Jump to content

Photo

In defense of Pac-Man...


371 replies to this topic

#101 zzip OFFLINE  

zzip

    River Patroller

  • 2,550 posts

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 8:12 AM

Pretty much.
 
The VCS is an extremely limited economy. You have 128 bytes of RAM, 76 processor cycles on a line, twice as many if you update every two lines. You need memory for the dots, for two players, which takes almost all of your RAM, to say nothing of other bits of system state.
 
Could Pac-Man have been improved? Sure, a blue maze, black background, but Atari did have a few guidelines against black backgrounds for space games. Put the maze holes on the right axis? sure, could have been done. 
 
A flicker manager? Yes, this has been proven to be possible when you have more than 4K of ROM to be able to create more unrolled kernels.
 
I am sick and fucking tired of people, who quite frankly have _ZERO_ understanding on the difficulties of WRITING a VCS game, just shit all over "game x" .... When you have spent many weeks counting to 76 and carefully timing each instruction to make sure that you have enough time to reset each element of playfield, player, missile, and ball, to create something that can DRAW the game state you have...and you go through the difficulties of trying to carefully make sure that your game state calculations happen within the allotted time when things AREN'T being drawn.... then you'll have perspective...and will be much more likely to shut the fuck up about it.
 
-Thom


When you are Atari, and you just paid for the home rights for the biggest game in history up to that point-- probably paid through the nose for it. How do you have zero regard for quality? That's gross mismanagement!

It should have been their flagship game and they should have pulled out all the stops to make it shine, like Coleco did with Donkey Kong on the CV, because Pacman is a game that will be (or should be) a system seller.

If one programmer isn't capable of producing it, give it to another. Better yet, give the game to a few programmers, make it a competition and release the best version. When you can expect to sell millions of copies, paying a couple extra programmers for a few weeks/months of time is peanuts.

So yes it may not be the easiest thing, but it's up to the Atari management to find someone up to the challenge. And they blew it. "It's not easy" is not a valid excuse here. It was too important a title to take chances with.

Well, like I have on my web site, it was out on Atari computers before it was released on the Atari 2600, so that's why my family thought Atari 2600 Pac-Man might look similar.


Good point, but for many of us, the Atari home computers were too expensive, and a lot of us didn't realistically think we'd ever own one, at least until 83 when prices dropped drastically.

Interesting how the alleged "non-space games can't have a black background" policy didn't seem to apply to Atari computers. Nor did the "The public doesn't care about arcade accuracy-- ship it!" mentality.

#102 Random Terrain OFFLINE  

Random Terrain

    Visual batari Basic User

  • 28,870 posts
  • Controlled Randomness
    Replay Value
    Nonlinear
  • Location:North Carolina (USA)

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 8:27 AM

Good point, but for many of us, the Atari home computers were too expensive, and a lot of us didn't realistically think we'd ever own one, at least until 83 when prices dropped drastically.

Interesting how the alleged "non-space games can't have a black background" policy didn't seem to apply to Atari computers. Nor did the "The public doesn't care about arcade accuracy-- ship it!" mentality.


Yeah, we didn't have a computer yet either. We saw Pac-Man on an Atari computer at Woolco department store. We didn't think that Atari 2600 Pac-Man would be so much different from that version. I guess that's what we get for preordering a game before seeing it. That was the first and last time we ever preordered an Atari 2600 game.

#103 Bryan OFFLINE  

Bryan

    Quadrunner

  • 10,926 posts
  • Cruise Elroy = 4DB7
  • Location:Chesaning, MI

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 9:31 AM

There are 3 types of graphics on the 2600, playfield, player (sprite) and missile (mini sprite). 

 

Don't forget the ball. ;)

 

Anyway, I don't want to see people get too worked up over this commonly repeated topic (2nd maybe to ones about ET being the worst game).  If it had been any other game license, it wouldn't be that big of a deal.  It's just that this was the hottest one known to man at the time so people looking to play the arcade game at home were probably pissed, and people who didn't go to arcades probably weren't.  The bigger issue is what Pac-Man implied about the 2600.  Was this a still a viable console for arcade gaming or wasn't it?  Ms. Pac-Man proved it certainly had some life left in it, but I'm sure Atari drove many gamers into the arms of the competition.  I mean a few months later Coleco was showing a console that didn't seem to have these problems.



#104 christo930 OFFLINE  

christo930

    Moonsweeper

  • 299 posts

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 10:14 AM

 

Calling that an oversimplification of what happened is an oversimplification of how wrong you are. Do you actually believe one bad game out of hundreds for one system out of several on the market killed an entire industry? Next you'll be telling Coleco made intentionally bad ports or some other idiotic thing you saw on YouTube.

 

I never said it was THE reason. There were other reasons, but Pac*Man certainly didn't help. It is also representative of a mindset that became prevalent at the time. You could release any old bad game and with the right name it was like printing money. Consumers got tired of being taken to the bank.

I've been involved in this scene LONG before YT existed. But you are right in that there is a lot of ill-informed trash on YouTube. Unlike nearly ALL of said YouTubers, I actually got a copy of 2600 Pac*Man for my Birthday or Christmas, I forget which. My first game was a pong machine on my B&W TV. Before that, my dad bought me a pong machine that was electo-mechanical and the size of a TV set. Unfortunately, it didn't work and so it got taken back to the store. We used to take those LED Coleco games and open them up and cut the sound wire so we could play them in class.

#105 Bryan OFFLINE  

Bryan

    Quadrunner

  • 10,926 posts
  • Cruise Elroy = 4DB7
  • Location:Chesaning, MI

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 10:17 AM

I'm a 47 year old record (ok, vinyl) collector and I get upset at some of the noob videos on YT regarding the topic. We have a century of information out there and some kid's just making wrong stuff up like he's the guru. :mad:...  :)



#106 christo930 OFFLINE  

christo930

    Moonsweeper

  • 299 posts

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 10:41 AM

 

I'm a 47 year old record (ok, vinyl) collector and I get upset at some of the noob videos on YT regarding the topic. We have a century of information out there and some kid's just making wrong stuff up like he's the guru. :mad:...  :)

 


For them, it is a fad that will pass. OTOH, it is sometimes nice to see young people (I'm 48) playing the games we grew up with. They will never get to experience an arcade though.

I couldn't make the leap from the Genesis/Snes to the PSX/Saturn. The move to 3d games was terrible and ugly. This is probably what got me replaying the classic games from my childhood. One thing I really like about them is that most of them are easy to pick up and play. Another thing is that as the industry grew, you started to see less and less innovation and wacky stuff that sometimes didn't work. There was always some 'me too' going on, but there seems to be a consolidation of corporate blandness. Obviously there are lots of exceptions that have come, but most of what I see is design by committee that has been focus group tested and "safe". However, the 3d stuff is now as nice looking as the 2d was in the mid 90s.

#107 Bryan OFFLINE  

Bryan

    Quadrunner

  • 10,926 posts
  • Cruise Elroy = 4DB7
  • Location:Chesaning, MI

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 10:45 AM

For them, it is a fad that will pass.

 

You're probably right.

 

The move to 3d games was terrible and ugly. This is probably what got me replaying the classic games from my childhood.

 
I know what you mean. The early flat and gouraud shaded stuff was pretty, but texture warping was disturbing.


#108 NE146 ONLINE  

NE146

    Dumbass Atari Fan

  • 15,949 posts
  • Location:Seattle, WA

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 10:53 AM

I've asked before (to no replies) but does ANYONE have the Atari commercial where they announced Pac-man was coming to the VCS, and generated so much excitement and hype?

 

The thing is.. they showed a gameplay closeup of the ARCADE pac-man in the commercial, so the only people to blame for the unrealistic expectations was Atari themselves :lol: 

 

btw.. I'm pretty sure this commercial is lost to history at this point. 



#109 Keatah OFFLINE  

Keatah

    Missile Commander

  • 21,848 posts

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 10:57 AM

$37.95??? I paid $37.95 for this turd? (I pre-ordered and paid full price, so if that was the price, that is what I paid.) Do you know how many frickin newspapers I had to deliver to pay for this crap fest. I was seriously pissed when I got that sucker home and plugged it in.

Wow. I dont think I realized how much resentment I still had from this event...

Im going to go play some Superman to calm down. (I just played it for the first time in 34 years. THAT was a quality game!!!)

Superman is quite a good game. I'm surprised at how much I hear otherwise.



#110 Bryan OFFLINE  

Bryan

    Quadrunner

  • 10,926 posts
  • Cruise Elroy = 4DB7
  • Location:Chesaning, MI

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 10:58 AM

I've asked before (to no replies) but does ANYONE have the Atari commercial where they announced Pac-man was coming to the VCS, and generated so much excitement and hype?

 

There's this:

 

 

"Naturally, it's from Atari!" = Don't worry, we got this.



#111 Keatah OFFLINE  

Keatah

    Missile Commander

  • 21,848 posts

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 11:00 AM

By this time, I'm pretty sure they were already owned by Time Warner who mismanaged Atari and ran into the ground. How the fuck did the 5200 controller get released? Who made that decision? Better, who decided to put 1978 technology in the next gen gaming system?

 

Well it's common knowledge (yet continues to happen) that if you have non-gamers in charge of running a game company, No one ends up caring about the final product other than that it look nice and fit whatever hole marketing digs for it. it's like a priest being asked to pilot a fighter jet. The mission is gonna fail miserably.
 



#112 empsolo ONLINE  

empsolo

    Moonsweeper

  • 473 posts

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 11:15 AM

 
Well it's common knowledge (yet continues to happen) that if you have non-gamers in charge of running a game company, No one ends up caring about the final product other than that it look nice and fit whatever hole marketing digs for it. it's like a priest being asked to pilot a fighter jet. The mission is gonna fail miserably.
 


I don’t know about that as an axiom. Hiroshi Yamauchi ran Nintendo pretty successfully and never even held a controller until 1996. I guess it’s more about trusting your dev teams to put out a polished product than having a gamer run the company.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

#113 christo930 OFFLINE  

christo930

    Moonsweeper

  • 299 posts

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 11:15 AM

 

I've asked before (to no replies) but does ANYONE have the Atari commercial where they announced Pac-man was coming to the VCS, and generated so much excitement and hype?
 
The thing is.. they showed a gameplay closeup of the ARCADE pac-man in the commercial, so the only people to blame for the unrealistic expectations was Atari themselves :lol: 
 
btw.. I'm pretty sure this commercial is lost to history at this point. 

 

When did they start putting disclaimers on the boxes? I remember at some point they started printing something like "May differ slightly from arcade original" on the outside of the boxes. I don't know what made them do it, but the gossip of the time from my friends was they got sued. This commercial is obviously misleading.

#114 pacman000 OFFLINE  

pacman000

    Stargunner

  • 1,442 posts

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 11:55 AM

I don’t know about that as an axiom. Hiroshi Yamauchi ran Nintendo pretty successfully and never even held a controller until 1996. I guess it’s more about trusting your dev teams to put out a polished product than having a gamer run the company.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Problem: How much oversight did Atari's programmers have on their games? If it's about trusting your delvs, shouldn't Atari 2600 Pac-Man have turned out well?



#115 NE146 ONLINE  

NE146

    Dumbass Atari Fan

  • 15,949 posts
  • Location:Seattle, WA

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 11:55 AM

 

There's this:

 

https://youtu.be/1FHkMqHx5xM

 

"Naturally, it's from Atari!" = Don't worry, we got this.

 

Wow never seen that before and although that isn't the one I'm talking about,  man that's just as good!  Even though it's animated that commercial CLEARLY gives the expectation of a much better port than we got. It even shows the full arcade maze.  

 

Most of us Atari freaks as kids were fully aware that the VCS had limitations, and arcade games would always be scaled down for our home use. But these commercials are to blame for setting the expectation that Pac-man would be much better than it was.  I think if we had gotten something similar to 2600 Ms. Pacman that would have definitely fulfilled that promise.. but alas. :lol:

 

image1.jpg


Edited by NE146, Mon Oct 9, 2017 11:56 AM.


#116 empsolo ONLINE  

empsolo

    Moonsweeper

  • 473 posts

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 11:58 AM

Problem: How much oversight did Atari's programmers have on their games? If it's about trusting your delvs, shouldn't Atari 2600 Pac-Man have turned out well?


From what I heard from Howard Warshaw was that Atari devs had to fight corporate for permission to use any more KB of ROM than was allowed due to how much of a penny pincher Ray Kassar was.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

#117 zzip OFFLINE  

zzip

    River Patroller

  • 2,550 posts

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 12:01 PM

I couldn't make the leap from the Genesis/Snes to the PSX/Saturn. The move to 3d games was terrible and ugly. This is probably what got me replaying the classic games from my childhood. One thing I really like about them is that most of them are easy to pick up and play. Another thing is that as the industry grew, you started to see less and less innovation and wacky stuff that sometimes didn't work. There was always some 'me too' going on, but there seems to be a consolidation of corporate blandness. Obviously there are lots of exceptions that have come, but most of what I see is design by committee that has been focus group tested and "safe". However, the 3d stuff is now as nice looking as the 2d was in the mid 90s.


I hated that era of 3D games too. For awhile, I preferred hand drawn pseudo-3D isometric to the ugly blobs that 3D rendering represented.

Nowadays 3D looks amazing though.

#118 KaeruYojimbo OFFLINE  

KaeruYojimbo

    Stargunner

  • 1,726 posts
  • Location:Portland, OR

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 12:03 PM

  

I never said it was THE reason. There were other reasons, but Pac*Man certainly didn't help. It is also representative of a mindset that became prevalent at the time. You could release any old bad game and with the right name it was like printing money. Consumers got tired of being taken to the bank.


You did say it played a major role in the crash. I'd say more accurately it was a prime example of the sort of bad management that led to Atari's downfall, but the crash was so far-reaching that it's impossible to place significant blame on any one thing.

But hey, this isn't one of those ubiquitous "What caused the crash?" threads, it's one of those ubiquitous "Is Pac-Man really that bad threads.

#119 zzip OFFLINE  

zzip

    River Patroller

  • 2,550 posts

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 12:06 PM

Problem: How much oversight did Atari's programmers have on their games? If it's about trusting your delvs, shouldn't Atari 2600 Pac-Man have turned out well?


The real problem here is giving a single programmer free-reign over the design. It happened to be one who didn't think it would be a problem if he took liberties with the game, and didn't know trying to be true to the original mattered to people.

Today you would have a 'product manager' overseeing the design decisions.

#120 toddtmw OFFLINE  

toddtmw

    Moonsweeper

  • 476 posts
  • Location:Cincinnati, Ohio

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 12:07 PM

But hey, this isn't one of those ubiquitous "What caused the crash?" threads, it's one of those ubiquitous "Is Pac-Man really that bad threads.


Yes. Yes it was.

#121 christo930 OFFLINE  

christo930

    Moonsweeper

  • 299 posts

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 1:15 PM

 

From what I heard from Howard Warshaw was that Atari devs had to fight corporate for permission to use any more KB of ROM than was allowed due to how much of a penny pincher Ray Kassar was.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

Well, do keep in mind that some of the best games, Ms Pac Man being one of them, was actually outsourced to GCE. GCE also created the 7800. Atari was losing their experienced game programmers over some pretty petty stuff. Though I suppose it is possible that the name recognition was only the first and had Atari gave in, royalties would have been next, though in retrospect, that still would have been preferable to losing their best people!

#122 Keatah OFFLINE  

Keatah

    Missile Commander

  • 21,848 posts

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 2:07 PM

Well there is no defense for PacMan VCS. It was lousy then, it's lousy now. And that commercial is so full of shit. They showed the original arcade maze layout, even if drawn in cartoon style. I suppose they HAD to use a hand-drawn illustrations because the game was so bad to begin with.

 

When a company produces crap and thinks the publis is gonna buy it, they deserve to fail however hard they fail.



#123 Keatah OFFLINE  

Keatah

    Missile Commander

  • 21,848 posts

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 2:26 PM

The first 3d games, like Doom, Heretic, Hexen, Quake, Descent, Duke3D, and Unreal are really high-quality and high class. What came after those are shit to be sure.



#124 save2600 OFFLINE  

save2600

    Quadrunner

  • 15,473 posts
  • Location:Wisconsin

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 2:33 PM

Wow, never saw that commercial. Funny how they did NOT show real VCS screenshots, but went out of their way to show a more arcade like maze. Could almost be forgiven had it been a "universal" Pac-Man commercial that included the A8 and 5200 versions, but nope... it's blatantly a VCS only ad.  

#125 ZylonBane OFFLINE  

ZylonBane

    River Patroller

  • 3,964 posts
  • Location:KC, KS, USA

Posted Mon Oct 9, 2017 2:37 PM

Why does this Christo guy keep sticking " " in his posts?






0 user(s) are browsing this forum

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users