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Homebrews No Longer Obtainable?

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Since the programmers designed even the demo not to run on the Harmony so no one could play and added copy protection to the cart and threw insults at SolidCorp for his StarCastle kickstarter being twice the $$ value of BoulderDash it looks hypocritical, doubly so since SolidCorp released the ROM for everyone to enjoy while bd fans have to go and buy another more powerful Flashcart just to play a limited demo - endless marketing models leave many players left out.

 

Putting SolidCorp down to make their own marketing model "look better" seems like the same moves some of the same programmers (except Andrew) used following incredible 70's and 80's programmer Greg Zumwalt around the forum.

 

Same here picking on a disabled 12 year old programmer because a beginner tutorial was too advanced:

 

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/265592-any-sprite-rendering-algorithms-you-know-of/?p=3762385

 

That is not the way.

 

^This

 

Too much stuff going on in my life to really care too much about your attack, but I'll address a few of the comments...

 

The demo was not "designed" to not run on Harmony. I would love it if it could be played by as many people as possible, on actual hardware - we had to fight very hard for permission from the IP owners to get permission to release anything at all. I suspect, but am not sure, that the Harmony cart came after the Boulder Dash engine was designed. You are misguided in blaming the programmers for trying to restrict the game's availability. The game was designed around the $3E format. You might as well bitch at the Harmony cart designer(s) for making their cartridge incompatible with Boulder Dash and in particular the $3E format on purpose! Just as ridiculous.

 

I don't recall "throwing insults" at anyone - but time dulls the memory, so it's possible. We copped a lot of flack for the price of Boulder Dash and barely broke even - certainly my actual $ per hour worked on that project was something around 5 cents, if that. It wasn't worth it financially and Thomas and I did it purely for the love of the game and to prove that it could be done well on the platform. And Albert, for that matter. Given the royalty payments and cost of production, we set the price at what seemed reasonable. Nobody was forced to purchase, and in fact it took a year to sell all the copies. Everyone had a pretty fair chance to buy, if they so wished. We had complex negotiations with the IP holder who was friendly and professional but nonetheless would only allow production on his terms, which were very tough. Those terms included a limited release, prepayment of royalties, and non-release of any binaries. The game simply would not exist in anyone's hands if those terms were not agreed to. Blaming the programmers for pushing for, programming, and releasing a free demo... wow.

 

And seriously, you insult us for going out of our way and negotiating for a free playable demo for everyone to enjoy playing. Then you generalise and include me in an ill-informed rant about some sort of bickering with other programmers and about some kid learning the ropes. I spent many hours sharing with the community, writing those tutorials and answering questions, helping anyone and everyone who asked questions.

 

I understand you think Boulder Dash should be available in binary form. Fine. There's an IP holder who doesn't want that to happen. So the solution is...? Blame the programmers for releasing a free demo version. Apparently. Bizarre.

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I understand you think Boulder Dash should be available in binary form. Fine. There's an IP holder who doesn't want that to happen. So the solution is...? Blame the programmers for releasing a free demo version. Apparently. Bizarre.

 

I was pretty sure you and Thomas were agreeable to someone else taking up a non infringing game. If people want the gameplay there you have it.

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IF you are freely sharing the rom, then you could do the "tip" system as people have mentioned. If you make a rom and I play it and enjoy it, I'd be willing to send some money your way, to show my appreciation for your work.

All my games' ROMs (except Boulder Dash for well known reasons) are out there and played since 2000. Yet there was only a handful of people who asked for my bank account details. (I am not complaining, just stating the facts)

 

The way I see it is- if the developer releases the rom for a small fee, he (or she) will get my money and everyone will be happy. If they don't release the rom, eventually someone will dump it and I'll be playing it anyway. It's that simple. What's the point in making a game, if only a few people ever get to play it? I just can't see the logic in it. icon_confused.gif

If a ROM is released, then you have no control about it. So in theory one person could pay the fee and then spread the ROM. So if someone decides not to release the ROM (for whatever reason) he won't go this way anyway.

 

If a Developer sells 20 carts and makes $5 off each cart and then locks the rom away and throws away the key, they made $100. If they share the rom for $5 and 30 people download it, that's $150 (most likely on top of the cart sales).

If I would be here for the money, I would be long somewhere else. :)

 

There are plenty of us who can't afford to buy carts, but can dig up $5 somewhere. If they want to have limited edition carts, that's fine, they can use special artwork or even use a slightly different version of the game for that. I really don't see how selling (or giving away) the roms will affect the sale of the carts, since the people who want a cart will still get a cart. I just think everyone should be given the opportunity to play the games, not just the people who have the most money or who got there first. This community is what keeps Atari alive, the fans and the developers, it's a team effort. icon_smile.gif

A few years ago, I would have shared your arguments. But since the existence of Harmony, the sales of homebrews has dropped significantly. So there are quite a lot of people who just want the ROM and don't care for the developer. That was pretty surprising for me.

 

For me the main problem here is not the money, but the lack of feedback. I don't know how many people really like my games. That's also the reason why I would never limit the sales of my games (unless I am forced to do so). But also not enough reason not to release my ROMs in the future. :)

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I was pretty sure you and Thomas were agreeable to someone else taking up a non infringing game. If people want the gameplay there you have it.

Not sure what you mean here. Can you rephrase for a non-native speaker like me?

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I suspect, but am not sure, that the Harmony cart came after the Boulder Dash engine was designed.

The basic game engine was there in 2005 latest, Harmony came in ~2009.

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Not sure what you mean here. Can you rephrase for a non-native speaker like me?

 

Sorry. I'm confusing even to myself.

 

I was pretty sure you guys were open to opening up some of your boulderdash engine so other people could make similar games. I always thought that would be a perfect compromise for people who crave more Boulderdash action.

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Sorry. I'm confusing even to myself.

 

I was pretty sure you guys were open to opening up some of your boulderdash engine so other people could make similar games. I always thought that would be a perfect compromise for people who crave more Boulderdash action.

Yes, that was (and still is) our plan. But until now we never came to it for various reasons. Its quite a lot of work and we want to make the engine much more accessible for everyone.

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch
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To those who were pondering the digital download option:

 

I've had Atari 2600 games available for digital download on Itch.io for around 2 years. I had 2 runs of my Upp! game - one directly after making the digital download available. I didn't see much of any return on the digital download BUT my sales of physical copies slowed down. So, at least one data point to consider there. Digital downloads have been a wonderful "tip jar" but an awful way to sell games.

 

I am humbled and encouraged greatly by these tips. I also struggle to see digital downloads as a viable retail option.

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Some folks will never realize the time investment in writing code, designing labels, printing, burning, soldering, cleaning, assembling, etc. of the games. In the volumes home brews are actually made and sold it is surprising that they are not $100 per copy. I don't buy a whole lot, but when one comes out that I just gotta have and play, I buy it, budget permitting. $30 is more than fair. $50 for the boxed is high for me, but then again, it's all about the volumes these things are made. That is a fair price.

 

Some PS4 and Xbox games push $80-90.

To come here and whine about not being able to get something for free from people who do this for the love of the hobby is just totally amazing.

 

I think Andrew was being very conservative when he said he earned about 5 cents per hour. It was probably much less...

 

Thank you homebrewers for giving us the games and bringing new life to these aging consoles.

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Digital downloads have been a wonderful "tip jar" but an awful way to sell games.

This would only work with some kind of robust watermarking. So if a downloaded ROM shows up somewhere else, you could go after the person who downloaded the ROM.

 

We have discussed this option, maybe if Al implements the new store software we can think about it again.

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My POV on this from working on Stella:

 

Normally I am completely against DRM of any form. I don't believe in it, and IME in the long run it doesn't work anyway. That said, I would not be opposed to adding something to Stella like MAME has, where when you start up the ROM for the first time there is some sort of message you have to read and then accept. The problem with this is that Stella is open source, so anything like that can be removed from the code by an end-user. So I question its usefulness.

 

As for tipping, paying for digital downloads, and in general all the ways that one can make money from this hobby, well, none of the options are that great, really. Over the past 16 years of working on Stella, I've had perhaps 20-30 monetary donations, and maybe 10-15 hardware donations. Now, some of those donations have been relatively huge ($300-$500), but still, it's from 20-30 people overall. This is not meant to shame anyone, or to say that more people should contribute, etc; I simply state the facts. Like Thomas said, like many developers here, if I was in this for the money, I would have been gone long ago (likely after the first year). I've put literally 1000's of hours into Stella, probably approaching 7-8000 at this point. If I added up my hourly rate, it would easily be 5cents per hour or less :(

 

Again IME, many people say they will contribute to something, but when the rubber hits the road, many people don't put their money where their mouth is. Again not a slight against anyone, particularly those that have contributed money, hardware or help with development (Thomas, Christian, Brian; thanks a lot!).

 

Many non-developers don't realize the phenomenal amount of work that goes into software development in general, and I find it particularly troubling to hear of people making complaints against developers that are essentially doing this stuff for free, for love of the hobby.

 

Anyway, that's my 2 cents worth (and apparently, my hourly rate as well :) )

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I'll state this again as I've stated in the past. Our contract with First Star Software does not allow us to release the ROM for Boulder Dash. Period. Without this clause there would have been no physical release of the game at all. It has nothing to do with marketing on our end, of course we would prefer that more people can enjoy the game. There are very few games that once introduced in the AtariAge Store are no longer available for purchase. I personally do not like limiting games to 'x' number of copies, and once they're sold out, well, that's it.

 

..Al

 

Your agreement with FirstStar software doesn't limit the demo Al, only the programmers design does; imo everyone should be able to play the demo if the game cannnot be released. The programmers made it clear they could have written the demo to run on the Harmony but specifically designed it not to for marketing reasons. That's certainly fair, a demo with three levels makes it much less compelling to buy the game and will errode sales unless the demo is unplayable:

 

If folks are specifically buying the encore just to play the bd demo (as many have posted) it's certainly effective marketing but wouldn't it be cooler to release a 32k version of the demo that everyone could play on their existing harmony carts? :)

 

That project would enable releasing a BoulderDash construction kit to be used so fan's could start making new versions of BoulderDash or other fun scrolling games with those large tile characters, even cooler it could be made to run on the portable Atari for full console compatibility since BD is a genuine Atari game and not a 32-bit ARM game. As the programmers have explained in discussion, bd having been intentionally designed to be unplayable/unobtainable on the console is unfortunate for their plans to release a programming kit since no one else wants to create unplayable games.

 

Alternately they could do another great game with a free demo and make sure that free demo requires the yet-to-be-released Encore III in order to run but that's not very sporting.

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The programmers made it clear they could have written the demo to run on the Harmony but specifically designed it not to for marketing reasons.

 

Reference, please?

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Too much stuff going on in my life to really care too much about your attack, but I'll address a few of the comments...

Ignore him, once he gets his mind set on something there's just no reasoning with him. If you try, he'll start making snide remarks about you whenever he can. I'm sure he still believes VGC's view that new Atari games must have big memory and run on the ARM before VGC will review them in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.

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Your agreement with FirstStar software doesn't limit the demo Al, only the programmers design does; imo everyone should be able to play the demo if the game cannnot be released. The programmers made it clear they could have written the demo to run on the Harmony but specifically designed it not to for marketing reasons. That's certainly fair, a demo with three levels makes it much less compelling to buy the game and will errode sales unless the demo is unplayable:

 

If folks are specifically buying the encore just to play the bd demo (as many have posted) it's certainly effective marketing but wouldn't it be cooler to release a 32k version of the demo that everyone could play on their existing harmony carts? :)

 

That project would enable releasing a BoulderDash construction kit to be used so fan's could start making new versions of BoulderDash or other fun scrolling games with those large tile characters, even cooler it could be made to run on the portable Atari for full console compatibility since BD is a genuine Atari game and not a 32-bit ARM game. As the programmers have explained in discussion, bd having been intentionally designed to be unplayable/unobtainable on the console is unfortunate for their plans to release a programming kit since no one else wants to create unplayable games.

 

Alternately they could do another great game with a free demo and make sure that free demo requires the yet-to-be-released Encore III in order to run but that's not very sporting.

 

What is it with your snark? Did you even read Andrew's post above where he clearly stated, "The demo was not "designed" to not run on Harmony"? We were able to negotiate a release of a limited demo, since First Start did not want a binary of the complete game released. Even if we weren't under the constrains of a contract, Thomas and Andrew would be within their rights to restrict the release of the binary in any way they see fit. Nobody is owed anything or "deserves" the right to play a binary version of a game simply because physical copies are no longer available.

 

..Al

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The programmers made it clear they could have written the demo to run on the Harmony but specifically designed it not to for marketing reasons.

 

Reference? Because, basically I think that's made up bullshit.

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... Then you generalise and include me in an ill-informed rant about some sort of bickering with other programmers and about some kid learning the ropes. I spent many hours sharing with the community, writing those tutorials and answering questions, helping anyone and everyone who asked questions.

 

 

Please reread my post you missed the parenthesis "except Andrew". That means your not included in picking on the 12 year old and I'm sure you find that equally offensive.

 

I haven't thrown any insults at you just shared my opinion and I think you are an awesome programmer, but your comments to SolidCorp were offputting - why get angry he sold a game? He freed the rom when finished with the release.

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Ignore him, one he gets his mind set on something there's just no reasoning with him. If you try, he'll start making snide remarks about you whenever he can. I'm sure he still believes VGC's view that new Atari games must have big memory and run on the ARM before VGC will review them in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.

LOL! You forgot to tell him your game ran on the ARM chip and he wanted to use it as a yardstick for future Atari reviews; he changed his mind when I explained that was not a level playing field - SpaceRocks is better than the arcade but you should let reviewers know it is a 32-bit game instead of not saying anything or comparing it to Pitfall II (not a 32-bit game).

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Reference? Because, basically I think that's made up bullshit.

 

More potty talk? Use the search funtion; maybe it was a language issue and Jentzsch meant something else.

 

How can I hide quotes of ignored persons?

 

Just write more reviews of my games if you can't write anything new yourself :)

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Use the search funtion; maybe it was a language issue and Jentzsch meant something else.

 

 

If you can't provide a reference to support your claims, then your argument has no merit at all.

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What is it with your snark? Did you even read Andrew's post above where he clearly stated, "The demo was not "designed" to not run on Harmony"? We were able to negotiate a release of a limited demo, since First Start did not want a binary of the complete game released. Even if we weren't under the constrains of a contract, Thomas and Andrew would be within their rights to restrict the release of the binary in any way they see fit. Nobody is owed anything or "deserves" the right to play a binary version of a game simply because physical copies are no longer available.

 

..Al

 

Al there's no "snark" but I do find the term offensive and if that is your intention send me a PM and I won't participate in your site - I find the potty talk and picking on the disabled 12 year old offensive too, don't you?

 

btw I did not make those claims, the programmers did and the information is available via the search function.

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LOL! You forgot to tell him your game ran on the ARM chip and he wanted to use it as a yardstick for future Atari reviews; he changed his mind when I explained that was not a level playing field - SpaceRocks is better than the arcade but you should let reviewers know it is a 32-bit game instead of not saying anything or comparing it to Pitfall II (not a 32-bit game).

I knew I shouldn't have clicked "view it anyway" :roll:

  1. I didn't talk to Dave about Space Rocks before he reviewed it, as I didn't know he was going to. As such, there's no way I could have "forgotten to tell him". (ie: you're making shit up again)

  2. The fact that Space Rocks utilizes an ARM chip is well publicized.

  3. Your words: "Dave liked the gameplay action but wanted me to add option menus and bells and whistle polish like SpaceRocks" - so nothing at all about requiring the use of ARM, Dave just felt your game needed more polish.

    (ie: you're making shit up again)

As far as the "picking on the 12 year old", the kid was rude and didn't even bother to look at the info I provided, so I called him out on both while continuing to provide help by explaining terminology and even creating an index to my tutorial to make it easier for him to find the information he was looking for. I do agree there were some other comments made that went a bit to far, though not surprisingly they were by another person I've long had on my ignore list.

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