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Rob Fulop interview on ArcadeAttack


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#1 RickR

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Posted 29 March 2017 - 11:11 PM

http://www.arcadeatt...o.uk/rob-fulop/

I found this to be a worthwhile read.  Rob Fulop created a lot of the very best Atari games.  Missile Command, Night Driver, Demon Attack, etc. 

 

One interesting quote from this article in regards to the 8-bit version of Space Invaders:

 

There was nobody looking over my shoulder to tell me that I should copy the original Taito arcade version as closely as I could so I just made up my own, inferior, version. Nobody cared, nobody even looked at my version compared to the original, they just released it. Looking back, it seems incredible that the company was run so recklessly but it’s a testament to how seriously mismanaged Atari was at the time. Literally not one person in the company asked “hey, why not just make our Space Invaders look exactly like the coin operated version that we are licensing?” That’s how little they cared


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#2 Lost Dragon

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Posted 30 March 2017 - 03:10 AM

That's a very interesting quote and it can be taken on a number of levels...

1st is viewpoint Rob puts out that implies a total lack of quality control, authenticity never even on the minds of the higher ups at Atari at the time etc and reading it, I had a mental image of Dick Jones from Robocop sneering, who cares if it worked or not? About ED-209 in Robocop..

But an alternative viewpoint is hang on, you were employed to do a job here, basically convert this coin op to this platform...

That's it. No one was asking for exclusive bonus stages, redesign of gameplay etc, so Rob was basically given a set of instructions and that was it.

As a coder, shown what needed to be replicated, is he now saying he needed his hand held during games development? Without a guiding hand he would of lacked the ability to copy what arcade version was doing as best as the hardware could do?.

Which way to coders want things? Project managers on board and then you get the wahhhhh it was so restrictive a working environment, they wouldn't let me do...or said I had to put in things hardware wasn't capable of..

Or..here's what we need and it needs to be done by..type approach?

Producing an original game from scratch is 1 thing, but copying an arcade game is a lot more straightforward.

Hell number of UK coding teams who did coin op conversions without being given source code, at best video footage of coin op, then had to work out how bonus rooms etc worked or in case of Amiga/ST Star Wars were coded from memory...

Not sure what Rob is trying to say here..marketing wouldn't of cared, but then was Rob himself asking them how they planned to market the game or did he not care?

His contract was as simple as once you deliver code in full your paid in full or was it based on units paid for 1st X months and reduced to something else for sales after?

It's never made clear.

Maybe it's a personal thing, but if your good at your job, you take effort to ensure you do a good a job as possible as your taking money for it and when looking for new work, your judged on efforts of past work and when you have complete freedom to work way you want to, as Rob implies here, you yourself are responsible for deciding how accurate you try and make it.

No offence to Rob and Atari so so often never gave a toss about quality control on software and we the consumer paid the price, but there it was clear case of Atari interfering, reducing budgets, coding time, Memory etc.

I didn't get the impression this was the case with 2600 Space Invaders..from Robs comment.

#3 RickR

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Posted 30 March 2017 - 02:35 PM

We've seen similar quotes from other Atari programmers.  For example, Tod Frye on 2600 Pac Man stated he chose the colors based on how 2600 Asteroids took some liberties on colors.  And Howard Scott Warshaw on ET stating that they basically left the whole design up to him and to get it done as quickly as possible. 

 

Seems like there should have been some oversight or guidelines for arcade ports.  Even something as simple as "Make it look and sound as much like the arcade game as possible". 

 

These guys were in their 20's in most cases.  I know from personal experience -- I needed some reigning in with my own work decisions at that age. 

 

For me personally, I ask if I could go back in time and suggest changes -- I think some simple oversight and guidelines would have been in order.


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#4 Lost Dragon

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Posted 30 March 2017 - 02:48 PM

Just watching Atari:Game Over this afternoon (well started it) and some very good comments coming up about freedom to just create 2600 games and how things like Star castle were asked to be converted to 2600, coders said..sorry not possible to recreate it, but we can replicate key stages and being told, ok, just do what you feel is best.

 

 

Sometimes yes, they coders need to be kept focused, on track etc , sometimes changes have to be made (C64 Commando, Elite saw Chris Butler having to rip out an entire level as Rob Hubbards stunning music needed the memory it took up), there were very real commercial deadlines etc, but when your giving replies to interview Q's i do feel people should try and phrase the answers for a balanced viewpoint, rather than try and point a finger of blame at someone....

 

 

 

The sheer amount of Space Invaders clones (and Pac-Man Mr Do!, Donkey Kong etc etc ) that hit the UK alone pretty much suggests there wasn't the concern over making a conversion as authentic as possible, but just get it out as these were THE games folks were itching to play at home.


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#5 RickR

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Posted 30 March 2017 - 02:49 PM

And also on that 8-bit version of Space Invaders -- it's interesting that they used this version as the basis for the 5200 version.  They made some changes, but not to get it closer to the arcade version.  In fact, it went a little further graphically from the arcade version.  I don't think Rob Fulop got any credit for the 5200 version though. 


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#6 RickR

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Posted 30 March 2017 - 02:53 PM

I just find it a fascinating topic -- how games were made -- what input and oversight did management have? -- how much freedom did developers have?...were their guidelines at all for arcade ports?

We probably won't ever know the full story, but it's fun to get little tidbits here and there.


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#7 RickR

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Posted 30 March 2017 - 02:54 PM

We do know from various sources that the coin-op division had more structure.  Play testing and logs of suggestions.  I've always wondered if the home division did the same.


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