Presto Directory

From Journeymen to Masters of the Game (1991-99)

Continued from: Presto Origins


For the founders of Presto Studios, the journey from obscurity to success is as much of an adventure as any of their creations. Michel Kripalani, Presto's CEO/President, led a talented team composed of high school and college friends recruited throughout the evolution of the company. This ambitious group entered the computer gaming industry in 1991 with nothing more than their enthusiasm, imagination, borrowed money and determination to make an impact as a cutting-edge entertainment software development company. Presto Studios quickly became a successful software developer with titles available worldwide.

Inspired by their fascination with the new medium of CD-ROM and an interest in gaming and science fiction, Kripalani and his associates pooled their creativity to begin the development of the innovative time travel adventure game, The Journeyman Project®. Kripalani recruited buddies Dave Flanagan, Farshid Almassizadeh, JosÚ Alba˝il and Greg Uhler for their multitude of talents including writing, software engineering, art and programming respectively.

The team created the Journeyman Project while living and working together in a rented San Diego house, and while working full-time jobs by day. The makeshift "home office" boasted computers in each room with home strung network wiring running down every wall. A demo of The Journeyman Project debuted at MacWorld '92 and with its success, Presto Studios was born.

Two years and fifteen thousand man-hours after it was begun, The Journeyman Project became the world's first photorealistic adventure game. Journeyman took the world by storm, quickly becoming a best-selling Macintosh CD-ROM. The Journeyman Project was honored with numerous awards, including an Award of Excellence at the 1993 New Media Invision Awards.

After months of self-publishing and shipping thousands of units out of their garage, the ragtag fleet of fugitive game designers became a real company, signing a publishing deal, moving into a real office and eventually relocating into a spacious digital studio.

A Tough Act Successfully Followed

Presto Studios' follow-up to The Journeyman Project was its sequel, Buried in Time®: The Journeyman Project 2. This game improved upon the original by featuring full-motion animations, advances in the interface, historically accurate time zones, an artificial intelligence companion and more. The end result was a stunning epic that went on to surpass its predecessor in critical praise, awards and sales.

The team next created Pegasus Prime, a complete remake of the first game. Designed to take advantage of the new Power Macintosh computers, Pegasus Prime included improved graphics, new interactions and puzzles and additional video footage. Following the release of Buried in Time, the Presto team also created Gundam 0079, a game based on a well-known Japanese movie and television series as popular in Japan as the Star Wars saga is in the United States. Gundam 0079 was completed for release on the Macintosh in Japan for Christmas 1996. Other Japanese versions released since then have included PlayStation and Windows.

In the spring of 1998, Presto Studios' creative team completed the latest installation of the Journeyman Project, Legacy of Time™: The Journeyman Project 3. It featured astonishing graphics, including the ability to pan 360 degrees, enabling the player to see any part of his surroundings, assume virtual disguises and carry on conversations with characters from other eras. This groundbreaking computer game garnered high critical praise and was another enormous success for Presto Studios.

Presto Studios' next challenge enabled them to become part of one of the world's largest entertainment franchises, Star Trek™. An action-adventure based on Paramount Pictures' motion picture, Star Trek: Insurrection™, entitled Star Trek: Hidden Evil, takes place one year after the film ends. The first product to use Presto's 3D Sprint Engine technology, Star Trek: Hidden Evil was released in the spring of 1999.

When the "King of Horror," best-selling author Stephen King, was ready to combine his unique brand of terror with technology, Presto was the developer enlisted to tackle the project. The spine-chilling result was Stephen King's F13™, featuring "Everything's Eventual," a suspense-filled King novella, creepy interactive mini-games, "Frightware" desk top themes and audio files and "Screamsavers" to adorn your desktop, all delivered with King's signature horrific style. Stephen King's F13 was available to the courageous souls willing to challenge the supernatural in January 2000.

The Future

Presto Studios' next ambitious project was the third installment of the best selling computer game of all time, the Myst series. As successor to the Myst dynasty, Presto Studios was entrusted with the challenge of continuing the legacy created by Cyan, the developer of the first two games. The millions of fans who played Myst and Riven returned to the Myst universe to experience a new adventure, using breathtaking graphics and groundbreaking new technology. Myst III: Exile™ delivered on the promise to be a triumph of engaging storytelling, with intriguing locales and challenging puzzles.

The digital magicians at Presto Studios continuously developed new technologies and concepts to bring to life the rich stories, characters and worlds that are the company's hallmarks. Future projects incorporated a successful transition from pre-rendered to real-time games through the use of Presto's Sprint Engine. The team continued to break new ground in all areas of technology and game design, never forgetting their high quality graphic roots. However, the team realized that technology is simply a means to an end. Great experiences are created by a combination of all aspects of game design (story, art, puzzles, technology, sound, etc.) and Presto has spent years perfecting each of these elements.

Additional reading:
Reunion and Exhibit (2009)
Beyond the Journeyman Project (2009)

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