As sort of an adjunct to the Greg Costikyan/Warren Spector conversation last week, I link to Salon‘s profile of Dani Bunten, one of the most innovative game designers of the eighties. She was the creator of such incredible games as M.U.L.E. and Seven Cities of Gold.

The article is also a lament for the sorts of games that Bunten created, and it dovetails nicely with Costikyan’s laments about the death of originality and risk taking in the game industry. The conventional wisdom seems to be that the reason games are hard to get made these days is the huge budgets required for sound, graphics, and other glitzy elements that the industry feels are de rigeur. But the question I have to ask is whether that stuff is really necessary to make a successful PC game. Snood is a blast, and it’s one of the ugliest games ever. Popcap makes fun games that don’t have impressive graphics either. Even Civilization and its descendents don’t have incredibly It seems to me that a game with compelling game play and a reasonable price point would do just fine right now, even if it didn’t have the graphics of Unreal.