March 14, 2005: Redmond A. Simonsendied last week. He should have been at GDC telling huge audiences what had gone into his last super-hit computer game. Instead, he died in obscurity, one of too many talented designers who never made it into the digital field at all. But it's especially galling to lose RAS this way, because he was one of the founders of our hobby, one of the people who made adventure gaming work, and he was good. He understood both game design and graphic design, and he made his graphics serve and enhance his gameplay. If he had been doing computer games, the field would have been richer for it.
I only met Redmond once, and it was just last year. His creative career had been in New York City. He had retired - retired? he was only a decade or so older than I am! - to a little town in Texas. He showed up at a convention where I was speaking. We had a short talk. I was disappointed. This was one of my worshiped-from-afar heroes, one of the people who had created the hobby that is both my career and my favorite pastime. He was pleasant, witty, restrained. Restrained? He was tired. I had expected Redmond Simonsen to sparkle and flash. He was pretty nearly used up.
But we exchanged cards, and I made a note to myself: "Simonsen within driving distance!" I had some vague idea of contacting him if I ever got the funding to do a really big project, one that would need more of the Mad Old-School Skillz than I could bring to bear. That won't happen now.
Greg Costikyan had the good fortune to work with Redmond for many years. There's more on RAS in Greg's blog. Read his previous entry too, both for itself and for the sad context . . . Greg summarizes the talk he gave at the GDC and explains why the computer game business is booming and the hobby has all gone to hell. Had he possessed the unfortunate prescience to know who he'd be eulogizing in a few days, he could have added "It's all gone to hell because people like Redmond aren't making the games."
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