My grand kids broke my website ( by having reddit wish me a happy 85th birthday and download my free games.

460+ people have requested that I do an AMA. I will be doing an AMA at 5:00pm MST 4/8/16. Posting now so you can line up your questions.

Biggi & Banzaii played some of my games.

I was interviewed by an African blogger.


Google Cardboard view of the Attic. Download and use Google Cardboard to see the attic in 360:

Mirror in case you bring my site down again:

Edit: Thanks everyone for your great questions. I am leaving now but I'll check back later on to see if there are any more.

Edit: Okay, I'm back.

EDit: I am closing this AMA. I believe you nice people have drained all my punditry and I can revert to be the senile old geezer I'm supposed to be. Thanks for contributing your questions and for the gracious attitudes of everyone. It's fun to share with no flames.

Comments: 180 • Responses: 56  • Date: 

dainw67 karma

What do you want to be when you grow up?

rodfisher166 karma

I'm going to hold off on deciding that until I actually grow up.

Ryxobio56 karma


Thank you for your Ama. I have some questions:

  • How long does it take to create a game?
  • What is your favorite game?
  • Is there anything you dislike about the new game developers/creators?
  • You look younger than 85. What is your secret? please, say "play a lot of video games"

rodfisher101 karma

I created Pearl Harbor Encounter in about three days. But I had much of the code already from Quack Shoot. On the other hand, Territory: The Mountain Men took about three years.

My favorite game is Sid Meier's Pirates.

My computer is too wimpy to play any new games.

Secret: I take naps.

shiftplusone26 karma

I was waltzing through my Reddit feed and saw this AMA. I immediately knew exactly who you were because of your grand kids. How's that for recognition?

Since, that is probably not a proper question, let me ask you instead, how does being recognized for your work feel? (Especially as a hobbyist developer with what I presume is a very small marketing budget.)

I'm glad you are taking the time to do this AMA and in my mind, you are absolutely one of the cool kids.

rodfisher42 karma

Small marketing budget? How about NO marketing budget. That's why they are all free. But my games brought me a lot of satisfaction in the past. I tracked the downloads of Lost Dutchman for a couple years and it was neat to see that people is strange places like Lapland, Mongolia, The Seychelles, and other places I had to look up on Wiki, were playing my games. Several quality free game sites mirrored them. But for my grandkids to set this up does make me feel special. I'm lording it over the ol' missus who got her internet fame with her bass guitar power pose.

syserr4439 karma

Could you give a 40 year old corporate software developer some tips on how to start making games? What software do you use?

rodfisher104 karma

If I were starting again I would use Unity. All my games were made using GameStudio. It's important to use software that has good forum support from your peers (read teenagers). Just pretend you're one of them. They may never suspect. Sometimes, I found, even tho I coded something that worked, someone on the forum would show me another beautiful way to do the same thing. Yes, coding can be beautiful.

nobody_from_nowhere42 karma

Yes, coding can be beautiful.

Yes. Yes, it can. Thanks for the great AMA and the games. I tried a few and they've been fun.

rodfisher44 karma

Once you play with them enough to catch the bugs you have no desire to play them again for a long time. The exception for me is Pearl Harbor Encounter which I got the gameplay just right and I can't seem to beat my own high score. It also gets my juices started like a good arcade game should.

OhBoyItsSnugsy37 karma

Out of everything you've done in your lifetime what have you enjoyed the most? I'd also like to say that everything you've done is amazing and extremely inspiring!

rodfisher68 karma

I enjoyed being a traveling musician playing in lounges all over the Westen states and Alaska during the 60's and 70's.

quietsamurai9822 karma

I remember reading that you compose all of the music yourself, and I was curious about how you go about composing a piece.
How do you get inspired? Do you use a synthesizer or something similar when you're drafting?

rodfisher39 karma

I graduated from paper scores when Cakewalk first came out as an MS/Dos program. In the last couple years some great sound fonts have become available rivaling the sound of real instruments. I use a version of Sonar for arranging and orchestrating. My midi keyboard is connected to PC that I only use for that purpose. No viruses!

Inspiration comes from what pops into my head when I first wake up.

joelparkerhenderson18 karma

Can you share your perspective on how computers and also games have progressed over time?

rodfisher62 karma

Oh, Joel, you unwittingly put me on my soapbox. You just can't ask that question of someone from the Amiga era without getting locked into a week-long discussion. But in a nutshell: Microsoft's dominance in marketing put Commodore out of business and set the progress of computing back 10 years. It was the saddest day. I still miss the multi-tasking of the Motorola chip even wimpy as it was compared to today's processors. I could do everything I do now on my Amiga 4000. It just took hours instead of seconds for the 25 Mhz processor and the 2 Mb of ram to get it done.

MidshipSquirrel6 karma

I'm with you on that. Back in college I had an Atari ST (sworn enemy of the Amiga). Both were far superior to the PCs of the time when it came to graphics and sound, unfortunately the PC won the battle. I was in comp sci and did all my graphics programming on the ST. It blew them away back then.

rodfisher12 karma

Those were "the good old days" of computing when software was usually written by one or two very smart people and the teenagers of Europe were going nuts in the demoscene.

SighReally1234518 karma

Everything I've read about you makes you sound like an awesome person! Thanks for that and the AMA. Your grandson even pinged me a month later to let me know you were doing this.

Have you ever considered making a 4x game? With your style, I think something along the lines of Civilization would be awesome.

If not a 4x, I think you should make a game in a similar vein to Pirates about a travelling band playing music in the west during the times you played until now. It'd be awesome to see your take on something like that.

Also, I suggest you title all your games Rod Fisher's <game>. It'd make me wanna buy it. :)

Thanks again!

rodfisher23 karma

Since I'm a dabbler I tend to get bored with one avenue of creativity and switch to another for a while. Like in the movie, "Little Big Man", I have discrete periods in my life. Right now I'm in the music composing period and just finished orchestrating some of the great classical themes that were originally written in 4/4 into 3/4 variations. The new CD will be out shortly, "Waltzing the Masters". I have some other compositions on my bucket list also. I may get back to a game making period when I satisfy that list.

SighReally1234515 karma

Whatever you do, Rod, enjoy! You're a really positive person and the world is a bit better for it:)

rodfisher28 karma

Thank you. That makes me sigh. Really.

xesexesexesex18 karma

Whats your favorite food?

What's something from your childhood you miss?

rodfisher37 karma

Pizza. I miss the cars that anyone could tinker with and possibly fix.

RS_Skywalker14 karma

I'm developer on a small project (on unity) and I'm in love with the game development side of it and everything but it's exhausting for me. How do you have the energy or mind power for this still? (by the way you look really healthy from your picture. I'm not convinced you're 85 :P )

rodfisher25 karma

You'll never be 85, except on the outside.
Mentallly you stay at 35 as long as you don't get alzheimers or a stroke. I never thot of game making as using energy. You must not be doing it right. ; )

RS_Skywalker4 karma

Well I didn't mean so much energy as much as mind power:P Thanks for your response.

rodfisher10 karma

Cute musical game you have going there. I avoided games that required any physics more complicated than the flight of a bullet. I never liked math so when I ran into a coding problem that required trig, etc., I found help on the GameStudio forum.

talkingorange12 karma

What first made you decide "I'm gonna make a game!" — was it a sudden revelation or did you just kinda fall into it?

rodfisher17 karma

It was an Amiga game construction program. I never did get smart enough to code anything with it.

tomhung11 karma

What is your current favorite book? How many books do you read? How did you get into building a sail boat? Are there any good games out there that are true to sailing?

rodfisher19 karma

Gil Blas. Since I got a Kindle I read about two a week. The whole story of the beginnings of my sailing period is in the book, "The Unsinkable Sloop", available on Amazon.

I have demoed or bought just about every sailing game available for the PC and the only one that gets the sailing part right is Pirates!

evenwhoward10 karma

What plot/storyline/setting would you love to create if the tools and time weren't any issue?

rodfisher13 karma

That's a great question! I just finished reading Gil Blas, a 17th Century novel that has a lot of gaming possibilities in his many adventures. I had a kid from Italy ask me to do a game about some of the warring among the Italian states of yore. That could be an interesting strategy game involving several factions.

tomhung7 karma

How fast can you create and skin a model?

rodfisher14 karma

Humanoids take more time because of the animation and skinning. The planes in Pearl Harbor I made in about two hours. Skinning mechanical things is very easy.

DaggerMoth6 karma

Have any songs online?

rodfisher9 karma

I have four CDs. "Sleepwalking to a Latin Beat" is a compilation of original songs. Another CD "Waltzing the Classics" will be available soon. If you don't listen to CDs you can get download the tracks in MP3 format from the link on the CD label. Sneaky, huh?

evenwhoward2 karma

Are you using soundcloud?

rodfisher7 karma

Yes. but I'm not posting anything on it at this time.

tomhung6 karma

What is the back story of the Pink Shrek with the Easter Bunny?

rodfisher11 karma

There was an Easter contest. A friend in Denmark had created a game using cubes and balls that was fun. We had collaborated on some combat coding so I asked him if he minded me making an Easter game out of it for the contest. It didn't win. I don't think the judges were ready for zombies in a cemetery.

vog15 karma

I too am a fan of the Pirates Series. I first played it on the c64. I have since also played the most recent version on PC. Do you have a favorite version?

rodfisher3 karma

I never got into the Amiga version that much. But the PC version is a vast improvement.

offenator5 karma

What are your "wimpy" computer specs?

rodfisher8 karma

Pentium 4, 2.93 GHz cpu, 3Mb ram, Gforce 210, Windows XP

magoomba925 karma

Are you the Dos Equis guy?

rodfisher4 karma

Haha...very flattering! I do like the beer.

nomacjack5 karma

Will you be speaking at a convention in los Angeles?

rodfisher16 karma

No. I just got back from a trip to Florida and it'll be a few months before I feel like going thru airport hell again.

Squishfish255 karma

Do you have a gaming system that you enjoy playing now? Do you have an old nintendo?

rodfisher16 karma

No, I had a lot of games for the Amiga and I still like to play some of them on the Amiga emulator, Amiga Forever. I have a Wii that I play once in a while--mostly for exercise. I like strategy games. I may buy a used xbox or playstation when I get older.

Moofstar1 karma

Which strategy games did you enjoy the most on Amiga?

rodfisher2 karma

Sid Meier's Colonization had great gameplay. I still think its a better game than the Civ version of it, even with the clunky graphics.

tomhung4 karma

Or an Amiga?

rodfisher8 karma

I sold about $3000 worth of Amiga junk for $200 a while back.

Lupan883 karma

That's upsetting. I used to love my Amiga 1200. Best thing I ever owned in the 90's.

The Amiga was so unbelievably amazing. I wish I had more money in the 90's so I could have bought some accessories and a CD-Rom attachment.

I remember Flight of The Amazon Queen being a brilliant adventure game. (Which was subsequently released for free on the PC a few years ago).

rodfisher4 karma

Yeah, I played that game. I believe it was based on the Johnson of household products fame who traveled the Amazon to find special wax. I saw his modified seaplane in Oshkosh.

badhairqueen5 karma

Hi Rod! It's hard to believe you're 85!!! 3 questions, if you don't mind:

1) How do you stay young and healthy?

2) How do you keep your mind sharp and lucid?

3) Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?


rodfisher31 karma

  1. It's mostly in the genes. But I take a nap most every afternoon and then stay up to about 1 a.m. watching Netflix. I don't think a lot of exercise helps--just uses up a finite number of heartbeats.

  2. I do a lot of crossword puzzles and I take a phosphatadylserine pill once a day for short term memory, if I remember to do it. I tried drinking green tea but kept forgetting where I left my cup.

  3. Dead.

redditb4mykids2 karma

It's in the microwave, that's the beeping sound you're hearing. ;)

rodfisher3 karma

Yes, yes. You've found it. The microwave! Everlasting youth. I think Ponce de Leon was looking for one in the Florida swamps, not realizing they hadn't been invented yet.

redditb4mykids5 karma

How did you feel watching Biggi & Banzaii play your games?

rodfisher11 karma

I thought it was hilarious.

Jazonxyz4 karma

What do you use to make these games? Do you use a certain game engine?

rodfisher6 karma

I use GameStudio.

dvd_004 karma

Favorite text editor? Thanks.

rodfisher3 karma

I just use the one that's included with GameStudio.

SneerValiant4 karma

Hi, I'm curious about your boat building. Bent frames or sawn? What woods did you use? What style of planking? Or did you make a fiberglass hull?

rodfisher4 karma

The first one was strip-planked over stations then glassed. The last four have been stitch and glue. That goes very fast when you use zip ties instead of wire. I use 1/4" inch ply for the bottom and mahogany door skins for the sides.

Assbadger3 karma

Thanks for the AMA, very inspiring. I just decided to try my hand at coding a game, thanks for that. Question wise, I have two:

1- Funniest memory? That memory that years later just makes you laugh...

2-Whats you happy place, thought? That one thing you can daydream about and bring you out of a funk or make a beautiful day more beautifuller.

Thanks again Sir!!

rodfisher4 karma

  1. When you're my age your funniest memories are those priceless things your kids did when they were two or three years old.

  2. I don't know how to answer the second question. When you have a loving partner and a great extended family, as I do, every day's a happy place.

f4t4lerror3 karma

Hello Sir

Let suppose you had a team of young programmer eager to help you make a game that you could`n make alone , what would it be and how much time would you invest in it ?

P.S You are awesome !

rodfisher3 karma

It would be a remake of my first awful effort which was based on the Red Shadow, a real life German officer who aided the Tauregs and Berbers against the French Foreign Legion in the 1920's. As you probably realize, I like historical games.

FastMazader2 karma

What's the coolest place you've ever been to?

rodfisher3 karma


alucard3332 karma

So what would be your favourites in game music and why?

Hardest part of the game development phase for you?

Also what is the worst experience you've had creating games? (Maybe financially or personally)

Finally, Any tips for people wanting to enter the game development scene?

rodfisher3 karma

The composers of game music today will be honored as the classical masters in the future. They do incredible work taking full advantage of unique world instruments and earth drums. I don't usually look at the music credits but game music and film music are closely related. My favorite composers in films are Howard Shore, Jeff Beale, Danny Elfman and Basil Pouladoris (sp).

Hardest part for me is coding.

The worst experience was with my first game. I thought I could sell it. In the first six months I sold 2 copies--one to a daughter. I realized that as a lone gun I could never compete with marketing of the big companies. So I decided to go free with no ads or gimmicks.

If you wanted to start in game making I would suggest Unity. If I were starting from scratch that's what I would use. It's cross platform which is important with everyone using handhelds.

intrigued_human2 karma

How do you look so young for an 85 year old?

rodfisher3 karma

A very intriguing, yet human, question. Must have been from staying up nights and drinking for a couple decades. Hell, I don't know. It's in the genes.

Firebirdz2 karma

What is the best career advice you can give?

rodfisher11 karma

I'm the worst person to give that kind of advice, since I never stayed with a job where the boss was dumber than me and created stress. My advice would be: If you find yourself fussing about the idiocy in the management, say goodbye and live longer. Otherwise you will always be responsible for some senior's goofup and that same idiot will take credit for anything good you do.

amanager2 karma

Do you meditate?

rodfisher6 karma

No. One of my daughters does that for me.

analog422 karma

How big are the sailboats you build? What material do you use for the hull? Can we see some pictures? I've just started getting into sailing and love it. Thanks for doing an AMA.

rodfisher5 karma

I've just built daysailers--10 to 14 feet. Since 1980 I've used the stitch and glue method where the shape of the plywood panels determines the shape of the hull. There is free software for designing this type of hull. I believe my last build, about two years ago, a cross between a skipjack and a catboat, can be seen on my Facebook page. It has an old-fashioned sail plan that gets me lots of attention on the lake.

neosinan2 karma

What's your tips to New coders and game developers about life of developer and how to continue to code when we get 85?

rodfisher3 karma

Find some compatible friends who complement your coding skill with music and graphic abilities. It seems that many of best coders do not do well in those areas and end up with bad graphics and sequenced music.

To continue to code when you're 85, you just need to get there first.

trackday1 karma

When you were playing in the '60s and '70s, what instrument did you play, and what types of music?

rodfisher2 karma

We played covers of all the pop artists and songs. I play piano, trumpet and trombone.

BeefSerious1 karma

Were you ever in contact with the guys that made the video you posted?

rodfisher2 karma

If you mean Biggi and Banzaii--no.

A-Lo_in_the_B-Lo1 karma

What do you remember about the day President Kennedy was assassinated?

rodfisher3 karma

It was a sunny day in Great Falls, MT, where I had the house band at the 3D Club.

WeiParcell1 karma

Hello! Thank you for your Ama. I have some questions: How long does it take to create a game? What is your favorite game? Is there anything you dislike about the new game developers/creators? You look younger than 85. What is your secret? please, say "play a lot of video games"

rodfisher2 karma

Forgive me, I thought I answered this post before, but I must have neglected to hit save.

It took three years to create Territory but the FPS games only take a few days. My favorite of my own making, if that is what you mean, is Pearl Harbor Encounter. It gets my adrenaline flowing and I can't seem to beat my own hi score. I like Sid Meier's games and I still play RR Tycoon and Pirates!

My computer is too wimpy to play most new games.

Yes, playing lots of video games keeps you away from doing actual labor, thus keeping you young.

TheOfficeJocky1 karma

Real quick questions on how you got started in game development.

Do you have any formal education regarding development? (e.g. Comp Science degree)

What made you interested and are you happy doing it?

rodfisher2 karma

Playing Amiga games got me interested. I played Knights of the Sky to death.

There was no such thing as computer science when I was in college. And a degree in comp sci does not make a game creator any more than shop full of power tools makes a boat builder. The coding for games is a very creative process that requires a vision of the end result. The mechanics of coding, although necessary, don't necessarily impart that ability. I think that it's a talent like music and art. Just my opinion, probably flawed. Don't take it too seriously.

Yes, it's a happy pastime. Keeps me out of the casinos.

hashtablesmoker1 karma

Do these games run on linux?

rodfisher3 karma

No, I don't think so. But I don't use linux. Maybe there's an emulator or something.

ryewheats_21 karma

When you create a game for an older system (like DOS or Windows XP) do you try to keep it updated every 10 years or so to play on newer systems?

rodfisher1 karma

No. I figure they've cycled out with progress.

newocean1 karma

I am actually amazed by this, as someone who just got here, I need to catch up. I am half your age... give or take 40 years. (Actually I'm 39... so give or take 39 years because 40 might cause a segfault.)

Actually we have a lot in common, I too, love boats. Growing up in New England probably did that to me.

I started programming when I was 8 years old... and while I know some older programmers, most were in college in the 70's for either Physics, or Math. How the heck did you get started!?!?!

rodfisher2 karma

My first foray into computers was in 1979 when I rented a Wang word processor, big as a desk, for $700 for a month to speed up the writing of film scripts I was working on. In 1980 I was managing a business with a Kaypro64, which did everything necessary for bookkeeping and correspondence. (I laugh at what companies today think they need for those functions.) During the '80s I played with several brands including the old green screen Apple but settled on a Tandy with MS/dos. I was a big fan of "Big Blue" as the collusion between MS and IBM was known. I never tried any programming on any of those beyond futzing around with Basic with my grandson Eben. Then I got hold of an Amiga and the creative possibilities blew my mind and it became very useful for video and film production. It was thrilling to see the first golden letters come swinging out of a sunset, courtesy of Lightwave, after waiting 30 hours for the 25 MHz cpu to render the frames. I realized soon that I had the knowledge for the music, animation and graphics for gaming. I just needed to get into coding, which I dreaded because I thot it was just math. I was surprised to find the same satisfaction in a beautiful piece of code as in a piece of music.

sbhikes1 karma

It's awesome you are a dilettante. I think I'm one, too. I don't know what I will be when I grow up. I'm 51. I kinda like doing a lot of different things, none of which I'm particularly great at, but I do them regardless. How do you find your way in life when you are like this?

rodfisher1 karma

It's probably a curse. Whenever you feel you have succeeded in one area, you get bored and go on to another. As I noted in a previous post, I have periods. Now, I'm in my classical composing period, using the orchestration tools and soundfonts available in software. I'm thinking of writing a symphony, or at least a suite like---I'm thinking of variations on Rhapsody in Blue in sections named Aqua, Teal, Azure, etc. My CD that is coming out soon was a project to help me find the best voicing and mixing for orchestra. My previous background was in arranging for jazz groups. When I feel I've conquered orchestra scoring to my own satisfaction I may go back to game making. The one thing I can never conquer (and no one ever has) is the piano. No matter how good you get, there's more ahead than you've left behind. For a lifetime challenge try mastering the keyboard.

speaker233-47 karma

How do I get into the gaming industry as a software engineer? I have no experience and 1 year away from a B.S. in CS

rodfisher17 karma

I couldn't help you. I wasn't exactly in the gaming industry--just a hobbyist.

speaker2331 karma

Sorry Mr.roffisher, I actually thought you weren't the real deal since reddit said to be wary of proof. Also I was one of the first ones to comment so I said what the hell. Lets see if this guy is real, got a vague answer, and trolled haha.

rodfisher1 karma

Apology appreciated. Thank you.

speaker233-75 karma

useless. what the fuck do you have an AMA for then?

rodfisher31 karma

Just to answer all the questions the nice people have asked here.