- The latest in Alistair Wallis' (and before that Frank Cifaldi's) 'Playing Catch-Up' column series for Gamasutra talks to Conflict 2500 creator William Volk - but if you didn't know about the cult 1981 strategy game, there's another fascinating part to his biz history.

Specifically, this is one of the first detail descriptions I've seen of how Activision came close to going out of business in 1991. Volk talks about how he helped to champion Cyan's Manhole at the company, and then it's noted:

"Activision was going through a number of financial issues, including an ill-advised decision to get involved with non-gaming software under the name Mediagenic, and the continued monetary fallout from a 1985 patent lawsuit from Magnavox in regards to Activision’s publishing of “ball and paddle” games. “The saddest thing about the patent judgment is that it almost put Activision out of business,” Volk sighs. “Almost everyone was laid off and we lost Cyan as a developer. We could have been the publisher of Myst! Amazing.”"

What's more: "The company changed management, with former Four Kids Entertainment CEO and Director and then-BHK Corporation head Robert Kotick stepping in as Director, Chairman of the Board and CEO in after acquiring a controlling interest in the company in February 1991. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and lost the majority of its staff at this time, but still managed to develop and release a number of titles – most notably, Steven Meretzky’s Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2, which Volk helped program, since the company was down to just 12 people at the time."

Plenty more good stuff if you click through - turns out the actual Activision resurgence was helped by Return To Zork, which Volk was one of the key players in: "“I also think Bobby believed in my vision on the multimedia adventure stuff,” he muses, “and Return to Zork proved him correct.”