18 September 2010

Entrepreneur Profile: Mark Long, Zombie Studios - by Mark Tanjutco

HitPoints is pleased to present its interview of Mark Long, co-Founder and co-CEO of Zombie Studios, known for its recent XBox Live title, Blacklight: Tango Down. As with all of the interviews that will be featured on this blog, my conversation with Mark focused not necessarily on promoting a specific product, but in learning more about the personality, influences, and artistry that drives Mark as a game creator.

We spoke to Mark about his work before Zombie, the early days of getting the company started, his creative inspirations, his comics/graphic novel projects, the culture at Zombie, his perception of the future of the games industry, and his advice for game entrepreneurs and business people.

(Below are a couple Q&A excerpts from the full interview posted on marktanjutco.com)


Mark Tanjutco: Mark, first of all, thanks so much for participating in this interview. I guess I’ll start with the background questions. What got you into the gaming business and what were some of the things you doing before (game development) that got you interested in creating video games?

Mark Long: Well, I’ve always been a gamer. When I first took programming at the University of Texas, the very first thing that I learned was that you could hack other people’s accounts; this is back in the era of mainframe programming. You could use their time on the mainframe to play the space battle games that were online then, and all through the early PC games, I just continued to be a gamer.

Mark Long: I (then) worked in a laboratory in Princeton called the David Sarnoff Research Center, and (this) commercial laboratory was named after David Sarnoff who formed RCA; it was a really interesting lab.

The lab could do everything from basic material research to milling a TV cabinet with a CNC machine; and my partner Joann Alexander hired me to work with her to become virtual reality researchers in laboratories. This is 1991. You have two young virtual reality researchers, and we were doing (this) work when Hasbro (visited) and was looking for a laboratory to help them develop a head mounted game console they wanted to make.  And this is even before 3DO.  You know, this is even before N64.  But it was going to be a head mounted display because at that time period, virtual reality was the hot thing.

(Pointing to shelves) Right, if you look up there you can see those old virtual reality head mounted displays.  Some of them, we designed.

Mark Tanjutco: Is this before Nintendo’s project? The Virtual Boy.

Mark Long: Virtual Boy, yeah, before the Virtual Boy even.   And we designed the whole thing and Hasbro took it all the way to tool and die and killed it. (Laughs)

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