In Memory of Richard (Rick) F. Loomis 1947-2019In the beginning: Rick Loomis was a wargamer as a teen and ended up in the army in 1969. His job was to send and translate top secret messages using one of these new things called a “computer.”
Founder of Flying Buffalo Inc.
During his time in the Army, Rick came up with the idea of using a computer to run play-by-mail games. In 1970 he started Flying Buffalo Games which used a Raytheon ™ computer to run his games for paying customers. Rick was the first person to own a computer for the sole use of running games. The Ratheon had 16k of memory.
To promote his Play-by-Mail games (Starweb, Battle Plan and Nuclear Destruction) Rick started going to wargame conventions. These later evolved into the larger scale more mainstream conventions like GenCon and The Origins Game Fair, that we recognize today. Rick used to go to conventions all over the US just about every weekend, only slowing down in his mid 60s. Most of us were amazed at how he could go to so many conventions week after week and not be completely exhausted, but he made it look easy.
To help pay for his booth, Rick started selling other peoples games. In 1975, Rick took the hand-copied and stapled Tunnels & Trolls RPG rules written by Phoenix gamer Ken St Andre to a show and Rick sold them all. Rick and Ken arranged to start publishing T&T through Flying Buffalo. It turned out that T&T was the 2nd role-playing game ever published and T&T went on to become a long-running fan favorite, and one of the few RPGs you could play solitaire. In fact Rick wrote the very first solo adventure for a role-playing game, aptly called Buffalo Castle.
Also during the mid 1970s, people kept asking Rick if the Nuclear Destruction pbm game was based on the Nuclear War Card game they remembered playing back in the 1960s. Rick recalled seeing the game as well, and decided he would find out who owned it and if he could maybe get the rights to republish the Nuclear War.
He got a copy of the original game and saw it was by Doug Malewicki and that it had been published in Los Angeles. Rick then got a Los Angeles phone book and started calling Malewickis. He soon found Doug and they worked out a deal to put Nuclear War back in print. The game was a big hit and it even ended up on the Games Magazine Top 100 Beer and Pretzels games of all time list and the game was put in the Origins Hall of Fame. Nuclear War also spawned numerous, editions, sequels and spin-off games.
Rick went on to publish many other games and books like the 7 Grimtooth Traps, the 7 Citybooks, Mercenaries, Spies & Private Eyes, Lost Worlds, Ace of Aces, Berserker, various dice and more.
Rick was one of the founding members of the Game Manufacturing Association and served as its President several times when they needed him. Gama seemed to go through cycles of things going well and things going not so well, and it seemed that when no one else wanted to deal with the current situation, Rick would be asked to serve to try to get things back on track. He spent years of his life helping GAMA and the gaming industry, most of it behind the scenes and unnoticed. GAMA just unveiled the Rick Loomis Service Award on October 4th 2019 as a tribute to his many years of service.
Rick was never hurtful, sarcastic or insulted people and he had the amazing ability to see the best in people. It served him very well in dealing with various gaming company presidents, retailers and executives often who had their own set of separate concerns. He never put on airs or tried to impress people. Rick was always just Rick. People just naturally trusted him because of that.
Rick ran Flying Buffalo and went to conventions for almost 50 years He had many stories about the early GenCons and going to a convention that only 50 people showed up at. He did the Essan Spiel Game show in Germany for 20 years and did Gencon and Origins for over 40 years. Rick was told that he and Lou Zocchi were the only ones to have booths for that many years at GenCon.
I want to thank each of you for coming to this memorial and paying your respects to Rick, our friend, relative, mentor, fellow gamer, publisher, industry legend and a kind, caring, really wonderful guy. I know he will be missed by all of us and many others who were unable to be here. (This Memorial was written by Steve Crompton and given out at Rick's Memorial Service. This was reprinted by permission of the author.)