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35 years later Howard Scott Warshaw talks about making ET (Atari 2600)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Not_Sure, Jun 1, 2017.

  1. Not_Sure

    Not_Sure

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    Yeah, so everyone and their brother knows about this game:


    Here's a fun listen about what went wrong straight from the dead horse's mouth:
    http://www.npr.org/2017/05/31/530235165/total-failure-the-worlds-worst-video-game

    BTW, if you've never played it, it really is THAT bad.


    Imagine a game where you move as fast as a slug, and every foot step makes a tearing fart noise, while running from blobs of color that move faster than you, and the game is abruptly cut to another scene when ever you get to close to a "pit", but the pits have terribly inconsistent collision, and some are invisible, and also your life bar is a number that slowly melts away no matter what you do, and every time you fall into a pit that number drops significantly, but you actually need to go into the pits to win the game because you're supposed to collect items in them that are randomly placed, and if that blob of color touches you they take away the items and you need to start over...
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2017
  2. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    Glad I never knew about the crap people talk about since I enjoyed this game when it came out. I'm probably the only person in the world who has fond memories of it. Guess what, most other Atari games weren't that hot either.
     
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  3. Not_Sure

    Not_Sure

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    True.

    I am speaking from my own account of it there though. I know talking trash on the game is very popular, but I will say that I respect the guy for trying to make a game with more dimension than a Pac-Man clone.

    I did like Raiders of the Lost Ark growing up, and Warshaw was REALLY pushing the system's limits with that one and most likely over reaching, but damned if he didn't stick the landing. ET had just as much ambition, but instead hit the mat face first.

    Can't fault the guy for trying.
     
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  4. derf

    derf

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    I too kind of liked it and could complete it on expert mode easily. However after doing that there wasn't much of a desire to return to it other than to either show it off to someone else or assist someone who was having trouble completing it or figuring out a problem.

    One big issue I had was some times one of the parts WOULD NOT be placed in the game and you had to call Elliot who would give you the missing piece, but you could only call him if you had a Reese's piece and were standing in a correct location to get the call Elliot symbol to display at the top of the screen.
     
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  5. jc_lvngstn

    jc_lvngstn

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    I remember playing it...it was ok, I definitely liked Raiders of the Lost Ark better, heck I liked Adventure better :)
     
  6. GarBenjamin

    GarBenjamin

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    I've never played it but on some retro gaming forums I've read some posts by some folks who really enjoyed it (and still do). There is an important lesson there... a game that 90% of people hate and call junk is the same game 10% will think "I don't know why everyone is bitching about this game... it's really not that bad and actually I kind of enjoy it". Target market.
     
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  7. jc_lvngstn

    jc_lvngstn

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    That reminds me, it's been a while since I visited the No Mans Sky forums on Steam :)
     
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  8. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

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    Same here. My sister and I were pretty stoked about getting it for christmas the year it came out. It was fun, well, at least as fun as many other titles. There was a lot of crappy games, and not a lot ways to know if it was good or not until you bought it, or a friend bought it.
     
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  9. Elzean

    Elzean

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    I don't know if i would i have liked the game. Even if the game is good, all the trash talk about it made it famous enough that people still talk about it today and probably for some more years to come which is kind of cool. There is even a movie about it from the AVGN, didnt see it yet and i know AVGN stuff is not for everyone taste, but it's nice to have your game being the topic of a movie :p
     
  10. Kiwasi

    Kiwasi

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    Wasn't ET more of an example of a business failure then a game design failure? Atari bet the whole businesses on the game being a absolute smash hit. It did poorly. And Atari went bankrupt.

    It's a lesson not to bet the entire farm on a single product. Diversify. Have a backup plan. Be reasonable in your sales forecasts. Plenty of companies have released flops without going bankrupt. It happens. Plan for it.

    Studying the game design aspects of ET seems to be largely irrelevant.
     
  11. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

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    Generally, yea. Hype and massively overestimating production was the biggest problem.
     
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  12. derf

    derf

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    Yes and no.

    Atari had made OTHER business decisions in the preceding years and some during and after this disaster of a year for them which all ended badly for them.

    The biggest failing for this particular investment was producing more cartridges than there were consoles. Atari's thinking was parents would buy consoles just so kids could get and play the ET game. This did not happen and they had a huge surplus of carts that they still paid for to produce but could not sell.

    This was probably the final nail in the coffin for them as a console and cartridge making company. After this they laid off hundreds of employees, fired the CEO and downsized until they had become just a shadow of their former selves.

    It would only be a few short years after that, until a new console market opened up with a Japanese company leading the way.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2017
  13. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    And the internet is the death of the humble cartridge. While some companies may wish to still use carts or installable media, they're not doing it for any reason other than to inflate their own profits. It's never better for the consumer.

    Although I guess I'm using 'better' as a purely technical observation since a lot of people like physical stuff on shelves.
     
  14. derf

    derf

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    It is weird though to get a new desktop or laptop and their isn't a media drive built in. Not even a CD since now you can get stuff, like games, music, movies and books off the net and store it in the cloud.

    I guess I am getting old. I remember installing Baldur's Gate and having 5 discs to work with.
     
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  15. jc_lvngstn

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    I didn't realize he did both Yar's and Raiders. I loved both of those games.
     
  16. Kiwasi

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    So I just got to reading the article. The punch line is pretty hilarious.

    "I bombed out of game dev, so I set myself up as a therapist to help other people who bombed out of game dev."

    Ultimately he seems to be doing well, despite it all.

    Maybe I should set myself up as a therapist for Internet forum addiction. :p
     
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  17. ChazBass

    ChazBass

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    You're not alone. I also thought it was a pretty good game when it came out. There were much, much worse games made for the console.
     
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  18. angrypenguin

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    Until quite recently physical media was a genuinely more practical approach for me. Until NBN came to my street (which still isn't available for the vast majority of the country) games on disks were way more convenient than games downloaded, because games on disks are a trip to the shops where games downloaded could often take days, and depending on your Internet plan could rack up additional fees.

    With that in mind, I think it's a bit of a joke when you go buy a physical game and then still have to download it, as is becoming common these days. It literally gives you the worst of both experiences.

    Oddly enough, the new Doom game is cheaper to buy on disk than it is to buy online... probably because despite having the disk you're still up for something like a 40gb download.
     
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  19. Kiwasi

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    I'm still waiting for the NBN. We are right on the edge of Melbourne, so its going to be a while. I've just gotten used to buying a game on steam several days before I want to play it. That's a pain, but you can plan for it.

    What's really a pain is when a game decides it needs a 1.5 GB patch before you can play it. That can mean a couple of hours waiting. Which in practical terms means I can't play the game at all this session.
     
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  20. Ryiah

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    Then there are the games where you wish the patch was only 1.5GB.

    InsanePatch.png
     
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  21. QFSW

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    Whilst I'd agree that it's mostly better, I don't think you can objectively say it's never better for the consumer.
    Some pros I can think of
    -As a collectable or just liking having a physical product (as you mentioned)
    -Not having your game tied to a single console/account, so you can lend it to friends/family etc
    -If you've got terrible internet like the unlucky Australians it could not only take you forever to play, but also cost you to download it (as @angrypenguin mentioned)
    -Being able to sell it off and move on when you're done with it (big one imo)

    Not saying digital media isn't better (although I do personally prefer physical on anything other than pc), but I do think there are pros for either side
     
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  22. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    You don't get much say though, next generation of consoles are unlikely to be physical media. This generation strongly considered being download only, it's not yet but it's soon enough.

    Personally I don't care if its good or bad. I will get whatever, however.
     
  23. QFSW

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    I wasn't arguing that it was good or bad or that we should get a choice, it's just you claimed that it's never better for the consumer which I disagreed with, that's all
     
  24. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    All things considered, where there is sufficient network available, it's better and cheaper for the customer, the environment, convenience and so on to digital download something. The fact it is not always cheaper is down to human greed.
     
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  25. Ryiah

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    Yet there are disadvantages. For starters consoles continue to make use of HDDs for storage which are much slower than game cartridges (Nintendo's latest cartridges show performance roughly comparable to SanDisk's SD cards). Some games have insane load times for a time period when solid state storage is becoming easily affordable.

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/d...rosd-cards-for-switch-loading-time-comparison

    Then there is always the possibility of losing access to the digitally distributed copy whether due to network failure or the service providing the download no longer being available. Steam is very unlikely to disappear but there are other providers that I trust far less than them to stay around.

    Human greed is at least partially responsible for digital distribution. After all the costs of manufacturing and distributing a physical copy are significantly more than a digital copy yet they're unable to charge more for them. From a business standpoint you'd have to be crazy to not want to move towards it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2017
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  26. QFSW

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    I do see your arguments and I can definitely see why you'd think that as a whole, physical media is worse, I just disagree that it is always objectively worse since there are reasons why people would rather physical media, just not the majority
     
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  27. Kiwasi

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    On the other hand, digital distribution has been a boon in many ways for Australians. Specifically:
    • Australian developers can now reach foreign markets without needing a publisher on the ground
    • We can pirate or otherwise work around content that is unjustly region locked
    • We can access all sorts of niche content that doesn't make it to store shelves
    So even with our pathetically slow internet acces (seriously, NZ has better home internet service), we are still better off with digital distribution then we were without it.
     
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  28. QFSW

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    Better off with it? Definitely. But always better in every case for every product that could be digital? I'd beg to differ, but I'm all ears if you think differently
     
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  29. Kiwasi

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    Oh there are definitely downsides. Brick and mortar game stores are loosing out big time. Up until recently I stuck with them for refunds and stuff. Now that Steam has modernised its policies to match non US expectations, there is very little reason to use them at all.

    And flouting the law by simply burning multiple copies of the disc doesn't work any more. On the other hand we have such a plethora of multi player free to play games that it's not really that big a deal.
     
  30. QFSW

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    Oh another thing I forgot to mention, being able to sell games you don't want anymore isn't just a reason for the people selling them, but also for the people buying them who don't mind a pre owened copy a while after its been released
     
  31. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    Yep, I was pretty irritated with that one a bunch of times pre-NBN. In particular, on plain ADSL (around 0.5mb) I remember one of the Total War games insisting on downloading from Steam instead of recognising the disks I'd just purchased. At least that case was a bug - the data was indeed on the DVDs.
     
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