Steve Barcia

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Stephen Barcia founded Austin, Texas-based Simtex Software with Ken Burd in the mid '90s.

SimTex Software later became a development studio for Spectrum HoloByte, Inc. Barcia's "Master of..." series were published under the Spectrum Holobyte's "MicroProse" brand and distributed worldwide (Micropose was later bought by Hasbro.)

According to GameSpy, Barcia and Simtem created their first title -- as it was called at the time -- "Starlords". It was sort of a space-age strategy game. Though the title was extremely unpolished, it did have many interesting strategy concepts. These innovations caught the eye of Alan Emrich (who at the time worked at Computer Gaming World (and later moved to Quicksilver Software)) and his long time gaming pal, Tom Hughes.

After looking beyond the ugly graphics, Alan and Tom realized how addictive the game was and began talking to Barcia and his company SimTex about how it could be better.

In 1994, the game was published by MicroProse as Master of Orion -- but not before the two helped Barcia refine many aspects of gameplay. Barcia and friends managed to create one of the most addictive strategy games of all time.

One year later, Barcia and company released the sequel, Master of Magic. Master of Magic turned out to be even more popular than the original for its graphic splendor and enduring re-playability.

Also this year, Barcia and Simtex released its second game; a port of an Avalon Hill board game called 1830: Railroads & Robber Barons. Their port was published by Avalon Hill.

In 1996, the sequel Master of Orion 2: Battle at Antares was released. Unfortunately the game -- though quite enjoyable and visually stunning -- didn't deliver the magic of the previous games in the series. Coincidentally or not, Steve Barcia was not involved in the title first-hand.

In April of 1997, Barcia was promoted alongside Kevin Ray to the position of Worldwide Director of Spectrum Holobyte Inc., which involved maximizing the company's "global product development assets and resources".

In 1998, Microprose closed the Simtex studio. Microprose said that SimTex wasn't making satisfactory progress on its game called Agents of Justice. This was SimTex's second troubled project; they had developed a mech game called Mechlords that was allegedly shut down by FASA lawyers claiming copyright infringement based on their MechWarrior properties.

Barcia later left his position at Spectrum and joined Retro Studios, exclusive developer for the Nintendo GameCube.

Sometime in 2002, Barcia was appointed president of Retro Studios after original owner Jeff Spangenberg was bought out and removed by Nintendo.

The RPG Raven Blade that was being developed at Retro was said to be Barcia's baby. The game was eventually cancelled by Nintendo because it lagged in development.

In April of 2003, Michael Kelbaugh replaced Barcia as president of Retro Studios. Some ex-Retro employees have alleged Barcia's mismanagement of the company was one of their primary reasons for leaving. Despite that, the amazing quality of Metroid Prime has been largely credited to him. It's speculated that Barcia resigned from his position to devote himself entirely to the development of Metroid Prime 2 (though it is possible he is no longer at the company).

Related games and articles returning soon!