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Up Close and Personal with John Cook


Some folks enjoy meeting the people behind the scenes of Ambrosia, some are curious about what goes into a new program, and some are just plain nosy. So each issue of The Ambrosia Times we interview a member of the Ambrosia family.

Ambrosia Times: Name, Rank, and Serial Number, please.

John Cook: Name: John Henry Cobb Cook Rank: Pee on Serial Number: 001

AT: Ok, so tell me something about yourself. What do you do all day?

JC: I am a middle aged man with a wife and son. LOVE games, Favorites are football, chess, GURPS and the new Mars Rising game from Ambrosia. Do I get to charge for the free plug? As far as what I do all day, a little of everything. I process people's orders (yes, I am the one to call and yell at if your license is slow getting to you.), I answer questions as best I can or find the answers from others to questions that we receive by e-mail or mail. I also keep an eye on expenses so that we can provide the programs as cheaply as possible. But what makes me popular in the office is that I make sure that people get paid on time!

AT: Why did you choose Ambrosia? Have you worked at places with bigger names?

JC: One of the things that I saw when I interviewed for the position was how relaxed and hard working the company is. It is unusual to find work offices that are able to combine a relaxed atmosphere where people can exchange ideas freely but also get all the work done. Andrew has put together a great staff. I also decided that I wanted to work here because I love games. I play them whenever I can. It is fun to see how it is done. The development from just an idea to the final product. I even have a couple ideas for games that I would like to work on from time to time.

As far as where I have worked before, I have been the Controller for non profit organizations (they were not meant to be non profit, just turned out that way!! I'm joking Andrew !!) and I have been the Controller for a County Government Public Health Department. I have been the chief fiscal person at the organizations that I have worked at for the last eight to ten years.

AT: I'm told you have a family.

JC: My wife and I have been married for over 13 years. Divorce has never been mentioned, but homicide has come up from time to time. My son is the most important person to me in the world with my wife. Joseph is 11 and does well at school, enjoys sports and games. If he would only clean his room once in a while, he'd be perfect. Kid's a great rebounder in basketball !!!

AT: I'm also told you have a Windows PC at home. (We all have our faults.)

JC: Yes I do have a PC based system at home (mea culpa, mea culpa... mea maxima culpa). I have had a computer system at home for 15 years now and they have all been PCs. I am looking for a emulator program so my family can try the programs that Ambrosia produces. It is hard to believe that the IBM computer system that I bought in 1983 for $2,500.00 is less powerful than a Nintendo 64!!!

AT: So, why do you keep kicking Jason's butt in chess? How come you're not playing against Deep Blue?

JC: I don't play Deep Blue because One, I could not afford it. Two, it would kick my ass. I was very good in college where I was the best on campus for 3 years. I loved to play up to 5 games at a time. But I rarely get a chance to play anymore. Jason is intelligent and improving his game as we go. In a few months he may be able to defeat me.

AT: What else do you do in your spare time?

JC: What is spare time? I love to read, I coached my son's soccer team for three years. I may coach his basketball team starting in January. I am a buffalo bills fan to the death. I was behind them when they were 2-14 for two years, through the Super Bowl run and will go through the cycle again. I like to go on the net to find people who disagree with me on issues and debate. If you do not know what the other side thinks, how can you review your own beliefs?

AT: What is your favorite Ambrosia title? Keep in Mind that Andrew wrote Maelstrom and Apeiron.

JC: Sorry Andrew, but I think that Mars Rising is very cool. I have also seen the first part of Cythera and I think that if you like role playing, then you are going to love it! I don't know when it will become available, but I think that it will be one of the most popular games to come out in shareware ever.

AT: Please exposit one paragraph on the nature of shareware, its role in the electronic software distribution industry, and how other commercial software vendors can learn from this exciting distribution paradigm.

JC: The great advantage of shareware is allowing you to try before you buy. How many of us have heard that a game is great, the package looks great but the game was a major loser? And you find out that it is a loser only after you paid the $50.00 to $60.00 for the game. I don't know about you, but I can not afford that type of mistake for software very often. With shareware, especially over the internet, you can try the game at home determine if you want it and the price is 1/3 of what it is in the computer stores. The ball is in your court and you call the shots. Best deal going today!!

AT: You're nearing your forties, but you certainly don't seem it. How do you maintain your youthful outlook?

JC: I promise to lose chess games to the interviewer who asks the questions as I write them. Really, I am just a kid who refuses to grow up (ask my mother in law). I treat everyone with respect and require the same back from them. If someone refuses to treat you fairly and with respect, just walk away. They are not worth your time or energy. If you listen to people even if you disagree with them, you will learn not just what they think, but why. That is when you can really learn to see the problem from all sides.

AT: About those pinup pictures: Do you think you'll be doing any anytime soon?

JC: Gayle, the young lady who was here before me was very pretty and I got some requests for pin up pictures before we changed the name of the address to mine. The only request that I have received from someone who knows what I look like was from the producers of the new Godzilla movie.

AT: I hear you're quite handy with a mousetrap.

JC: The Ambrosia offices have been invaded by mice (We think that they are spies for Epic Megagames). A total of four such spies have been caught, tried and executed. We are thinking of training Hector in counter espionage, but he does not like the leg work. (but he looks so cool in the trench coat!)

AT: Does Hector say anything about you behind your back? Or better yet, has he told you what goes on in the office while you're not at work?

JC: Hector takes a little getting used to. I could live with the human like talking, but he loves to do the fax machine which means that I have to get up to check it. Also he makes the sound of the door opening and some one saying hello. Which means again, I have to get up from my desk and see who it is. As for what goes on in the office after I leave, I hope that the beer parties, visiting girls and toga parties will continue until I get to join!!

AT: Were you an extra in "Boogie Nights"?

JC: That is a vicious, ugly and mean spirited rumour that has taken me months to get going.

AT: Any last words?

JC: Only that if you have any problems with receiving your license code, or with your billing please call me. My main function is to help you get your program and make you want to purchase your future programs from us. Have a great day people !!!


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