PAX Prime 2013 Day 1 – Jeff Tunnell is at it again

Today I ventured to the upper floors of PAX Prime 2013 and discovered a new game by a familiar face: Contraption Maker by Jeff Tunnell.


Jeff Tunnell was one of the original founders of Dynamix, which he later left to start Jeff Tunnell Productions. If you’ve been around a while you may remember The Incredible Machine, The Incredible Machine 2, The Incredible Toon Machine, and Sid n’ Al’s Incredible Toons — all by Jeff Tunnell Productions  and published by Sierra On-Line (where I worked for more than 8 years).

A little history

Tunnell founded Dynamix in 1984 (probably best known for PC flight simulations and sports games), but left in 1990. He returned to Dynamix in 1995, but around the time (and perhaps a bit before) the Giant Axe of Doom that was Vivendi started hacking away at Sierra around 1999, Jeff went off to start up Garage Games.

Garage Games was later bought by Interactive Corp and became best known for/as Instant Action. Then he left Garage Games and went on to found PushBottun Labs, which closed up in 2012. Tunnell and his new development group Spotkin — the creators of Contraption Maker — consists of Tunnells compatriots from PushButton, Dynamix, Garage Games

I approached the booth and the marketing fellow for the group almost immediately asked if I’d heard of The Incredible Machine. I told him I used to work for Sierra, and he then pointed out Jeff Tunnell (I confess that I had to ask his last name because I couldn’t remember off the top of my head. There are still a lot of cob webs in there.)

Monkeys on bicycles

So apparently, Contraption Maker is Jeff Tunnell — and his original team — returning to what Jeff Tunnell is best known for: Rube Goldberg-inspired games where you solve puzzles using all manner of strange and wonderful gizmos, toys, animals, and other odds and ends to solve puzzles — or make them for your friends.

The game is currently a Steam Early Access game you can buy for $10 and then play  while helping the team polish, refine, and develop it. In its present Alpha state it’s mostly a sandbox of more than 70 gizmos you can use to play with, but the end product will have pre-made, solvable puzzles much like Tunnell’s earlier games.  Steam integration and Steam Workshop will also make it easy for you to play the game as well as make and share your own puzzles with your friends.

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