Seropian (right), at Wired Nextfest, October 2008
Alex Seropian is an American video game developer, one of the initial founders and later president of Bungie Software Products Corporation, the developer of the Marathon, Myth, and Halo video game series. Seropian became interested in computer programming in college and teamed up with fellow student Jason Jones to publish Jones' game Minotaur. The two became partners, and Bungie grew to become the best-known Apple Macintosh game developer before being bought by Microsoft in 2001.
In 2004, Seropian left Bungie and created Wideload Games, with the goal of streamlining game development. Wideload's small core development team worked with outside contractors to produce Stubbs the Zombie and Hail to the Chimp. Wideload was acquired by Disney in 2009. As part of the deal Seropian became vice president of game development for Disney Interactive Studios.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Early life[edit | edit source]
Alex Seropian attended the University of Chicago, and joined the Phi Delta Theta fraternity (where he would meet one of his future game development colleagues). Interested in computer programming, Seropian was pursuing a mathematics degree with a concentration in computer science as the Department of Computer Science did not offer undergraduate degrees at the time. Before graduating Seropian was living on his father's couch debating whether to get a job or create his own video game company. Seropian's father advised him to take a job to get experience, but the next day Seropian decided to found his own company. "My dad is a master of reverse psychology," Seropian said.
Bungie[edit | edit source]
Seropian's first game was a self-published Pong-clone called Gnop!. The Apple Macintosh-exclusive game was free, although a few customers paid $15 for the game's source code. In 1991 he founded Bungie and published his first commercial game, Operation Desert Storm. Seropian sold 2,500 copies of the game, assembling the game boxes and mailing them out from his bedroom. Seropian partnered with his Artificial Intelligence classmate Jason Jones to publish Jones' nearly complete Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete; while the game sold only around 2,500 copies—it required a then-rare modem for network play—it developed a devoted following. After publishing Minotaur, the two formed a partnership.
For the next Bungie title, 1993's Pathways Into Darkness, Seropian hired a third team member for graphics work. The game was the first three-dimensional texture-mapped game on the Mac and the first true first-person shooter. By 1994 Bungie had grown to a staff of six and had moved into a rundown Chicago office—a converted former religious school located in front of a crack house. Their next title, Marathon, began development as a sequel to Pathways but grew larger. On release it won several awards and established Bungie as the top Mac game developer.
For the first game of the Halo series, Halo: Combat Evolved, Seropian noted that the company had to incorporate new features such as surround sound and cinematics. Halo went on to sell more than 4 million units by 2004 and founded a media franchise encompassing sequels, books, and music. Seropian left Bungie in 2002 to spend time with his new family, but also due to frustrations with the game development process.
Wideload Games[edit | edit source]
Seropian founded his own studio in 2004 called Wideload Games, intended to be more streamlined than most video game studios. Calling the current method of game development "broken", Wideload began with a staff of 10, with the plan to hire independent staff to actually complete the game. Seropian said that the idea came from figuring out that his decade-old assumptions about how to make games did not necessarily apply to the future. Seropian turned to the film industry for cues, saying that it helped to look at an older industry that had been solving the same types of problems for a longer period than video games. The external development model allowed Wideload to focus on the creative aspect of a project and added flexibility in what types of projects the team could take on. Wideload produced two games, 2005's Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse and 2008's Hail to the Chimp.
On September 8, 2009 Disney acquired Wideload. Seropian joined Disney to head its in-house game development team, Disney Interactive Studios. The sale of Wideload was not originally planned: Wideload and Disney began working on a title together, and as conversations turned to a "broader scope and vision", the two companies "discovered [they] had a lot in common," Seropian said. Seropian also serves as DePaul University's second "game designer in residence"; DePaul is the first liberal arts university to offer a bachelors degree for game design.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Recchie, Benjamin (Fall/Winter 2008). "They've Got Game; Tom Kang, AB’88, and Alex Seropian, SB’91, take video gaming beyond swordplay and shoot-’em-up". The Core (University of Chicago). http://thecore.uchicago.edu/fallwinter08/got_game.shtml. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
- Xbox World 360 (2007-10-08). The History of Halo; How two students went from Pong clones to the biggest game of all time 1–4. GamesRadar. Retrieved on 2009-10-09
- Staff. Bungie History: Primordial Soup—Gnop!. Bungie.net. Retrieved on 2009-10-01
- Staff. Bungie History: Primordial Soup—Pathways. Bungie.net. Retrieved on 2009-10-09
- Deniz, Tuncer (2001-12-10). Interview: Bungie's Alexander Seropian. Inside Mac Games. Retrieved on 2008-04-26
- Morris, Chris (2004-09-26). "The return of innovation? Wave of veteran game developers launch their own studio". CNN. http://money.cnn.com/2004/04/23/commentary/game_over/column_gaming/. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
- Fahey, Rob (2004-04-26). Bungie founder creates new studio, starts work on PC/Xbox title. Gamesindustry.biz. Retrieved on 2009-10-01
- Butts, Steve (2004-04-26). Wideload Interview. IGN. Retrieved on 2008-04-26
- Graft, Kris (2009-09-09). Interview: Why Alex Seropian Sold To Disney. Gamasutra. Retrieved on 2009-10-01
- Martin, Matt (2009-09-08). Disney adds Bungie co-founder, Wideload to games team. Gamesindustry.biz. Retrieved on 2009-09-18
- Roberts, Scott (2009-04-25). DePaul welcomes Alex Seropian, Ed Keenan and Bill Muehl to our faculty. DePaul University. Retrieved on 2009-07-03
[edit | edit source]
- Wideload Games Inc.
- "Interview: Alex Seropian, Founder, Wideload Games" Chicagoist: (June 20, 2005)
- "Wideload Games' Alexander Seropian on Outsourcing for the Living Dead" Gamasutra: Wen, Howard (September 29, 2005)
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