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PRGE 2019 Impressions

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This was my second time flying out to Portland for PRGE - I had gone in 2016 as well.  In general, I had a really good time at the show, although I found it very front loaded, with my Saturday going from 9 in the morning until 10 at night, and my Sunday spanning from 11 to 5:30.


Highlights for me were the panels: My first one was the Atari arcade veterans talk where I got to ask Ed Logg about how Dandy on the 8-bit influenced Gauntlet. He'd been thinking about how to do a D&D-ish arcade game and when he saw his kid playing it on the 8-bit, he knew what the system would be like.  He also noted that the game was the first Atari had shipped without a plexiglass cover over the screen and how nervous marketing was about the possible damage; the omission of the covering was needed to allow the two side players to be able to see without so much glare.  When they did their first arcade test, the machine brought in more in a weekend than the whole arcade had brought in the week before.


I really enjoyed the talk by Howard Scott Warshaw, especially him opening up about how filming the "Game Over" documentary helped him realize how this stigma of being blamed for the 1983 crash had been subconsciously affecting him for years and how he feels free from that now.  Pamela Smith's talk on working in graphic design for Atari in 1982-1984 was really neat, seeing the kinds of advertising materials they were producing and how much effort went into all that material.


The Atari 800 panel with Joe Decuir, David Crane, and Kevin Savetz was really nice, especially hearing the stories of just how much the RF shielding kept the system from being competitive after 1981 and about how Atari's management really didn't know what they were selling yet.  I also saw the Dan Kitchen/Garry Kitchen/David Crane panel on Sunday where I got to ask about the game "Ghoul School" that had been highlighted just the previous evening in the "Watch Out for Fireballs" live podcast.


The show floor was crowded, especially first thing on Saturday.  My haul wasn't too bad: a 8-bit Uno Cart in OSS Orange, a modern XL/XE power supply, a boxed PAL KLAX for the 2600, "Des Chiffres et des Lettres" for the 800, the Dorsett version of the educational system cart for the 800, and the softbound edition of Leonard Herman's gigantic "Phoenix IV" history tome.  Al's AtariAge booth continued to look the most professional at the event, although Limited Run Games wasn't far behind. 


If I'd been local, I might have picked up one of the really neat wooden pieces I saw on the floor; there was one that recreated a Battlezone screen using carefully routed vectors filled with a glowy green material. Maybe I'll try my hand at a design like that using the local hackerspace's CNC machine.


It will probably be a couple more years until I return; you can easily burn out on seeing the same vendors and talks over and over, but I think it was a very worthwhile weekend, and I got to enjoy some gloomy Portland weather too :)

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