Occidental Designs

A Short History

"Bumpy Grumpy" developer
Occidental Designs

Active: 1979 – 85, 1988, 1990-91
Location: St Louis, Missouri
Releases: Regional test markets only

Any gamer raised in the 80s can probably vaguely recall game developers Baer Sternmidden and William S Fushnell. These eccentric men were the founders of the prolific but relatively obscure developer Occidental Designs (OD). Being the only game company endorsed by both Milli Vanilli and Orson Welles, OD developed an underground following.

Mobirise Website Builder

The Early Years

Founded in 1979, Occidental Designs was originally set up as a jukebox servicing company, working in the Greater St. Louis area handling jobs in
St. Louis, East St. Louis, St. Charles and even sometimes as far away as St. Clare.

Lifelong friends Baer Sternmidden and William S. Fushnell founded the company while still in engineering college. Disco fever was at its peak in 1979, and the jukebox servicing work was bringing in a steady income.
But after visiting a local arcade, the pair caught another type of fever. Scarlet fever. After they both recovered, they caught a third fever, Arcade fever. Arcade games were the new hit industry at the time, leading Sternmidden and Fushnell to quickly redirect their effects to the design and manufacture of video games.

While not as widely known as industry heavyweights such as Exidy, Rock-Ola, and household name Gremlin, the classic developer Occidental Designs went on to achieve a cult following among arcade enthusiasts.

Mobirise Website Builder
Genius at Work

Here we see Baer and William*, working diligently on a game design.


Mobirise Website Builder

An Arcade Legacy

Occidental Designs is hot in the collector scene with very few machines in  current existence, if any. Though many older games will fondly recall playing one of Occidental Designs' classics in a smoky pizza parlor or laundromat. An incomplete list includes such influential titles as Rip 'n' Tear, Xordian Knot, Hellbombers, and of course, Bumpy Grumpy.

Mobirise Website Builder

"We knew we had a hit.
The problem was no one else did."
-William S. Fushnell on Bumpy Grumpy's road to success

Mobirise Website Builder

Bumpy Grumpy was one of Occidental Designs' "hits", and will be the first game ported to modern systems by Mommy's Best Games.

Excellence in Design

While Occidental Designs is known for responsive controls and innovative designs, in retrospect most analysts agree that the problem with the company wasn't the games, but a lack of business acumen or "horse sense".

Baer and William were fortunate enough to frequently secure angel investments from local friends, keeping the company afloat. Over the years OD released many games from different genres, and while never quite getting rich, the team made some true fans.

"Yes, but what if THIS was the game that actually turned a profit?"
-Baer Sternmidden

The company office circa 1985, on the corner of Gottlieb and Centuri St.

Mobirise Website Builder
Mobirise Website Builder

The arcade factory fire, circa 1985, on the corner of Rosen Ln and Kalinske St.

Marketing Stunts

Occidental Designs frequently declared bankruptcy over the years, with a pattern of designing a new game, developing, and then release it with near zero marketing.

And yet occasionally there moments of marketing inspiration.

Arcade Drop '82

One notable, failed game promotion, was the marketing of their balloon game Hot Air in the Fall of 1982.

The company staged a PR stunt Thanksgiving weekend in which it carted arcade cabinets to top of the St. Louis Arch hoping to float them down to the ground for all to see.

In keeping with the theme of their game, each cabinet was filled with hot air, assuming they would sail safely to the ground.

Despite OD’s best efforts, what they dubbed the “Hot Air Float” quickly became known as the “Arcade Arch Drop” with cabinets proceeding to smash to the ground and explode on impact, damaging parked cars, and scattering the previously cheering crowd.

Mobirise Website Builder

"They're crashing to the earth right in front our eyes.
One just went through a windshield of parked car!"
-Eyewitness Radio

A New Era

In 2023, the entire game IP of Occidental Designs was purchased by indie developer Mommy's Best Games. MBG's intent is to properly port and release all these lost gems into our modern era.

Made with ‌