Cyberdreams's catalog of luminaries and (un-)published games
Cyberdreams's catalog of luminaries and (un-)published games



Cyberdreams, founded in 1990 by Patrick (Pat) Ketchum and owned by Rolf Klug, stayed in business till 1997. In the seven years of its existence, five games were published. At least nine other games were announced, most of which went into production, but only two of which would reach the shelves, because other companies took care of their publication.


Datasoft building
One of its offices in 1983

Patrick Ketchum, in his mid-thirties when he founded Cyberdreams, was already a veteran in the game industry. Ten years before he had founded Datasoft Inc. (Chatsworth, Ca), a company that launched games such as 221 B Baker St., Bruce Lee, The Dallas Quest, Pole Position, Zaxxon, among many others.

Cecil
Patrick Ketchum at Datasoft, 1983

The company was, before it was named Cyberdreams, nothing more than a president, Patrick Ketchum, and a programmer, John Krause, who were working out of Ketchum's house. Mike Dawson was hired as game designer, producer and writer and Joby Otero, a graphic artist, joined the company early in 1990. So in the beginning the company was a quite understaffed. But Cyberdreams would never become a development company with a staff of in house artists that was self sufficient to create games, like for instance Dynamix or Presto when they were startups. Apart from the high profile artist that was attached to each game, Cyberdreams commissioned out house artists, and later on developments houses were chosen to implement the game designs provided by the company. The small staff may have been a reason why the first game that was taken into development, Evolver, was never completed. The game was intended to be a side-scrolling action game that would run on the PC.

H(oo)ligan R. Giger

Dark Seed would become the first game that was actually shipped (1992). It demonstrated that Cyberdreams managed to attract a celebrity already for its first product, though it hadn't been easy. After lengthy negotiations, two trips to Switzerland, dozens of faxes and telephone conferences, H.R. Higer agreed to lend his artwork, provided that Cyberdreams used only hight-resolution graphics mode. And after "lots of cash", as Mike Dawson would add after fourteen years.

Dawson's house with garage at Venture Drive
The Normal World is mimicked by the Dark World -
Front of hatchery with control center

In Dark Seed the player assumes the role of Mike Dawson, chairman of an anonymous firm, who has just made one of the biggest deals in twenty-one years. As writing is his calling, he thinks he needs a quite place to write, and he decides to buy a fully furnished house in Victorian style, situated on Ventura Drive in Woodland Hills, California. As soon as he moves into the house, he is troubled by daily headaches and nightmares. In the intro of the game a clue is given: it is shown how something nasty (a "Dark Seed") is implanted in his head. Dawson finds messages of the old owner and discovers a portal, that gives access to another, Dark World, a parallel world that is inhabited by an alien race called the Ancients, who are trying to take over the Normal World. Later in the game a helping hand, called the "Keeper of the Scrolls," reveals that indeed an alien embryo was implanted in his head, which will eventually destroy not only Dawson, but the whole world. So his mission is clear: he has to save himself, and save the world.

Giger
Keeper of the Scrolls

The original concept for Dark Seed was a collaborative effort between Mike Dawson, John Krause and Patrick Ketchum. Later, Michael Cranford joined Mike Dawson to do the actual game design. The Dark World was entirely based on Giger's work, but he didn't contribute any new artwork to the game. All scenes were composed of selected parts from works from Giger's artwork library. In accordance with his wishes, the game used a high resolution VGA graphics mode (640x350, 16 colors).


Cyberdreams's own Mike Dawson played his namesake in the game. He had put his own name as a placeholder in a concept document and was stuck with it. Various other team members were casted as well, and Joby Otero brought his girlfriend Heidi Marendi to the office in order "to be digitized" as librarian.

Darkseed

With Dark Seed Cyberdreams presented itself as a company who took special interest in the design of the game boxes and their contents. The package design was done by Bright & Associates. The package is a box that is smaller at the top and bigger at the bottom, and that could be opened at the sides. It has a diamond shaped cut-out in the front, holding a removable small box, which - originally - contained the disks. The picture of the front of the small box is a portrait of Giger's beloved life partner Li Tobler, who committed suicide in 1975 (work no. 251 'Li II,'' 1974. The portrait includes a number of elements symbolizing death. The over sized head is decapitated and fed intravenously.)


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