Peter Liepa

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Peter Liepa
Birth Place Canada
Nationality Canadian   Canada.svg

Peter Liepa is a Canadian mathematician and programmer best known for the Boulder Dash video game genre, for which he also composed the first two themes.

In his youth, Liepa had interests in art, animation, music, synthesizers, television, indoor rock climbing and wanted to be an animator, special effects designer, or particle physicist. At a one-week internship, he discovered computers (then as big as a room) and successfully asked to program them. During the rest of high school, his father got him books. At Queen's University, he took a few theoretical computer courses, played Conway's Game of Life (on reams of printouts), took summer jobs in programming, and earned a bachelor's degree in math. At University of Toronto, he played Adventure and earned a master's degree in control theory. Ever since, he works in software (initially for minicomputers as big as a locker).

Liepa first played video games on his friend's Atari 400 home computer and big screen. Liepa realized he could blend his technical and artistic sides by writing a game himself, and bought an Atari 800 to do just that. He learned the platform through its manuals and Byte magazine. To learn the market, he asked local publisher Inhome Software, which led to Boulder Dash.

All the time, though, Liepa found the video game industry unstable and solitary. To work full-time on Boulder Dash, he quit his job but still needed a work environment, which he got from friends running an office. When it broke up, Liepa looked for a real job again (eventually in word processing). After a year in total, First Star Software published Boulder Dash and produced a few sequels with Liepa. Despite Liepa's success, neither he nor the local game companies found each other interesting. He also found the Commodore 64 intricate, the PC (then 4 colors with PC Speaker) much worse, and was unsure how Amiga games would do. So he pursued 3D graphics from 1986 to 2009 at Alias Research (now Autodesk), and since leaving, freelances in web.

Despite not actively following video games, Liepa occasionally finds an addictive one and has adapted two into Brain Jam (W16) (to learn C++ and Windows) and an unnamed game (for the first JS1k competition). His favorites were Crossfire and Choplifter, followed by Miner 2049er, Oils Well, Suspended, The Castles of Doctor Creep (C64), M.U.L.E., Cyberia, Fury3 (W32), Surfacer (IOS), iSlash (IOS) (whose authors he interviewed), and World of Goo. The least he likes are Castle Wolfenstein and multiplayer shooters.

Judging from his Noteflight profile (where at least his first and third score are original compositions), Liepa likes jazz. He stresses that in any art, polishing time is one success factor and reflects the artist's own love.

Audio Development

Atari 8-bit

Liepa programmed a minimalist editor, possibly in Forth on his Atari 800, and composed right there for the POKEY chip. His blog post suggests that the finished notes were converted (automatically or manually) to numbers in 6502 assembly source code.

PC Booter

Track 2 plays on PC Speaker (unless toggled off by S key) and track 1 on PCjr 3 Voice (if present).


Released Title Sample Notes
1984-0?-?? Boulder Dash (A8)
1984-0?-?? Boulder Dash (C64)
Arranged by Unknown.
1984-1?-?? Boulder Dash (ZXS) Arranged by Unknown.
1984-??-?? Boulder Dash (A2) Arranged by Unknown.
1984-??-?? Boulder Dash (CV) Arranged by Unknown.
1984-??-?? Boulder Dash (PCB)
1985-0?-?? Boulder Dash II (C64)
Arranged by Unknown.
1985-0?-?? Boulder Dash II (ZXS) Arranged by Unknown.
1985-0?-?? Boulder Dash (CPC)
Arranged by Unknown.
1985-0?-?? Boulder Dash (MSX) Arranged by Unknown.
1985-??-?? Boulder Dash II - Rockford's Riot (MSX) Arranged by Unknown.
1986-0?-?? Boulder Dash II (A8)
1986-??-?? Boulder Dash II (PCB)
Arranged by Unknown.
1988-0?-?? Boulder Dash (BBC) Arranged by Ian Waugh.
1988-0?-?? Boulder Dash (ELEC) Arranged by Ian Waugh.