wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,

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Redmond A. Simonsen, 1942-2005

Every so often as you get into middle age, you get a shock as you see that somebody you never met, but whose work you respected tremendously, has died. You realize that without what that person did, you wouldn't be who you are, because the things they did helped shape your mind. One of those people was Redmond A. Simonsen, and it's a measure of how far I've fallen from the wargaming community that I'm only now finding out that he died in March of this year.

It's hard to overstate the impact Simonsen had on wargaming as a game designer (the term didn't exist before he invented it) and even more as a graphics designer. Every game that came out under the SPI imprint had his mark upon it, because his philosophy of communicating information through the map graphics and unit counters ruled that company and its releases. Greg Costikyan credits RAS with teaching him what a user interface was before anyone was talking about such things, and he was right: Simonsen made it possible for game maps, markers and counters to tell you just about everything you needed to know to play the game, without throwing in a lot of distracting chrome that really didn't affect the game play.

Simonsen left SPI after TSR took over, and I don't think it's a coincidence that the games produced after he left never looked quite right to me. Sure, I own games from the TSR, 3W, and DG periods, but there's something missing - the maps aren't as clean, the counters aren't as clear, and the rules lack the clarity of the old SPI rules-speak...which was much mocked in its time, but damn few other publishers were as good at making things clear.

One thing that would help the field? Finding someone like RAS or Rodger MacGowan to pick up the torch and do the job he did so well.

In othr news, the ATC Board met this morning, discussed the AD 2006 budget, getting together with the Japan-America society, and other internal issues which are probably of no interest to anyone not working on the convention...and this afternoon jamestrainor and I are heading over to thaadd's joint for some Call to Power or maybe Age of Empires. We'll see.
Tags: wargames
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