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SpaceDice2010

Is Laser Gates really Inner Space?

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I'll post how to trigger them after Space Rocks is released, though you should be able to figure out at least the Credits easter egg without any problem.

 

Good to know. Even though I was the second to report seeing Blinky, I was playing black and white 2 player, AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT WE DID to trigger that Easter Egg!

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A month or two, I think, post Tramiel some of us at Atari were called into a fancy conference room where a game console was set and I think they told us the specs which were impressive. I assume they wanted Atari to port games to it. We were just asked real fast what we thought and no one was excited. The mushroom clouds were just starting to dissipate, we were surrounded by abandoned office buildings. "Why would anyone want to put out a new platform?" was the thinking. I don't know but I think that machine was NES. Looked like it.

 

 

Wow! As an early NES/Famicom history geek, this really caught my eye. Do you happen to remember any more details of this meeting? Was the console you were shown an AVS (slick grey unit with keyboard and wireless controllers) or a standard Famicom (small red and white toy-like console)? Do you remember any of the games that were shown (probably would have been Donkey Kong/DK Jr., Popeye, Mario Bros., etc,)? Also, do you have any other recollections of Atari's dealings with Nintendo at the time? This has always been a sort of murky subject, so any first-hand account would be fantastic.

 

One other question: Do you have any memories of the supposed $5000 contest that was to be held in Dallas for Rescue Terra I? Did any of that ever actually take place? (Sorry if that subject has been covered here before, by the way. I couldn't find anything, but I'm new here.)

 

Anyway, thanks so much for sharing your stories of those times. It's just a real blast to read. I too had Laser Gates back then as a kid, and loved it!

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Wow! As an early NES/Famicom history geek, this really caught my eye. Do you happen to remember any more details of this meeting? Was the console you were shown an AVS (slick grey unit with keyboard and wireless controllers) or a standard Famicom (small red and white toy-like console)? Do you remember any of the games that were shown (probably would have been Donkey Kong/DK Jr., Popeye, Mario Bros., etc,)? Also, do you have any other recollections of Atari's dealings with Nintendo at the time? This has always been a sort of murky subject, so any first-hand account would be fantastic.

As far as I remember some of us were ushered into the conference room and there was a mess of equipment all over the table including the box shaped NES. The shape of the unit, the specs they said and that the people there were from Japan is the only reason I even think this was Nintendo. I don't remember anyone telling me it was Nintendo.

 

This happened like 7 or 8 pm at this building on the 2nd floor. I remember it being dark outside.

 

The other programmers may have been more interested and played some games. I wasn't interested even a little. I figured video games were done forever. I'd make a great fortune teller. The other programmers I can remember who were probably there were Jim Eisenstein, Matt Householder, Dave Staugas and maybe Dave Getreu and Landon Dyer. So they might have more info.

 

The Tramiel boys were all there so it was a high level meeting. I hardly ever saw Sam or Gary.

 

To me what it looked like is they'd been in a meeting for a long time and this was the end, no one was sitting. Seemed like they just brought us in as a kind of a courtesy to Nintendo or whoever this was. You know, feign interest. The Japanese back then were way into a certain social procedures. I don't think the Tramiels were interested even a little bit because they didn't want anything to do with games. But this was too big a company to blow off.

 

We were asked a few questions in the hall when we were ushered back out "What'd you think" was about as in depth as it got and they didn't seem interested in our answers. That was that.

 

I don't have any memory of reading or someone saying this was Nintendo. But I've always thought it was Nintendo. I don't remember any programmers talking about it later. We were focused on the ST.

 

One other question: Do you have any memories of the supposed $5000 contest that was to be held in Dallas for Rescue Terra I? Did any of that ever actually take place? (Sorry if that subject has been covered here before, by the way. I couldn't find anything, but I'm new here.)

Yes I remember the contest. Pretty sure Bob Hesler, who started VentureVision and was in charge came up with the idea to promote the game. He was a serious game player, VCS and Intellivision (I think), and played the heck out of Rescue Terra I.

 

OK, so I'd been researching tonight for a new game and was looking thru my RTI box and there was one of the contest fliers. I just read it and it's a lot more involved than I'd remembered. I thought it was just a whoever had some set high score first would collect the prize. I'd forgotten (conveniently) there was suppose to a drawing and flying people around, etc.

 

My memory is Bob saying something like "don't worry, no one is ever going to reach Terra I" in response to his partner not wanting to do the contest. It couldn't have been a week later and we got a few screen photos of people at Terra I. Bob was real quiet. You have to know that this money was coming right out of Bob's pocket and Bob was no millionaire by any means. Until now I'd always hoped that first photo was paid as the winner. But now looking at the rules, there was no drawing, no flying of anyone to Dallas, no local competition. I know Bob would have loved for the game to have sold well enough to have had the contest. He was/is very honest as was his partner.

 

So now I'd have to consider the contest a sham I'm ashamed to say.

 

We were off by maybe 2 weeks. Had 10,000 sold which would have been maybe $50k clear, enough for the contest.

 

You hear about entrepreneurs and I've met many. But these two guys were the real deal. Put it all on the line. And they pulled a lot off. They had zero experience in this type of stuff and they were getting press, suppliers, manufacturing, got us to CES.

 

If I wanted to spin it I could say there weren't enough entries. I only saw 2 I believe and the contest needed at least 4. But that would be spinning it imo.

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How about a trilogy cart, Rescue Terra 1, Innerspace and Solar Defence (with permission)

You'd have to check with Robert Weatherby about Solar Defence.

 

The rights to Innerspace are owned by Imagic as far as I know. I sure don't have any rights.

 

Rescue Terra I, no idea. I don't own it.

 

Since I don't have any ownership of any of these I give my full permission to use them as you like. And you can borrow my neighbor's car too anytime you like. ;)

 

Tonight I was working on a story treatment for a new game that involves tying at least Rescue Terra I and Innerspace together. I'd been reading the box and manual and see there was a common theme. So I'll keep that going.

 

I'm also wanting to work in a lot the history I've learned here and in the community the past few days. Kind of an insiders game since all potential players seem to know a lot about game history. Easter egg city, but easter eggs as part of game play.

 

Reading the old boxes was like seeing a picture of myself from 1983 sporting a mullet...not fun to see. But it started to grow on me. Those 1980 campy story lines were part of the VCS I kind of like now.

 

I'm going to use VentureVision as the company name. The trademark was abandoned in 1984 and not in use so I'm picking up the common law trademark on it until a suit tells me to stop.

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You'd have to check with Robert Weatherby about Solar Defence.

 

That would certainly be interesting to do.

 

Perhaps he still has a version of Solar Defence in his posession.

 

8)

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I can imagine Nintendo havaing a hard time in the west. Their reception was mostly, from what I've read, the same. People thought the game crash was irreversible and were unwilling to come to terms. That's why they eventually set up their own shop. I wonder how the Atari deal would have worked out.

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Thanks very much for all of that info!

 

The account of that Atari/Nintendo meeting syncs up perfectly with what is generally known about the whole situation. Namely, that Atari was just using stall tactics on Nintendo to keep them out of the market.

 

As far as the Rescue Terra I competition goes, I wouldn't feel too bad. That sort of thing was somewhat common back in those "frontier days" of gaming. I remember a couple of computer game companies that were infamous for this stuff (Crystalware, Level-10/Dakin5), and I believe a few companies in the UK pulled these sorts of stunts as well. All part of the charm of the era, I say! ;)

Edited by Brain Breaker

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The account of that Atari/Nintendo meeting syncs up perfectly with what is generally known about the whole situation. Namely, that Atari was just using stall tactics on Nintendo to keep them out of the market.

Do you have any links about this stalling thing. Be an interesting read.

 

I wouldn't say the Tramiels were stalling. I assume they wouldn't have cared at all if Nintendo did anything in games. Pre and Post Tramiel were two entirely different companies. They had less than zero interest in games. For example they owned all these titles and I don't remember anyone ever suggesting we should port anything to the ST for the release. They just didn't see value in software, Apple did. Just before I left Atari I'd written a kind of Finder rip off for the ST and a Switcher with the help of the OS guys. Tramiels thought GEM was as good as Mac. Good luck with that. Loved the ST, but thought it deserved better software.

 

As far as the Rescue Terra I competition goes, I wouldn't feel too bad. That sort of thing was somewhat common back in those "frontier days" of gaming. I remember a couple of computer game companies that were infamous for this stuff (Crystalware, Level-10/Dakin5), and I believe a few companies in the UK pulled these sorts of stunts as well. All part of the charm of the era, I say! ;)

Thanks.

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Dan, http://www.atarimuseum.com/articles/atari-nintendo-deal.htm

 

It doesn't spell it out in words as it was an official memo (some things are never in writting) but it paints a clear picture of Atari's thought processes. They never took Nintendo seriously as their hardware designer (which Nintendo wanted to be) and instead wanted to at best sell them as an alternative to something else which they would also market.

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Thanks for the link.

 

That timeline seems to mesh. Nintendo ready to roll mid 83. Tramiel takes over Atari July 84 so Nintendo would be looking for titles for the 85 launch N American. The meeting I saw must have happened July or Aug because we were all in Monterey by early Sept.

 

My guess is they would have been looking for Atari programmers to do the conversions because if it was just licenses they were after I assume Tramiel would have been happy to sell licenses all day long. He had no plans for them. I don't know NES very well at all, but I don't know of any Atari games ported to NES at least in 85.

 

Now I'm wondering if the reason programmers were marched thru the meeting was to just show Nintendo that Tramiel hadn't fired every programmer. Basically we would have been meat on the hoof. And that might also explain why Tramiel had kept some VCS programmers around for a little while. Just in case they could make some money off of them.

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Dan, I noticed yesterday a yellow sticky next to my computer with your name on it. I was doing some research a few months ago on a game that was shown at CES in 1984 called Snowplow. It was presented by Sunrise Software which was located in the Dallas area. I wrote the president, Terry Grantham and he did not remember the game or who the programmer might be. One theory I had was that maybe one of the Apollo programmers created it. Does this ring any bells? Do you know of any programmers that did work for Sunrise Software?

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Reading on Atarimania all 3 VentureVision games were treated as a trilogy, was this meant to be?

I'd say yes, having recently re-read some material. Robert Hesler the head of the company wrote all the back story and he tied all 3 games together.

 

But each game was created first and then the back story was added. The idea for Innerspace was developed while I was working on Rescue. And Solar Defense was totally Robert Weatherby's creation.

 

But there could be a quadrilogy...or more

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Dan, I noticed yesterday a yellow sticky next to my computer with your name on it. I was doing some research a few months ago on a game that was shown at CES in 1984 called Snowplow. It was presented by Sunrise Software which was located in the Dallas area. I wrote the president, Terry Grantham and he did not remember the game or who the programmer might be. One theory I had was that maybe one of the Apollo programmers created it. Does this ring any bells? Do you know of any programmers that did work for Sunrise Software?

I don't remember Snowplow but Sunrise Software does ring a bell. Seems like I remember seeing their booth at Jan 1983 CES. Small booth like ours. But I Googled their logo and that's not what I remember. I remember a multi-colored rainbow type sunrise. But I could be completely mistaken.

 

Googled Terry Grantham who's name sounded familiar and found that Sunrise was connected to VSS which was ex-Apollo people. VSS was started Nov 1982 so they could have been at CES. I think I remember Terry from Apollo.

 

If Sunrise was at 1983 CES that would put 3 booths related to Apollo employees. Apollo, VSS/Sunrise and VentureVision. This may seem strange but there were no reunions.

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First of all, I want to second any positive comments about Telepathy. It's very good, especially for something whipped up for the Mindlink controller. Who did the sound?

 

Have you heard of Power Lords? You never brought it up, so I assume you didn't have anything to do with it. But it does look like a game made by someone from Apollo. (The score display looks the same.)

 

Dan, http://www.atarimuse...ntendo-deal.htm

 

It doesn't spell it out in words as it was an official memo (some things are never in writting) but it paints a clear picture of Atari's thought processes. They never took Nintendo seriously as their hardware designer (which Nintendo wanted to be) and instead wanted to at best sell them as an alternative to something else which they would also market.

 

That memo concerns Atari, Inc., not Atari Corp. I don't know about Nintendo showing Atari Corp. anything. HAL Laboratory, a company that's very tight with Nintendo, did license some arcade games from Atari Corp. to do on the NES, but those came out in '87/'88.

Edited by CRV

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First of all, I want to second any positive comments about Telepathy. It's very good, especially for something whipped up for the Mindlink controller. Who did the sound?

Thanks. I assume I did the sound. The Product Manager was very active on the development and he could have gone out and found an audio engineer, had them do the audio and just handed me some files and so I wouldn't remember if something like that happened.

 

I was not into audio. I could do somethings, but I wasn't good at audio. If there's any music in Telepathy I'd be pretty sure that would have been done by someone else. I don't believe I ever created any music myself. Don't think I'd have a clue how to.

 

I don't know if this is common knowledge or not but most game programmers I met back then were either into audio or visual arts. I forget where but several us were sitting around shooting the breeze and someone said something about playing an instrument and someone else said that they also play an instrument. Pretty soon we realized everyone there played a musical instrument or been a painter. I remember it being a little freaky and us all being surprised. We kind of wondered if that was why we all did games.

 

Have you heard of Power Lords? You never brought it up, so I assume you didn't have anything to do with it. But it does look like a game made by someone from Apollo. (The score display looks the same.)

Never heard of it until now.

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Speaking of Apollo, do any of these games look familiar or were they all done after you had left?

 

Kyphus: http://www.atariprot...phus/kyphus.htm

 

Pompeii: http://www.atariprot...eii/pompeii.htm

 

Squoosh: http://www.atariprot...osh/squoosh.htm

Don't know any of those.

 

Apollo hired a bunch of people just before I left. One was an ex-air traffic controller from the 81 strike. I assume he did Final Approach.

 

Squoosh, Looks pretty darn good to me.

 

While Googling around I saw Wabbit. I see the programmer credited is Tran Ban, who if I have the right person, is a Vietnamese woman. I Google some more to try and confirm that but didn't find much. I'll use the name Ban for the woman I'm thinking of and hope I have it right. Any Facebook users out there might be able to get more info?

 

Our office faced the parking lot and we could see interviewees parking and walking up. Ban was extremely attractive and when she walked by there was a rush into Ed's office begging him to hire her. And we kept walking by his office trying to crack him up. It's not like we required any experience anyways. If you could spell 6502 you were in. But I think there was little expectation Ban would become a game designer because she was not a nerd in any sense of the word.

 

Ban came up with a game idea really fast, the only one in the new group I remember doing so. It was an extremely intense concept. Made Night Trap look like a bedtime story for kids. 20 years ahead of its time and way too intense for the VCS. And she was explaining it like it was a picnic at the beach. So pretty quick the stereotype started to fall.

 

Lots of people mailed game ideas to Apollo which we looked thru. The idea for Wabbit came from two completely different letters from different people. It was freaky because both ideas were almost the same. Ban was given the Wabbit idea and her idea I assume was placed into a time capsule and removed years later, toned down and became Grand Theft Auto.

 

Wabbit looks impressive to me considering zero experience and the state of Apollo at the time which must have been a mad house with all the new people and platforms. The player graphic is really good, and female, which also makes me think Ban is the woman I'm thinking of. In the letters the players were male farmers I believe. And she went on to do 5200 stuff.

 

Not too many VCS games were done by women so that's pretty cool...if I have it right.

Edited by DanOliver

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The timeline would be right imo. Ban would have been hired at Apollo say Jun 82. Knocked out Wabbit say Jul-Aug 82. Jumped to Micographic with other Apollo people and had Solar Fox ready by Sept 83. That's impressive in my book. And her port of Solar Fox was well reviewed to boot.

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