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Retro Rogue

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Retro Rogue last won the day on October 7 2012

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About Retro Rogue

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  • Birthday 03/24/1971

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  1. Yup, it was designed similar to how Cyan was already doing that stuff in coin (Cyan was doing most of the protos and proof of concepts for coin and then they'd be sent down to Atari to be put in production format). Not a huge leap from how things were already being done then when creating versions of all those earl and mid 70s coins for it then.
  2. The book is primarily about the development of the line itself, technical and story wise. If you're not familiar, Joe was the co-creator (with Jay Miner) of the 400/800 PCS. If you've read Racing the Beam and the Future Was Here, it's intended to be in that vein only authored by someone directly involved rather than an outside author. XL stands for Extended Line, it was in a magazine interview with an Atari exec back in the day, which is where Curt got it from. Likewise it was named the 1000 (16k) and 1000x (64k) by marketing during development, and 1200 and 1200x in the Sweet16 project spec docmument.
  3. That's because that's more of an overstated myth, coming from years of the general public not knowing what was actually going on there and grabbing on to whatever soundbites were available. (As an example, overproduction of Pac-Man is usually thrown up as an example. However the Pac-Man productions numbers include number of carts needed for both the projected amount of VCS consoles out there by the end of that year (which was actually correct) plus for use as the pack-in for the VCS to replace Combat). We cleared some of it up in the book and we'll be adding more in the second edition. It mostly had to do with the consumer industry going through a cycle other consumer tech industries (calculators, electronic watches) had during the 70s (shortage into glut and then crash), and Atari not adopting the same market watch and production controls as the music industry since neither Warner or Atari management thought demand was anywhere near to dropping. The shortage lead them to have retailers place bulk orders for '82 that fall of '81, which in turn lead to overinflated earnings projection (since they only tracked sell in numbers and not sell through). It was of course compounded by the large entry of third party game manufacturers that summer (most of which were gone within a year).
  4. Joe Decuir is already working on the definitive Atari 8-bit historical book. Myself and a few others are helping out on it. It's meant to fit somewhere in between Racing The Beam and The Future Was Here.
  5. Regarding Jay Miner, Jay wanted to do a 68000 based computer back in early '79 when they had just finished development of the PCSs and before they had even been released. With the amount of money they had already invested into the development of those computers, (and just coming off a big year of losses in '78 in it's the Consumer area) it's not a surprise they didn't want to pursue the expense of development of a 68000 computer at that time. Keep in mind the 68000 was itself just being put on the market that year, so development of a 68K computer was extremely expensive not to mention as to how prohibitive the cost of said computer would have been when it hit the market in '81. The decision to not pursue a 68K computer in early '79 really didn't have to do with lack of "vision" but rather clarity of the market at that time. The home computer market in 1979 was anything but a sure thing (a point Joe Decuir brought up in his talk two weekends ago), and as stated they had yet to even begin sellings the PCSs. They had no idea how they'd perform or whether they'd even just wind up pulling out. (Ray claimed to us that he was even in informal talks with Jobs about buying Apple and possibly cancelling the PCS but that Ross at Warner had nixed that). The explosion of personal computers really didn't start until several years later driven chiefly by IBM's entry and Commodore's dominance on the low end. And as I said, it was a decision not to pursue one at that time. Not all together. Jay (mainly because of separate monetary issues going on at Atari) decided it wasn't worth it to stick around until it was. (And it wasn't as if he went right off to do his 68000 based computer elsewhere. He switched over into medical electronics). Joe Decuir stayed around until early summer to see initial manufacturing to completion and took off for the same reasons, though he separately brought up about a 68000 based computer as well in his exit meeting and was given the same answer. Atari did start working on high end 68000 based computers in 1983, when putting out 68000 based computers to the type of customer base Atari was serving became a bit more feasible. But even then they were going to be targeted more towards businesses.
  6. I think you mean SEGA, and no it's not a clone system. They're by Tectoy, SEGA's licensed representative there since the late 80s. There are clone manufacturers down there as well, because it's still a big market for the console and its games that's been continuous since then. Not a Retron5 clone aftermarket thing. You can read more about it here: http://tedium.co/2015/07/16/sega-master-system-brazil/
  7. No. Both the Famicom (1983 - 2003) and SMS (1985 to present - it's still actively being manufactured and sold in Brazil) are longer.
  8. Just an update. The unit will be on display at the Midwest Gaming Classic all weekend, and they will be booting it up.
  9. 1) Jack didn't buy Atari, he bought the assets of one division of it. After Warner managed to foil Rupert Murdoch's takeover attempt, one of the things they did was hire a firm to analyze all their assets and recommend what they needed to get rid of to become less vulnerable. Among the recommendations for selling was Atari. When Steve Ross couldn't find a buyer for the entire company (which was kept under wraps but still managed to leak out) he decided to try and sell off pieces of it. He cold called Jack, they had on again and off again negotiations a little over a month and finally reached an agreement. Jack's purchase was an assets purchase of the Consumer Division assets. Assets purchases are not a company purchase, they're a purchase of selected assets from a company. Usually some IP, contracts, buildings, etc. They do not include people. People are hired over to the purchaser to maintain the purchased assets if need be. Jack rolled his purchased assets into his company TTL (Tramel Technology Ltd.) which he then reformed as Atari Corp. (which he had filed for in May when the negotiations first started). Atari Inc. was still there with James Morgan at it's head. Warner, per the agreement, renamed Atari Inc. to Atari Games Inc. Morgan went on sabbatical and never returned. 2) Per the above, any plans in play would have been shut down during the time of the purchase because the Consumer Division ceased to exist after that. Not because Jack shut them down. It was an assets purchase, and even then they didn't know what assets they were all getting in the purchase. They spent the next month going through and evaluating everything while seeing who they wanted to hire from Atari Inc. to the new company. The confusion arises (especially with ex-Atari Inc. employees) because of the shitty way Warner did this. The divestiture of the assets wasn't planned out by Warner and given the normal length of time and execution. Ross just wanted it done. So while this was going on, Warner just kept everything operating as normal and people were allowed to just be in the dark and keep working business as usual not realizing that two separate companies were sharing the same space and that they were working for Atari Games Inc. and not the other. All they heard was something about Jack "buying Atari." Those from the Consumer Division operations that weren't hired to Atari Corp. were let go by Warner and actually received their final paycheck directly from Warner. Jack's small team had the herculean task of navigating all this in less than a month: Working with Warner's (and Atari Games Inc.'s) people to evaluate which buildings were going with who, who had to vacate what and how, what assets were going with who (everything from projects to equipment to office furniture), going over accounts receivable and payable that were part of the purchase (both of which were massively backlogged), interviewing people at Atari Games Inc. to hire over to Atari Corp., and on top of that evaluate all the projects and IP to see what they could continue with or should continue with at Atari Corp. And there was of course the attack by Commodore shutting down any computer operations that month, plus the constant onslaught of people looking for money they felt they were owed per contracts with Atari Inc. (An example of the latter is Nintendo, who considered Jack's acquirement of manufactured cartridges based on Nintendo licenses to be a purchase and therefore they were owed royalties). What's also interesting is that a lot of this trimming that gets attributed to Jack was actually set to be done Morgan and his NATCO initiative anyways. NATCO would have severely streamlined the product offering and the amount of staff. 3) There's a pervading myth about Jack immediately canceling video game projects and products because of no interest in video games, and that primarily stems from one story (promoted at one time by Curt) about throwing the 7800 off a desk, that Curt and I now chalk up to a pissed off ex-employee. Why? Because in all the interviews (with people directly involved in the matter) and documentation research for the second book that we've done, we've found the opposite. In fact we've had direct confirmation on the GCC side that Jack was still in talks to do the national launch for the Christmas '84 season and actually looking to up the number of parts orders from GCC to produce even more than Atari Inc. originally wanted. He also hired on some game developers from Atari Inc. as contract workers as well to finish out some games and to do new ones should everything work out. Likewise we have verification that he was looking into the 2600 Jr. project to start up again as well. Keep in mind, this was not Atari Inc. Other than some IP and physical assets changing hands, it was not a continuation of Atari Inc. this was a new company. A company that was running on fumes, with Jack investing a lot of his own money and even then having to renegotiate with Warner several months later because they weren't able to collect on most of the debt Warner had promised they'd be able to for funding operations. 4) Once everything was legally settled with payments to GCC in spring of '85 and Jack was able to lure Mike Katz away from Epyx to start up an electronic entertainment division again late September, it's not a surprise that the 7800 peripherals were cancelled. a) The people who had been working on them at GCC were gone by then. b) It was a different market and that sort of computer driven expansion wasn't needed or desired any more. Katz's focus was on getting "hot" titles and felt that's what made a console sell. 5) The 5200 was cancelled well before Jack purchased the Consumer Division assets. Jack's re-introduction of the 5200 was to empty out warehouse and parts stock he got in the '84 purchase as Lynxpro mentioned.
  10. Not sure what you're trying to state here. There was never any plans to base the RBP on Amiga technology. The suit was purely a countersuit, not one done in anger of Amiga and Commodore. No, they weren't. What they would have gained was royalty free access to Lorraine's custom chips. The technical documentation and layouts were being held in escrow pending the licensing signing, at which point Atari Inc. would gain access to them as part of the royalty agreement. If the agreement was not signed (because of how bad Amiga was financially), Atari Inc. would gain access to said materials royalty free to recoup it's loss. And Morse was worried that the talk of who Amiga could sell itself and who they couldn't (as part of the upcoming licensing agreement) would tie their hands too much. So when Commodore (who was supposed to be one of the no's) reached out, he took their offer. Then using an advance from them he showed up to pay back the loan plus interest, claiming they couldn't get the fabrication of the Lorraine chips to work. The first part (try and pay it back) he was legally able to attempt. The latter (claiming the chips didn't work when they did) was misrepresentation, i.e. fraud and framed the entire taking of the initial loan and work done over the previous several months as not being done in good faith. (The initial loan was done as a "good faith" loan to demonstrate the seriousness of both parties to sign a licensing agreement). I'm not sure where you got that idea. In 1985 Atari Games actually had far more engineering and monetary resources than Atari Corp. did. They still had much of the same full engineering staff that had been there under Atari Inc., were profitable, and had NAMCO's flush pockets. Atari Corp. was running on fumes into '85. Also, it was pretty common through that time for coin systems to be running custom chips. The cost cutting PC style hardware didn't really come in until the 90s.
  11. There isn't any "God knows what" down there, there's just more of the same. Jim Heller, the man who dumped everything, has already thoroughly discussed what he dumped and provided full color pictures of the dumping before and during the concrete cap was put in. It was just stock returned from stores as part of the credit program and parts/hardware from the service center hub, all fromin the El Paso center. http://youtu.be/6A-aE5bAKkw
  12. No Keith is just doing this independent of my efforts, which is his prerogative since he has to try and keep the Intellivision IP relevant and in the public eye. I'm still working on the full Mattel Electronics one, which Intellivision is just a subset of so I don't see his proposed book as directly competing with what I'm doing. Keep in mind as well, Keith wasn't there for the entirety of the Intellivision or Mattel Electronics. The only thing I ever needed Keith's direct involvement/blessing on was just for any IP usage he now owns. Otherwise, all the interviews I'm doing/have done across the entire employee history of Mattel Electronics have very little to do with him. I wish him the best success on this. And my time on the Mattel Electronics book is being split with three other books as well: Atari Inc. second edition, Atari Corp. - Business Is War, and my book on the whole Alamogordo burial phenomenon (which covers the actual events surrounding the burial, the rise of the various myths surrounding it, and the dig). So it's not exactly full steam ahead at all times.
  13. That all sounds a bit off. I did confer with Leonard on what was talked about at CommVEx and there appears to be some confusion/misremembering above about the conversation. From every person in the know that would have been involved in such conversations that I've discussed this with (including Leonard), the only thing Nintendo approached them about was wanting money from them for the transfer of Nintendo licensed game stock to Atari Corp. They considered an assets purchase a sale, so they wanted the promised revenue payment based on the original agreement with Atari Inc. Likewise, Nintendo had approached Atari Inc. about doing the non-Japan version of the Famicom, which was a completely different company. Perhaps that's where the confusion lies. Leonard himself was VP of Sofware Development, which would have put him knee deep in the development of RBP throughout that second half of '84. Not in any negotiations with Nintendo on the NES. As for the Commodore/Amiga/Atari lawsuits, those had zero bearing on the 7800 and I can honestly say you're confusing/running together two different stories. The 7800 delay was entirely caused over on and off again negotiations between Warner/GCC/Atari Corp. over who owed GCC for the payments on the development of MARIA and the ten launch titles. GCC's contract was with Warner so they felt Warner owed them, and Warner felt Jack owed them if he wanted to release the product. An agreement was finally reached in spring '85 on MARIA and by early summer '85 on the launch titles. The lawsuit between Commodore and Atari Corp. and the countersuit by Atari Corp. at Amiga had no bearing on the Warner/GCC/Atari Corp. negotiations. The only thing those lawsuits had immediate bearing on was computer development, because Commodore had filed and then renewed injunctions barring Shiraz and several other ex-Commodore engineers (who all together formed the basis for Jack's hardware team) from doing any computer work for Jack. That shut down all computer development (RBP/ST and 8-bits) across the entire month of July until it was lifted in August. That's when wire wrapping on the RBP prototype immediately started, and plans for 8-bit development started up again as well. None of that would have any bearing on an already developed and produced game console. To clarify, Jack didn't "leave" Atari Corp. He was still there as chairman of the board. Rather, he had turned over day to day operations as CEO to Sam, who also retained his President position.
  14. That was addressed on Facebook by Tod, honestly it's just guys telling a good story they heard like they usually do at these things (and it's something we had to contend with a lot when doing interviews with people and they'd volunteer info about things they weren't directly involved with). Zdybel did it in Once Upon Atari as well. Tod was the only one directly involved with the project, he did not beg for 8K. Makes a good mental image either way though. Racing the Beam didn't interview him on this particular stuff by the way (timeline, etc.) they just repeated stuff from another source.
  15. From the documentation we have the actual 8K board was first in development during Pac-Man's own development and became slated for 2600 Asteroids as the first upon completion because Brad wound up needing that much (luckily the timing was right). Both games were in development during the development of that board, and that would seem to fall in line with what Frye states. 8K wasn't an option at the time he started the project, and he never considered it an option during it's development. According to what he said in my interview, he didn't consider the ROM a major issue anyways compared to the RAM.
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