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Ian Trout (1949-2011)

August 4th, 2011 by Troy Goodfellow · 2 Comments · Wargames

The news of Ian Trout’s dying of cancer likely won’t be huge news in the industry, but it should be. He founded SSG with Roger Keating in the early 80s and their direct work resulted in some first class game design like Carriers at War, Reach for the Stars,Warlords II, and other titles.

But it’s for the Decisive Battles series that we wargamers will most remember Trout, I think. 1997’s Ardennes Offensive, 2003’s Korsun Pocket, 2004’s Battles in Normandy and 2005’s Battles in Italy. Like many of SSG’s games, these titles had excellent AI, strong scenario design, a good user interface and superlative replayability for an historical wargame. If you haven’t played at least one of these games, then you’re missing something.

I’ve had the good fortune to meet and even become friends with a number of game developers over the years, but most of us don’t get that chance, and we rarely get the chance to even meet many whose work we admire. There are many developers I’ve only shaken hands with, dozens more with whom I have exchanged a single email and hundreds upon hundreds who’ve done great work that I will never meet.

I never knew Trout the man at all, not even on an email basis. I can admire his intelligence, and his art and his appreciation for how a wargamer would want to get the busy work out of the way. If you seek his monument, look around you.

Unlike Wren’s cathedral, of course, there is little permanence to games and in forty years even the giants of our past like Chris Crawford, Will Wright and the peerless Dani Bunten will be as remote as Nap Lajoie.

But for now, take time to load up an SSG game and appreciate the fact that what you see was made by a person of great skill who will no longer be able to do so. It is a genre with too few great lights to have one extinguished while still so vital.

Say a prayer for, or think a kind thought for, the family and friends of Ian Trout and his colleagues and peers at SSG and Matrix Games.


2 Comments so far ↓

  • Rindis

    Reach for the Stars was one of the first computer games I discovered, and certainly the first that went beyond ‘because it was there’ status. Heck, I still occasionally play it today.

    At any rate, SSG still has a special place in my heart, and I still remember getting a chance to talk to one of them at a convention (I think it was Keating). I miss they days when they were publishing their own games, and now I will miss Ian Trout too.

  • Glenn Drover

    I met Ian a few years ago. He came to my office at Eagle Games to discuss publishing a boardgame version of Warlords he had designed.
    As I was a great fan of all games published by SSG going as far back as the 80’s, I was eager to meet him and possibly work together.
    As it turned out, we didn’t do the deal, but it was an honor and a privledge to have met him and to have gotten the opportunity to tell him that his work had given me hundreds of hours of enjoyment…and isn’t that one of the best things a game designer can hear?