Dynamix company history
Dynamix: The Rise of a Dragon in Eugene, Oregon


* Part one: the company

* Part two: the making of ROTD



Dynamix, Inc. was located in the Riverfront Research Park, adjacent to the University of Oregon campus. The three story steel frame, brick and glass office building at 1600 Millrace Drive was opened in 1993 with Dynamix as anchor tenant, occupying about 45,000 square feet in the building. Dynamix had its front desk located on the second floor. Before its relocation, Dynamix was located in Downtown Eugene.


Jeff Tunnell graduated from the University of Oregon with a BS in Biology, but probably only the pet frog in Willy Beamish reminds us of his studies, for soon he would become a game designer and game company owner. In 1981, Tunnell bought his first Apple Il computer and started a software store at home that was called Computertutor. He was also frantically programming Electronic Playground in Applesoft BASIC in order to try to get into the game industry.


Jeff Tunnell

After moving the store from his house to a real location, he met Damon Slye, who was a student at the University of Oregon. Slye was working on Stellar 7 and knew 6502 Assembly, what made him a God in Tunnell's eyes, so Tunnell hired him to work in his store. A couple of months later, Tunnell sold off the software store, and they started Software Entertainment Company (SEC), a company to sell their games.

Damon Slye
Slye's Stellar 7 was released under the SEC label (Apple II, 1983). Sales were a bit disappointing, as the game sold about 8,000 units. According to Slye the game must have been heavily pirated, since everyone he met had played and loved it. But he got a call from best selling author Tom Clancy, who told him how he had played the game every day after it was released.



Dynamix's second game was The Sword of Kadash, created by Chris Cole. Cole used to visit Tunnell's store with some friends and was at first considered as one of the High School hoodlums, who was trying to shoplift. But as soon as it was found out that they were aspiring programmers, they became friends quickly. The money Cole made from the game put him through college. It was published by Penguin Software (1984), that would also re-publish Stellar 7 in the same year. According to Mark Pelczarki, who started Penquin Software, sales were poor on both games. But eventually, when Dynamix made a remake in 2000, Stellar 7 became a big hit. Soon they found out that it was already too late to get in the industry with little money, so they changed the focus from publishing to game development, and called their company Dynamix (1984). After the company had changed its name, Kevin Ryan and Richard Hicks, also former University of Oregon students, came on board as owner-partners.


LR: Kevin Ryan, Jeff Tunnell, Damon Slye, and Richard Hicks (Photo as shown on the inside cover of Arcticfox for Apple II, 1986. The scene has nothing to do with the game: "They just wanted to look cool.")

Dynamix started to develop titles for publishers as Electronic Arts and later on - Activision. The young company, which was just scraping by after the disappointing sales of the first games, was contacted out of the blue one day by Joe Ybarra from EA, who suggested to make a deal with them. A few months later they all piled in a van and drove to EA in San Mateo. The result was Dynamix's first huge contract with EA, for a whopping total budget of $35K. The first game that was developed for Electronic Arts was Arcticfox, a semi-sequel to Stellar, and the first original (not ported) game released on the Amiga (February 1986). Artictox used a new version of the 3-Space system ("Three Space" was the 3D package that Damon Slye had written after he graduated from high school), and the game was an instant hit, taking home the SPA's Gold Award.

Over the course of the next few years Dynamix created some original games and ported quite a few games for various computer systems. In September 1988 Project Firestart for the Commodore 64 was released, a horror game set in space with some adventure game type elements (also dated as a 1989 release. Year on title screen and disks is 1988).

Snow
Arcticfox for the Amiga
Forest
Project Firestart for the Commodore 64

Over the course of the next few years Dynamix created some original games and ported quite a few games for various computer systems. In September 1988 Project Firestart for the Commodore 64 was released, a horror game set in space with some adventure game type elements (also dated as a 1989 release. Year on title screen and disks is 1988).


(c) All artwork copyright Dynamix
(c) Text game-nostalgia.com