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About

Art direction and content for an award-winning educational game.
Published:
Game Content: Oregon Trail 3rd Edition,
MECC/The Learning Company
Art direction and content design for an award winning educational game 
I had already worked on two earlier versions of Oregon Trail when I was tapped to art-direct the 3rd Edition. In Oregon Trail 2 I had introduced 3D modeling into the design of the game. While most consumer computers of the day were unable to support a combination of full-motion graphics and simultaneous video (especially computers in schools, which were a major target audience), we opted instead to use the 3D element to create convincing scenes (at least in terms of spacial volume) for green-screen video-captured characters to move about in. Navigation through scenes with video characters was done on compass points and hot spots.  
 
The background scenes were built with an early Macintosh-based 3D program called Strata 3D, the same program used to build the enigmatic adventure game Myst, which had recently changed the way computer gaming was approached in terms of atmosphere and environment. Although crude by today's standards, the 3D world of Oregon Trail 3rd Edition was quite groundbreaking at the time of its release. 
 
Executive Producer: Mike Palmquist
An old-timer introduces playes to the game at the starting point in Independence, Missouri. Characters were digitally captured in coordination with the 3D models I designed.
A view toward the general store in Independence.
Interior of the general store with green-screened actor.
Scenes from inside the hotel, where players choose their traveling companions by interviewing green-screened video characters.
Part of the default game interface. On this screen travel supplies could be assessed, rations for traveling companions determined, travel pace set, and maps checked.
A typical approach to a historical landmark from along the Oregon Trail. 
Another interface screen which offers options to hunt, fish, gather wild food, read the guidebook, or set up camp.