Not long ago, Frank Maddin, the
author of Crystal Caves was nice enough to spare some
time to answer a few questions that lots of Crystal Caves
fans and I had put together. The questions that were
asked are in bold font, and Frank's
answers are in italic font. I would like to say
a big thank you to Frank for taking the time to answer
these questions. :)
(Interview conducted in August, 2005)
I'll start off by saying that its been a while
and some of these things are a bit fuzzy, so some of the
answers might be "I'm not sure about that".
- What are you doing now these days? (from
I'm not sure about that.
I've been working for Microsoft/Digital Anvil for almost
6 years. Currently working on Next Gen related console
stuff. Mostly AI, gameplay, and tool type things.
- Where did the idea for Crystal Caves come from?
I'd liked Miner 2049er back in the day (when jumping
puzzles were cool). Then it was like "Ok so what do
you run around collecting?" They answer was
crystals. As far as the name goes I think we remembered
the old coin-op where you used a trackball and pick up
crystals. We considered that people might confuse this
with that game, but in the end we liked it, so stuck with
- Where did the name/ inspiration for 'Mylo Steamwitz'
come from? (from SpikeNexus and John the Ax)
George Broussard came up with that one. The idea was
that this guy couldn't catch a break no matter how hard
he tried. So he wanted a name that sounded like a loser.
I think I remember the phone conversation. It didn't take
long. I guess that was as goofy a name as he could come
up with in the 5 minutes we spent talking about it!
- You were involved in the Graphics of Crystal
Caves. Was there a particular area of the graphics that
you produced (e.g. enemies, tiles, items)?
I did a bit of everything. I think I did somewhere
around 60 to 80 percent of the graphics. The first
creature I did was the one-eyed hopping dude. I remember
that George was floored by how "great" it was,
and "I was the best animator ever!". Funny
thing is I'm really no artist, couldn't draw my way out
of a paper bag. The "fluid" animation was just
because I took more frames. I didn't have good control on
the animation, it went where it went and took as long as
it took. When you are working with 16x16 pixel blocks,
it's so limiting that I could almost do something at good
as a better artist if I played with it enough.
My best work was probably the snake. There is a story
about that. At one point during development we'd flown to
see id software (involved with Apogee) for business
reasons and I'd shown CC to them. Later, I heard that
John Romero thought I had stolen the snake from one of
his earlier games it looked so similar. The truth was
that I hadn't seen that game and that it was the only way
I could figure out how to do a snake in 16x16 pixels. But
it kind goes to show you the limitations can really
influence what the art is. So John, REALLY, I didn't
steal your snake! Swear to GOD mode. I just know this
will get back to him.
- You're also listed in Crystal Caves as a Game
Designer. What sorts of tasks does that involve, for
people who don't already know?
Back then designing was brainstorming ideas and
puzzles. Then turning them into art, programming, and
Here is another story. At one point there was an idea
quibble between Crystal Caves and Duke Nukem. I'd done a
Danger sign that fell on you and killed you. Get it, its
dangerous. Ha! George had shown that to Scott. Scott had
given the idea to Todd who was working on Duke Nukem at
the time. When Micro F/X joined Apogee I saw Duke Nukem
for the first time. And there it was. A danger sign that
fell on you! I was like "Hey that's my idea!".
It ended up getting changed to say something else in
I'm still mad about it to this day and I'll exact revenge
on everyone involved, or perhaps a cat since I prefer
dogs and they are more readily available and aren't tool
users and won't fight back too hard. Well, maybe a small
cat when it's asleep and then only with a water gun.
- Do you still have any of the plans or artwork
drawn up while planning Crystal Caves?
There was no paper artwork and really no
"plans" as such. There may be a list of notes
or ideas somewhere but I wouldn't know where. I have
early run-able versions of the game with bad art. It was
named "fun.exe" back then. Haven't looked at
them in a decade probably.
- How much of Crystal Caves had been completed
when the game moved from Micro F/X to Apogee?
Maybe 50 to 70 percent.
- Was there anything cut from the game that you
would liked to have seen included?
I can't remember cutting anything. Designs weren't
that big. You typically just designed as you went along.
If you didn't think you could do it quickly, you just
didn't do it. I'm sure there were ideas that were a bit
too crazy to do but you typically eliminated those
- What gave you the idea to make a Mario themed
level? (from Genius314)
Given that I can't even remember the levels much, I'd
have to say George wanted to do it. We generally just
wanted to give people with "insider knowledge"
into to the game industry something to have fun with.
That carried over in many other Apogee products.
- Was there any secret to dealing with the
2, Level 7], or was it simply a trap
for greedy players? (from XkyRauh)
You know, I can't remember. Given our mentality, it
sounds about right for it to be a trap!
- With the three refrences to Commander Keen in
Crystal Caves (Hi-score, Story and helmet in sludge), one
might suspect you were a fan of Keen. Is this true? (from
I think it all started with the helmet in the sludge,
before Apogee had the game. I remember doing that and
sending it to George in a level. I was like "You see
anything in the sludge down there?" He thought it
was great. It said to us "This game is so tough,
Keen couldn't make it through here. Mylo goes where no
game character dares!" Which of course is utter
So it started out to poke-fun-at/pay-homage-to Keen. When
it became an Apogee product there was discussion of
whether we should take it out. But we decided that
references to other games were cool.