Have You Played? One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time. Not many games have been so poorly handled by their publisher, nor so many publishers depressingly ignorant about what they had. The publisher… sold it as a Western. And so, one truly excellent adventure slipped instantly into obscurity.
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Based on the Callahan's Place book series by author Spider Robinson , the game follows Jake Stonebender, narrator of the books, through six discrete comic science fiction adventures.
Taking the role of Jake, the player solves puzzles, converses with characters from the Callahan's Place series and visits locations such as the Amazon rainforest , Transylvania and outer space. Mandel had considered adapting the Callahan's Place books since the s, and saw the project as an answer to the dark and violent content of games in the mids. Robinson was initially uninterested in the game's development, but increasingly collaborated with Mandel as it progressed.
First planned as a self-published title, Callahan's Crosstime Saloon switched to publisher Take-Two late in development, and was subsequently mismarketed as a work of Western fiction. The game was a commercial failure, although Mandel was pleased with its reception by fans of Robinson's books.
It received positive reviews from critics. Callahan's Crosstime Saloon became Mandel's last project at Legend Entertainment, and was the company's penultimate adventure game, followed by John Saul's Blackstone Chronicles The player controls Jake Stonebender narrator of the book through a series of bizarre adventures.
Included in the game are several songs performed by Spider Robinson himself; these can be heard by talking to the pianist in the bar and asking for "one of your specialties". In late , Legend Entertainment secured the rights to develop a comic science fiction adventure game based on the Callahan's Place stories by Spider Robinson , and chose the name Callahan's Crosstime Saloon initially as its working title.
Mandel's chance to create Callahan's Crosstime Saloon came after his departure from Sierra,  which he left during the development of Space Quest 6 because of his distaste for the company's changing corporate culture.
Legend co-founders Bob Bates and Mike Verdu then asked Mandel to select two potential authors to adapt, so that the company could begin a new project after the failure of The Belgariad. He chose Robinson and Dean Koontz , his favorites at the time,  and Legend opted for the former. Mandel's core goals with Callahan's Crosstime Saloon were to make a title with a "strongly positive theme", in contrast to other games of the period, and to produce an adventure game that paired the "depth and playability" of text-based interactive fiction with the visuals and interface of a newer graphic adventure.
He was hesitant to adopt the structure at first, as it was highly unconventional for a computer game. In adapting the Callahan's Place books for computers, Josh Mandel described feeling "a huge responsibility in the temporary custody I had been granted with these characters",  in part thanks to the "terrifying omnipresent knowledge" that its protective fans would be critical of a game unfaithful to Spider Robinson's work.
The game was not based on any particular Callahan's Place work, but rather used the books as a starting point for new stories. According to Mandel, the decision to break from the series' universal setting of Callahan's bar came early: he found it "unnecessarily literal" to limit the game to a single area, and unrealistic to include puzzles in the bargoers' past-tense flashback sequences.
Instead he invented roughly 40 new locations for the episodic stories, populated by between 40 and 50 original characters. The only locations borrowed directly from Robinson's writing were the parking lot, interior and roof of Callahan's bar, which Mandel populated with pre-existing characters from the Callahan's Place books.
Spider Robinson was initially uninvolved in Callahan's Crosstime Saloon ; he requested only that Mike Callahan not be depicted as thin, which an earlier cover artist for the books had done. In response, Mandel later said, "[E]arly on in the design process, I began to write or call him, especially when making decisions that affected the history and lives of his characters".
Only a planned backstory for Doc Webster was removed because of these discussions, as it conflicted with part of the upcoming Callahan's Legacy book. Legend Entertainment was a small development house of only 13 employees when Mandel joined,  and the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon team reached 22 members by late Game design documents at Legend were written in a "pseudocode" format rather than in plain text, and the company was unused to working in the style Mandel had used at Sierra.
He had moved to Virginia to join the team, and lived on a farm in the countryside. According to Mandel, the Legend office often held design meetings wherein "almost the entire company was invited to review your game design and pick it apart" throughout development, whereas Sierra designers were often left to themselves until late in the production cycle. Mandel worked at Legend's main office "maybe hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week" during the first half of development for Callahan's Crosstime Saloon.
However, after it came time to focus mostly on its writing, he stayed at home and kept a schedule of "about 10am 'til 2 or 3am, 7 days a week". In , Mandel said that Callahan's Crosstime Saloon was at the time "the one thing that I had any drive at all to accomplish. Seeing the game at the show, a writer for Computer Games Strategy Plus remarked, "We're betting on this one. Callahan's Crosstime Saloon was initially set to be self-published by Legend Entertainment,   but the company began to transition away from publishing in mid, when it offloaded sections of its business to Random House 's RandomSoft branch.
Josh Mandel felt that the game was rushed in its final months,  and that the team ultimately "ran out of time. Robinson highly enjoyed the result. According to Mandel, Callahan's Crosstime Saloon was developed on a small budget,  and Legend's situation grew "very bleak financially towards the end" of the game's creation. Discussing its sales performance, he noted that it "started out slow Reviewing Callahan's Crosstime Saloon for Computer Gaming World , Charles Ardai called it "a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful game" that "left me with one of the biggest damn smiles a computer game has ever put on my face.
Liam McDonald remarked that the game's humor is inconsistent, but that "in the final tally the funny and unfunny are balanced enough to keep things entertaining. He later said that he had become "extremely depressed about" Take-Two's handling of the game, and felt that his lack of coding knowledge would make him a "financial drain" at the small and troubled Legend, as he did not expect to receive another designer position for some time.
In January , Atari opted to shutter Legend. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. July I wanted something uplifting, something that would take place in a world I wanted to live in, rather than one I wanted to escape from.
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Callahan's Crosstime Saloon
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Have You Played... Callahan's Crosstime Saloon?
Callahan's Place is a fictional bar with strongly community-minded and empathic clientele, part of the fictional universe of American writer Spider Robinson. It appears in the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon stories compiled in the first novel of the same name along with its sequels Time Travelers Strictly Cash and Callahan's Secret ; most of the beloved barflies appear in the further sequels The Callahan Touch , Callahan's Legacy , Callahan's Key , and Callahan's Con , and the computer game. The bar is run by Mike Callahan. The regulars are welcoming and willing to listen to any visitor's problems, no matter how strange, but do not snoop if a visitor is unwilling to share. Strange or unusual events and visitors turn up frequently in the stories. Regulars at Callahan's include a talking dog, several extraterrestrials and time travelers , an ethical vampire , a couple of Irish mythological beings , and an obscenity-spewing parrot.