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Intellivision Overlays [Utopia]

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Ever get annoyed when you get a loose cart that absolutely REQUIRES an overlay? I certainly did. I recently picked up Utopia loose because that was the only way I could find it. Unfortunately, it's practically unplayable without an overlay on the controller. I tried downloading the scanned overlays floating around, but those are all set to the wrong resolution (96 dpi). I did manage to make those work (the correct setting is 150 dots per inch, in case anyone's interested), but the overlay still looked terrible. This appears to be because the scans were saved as JPGs rather than a lossless format like GIF or PNG. As a result, the overlays come out poorly.

 

What's an enterprising young fellow to do?

 

Why, create his own overlay, of course!

 

post-8100-1152154665_thumb.png

 

Tools: GIMP

Fonts: Arial Bold, Arial Black, FederationWide

Colors: 7 (See Utopia.zip for a palette)

Resolution: 300 dots per inch

 

Printing Instructions: The PNG file is a ready-made set of overlays. Just open it in a paint program (Microsoft Paint works fine) and send it to the printer. Note that you may want to use thin card-paper for stiffness if you have it available. Just make sure that it's THIN! If you choose too thick a gauge, the overlay won't fit the controller. If you use regular paper, just be careful about sliding it into the controller. It's very easy to get the corners caught. If you're having trouble, try cutting off a razor-thin slice from the left and right sides. This should help the overlay better fit the controller.

 

Notes:

  • The original overlay stretched each instance of FederationWide vertically. It looks nice, but I chose not to bother.
  • A 30% rounding on the select box seems to coincide with the bottom corners and title box.
  • A 6% rounding appears to be correct for the top corners.
  • The arrows are made with character U+25BC from the Arial character set. They are then stretched horizontally to 55 pixels wide.
  • The PNG contains two overlays. The zip file contains the source GIMP file along with the palette used in creating the overlay.

Utopia.zip

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I wonder what would happen if you were to print to color transparency? I've only ever printed to color transparency with a monochrome printer.

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I wonder what would happen if you were to print to color transparency? I've only ever printed to color transparency with a monochrome printer.

Assuming you can get the ink to stick (inkjets have a way of smearing all over the place), you'd probably end up with something close to the original overlays.

 

I've been thinking about taking a trip down to the local Minuteman to ask if they can reproduce the overlays. I imagine they'd need to print a bundle of them to make it cost effective (anyone want to purchase new overlays? ;)), but it would be interesting if they could.

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When I needed to print Utopia overlays I set them to the correct size in paint. Then I printed them off and laminated them. They fit fine even though they are kind of thick.

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When I needed to print Utopia overlays I set them to the correct size in paint. Then I printed them off and laminated them. They fit fine even though they are kind of thick.

You might try these instead. They look a lot better than the JPGs floating around the Internet.

 

I originally did the same thing you did, but I didn't like how poor the artwork was coming out. Thus, I recreated them. I even set the DPI correctly so that they'll print to the right size. ;)

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I wonder what would happen if you were to print to color transparency? I've only ever printed to color transparency with a monochrome printer.

 

I've made intv overlays with transparencies. After printing and allowing them to dry, I used a can of white spray paint to coat the back of the overlay, making them opaque. They turn out looking almost identical to the real thing. the only porblem I had with them is after a year or so of intermittent gameplay, the paint can crack, so I need to find something more durable to coat the back with.

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I wonder what would happen if you were to print to color transparency? I've only ever printed to color transparency with a monochrome printer.

 

I've made intv overlays with transparencies. After printing and allowing them to dry, I used a can of white spray paint to coat the back of the overlay, making them opaque. They turn out looking almost identical to the real thing. the only porblem I had with them is after a year or so of intermittent gameplay, the paint can crack, so I need to find something more durable to coat the back with.

 

It sounds like your printer ink is more durable. I wonder if you can get white ink for your inkjet (I'm assuming you used). You could then print white on the back and flip over and print on the front.

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They look good to me.

They're in black and white? :ponder:

 

Never mind. You're not the target audience. ;)

 

I used the overlay pictures from INTVfunhouse. They seem better than most.

Those are actually the ones that were bugging me. (I checked around the Internet, BTW. Everyone except for the Blue Sky Rangers has the same JPG files. The BSRs have files that are too small to be useful.) Here's the specific image:

utop-000.jpg

As you can see, there's artifacting all over the place, the colors vary in brightness and hue, and the graphics are blurred around the edges. Most annoyingly, the file is set to 96 dpi instead of the 150 dpi it was scanned at. (Which means that I have plenty of time to notice the problems as I'm struggling to get the image to print the right size.) When sent to your average printer, the result is going to be easily identifiable as "not the real thing". Maybe it's just me, but that bugs the starch out of me. So I recreated them from scratch, possibly as source material for printing overlays just like the originals. (As soon as I figure out a good method to create them, that is.) :D

 

And I have a good printer that can go to 600dpi.

Most printers these days can do 600dpi. It doesn't help in this case, I'm afraid. The scanned source material is only 150 dpi. My recreations are at 300 dpi, which is sufficient for my needs. Images for professional printing (i.e. stuff that needs a lot of detail for glossy magazines and the like) are regularly done at 1200 dpi. I've done up a few DVD covers like that, but thankfully the Intellivision artwork isn't detailed enough to require that sort of fine resolution.

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the only porblem I had with them is after a year or so of intermittent gameplay, the paint can crack, so I need to find something more durable to coat the back with.

Have you considered a lacquer of some sort? Something like this might be an overkill (or not? :ponder: :evil:), but it wouldn't surprise me if something like nail-polish gloss would do the trick. Of course, nail polish isn't meant for long term use, so you may be better sticking with the spary on acrylics.

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Most printers these days can do 600dpi.

 

ibm-4019.jpg

But I could never replace my Lexmark WinWriter 600. I have to many good printed memories on this. It seems like yesterday I was installing the Windows 3.11 drivers onto my 486 computer.

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I wonder what would happen if you were to print to color transparency? I've only ever printed to color transparency with a monochrome printer.

 

I've made intv overlays with transparencies. After printing and allowing them to dry, I used a can of white spray paint to coat the back of the overlay, making them opaque. They turn out looking almost identical to the real thing. the only porblem I had with them is after a year or so of intermittent gameplay, the paint can crack, so I need to find something more durable to coat the back with.

 

It sounds like your printer ink is more durable. I wonder if you can get white ink for your inkjet (I'm assuming you used). You could then print white on the back and flip over and print on the front.

 

White ink might work pretty well actually...I might try it next time I make an overlay. As far as the ink goes, it was just HP inkjet ink, so I don't think it was anything special. It probably had to do with the transparencies. I've seen people try and use regular transparancies (like you would use for an old overhead projector). Those would run and be really messy. The ones made for inkjets have a smooth surface on 1 side, and a rough one that is the side you print to. I also made sure to set my printers paper type to "transparency" under the page setup menu. I guess it changes the amount of ink that is used, so it didn't run.

Edited by Lord Helmet

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Very fine work you did on those overlays, jbanes! :)

 

This inspired me to do a ColecoVision overlay for Utopia (attached below). I know the game doesn't exist on the CV (not yet anyway), so just for the heck of it, I also made a design mockup of what the actual game could look like.

 

And the joke in all of this: I've never actually played the game! I do have Intellivision Lives for PC, but I never got around to trying Utopia for any lenght of time! I'll get around to it one of these days...

post-7743-1152466416_thumb.png

post-7743-1152466437_thumb.png

Edited by Pixelboy

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I finally captured a few shots of these overlays in action! Note that the ink is a bit faded in places from my use of the overlays, but it's not as noticeable in real life as it is on the camera. :)

 

post-8100-1152714771_thumb.pngpost-8100-1152714816_thumb.pngpost-8100-1152714860_thumb.png

 

It's important to remember that these shots are of handcut, paper overlays printed on an inkjet printer. I'm still looking into the possibility of getting them professionally printed on something along the lines of an acetate film. If I ever manage, I'll share some pics of the result.

 

Got your own action shots? Share with us! :)

Edited by jbanes

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I have a high-end color laser printer that can print on transparencies as well as other materials (I've printed vinyl labels before). I can get glossy and matte waterproof "film" and print on that, and can even get them die-cut so I can print several on a sheet and then "pop" them out. I bet they would look very close to the originals.

 

I just don't know if there's much demand for them? I guess it would be cool to sell a complete set of overlays, or even offer them individually.

 

..Al

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I just don't know if there's much demand for them? I guess it would be cool to sell a complete set of overlays, or even offer them individually.

A complete repro set would rock! :D

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I just don't know if there's much demand for them? I guess it would be cool to sell a complete set of overlays, or even offer them individually.

A complete repro set would rock! :D

How many unique overlays are there for the Intellivision? I probably have most of them except for some of the really rare titles.

 

..Al

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How many unique overlays are there for the Intellivision? I probably have most of them except for some of the really rare titles.

There are nearly as many overlays as there are games for the system. Some games even had a few different variations.

 

Your best bet is to think about printing kits of overlays for games that really needed them. These would be the overlays that people would be willing to purchase reproductions of. Thankfully, there aren't all that many games in this category. Off the top of my head:

  • Space Spartans
  • Bomb Squad
  • B-17 Bomber
  • Utopia
  • Space Battle
  • Sea Battle
  • Sub Hunt
  • Space Hawk
  • Microsurgeon
  • Major League Baseball

There are probably a couple more, but the ones above are the biggest chunk of the market. :)

Edited by jbanes

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