish its first game titles in Q2 of this year, but is priming the pump with a few reference app releases that -- while not actually games -- may be of extreme interest to retro gaming fans.

AppStar has just released the second app in Crane's Technical Wizardry Series, entitled Dragster Magic [App Store]. It details the extremely obscure technical tricks that were used to make Activision's first game release, Dragster for the Atari 2600 / VCS, possible. This comes on the heels of the release of the initial volume of the series, 2600 Magic [App Store], which seeks to explain the highly bizarre (by today's standards) internal video circuitry of the Atari 2600 console. Both titles are comprised mainly of text and static graphics, but there are animations and interactive elements in some areas. Crane designed and programmed both iPhone releases himself, and more volumes are on the way.

We're quite anxious to see what the new studio has in store. Stay tuned.

  • Synergistic Ideologue

    I may actually get an iPhone just for this.

  • Synergistic Ideologue

    I may actually get an iPhone just for this.

  • TrueAxis

    David Crane was one of my programming heros back in the day!

  • TrueAxis

    David Crane was one of my programming heros back in the day!

  • Bruce

    Great news - although I think the price for the interactive demos is a tad on the high side.

    • Brian

      That isn't the price of a little demo, though. You're buying an interactive technical manual. The Stella project has great writeups on the topic for free, but I have no problem spending a few bucks to get the same info with "flip the bits yourself" demos. It's really neat to see how the old systems that I loved work, and this stuff is still very relevant. The age of 64 bit computing is obsoleting nothing - the smaller architectures just get cheaper and invade a whole new tier of smaller applications.

      That new, tiny cell phone charger that replaced a bulky transformer brick? It has a microcontroller powerful enough to win WWII. Show it some respect.

  • Bruce

    Great news - although I think the price for the interactive demos is a tad on the high side.

    • Brian

      That isn't the price of a little demo, though. You're buying an interactive technical manual. The Stella project has great writeups on the topic for free, but I have no problem spending a few bucks to get the same info with "flip the bits yourself" demos. It's really neat to see how the old systems that I loved work, and this stuff is still very relevant. The age of 64 bit computing is obsoleting nothing - the smaller architectures just get cheaper and invade a whole new tier of smaller applications.

      That new, tiny cell phone charger that replaced a bulky transformer brick? It has a microcontroller powerful enough to win WWII. Show it some respect.

  • Ls

    Oh man Little Computer People was and still is one of my all time favourite games! Bring that back please!

    • http://Www.demasseur.me Remon

      +1!!! this brings back memories 

  • Ls

    Oh man Little Computer People was and still is one of my all time favourite games! Bring that back please!

    • http://Www.demasseur.me Remon

      +1!!! this brings back memories 

  • http://chalkstunts.com Manta Research

    TrueAxis: yeah mine too! Crane is a legend! And I remember using Gary Kitchen's game maker way back on the c64 too...

    • http://www.buzzabit.com/aaron Aaron Sullivan

      I'm old enough to been stunned by how cool Pitfall was when it came out and enthralled watching it (and also confused about what to do.)

      I'm also old enough to have programmed a couple of short games in Gary Kitchen's Game Maker on a C64 and my cousin's Commodore 128. I did some on an Apple ][ but it was much less capable for arcade style games. (One of my games was a duel between a little guy and a Battle Beast, I hand made my own sprite based on the little toy. Fire, water, wood? Anyone? Anyone? So OLD. lol.)

      It's got to be hard to be such a pioneer and have such a crowded marketplace to release games into now. You can't make that kind of giant contribution to gaming anymore. :)

      • http://chalkstunts.com Manta Research

        Aaron, I think we're giving away our age ;-) I'm with you bro.. I was there coding on the c64/c128 back then too! Heck, I still remember the darn 6510 mnemonics and opcodes from all the assembly programming I did on there.

        sys 64738 :)

  • http://chalkstunts.com Manta Research

    TrueAxis: yeah mine too! Crane is a legend! And I remember using Gary Kitchen's game maker way back on the c64 too...

    • http://www.buzzabit.com/aaron Aaron Sullivan

      I'm old enough to been stunned by how cool Pitfall was when it came out and enthralled watching it (and also confused about what to do.)

      I'm also old enough to have programmed a couple of short games in Gary Kitchen's Game Maker on a C64 and my cousin's Commodore 128. I did some on an Apple ][ but it was much less capable for arcade style games. (One of my games was a duel between a little guy and a Battle Beast, I hand made my own sprite based on the little toy. Fire, water, wood? Anyone? Anyone? So OLD. lol.)

      It's got to be hard to be such a pioneer and have such a crowded marketplace to release games into now. You can't make that kind of giant contribution to gaming anymore. :)

      • http://chalkstunts.com Manta Research

        Aaron, I think we're giving away our age ;-) I'm with you bro.. I was there coding on the c64/c128 back then too! Heck, I still remember the darn 6510 mnemonics and opcodes from all the assembly programming I did on there.

        sys 64738 :)

  • Dave

    Give me the the games David! Oh to play pitfall on the iPhone with global leader boards! they will make another million on that title alone.

  • Dave

    Give me the the games David! Oh to play pitfall on the iPhone with global leader boards! they will make another million on that title alone.

  • http://www.jindofox.com Jindo Fox

    If only the original programmers could get the rights to their stuff out of the hands of the modern company known as Activision (which has almost zero in common with "classic" Activision).

  • http://www.jindofox.com Jindo Fox

    If only the original programmers could get the rights to their stuff out of the hands of the modern company known as Activision (which has almost zero in common with "classic" Activision).

  • Yahoo

    Never heard of the man.

    • Bruce

      Look him up on wikipedia. His contributions to classic gaming are frigging huge!

      • mgabrys

        Like Home Improvement for the SNES. Hmm. No wait how about, Night Trap - wait - that one is the longest running joke in game history and it's not in their new PR sheets on the new site?

        Where could I have gotten that idea - oh right. Thanks WIKIPEDIA.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Crane_(programmer)

        At least he got a mention during all those congressional committees on video games which lead to many in politics making a career bashing video games afterwards.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_Trap

        Now that's a classic - but I guess (sigh) we just don't know anything about video games. Poor us.

    • Bob

      Then you don't know anything about video games.

  • Yahoo

    Never heard of the man.

    • Bruce

      Look him up on wikipedia. His contributions to classic gaming are frigging huge!

      • mgabrys

        Like Home Improvement for the SNES. Hmm. No wait how about, Night Trap - wait - that one is the longest running joke in game history and it's not in their new PR sheets on the new site?

        Where could I have gotten that idea - oh right. Thanks WIKIPEDIA.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Crane_(programmer)

        At least he got a mention during all those congressional committees on video games which lead to many in politics making a career bashing video games afterwards.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_Trap

        Now that's a classic - but I guess (sigh) we just don't know anything about video games. Poor us.

    • Bob

      Then you don't know anything about video games.

  • Appaholic

    I'd love to have an Atari 2600 emulator for mine!

  • Appaholic

    I'd love to have an Atari 2600 emulator for mine!

  • akira01

    LCP= cult

  • akira01

    LCP= cult

  • mgabrys

    Odd, their new site only mentions titles he did 25 years ago (for the most part) instead of all those classics he did post-Activision.

    Boy and his Blog - hmm - Absolute Entertainment...I don't really remember any classics from them. Not a single one in fact.

    Well, let's check wiki to see those games.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_Entertainment

    Oh here's one - Home Improvement.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Improvement_(video_game)

    Let's see some action.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK1jgJku7Ls

    Let's see the end.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlJmZBHFr3s&feature=related

    Wow. Come to think of it, I don't recall Ghostbusters being that good of a game. It did seem to start a trend of really bad games based on movie and TV properties tho, like - Home Improvement.

    But to cut Mr Crane some slack, I can't think of one single thing Nolan Bushnell did since Atari and Chuck E Cheese that got any traction, so he's got some mighty fine company.

  • mgabrys

    Odd, their new site only mentions titles he did 25 years ago (for the most part) instead of all those classics he did post-Activision.

    Boy and his Blog - hmm - Absolute Entertainment...I don't really remember any classics from them. Not a single one in fact.

    Well, let's check wiki to see those games.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_Entertainment

    Oh here's one - Home Improvement.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Improvement_(video_game)

    Let's see some action.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK1jgJku7Ls

    Let's see the end.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlJmZBHFr3s&feature=related

    Wow. Come to think of it, I don't recall Ghostbusters being that good of a game. It did seem to start a trend of really bad games based on movie and TV properties tho, like - Home Improvement.

    But to cut Mr Crane some slack, I can't think of one single thing Nolan Bushnell did since Atari and Chuck E Cheese that got any traction, so he's got some mighty fine company.

  • Karl

    My hero!

  • Karl

    My hero!

  • Lurch666

    Pitfall was a great game but it wasn't the FIRST platformer.Donkey kong came out before that and space panic was even earlier.

  • Lurch666

    Pitfall was a great game but it wasn't the FIRST platformer.Donkey kong came out before that and space panic was even earlier.

  • http://www.generationstarwars.com/ John Hood

    LCP for iPhone! That would be cool.

  • http://www.generationstarwars.com/ John Hood

    LCP for iPhone! That would be cool.