“For me, it all began in 1987 when my grandmother bought me an Apple IIc.” Reminisced Cobb, “As a child, I was amazed by the incredible things people were able to do with such limited hardware. I'm still amazed to this day, in fact.”
Nowadays, limited software is not an issue. Students are developing their own games in dorm rooms. Game companies like Ubisoft have a fleet of hundreds developing multiple games at once. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, released late last year and well received by players and bloggers alike, had a development team of roughly 100.
“Game development was a once very personal thing.” Explains Cobb, “In the early days, an entire game was created by a single person, and that included design, programming, graphics and music. It was a small, experimental market, especially if your target system was a home computer. In those days it was passion, not profit that drove a developer.
Development teams tended to remain small into the early to mid '90s, with talented people working side by side to deliver astounding products. Pixel graphics and chip music are fine arts, and the challenges presented by limited hardware couldn't stop the best artists from creating masterpieces that continue to awe people.
It's an entirely different market now. Look at Hollywood these days: it's out with quality plots, brilliant acting and beautiful, detailed sets, and in with mindless attempts at humor and needless, over the top special effects generated entirely by computers. The video game industry is very akin to Hollywood now, in that many studios spend billions of dollars making products that are so quickly forgotten, it's almost as if they never existed at all.”
There may still be passion put into modern day video games, but there is truth to what Cobb is saying. According to Wikipedia, there were approximately 115,000 games released in 2011 alone, a number that becomes unfathomable if you think of how many developers were a part of the production process.
But over at the Super Fighter Team headquarters, not much has changed since the early days of gaming. The company has since gone on to produce and publish three RPGs for the Sega Genesis, as well as owning the rights to both Super Fighter and Sango Fighter, Cobb’s two favorite childhood games. They keep their production team small, so the passion of creating games for past systems is kept in check which is important to the group. Instead of adapting to the cultural norms of the cut-throat world of game development, this small company has chosen to beat its own path all the way back to the beginning of gaming, which is something that is hard not to admire.