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CREATION INFORMATION
CREATED XXX.XX.XXXX
UPDATED DEC.01.2007
NINA STANLEY INTERVIEW
PROFILE
Name Nina Stanley
Profession Graphics
NES Reference Color Dreams

Did it again!! I've once again been able to find someone who worked at Color Dreams. I bet you all know how crazy I am about those US unlicensed companies, so this ofcourse made me jump of joy.

As the title says, Nina Stanley, the woman behind most of Color Dreams graphics. I've actually been searching quite some time for Nina, but without any luck. Well about a month ago a N64 game, yeah sorry, landed on my doorstep. It was 3DO's new game called Battletanx. I popped in the cart and started playing. It didnt take long (a couple of hours) before I had completed the campaign mode (at the normal level) and a nice ending rolled over the screen followed by a scrolling list of the crew. There is was!! under Aditional Art a name popped up and looked very familiar. "Nina Stanley... hmmmm... could it be?" And yes it was true :)

Let's get on with the interview shall we? ;)

INTERVIEW
NES WORLD:
When did you start working on Color Dreams and how did you join? Did you know any of the guys who started the company?

NINA STANLEY:
this is actually one of my favourite stories... Sometime in 1988 I was working at an espresso bar ("Diedrich's Coffee") on the weekend opening shift. At the time I was an undergraduate in art at Cal State Fullerton, was in a terrible marriage, and had a son about 3 1/2 years old.

This fellow would come into the cafe right when we opened, around 6 am or so, and order a cappuccino and a mexicano (shot of espresso with spices) and he'd sit there and read Carlos Castenada books.

After a couple of weeks of this, we started up a conversation. He found out I was an artist, and asked me to do a little logo for him and he'd pay me $100 in cash (which was like a $1000 to me at the time). It was colouring the "Color Dreams" logo. This went well, and after a time he asked if I'd like to try making video games.

He had a small company and had reverse-engineered the Nintendo. I checked out the company in Brea, and saw a game they were working on ("Baby Boomer") and thought I'd give it a shot.

The drawing tool they were using at the time was a Nintendo unit with a cable, and the pixels had to be laid down and adjusted by manipulating the control pad. Mostly had to cycle through the palettes each time you wanted to change a colour. It was really miserable! I lasted a few weeks and told him I just really didn't like this and that I'd rather be a coffee wench! We stayed friends, though, and about 6 months later he asked me to give it another try, he was opening up an office near where I was living and they had just finished developing a proper drawing tool (NinDraw).


Picture of NinDraw, the tool Nina Stanley used to make game gfx.

By this time I was divorced and trying to support a small child, and the idea of making twice as much and not having to do retail anymore was very appealing! So I tried again, and it was actually kinda fun. There were crazy all nighters and stuff, but I could bring my son with me (he would play for a while and then sleep under my desk) and I could still go to school.

NES WORLD:
Did you stay 'till the end, until they switched to making webcameras, or did you leave earlier?

NINA STANLEY:
I left in 1991, after I finished my MA in Painting, and went to work for Novalogic. It was hard to leave, but time for me to move on...I'd been there 3 years, and was basically the only artist for about 2 1/2 of them. There's only so much you can do with 16 colours and 256 characters!

NES WORLD:
I've had the "pleasure" of checking out the NinDraw program for the PC. To me it looks like a hard program to use, agree?

NINA STANLEY:
It was a helluvalot easier than using the Nintendo game controller!

NES WORLD:
I was looking at the Menace Beach CHR (graphics) the other day and found something weird, the skating dude on a jetski. I've played Menace Beach over and over, one of my favourite games, but dont recall a level where you ride a jetski. Do you remember what this was intended for?

NINA STANLEY:
I think that was for a bonus level that never got implemented.

NES WORLD:
Did you do any box art for any Color Dreams/Bunch Games/Wisdom Tree game, or was it "just" game graphics?

NINA STANLEY:
I did the box art for "The King of Kings" game, the one with Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus on the cover. We'd had an illustrator do one version, but it was really bad so I painted over it. I took a polariod of a girlfriend of mine and her husband with their baby to use as reference.

NES WORLD:
Did you have anything to do with the Super Nintendo game "Super Noah's Ark"?

NINA STANLEY:
No, just regular NES games.

NES WORLD:
Did/do you have a favourite Color Dreams/Wisdom Tree game? :)

NINA STANLEY:
I liked Menace Beach cause it was really the most fun. Crystal Mines was cool (I did a little bit on the monsters for the Atari Lynx version) and that's basically the same thing as Exodus. Usually I just played Tetris on the Game Boy.

NES WORLD:
You told me earlier that the skater kid in Menace Beach was modeled after your son. Well did you do all the designing yourself, or did Vance have some ideas for Menace Beach.

NINA STANLEY:
I can't remember how we did the design, it was pretty much on the fly.

NES WORLD:
Did you make drawings of what things were going to look like before drawing the stuff in NinDraw?

NINA STANLEY:
No, it was a lot easier just to draw it straight into the computer.

NES WORLD:
How did you feel when Color Dreams changed into a company releasing Christian videogames? Was it more fun making those games?

NINA STANLEY:
I think Vance told you how it started as a kind of a wise crack joke and turned into something pretty lucrative. I did a lot of the design on the first Bible game (Bible Adventures) cause I was the only one in the group who had ever read the Bible. After that, we hired some Fundamentalist Christian types ("Born Again") for the sales department, but in development, all the programmers were atheists, agnostics, or whatever, and I'm Catholic (which some of the sales guys didn't really think of as Christian!). Oh, and the other partner in the business was Bhuddist or something.

NES WORLD:
Were all of the NES games you worked on were released? Could you give me a list of the games you did graphics for? (as complete as possible)

NINA STANLEY:
I can't really remember, there were about 9 of them.... King Neptune's Adventure, Menace Beach, Desert Storm, Secret Scout, Bible Adventures, King of Kings, Exodus, Spiritual Warfare, Joshua and the battle of Jericho. There was also a Gameboy version of Exodus. I think there might have been a couple more that I did something on. For 3 years I was the only in house artist.

NES WORLD:
Were you assigned to a programmer, music artist, with whom you then had to come up with a idea for a game?

NINA STANLEY:
Not really "assigned"...there weren't very many of us, so we all pretty much worked together. Other than Bible Adventures I didn't do much game design.

NES WORLD:
Did you have ideas for games which were scraped by the guys who ran Color Dreams?

NINA STANLEY:
I worked on a Dinosaur game, and there was something about a Praying Mantis.

NES WORLD:
Did you make the graphics for the heavily-rumored Hellraiser game?

NINA STANLEY:
I did some clean up of a few preliminary passes.

NES WORLD:
What have you made (helped making) after Color Dreams. All I know of is Battletanx, what exactly did you make in that game? (says > aditional art).

NINA STANLEY:
At Novalogic, I worked on a Mario game for Philips CD-I that wasn't released, and did some minor stuff for Comanche Maximum Overkill. At Electronic Arts I worked on an Arcade version of their popular Madden Football that we finished but did not manufacture (marketing forgot the minor detail of finding out if anyone would pay a quarter to play a game they'd already been playing at home for years). I was a character in the Sega Road Rash III (the Russian, "Nina") but other than that only worked on some really minor stuff.

Not a lot of Nintendo development at EA. Then I worked at Capcom for a year or so, did a lot of preliminary work on games that weren't released ("Werewolf - the Apocalypse") and a minor PC game called Tangrams. After that, I spent over a year at a small start up called New Wave Entertainment, working on a couple of PC titles. I've been here at 3DO for over a year, helping on Battletanx (mostly design, script, and advertising - have you seen the ad in EGM of the destroyed city as seen through a pair of shapely legs? that was one of mine.....) Currently I'm working on the N64 ArmyMen title. So I've gone full circle...started with Nintendo, and working on Nintendo once again!

Oh, as far as the Battle tanx graphics.... I did all the art for the original design document, and the coolest thing about that is the art team was actually able to acheive a very similar look in the game that I had done in the paintings for the design, which is really unusual. I also did some advertising stuff - the original Babe Queen Lord on one of the first sell sheets (tall gorgeous sultry woman vignetted behind a burning city with menacing tanks).

NES WORLD:
What was it like on Color Dreams? A lot of fun or "just another job"? :)

NINA STANLEY:
I'd have to say it was really a lot of fun. "Boondoggles" were the best...when we'd all go somewhere, shopping or an arcade or whatever....just to take a break from the office.