NBA Jam, Sonic 1, Ultima Online remembered with rare stories, concept art
With every year of the Game Developers Conference, there comes a rash of panels. This being a developer- and coder-centric event, they focus largely on niche game-design topics like rendering techniques, procedural generation, and art pipelines. That’s all informative and thorough, well and good, but one animator’s treasure can be another programmer’s trash.
For nerdy panels that have something to offer everyone, we look to GDC’s classic postmortems: the stories of long-ago games from the designers who led the projects and still remember a lot from those ’70s, ’80s, and (now) early ’90s games.
This year’s two best GDC postmortems landed firmly in the early ’90s, with one of the games in focus, NBA Jam, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Both postmortem’ed franchises exploded as rebellious, industry-shifting upstarts during their era, and as such, their GDC origin stories included plenty of attitude and jokes. Even better, the staffers for both of these series came with reams of data in hand—and in one case, there might be delectable, super-rare EPROMs to follow.