Aaron Conners was born and raised in the back woods of Maine by a family of bears. To this day, he enjoys chairs, porridge and a bed that feels “just right”. He grew up in a time when you could play outdoors and go out exploring all day long. When it was dark or raining, he devoured (figuratively) piles of books – the Hardy Boys, Sherlock Holmes, Stephen King, History, anything about Baseball – and created board games about everything from military battles to fantasy quests to sports.
After an uninspired stint at the University of Slacking Off of Utah, Aaron was on track for a career as an English Lit teacher/Baseball Coach when a friend invited him to come work at Access Software, where they were just getting into “Interactive Movies”. Despite Aaron’s complete ignorance of computers, the friend thought Aaron would be perfect for writing and designing these new story-based games. After a brief incubation period in Tech Support – where Aaron learned how to turn on a computer and, later, insert floppy disks – he was introduced to Chris Jones and, soon after, they were collaborating on what would become Under a Killing Moon.
The Tex Murphy Years (1991-1998)
Under a Killing Moon was released in 1994 and was named "Adventure Game of the Year" by the Software Publishers Association, and "Best Fantasy Role Playing/Adventure Game" by IGN. Aaron wrote the story and dialogue, though the first draft was three times too big for a game. Chris and Aaron collaborated on the game design, with each contributing unique puzzles and gameplay sequences. They would test their ideas out on each other and a friendly rivalry soon developed as they tried to one-up each other.
In early 1994, Aaron began work on a sequel, writing the story as a novel. After reading only the first few chapters, Proteus offered Aaron a two-book deal. The Pandora Directive novel was published in 1995. The game adapted from the novel was released soon after and won “Adventure Game of the Year” from both Computer Gaming World and the Software Publishers Association. Over the years, The Pandora Directive has appeared on many lists of the best adventure games of all-time.
In late 1995, Aaron published the novelization of Under a Killing Moon, which included much of his original story. He then started work on a sequel to The Pandora Directive, tentatively titled Trance. As production was about to begin, Intel approached Access Software with an offer to fund development, but only if a game could be finished within nine months. Trance would require at least twice that much time, so the decision was made to create a smaller game and retell the story of Mean Streets – the first Tex Murphy game, released in 1989. Aaron adapted and updated the old story, and suggested a new name: The Poisoned Pawn. After a slightly deaf marketing exec heard it as “The Poisoned Pond”, the name was changed to Tex Murphy: Overseer.
At the time, no one suspected that Overseer might be the last Tex Murphy game. The notorious final scene, which ended in a shocking cliffhanger, was intended to be a teaser for Trance. Unfortunately, after Access Software was acquired by Microsoft in 1999, all plans to produce Trance were abandoned.
The New Millennium
Aaron worked on various projects for Microsoft, including a variety of sports games and an epic (and unreleased) adventure based on the Steven Spielberg movie, A.I.
In 2004, Aaron accepted a position as Story Director for Take-Two Interactive, writing the script and producing the cinematics for the Amped 3 snowboarding game. It became the first sports title ever nominated for “Best Story of the Year” by GameSpot. It also was nominated for “Funniest Game” and “Best New Character”, and won the award for “Most Outrageous Game”.
In 2006, Aaron became a Creative Director at Ubisoft (Montreal) for Shaun White Snowboarding.
Big Finish Games
After a ten year hiatus, Aaron and Chris Jones had a hankering to work together again so, together, they founded Big Finish Games. After several attempts to resurrect Tex Murphy, they decided to try their hand at a series of casual games.
With Three Cards to Midnight, released in 2008 and produced in six months for $150k, they hoped to bring greater storytelling and more challenging gameplay to the casual game space. TCTM was nominated and/or won several awards for best casual game and best story – and spawned a sequel (Three Cards to Dead Time, 2009) – but was ultimately not the creatively-satisfying experience they were hoping for.
After one final casual game project – Murder Island: Secret of Tantalus, produced for PlayFirst – Aaron decided to leave Big Finish Games and accept a position as Senior Game Designer for Electronic Arts.
Into The Future...and Beyond!
After joining EA, Aaron worked on the Sims franchise from late 2010 through early 2014, leading the creative direction for the Sims 3 expansion packs Showtime, Supernatural and University Life, and doing pre-production for Into the Future and an unannounced mobile game.
During this time, Chris Jones decided to try Kickstarter as a means to finally bring Tex Murphy back. EA graciously allowed Aaron to participate in the Kickstarter campaign and contribute the game script, which Aaron had worked on years before. The response from Tex Murphy fans was overwhelming and a long-awaited sequel, tentatively titled Project Fedora, went into development in 2012.
Aaron’s position with EA prevented him from being involved in the production, but not from writing the novel on which the game was based. Tex Murphy and the Tesla Effect was published shortly after the release of the game in June 2014.
The following month, Aaron released new, updated editions of his two earlier novels. Tex Murphy: Under a Killing Moon and Tex Murphy and the Pandora Directive featured all-new artwork, story content, Author's Notes and forewords by Chris Jones.
Aaron is currently at work on a new Tex Murphy novel, with plans to write two more to complete the series.
With Russell Means during UAKM production.
With Kevin McCarthy and Chris Jones at the premiere of The Pandora Directive game.
With Chris Jones, director Adrian Carr and Rebecca Broussard on the set of Overseer.
With the lovely and talented Chris Jones (always on my left, for some reason).
With Brittany Henry and Graham Nardone at the Sims 3: Showtime live playthrough.
Presenting at GamesCom.
Interview for Sims 3: Supernatural. Chive on!