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atarilbc

Atari Corps - Original IP in the Tramiel-era

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A recent IG post from Justin got me thinking about original IP from Atari Corp. As we all know, Atari Inc. licensed titles but also had original IP from it's Consumer Division like Yars Revenge and tremendous output from the Arcade Division, whose games were frequently ported to the company's consoles and computers.  Atari was a real creative software powerhouse at it's peak. 

After the Consumer Division was sold to Tramiel, it seems like the new Atari Corp. didn't put out a lot of great new IP.  Sure, Atari Games kept producing hits like Gauntlet, Roadblasters, Primal Rage, STUN Runner, XYBOTS, but Atari Corp? Tramiel was more hardware focused, preferring to outsource software development to the lowest bidder. This stands in contrast to the internal teams at Sega and Nintendo. 

Can you think of any Atari Corp. IP that you really love?  Bonus points if it was internally developed by Atari. 

Edited by atarilbc

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The Lynx is a good example.  Looking at the games list, in my view, three decent original Lynx titles were developed by Atari; Checkered Flag, Super Asteroids/Missile Command and Warbirds. Internal teams did handle various conversions like Rampage, Pac-Land and Rampart...but those were licensed titles. Most other games seem to have been developed by other companies and published by Atari.  

The Jaguar fared similarly, with only Club Drive, Fight for Life, Hoverstrike and Trevor McFur developed internally. 

There were some games - like Scrapyard Dog, Desert Falcon, Missile Command 3D, Ninja Golf, Planet Smashers, Tempest 2000 - for which Atari owns the IP but the games were developed by outside companies. 

I know that Atari Corp had talented people who were heavily involved in developer support, production and testing roles. But where was their Yu Suzuki, Miyamoto, Ed Logg or HSW? 

Edited by atarilbc

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21 hours ago, atarilbc said:

I know that Atari Corp had talented people who were heavily involved in developer support, production and testing roles. But where was their Yu Suzuki, Miyamoto, Ed Logg or HSW? 

Jeff Minter @an ox is another name I'd like to throw out there 🐑

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On 6/30/2019 at 10:44 PM, RickR said:

Desert Falcon comes to mind, but I didn't love it.

Desert Falcon was an Atari Inc.-era title that was developed by GCC.  Atari Corp. didn't develop many games in-house, instead choosing to sub-contract development out.  I know Rob Zdybel did Atari 8-bit Bug Hunt and Lynx Warbirds in-house, but I don't know if he did any others.  As far as VCS development, I don't think anything was done in-house under Tramiel, aside from Dave Staugas writing the code to support a light gun (for Sentinel and Shooting Arcade).

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On 6/30/2019 at 10:44 PM, RickR said:

Desert Falcon comes to mind, but I didn't love it. 

It sure feels like all the great games for Lynx most likely came from Epyx. 

Some of the good games on Lynx came from Epyx but, surprise, some others were ported over by Atari Games under the Tengen label.  Hard Drivin', Road Riot, and a few others were ported to Lynx using the Tengen name.  Kinda weird that Atari Games licensed to Atari Corp their own games under a different name.

The Tramiels Business is War practices didn't help Atari at all.  It was all about the hardware for them and none of them liked video games.  Never made any sense to me why someone who hates video games would buy a company that, surprise, is a video game company.  What they failed to realize was it takes great software to sell hardware.  Why would any one want to buy a new machine if they can't see what all it can do?  And why would anyone want to own a system that they can't also get some form of entertainment off it?  Seeing the NES play Super Mario Bros and Gradius in store displays was the wow factor, for example.  Seeing an ST perform spreadsheets or some other business-related app was dull in comparison.  Likewise, seeing the 7800 demo old and tired arcade ports would also pale in comparison.  The 7800 never got the chance to really show what all it was capable of because no one at Atari Corp really understood the system, or so it seems.

Hmmm...there were 2 games done under Jack's ownership of Atari but I am not sure if they were done in-house.  The 2600 got pushed hard with Solaris and Radar Lock both of which I enjoy often on the console.  Blue Thunder on Lynx has become an instant favorite and Tempest 2000 is arguably the Jaguar's best game in my opinion.  But Atari Corp in-house developed games a favorite?  I have none.  Now if you were to ask me about Atari/Warner favorites I could easily pop those out without a second thought.

As for hardware I believe my favorites were the Jaguar, Lynx, and ST computer.  The Jag's iconic design is very attractive if you leave the CD attachment off of it.  While the Lynx hardware is impressive the Lynx II design is more appealing to me.  And the ST is a good system overall even if it does use off the shelf components over custom-made ones.  I would have mentioned the 7800 but that was not an Atari Corp system...that one goes to Atari/Warner.  It was made during that transition and eventually rebranded under Atari Corp but I will never credit Atari Corp for the development of the 7800.   

As it stands I love all things Atari and always will.  But I have more appreciation and respect for Atari/Warner products than I do Atari Corp products simply because of the engineers that worked harder to bring magic out of their designs which is something that I don't think Atari Corp fully appreciated.  It's a shame, too, because the Jaguar and 7800 were easily the best out there for their time.  Any console that can push 100 sprites without sweating is astonishing and the visuals on Jag's Tempest 2000 was hardly ever seen again on the system.  Lynx was solid and got some good games as well, some of which were only on that console and not on any other Atari console.  I'm not saying that they didn't have other games that were good but I am saying that that kind of care in game development should have been the forefront to begin with.  Lots of missed opportunities.

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On 7/22/2019 at 8:27 PM, kamakazi20012 said:

Kinda weird that Atari Games licensed to Atari Corp their own games under a different name.

Not really, when you consider they were 2 separate companies at that point.

 

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The Tramiels Business is War practices didn't help Atari at all.  It was all about the hardware for them and none of them liked video games.  Never made any sense to me why someone who hates video games would buy a company that, surprise, is a video game company.  What they failed to realize was it takes great software to sell hardware.

Jack Tramiel started Commodore with selling typewriters and calculators.  He was purely a hardware guy.  That's all he ever really knew, and he didn't give 2 squats about the software side of it.  Yeah, you'd think he would have learned that with the C-64's huge success, but right on the heels of that, he wanted to release a computer to compete with the Timex Sinclair - truly low-end hardware - when all his engineers were hoping to jump into the 16-bit market and compete with Apple and IBM.   It's no surprise most of them left Commodore right after that.  When his own Board kicked him out, he bought Atari for the sole purpose of getting revenge against Commodore.  Atari's legacy as the dominant video game company meant nothing to him, and him laying off a huge majority of the in-house programmers and mothballing the then-new 7800 was proof of that.  The industry was passing him by before he took Atari over, and all he did while at Atari was try and catch up to it.

 

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Hmmm...there were 2 games done under Jack's ownership of Atari but I am not sure if they were done in-house.  The 2600 got pushed hard with Solaris and Radar Lock both of which I enjoy often on the console.

Douglas Newbauer started Solaris in 1984, and continued to work on it after leaving Atari (when Tramiel took over).  He was just another outside developer contracted to make VCS games, and all 3 of his (Solaris, Radar Lock, and Super Football) were the result of that.

 

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Any console that can push 100 sprites without sweating is astonishing.

I don't know how accurate that Marketing claim is (ex. could it only do that if it was simply moving sprites around w/o doing anything else), or if that figure can be surpassed by today's programmers (Bob C. would probably know better than anyone).

Edited by Scott Stilphen

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