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What is the quintessential Atari game?

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Are we talking about the game that the vast majority of the population associates Atari with, or the game that hard core enthusiasts associate the Atari with?

 

Vast majority of the population: Pac-Man, Space Invaders, E.T.

Hard core enthusiasts: Whatever game they associate with the VCS...

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My vote is Pac-Man. Combat was a pack in game before Pac-man was, it is the number one rarity one, and is to the VCS what Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt is to the NES but the tank isn't a character that became like a mascot in the way that Mario became a mascot for the NES. When Pac-Man became a pack in game he became like Mario. Combat should be the quintessential Atari game and Pac-Man should be in second place but as a mascot that is still in our culture today it puts him in first place. They are still making Pac-Man games like Pac-Man World and Pac-Man World Rally. We give a variety of answers which include Pac-Man but there are young people that have never played Atari that would give Pac-Man as an answer. If I were on the Family Feud then Pac-Man would be the first answer I would give to the question.

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Call me crazy, but Space Invaders never intrigued me in the slightest back then. The biggest reason I got my Sears Video Arcade system was because of the Activision games and a few M Network titles. Space Invaders bored me, and I do not remember it even being the pack-in game (even the Atari branded systems had Pac Man or Combat as the pack-in by then) when I shopped for mine in 1980. I never associated Space Invaders with the VCS. Only remembering seeing it at this laundromat we used to go to. They had some pinball machines along with Space Invaders, Battlezone, and Venture. I played the tar out of Venture and Battlezone at that laundromat, but only tried Space Invaders once or twice, long enough to get bored by it. :thumbsdown:

Edited by tz101

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Call me crazy, but Space Invaders never intrigued me in the slightest back then.

 

I never cared much for it either, arcade or VCS. Space Fever's about as close as I care to get, apart from the recent SI games.

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Call me crazy, but Space Invaders never intrigued me in the slightest back then.

 

I never cared much for it either, arcade or VCS.

 

The VCS version actually kicks the crap outta the arcade version IMO. I think many others feel the same way. Best space invaders period. Its not just the quintessential Atari 2600 game, its the quintessential Space Invaders

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I have and I heavily disagree with the broad overall conclusion.

So you heavily disagree with the follow two main ideas?

 

  • Randomness and Replayability: Players should be given more choices. Players should be allowed to play instead of being forced to die until they remember where everything is so they can solve the static action puzzle they have been told is a game. There should be multiple solutions to problems. If the game has an ending, there should be multiple ways to 'beat' the game. Video games should equal or surpass the randomness and replayability of board games, but most video games don't because of misguided game designers, lazy game designers, puzzle obsessed OCD game designers, and greedy companies.
    _
  • Don't abuse players and don't use dirty tricks to hook them: Games can be fun and good for players at the same time. Players should feel better after playing instead of feeling aggressive, anxious, or irritable. The player is your friend, not a resource to be plundered or a rat in a maze for you to torture and perform tests on.

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, there are games which have zero replay value. And yes, this often comes from missing random elements. And yes there are frustrating games, and yes, the programmers did that intentionally to make the game look bigger than it is. Etc. pp.

 

But no, this doesn't mean that any game which has no randomness and/or very challenging elements etc. is automatically a bad game. People are different, players are different. Some prefer scripted games, some not. Some want a game to be challenging, some want to play without getting stuck anywhere. And most are somewhere in between.

A 'game' that lacks randomness is not a game. It's a static action puzzle. If the player must die repeatedly to learn what to do next, it is a bad game. It might have fun gameplay elements, but it's still a bad game. Below is a quote about adventure games, but I believe it should apply to all games:

 

Consider, for example, the case of a room full of poison gas. The way to get through the room is to give the command HOLD BREATH before entering. If the character has no reason for holding his breath except that he choked to death in that room the last time he played, his actions become illogical.

 

However, things can be kept reasonable if the description of the previous room states that wisps of green mist are coming from under the door. Giving the command SMELL MIST might elicit a stronger warning, and then it would make sense that the character should take precautions. The point isn't that a really good player should be able to get through the adventure on the first try, but that the character should stay within the bounds of the game's reality.

 

~Gary McGath (From COMPUTE!'s Guide to Adventure Games)

 

 

 

 

 

Games should suit the preferences of the players. And not follow an ideology about how a good game has to look like and what is forbidden to do. Games must not be PC and we don't need any proselytizing, especially in gaming!

Except for a few games here and there over the years, most game designers haven't given players a choice. Most video game players have been force-fed Die and Remember Static Action Puzzle Toilet Paper Games for so long that they think that's how games should be. They don't demand better games because they don't know that video games can be any different.

 

And what is this PC crap and proselytizing you're talking about? If you make a fun replayable game instead of a static action puzzle where the player shoots dead babies out of a cannon, I'll play it.

 

And the only 'proselytizing' I'm doing is trying to get game designers and players to understand that there are alternatives to Die and Remember Static Action Puzzle Toilet Paper Games.

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Pittfall or Asteriods. I can't make my mind up. I don't know why Asteriods comes to mind, maybe it was a game I played a lot as a kid on my uncle's Atari so it stuck with me.

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And what is this PC crap and proselytizing you're talking about? If you make a fun replayable game instead of a static action puzzle where the player shoots dead babies out of a cannon, I'll play it.

Hey, Dead Babies was the absolute #1 best homebrew game on the original Xbox.

 

And the only 'proselytizing' I'm doing is trying to get game designers and players to understand that there are alternatives to Die and Remember Static Action Puzzle Toilet Paper Games.

I was reading this page from the bottom-up, scrolled to this one bit, and immediately guessed who wrote it. Speaking of static-as-toilet-paper, how 'bout that manifesto recitation...

Edited by Rex Dart

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Is replaying Pitfall! over and over until you beat it considered playing it many times or once? If it is many times then it has replay value until it is beat. If it is once then it doesn't have much replay value. Either way, once it is beat the replay value is the same as watching a movie again. There is some replay value to watching a movie again but it isn't as enjoyable as watching it the first time. I'm on both sides of the argument. I can see how Pitfall has some replay value but I can see how randomness can add to it. I think if it was designed with both a script and randomness then it would be the best of both worlds.

 

They probably couldn't do it back then but if they designed in randomness with passwords you could choose how you want to play. Every time you turn it on it generates a random map with a password. You can write down that password to play it over and over until you beat it and replay that map like a movie or you could hit a difficulty switch to hide the password. Hiding the password would make it so that every time you play you have no idea what the script is. You could give Harry a script, chose which script to give him, or give him freewill.

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And what is this PC crap and proselytizing you're talking about? If you make a fun replayable game instead of a static action puzzle where the player shoots dead babies out of a cannon, I'll play it.

 

And the only 'proselytizing' I'm doing is trying to get game designers and players to understand that there are alternatives to Die and Remember Static Action Puzzle Toilet Paper Games.

 

Alright let's get something straight. It doesn't matter how many quotes you throw at it, or how many times you criticize games by calling them "toilet paper" or whatever. There is NO right answer to the question of what constitutes a good game. And it does smack of 'proselytizing', since this thread has little to do with which game was the "best" from a design standpoint.

 

Frankly, you could approach a game with the purest "philosophy of game design" and still produce a terrible game that nobody in their right mind would want to play. And there are other, perfectly valid approaches to designing a game. For instance, there is the Man vs. Machine school, which most of the arcade fanatics like myself here will probably identify with. That's the one where you test your focus, your memory, your reflexes and your nerve in a (usually hopeless) attempt to master first the controls, then the programmer and, finally, the hardware itself. Think John Henry vs. the Steam engine, or Garry Kasparov versus Deep Blue... or, heck, Sarah Connor versus the Terminator.

 

Yeah, yeah... that's "all work and not play" and "if I wanted to take a test I'd go to school," etc. But Man vs. Machine also is genuinely absorbing, and often more rewarding. You (constantly) claim there is no enjoyment to be found in trying to get close to perfection in a video game by getting the higher score or the faster time, but trillions of quarters and nearly a half-century of history proves you wrong. Many of us find pleasure in solving puzzles, following "dance steps", and discovering tricks and exploits that the programmers overlooked (great programmers are, I think, somewhat like great jazz artists in that the imperfections sometimes make them shine). Regardless of the game logic, there is a unique satisfaction in finding ways to last one more second against a machine designed to stop us from winning. For many of us out here, there is a legit thrill in achieving the high score and then carving our digital initials in the leaderboard. In fact, the thrill of competition (between ourselves and each other, between ourselves and the machine's algorithm) is a big part of the fun in ANY game, whether the challenge is randomized or not.

Edited by jrok
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The replay value in PitFall! might be lost on people that don't enjoy classic games, but it has as much randomness as many VCS games did. Space Invaders surely didn't have much randomness. Its all about skill and learning the paterns and exicuting the moves the beat the game as perfectly as possible. Just because you can memorize the entire game doesn't mean its easy to do or that doing it isn't something to brag about with your friends that dig old school gaming.

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The replay value in PitFall! might be lost on people that don't enjoy classic games, but it has as much randomness as many VCS games did. Space Invaders surely didn't have much randomness. Its all about skill and learning the paterns and exicuting the moves the beat the game as perfectly as possible. Just because you can memorize the entire game doesn't mean its easy to do or that doing it isn't something to brag about with your friends that dig old school gaming.

 

I agree. I have seen videos of people flying through a game like Super Mario Bros. in minutes. I can see how them mastering it would be fun and how it would give them bragging rights. But I would be even more impressed watching them fly through a map they don't even know.

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Just a question: When did randomness become the measure of a good game?

 

I memorized the patterns to SMB back in the 80's but still enjoy playing it from time to time.

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Just a question: When did randomness become the measure of a good game?

 

I memorized the patterns to SMB back in the 80's but still enjoy playing it from time to time.

 

It isn't the only measure but it has always been there(Dice, cards, boardgames, chess, gambling...).

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Alright let's get something straight. It doesn't matter how many quotes you throw at it, or how many times you criticize games by calling them "toilet paper" or whatever. There is NO right answer to the question of what constitutes a good game. And it does smack of 'proselytizing', since this thread has little to do with which game was the "best" from a design standpoint.

I guess you didn't read what he said:

 

"Games must not be PC and we don't need any proselytizing, especially in gaming!"

 

He wasn't talking about this thread (unless I read it wrong). And don't act like I brought up the subject out of the blue. It started here:

 

http://www.atariage.com/forums/topic/186451-what-is-the-quintessential-atari-game/page__view__findpost__p__2351015

 

And continued from here:

 

http://www.atariage.com/forums/topic/186451-what-is-the-quintessential-atari-game/page__st__25

 

 

According to most game designers, there is only one right answer since most games are based on the same formula (player dies until he learns the dance steps needed to solve the puzzle, then he can continue to the next puzzle in a long string of puzzles).

 

If there is really no right answer, then it wouldn't hurt to make a few games based on the ideas I have posted and linked to instead of resisting them. If most game designers would give these concepts a try without sabotaging the effort on purpose to prove that the old player-abusing ways are better, it might turn out great for everybody.

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My thoughts on the replayability of Pitfall:

 

I like jazz, and I like classical music.

Replying to my own post here, but to expand on this:

 

When you listen to a piece of classical music, you know what every pitch, every rhythm, every phrase is supposed to be. Yet to those who are open to it, listening to live classical music is exciting because it's a performative act, with opportunities for spontaneity, excitement and failure. The player has room to vary some parameters of the music within a certain range, and a slight variation in one section of a piece can have far-reaching consequences for the whole.

 

Furthermore, the collaboration of composer and performer can lead to a higher level of accomplishment than either of them could have reached on their own. The composer can create a deep, complicated structure with all kinds of internal relationships; the performer can figure out the best way to bring out those relationships, and bring their own interpretation to it.

 

When I play Pitfall, I'm entering into a structure that's been completely worked out. Yet I have all kinds of choices about the path I take, about how hard I push in one place and how cautiously I might take another. Every decision you make has far-reaching consequences: if you're able to shave off three seconds in a crucial spot, it completely changes the timing in an area several screens away. It's deterministic, but your choices and skills affect how that determinism plays out.

 

I've played a perfect game* of Pitfall -- all treasures collected, no points lost, plenty of time left on the clock -- but I won't pretend that doing so is at all comparable to the praxis of a serious classical musician. Still, the structure that David Crane created allows me to push myself to achievements that exceed what I could do otherwise. It allows me to see the game as an interconnected whole, rather than as a series of unpredictable, disconnected events. And it's led me to admire the game in its elegance: there are so many timings that work out perfectly, without a second to spare, that it's difficult to imagine that Crane didn't plan it this way (though he probably didn't).

 

It'd be totally possible to reconceive Pitfall as a game with random treasure placement, or even random screen structure. Then it'd be a more arcade-like experience, for sure, though you'd need to lengthen the timer (or reduce the number of treasures). It'd also be something closer to jazz: a partially fixed structure with improvisational elements, where much of your energy goes into reacting to events on a small-scale time level.

 

That could be a lot of fun, but you'd lose something too. It'd be a shallower game, because there wouldn't be any meaningful larger structure. There'd be no tension between the macro- and micro-level, because there'd be no real macro-level, just an ad hoc collection of events. And frankly, I think the results would be shallow, because Pitfall doesn't have enough going on otherwise -- it's not really designed to be a pure arcade game.

 

I do like the password idea. The idea of being able to choose between different "courses" is attractive, though it also dilutes the pursuit of any one course. It'd make for a great hack, but I'm glad the original wasn't set up that way.

 

*full disclosure: my perfect game was on the Intellivision port, but it's pretty much identical except for the timbre of the sound FX and the use of a second button for vine release

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Call me crazy, but Space Invaders never intrigued me in the slightest back then. The biggest reason I got my Sears Video Arcade system was because of the Activision games and a few M Network titles.

 

Well I guess that makes sense.. If you're talking when M-Network games were already out, I don't think many were all that into the older Space Invaders by then. :lol:

 

Damnit, NE146 ... Every time I see one of your posts, I have to scroll past so I won't get in trouble at work. That damn avatar. :roll:

 

Why? Do your coworkers not like Atari? :D

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I guess you didn't read what he said:

 

"Games must not be PC and we don't need any proselytizing, especially in gaming!"

 

Yes, I did. And I agree with him.

 

 

Read those again, and, yeah, still looks like your brought it up.

 

According to most game designers, there is only one right answer since most games are based on the same formula (player dies until he learns the dance steps needed to solve the puzzle, then he can continue to the next puzzle in a long string of puzzles).

 

Sounds like Sherlock Holmes... "The game's afoot, Watson." Neat!

 

If there is really no right answer, then it wouldn't hurt to make a few games based on the ideas I have posted and linked to instead of resisting them. If most game designers would give these concepts a try without sabotaging the effort on purpose to prove that the old player-abusing ways are better, it might turn out great for everybody.

 

Sure they do. That game is called "Grand Theft Auto III." It's got a lot of organized randomness, a sandbox world, no score, low stress... and it mostly stinks! Oh, and it has about a million clones, including some starring Spiderman. They all stink, IMO.

 

And while I agree with a few of your notions, "player-abuse" is one I disagree with to my core. Many people *thrive* on stress. Otherwise, there would be no O.R. surgeons, or astronauts. In fact... since the conversation now seems to be about making grandiose statements... I'll say that confronting a stressful (albeit simulated) situation and the joy you get from overcoming it is the soul of ALL games. Football is a war without bullets, and chess is a silent debate at the end of the world. In that spirit, here's a quote for you:

 

"Without STRESS, there is no game."

- jrok, 2011

Edited by jrok

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  • Players should be given more choices.
  • Players should be allowed to play instead of being forced to die until they remember where everything is so they can solve the static action puzzle they have been told is a game.
  • There should be multiple solutions to problems.
  • If the game has an ending, there should be multiple ways to 'beat' the game.
  • Video games should equal or surpass the randomness and replayability of board games, but most video games don't because of misguided game designers, lazy game designers, puzzle obsessed OCD game designers, and greedy companies.
  • A 'game' that lacks randomness is not a game, it is a static action puzzle (GAME).
  • If the player must die repeatedly to learn what to do next, it is a bad game. It might have fun gameplay elements, but it's still a bad game.

[...]

And the only 'proselytizing' I'm doing is trying to get game designers and players to understand that there are alternatives to Die and Remember Static Action Puzzle Toilet Paper Games.

Players have a choice in how they control their character, how adept they are at manipulating their virtual counterparts determines if they succeed or fail, and that IS gameplay. It may not be the most robust gameplay experience, but your causing interaction and that leads to a subjective good or bad time.

 

Dragon's Lair fits your description of a "Static Action Puzzle Toilet Paper Game" perfectly and yet you are still incorrect about this type of gameplay being a bad design.

Expand the spoiler for a direct quote from wiki:

 

 

Reception

Dragon's Lair initially represented high hopes for the then sagging arcade industry, fronting the new wave of immersive laser disc video games. A quote from Newsweek captures the level of excitement displayed over the game: "Dragon's Lair is this summer's hottest new toy: the first arcade game in the United States with a movie-quality image to go along with the action... The game has been devouring kids' coins at top speed since it appeared early in July. Said Robert Romano, 10, who waited all day in the crush at Castle Park without getting to play, "It's the most awesome game I've ever seen in my life."[6] Arcade operators at its release reported long lines, even though the game was the first video arcade game to cost 50 cents.[7] Operators were also concerned however that players would figure out Dragon's Lair's unique predefined game play, leading them to "get the hang of it and stop playing it."[8] By July of 1983, 1000 machines had been distributed, and there were already a backlog of about 7,500.[8] By the end of 1983 Electronic Games and Electronic Fun were rating Dragon's Lair as the number one video arcade game in USA,[9] while the arcade industry gave it recognition for helping turn around its 1983 financial slump.[10] Dragon's Lair received recognition as the most influential game of 1983, to the point that regular computer graphics looked "rather elementary compared to top-quality animation".[11] By February of 1984, it was reported to have grossed over $32 million for Cinematronics.[12] One element of the game that was negatively received was the blackout time in between loading of scenes, which Dyer promised would be eliminated by the forthcoming Space Ace and planned Dragon's Lair sequel.[11] By the middle of 1984 however, after Space Ace and other similar games were released to little success, sentiment on Dragon's Lair's position in the industry had shifted and it was being cited as a failure due to its expensive cost for a game that would "lose popularity".[13] In 2001, GameSpy ranked Dragon's Lair as #7 on the list of "Top 50 Arcade Games of All-Time".[14]

 

A game that influential and successful in it's presentation and design cannot be a flawed concept!

 

So sorry RT, but I must disagree with most everything you've pointed out.

However this is not to say that companies haven't butchered this type of gameplay design to the point it's soured peoples opinions of it.

Edited by ScumSoft

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I had no interest in playing Dragon's Lair when it came out. First of all, I couldn't waste my precious quarters on it, but mostly, once you get beyond the awesomeness of how great it looked at the time, the game didn't seem very exciting at all... boring, in fact. I wasn't impressed by those who got far in the game... I assumed it was just because they spent so much money on it.

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