Scott Miller
Owner/Partner

[ Developers Rule at 3D Realms ]
[ Click here for latest .plan update ]

Background

While living in Australia, began writing computer games in 1975 on a Wang 2000 and have since written over 100 games, large and small, up until 1990, with over 20 commercially released on disk magazines such as I.B.Magazette and Softdisk (Big Blue Disk). During the mid-80's I wrote professionally for several national gaming magazines, including COMPUTE!, as well as writing a weekly syndicated column for four years for The Dallas Morning News (titled "Video Vision" the first two years, then renamed "Computer Fun" for another two years). In the early 80's also co-authored (with George Broussard) a book on beating arcade games.

A few of the more recognizable games I wrote during this time:

  • Beyond the Titanic -- an Infocom-sized text-only adventure game (PC)

  • Supernova -- a move advanced text adventure game (PC)

  • Trek Trivia -- a ten episode, 1000-question series featuring classic Star Trek

  • Kroz -- A total of seven episodes, these are the games that launched Apogee in 1987

Computers I've owned: Commodore PET (1979), VIC-20, C-64, Amiga 1000 and the original IBM PC (8086). As a programmer, I learned and used at various times FORTRAN, COBOL, BASIC, Modula, Prolog, Pascal and C. (Most games I wrote during the 80's used Turbo Pascal.)

In 1990 I quit my day job to focus on Apogee full-time. (Apogee had been a part-time business since late 1987.) Immediately recruited several key developers to join me as shareware game developers, including id Software (before they were id) and Todd Replogle (author of the first three Duke Nukem games). Also at this time turned Apogee into a partnership by teaming up with long-time friend and game maker, George Broussard.

Much of my education came by spending far too much time and money playing arcade, video and computer games throughout the 80's, as well as working at two arcade locations for several years early in that decade. Foolishly dropped $1000 upon $1000 of quarters during that time -- best investment I ever made.

 

Apogee/3D Realms Duties
 

Managing the company includes setting goals and a company mission, dealing with publishers and other partners, making agreements/deals with these partners, and providing our developers whatever is needed to help them do their job better. Also oversee most of the marketing tasks and work with our publisher with their marketing of our games.

Development-wise, I work with all external developer partners, providing design guidance and marketing direction. Also maintain a role with all internally developed games. My primary concern with our games is to be innovative, creative and push into areas where no one else has been before.


Projects Worked on

Everything ever released by us. Completely wrote games such as Beyond the Titanic, Supernova, Trek Trivia, and all seven Kroz games. Designed levels for many of our later released games, including the entire first episode of the first Duke Nukem.

 

Family

 

Scott has a wonderful family: Shane and Jace. Also have a cat and a dog (sheltie).

Education/Career highlights

Founded Apogee in 1987. Spent a lot of wasted time in college--I've always been more interested in pursuing a career in the game industry, be it a writer or developer, and college always seemed to be in the way. Finally dropped out with only a semester to go before graduating. (Would not recommend this approach for everyone.)

Honored in a 1996 issue of Next Generation magazine as one of "The 75 Most Important People in the Game Industry." One of only eight people to be honored with the Shareware Industry Foundations' "Lifetime Achievement Award." Member of the Association of Shareware Professionals' "Hall of Fame." In 1997, listed in Computer Gaming World as one of the 15 most influential people in the games industry. In 1997, part of a group of 30 in Next Generation magazine as one of the "most important people in the American game industry." Was a founder of the Shareware Trade Association and Resources (STAR), which was instrumental in fixing some of the shareware industry's biggest problems. Was a founder of Gathering of Developers.
 
Other Interests / Hobbies

Love downhill snow skiing on blacks, double blacks and off-trail, and like disc golf, tennis, bowling, poker, paintball, jet skiing, water skiing, knee-boarding, off-road motorcycling and about anything athletic and adventurous. Have a black belt in Tang Soo Do, Korean karate. Also an avid drummer with a 25-piece custom designed mahogany MasterCraft Pearl kit
based on two of my favorite drummers: Neil Peart (Rush) and Terry Bozzio (back when he was in Missing Persons). I can't play like these guys, but my drum set looks good!  Check out this picture as well as this picture of my kit.
 
Favorite Computer Games

Arcades: Missile Command, Asteroids, Forgotten Worlds and Tempest

Computer games: M.U.L.E., Archon, Ultima III, Enchanter, Planetfall, Space Quest 3, Jumpman, You Don't Know Jack,  and Sword of Kadash.


 

Scott's Library:
 

I get quite a few emails about game development books, marketing and business books, so I decided to make it easier to answer these emails, I'd just add them to my bio page.
 

Game Design & Development Books
 

Chris Crawford on Game Design (ISBN: 0131460994)

From his bio: "Chris Crawford is the 'grand old man' of computing game design...Chris has 14 published games to his credit...He founded, edited, and wrote most of The Journal of Computer Game Design...[and] He founded the Computer Game Developers' Conference [now the GDC]." So why haven't you heard of Chris recently? Since the early 90's he's been focused on developing technology for interactive storytelling. Still, despite his departure from mainstream game development, Chris' professional experience, since 1979 starting at Atari, and his intellectual involvement with the industry, has led to him being one of the industry's top thinkers and his often penetrating viewpoints should not be ignored. The first half of the book brings together his overall design theories, while the second half details his war stories, creating his own games, and the lessons learned and applied while doing so. Great reading.

The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers (ISBN: 0941188701)

A lucid melding of Joseph Campbell's pioneering work on mythology (specifically, Hero with a Thousand Faces) along with Carl Jung's work on psychological work on archetypes.  An indispensable guide for those interested in creating heroic characters and epic stories.  Includes tons of examples from real movies, such as Star Wars, that rely deeply on the material explained here.

Game Architecture & Design (ISBN: 1576104257)

Co-authored by Andrew Rollings & Dave Morris. This best book covering the topic of game design and development on the market, as of Dec. 2001. I knew this was going to be a good book when in its Introduction I read: "We reject the assertion that gameplay is entirely unpredictable and thus cannot be designed." This book is full of fundamentally good game design advice, beating other game design books hands down--and I've read them all.

Game Creation and Careers (ISBN: 0735713677)

Edited by Marc Saltzman, this book is an extensive collection of interviews with industry pros; it's fascinating to hear their advice and development stories.

Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, 20th Anniversary Edition (ISBN: 0071359168)

I'll ask for you, "What does this marketing book have to do with game design?" Everything. Project leaders and lead game designers must read this book if they really want to understand the science of consumer behavior. Bottom line, the key principles of positioning will help game designers create more innovative and unique games. Duke Nukem and Max Payne have much to owe to this book and others by these same authors, Al Ries and Jack Trout. This is perhaps the most important book I've ever read, as it provides the key to understanding how consumers think and why they choose one product over a competitor's.

Here's a few other books from these uber-marketing gurus that I highly recommend:

Reinventing Comics (ISBN: 0060953500)

Author Scott McCloud is a deep thinker about the comics industry, and a great many of his insights apply directly to the game industry.

Graphic Storytelling & Visual Narrative (ISBN: 0961472820)

Game designers have a lot to learn from author Will Eisner, one of the legendary masters of comics. Also recommended is his first book on this topic, "Comics & Sequential Art."

The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics (ISBN: 0823010279)

Another valuable resource for game designers interested in telling better stories and creating more compelling game characters.

Characters and Viewpoint (ISBN: 0898799279)

Orson Scott Card (author of "Ender's Game," one of the best science fiction books of all-time), is a professor of writing and has a lot to teach game designers about constructing interesting characters. I've been lucky enough to talk to Orson (he used to write for the game industry) and from experience I know his insights are right on the money.

Story Sense (ISBN: 0070389969)

Many writers will recommend another fine book, Story, by Robert McKee, but I prefer Story Sense hands down. Anyone in the business of writing stories for games should read this book, and learn precisely what makes an interesting story, with a well structured plot, subplots, characters, motives and pacing. One of my favorite quotes from the book: "Write simple stories with complex characters."

 

Business Books

 

Patton on Leadership (ISBN: 0735202974)

The greatest general in United States history was also one of the greatest of all war leaders. His style applies equally well to business leadership. The more you know about Patton, the more you appreciate his brilliance. There is no better book on the subject. (Also, I recommend the audio version, which has a voice actor speaking Patton's lines and wisdom in an undeniably Patton-like manner--highly entertaining.)

Focus : The Future of Your Company Depends on It (ISBN: 0694516287)

One of the top-five best books ever in my library. If you run a business, you must read this book.

First, Break All the Rules (ISBN: 0684852861)

People often confuse leadership and management, when they are very different. Patton wrote the rules on leadership, and this book, based on a Gallup poll of over 100,000 managers, over 25 years, reveals the fundamental difference between a great manager and a not-so-great one. This is truly the best book on the management of employees ever written, and the insights ring with absolute verisimilitude. Anyone managing people, such as a project leader, must read this book. It's not an option.

The Discipline of Market Leaders (ISBN: 0201407191)

Another break-through book that shows how companies must focus on one thing at the expense of other things. For example, McDonald's focuses on efficiency of food processing at the expense of food quality and customer service. A company must make sacrifices like this in order to focus on their key concept, i.e. fast food. Again, company owners need to read this.

 

Good to Great: Why some companies make the leap and others don't (ISBN: 0066620996)

Easily the best book I've read on what it takes to create and run a successful company, and many other the hard-researched principles that come from this book jive perfectly with other books I recommend for business. But here, author Jim Collins and his team of researches, compare successful companies with not-so-successful companies in the same industry, and determine exactly why some soared while their counterpoints, with the same opportunities, flopped. Just the Hedgehog Concept and the Level 5 Leader concept are worth the price of this book. Truly a must-read book for anyone in ownership or management.

Advertising & PR Books

 

Ogilvy on Advertising (ISBN: 039472903X)

Ogilvy was one modern advertising's greatest pioneers (in fact, I think he's still alive and working). This book, written in 1985, is full of powerful insights that are still, for the most part, overlooked by the game industry. Game ads wouldn't suck so bad if industry marketing types would read this book.

The Anatomy of Buzz (ISBN: 0385496672)

The game industry still seems to think that buzz is created by over-hype and giving out hundreds of pre-release screen shots. This book will cure that mental disease.

Tested Advertising Methods (ISBN: 0130957011)

The author, John Caples, is one of the few people to thoroughly research the field of advertising. He turned the art of advertising into the science of advertising. But looking at the ads of the game industry, it's obvious no one has learned from this book, as I can flip through any game publication and point out the flaws and missed opportunities of nearly every advertisement. Don't let your advertisement be just another ineffective artsy waste of space--construct it properly so that it actually does its job for you...sell your game!

History of the Industry Books

 

The Ultimate History of Video Games (ISBN: 0761536434)

Steve Kent is a regular game industry writer for MSN. His book is the most detailed account of the origins of the game industry, through to the current generation of consoles. This book is packed with interviews and comments from the people who made it all happen, such as Atari founder, Nolan Bushnell.

Supercade (ISBN: 0262024926)

If beautiful glossy pictures are your thing, this is a must-have coffee table book, showing nearly every early arcade and computer game in full-color glory, along with plenty of history-loaded text.

AOL.com (ISBN: 0812931912)

A behind-the-scenes look at how AOL beat MSN. Steve Case hands it to Bill Gates in one of the few battles Microsoft has ever lost. Not entirely game industry related, but too good to leave off the list.

Science Books
 

Why science books, you ask?  I'm a big fan of quantum and relativistic science, so I thought I'd share.  ;-)

 

A Short History of Nearly Everything (ISBN: 0767908171)

Unquestionably, the best all-around book on science and its origins I've read.  The author is researching this material as he's writing his book, and we feel his excitement and astonishment as we take his journey.  Plenty of dry humor along the way too, because knowing what we now know, it's funny to discover the mistakes we made along the way, such as predicting the Earth's age to no more than 20 million year because the Sun's fuel couldn't have latest any longer!, or that the science community practically ignored Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity for a decade because he was merely a worker at the patent office -- yet his theory utterly change the way we view our universe.  A diverse range of topics, from the astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, paleontology, evolution and much more is covered and often connected to each other.

The Elegant Universe (ISBN: 0375708111)

The best book currently available that tells how we came from E=MC^2 to M-Theory. A great book for the novice to this fascinating, eye-opening subject.

The Universe in a Nutshell (ISBN: 055380202X)

More advanced than "The Elegant Universe." Hawking is one of the world's best at explaining how the universe works, and this follow-up book to his "A Brief History of Time" is on the cutting-edge of where science currently stands with regard to finding the ultimate theory of everything. Most people walking the Earth nowadays have no idea that the universe is perhaps more mind-boggling than any science fiction author's fantasy. Don't be one of those people.

 

Further Reading

Incredibly, there are people who actually read my recommended books -- I have the emails to prove it!  And the hunger is not satisfied, more recommendations have been requested...often demanded. Here's a quick list of further reading, though I'd still recommend the books above first.

Jump Start Your Business Brain (ISBN: 1558706429)

Great all around book for those starting and running a small business.  Much good advice.

The Power of Simplicity (ISBN: 0071373322)

Helps solidify one of positioning's strongest principles

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding (ISBN: 0060007737)

The importance of branding your product cannot be underestimated.  Just look at the things you buy, like food, clothes, cars, computers.  We live in a brand driven society.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (ISBN: 0316346624)

This book is interesting, insightful, but perhaps not as useful as the author would hope.  I've yet to figure out how to apply his findings, but it's none-the-less very educational.

Harvard Business Review on Brand Management  (ISBN: 1578511445)

Backs up many of the principles on positioning..

Buzz: Harness the Power of Influence and Create Demand (ISBN: 0471273457)

Word-of-mouth advertising (a.k.a. buzz) is easily the most important type of advertising your product can get.  It crushes the importance of all other advertising.  learn how to exploit it.

Discover Your Genius : How to Think Like History's Ten Most Revolutionary Minds (ISBN: 0060937904)

Skip the workshops at the end our each section, but the historical window opened on each these revolutionaries is utterly fascinating, entertaining and eye-opening.

How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day (ISBN: 0440508274)

This is a great companion book to the one above (Discover Your Genius), by the same author.

The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story (ISBN: 0140296468)

This is the story of Jim Clark, Silicon Valley's greatest tech entrepreneur, and founder of Silicon Graphics, Netscape and Healtheon (now WebMD).  Engaging behind-the-scenes account of this driven personality.

One Up On Wall Street : How To Use What You Already Know To Make Money In The Market (ISBN: 0743200403)

I 1ave quite a number of books on stock investing, and I'll throw this one out as the best one I've read.  Peter Lynch, the author, was the most successful of all mutual fund managers up until his retirement.  Here he spills the beans on his winning methods.

Stretching Scientifically: A Guide to Flexibility Training (ISBN: 0940149451)

As a fairly hardcore martial artist, I have quite a library of related books and video tapes (over 200 combined).  This one stands out because MOST people do not stretch properly--for example, it's incorrect, and possibly damaging, to do static or passive (non dynamic) stretches before karate classes, yet MOST martial arts schools include these types of stretches as part of their pre-technical workout routine.  Learn the correct way to stretch, and how to rapidly improve your flexibility range for real world combat usage.

More to come when I get the chance.