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August 31, 2021
[retro] Behind the scenes at Atari … A look back at the wild, early days of Atari. ‘It was during the birthday celebration of a VP who shall remain nameless, but it might have been the one who used to keep a canister of nitrous oxide and another of pure oxygen in his office. The nitrous oxide was for getting high and laughing some time away, while the oxygen was used for rapid sobering up in the event a spontaneous meeting was called (which happened regularly at Atari). As the party raged on, a small crew of revellers migrated to the small but accommodating hot tub room…’
July 15, 2021
[retrogaming] The Making of Micro Machines … The story of how the NES/Mega Drive classic racing game was created. ‘Graham also included a single-player Challenge mode, where players competed against computer controlled drivers over a series of races. This meant developing some kind of AI system with the game already pushing at the limits of the cart capacity. However, Gavin Raeburn, the coder behind Spectrum and C64 driving game, Rallycross Simulator, had an economical solution. ‘Essentially you cover the entire map in an invisible layer of arrows which tell each car in which direction to drive whenever it’s in that part of the map,’ says Graham. ‘So there are arrows all along the track itself, and there are arrows off the track which point back to it. That’s about as far as the AI goes. What I’ve found over the years is that people read a lot more into it!’’
July 6, 2021
[retrogaming] In the ’80s, she was a video game pioneer. Today, no one can find her … The search for Vietnamese woman who programmed an Atari 2600 games featuring one of the first female characters in gaming. ‘Firsthand accounts from the few Apollo developers with an online presence don’t even remember who she was, exactly, other than knowing she was Vietnamese and determined to get hired. These developers assume she must be called Ban Tran, because that’s what fan sites say her name was. But they’re not sure; they can’t quite recall. Where did the fan sites get the name in the first place? Like Score before her, Tran’s contribution to video games is hanging by a thread.’
December 9, 2020
[retrogaming] The Making of Donkey Kong on the Atari 2600‘In the summer of 1982, I spent about three months creating a list of 4,096 numbers, meticulously ensuring that every single number was the right value, and in the correct place in the list. When I finished, the only tangible evidence of my work was that long list of numbers. When the list was complete, after nearly 1,000 hours of work, the former Connecticut Leather Company¹ put the numbers (in order) into a computer memory chip and plastic case and sold it at stores throughout the country. And people actually bought it…’
November 25, 2020
[retrogaming] The boy behind the biggest coin-op conversion of the 80s … A look at how a british teenager converted the arcade game Outrun to the Commodore 64 in 1987. ‘It seemed that the 17-year-old in the room had a prototype of just what US Gold needed – and this was around Eastertime, giving them months to get the game ready for Christmas 1987. “Geoff took me into a side room where there sat an OutRun arcade machine. He said ‘Martin you can do this right? You can convert this to the C64?’ I was gobsmacked. Within an hour the lawyers and my dad had made a contract and that’s how I landed my first conversion. The upfront fee was about £20k. That was a lot of cash back in 1987.”‘
November 17, 2020
[gaming] Retro games – How I fixed the Atari 2600 awful music … How one Atari programmer managed to work around the 2600’s musical limitations. ‘I knew that a ton of the frequencies were out of tune, so what technical trick could I come up with to coax the Atari 2600 into playing beautiful, melodious in-tune music? The answer was, none. I couldn’t come up with any technical trick that worked, so I went to Plan B. Rather than forcing the Atari to do something it couldn’t do, I took the opposite approach, putting some effort into figuring out exactly what it could do.’