Curt Johnson’s Windows games
July 5, 2011
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Curt Johnson joined Microsoft in 1989. It seems that he was working in OS/2 development. He wrote the original Presentation Manager version of what would later become Minesweeper. He is co-credited for some Bogus Software and Duff Software games, but he also wrote a couple of small Windows games that did not use either label. He did not credit them to himself in an easily accessible way either. The games have no about screens, only if you look right into the executable you will find a string “copyright 1990 by Curt Johnson.” So far I have found four of these games.
Brick or Bricks (the name Brickout turns up as well, but not within the game) is probably the best known of his games and has been distributed a lot. It is a fully functional Breakout, the colored blocks actually have a different behavior, but the supply of balls is endless, and nothing specific happens when you clear all the blocks.
From design, this little slot machine may well be Curt Johnson’s masterpiece. When moved over the game window, the cursor turns into a well-drawn hand which fits the lever in size and can actually pull it down. The animation of the slots is smooth and very realistic. There’s just no gameplay attached to the whole thing.
This sliding tile puzzle is probably the most finished of these games, though I’ve never played it far enough to see what happens when you solved it. I never figured out the function of the two LED displays either.
In contrast, Bridge It is the most sketchy and unfinished of the games. Curt Johnson spent considerable effort on the icons of his other games, this one just got the graphic used for the shuffle button in the sliding tile puzzle. Bridge It is just a game board with no AI, and it does not react in any way if one of the players wins, you can just continue playing. The board can be cleared, without warning, at any time by right-clicking on it.
In a way it’s a pity, finished it would have been the most interesting game in the bunch, and I like the graphics better than those of either Span-It! and Fences.