Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Steve Woita, who is displayed on card number 380, from the Superstars of 2012. Steve first came on the scene while working on the Apple II computer. He has also worked on the boards of the Apple III, Apple IIe and the Joyport for Sirius Software. Steve has also been a part of the designing of many games for the PC, Atari 2600, NES and Sega Genesis to name a few. A complete list of games Steve has worked on can be found on his website at https://stevewoita.wordpress.com. Steve is also on the Board of Advisors for the Video Game History Museum. Steve is still today overseeing new games that are created and has his hands in the new technology.
Do you remember when you created your first video game what do you remember about the experience?
I remember when I designed and programmed my first published game that was actually available on a store shelf, the game was called TAZ for the Atari 2600 (VCS). One experience I remember about this game was the first time I saw it in a local Gemco department store. I clearly remember just focusing on my game as it was just hanging off the game rack on a steel peg with the rest of the entire Atari 2600 library of games that I had bought years ago before making TAZ and now my game is up there with the rest of them and it truly was a time that’s etched in my brain as I remember all of the work that it took to get this crazy game to the store shelf; it was completely worth it and that this is such a cool moment.
What was it like to be a part of the Apple II Team and what’s your fondest memory?
One that comes to mind was fixing a “color noise leak” issue on the Apple II that caused the text to have a color fuzziness to it. My solution was replacing a specific resistor on the motherboard with a different value resistor that allowed more current to flow at the base of the transistor to sufficiently squelch the color burst signal and that new resistor value was approved by Steve Wozniak and put into subsequent production. The other time was when I was working on the Apple IIe team with logic designer Walt Broedner as his Engineering Technician on the Apple IIe and both of its custom chips which were named: “Adam and Eve” (IOU and MMU). My job was to take his designs and wire wrap and debug them until they both worked. I was also making sure that older hardware peripherals and software from the Apple II were compatible with the new Apple IIe. One thing that was unheard of at that time was to get working silicon for both of these custom chips on the first try, but Adam worked and then Eve worked also, all on the first try.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
The older, classic games were designed (most of them) so that almost anybody who was slightly interested in trying to play video games would find some enjoyment in it. The reason for this is that the games were almost always designed as an electronic consumer product for anybody to play whereas today’s generation of games are designed for specific niche player skill markets. The current game skill categories are all over the place design-wise and you really have to do a lot of research before buying a game. The great thing about the free to play type of games that we see in the mobile space for example is that you can download a new style of game and if you don’t like it, just delete it and find some other game to try. This is a great and inexpensive way to find out if you may like a whole different style and or genre of game play.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a Video Game Trading card?
No way. I never even thought there would be a day I’d see video game trading cards!
What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?
Well one of my favorites was the Gameboy. My wife and I each had one and we love playing head to head Tetris! It’s a very fun two player version of the game.
Do you prefer Arcade or Console gaming and why?
That’s a very, very tough question to answer, so I’m going to say I love them both. My big deal is that the game is designed well with the controllers so that it feels seamless when playing the game.
What were your favorite game playing machines from the 80’s and 90’s?
The Atari VCS 2600, 7800, Lynx, Jaguar, TRS-80, Apple II, PC, Nintendo NES, Nintendo SNES, Nintendo Game Boy, PlayStation, Sega Genesis and the TurboGrafx-16.
What is your favorite game you have worked on in your career?
That’s a very tough one to answer; I liked them all for different reasons. The Atari 2600 TAZ game was the first game I worked on that got into stores, so that one really stands out for me.
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
I really like bottom to top “shoot ’em ups” or what can also be referred to as “shmups” or “bullet hell” games.
Are video games today aimed mainly at children, adolescents or adults?
Video games are now aimed at everybody! There have never been so many types of games offered to game players of all ages than now. Next generation consoles usually focus most of their game designs on adolescents and adults. Portable devices such as the 3DS, iPad, iPod, iPhone etc. lend themselves to a much wider age range for game designers than the much narrower focus of next generation game designs.
Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from the video game?
Well, my thought on that is that it’s really hard to take a video game which generally has so much moment to moment player, character interaction, and potentially different paths to take and then try to synthesize this into a set of fixed frames for film that won’t let down the fans of that game.
Are you still involved with gaming today, and what role do you play?
I am still involved with gaming. I’m a creative director overseeing the look and feel and design of new games in development and I’m also designing and programming new game mechanics for new types of games. My latest work and history of stuff I’ve worked on can be found at my website:
Where do you see Video gaming in the next 20 years?
I believe that augmented and virtual reality are going to become another huge part of gaming. The thought of using augmented reality on a coffee table full of stuff on it for the base of a game where the objects of the game are then casted onto the table and objects via the players glasses or portable gaming devices can really open up new areas of gaming.
This is one of an ongoing series of articles based on the Walter Day Collection of e-sports/video gaming trading cards – check out more information at thewalterdaycollection.com.