This page is from Kathy Lapier's site -- it is here as a backup in case she has to move her pages.

Chuck : The FIRST Chipster!

Well, I guess it all starts with me.

I had always had a fasination with map/tile based games.  From Boulder Dash
to Load Runner, I loved the way simple elements could be combined to make a
complex puzzle.  My first sucessful game even used this technique, a game
called Snake Byte for the Apple II.  Of course, it only had walls, targets
to hit, and a snake moving around, but it was a beginning.  Each level got
harder, only by changing the map that was being played on.  That was the
first game that came from my heart.  The original version was written in 30
minutes in basic.  Later it was spruced up into the game that was released.
As time went on, I worked on many other projects.  I did an adventure game
called Gruds in Space, along with a friend named Joe Dudar.  After that, I
moved to California to write computer games full time.  I worked for Epyx in
Sunnyvale for seven years, writing mostly games for the Commadore 64.  These
included many of the summer and winter games series, as well as California
games.  All of these games were written because someone else had a vision of
what type of game they wanted to market, and it was my job, along with the
rest of the programming team, to make a game that was fun.  Finally, Epyx
got bold, and decided to develope their own game device, a handheld game
that eventually was called the LYNX.  While under development, it was called
Handy, but it was eventually sold to Atari to try to recoup the money lost
to development.  I was one of the programmers working on the first batch of
games.  I was working on a tank game that was eventually killed off.  So I
was given the task of helping the other programmers finish up their games in
time for release.  This was not too terribly creative, so in my spare time
at home, I started working up an idea for a game I always wanted to do that
involved a player moving across tiles of different types, and interacting
with them.  I called it Tile World.  I got a simple prototype working, and
convinced my manager to allow me to spend some time working at developing it
further, as long as I kept helping the other programmers when they needed
it.  I got one of our artists to do up some tiles for the game.  I took some
music leftovers that the sound department had brewed up for other games that
weren't being used, and I had a good start.  Jon Leupp, who was working on
Gauntlet III for the LYNX was using Delux Paint for a map editor.  He had a
clever way of encoding a value as pixels in the top line of a block of art.
This along with the grid feature in D-Paint, allowed us to use an art tool
as a map editor.  As the other programmers and testers were coming off their
projects, they took up the editor, and started creating levels.  It looked
like we might be able to squeeze in this last game as part of the initial
release.  I had an army of 10 testers who were really excited about the
game, which also boosted it along to success. The entire project was done in
10 weeks from start to finish.  A time unheard of then or now.  This was how
Chips Challenge came to be.  It was the second game to come from my heart.
The game was eventually ported to the IBM under DOS and Windows, the Amiga,
the C64, and even the NES.  The NES version was never released as far as I
know.  The Windows version was done by Microsoft.  It was part of Windows
Entertainment PAK 4, and the Best of Windows Entertainment PAK.  It was also
bundled by many PC manufactures and pre installed.  Eventually, Epyx went
under, and the rights to Chips Challenge were sold to Bridgestone Multimedia
along with the rest of the product line.  As far as the LYNX is concerned,
of the original six titles, it was the only one still in production and
available when the LYNX was discontinued some years later.

And now for a heartwarming story.  If you get a copy of the original LYNX
version of Chips Challenge, you will notice one of the testers name is
Cynthia Sommerville.  This was my wife at the time.  Around the time Epyx
was going down the tubes,  Cynthia and I divorced.  I was heart broken, but
my co-workers at Epyx were very supportive.  I eventually joined a social
club and started dating again.  On one of the social club outings to
Yosemite,  I took along my LYNX.  I handed it to an attractive lady named
Jennifer that I met there, and said, Here, try this game I made,  I hear
women like it.  Well, some time later, she brought it back and said the
batteries were dead.  I guess she liked it!  Several months later, we met
again at another gathering by the beach in Monterey.  I asked her to go for
a walk on the beach with me.  We started dating, and are now married with
two boys.  Our oldest, Mark, at three and a half, knows how to turn on the
computer, and click on the Chips Challenge II shortcut on the desktop and
play the game.  I have made some easier versions on the levels for him, and
he is hooked.

I no longer work full time writing computer games, since I left the games
industry to build a company with my good friends Kevin Furry, and Scott
Nelson.  Since I no longer work for a publisher whose marketing department
decides what games will be written,  that gives me the ability to work on
Chips Challenge II for the first time.  I work on it in my small amounts of
free time at home in the evenings and on weekends.  It will be the third
game to come from the heart.  I am sure that I will eventually find the
right publisher.

I hope you enjoy playing Chips Challenge as much as I enjoyed making it.


Chuck Sommerville