Castle Wolfenstein & Beyond Castle Wolfenstein – Creators

Castle Wolfenstein (1981)Beyond Castle Wolfenstein (1984)

 

Development

Silas Warner

Silas Warner

Silas S. Warner (August 18, 1949 – March 3, 2004) was a game programmer, author and musician. As a programmer, he was the first employee of Muse Software. Among other games, he created Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein.

Warner was educated at Deep Springs College and graduated physics in Indiana University. He was a talented programmer, but lacked some social skills. Former coworkers state that he was a prototypical “geek” in the best sense of that word: smart, inventive, and totally uninterested in conforming. He was a very large man, 6’9″ and between 300 and 400 lbs.

Warner was a major contributor to the early PLATO system (PLATO stands for “Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations”) in not just the area of gaming but also as an educational content developer. RobotWar and its editor program RobotWrite originated on the PLATO system in the 1970s. This game allowed players to program their own robots in a simple language and then pit them against each other in an arena. Due to the nature of the PLATO system as an interactive educational tool, and the availability of RobotWar at many PLATO sites, this game became an item listed in the on-line computer science curriculum of many universities and colleges. Other PLATO games authored principally by Warner include Conquest, Orbit War and Airace (precursor to Airfight hence subLOGIC and Microsoft’s Flight Simulator). He was also a contributor to Empire.

Castle Wolfenstein, published in 1981 on Apple II by Muse Software, may be the best remembered of Warner’s games, but it is not the only one. He is credited for the sequel, Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, in 1984. He also worked on Gunship for the Amiga, Silent Service for the Atari ST, and Red Storm Rising for the Commodore 64, all for MicroProse where he worked after leaving Muse circa 1985.

At Muse, he also created one of the first digital sound systems for the Apple II called “the Voice” which enabled one to record voice and play it back through the Apple II’s severely limited sound system. The technology was used to create the voices in Castle Wolfenstein. He also adapted RobotWar for the Apple II. This version of the game was so popular Byte magazine used to run competitions for best robot.

He left MicroProse about 1990 and subsequently worked at Virgin Games in Southern California, where he worked on games The Terminator in 1993, and Demolition Man in 1984. He was also a talented musician and composer in the classical European style.

Warner died in March 2004 after a long battle with kidney disease. His ashes were scattered at a private ranch in Magalia, California. Soon after, the reconstructed source code and a ported version of the game Beyond Castle Wolfenstein was released for free by his widow in honor of him.

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Muse Software

Muse Software

MUSE Software was founded in 1978 by Ed Zaron. Silas Warner was MUSE Software’s first employee. Initially publishing games, the team also sold non-game software such as Super-Text (written by Zaron), a word processor, and Appilot (written by Warner), a course-writing language. Their original market was for the Apple II and II+, with their first programs sold on cassette, and later on floppy disk. They expanded their software offerings for other computers, such as the Commodore 64 and the Atari 800. The company also ran a retail store on the corner of Charles and Mulberry Streets in Baltimore called “Muse Software and Computer Center” which closed to the public in 1982.

At its peak, Muse was making more than $2 million per year in sales. According to Zaron, Muse’s sales grew “extremely slow” because of a slump in the home computer software market. The company, which had about 40 employees at its peak in 1983, had shrunk down to just six prior to filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in 1985. Warner, who was leaving Muse to join Microprose, said the company had difficulty setting up a sales program because of the long-term illness of a key sales employee. The company closed down in 1987.

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