“Who allowed you to do this?” Joe Sparks talks Spaceship Warlock, CD-ROMs, $8000 computers, and the growth of interactive media
Though now largely written out of gaming histories, Spaceship Warlock was a harbinger of the future of interactive multimedia. Released for Macintosh in 1991, it was among the first ever CD-ROM games, likely the earliest to use the multimedia authoring platform Macromedia Director that would become common throughout the era. Its combination of interactivity with high-quality visuals and digital audio were unprecedented at the time. Warlock made waves on release for its interactive and open-ended world, though the game’s buzz was eclipsed by the enormous success of Myst shortly after.
No one had ever attempted a game on the scale of Spaceship Warlock, either from a technological standpoint or in the overall scope of its interactive world. I wanted to figure out what it was like developing a pioneering CD-ROM for which no model really existed.
Spaceship Warlock co-creator Joe Sparks was kind enough to sit down with me via videochat for an hour to talk about the development of Warlock, working on games at the dawn of the CD-ROM era, the technical constraints faced, and visions of the future of interactive mediums. Sparks now works on animations for Google’s sales department, but he is still extremely energized about memories and lessons from this older, experimental era of game development. He shared a lot of great anecdotes and insights about how he and co-creator Mike Saenz embarked on a game project that, based on what he described, probably should have been impossible. “Who allowed you to do this?” Joe Sparks talks Spaceship Warlock, CD-ROMs, $8000 computers, and the growth of interactive media » Read more