Cliff Johnson’s classic Mac games get new lease on life
By Peter Cohen
Many long time Mac gamers remember with fondness a trio of games to come from Cliff Johnson, creator of The Fool’s Errand, At the Carnival and 3 In Three. Johnson has re-released his games as “copyrightware,” available for free download and use, as long as users respect Johnson’s existing copyrights on the games.
The trio of puzzle games is available for download from
Fools-errand.com, Johnson’s own Web site, and they date back to 1987. It was a time when color was still an option on Mac games, and many of them still ran at 512 x 384 pixels — the fixed resolution of the nine inch black and white monitors installed on Mac Plus and SE systems (still much better than the blocky 320 x 240 CGA graphics available on PCs of the day).
With today’s emphasis on flashy 3D graphics and complex lighting and sound effects, Johnson’s games may be modest technical achievements, but they’re devilishly addictive puzzle games that have garnered the ardor (and sometimes the frustration) of puzzle addicts the world over. As a Macworld Expo attendee, Johnson said that gamers familiar with his titles “marched up to me, pointed accusing fingers and shouted ‘I hate you!’ It was the ultimate compliment.”
Johnson himself is an interesting character. As a teenager, he built monsters for amusement park dark rides — the inspiration for one of his games, “At the Carnival.” Johnson later “stumbled” onto computer games back in the mid eighties after a career in film production. For the past decade he’s worked for various companies including Philips Media, Mattel, Warner Bros. and Disney Online. Johnson said that he’s currently working on a Treasure Hunt book for Random House.
The road doesn’t end here, either. Johnson said he has plans to develop a sequel of sorts called The Fool and His Money, as a free Web site no less, and also hopes to host an annual Internet Treasure Hunt with clues running throughout an entire year. (Thanks to reader Jean-Luc Dinsdale for info used in this article.)