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Star Castle 2600 2011 at Video Game Summit


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#51 keilbaca OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 10:59 AM


Yeah, sorry about that.

NP, it's all good.

You and others make fine points.

It just takes one sale and everyone has a chance to have it... or, I'll keep it and never get any money.

Either is fine, it's the norm of "I make a little money and everyone steals it" that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.


I understand how that is, but I guess I'm just kinda confused on the all or nothing approach.

Medieval Mayhem was released as a public rom, and it sold very well. I would rather think you'd want some money instead of no money... but that's just me.

#52 Schizophretard OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:33 AM

Howard Scott Warshaw was right that it would suck. It would cost $32K and almost no one would get to verify that it is a good game.

#53 Jess Ragan ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:44 AM

Knowing that it was developed by the guy who made Toki and Roadblasters for the Lynx just makes me want it more. Those games friggin' rock!

#54 solidcorp OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:57 AM

Knowing that it was developed by the guy who made Toki and Roadblasters for the Lynx just makes me want it more. Those games friggin' rock!


Thanks Jess!

(I made S.T.U.N. Runner too :) )

#55 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:17 PM


I just got Star Castle on Mame, and it is an ok game.


So you downloaded the Star Castle ROMS and ran them in an emulator - this is exactly why I didn't release the 2600 version on a melody cart, and presumably why my not releasing the game frustrated more than a few people.



Actually I should say that I had them downloaded years ago. As part of my classic gaming preservation project. A time capsule if you will. This is a digital archival project to help ensure that the classic gaming code survives into the next century long after we're dead. I have different drives than what are available at retail, much lower density and much slower speeds. These are expected to go 40-50 years without a refresh. And I have a drive from 1980 that still works perfectly too with no refreshing. But that is from a different project. It really depends on how they are stored.

All that aside, I just fired it up in mame to see what the fuss was all about. To check the accuracy of conversion between the arcade and 2600. If I seriously played any more than a handful of these games it would consume far too much time to do anything else. My pc gaming mostly consists of X-plane and Orbiter. Perhaps a few select 2600 & Arcade games. But nothing more.

Edited by Keatah, Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:25 PM.


#56 Crazy Climber OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:28 PM

Loved Roadblasters and S.T.U.N. Runner, hated Toki, not your fault though I just don't like that game on ANY system :D Can still remember opening Roadblasters out of the shrinkwrap and eating toaster struddel with a red baron pizza, also purchased Warbirds that day, awesome!

My thoughts on Star Castle...
I used to get mad when programmers did not release there games. Well, the more I thought about it why would I even want to purchase a game that the programmer obviously does NOT want me to play. There is no money in homebrewing, the talented homebrew programmers we have around here do it for the admiration. If somebody makes it clear they do not want anyone to have the game then why drag it out by begging or getting mad? Just say "okay, thats fine, let us know if you change your mind" and purchase one of the games from people who DO want you to enjoy there work, there is plenty of them out there. My Atari will keep on rocking with or without Star Castle :)

#57 RevEng OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 12:31 PM

You and others make fine points.

It just takes one sale and everyone has a chance to have it... or, I'll keep it and never get any money.

Either is fine, it's the norm of "I make a little money and everyone steals it" that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Producing 2600 games hasn't been a commercially viable activity since the crash. Developers would easily make more money per hour as Walmart greeters.

So we now have something of a gift economy going on. One set of people produce homebrews, another set produces neat hardware, others work on emulators, development tools, etc.

It's cool if you don't want to participate, but nobody is "stealing" anything as the norm. It's given away for love of the hobby.

Also, homebrew isn't a disparaging word, and it doesn't describe the quality of a work. There are very few commercial games that reach the depth and polish of the homebrew titles in the AA store.

#58 solidcorp OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:41 PM



I just got Star Castle on Mame, and it is an ok game.


So you downloaded the Star Castle ROMS and ran them in an emulator - this is exactly why I didn't release the 2600 version on a melody cart, and presumably why my not releasing the game frustrated more than a few people.



Actually I should say that I had them downloaded years ago. As part of my classic gaming preservation project. A time capsule if you will. This is a digital archival project to help ensure that the classic gaming code survives into the next century long after we're dead. I have different drives than what are available at retail, much lower density and much slower speeds. These are expected to go 40-50 years without a refresh. And I have a drive from 1980 that still works perfectly too with no refreshing. But that is from a different project. It really depends on how they are stored.

All that aside, I just fired it up in mame to see what the fuss was all about. To check the accuracy of conversion between the arcade and 2600. If I seriously played any more than a handful of these games it would consume far too much time to do anything else. My pc gaming mostly consists of X-plane and Orbiter. Perhaps a few select 2600 & Arcade games. But nothing more.


Yawn... <sarchasm>

Aaaaaaaaah, so you have a classic gaming preservation project do you?

Do you have the rights to Star Castle?

Have you purchased the ROMS for all your games?

Do the current copyright owners know of your preservation project and have Atari, Midway, Sega, Taito, Konami, Warner Communication... given you permission to possess their copyrighted property?

I've got news for you, there are probably millions of "preservationists" just like you, and believe it or not these games are still viable commercial properties. Just look in the iPhone App store, they're in there for sale, where emulators are not allowed.

It doesn't matter when you did it, it doesn't matter why you did it, it doesn't matter if you even play them, but if you didn't purchase the games and if the copyright owners haven't given you permission to possess them it's stealing, it's against the law, and you did it... and it sounds like you've got a nice collection if you can just go pull a less than popular game like Star Castle from the archives to "fire it up in mame to see what all the fuss is about".

Look, I'm not here to single you out or even come down on piracy so hard. I'm a professional game developer and piracy is a very serious issue in our industry.

The bottom line for me is that piracy is not only rampant but commonplace, and there is nothing I can do to protect my work, particularly on a naked system like the Atari 2600, so if I'm going to sell it I'd better make damn sure I get all the money I want up front. After that, I want everyone to have it, legally, for free.

That's the way it is, thanks for making my point.

#59 solidcorp OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:48 PM

It's cool if you don't want to participate, but nobody is "stealing" anything as the norm. It's given away for love of the hobby.

Sharing your games and source in communities like this is one thing, but homebrew games are downloaded without discretion alongside of the classics.

Also, homebrew isn't a disparaging word, and it doesn't describe the quality of a work. There are very few commercial games that reach the depth and polish of the homebrew titles in the AA store.

I didn't mean to take away from the fine finished titles in the AA store, I only meant to say that the phrase "homebrew" conjures images of amateur, lower quality, hackish work, and to its credit, many titles reach professional levels. I personally feel they should be distinguished from the many many efforts that don't reach such depth and polish. It is merely my opinion and I certainly am not suggesting other titles in the AA store or anywhere else are of inferior quality.

Edited by solidcorp, Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:48 PM.


#60 thegoldenband OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:52 PM

Once bought everyone could download and share it LEGALLY.

This is an interesting assertion. Is the Star Castle IP in the public domain? I know the Vectrex version is in the public domain (as are all Vectrex games from BITD), but I'm not sure of how that works vis-a-vis the licensing that allowed them to make the port in the first place.

EDIT: Or, do you (solidcorp) own the Star Castle IP, or have a license to the name?

In any event, I'm sure it's a great port, and while I think a lot of people would get great pleasure from playing it, I respect your right to set a high monetary threshold on releasing it. For those of us who create things -- a game, a piece of music, a story, a work of art -- sharing our work with the world has always meant, and will always mean, relinquishing complete control over how it's used, received, disseminated and interpreted. That's not something that troubles me; after all, I've had my work shared for free on the Internet before, both with and without my consent, and if I'm lucky it'll happen again.

Edited by thegoldenband, Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:56 PM.


#61 solidcorp OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 2:20 PM

Once bought everyone could download and share it LEGALLY.

This is an interesting assertion. Is the Star Castle IP in the public domain? I know the Vectrex version is in the public domain (as are all Vectrex games from BITD), but I'm not sure of how that works vis-a-vis the licensing that allowed them to make the port in the first place.

EDIT: Or, do you (solidcorp) own the Star Castle IP, or have a license to the name?


That is a good question, I was hoping someone would ask,

As a matter of fact I have aggressively pursued the rights to develop Star Castle for the Atari 2600 via telephone and email for about a year and a half... basically since I figured out how to do it and decided to write the entire game. I have developed many licensed properties, several of which being coin-op ports. At some point I had to decide whether to code it or not without the rights and decided to finish it anyway.

I am fairly certain that the current copyright holder either does not know they own the rights or does not care.
As far as I can tell, it is a dead property.
If, by chance, the copyright holder is reading this, please contact me immediately.

If a copyright owner comes forward and can clearly prove legal ownership, I will either enter into an agreement with them to sell the cartridge, or if we can't come to an agreement I will keep it. I am within my rights either way.

In any event, I'm sure it's a great port, and while I think a lot of people would get great pleasure from playing it, I respect your right to set a high monetary threshold on releasing it. For those of us who create things -- a game, a piece of music, a story, a work of art -- sharing our work with the world has always meant, and will always mean, relinquishing complete control over how it's used, received, disseminated and interpreted. That's not something that troubles me; after all, I've had my work shared for free on the Internet before, both with and without my consent, and if I'm lucky it'll happen again.


Thanks so much.

Edited by solidcorp, Wed Jul 20, 2011 2:36 PM.


#62 keilbaca OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 2:25 PM


Once bought everyone could download and share it LEGALLY.

This is an interesting assertion. Is the Star Castle IP in the public domain? I know the Vectrex version is in the public domain (as are all Vectrex games from BITD), but I'm not sure of how that works vis-a-vis the licensing that allowed them to make the port in the first place.

EDIT: Or, do you (solidcorp) own the Star Castle IP, or have a license to the name?

In any event, I'm sure it's a great port, and while I think a lot of people would get great pleasure from playing it, I respect your right to set a high monetary threshold on releasing it. For those of us who create things -- a game, a piece of music, a story, a work of art -- sharing our work with the world has always meant, and will always mean, relinquishing complete control over how it's used, received, disseminated and interpreted. That's not something that troubles me; after all, I've had my work shared for free on the Internet before, both with and without my consent, and if I'm lucky it'll happen again.


That is a good question, I was hoping someone would ask,

As a matter of fact I have aggressively pursued the rights to develop Star Castle for the Atari 2600 via telephone and email for about a year and a half... basically since I figured out how to do it and decided to write the entire game. I have developed many licensed properties, several of which being coin-op ports. At some point I had to decide whether to code it or not without the rights and decided to finish it anyway.

I am fairly certain that the current copyright holder either does not know they own the rights or does not care.
As far as I can tell, it is a dead property.
If, by chance, the copyright holder is reading this, please contact me immediately.

If a copyright owner comes forward and can clearly prove legal ownership, I will either enter into an agreement with them to sell the cartridge, or if we can't come to an agreement I will keep it. I am within my rights either way.

Thanks.


So if that's the case, then the fact of downloading the Star Castle rom doesn't really hold a candle to your argument then that you presented earlier.

#63 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 2:31 PM

There have been many versions of Star Castle re-writes that have been put into the public domain. And also several games with different names, but obviously "Star Castle" in content and spirit, written over the years beginning with the Apple II. These have been sold retail without issues.

#64 GroovyBee OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 2:31 PM

Who is the current copyright holder? It looks like Williams from a brief trawl through the wiki entry for the game.

#65 solidcorp OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:08 PM

Who is the current copyright holder? It looks like Williams from a brief trawl through the wiki entry for the game.


Star Castle was done by Tim Skelly at Cinematronics which was bought by Tradewest which was renamed Leland corporation which was acquired by Williams (WMS) which merged with Bally/Midway and has subsequently split leaving Midway with the coin op licenses who filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and was bought by Warner Brothers Entertainment.

As it turns out, the interactive software licensing liaison at Warner Brothers is an old friend of mine who also was the producer at Midway for Arctic Thunder PS2 which one of my companies, Inland Productions, ported and on which I was one of the lead programmers. He is in possession of "THE list"; a list of ALL interactive properties Warner Brothers owns. Star Castle is not on "THE list".

I also inquired at WMS and Atari (Infogrames) just to be thorough but have turned up nothing.

#66 solidcorp OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 3:18 PM

So if that's the case, then the fact of downloading the Star Castle rom doesn't really hold a candle to your argument then that you presented earlier.


Touche' with respect to the Star Castle coin op ROMS...

But there are some fundamental differences: one being that I tried to contact the owner to get permission, and the other being that the vast majority of titles in any "classic gaming preservation project" are likely not to be dead but rather stolen properties.

Never the less, I stand by my assertion that piracy is commonplace (particular those that will run on free emulation software) and that it is reasonable to assume that a product released on the 2600 is more likely to be pirated than purchased (not to take anything away from the honest people who would buy the game, they are just vastly outnumbered).

#67 thegoldenband OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 4:22 PM

solidcorp, could I ask what the endgame is here?

In other words, I'm sure you know no one here is really able to shell out almost $33k for a video game, especially in this economy. Most folks here are middle-class at best (in terms of their income), and would be quite hesitant to spend $327.68 on a single game, let alone 100x that much. So I find it hard to see this thread as a good-faith sales attempt. If I'm wrong about that, my apologies.*

Otherwise, I'm left wondering what your intentions are. You've made something that's exciting, that's guaranteed to attract attention, people would buy if they could afford it -- but which is clearly going to remain out of reach.**

Is the point to teach "us" a lesson -- and by "us" I mean the pirating masses, the parasites who allegedly consume other people's work without paying for it -- by holding out something "we" might want, but not allowing us to have it under viable terms? Are you trying to make "us" feel the same frustration you feel, when you've had your work pirated in the past? Is the similarity of your asking price to the selling price of the boxed Air Raid meant to underscore some point about how we value the works of the past vs. the works of the present?

This isn't intended as an attack, BTW, and I hope it doesn't read as one. I'm just trying to understand what you're expecting to accomplish, and what the value of these interactions are for you -- that is, besides the praise for your work on Star Castle, which is obviously well-earned.

Maybe another way of asking the question is: besides acknowledging that you're clearly an accomplished programmer who's done great work on this Star Castle port, what else are you looking for us (or "us") to do for you?

*(I accept that your time, effort, and handiwork is potentially worth $33k. Certainly, if Thomas Jentzsch had released Thrust in 1982, or John C. had programmed Ladybug back then, one would hope they'd be making at least $33k for their efforts -- in 1982 dollars, that is! But they're participants in our "gift economy", sharing their work for a miniscule fraction of its true value, because the appreciation, respect, and -- dare I say it? -- love*** they get in return makes it worthwhile to them.)

**(And again, that's your prerogative: if you'd decided to produce a run of carts, aiming to make a few thousand bucks out of it, you might find that the warmth and gratitude of our community would be sufficient compensation for the difference between that and $33k. But then again, you might not: there are always complainers and fun-ruiners, after all, and anyone can decide that the existence of those people wrecks everything. More to the point, warmth and gratitude don't pay the rent -- at least not directly...)

***(Not the sexy-time sort of love, mind you. Just fraternal love for one's fellow human beings who sacrifice that one irreplaceable resource -- their time -- to make the world a slightly more fun and exciting place.)

Edited by thegoldenband, Wed Jul 20, 2011 4:26 PM.


#68 AtariLeaf OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 4:23 PM


It's cool if you don't want to participate, but nobody is "stealing" anything as the norm. It's given away for love of the hobby.

Sharing your games and source in communities like this is one thing, but homebrew games are downloaded without discretion alongside of the classics.

Also, homebrew isn't a disparaging word, and it doesn't describe the quality of a work. There are very few commercial games that reach the depth and polish of the homebrew titles in the AA store.

I didn't mean to take away from the fine finished titles in the AA store, I only meant to say that the phrase "homebrew" conjures images of amateur, lower quality, hackish work, and to its credit, many titles reach professional levels. I personally feel they should be distinguished from the many many efforts that don't reach such depth and polish. It is merely my opinion and I certainly am not suggesting other titles in the AA store or anywhere else are of inferior quality.


If you haven't had a chance, you should try some of the homebrews. I believe, (and others can correct me if I'm wrong) that you can download the roms for many. For example, Ladybug and Juno First are two that I purchased after having tried the rom. Most of the folks here want the physical copies because we're both collectors AND gamers. I look at emulation as a way to try but I'll always buy if Its available. Personally, I would love to buy a copy of your game on a cart if it was ever made available. I'm sure many here would. It wouldn't make you a millionaire for sure but, as mentioned, most homebrewers do it for the love of the hobby and the desire to share their creations with the community while still not going broke doing so. I applaud all the homebrewers. They have a lot of talent and their love for the 2600 shows. Star Castle looks to be another such gem. :)

Good luck with whichever decision you make :)

#69 BrianC OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 5:04 PM

I have been a bit disappointed with how WB doesn't have any compilations with older games. None of their games were put back on XBLA and, as far as I know, everything based on Midway's games currently are either new versions or remakes. Considering the talk I keep hearing of Midway's games on XBLA, they seem to have sold well. Why not let other ocean do a new Midway pack for DS or 3DS and put the games back on XBLA?

I'm not a bit fan of how illegal emulation of ROMs is treated the same as the games being free, but I feel sitting on the games encourages piracy. I don't see the point of a new game being sold for as much as an extremely rare game either. I understand it took a lot of money to make, but it's not the same as something that was sold back in the day.

Edited by BrianC, Wed Jul 20, 2011 5:19 PM.


#70 BrianC OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 6:25 PM

Also, have you contacted Raw Thrills? I know they have former Midway staff.

#71 solidcorp OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 6:50 PM

Also, have you contacted Raw Thrills? I know they have former Midway staff.

Raw Thrills is 3 miles from my house. They may have staff but no way do they have the rights to an old coin op Eugene didn't write.

#72 BrianC OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:24 PM


Also, have you contacted Raw Thrills? I know they have former Midway staff.

Raw Thrills is 3 miles from my house. They may have staff but no way do they have the rights to an old coin op Eugene didn't write.


ok cool. I knew it was a shot in the dark.

#73 solidcorp OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:17 PM

Loved Roadblasters and S.T.U.N. Runner, hated Toki, not your fault though I just don't like that game on ANY system :D Can still remember opening Roadblasters out of the shrinkwrap and eating toaster struddel with a red baron pizza, also purchased Warbirds that day, awesome!

Thanks a lot man. Roadblasters was a real trip for me, I was brought to tears when I saw it in the Sears Wishbook (Christmas catalog were used before the internet). It was the first game I wrote on my own that was released comercially.

My thoughts on Star Castle...
I used to get mad when programmers did not release there games. Well, the more I thought about it why would I even want to purchase a game that the programmer obviously does NOT want me to play. There is no money in homebrewing, the talented homebrew programmers we have around here do it for the admiration. If somebody makes it clear they do not want anyone to have the game then why drag it out by begging or getting mad? Just say "okay, thats fine, let us know if you change your mind" and purchase one of the games from people who DO want you to enjoy there work, there is plenty of them out there. My Atari will keep on rocking with or without Star Castle :)


I didn't make it for money, I was driven by the challenge (and maybe the prospect of old school bragging rights). I was really taken by surprise at the response from people in the 14 page forum discussion that resulted from it's debut last year. Since then, I've done some reflection and even though I would be frustrated releasing it conventionally, I found a figure at which I would be comfortable giving it to everybody and announced that at VGS.

#74 solidcorp OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:20 PM

$32,768.00 for a homebrew? Wow, you are really shooting high. Good luck, and by the way, the game looks great.


Thanks!

#75 solidcorp OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:43 PM

solidcorp, could I ask what the endgame is here?

In other words, I'm sure you know no one here is really able to shell out almost $33k for a video game, especially in this economy. Most folks here are middle-class at best (in terms of their income), and would be quite hesitant to spend $327.68 on a single game, let alone 100x that much. So I find it hard to see this thread as a good-faith sales attempt. If I'm wrong about that, my apologies.*

Otherwise, I'm left wondering what your intentions are. You've made something that's exciting, that's guaranteed to attract attention, people would buy if they could afford it -- but which is clearly going to remain out of reach.**

Is the point to teach "us" a lesson -- and by "us" I mean the pirating masses, the parasites who allegedly consume other people's work without paying for it -- by holding out something "we" might want, but not allowing us to have it under viable terms? Are you trying to make "us" feel the same frustration you feel, when you've had your work pirated in the past? Is the similarity of your asking price to the selling price of the boxed Air Raid meant to underscore some point about how we value the works of the past vs. the works of the present?

This isn't intended as an attack, BTW, and I hope it doesn't read as one. I'm just trying to understand what you're expecting to accomplish, and what the value of these interactions are for you -- that is, besides the praise for your work on Star Castle, which is obviously well-earned.

Maybe another way of asking the question is: besides acknowledging that you're clearly an accomplished programmer who's done great work on this Star Castle port, what else are you looking for us (or "us") to do for you?

*(I accept that your time, effort, and handiwork is potentially worth $33k. Certainly, if Thomas Jentzsch had released Thrust in 1982, or John C. had programmed Ladybug back then, one would hope they'd be making at least $33k for their efforts -- in 1982 dollars, that is! But they're participants in our "gift economy", sharing their work for a miniscule fraction of its true value, because the appreciation, respect, and -- dare I say it? -- love*** they get in return makes it worthwhile to them.)

**(And again, that's your prerogative: if you'd decided to produce a run of carts, aiming to make a few thousand bucks out of it, you might find that the warmth and gratitude of our community would be sufficient compensation for the difference between that and $33k. But then again, you might not: there are always complainers and fun-ruiners, after all, and anyone can decide that the existence of those people wrecks everything. More to the point, warmth and gratitude don't pay the rent -- at least not directly...)

***(Not the sexy-time sort of love, mind you. Just fraternal love for one's fellow human beings who sacrifice that one irreplaceable resource -- their time -- to make the world a slightly more fun and exciting place.)


Deep and fair.

Other than make and show the game, everything else has been in reaction to the reaction.

I'm not teaching anyone a lesson, our lives are no different than if I had never tried to make Star Castle, and I'm not keeping anyone else from trying.

I'm not asking anyone to do anything for me and I am grateful for the praise I have received here, at VGS, in the press, from my friends, and from my professional peers.

I improved the gameplay and replay value of the product by improving the controls and adding difficulty, put it in an awesome clear cartridge with flashing lights, and exhibited the product in the same venue in which it premiered in 2010. I also announced that I would be willing to sell it as a one of a kind item and if sold I'd be willing to release the source and binaries.

Once again I am defending myself.




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