Prolific Publishing

My introduction to the video game industry.

I was literally one day from packing my shit and moving out Orange County CA and back to Arkansas. My first job in CA was Director of Internet Technologies for Carl's Jr (Hardees, Raleys, Green Burrito, and a few others). In 1999 I was fired because “the YK2 is going to kill us all” and I had to find a job. I spent a summer working in the mall frame store and went from making really good money to ...not. It was the '90s and most companies didn't have email, let alone knew what the internet was, how to get on it, or how to use it. So when I heard about Prolific, working in video games sounded pretty good.

Prolific Publishing was best known for Return Fire, Return Fire II, and Disney Animation System. I loved DAS and was thrilled to work at Prolific for this reason.

HotWheels Crash!

Crash! Was aimed at 5-year olds but was quickly adopted by middle-aged office workers who needed an easy game that helped them destress. Smashing cars into buildings and creating explosions appealed to that audience, and the game did pretty well. Even in 2020; with 21-year-old graphics, 5,000 polys per level, and robotic audio, it still gets pretty good reviews.

Matchbox Caterpillar Construction Zone

The gameplay is sped up so fast in the commercial! I remember the CD demanding the artists add rust and 'realistic' textures to the vehicles. I then had to tell the artists that 'Matchbox Construction equipment isn't rusty, chickens shouldn't bleed when the vehicles hit them, and the game is for 5-year-olds.'' I wrote the number 5 on everyone's walls, and said, 'When someone tells you to add more blood, look at this number.' The CD didn't last long after that. I mean, he had other issues, he demanded to be made the CEO of the company. I worked for that guy two more times, so who is real the idiot?

Shrek: Fairy Tale Freakdown

Keep in mind that this game had 4.5-star reviews in almost every printed and online publication (If you ever wondered how much money Dreamworks spent on positive press). When Prolific was asked to make this game, they were only given a rough overview of who the characters were and some early sketches. We thought that Shreck was probably the name of the main character, and was told there would be other characters from the movie too. I remember the developer asking me, “Who are the other characters? Are they like witches and bats? Should I just add in witches and bats?” The music for the game and most of the art was done by the same developer who locked himself into his office with a keyboard and an arm-full of instant noodles. So, yeah the game is one of the worst games of all time, but not so bad because TDK gave Prolific another Shreck game the next year. Consider that 90% of Shreck was made by one guy over a month with no direction and very, very little input. James Host is a national treasure.