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Mindfield

The Making of Imagic - great classic TV episode

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I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner, but I decided to cruise YouTube tonight in search of all things Atari to see what I could come up with. Turns out there's quite a few ads and promo vids I didn't have in my collection, so naturally I nabbed them. In the process of searching however I came across a pretty awesome series of clips. It's an episode of Enterprise (the 80s PBS business show, not the Star Trek spin-off) hosted by veteran CBS correspondant Eric Sevareid. This particular episode (looks like it was aired in 1983 by my estimate) was all about Imagic. It featured the four founding members talking about the business, current and future projects, and in part follows the development and release cycle of Atlantis throughought 1982 -- from design, prototyping, playtesting, finishing, the CES '82 debut and the following months. Some great inside shots of Imagic are shown, along with some great early and mid-stage Atlantis pre-prototype shots, scenes from the CES show, production line shots, financial stats on the company including the press conference announcing their plans to be the first video game company to issue an IPO, and so on. Really fascinating stuff and some rare glimpses into the inner world of a game company of the 80s.

 

EDIT: Since YouTube has deleted the videos, here are alternatives from LiveVideo (thanks Random Terrain!) Video here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 

Anyone wanting to rip these off YouTube can use Vixy to automatically grab, convert (AVI, MP4, MOV, 3GP or MP3-audio-only) and download the videos all online. Damn cool service for anyone who doesn't have an FLV-to-Whatever converter. It's a bit slow but it works very well.

Edited by Mindfield
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Wow, I just watched all three parts--fantastic! Thanks for taking the time to post the links. It's really fascinating to see the inner workings of Imagic, lots of interesting tidbits in there. I love how the games were assembled and labeled by hand! Also interesting to see how Imagic's public stock offering was aborted due to reports of slow sales before the end of 1982. The in-development glimpses of Atlantis were also very cool. I see they were using lots of Atari 8-bit equipment--such as the sprite editor the artist was using to show the Atlantis ship designs. And the CES shots were fun--would have been great to have been there for the 1982 show!

 

Thanks again for posting, and I was surprised at the quality of the video and audio given how long ago this show aired. :)

 

..Al

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Glad to share cool stuff like this. I was quite surprised and pleased at the quality, too. It lost surprisingly little quality after conversion to DivX as well -- bonus!

 

I love collecting commercials, but finding stuff like this, produced and aired while it was still topical and relevant, is a treasure trove. They followed Imagic staff around periodically for pretty much the entirety of 1982 to film this episode, so the material they managed to get is fantastic and deliciously detailed. The assembly line also amused me -- the days before automated lines. Man, that job (like all assembly line jobs) must have sucked. Especially the guy whose job it was to test every cart on the line by jamming it into a 2600 and flicking the power on and off. Just, wow.

 

The aborted IPO was interesting. Mattel and Atari reporting stagnant sales (Mattel even posting a loss) causing brokers to panic and dump stocks -- the first signs of where the market was headed as they moved into 1983.

 

The CES show was cool. That alien costume was pretty elaborate -- I wonder what company he was stumping for, or if he was just a CES ornament?

 

I liked the 8-bit dev bits, but it seems like Activision and Atari, all code was done on a pretty early text-only computer. (Get a load of those 8" floppies!) I've always been curious as to why that was. Lack of a cross-assembler? Dev system connectivity issues? Networking requirement?

Edited by Mindfield

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Just got done watching all three and I've got to say that was a great documentary. I wish there were more docus like that out from the other different companies. That was awesome. Imagic and Activision have always been my two favorite video game companies. They put out the best quality games IMO for the VCS. I loved watching the manufacturing process....how they shoved each copy into an Atari really quick to see if it worked and then yanked it back out. Its kinda sad at the very end....when they are mentioning that new game they are working on. That game never even made it past the prototype phase. Man......that documentary was just wonderful....thanks for posting it.

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Thanks for the links. I love this stuff too. Besides just learning about how things were, you never know what else you might learn that could help you make your own games.

 

I'm using a Firefox add-on called Fast Video Download that lets me download YouTube videos. I'm grabbing these videos before they go away. YouTube has some strange policies. You are not allowed to upload things you didn't make, but they are all over YouTube anyway. Some things get yanked while other videos seem to stay up forever although they are a clear violation.

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'Welcome. :D Although there's always the possibility of it being yanked, it's been up for over 4 months already so at least for now it's probably okay. I have a few Flash video ripper extensions for Firefox, but they still need to be converted to a more common format if they're to be played in more conventional media players, so once I found Vixy I decided to use that instead. It's a hell of a lot more convenient. :)

 

 

It's a shame they never got to release Sky Patrol. The market crashed pretty hard and fast not long after this episode was aired. That said though it's sort of amazing that this was the only Imagic game that never made it out the door. I'd have thought they'd have had any number of projects on the go in various stages when the crash hit.

Edited by Mindfield

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The assembly line also amused me -- the days before automated lines. Man, that job (like all assembly line jobs) must have sucked. Especially the guy whose job it was to test every cart on the line by jamming it into a 2600 and flicking the power on and off. Just, wow.

 

I wonder if Albert knows anything about the days when 2600 carts were assembled by hand?

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The assembly line also amused me -- the days before automated lines. Man, that job (like all assembly line jobs) must have sucked. Especially the guy whose job it was to test every cart on the line by jamming it into a 2600 and flicking the power on and off. Just, wow.

 

I wonder if Albert knows anything about the days when 2600 carts were assembled by hand?

Trust me, that came to mind when I was watching the video..

 

..Al

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'Welcome. :D Although there's always the possibility of it being yanked, it's been up for over 4 months already so at least for now it's probably okay. I have a few Flash video ripper extensions for Firefox, but they still need to be converted to a more common format if they're to be played in more conventional media players, so once I found Vixy I decided to use that instead. It's a hell of a lot more convenient. :)

I was using Fast Video Download then converting it to MPG with riva FLV Encoder but today I did part one with vixy.net and the way I just mentioned and although it is much slower, vixy.net gives a way better result, so vixy.net wins.

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Heh, I was just watching it again. Anyone notice one of Kobel's shirts? "I'm an Imagic prima donna game designer!" :D

 

I also found it kind of odd that Bill was so concerned about Arcadia and the potential for piracy of their tapes. He called the concept "frightening." What effect would that have on Imagic, or anyone else for that matter? Seems to me from a competitive standpoint Arcadia should have been the least of their concerns unless they had somehow considered writing games for that medium.

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I also found it kind of odd that Bill was so concerned about Arcadia and the potential for piracy of their tapes. He called the concept "frightening." What effect would that have on Imagic, or anyone else for that matter? Seems to me from a competitive standpoint Arcadia should have been the least of their concerns unless they had somehow considered writing games for that medium.

 

I think the concern was that if piracy pushes the effective price of Arcadia tapes down to $5 or so, that would make it very hard for other companies to compete for as long as Arcadia remains in the market.

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thanks for the videos and thanks random terrain, now i can save youtube videos!

 

edit: i downloaded the videos with vixy.net, but then when i tryed to play them in windows media player, it says that one or more codecs are needed to play this file....what do i do?

Edited by ewing92

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hot air baloon racing, that would be neat. Great Video

 

I´m pretty sure the Hot Air Balloon sequences at the end were part of the research that lay behind the never released Sky Patrol game.

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edit: i downloaded the videos with vixy.net, but then when i tryed to play them in windows media player, it says that one or more codecs are needed to play this file....what do i do?

I'm not completely sure, but you might have to download the DivX Codec:

 

http://www.divx.com/divx/windows/

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I think the concern was that if piracy pushes the effective price of Arcadia tapes down to $5 or so, that would make it very hard for other companies to compete for as long as Arcadia remains in the market.

 

In the end though, piracy is usually responsible for raising the prices so that the company effected can try and recoup its losses. Prices usually only come down either when the software goes on clearance or when the company's product isn't selling and they want to entice new buyers with lower prices. None of this seems to concern Imagic.

 

i downloaded the videos with vixy.net, but then when i tryed to play them in windows media player, it says that one or more codecs are needed to play this file....what do i do?

 

As was posted, you need the proper CODEC to view. Download and install DiVX and you should be good to go. (Don't bother making the DiVX player your default movie player, it's not particularly good)

 

Amazing documentary!

 

Thanks for sharing.

 

8)

 

My pleasure. :)

 

Thanks for posting the links! I hope there are many more videos like this out there like this! 8)

 

Me, too. I came across this only only because it was releated to my generic "atari" search on YouTube, and it was buried pretty deep in the results. I haven't finished my search (left off at page 23 with lots more to go) so who knows what's left to discover. :) This is the first business show profile of a game company I've come across from back in the day, though. The only other things I have of that nature are some arcade snippets from the UK version of "I Love the 80s," the Jaguar infomercial, and a few dealer promo vids and internal corporate vids which aren't nearly as interesting. Oh, and the "Once Upon Atari" DVD, which is cool but not quite the same thing -- that's all anecdotal recollections.

 

Now, I'd love to find one like this on Atari or Activision. That would be sweet.

Edited by Mindfield

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Now, I'd love to find one like this on Atari or Activision. That would be sweet.

Although not as good, something for Activision does exist if you haven't seen it yet:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yqVqwcICKQ

 

You get to see the programmers and their commercials.

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Now, I'd love to find one like this on Atari or Activision. That would be sweet.

Although not as good, something for Activision does exist if you haven't seen it yet:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yqVqwcICKQ

 

You get to see the programmers and their commercials.

 

Yeah, I've got that one (captured from a difference source apparently but about as good quality). It's cool, but being that it's produced by Activision themselves it's just about their current and future releases and some brief bios on the programmers. It'd be cool to see a profile such as that Imagic's from an outsider's perspective.

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It'd be cool to see a profile such as that Imagic's from an outsider's perspective.

Something like that has to exist doesn't it? I bet it will eventually pop up on YouTube.

 

One thing I like about that Activision thing is that the collection of commercials are in better shape than the singles you can find out there.

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Now, I'd love to find one like this on Atari or Activision. That would be sweet.

Although not as good, something for Activision does exist if you haven't seen it yet:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yqVqwcICKQ

 

You get to see the programmers and their commercials.

 

And a young Phil Hartman in the Ice Hockey commercial. Great!

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okay, the codec didnt help me, it still says i need "one or more codecs to play the file", what should i do now?

 

[btw:i willl delete all the bad words and shit]{done!} once i am done being pissed off at the shitty pharoah's curse game :x

 

okay, fuck vixy.net, i will use the firefox one

 

{edit:yay! im done being pissed, time to erase the bad stuff, well, the false bad stuff lol, i kept everything that i thought was true.}

Edited by ewing92

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