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More TAX AVOIDERS insight - "KINDA' LONG" - REVELA


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#1 Klove OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 9, 2004 1:18 PM

Thought you might all find this interesting. Posted below are the email conversations I had with a fellow whom I believe to be the "true" TAX AVOIDERS Programmer. Well, him and his team anyway.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi R.

Just saw your webpage online.
Was wondering if you could tell me what you did for the Atari 2600.
I'm actually working on an Anthology project here, for the 2600.
Hope to hear from you soon.

K
------------------------------------

I designed and co-wrote the "Porky's" Video game for the
Atari 2600. LM (that I co-owned at the time)
did several other trivial things, as well.

R
------------------------------------

Thank You for getting back to me.

R, if I may... "What other titles did you work on for the Atari 2600?" Did LM do anything else for the 2600? What happend to them, Who co-wrote Porky's with you?"

Anything you can tell me is greatly appreciated. I also apologize for hitting you up with TONS of questions. :-)

Many Thanks,

K
------------------------------------

Most of the other titles were "tax scams" that LM developed to sell as a loss so very rich people could get tax write-offs. A few of those games had to actually appear in stores (and they usually did, for under $5 in weird toy stores) in order to make the tax write-off 'legit'. We probably did about 10 2600 games this way (they were all slight modifications of one another). I don't have the titles because we didn't give 'em titles -- the accounting firms that sold the games named them. They weren't real games, anyway.

Another neat thing we did was develop a custom ROM chip that had a couple of special features (autoincrementing indirect pointer registers) and stuff like that that we could use to speed up certain time-critical instruction sequences. I think Coleco may have used the chip design in one or two of their games, but I left LM before that point.

R
-------------------------------------

Now, that said.. "You make up your own mind." ;-)

#2 liquid_sky OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 9, 2004 1:40 PM

now the tax avoiders title has even more meaning :D

#3 povlok1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 9, 2004 1:58 PM

thats day to day standard corporate operations.. I wonder how many companies were using his company for a tax shill.. this happens everyday.. this guy is just like the 'masked magician'.. he just come off of a trade's protected secret

#4 moycon OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 9, 2004 1:59 PM

now the tax avoiders title has even more meaning :D


LOL True! I wonder if any other companies did this as well? Might explain why some companies released info about a game and then never released the game itself...tax write off.

#5 Christophero Sly OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 9, 2004 2:40 PM

I wonder if any other companies did this as well?

Mythicon and Froggo???

#6 Cootster OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 9, 2004 2:53 PM

Well, he didn't come right out and say it, but boy, were those some big hints . . . And it confirms the part about it being a self-made hack, but not really the date (unless this was all pre-crash).

And it also explains Mythicon ("all slight modifications of one another") . . . And none of those are particularly like Porky's/TA . . . But not really Froggo, since they did hacks of existing games.

What about Clown Downtown/Lilly Adventure/Bobby is Going Home? All closely related, and they had to be programmed by somebody . . . Heck, even Rescue Terra I and Boing . . .

What intrigues me, though, is that these are apparently all rare, there are 10 or so of them, and perhaps they haven't all been catalogued . . .

New R-10? That would be something.

#7 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 9, 2004 4:02 PM

Rescue Terra I and Boing


Boing was programmed by Alex Leavens & Shirley Russell. Rescue Terra I was programmed by Dan Oliver.


Tempest

#8 NovaXpress OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 9, 2004 4:20 PM

Very interesting info! This sort of thing is commonplace in the entertainment industry. There are people who make a career out of developing tv shows and movies that they know will never get made.

I bet those two "IRS guys" credited on the Tax Avoider box were actually the accountants behind the whole scheme.

#9 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 9, 2004 4:21 PM

What about Clown Downtown/Lilly Adventure/Bobby is Going Home?  All closely related, and they had to be programmed by somebody

While they may look (and play) quite identical, the code base is completely different. So I doubt they are from the same programmer.

I wonder which the other "tax scam games" are. Maybe some got lost or are still waiting to be rediscovered?

#10 chrisbid OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 9, 2004 4:31 PM

a 2600 version of "The Producers" lol

#11 NovaXpress OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 9, 2004 4:43 PM

We finally might have an explanation for Mythicon's marketing strategy!

A simple question about an onscure game that no one liked anyway sure is leading into some unexpected areas, isn't it?

I'm also obsessed with filling in the gaps in classic gaming history while most of the participants are still alive. Thanks to everyone for their shared interest.

#12 Cootster OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 9, 2004 6:11 PM

Yeah, people launder a lot of drug money making movies that only come out as bootlegs in Pakistan . . . Not to mention all the direct-to-video garbage that's full of Scientologists . . .

And, of course, almost every Fox show that hasn't lasted at least 4 years .. . David Chase had to blow those Sopranos profits on something, so he made Oliver Beene . . . And that show about the chick who talked to inanimate objects was a definite scam . . .

I would assume, though, that from the manuals, that "Jon Simonds" and "Dunhill Electronics" are likely just pseudonyms for the real programmer and his company . . . I wonder if they appear anywhere else in the Big List . . .

#13 dwh OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 9, 2004 7:19 PM

a 2600 version of "The Producers" lol


An Atari 2600 game of the "Producers" would play like this--
No matter what you did in the game(movement or fire button) it would 'crash/end'.But all the "collectors" such as myself would buy a copy of it anyway,so therefore the game would be somewhat "successful".

#14 jeepnut24 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 9, 2004 7:46 PM

I wonder which the other "tax scam games" are. Maybe some got lost or are still waiting to be rediscovered?


Thats what I want to know too. That would be quite a find wouldn't it.

#15 Mr.FoodMonster OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 9, 2004 9:20 PM

Thats actually really intresting. Its possible those other '10 or so' games are all in one man's closet, just begging for an estate sale or something. That would be nuts, someone picks up a box of '40 some odd boxed atari games' and the guy would be freaking RICH. I really appreciate when people find out the history of games and stuff like this, it really brings a lot of things about the industry full circle. Keep up the good work AAers!

#16 Nukey Shay OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 9, 2004 9:25 PM

a 2600 version of "The Producers" lol


An Atari 2600 game of the "Producers" would play like this--
No matter what you did in the game(movement or fire button) it would 'crash/end'.But all the "collectors" such as myself would buy a copy of it anyway,so therefore the game would be somewhat "successful".


LOL

You could name it "Springtime For Hitler"! The name alone would get it banned from some stores even selling it...thus guaranteeing it's rarity.

#17 cryptik76 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 9, 2004 9:52 PM

And that show about the chick who talked to inanimate objects was a definite scam . . .


Actually, I found Wonderfalls to be a well-written and funny show (though the second episode was kind of weak), much in contrast to the rest of the dreck on network TV.

#18 Klove OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 10, 2004 10:24 AM

This just in from R, this morning...

------------------------------------------------
No doubt this was one of the "tax scam" titles that LM
did after I sold out my share of the company. They basically repackaged
a couple of video games time after time (changing the title, a few graphics, and little else) and sold the games for tax write-off purposes.

Cheers,

R

#19 Cootster OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 10, 2004 12:14 PM

Nova has to be right.

If TA was made after he was no longer with the company, and yet he was with them for Porky's . . . It had to be made afterwards, and couldn't have been released in '82. That copyright date is probably for the kernel and all the other (unknown?) variants of it would likely also sport the same date.

#20 NovaXpress OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 10, 2004 7:35 PM

No doubt this was one of the "tax scam" titles that LM  
did after I sold out my share of the company. They basically repackaged  
a couple of video games time after time (changing the title, a few graphics, and little else) and sold the games for tax write-off purposes.

Fascinating stuff. Thanks a million for going after that info, Ken.

From just a simple question about release dates, we have indeed been forced to rethink Atari history:
*We've learned that companies may have released garbage games just for the write-offs, not even thinking about sales, which helps to explain heretofore unexplicable releases. This practice certainly didn't help out an already overstocked market, so maybe Ninteno and Sony aren't such bastards after all to control the releases for their systems?

*We've learned that programmers may have made extra cash by hacking/altering their own games, which should have been theorized but we've never had any examples until now. Does anyone believe that those three Mythicon games weren't done by the same programmer now?

*We've put the final nail in the coffin for copyright dates as indicators of a game's true year of release. This is further proof that if we want to properly document the history of video games, we need to go after all of this information NOW while the people involved are still alive. We can see how good our guesswork is. Those classic programmers are already starting to age and yes, die off, so we need to grab that knowledge before it is too late.

* We've made a point about video game hype. Tax Avoiders was not designed by an IRS accountant. This is one of the most-repeated pieces of classic gaming trivia, yet it was nothing more than a blurb on a game box. No one ever looked further into it until now. How many other falsehoods are we repeating to each other?

Do we know as much about our beloved hobby as we think we do?

#21 Mindfield OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 10, 2004 7:58 PM

Actually, although all 3 Mythicon games may have been done by the same person/people, the sore thumb in the trio is Starfox. It may share the same codebase, but it is a different enough game to set itself apart from Fire Fly and Sorcerer, which are virtually identical. Starfox isn't a flick-scroller, and while it's just as repetative, it's more akin to a stripped-naked Defender than either of its siblings.

#22 Cootster OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 10, 2004 10:41 PM

[quote=NovaXpress][quote]No doubt this was one of the "tax scam" titles that LM
did after I sold out my share of the company. They basically repackaged
a couple of video games time after time (changing the title, a few graphics, and little else) and sold the games for tax write-off purposes. [/quote]
Fascinating stuff. Thanks a million for going after that info, Ken.

From just a simple question about release dates, we have indeed been forced to rethink Atari history:
*We've learned that companies may have released garbage games just for the write-offs, not even thinking about sales, which helps to explain heretofore unexplicable releases. This practice certainly didn't help out an already overstocked market, so maybe Ninteno and Sony aren't such bastards after all to control the releases for their systems?[/quote]

They have to. Coleco (IIRC) figured this out before they did, and with the other pre-NES, non-Atari systems, it was never an issue, because every game was coded by the same people anyway (The INTV had the Rangers, Arcadia had UA, and O2 had Ed Averitt(sp?).

Only Atari left that hole open, the rest learned from the mistake.

Just look at the current PC market and all the crap budget-ware out there . . .


[quote]*We've learned that programmers may have made extra cash by hacking/altering their own games, which should have been theorized but we've never had any examples until now. Does anyone believe that those three Mythicon games weren't done by the same programmer now?[/quote]

Well, they had to have been done by the same person. And whoever it was loved happy faces. :)

[quote]*We've put the final nail in the coffin for copyright dates as indicators of a game's true year of release. This is further proof that if we want to properly document the history of video games, we need to go after all of this information NOW while the people involved are still alive. We can see how good our guesswork is. Those classic programmers are already starting to age and yes, die off, so we need to grab that knowledge before it is too late.

* We've made a point about video game hype. Tax Avoiders was not designed by an IRS accountant. This is one of the most-repeated pieces of classic gaming trivia, yet it was nothing more than a blurb on a game box. No one ever looked further into it until now. How many other falsehoods are we repeating to each other?[/quote]

Probably half the tidbits on the upper right corner of the main AA page (Note: Has that one been removed now that it has been proven to be bogus?)



Do we know as much about our beloved hobby as we think we do?[/quote]

#23 sku_u OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 10, 2004 11:37 PM

This just in from R, this morning...

------------------------------------------------
No doubt this was one of the "tax scam" titles that LM
did after I sold out my share of the company. They basically repackaged
a couple of video games time after time (changing the title, a few graphics, and little else) and sold the games for tax write-off purposes.

Cheers,

R


:lolblue: If this is true, how ironic that a game called Tax Avoiders was released as a way to...aviod taxes. :D

#24 Bruce Tomlin OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 11, 2004 11:04 AM

They have to.  Coleco (IIRC) figured this out before they did, and with the other pre-NES, non-Atari systems, it was never an issue, because every game was coded by the same people anyway (The INTV had the Rangers, Arcadia had UA, and O2 had Ed Averitt(sp?).

Only Atari left that hole open, the rest learned from the mistake.


Huh? The only reason the 2600 had so many 3rd party games was that it had been around for longer (and stayed around so long after the crash) and there were so many more units than with the other consoles. It also used a CPU with a well-known (by hobbyists) instruction set. Not too many people were familiar with programming for the CPUs used in the INTV, Arcadia, and O^2. Plus, the INTV bus didn't work with standard EPROMs (I guess it expected a program counter in the ROM, like the Fairchild F8 did), and needed at least ten bits of data width in a cartridge.

The ColecoVision was the second system to use a well-known CPU (or was the 5200 second?), but it was too late to get a lot of bad 3rd party games. The 5200 was lucky that the people writing bad 3rd party games ignored it. And both the ColecoVision and 5200 used well-known graphics chips, which made 3rd party games even easier to write.

The first unit to not have a "hole" allowing unauthorized 3rd party games was the 7800, followed by the NES. The 7800 lockout was never broken (though eventually the original digital signing program was found). But the 7800 lockout used cryptography at a level that would have been considered "munitions", so it was removed for the PAL version.

The NES lockout was broken by electrical tricks like negative voltages, but Nintendo's main way of keeping 3rd party games away was by equating them with pirated games. They had Nintendo Power as a mouthpiece to spread such propaganda, and apparently it worked.

And Nintendo never put a lockout in their handhelds.

#25 Eckhard Stolberg OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 11, 2004 12:42 PM

But the 7800 lockout used cryptography at a level that would have been considered "munitions", so it was removed for the PAL version.

I don't think this is true. If export restrictions on the cryptography functions were a problem, the NTSC 7800s wouldn't have been manufactured in Asia. I think it was just cheaper to have a build-in game instead of packing the console with an extra cartridge. Also the PAL 7800 was first released in late 1989. By that time Atari probably was hoping for the European computer game makers to release unlicensed games for the 7800 to have at least a small chance against Nintendo.


Ciao, Eckhard Stolberg




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