Subject: Re: [stella] Infogrames considers Atari 2600 B-Side release!|
From: "Christopher A. Haslage" <kilokahn@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 03 Jul 2001 01:24:26 -0400
I'd like to throw in my two cents on the whole 2600 B-Sides thing. I don't have a list to submit or even much opinion about which ones to include, but I do think it should be done with great care. If this comes off like some cheap quick buck scheme like so many of the Hasbro Interactive "Atari" releases it's going to tank and do nothing for the developer, the publisher or the existing fan base. I think it should be approached as a real homage to the great system. The 2600 and Atari built the multi-billion dollar videogame industry of today and this should be a showcase of how and why. The inclusion of art galleries, box art collections, and maybe even small interviews or articles would make it much more interesting. Focus on the exact style of the period and the people involved. Maybe drop the games in along a timeline with a little information about each. As you progress through the games you could earn points with which you can buy new sections of the timeline or unlock the box art, or prototypes or whatever. Keep it fun, keep it interesting and keep it form being a new emulator. If I wanted another 2600 emulator I could take my pick of the 20 or so floating around the internet and download them for free ROMS included, but a real walk down memory lane that is priceless.
Cool stuff that collectors would enjoy? Bring it on. I've played Boxing a million times but I've never once seen it's box or the face of the man who programmed it. If you want me to pick up my shiny new Gameboy Advance and deal with emulated controls and approximated version of the games I loved after Boy Scouts in the early 80's you need to give me something more.
Something that appeals to me now. My feeling is that most of the audience that is still paying attention to the Atari line are collectors and catalogers. Give them a reason to play and you might pull them out of their den and make them buy games they already own six copies of, have dissassembled, rebuilt, emulated and know very well.
On the whole Paddle debate that I've seen flare up and die down I'm afraid I have to side with the purists. You can not capture the paddle experience on a 8 direction d-pad no matter how hard you try. Centipede is not the same without the trackball and Pong is not Pong with out the paddle. It is as much part of the game as the the bouncing ball itself. That being said I still think paddle games should be included with some emulated, highly tested and tweaked control schemes because the games where a very cool part of the Atari 2600 line and they absolutely rock 2 player(or 4 player as the case may be). Leaving them out would be to do the collection and the fans a great injustice.
And now to Swordquest. If you're going to include it, do it right. Do it big. Include the series, the comics, and a newly written final chapter complete with contest and prize. I mean, you could just include the story and pics of the winners etc. and that would definately be cool, but if you really want to dazzle people you have to stun them with something they would never have expected in a million years.
For me this whole thing boils down to whether you're doing it for the money or the love of the game. The fall of Atari (in my mind) has always been because they were doing it for money and didn't even have an understanding of the love of the games. Marketing and management wanted another big hit and didn't care of the game was fun to play or not. Was it in the arcades at some point? Does it have a movie franchise attached? Is it a sequal to one of our popular franchises? Do these questions really matter? Yeah, they make it easy to advertise and do increase sales, but what happens after they get it home and plug it in. It sucks. It's unplayable. Why didn't they ever ask whether it was fun to play? I think if you focus on capturing that fun to play element that we all remember from those early days and take that through every part of the developement process you can have a marketable product that will make it to market instead of a few messages on the Stella list and a beautiful dream that only we get to share in. I say good luck and god speed. If you make it to market with more than another emulator you've definately got my buck regardless of which games you happen to include.
Christopher "if you build it they will come" Rydberg