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R.I.P. Sewer Shark Writer/Designer Kenneth Melville

The co-founder of FMV game developer Digital Pictures has reportedly passed away at age 65.

Photo Credit: Mark Alamares

We at Giant Bomb have made no secret of our deep, some might say unreasonable, obsession with FMV games from the '90s. So it's with a heavy heart that we report that Kenneth Melville, co-founder of Night Trap and Ground Zero: Texas developer Digital Pictures, reportedly passed away on February 1st at the age of 65.

The news was first acknowledged by Cinemaware, who had signed Melville to contribute story content for a Kickstarter-funded remake of Wings.

"It is with great sadness that we announce to the Cinemaware community and gaming press the passing away of Ken Melville," the company wrote on its official Facebook page. "Ken was one of the most creative (and funny) guys we have ever collaborated with, and he was giving us great input during the Wings RE development process. Ken was one of the writers and composer of the original as well as the writer on It Came from the Desert. We will miss him and honor his memory during the development of Wing RE. He truly was one of gaming's heroes."

Though he'd worked in the industry for years prior, Melville's most notable works came after he co-founded Digital Pictures in 1991 with Tom Zito. The company specialized in full-motion video games, including the many entries in the Make My Video series, as well as Night Trap, the slasher flick-inspired horror game that notoriously found itself in the mix with Mortal Kombat and Lethal Enforcers as part of the US Congress' hearings on offensive video game material. Melville served as a writer and designer on several Digital Pictures titles, including Sewer Shark and Corpse Killer.

Our condolences go out to Melville's family and friends.

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39 Comments
Edited by Steadying

Rest in peace, dude.

Posted by HammondofTexas

:(

Posted by edgeCrusher

Very sad news. A true gaming pioneer.

Posted by Ryanmgraef

:( need more fmv.

Posted by psylah

Crash and burn. Crash. And burn.

The Sewer Jockeys come, and they go.

I loved that game. RIP.

Posted by Brodehouse

Ratigators.

Online
Posted by ILikePopCans

Sad to see. RIP

Edited by Klager

"You with me control? We're goin' out."

R.I.P.

Posted by Professionlol

he left behind a legacy. I always love a good fmv game covered on giant bomb. hopefully at some point we can both honor his legacy and enjoy some good fmv nonsense at the same time.

Posted by Ghostiet

As a fellow FMV enthusiast, I'm sad. 65 is still too young.

Edited by GERALTITUDE

RIP Melville. Thanks for all the laughs man. We won't forget you.

Posted by Aviar

RIP

Sewer Shark back on the sega cd was great. My brothers and I really played the hell out of that game.

Posted by Damodar

:(

I think we need to get some Sewer Shark on Giant Bomb at some stage this week.

Posted by Video_Game_King

And those were some big(ish) games, too :(.

Edited by MrMingus

It came from the desert!! One of the greatest games on the Amiga!

Edited by CByrne
Posted by mustachioeugene

Ground Zero: Texas was mind blowing for me when I first saw it. FMV games were super formative to my early adolescence, and this man and Digital Pictures had a hand in a lot of the ones that have stuck with me over the years.

May he rest in peace.

Posted by crithon

sigh what a loss, game was special.

Edited by MeAuntieNora

As much as the majority of modern conversations tend to include winces, these FMV classics retain an enduring legacy of some truly memorable games and moments. Back in the day, some of this stuff seemed almost legendary or apocryphal if you heard it on the playground. "Yeah, yeah, Jimmy, we're done believing your stupid stories. Chun Li couldn't throw her bracelets, and no she wasn't able to on 'that one' cabinet you played on while on family vacation. We're even LESS gonna believe that there's a game with hot teenage girls where you control surveillance cameras during a slumber party, only they don't look like Mario characters or something it's PEOPLE... like a Mario porno? You're saying there's porno games, and that's just dumb Jimmy!"

The truth was weirder than we imagined, less steamy than we hoped. Let's just say cautiously, not a ton of people have played Night Trap. I personally never played it. But ask "What's Night Trap?" and I can almost guarantee a remarkably high percentage of recognition at tthe very least of the name. Many people who know what Night Trap is get excited about the topic in my experience. Even if they strongly feel that the gameplay fell short, or the story was lazy, etc, the sheer premise and existence alone render it a cult classic of sorts. It was so wildly different from anything the world had ever seen previously that it kind of didn't have to be great. In its frustrations and... "quirk," the players might find further charm, especially in retrospect.

Laughing, smiling, and reminiscing about classic games that shook things up in a so many ways... Good natured ribbings aside, the world loves these games. Where would the industry be without them?

Thanks Kenneth Melville, for showing us some shit. You'll be missed.

Posted by melodiousj

The man was a true visionary. He saw where the future was headed and was one of the first people to realize the power of having trained actors perform the roles of characters in games.

Of course, his vision of the future was almost completely off the mark, as instead of filming actors, we mocap them, giving us a degree of flexibility FMV could never dream of, but somewhere down the twisted lineage of games, the Uncharteds and LA Noires of the world owe a small debt to the likes of Night Trap and Sewer Shark.

Edited by TheSouthernDandy

What a bummer. The man left his mark, that's for sure.

Edited by FormulaDeuce

Such sad news, but I'm glad that GB reported on this so that the few of us who still appreciate FMV games could all show our gratitude to one of the true pioneers of the craft.

@damodar said:

I think we need to get some Sewer Shark on Giant Bomb at some stage this week.

Posted by Focks_MacLeod

May he shoot the tubes in the afterlife.

Posted by Hassun

65, shame for life to end that soon.

Posted by shatted

Guess he finally made it to Solar City. I've very fond memories of Sewer Shark on my monstrous Genesis/SegaCD/32X machine. Thanks and may you rest in peace.

Posted by Gordo789

sad news. Many fond memories of Sewer Shark and Night Trap, although all memory of Ground Zero Texas has been wiped from my mind save for that wicked box art. Rest in peace dude.

Edited by Fattony12000

RIP

<>

Posted by SchwartzChamp

I imagine Ryan's giving Mr. Melville a hearty handshake and a tumbler of bourbon on the other side. Condolences to his family, he provided the gaming community with some truly unique entertainment in his time.

Posted by groin

RIP in pepperonis mate

Posted by ultrapeanut

NINER THREE NINER NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO =[

Edited by laserguy

Sewer Shark is one of my favorite games of all time. I cant count the amount of time I put into it, such a stupid game. I love you Ratdog.

Edited by BBOYS2231

A huge loss for the gaming community. Thoughts and prayers are with his family.