When did you start working on Color Dreams and how did you
join? Did you know any of the guys who started the company?
this is actually one of my favourite stories... Sometime in 1988 I was
working at an espresso bar ("Diedrich's Coffee") on the weekend opening
shift. At the time I was an undergraduate in art at Cal State Fullerton, was
in a terrible marriage, and had a son about 3 1/2 years old.
This fellow would come into the cafe right when we opened, around 6 am or so, and order
a cappuccino and a mexicano (shot of espresso with spices) and he'd sit
there and read Carlos Castenada books.
After a couple of weeks of this, we started up a conversation. He found out I was an artist,
and asked me to do a little logo for him and he'd pay me $100 in cash (which was like a
$1000 to me at the time). It was colouring the "Color Dreams" logo. This went well, and
after a time he asked if I'd like to try making video games.
He had a small company and had reverse-engineered the Nintendo. I checked out
the company in Brea, and saw a game they were working on ("Baby Boomer") and
thought I'd give it a shot.
The drawing tool they were using at the time was a Nintendo unit with a cable, and the
pixels had to be laid down and adjusted by manipulating the control pad. Mostly had to
cycle through the palettes each time you wanted to change a colour. It was really miserable!
I lasted a few weeks and told him I just really didn't like this and that I'd
rather be a coffee wench! We stayed friends, though, and about 6 months
later he asked me to give it another try, he was opening up an office near
where I was living and they had just finished developing a proper drawing
Picture of NinDraw, the tool Nina Stanley used to make game gfx.
By this time I was divorced and trying to support a small
child, and the idea of making twice as much and not having to do retail
anymore was very appealing! So I tried again, and it was actually kinda fun.
There were crazy all nighters and stuff, but I could bring my son with me
(he would play for a while and then sleep under my desk) and I could still
go to school.
Did you stay 'till the end, until they switched to making
webcameras, or did you leave earlier?
I left in 1991, after I finished my
MA in Painting, and went to work for Novalogic. It was hard to leave, but
time for me to move on...I'd been there 3 years, and was basically the
only artist for about 2 1/2 of them. There's only so much you can do with
16 colours and 256 characters!
I've had the "pleasure" of checking out the NinDraw program
for the PC. To me it looks like a hard program to use, agree?
It was a helluvalot easier than using the Nintendo game controller!
I was looking at the Menace Beach CHR (graphics) the other day
and found something weird, the skating dude on a jetski. I've
played Menace Beach over and over, one of my favourite games,
but dont recall a level where you ride a jetski. Do you remember
what this was intended for?
I think that was for a bonus level that never
Did you do any box art for any Color Dreams/Bunch Games/Wisdom Tree
game, or was it "just" game graphics?
I did the box art for "The King of Kings" game, the one with Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus
on the cover. We'd had an illustrator do one version, but it was really bad so I painted
over it. I took a polariod of a girlfriend of mine and her husband with their
baby to use as reference.
Did you have anything to do with the Super Nintendo game "Super
No, just regular NES games.
Did/do you have a favourite Color Dreams/Wisdom Tree game? :)
I liked Menace Beach cause it was really the most fun. Crystal Mines was cool (I
did a little bit on the monsters for the Atari Lynx version) and that's
basically the same thing as Exodus. Usually I just played Tetris on the
You told me earlier that the skater kid in Menace Beach was modeled after
your son. Well did you do all the designing yourself, or did
Vance have some ideas for Menace Beach.
I can't remember how we did the design, it was pretty much on the fly.
Did you make drawings of what things were going to look like
before drawing the stuff in NinDraw?
No, it was a lot easier just to draw it straight into the computer.
How did you feel when Color Dreams changed into a company
releasing Christian videogames? Was it more fun making those
I think Vance told you how it started as a kind of a wise crack
joke and turned into something pretty lucrative. I did a lot of the design
on the first Bible game (Bible Adventures) cause I was the only one in the
group who had ever read the Bible. After that, we hired some
Fundamentalist Christian types ("Born Again") for the sales department,
but in development, all the programmers were atheists, agnostics, or
whatever, and I'm Catholic (which some of the sales guys didn't really
think of as Christian!). Oh, and the other partner in the business was
Bhuddist or something.
Were all of the NES games you worked on were released? Could you
give me a list of the games you did graphics for? (as complete
I can't really remember, there were about 9 of them....
King Neptune's Adventure, Menace Beach, Desert Storm, Secret Scout, Bible
Adventures, King of Kings, Exodus, Spiritual Warfare, Joshua and the
battle of Jericho. There was also a Gameboy version of Exodus. I think
there might have been a couple more that I did something on. For 3 years I
was the only in house artist.
Were you assigned to a programmer, music artist, with whom you
then had to come up with a idea for a game?
Not really "assigned"...there weren't very many of us, so we all pretty much worked
together. Other than Bible Adventures I didn't do much game design.
Did you have ideas for games which were scraped by the guys who
ran Color Dreams?
I worked on a Dinosaur game, and there was something about a Praying Mantis.
Did you make the graphics for the heavily-rumored Hellraiser game?
I did some clean up of a few preliminary passes.
What have you made (helped making) after Color Dreams. All I know of
is Battletanx, what exactly did you make in that game? (says > aditional art).
At Novalogic, I worked on a Mario game for Philips CD-I
that wasn't released, and did some minor stuff for Comanche Maximum
Overkill. At Electronic Arts I worked on an Arcade version of their
popular Madden Football that we finished but did not manufacture
(marketing forgot the minor detail of finding out if anyone would pay a
quarter to play a game they'd already been playing at home for years). I
was a character in the Sega Road Rash III (the Russian, "Nina") but other
than that only worked on some really minor stuff.
Not a lot of Nintendo development at EA. Then I worked at Capcom for a year or so, did a
lot of preliminary work on games that weren't released ("Werewolf - the
Apocalypse") and a minor PC game called Tangrams. After that, I spent over
a year at a small start up called New Wave Entertainment, working on a
couple of PC titles. I've been here at 3DO for over a year, helping on
Battletanx (mostly design, script, and advertising - have you seen the ad
in EGM of the destroyed city as seen through a pair of shapely legs? that
was one of mine.....) Currently I'm working on the N64 ArmyMen title. So
I've gone full circle...started with Nintendo, and working on Nintendo
Oh, as far as the Battle tanx graphics.... I did all the art for the original
design document, and the coolest thing about that is the art team was
actually able to acheive a very similar look in the game that I had done in
the paintings for the design, which is really unusual. I also did some
advertising stuff - the original Babe Queen Lord on one of the first sell
sheets (tall gorgeous sultry woman vignetted behind a burning city with
What was it like on Color Dreams? A lot of fun or "just another job"? :)
I'd have to say it was really a lot of fun. "Boondoggles" were
the best...when we'd all go somewhere, shopping or an arcade or
whatever....just to take a break from the office.