FlixMix (1993)

So, I wrote music for three levels of a PC game (FlixMix, published by Celeris in 1993). My career goal at the time was to write music for video games, so this was a pretty good opportunity.

The game ran in DOS, supporting only the lowest-common-denominator music hardware; a sound card first released in 1987. So, the clips you’re about to hear might sound a little dated.

On top of that, there were compromises made to reduce disk space, and while I’d submit revisions to compensate for each wave of those, optimization continued for months after my involvement in the project concluded. What was eventually published didn’t sound bad, necessarily, but it didn’t sound a whole lot like what I’d written.

Here’s what the public heard:

Level 2: Quixotic Box Paradox

Level 4: Mishmash Mesh

Level 7: Juggle Jumble

Unfortunately, I don't have the "good" versions anymore. They're on an unlabeled disk somewhere; I didn't think I'd need to keep track of them.

I do have this, though...

I dug up my old files for one of these a few years ago, and spit out a copy with more up-to-date technology (and way too much reverb):

Mishmash Mesh - Remix

(Permission to share these was graciously given by the publisher, whom I genuinely feel are good people.)

Anyway, this experience has had two profound effects on my career:

  1. I abandoned it. Completely. Walked away, never looked back.
  2. As a web developer now, I frequently have to weigh the creative vision of the designers I work with against a sea of technical considerations, and in these conflicts, I will always side with the designer.

    Fiercely.

    Irrationally.

    I've been on the other side of that, and I know how it feels.

*shrug*

11 Replies to “FlixMix (1993)”

  1. Me and Dad grew up playing Flix Mix together and we have loved how it’s more then just a puzzle game and your wonderful music.
    The game has helped me thru dark times and your music is my favorite! especially the Mishmash Mesh which is basically a giant net going up and down. :)

    I would solve the puzzle and then just listen to the music a few loops after as it’s special sounding. I can’t remember if you did any of the second puzzle set.

    It’s fascinating how the pictures move with the music and you have all sorts of options such as bonus locations,blank delays,reversed images.etc making the puzzles never get old. It’s too bad there was never a THIRD alternate puzzle set.

    In fact I have Flix Mix right now for Dos Box because you cannot run the game on modern computers so it’s Dos Box for me!
    I almost thought I’d never see this game again until I found it for Dos Box.

    I first heard of this game thru Club Kidsoft which Dad ordered becasue he liked the concept of the puzzles and frankly I did too.

    I have Autisum so I have a hard time with non-logical things so puzzles are something I enjoy solving.

    I’ve noticed on the Juggle Jumble puzzle the balls move faster at the bottom of the screen and slower once they reach the top to go back down.

    1. I loved FlixMix, and was proud to have worked on it.

      I always felt like, when you adapt a traditional game for use on computers, you should add something that the original version couldn’t do. FlixMix had a lot of that. I think the design was very innovative, especially for its time. (Hats off to Lee Morgenstern on all of that. He did an amazing job)

      Unfortunately, creating new levels was never a casual matter. I wish there were more of them, myself. I also wish Celeris would revisit the franchise on iOS, or in-browser. But I think FlixMix is pretty much shelved and forgotten at this point. Which is a shame, but at least we have Dos Box. =)

      Anyway, thanks for writing in!

  2. Not only that but I searched for your name on Google after doing a looooooooong puzzle you helped made. What a beast that puzzle was!

    1. Hmm. Do you remember where you found that puzzle? I’ve contributed to a few things which might be what you’re talking about, but can’t begin to guess where you’d have found any of them!

  3. One more thing. How was this posted at 1993 when there was no world wide web yet? There were BBS you could post at but those were actually live where you could see what the other person was typing as they typed it.

    In fact if I was typing this in a BBS and you were online you would see me make grammar corrections (if any) and my letters appearing one by one.

    1. As much as possible, I try to maintain a coherent timeline on this site by backdating the posts of my older material to when they were created. The down-side, of course, is that this wreaks havoc on the RSS feeds and ensures that nobody ever finds these posts. But it creates a nice continuity (albeit, as you point out, a retroactive one).

      For this post, the date I chose was pretty abstract. I picked the last day of the year FlixMix was published, when in fact my work on it was completed months earlier. I figured that’s close enough to give it some context.

      (I do know that the songs were originally written during the academic school year, as I wrote them between classes. Fun fact: Alan Chaplin, who composed a good chunk of the game’s music, was also my music theory instructor at CalArts)

  4. One thing for sure is that the music was a lot better then whatever the Apple did at the time which was just basic beeps and some kind of *fart* noise.

    Commodore 64 sid also sounded good so this game on the C64 would not have been bad at all because the SID especially if it was programmed for Sid Stereo had a bright tone to it that was pleasant to the ears.

    This music would’ve showcased the many styles SID could imitate.

    The NES sound chip was better on the drums like the famous *Airship* theme from SMB3 which has a LOT of timpani in it but sucked at the *brightness* the Commodore 64 sound had.

    If this game was waited till just a year later it would’ve been able to use the AWE 64 sound board and been heavens better.

    1. Sadly, you’re mistaken on that last bit. This game used 2 operator FM synthesis precisely because it was the lowest common denominator available on every PC sound card. The increased capabilities of an AWE64 would have been wasted in ad-lib compatibility mode.

      That’s the main reason a C64 version would have had better music: consistent hardware across the platform. (Of course, that machine wasn’t up to the task graphically. And if we were still going to fit the whole game and all of its resources on the lowest density media available, things would have gotten squished even more dramatically. But on the whole, I agree with you there.)

  5. Could you do a full game rip? Galbadia Hotel used to have the game rip but the links point to a non functioning server and the people who go on the forums are the “LOL” kind of dudes who don’t have anything useful to say.

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