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David Crane 1 hr speech GDC 2011

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This is quite old and I am sure many of you have seen this but I thought it was highly recommended for any 2600 user to see this. He is talking about anything 2600 related, how it all started, about designing 2600 games, video game crash...

 

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This is quite old and I am sure many of you have seen this but I thought it was highly recommended for any 2600 user to see this. He is talking about anything 2600 related, how it all started, about designing 2600 games, video game crash...

 

I hadn't seen that yet-- thanks for posting it! :) It's interesting that he actually recommended to one guy that he download the Stella emulator, along with the ROMs for every 2600 game that's out there(!), and use the debugger to step through the code and watch what the game's doing. 8)

 

Michael

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First time seeing it. It's pretty good so far. I'm up to polynomial. That word slightly reminds me of another word I've heard before.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEPq0FvFm3g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEPq0FvFm3g&rel=0&fmt=35

 

Polynomial, polynomial, polynomial. Polynomial, polynomial, polynomial. Polynomial, polynomial, polynomial. Polynomial, polynomial, polynomial.

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NICE! I know 6502 but never dove into Atari, now I want to but don't want to, I'm not counting cycles, ho ho hell no! But kudos to those who do. :P I think it's a great way for me to understand the hardware without diving into full-fledged programming. I wish he would have done Kaboom! instead, but it's great. I also like the RCR sound guy. I wish the NES game was completed or even the demo released, but WiiWare and XBL will still do for it. I'm about to go make sure Brian hears this, I think he's even there, I know he was at GDC 2011, probably with his sound guy. Cool knowing people in the loop in the community!

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I hadn't seen that video; thanks for posting it! I'm reasonably familiar with the Atari architecture, partly from Crane's iOS apps, partly from these forums, and mostly from the book "Racing the Beam", but the video was still very interesting.

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I watched the whole thing, David Crane doesn't seem to have much love for atari, or his games, or classic gaming in general.

 

He made several references to them being stupid and non-relevant

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. . . David Crane doesn't seem to have much love for atari, or his games, or classic gaming in general.

I don't have much love for his games either, but I do love Activision's programming tricks, higher quality graphics, and strive for excellence.

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Pitfall! and Kaboom! were two of the best! How can you not like them?! -dies- But he said that about Atari. He hated Atari, and probably still does. I would too, he's right about the Atari people [designers and programmers] being stupid, Atari games sucked, and it only took 1 try for Nintendo to destroy them in hardware, so they don't have the best record, haha. Wow, I can't believe I watched the whole video in 1 sitting. Best video ever.

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I watched the whole thing, David Crane doesn't seem to have much love for atari, or his games, or classic gaming in general.

 

He made several references to them being stupid and non-relevant

I guess I'll have to watch it again, because I didn't get that at all-- unless he was talking tongue-in-cheek. He began by plugging "Racing the Beam" and (IIRC) saying he thought it's important to preserve or record this kind of stuff for historical purposes (I'm heavily paraphrasing, since right now I can't remember what he actually said), and he encouraged people interested in trying to program for the 2600 to download the Stella emulator and the ROMs to every 2600 game ever made, hit the tilde key, and step through them in the debugger to watch what they're doing. If he occasionally sounded like he was "dissing" the 2600 or the games that were written for it, I think he was just comparing the console's capabilities and the games written for it to the consoles and games of today, by which standards they seem very primitive and simplistic. If he had no love for Atari and classic gaming, he wouldn't do these conferences/conventions year after year, and plug the Classic Gaming Expo, and talk about how everyone should go to it and visit the video game museum that they set up at each expo.

 

Michael

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I watched the whole thing, David Crane doesn't seem to have much love for atari, or his games, or classic gaming in general.

 

He made several references to them being stupid and non-relevant

I guess I'll have to watch it again, because I didn't get that at all-- unless he was talking tongue-in-cheek. He began by plugging "Racing the Beam" and (IIRC) saying he thought it's important to preserve or record this kind of stuff for historical purposes (I'm heavily paraphrasing, since right now I can't remember what he actually said), and he encouraged people interested in trying to program for the 2600 to download the Stella emulator and the ROMs to every 2600 game ever made, hit the tilde key, and step through them in the debugger to watch what they're doing. If he occasionally sounded like he was "dissing" the 2600 or the games that were written for it, I think he was just comparing the console's capabilities and the games written for it to the consoles and games of today, by which standards they seem very primitive and simplistic. If he had no love for Atari and classic gaming, he wouldn't do these conferences/conventions year after year, and plug the Classic Gaming Expo, and talk about how everyone should go to it and visit the video game museum that they set up at each expo.

 

Michael

I know I'm supposed to be on vacation and not checking AtariAge during this time, but I just happened to see this thread and I have to comment on it :) I didn't get the impression that he was putting down the 2600 either. I did get the impression that creating a game was a huge amount of work because you did everything yourself, and that he was somewhat annoyed with some of the hardware choices made when designing the 2600. But I can't blame him there; some of the choices made do make things much harder for the programmer. So I read it as an extremely difficult thing to be working on, but that they persevered and produced some very good products. There's nothing untrue in those statements. The 2600 is a $*&^! to develop for, and it is partly because of hardware choices. And if you stick with it, you can produce great things.

 

Obviously I'm somewhat biased as he mentioned Stella. To even introduce the topic itself would be a feather in our cap, but he describes it as 'fabulous' and being equivalent to a 100 times the work he put into Pitfall, or equivalent to his entire body of work in all 2600-related stuff. Now being compared at this level is a huge compliment, particularly since (a) it's coming from one of the pioneers of 2600 development and (b) most of us here actually know how much work can go into a game. In other words, it's not an empty compliment. From my POV, he's obviously familiar enough with Stella to mention it right off the bat, how to use its debugger, and his level of admiration for the work involved in creating it. This doesn't strike me as someone who sees the 2600 or classic gaming as stupid; why would he even have that knowledge of Stella (and still go to conferences) otherwise?

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I was impressed by how much he remembers about the details of programming the 2600. Many programmers from that era can't tell you much about it at all. I think the only mistake I heard him make was the "triangle waves" thing.

 

That was also the most coherent description of the crash I've heard.

Edited by Bryan

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That was also the most coherent description of the crash I've heard.

I think he covered that at CGE as well. I do think the nascent home computer market was a big part of the crash, possibly even bigger than the glut of failed start-ups. While I got an early start with my Vic 20 in 81, by 83 most of my friends were also gaming on computers and the consoles had been put away.

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That was also the most coherent description of the crash I've heard.

I think he covered that at CGE as well. I do think the nascent home computer market was a big part of the crash, possibly even bigger than the glut of failed start-ups. While I got an early start with my Vic 20 in 81, by 83 most of my friends were also gaming on computers and the consoles had been put away.

 

Crap games killed the industry, especially since home consoles couldn't keep up with the bitmapped and color blocks of the TRS-80 Coco or the sprite based dual-layer systems like the C64 and others in between. They killed the crap consoles that were out at the time, the Coleco was a good try to beat them and it didn't, but it showed what is possible. Then the NES saved the industry showing what sprites with good colors and technology improvements can do. Decent sound+graphics+controllers+ expand ability =success. Although it's interesting to think, what would it be like if a Genesis or SNES-like system using a 68K or some 16-bit chip was released in about '83, and how much it'd of pushed computer technology. icon_lust.gif We'd be so farther along....

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I was impressed by how much he remembers about the details of programming the 2600. Many programmers from that era can't tell you much about it at all. I think the only mistake I heard him make was the "triangle waves" thing.

 

That was also the most coherent description of the crash I've heard.

I think maybe he remembers so much because he's spoken about it so many times over the years, which undoubtedly helps to keep it fresher in your memory. As for other programmers, I think they probably still have the details in their minds, but unless you take them out every so often and dust them off, it gets harder to pick up the right one when you reach in there to pull one out in answer to a question. As a case in point, a few years ago at the last CGE I attended, one of the old 2600 programmers (sorry, I don't remember who) was talking in a panel discussion, and he made a reference to having only "68 cycles" to do things. One of the other programmers on the panel spoke up to say there were "76 cycles" per scan line, so the speaker corrected himself to say there were only 76 cycles to do things. But as I sat there listening to him, I was thinking that what he might have been originally trying to say was that there were only 68 color clocks in the horizontal blank for you to do things before the line starts to display-- although of course most 2600 programmers keep doing things after HBLANK ends and then "race the beam" to get stuff done in time for it to be displayed-- but he said "68 cycles" instead of "68 color clocks." And "68 cycles" is actually a valid term (although "cycles" is ambiguous), since a "color clock" is more usually referred to as a "color cycle" by TV engineers, so "68 cycles" could legitimately mean "68 color cycles." So either he got the numbers 68 and 76 confused with each other, or maybe he did choose the right number for what he originally started to say but then used the "wrong" word after the number? Anyway, things do get jumbled together in your mind if you don't keep them separated and fresh by going over them every so often.

 

As for David Crane's reference to the "triangle waves," I was surprised to hear him say that. Does he know something we don't about TIA sound, or was he thinking about triangle waves that he could create in Pitfall II thanks to his DPC chip? I believe it must be the latter, because I don't see how the TIA can create triangle waves unless you form them yourself by modulating AUDV with an AUDC setting of 0, and he made it sound like it was just a matter of choosing the correct AUDC setting.

 

His description of the crash was very interesting and intelligently thought-out. There may or may not have been other factors at work, and I've never read or thought about it much myself, but his analysis seemed pretty spot-on. I got a chuckle when he referred to financial backers paying high school kids to program games, because I remember reading a video game magazine interview with one of those high school kids back in the days just before the crash (his age was mentioned in the background blurbs before the interview), and some of the kid's remarks struck me as being extremely arrogant and dismissive. I won't mention the "shooter" game he wrote, or the company that hired him, but to this day I remember how smug and self-congratulatory he sounded as he talked about his game, and how much I wanted to slap him when he specifically said that he thought adventure games were stupid and a waste of time.

 

Michael

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That was also the most coherent description of the crash I've heard.

I think he covered that at CGE as well. I do think the nascent home computer market was a big part of the crash, possibly even bigger than the glut of failed start-ups. While I got an early start with my Vic 20 in 81, by 83 most of my friends were also gaming on computers and the consoles had been put away.

Yeah, the big selling point of home computers was that they could do more than games but I don't know what percentage video game buyers were making the jump in '83. I'm sure that on top of everything else that was happening, many consumers figured out that they were being taken for granted.

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Plus there was a major recession going on at the time, although video games did just fine in '81 and '82. It's possible the recession finally caught up with them though, or maybe the newness wore off.

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Thee were WAY more terrible games on home computers than any console...both in quantity and percentage. So trying to use that as the primary factor of the market crash is a little short-sighted.

 

People just weren't interested. Even quality titles were having a hard time to collect a buck.

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Thee were WAY more terrible games on home computers than any console...both in quantity and percentage. So trying to use that as the primary factor of the market crash is a little short-sighted.

 

People just weren't interested. Even quality titles were having a hard time to collect a buck.

 

Yeah, but computers had several genres of games that the consoles didn't and I don't think computer game sales were anywhere near console game sales prior to '83, so I don't know if that market could have had a crash. Plus, so many people *cough* creatively acquired *cough* the majority of their computer games.

Edited by Bryan

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I love this quote at 49:08 where Crane is talking about the DPC chip he specified "so Pitfall II is going to look a lot different then Pitfall 1, and I cheated... I put a chip in with the rom". Cheating, eh? I also never knew that was Jack Black in the Pitfall! video ha ha. Good stuff!!

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