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Cliff Johnson’s classic Mac games get new lease on life

By Peter Cohen - July 11, 2002

Many long time Mac gamers remember with fondness a trio of games to come from Cliff Johnson, creator of The Fool’s Errand, At the Carnival, and 3 In Three.

Johnson re-released his games as “copyrightware,” available for free download and use, as long as users respect Johnson’s existing copyrights on the games.

The trio of puzzle games date back to 1987. The first, The Fool’s Errand, was developed at a time when the Mac had a resolution of 512 x 322 pixels and displayed only and white. (Still much better than the oblong pixels of the blocky 320 x 240 graphics available on PCs of the day).

The latter two, At the Carnival and 3 in Three, were developed on the color Mac II.

With today’s emphasis on flashy 3D graphics and complex lighting and sound effects, Johnson’s games may be modest technical achievements, but they’re devilishly addictive puzzle games that have garnered the ardor (and sometimes the frustration) of puzzle addicts the world over.

As a Macworld Expo attendee, Johnson said that gamers familiar with his titles “marched up to me, pointed accusing fingers and shouted ‘I hate you!’ It was the ultimate compliment.”

Johnson himself is an interesting character. As a teenager, he built monsters for amusement park dark rides — the inspiration for one of his games, At the Carnival. Johnson later “stumbled” onto computer games back in the mid eighties after a career in film production.

For the past decade he’s worked for various companies including Philips Media, Disney, Warner Bros., Mattel, and Pixar.

Johnson said that he’s currently working on a Treasure Hunt for David Blaine’s upcoming book for Random House.

The road doesn’t end here, either. Johnson said he is developing The Fool and His Money, a sequel to The Fool’s Errand.