It’s all about me

Omar H. Khudari

I discovered computers as a freshman at Stanford, where I wrote my first video game on Ernest Adams‘ Commodore Pet. I soon found myself staying up all night in the computer lab, sleeping during the day (which is when, for example, classes happen) and acting on stage in the evenings (Ram’s Head Theatrical Society at Stanford and Hasty Pudding Theatricals at Harvard). I ended up with an A.B. in Philosophy from Harvard, though I can’t quite remember how.

Luckily, after college, I landed a job at Tom Snyder Productions that paid me money to write educational computer games. At TSP, I was intrigued by Electronic Arts’ challenge, “can a computer make you cry?” In 1986, with the help of fellow TSP employee, David Kaemmer, I created my first storytelling game. The game was released with the stunningly catchy title, “The McGraw-Hill Mathematics Problem Solving Courseware.” Undaunted by the obvious marketing sabotage, we tried again with “Infocomics,” a game in which the player can watch a story from multiple points of view.

In 1987, Dave and I founded Papyrus Design Group. We agreed that I should be President, because I was greedier. This worked out well—I did my power trip, and Dave created hit auto-racing games that made lots of money. By 1995, Papyrus was getting a lot of attention, and the staff had been telling the press that I was the crazy janitor who thinks he is President. It was clearly time—so we sold the company to Sierra On-Line.

After Papyrus, I rode the boom and bust of the Internet as an angel investor. At the end of 1999, I complained to my friend, Ann-Marie Bland, of a wicked investing hangover. Ann-Marie suggested that I quit whining and start my own venture again. That was the impetus for founding Cecropia and reviving the old idea of a video game about characters in a story.

In 2008, Cecropia disappeared leaving a giant, smoking hole in the ground. After my singed eyebrows and eyelashes grew back, I decided to take Candide’s advice (il faut cultiver notre jardin). You can keep track of my progress at http://stevenormanton.com.

>>Back to my blog

16 Responses to “It’s all about me”

  1. Matt Bernstein Says:

    Hey, cool blog. I’ve bookmarked it. And re Johnstone: You’re welcome.

  2. Shany Says:

    I like your work! It’s fantastic!! “The Act” looks like a really cool game! can’t wai to play it!. but I am more interesting in the company it self, it looks very cool to work there and enjoy the company of the ex-disney/disney animators. I’m sure it would be awsome to meet/work with them.

    I’m too after my dream to open up my own animation studio, write, animate and direct my own movies from my imagination. Though I’m doing it by my self (Since here animation isn’t that popular – Israel), I’m sure time will be on my side.

    Your company looks amazing! I’m glad that you keep the spirit of the 2D Animation.
    Keep Rocking!
    Shany.

  3. khudari Says:

    Shany, thank you for your comment. And best wishes for achieving your dream. As Steve Jobs once said:

    “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

  4. The Schlog » Blog Archive » Schlog joins Technorati Says:

    […] Schlog joins Technorati I’m still getting gradually indoctrinated into the world of the bloggers. My latest discovery is Technorati, which is a sort of metasite for blogs. I first discovered it as I was doing Google research about The Schlog and saw that a couple of my posts had wound up on the Technorati site without any intervention from me. Then my friend Omar Khudari mentioned Technorati to me after seeing my blog. So I signed up for a free membership, and I am using this post to “claim” my blog at their site. This is a link to my Technorati Profile. I’ll let you know if this turns out to be useful in any way, shape, or form. 8^) […]

  5. ammobland Says:

    I love your Steve Jobs quote…..I think I’ll stick it on the fridge!

  6. :: OPCIONWEB.com :: Experiencias Informáticas » Cecropia, la personalidad en los videojuegos Says:

    […] es una empresa de videojuegos fundada por Omar Khudari, cuya característica principal es, que dota de personalidad a sus personajes, haciendo la […]

  7. Chris Says:

    Hey, are you the same Omar Khudari who worked on Agent USA? That was one of my favorite Atari800 games as a kid. What really captured my imagination was the changing night and day system, which was unheard of back then.
    What was your role in developing that game?

    • Omar Khudari Says:

      Yes, I am the same. I co-designed the game with Tom Snyder, and I was the lead programmer. I’m pretty sure yours is the only piece of fan mail I have ever received from Agent USA!

      • Speechfrog Says:

        Have a second piece of Agent USA fan mail! Loved it as a kid and is the only reason I (British) can answer quiz questions about USA Geography! I found this blog from googling your name as I sit here with Agent USA open and playing on my Atari Emulator. My children (6 and 9) love it too, so it lives on for a second generation 🙂

      • Omar Khudari Says:

        Thank you so much!

  8. Matt Says:

    Thanks for making The Halley Project. One of my earliest memories is of my brother playing it while I watched. Actually, I’m not sure if this is the game he was playing, but it seems to be the closest match after asking around on a forum and looking up old Atari videos on YouTube to try to remember.

  9. Mojo2000 Says:

    I only just now heard about The Act, sorry to say. Based on what I have read and seen, I would now totally go for a digitally distributed, $10 on Steam, PC rewrite with an on-screen dial adjusted by mouse.

    My apologies if this is too little, too late, but geez, I think this kind of professional effort deserves to live on! And BTW, I did know of Agent USA back in my C=64 days, due to a short article in COMPUTE!’s Gazette, but never got around to playing it.

  10. Aryan Says:

    Is there going to be a cartoon for this game! Please make the cartoon movie because i love the act so much!!!! Fantastic work!

  11. Roger Wellington Says:

    Dear Omar,
    Good luck tonight at the Concord Planning Board meeting. I live in Concord but am also in the early stages of developing a network of farmers to supply restaurants in the Boston area with beef, chicken, pork, and lamb. I was talking to a young farmer recently who pasture-raised 3,000 chickens this past summer for a restaurant client and had to truck them to Westminster VT for processing. Your facility will play a key role in fostering local/natural production of poultry. I can’t be at the meeting tonight but would like to meet you sometime soon.

  12. Can Yiğit Tunçman Says:

    Hi i have a comic strip character. I want to produce a comic strip but i dont have so much time. I am looking for somebody who can draw comic strips according to my directions. Can we work together???

    • Omar Khudari Says:

      Hi Can, regretfully, drawing is not a talent of mine. I suggest you contact the closest art school near you and talk to an administrator there about how to recruit. Best wishes on your project!

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