Why Choplifter Creator Dan Gorlin Decided to Return to Games

Avatar image for patrickklepek
Posted by patrickklepek (6767 posts) -
It took Dan Gorlin roughly six months from start to finish to develop Choplifter on the Apple ][.
It took Dan Gorlin roughly six months from start to finish to develop Choplifter on the Apple ][.

When Dan Gorlin finished work on Choplifter and Airheart, unlike many other notable designers of his day, he left video games. Gorlin's name has resurfaced a couple of times since, but becoming involved with inXile Entertainment's Choplifter HD is the first time he's generated a headline in years.

Gorlin's working out of Philadelphia these days. If you were to take his Wikipedia page to heart, he's involved in real estate. So, uh, how does one go from creating video games to managing real estate property?

"I’m one of those guys who if you ask me what I 'do' at a cocktail party, I have to think about the answer," said Gorlin in an interview with me this week. "The truth is, I don’t do anything for very long. Most people I know don’t even know about my computer gaming work. My wife (she’s kind of the same way) became a realtor six years ago here in Philadelphia and we started buying up properties and managing them, but it was just another thing to do. I am like so done with that."

Though Gorlin is collaborating with InXile on Choplifter HD, he's quick to point out this shouldn't be heralded as some grand return to video game development ("it’s not a huge time commitment for me"). In addition to consulting on Choplifter HD, however, he is actively working with Android and exploring the idea of developing software (not necessarily games) on Google's tech.

== TEASER ==
Like the original Choplifter, the HD version has you blowin' up dudes and rescuing other dudes.
Like the original Choplifter, the HD version has you blowin' up dudes and rescuing other dudes.

"My role in Choplifter HD development is as design consultant and iconic ancient legendary old guy," he said. "I was able to spend some intensive time with the team fairly early in the design cycle and share my ideas and concerns, which was a lot of fun for me. I will probably do more of the same during final gameplay tuning. Also I think the inXile guys are just the kind of people who want to pay their respects to the original designers, so I’m there to appreciate the attention."

Choplifter HD isn't the first time Gorlin's been involved with a reboot of the series, either. He attempted to create Choplifter 3D himself back in the 1990s, but that never got off the ground.

"It was going great but there was a big industry consolidation going on and our project was a casualty," he said. "I think the project had three owners in its short nine month lifespan, then it was finally cancelled. Too bad; I think it would have been a great game."

It's been a good while since Choplifter was released in 1982. The industry's completely changed since then. I asked him where young Dan Gorlin though the industry was headed back then.

"Young Dan thought of video games as an emerging art form and was excited to be a part of it," he said, playing along. "He also figured they’d be a good way to make money. Unfortunately for the art form aspect, they turned out to be a *great* way to make money."

That's true enough.

Golin is actually a founder and director of Alolki West African Dance. He's even penned a songbook called
Golin is actually a founder and director of Alolki West African Dance. He's even penned a songbook called "Songs of West Africa."

And though Gorlin is a game developer, he pushes back on being called a "gamer."

"I have never been a gamer or played games," he said. "The only games I have the patience for are the ones that are impossible to finish. For example, building games is one of my favorite games. I also love studying traditional African music and dance because I will never, ever come close to mastering it. Occasionally I play the game of making money, but unfortunately I get bored quickly and have to do something else."

That fits with his habit of moving from one thing to the next. What happens with his Android tinkering remains to be seen, but as someone who was making games, disappeared into the mist and then finds himself in familiar territory, moving back towards games haven't been a huge shift. It's a comfortable place.

"If I’ve been shocked by anything," he said, "it’s how little mainstream games have changed in the last 10 years."

Avatar image for patrickklepek
#1 Posted by patrickklepek (6767 posts) -
It took Dan Gorlin roughly six months from start to finish to develop Choplifter on the Apple ][.
It took Dan Gorlin roughly six months from start to finish to develop Choplifter on the Apple ][.

When Dan Gorlin finished work on Choplifter and Airheart, unlike many other notable designers of his day, he left video games. Gorlin's name has resurfaced a couple of times since, but becoming involved with inXile Entertainment's Choplifter HD is the first time he's generated a headline in years.

Gorlin's working out of Philadelphia these days. If you were to take his Wikipedia page to heart, he's involved in real estate. So, uh, how does one go from creating video games to managing real estate property?

"I’m one of those guys who if you ask me what I 'do' at a cocktail party, I have to think about the answer," said Gorlin in an interview with me this week. "The truth is, I don’t do anything for very long. Most people I know don’t even know about my computer gaming work. My wife (she’s kind of the same way) became a realtor six years ago here in Philadelphia and we started buying up properties and managing them, but it was just another thing to do. I am like so done with that."

Though Gorlin is collaborating with InXile on Choplifter HD, he's quick to point out this shouldn't be heralded as some grand return to video game development ("it’s not a huge time commitment for me"). In addition to consulting on Choplifter HD, however, he is actively working with Android and exploring the idea of developing software (not necessarily games) on Google's tech.

== TEASER ==
Like the original Choplifter, the HD version has you blowin' up dudes and rescuing other dudes.
Like the original Choplifter, the HD version has you blowin' up dudes and rescuing other dudes.

"My role in Choplifter HD development is as design consultant and iconic ancient legendary old guy," he said. "I was able to spend some intensive time with the team fairly early in the design cycle and share my ideas and concerns, which was a lot of fun for me. I will probably do more of the same during final gameplay tuning. Also I think the inXile guys are just the kind of people who want to pay their respects to the original designers, so I’m there to appreciate the attention."

Choplifter HD isn't the first time Gorlin's been involved with a reboot of the series, either. He attempted to create Choplifter 3D himself back in the 1990s, but that never got off the ground.

"It was going great but there was a big industry consolidation going on and our project was a casualty," he said. "I think the project had three owners in its short nine month lifespan, then it was finally cancelled. Too bad; I think it would have been a great game."

It's been a good while since Choplifter was released in 1982. The industry's completely changed since then. I asked him where young Dan Gorlin though the industry was headed back then.

"Young Dan thought of video games as an emerging art form and was excited to be a part of it," he said, playing along. "He also figured they’d be a good way to make money. Unfortunately for the art form aspect, they turned out to be a *great* way to make money."

That's true enough.

Golin is actually a founder and director of Alolki West African Dance. He's even penned a songbook called
Golin is actually a founder and director of Alolki West African Dance. He's even penned a songbook called "Songs of West Africa."

And though Gorlin is a game developer, he pushes back on being called a "gamer."

"I have never been a gamer or played games," he said. "The only games I have the patience for are the ones that are impossible to finish. For example, building games is one of my favorite games. I also love studying traditional African music and dance because I will never, ever come close to mastering it. Occasionally I play the game of making money, but unfortunately I get bored quickly and have to do something else."

That fits with his habit of moving from one thing to the next. What happens with his Android tinkering remains to be seen, but as someone who was making games, disappeared into the mist and then finds himself in familiar territory, moving back towards games haven't been a huge shift. It's a comfortable place.

"If I’ve been shocked by anything," he said, "it’s how little mainstream games have changed in the last 10 years."

Avatar image for seamoose
#2 Edited by SeaMoose (43 posts) -

Get to tha Choppa!

Avatar image for paulkemp
#3 Posted by PaulKemp (218 posts) -

doh!

Avatar image for danteveli
#4 Posted by Danteveli (1441 posts) -

Choppa Choppa down

Avatar image for doctorchimp
#5 Posted by Doctorchimp (4190 posts) -

Way to depress Patrick. Keep 'em coming.

Avatar image for cylemoore
#6 Posted by CyleMoore (568 posts) -

I remember playing Choplifter 3 for the SNES.  It was pretty fun.

Avatar image for sado
#7 Posted by sado (116 posts) -

Biggest news of E3 right here.

Avatar image for tripmastermunky
#8 Posted by TripMasterMunky (2527 posts) -

I'm glad the news section doesn't suck anymore thanks to Pat.

Avatar image for orshick
#9 Posted by orshick (192 posts) -

Hah, great little article.

Avatar image for jazgalaxy
#10 Posted by JazGalaxy (1638 posts) -

That guy sounds really cool and has a great sense of humor.
 
I'd love to see more of what old creators think about modern games. I remember Roberta Williams taking modern games and gamers to task for being juvenile and taking the industry backwards.
 
More perspective like that might start to push the industry forward again.

Avatar image for countinhallways
#11 Posted by countinhallways (633 posts) -

More of this please! Really enjoyed this pleasant little article.

Avatar image for steevl
#12 Posted by steevl (539 posts) -

Yeah, definitely enjoying this newer side to Giant Bomb.
 
Hopefully the new Choplifter is good. I'm always saddened when a classic game gets a remake/reboot and it does not live up to the original.

Avatar image for brendan
#13 Posted by Brendan (9192 posts) -

Great article, thanks Patrick.

Avatar image for pkhilson
#14 Posted by PKHilson (215 posts) -
@SeaMoose said:
Get to tha Choppa!
LOL
Avatar image for soupbones
#15 Posted by soupbones (352 posts) -

awesome write up - a couple of us were just replaying Choplifter on the SMS. Such a great game.

Avatar image for aleryn
#16 Posted by Aleryn (718 posts) -

Good read.  Looking forward to the game, spent way too much time with Choplifter 3 on the SNES.

Avatar image for jaks
#17 Posted by jaks (257 posts) -

This is a cool story. I would like to see more stuff like this on Giantbomb rather than just repeating news stories from Kotaku.

Avatar image for bricewgilbert
#18 Posted by bricewgilbert (263 posts) -

Sadly like any popular industry the mainstream titles aren't going to be artistic or as innovative as we may want.

Avatar image for hilts
#19 Posted by Hilts (394 posts) -

Yeah! I loved the original chopliftet. I hope it's got a west African bongo sound track.

Avatar image for xpgamer7
#20 Posted by Xpgamer7 (2481 posts) -

That was depressing.

Avatar image for rmanthorp
#21 Posted by rmanthorp (4595 posts) -

CHOPPA BAWS!

Moderator
Avatar image for giveupned
#22 Posted by GiveUpNed (239 posts) -

I like this guy. He seems to be a doer and someone who just enjoys life and wants to do as many things as possible before he dies.

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