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The Choplifter reboot that didn't happen

While this week's Choplifter HD brings the 30 year old game back into action, in a new Gamasutra interview feature, series creator Dan Gorlin explains why a '90s version was doomed.

January 13, 2012

2 Min Read

Author: by Staff

This week, InXile released Choplifter HD, a revival of the thirty-year-old classic that saw players rescuing hostages by way of helicopter. It's the first time a new game in the series with input from series creator Dan Gorlin has shipped since 1982, but as he tells Gamasutra in an interview today, it wasn't the first attempt at a comeback. "I did have a deal to do a PC version of Choplifter with what was Spectrum HoloByte, and then MicroProse," Gorlin tells Gamasutra. "It was sort of in the middle of the industry consolidation, so in the eight or nine months that the project lasted, I think the original project was bought and sold three different times. The companies were buying each other up, and at some point somebody decided, 'We don't want this on our roster,' and so the project was canceled." Industry consolidation wasn't the only challenge the 1990s Choplifter faced. At that time, the PC market had shifted -- toward shooters. The non-violent, rescue-based gameplay mechanics of Choplifter stymied management. "As one guy said at one point, 'Wow, it's Choplifter!' I said, 'Yeah. What were you expecting?' And what they were expecting was movies and lots of animated cutscenes, and lots of things exploding, and lots of scores -- just like every other war game that was out there, which I had no interest in doing at all," says Gorlin. The problem with the managers he had to deal with at the time, says Gorlin, is that "they were game players, but they knew what game players know. They weren't visionaries." "If there were visionaries in the company they were off in a boardroom, someplace, and they didn't even know what was going on with the development of the project. And that was a big problem with the larger companies. You had to delegate a lot of your visionary functionality to middle managers, and middle managers, they're not the visionaries of any company, unfortunately." The full interview, in which Gorlin discusses everything from the genesis of the original 1982 Apple II Choplifter to his involvement with Choplifter HD, which was released on Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, and PlayStation Network this week, is live now on Gamasutra.

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