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After the second “Tetris”: Color Lines and its founders 25 years later

“Color Lines”… Wait a minute — the ones with the colored bunnies? What is there really to tell? And really. After all, in the Color Lines there is nothing remarkable. No stunning — even at the time the graphics. A fascinating story about heroes and villains? Too forget. The usual “fun”, besides the ancient, pass by. Ten years ago such games were called much more viciously — “entertainment for bored secretaries.”

But even the most ardent opponents of “kazualok” probably spent over the Color Lines more than a dozen hours. And so did their spouses, children, colleagues and superiors. Someone she was on the computer in the office and distracted from the unbearable routine of working. Someone had her home — after a heroic death in DOOM. And someone also Color Lines, nothing more is necessary, and they “dabble” it still is not on DOS or Windows 3.1, and on the smartphone.

Color Lines

Is there on open spaces of our vast country is another game that brings almost all of its inhabitants? Installed on many computers and survived more than a change of OS, and then the platform? Well, maybe “Tetris”, and that is not a fact. We all come from Color Lines, as out of Gogol’s overcoat, but we know about its authors disappointingly small. Who were they? How did your masterpiece? What became of them? 4PDA found and interviewed the participants of those events.


Humble beginnings and high hopes

If you believe the splash of Color Lines authors name is Olga Demina, Gennady Denisov and Igor Ivkin. Issued her company Gamos in 1992.

But the story actually starts a little earlier — in a mysterious institution with a strong name, all-Union Institute of standardization and Metrology, where at the turn of the Soviet era worked Gennady Denisov, Igor Ivkin and Oleg Demin (where did Olga, will explain later). Demin headed in Wisma computing center, Ivkin and worked there as an engineer and Denisov, who was in the squad, permanently hung in the EC, an introduction to the new techniques.

Color Lines

However, the present work they were not that much. “Read “The Prince Of Gosplan” Pelevin? Everything was exactly”, smiles Danny, remembering those days. Labor day was spent on familiarization with computers and their capabilities. Including and entertainment — all three with gusto were “Prince of Persia” and then other hits. And, in the end, decided to gamble — to do something of my own.

The first serious creation (after the trial in the form of “tetrisoobraznoy rhymes”) were “Angles” — is a logic game based on famous Board. For writing the code came from Demin. Denisov and Ivkin sat down for clearance and began to study graphic editors. This division of labor remained in command and later. When the “Corners” were ready, all three of them became clear — they have “on the knee” turned out not worse, than many pros. And if so, why not try to publish it officially?

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Color Lines

Then it happened, as it happens only in old Hollywood movies. Denisov corner of my eye I saw a television program about computer games and their publishers. Performed there, among others, Yevgeny Sotnikov, the Director of a small company Gamos. Which — what luck! — looking for new ideas and take them from everyone. The centurions even called the phone number. This combination of numbers and Denisov had time to write.


Just like in the movies

In anticipation of the fun Sotnikov nervous, anticipating rejection and suggestions to get away. Instead Gamos bought “the corner” and offered to cooperate. Inspired by the success, the developers began to produce ideas for the future. So at the next meeting suggested script not one, but five. And for a large and complex quests.

Here — almost for the first time, was disappointed. “Our ideas Jack smashed to smithereens” — says Denisov. And then he adds that no one is upset. “On the contrary, it was clear where to go”. And the course laid Gamos, lay in the direction of simple, clear to the ordinary user, and not too expensive in production of logical games and puzzles.

Color Lines

Sotnikov was to take one example: his friend once made plain at the first glance the game, which could become not just an international hit, but a real cultural phenomenon. Friend’s name was Alexey Pajitnov, and his creation — Yes, the same Tetris — needs no introduction.

On the same day on the way home Denisov, Demin and Ivkin discussed what to do next. Demin and Ivkin still wanted quest, and Denisov puzzled over “something simpler”.

“And then I flashed the idea, something like “a ball through the ball, and then they’re gone”,” says Denisov.

He shared his idea with Demin. “And, of course, immediately forgotten about it” he laughs. Remember I had already at home. And here is the result of brainstorming was born the same Color Lines: field 9×9 cells in which balls are moved. They even had their own heroes — cute and colorful bunnies. Their Denisov came up with, pririsoval one of the balls of the eyes first and then the nose with the nose way came to an abrupt end.

After a few months, the game showed Gamos. The idea recognized the new and unusual, and the execution was approved, despite the roughness. It was time to bring everything to mind — and here there were unforeseen difficulties.

Color Lines

VISM, which before was feverish winds of change, wave of cuts. Under it were and EC staff. Denisov and Ivkin was planning to completely go into Gamos. And Demin found a job in the Moscow city hall. The contract didn’t allow him to simultaneously work elsewhere. So on the splash screen and appeared Olga Demina — in honor of the wife of a programmer (her really name was Olga).


The formula for success

All the elements of Color Lines, of course, existed and earlier, but in a different way and individually. Balls, Bouncing on cells taken directly from the “Corners”. Gradually filling the field and vanishing lines reminiscent of Tetris, but here is not the copying of ideas, and their redefinition. Although a nod in the direction of his predecessor were. Take the headband, clearly hinting at the country of origin of the hammer and sickle is not here, but in the background is quite recognizable differences kremlinology silhouette (to draw the Kremlin itself was impossible, therefore, Denisov decided to limit his likeness). But that’s not all: in Color Lines, as in Tetris, all interface elements are displayed, and navigate to them very easily.

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Color Lines in the tempo is a lot calmer Tetris, in which the head is constantly fall down new circuits. They share more than just a resemblance or familiar elements — the grace with which both games are adapted to the individual style of each. There is no sudden jump in difficulty, and no long indulgent driving the handle. Color Lines will yield you just as much as you do she’ll allow it. A novice like a five year old kid who saw the “balls” on the parent computer, it’s field very quickly overgrown with colorful beads. And the expert will be long and effectively burst bright kruglyashi (if you want a hint about the following colors may be disconnected, making the process even more intrigue). There’s always a reason not to give up and sit still a little bit (five minutes, half an hour, and here you already did not notice that outside the window was dark or dawn). On the left side of the screen at you with a taller pedestal was staring out the previous record holder with all the regalia — conceited oaf, reminiscent of Edward James Olmos from the fairy tale by Gianni Rodari. To cast him down from his tall throne was unspeakably nice. So much so that I wanted to do it again and again, time after time surpassing rivals (colleagues, bosses, wife, parents, mother-in-law and so forth) and itself.

Color Lines

And although no revolution in graphics Color Lines is not made, it has aged much better than the peers. So whether you know a lot of games hailing from 1992 that look good now without plastic surgery — updated pictures and interface?

Concise appearance, the gameplay, the degree of addictively comparable only to that of “Tetris” and illicit drugs, the lack of rigor to the system — it was the right recipe for success. But the scale of this success to imagine then nobody could, including the publisher and developers. Denisov himself admits that until the last treated to the whole thing skeptical. But time has dispelled doubts: “Everything is compact and Mature, plus the nervous excitement is all that is necessary for the best game”.


“I from grandmother left, I from the grandfather left…”

Color Lines rolled into people. However, not as expected by its creators. Recalls Denisov, one of the partners Gamos borrowed a copy — of course, solely for internal purposes, as a model for the design of its products. And then began to distribute it right and left, the years were wild, “nondisclosure agreement” and “copyright” almost no one and heard nothing.

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Colorful bunnies ran away from their parents out to pasture, where they began to be fruitful and multiply exponentially, on discs like the “150 best games for IBM PC” and the usual floppy. The first version of the Color Lines — the one with Olga Demina on the splash screen was in the early to mid-90s on almost every computer in the former USSR. But money has not brought almost any. The exact numbers now, nobody will remember, but officially Gamos sold not 300, or even 150 copies — a drop in the sea of pirate installations.

Some income to managed — in addition to the Color Lines, Demin and his colleagues have developed several products for Gamos — all with the same bunnies in the lead roles. They were gathered into one collection and released on disk, which cost about $ 20. In addition, the rights I bought a Japanese Bandai Namco, Color Lines released in 1996 with different artwork, music, and generally under a different name (Golly! Ghosts! Goal!).

Color Lines

By this time in the Gamos from the creators of the game worked only Igor Ivkin. Gennady Denisov and other employees left the company in 1994. Oleg Demin died while Windsurfing in the same year.


Go away

His brainchild, however, continued to live on millions of computers and disks. A version for Windows, released under the name Lines 98. Then — free flash games online. In our time, Color Lines was reborn once again, stepped on smartphones and tablets, where it feels great. To verify this, just go to AppStore or Google Play.

Gennady Denisov after leaving Gamos is a journalist and photographer. Yevgeny Sotnikov worked with Cybiko, and then moved to 1C Wireless, where he works until now. Both admit that they continue to play the Color Lines — like the original version and the modern clones, which are innumerable. However, the original, said Denisov, remains the best algorithm Demin, for which the field “grow” new balls, still anyone could not be beat.

Color Lines

We used to refer to a “chance” with easy contempt. There are too many, they are too available, and the number is much higher than the quality. We are tired of the fact that the developers are trying to outdo each other with colorful graphics, halt their products advertising, and about the gameplay remember in the least, sadly chewing the same concept. We want something new and unusual — and forget that sometimes it is enough just to make something good, nice and simple.

Like Color Lines created by our countrymen 25 years ago. Yes, they have made great breakthroughs. But their creation is brightened, not one boring day, one dreary evening, a lot of subway rides and trips to the dentist. Color Lines not impressed, but she was occupied and entertained, making our lives a little better. And isn’t that the main purpose of the game?


In the design used photos from the personal archive of Gennady Denisov. Edition 4PDA thanks Gennady Denisov Evgeny Sotnikov for help in the work.

Author: Pauline Esakova

Source: 4pda.ru

After the second “Tetris”: Color Lines and its founders 25 years later

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