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The right way to do it

Posted by Nathan Strum, 03 February 2012 · 1,467 views

Video Game Ramblings
So... if you had a bunch of money, how cool would it be to gather up a bunch of the best programmers from the classic arcade era, and hire them to make new games?

You know... like Ed Rotberg (Battlezone), Owen Rubin (Major Havoc, Space Duel), Rich Adam (Gravitar, Missile Command), Ed Logg (Asteroids, Centipede), Tim Skelly (Rip-Off, Armor Attack, Reactor), Bruce Merrit (Black Widow) and Dennis Koble (Atlantis, Solar Storm)?

Well, some guy just did that. Seamus Blackley, one of the co-creators of something called the X-Box (I never was much up on them new-fangled consoles like the Nintendo and ColecoVision), got the band back together to create new games for mobile devices. iPhones, iPads and the like.

You can read the whole story at VentureBeat.com. Blackley teamed up with Van Burham (gamer chick and author of one of the most disappointing books on classic videogames ever) to found Innovative Leisure - a company that apparently is striving to be the spiritual successor to the original Atari.

Hopefully they won't end up being the literal successor to the original Atari. :roll:

They've already got 7 games in development, and THQ is on board as a publisher (fortunately, if/when THQ goes under, Innovative Leisure can take their games elsewhere).

I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with. Could this be the start of a new renaissance in classic gaming?

Interesting. I know some of those classics guys have been working all along though so I'm not prepared to think of this an an automatic win. It will be interesting to see what they can come up with though.
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A bit more from the gang at Innovative Leisure, comparing the golden age of arcade gaming to mobile games. (No link to the actual keynote at DICE yet, however.)

Still, some interesting observations...
  • Arcade games, like mobile games are "things you do while you're waiting."
  • People played arcade games like Frogger using one hand - sometimes holding a drink in another hand.
  • Mobile games fail unless they offer instant gratification. The sale is made in the first few seconds.
  • In the 1980s, visitors to arcades were greeted with lines of competing machines, all designed to attract the attention of players through garish marketing. App stores use similar techniques.
  • Arcade games, like mobile games, are developed in just a few short weeks.
  • Development teams are usually made up of small numbers of people, often taking a chance on a big idea.
  • Players of both game types tend to behave promiscuously, hopping from one game to another before they settle on a longer term relationship.
  • Arcade games were field-tested and the behavior of gamers was watched carefully. Makers of mobile games also tend to test their games in the open market, rather than behind closed doors in focus groups.
  • There were a large number of bad games created by charlatans, in the early 1980s. Consumers lost interest. This has not happened in mobile gaming, but there are many games on the market with little or no merit.
For me though...
  • Everything else was something I did, while "waiting to play arcade games." ;) Mobile games are things to do while you're waiting, however.
  • Can't play Defender with one hand!
  • Instant appeal anyway. Gratification came in steps as you progressively got better at a game and achieved new scores/reached new levels.
  • Yeah baby, those were the days!
  • Homebrews, on the other hand, take years.
  • So true. I wonder how many people it took to develop Mr. TNT?
  • I feel so dirty now. I hope Battlezone will forgive me for my past indiscretions with all of those other games. They meant nothing to me, baby!
  • Always wondered who those people were, hanging over my shoulder and watching me play. I just assumed they wanted the next game.
  • I think this is a lot more true in consoles than arcades. Arcades were killed by console gaming and home computers, and by the fact that the arcade boom was essentially just a non-sustainable fad. Arcades grew too quickly and became too numerous to sustain the business model when the general public lost interest and all that were left were the gamers.
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5) yeah, that it can.
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5. I suspect very few arcade games were developed in weeks. A few months perhaps.

9. Arcades were successful when it wasn't possible to play similar games at home. Arcade games managed to stay ahead of the first few generations of consoles and PCs by having dedicated graphics hardware. But once 3D games came to PCs and consoles arcade games were reduced to specialized controls and ticket dispensers.
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