Early Years (1957-1979)
Nasir Gebelli (Persian: ناصر جبلی, also known as Nasser Gebelli, born 1957) is an Iranian game designer, programmer and developer. Born in Iran, Gebelli later moved to the United States to study computer science. He was related to the Iranian royal family (technically, a Prince of Persia), and fled to America around the time of the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
Sirius Software and Gebelli Software (1980-1985)
Gebelli co-founded Sirius Software in 1980, before founding his own company Gebelli Software in 1981. He became known in the early 1980's for producing 3D shooters and other games for the Apple II computer, gaining fame in the early computer game industry for pushing the Apple II to its limits, developing the most advanced (almost arcade-like) graphics engines seen on home computers at the time.
He gained a reputation for producing games at a rapid pace, sometimes as many as twelve in a year. Among those games produced were his best-selling personal computer games, Space Eggs and Gorgon, in 1981. Horizon V (1981) was an early example of a first-person shooter and featured an early radar mechanic. Zenith (1981) was a similar first-person shooter with the addition of allowing the player's ship to be rotated.
After moving to Japan in 1986, he became known for his work at Squaresoft (now Square Enix), where Hironobu Sakaguchi had been a long-time fan of his work and was excited to have him join. Together, they were Square's "A-Team", along with composer Nobuo Uematsu and artist Yoshitaka Amano.
He programmed the 1987 titles 3-D WorldRunner and Rad Racer, some of the first stereoscopic 3D games on a home system. Their use of a forward-scrolling, sprite-scaling, third-person perspective, was also considered very advanced for the NES at the time.
He then programmed the first three games of the hugely influential Final Fantasy series of RPG's. They stood out from the early Dragon Quest games partly because of Gebelli's programming work, displaying four characters and many enemies at the same time, along with detailed animations and spells.
His last major project was Secret of Mana (1993), which would become one of the most influential action RPG's. Its innovative ring menu system in particular stood out and still remains unique. The game also pushed the SNES, with relatively detailed sprites, and sophisticated use of pseudo-3D, Mode 7 sprite-scaling.
He was not heard from again until the Apple II Reunion party in August 1998, when he was interviewed by John Romero, another long-time fan of his work. He once again was not heard from again after that, but remains great friends with Hironobu Sakaguchi.
Famous game designers such as Hironobu Sakaguchi (known for RPG's like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger), John Romero (known for first-person shooters like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom), Mark Turmell (known for Midway arcade hits like Smash TV and NBA Jam) and Jordan Mechner (Karateka, Prince of Persia) have credited Nasir Gebelli as a major inspiration on their early careers as game designers.