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Activision Programmers Form New Retro Game Company


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David Crane, David Kitchen & Garry Kitchen are forming a new company, Audacity Games, to make new games for old systems. The will release physical games with a chance to earn physical, Activision style patches.  My guess is Gold Rush, a spiritual sequel to Keystone Kapers, will be first. 

Edited by nosweargamer
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I'm getting so tired of this type of hype.  Little crumbs of info, no details. 

These guys rightfully get our attention due to the classic games they produced in the past.  What will be interesting, though, is a comparison to what they do vs. what the new homebrews can do. 

So I guess my feeling is good on this, but I'm hopeful there won't be a long wait to see something produced. 

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7 minutes ago, RickR said:

I'm getting so tired of this type of hype.  Little crumbs of info, no details. 

These guys rightfully get our attention due to the classic games they produced in the past.  What will be interesting, though, is a comparison to what they do vs. what the new homebrews can do. 

So I guess my feeling is good on this, but I'm hopeful there won't be a long wait to see something produced. 

I'm very curious what their original games will be like. Gold Rush is based on a prototype Dan Kitchen found and is finishing, so he didn't exactly start from scratch, more like picked up where he left off many years ago. That's not a bad thing, but like I said, the original games is what I'm most curious about. 

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This is incredible news! How great to see original programmers coming together to release physical media, real Atari 2600 games on real Atari 2600 cartridges. I hope they are able to avoid the pitfalls that have arisen with crowdfunded game system projects such as RetroVGS / Coleco Chameleon, Atari VCS and Intellivision Amico (no pun intended). I wish the guys all the best!

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So its sounds like there will be 3 editions:

Standard - $60

Collectors (low serial number with digital download) - ?

VIP Collectors (sub 100 serial number, digital download and extra goodies) - ?

I'm curious what shipping will be as well as the mystery prices and what they include. I also hope they show screen shots or video of the game before Saturday. 

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I have no issue with that plan and pricing given the quality look of what they are offering.  But I'm going to bring up the newest AtariAge releases as a comparison.  I usually budget for at least one $50 game from AtariAge during the Portland gaming expo.  It's fun because I can actually play the game I want (to try it out) and not have to pay for shipping.  And their games lately have been in the "incredible" range.  Galagon, Draconian, etc are spectacular.  My point:  competition is going to be a consideration and they'll have to produce something good to make those sales.

For me, I'm willing to wait and see if the games are good before deciding. 

It sure is fun to have these guys back!

 

 

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17 hours ago, Sabertooth said:

Was able to get in and order. All three editions were available. I did have issues with my phone and desktop Firefox browser. Had to use Edge to get in. Looking forward to getting it later in the month. 

I also had issues with my iPad. I think it did say something about tablets maybe not working so well on a description somewhere. Had to get the laptop out and got my order in.

 

I saw the reveal on Twitch Friday and it looks really fun. It was great listening to them all talking about how this came about. Someone asked if Steve Cartwright and others might come back and program and all they said that there is discussions with others about coming back but no names were mentioned. I also liked how they never said they were making homebrews as they are a company making games for the older systems and not someone working at home when they can. Someone suggested calling them Pro-Brews.

As they sometimes say "Everything old is new again"

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I opted for the standard release of the game. Only because the digital version would only be playable in emulation or if you have a Harmony Encore. I've only got the Unocart and standard original Harmony so for me I'd rather save the money and just having the cart to play in my 7800 will be excellent enough! The VIP was tempting, but I just didn't have any idea where the heck I would put all that stuff! I don't have room as it is now for standard boxed games in most cases LOL!

BTW I didn't have any issues with my order. Then again, I didn't try to order until nearly an hour after the had gone live. But I just fired up the site on Chrome, logged into my account and then clicked to add the standard edition NTSC version to my cart. Paypal popped right up without issues and I the whole process only took me a few minutes if that?

 

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2 hours ago, CrossBow said:

I opted for the standard release of the game. Only because the digital version would only be playable in emulation or if you have a Harmony Encore. I've only got the Unocart and standard original Harmony so for me I'd rather save the money and just having the cart to play in my 7800 will be excellent enough! The VIP was tempting, but I just didn't have any idea where the heck I would put all that stuff! I don't have room as it is now for standard boxed games in most cases LOL!

BTW I didn't have any issues with my order. Then again, I didn't try to order until nearly an hour after the had gone live. But I just fired up the site on Chrome, logged into my account and then clicked to add the standard edition NTSC version to my cart. Paypal popped right up without issues and I the whole process only took me a few minutes if that?

 

Once I got the laptop going, it also went smoothly for me with Chrome. I think it might have been two hours after sales started for me. I did get a Collectors version as I play on both original hardware and sometimes though emulation.

I agree with you about the deluxe edition. It would have been nice, but where to store all those other items in the limited space I already have.

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I'm more concerned about how the game kept 'crashing' when ZPH was booting their system up.

So after seeing their website and commercial, and the ZeroPageHomebrew premier, here's my 2c about it (and then some).

There were some questionable statements made in that Audacity video that some of the comments on AA have commented on.  The biggest of course was the comment about how they're not homebrewers.  Crane says homebrewers make games from home whereas they're a publishing company.  My take is, they're programming and producing the games from HOME.  Just like... every other person who's made new games for vintage systems in the lat 25 years.  Plus they went on someone's YouTube channel to promote it - Zero Page HOMEbrew - which the guys films from his ... HOME.  AG reasons having cartridge shells made up somehow helps qualify their releases as official and not homebrew.  Sean Kelly had new Vectrex shells made up for his multicarts, and those are considered homebrews as well.  CGE used new shells for Lasercade and a few other releases.  And Yarusso has been releasing games with professional-looking manuals and boxes for years, and he's basically a 1-person operation.  Atariage is a publisher of homebrew games (and considering he gets 50% of all sales, he's not doing it for primarily the 'love' of the community, it's very much a business for him).  And I think one of them mentioned in the video they still have a 'day' job (like Yarusso and Kelly).  So the only real difference is, Crane and the Kitchens are veteran designers.  The Audacity Games website lists their address as:

3494 Camino Tassajara #403, Danville, CA 94506, USA

Which is in a strip mall.  But their website is registered to an address in Washington: PO Box 639, C/O AUDACITYGAMES.COM, Kirkland, WA, 98083, US

Crane claims he worked on the game for over 3 years, but he can't convince me never saw or heard of Dan's game before then (which Dan started working on back in the early 1980s).  Crane's one of the best VCS designers, no doubt.  But he and the other designers also started Activision by knocking off several of Atari's games, so we can't forget that.  Yes, the game looks good and there's some new graphical 'tricks' that Crane is employing (like the translucent icon).  But he then claims he never designed a game around a trick.  What about Dragster?  What about Laser Blast?  What about Pitfall II??  Of course he did.  And Pitfall II remains the 'pinnacle' of his VCS games IMO.  But they didn't want to 'cheat' by using something like the special DPC chip?  Why limit yourself at this point?  It's great that someone finally designed the first 128K game, even though the bank-switching tech and pcb designs have existed for some 15 years.  But to limit yourself to designing such a large game using only 128 bytes of RAM?  Sure, not many people could have designed with that constraint, but I expected more for a game that large.  I expected what some of the later Starpath games look like (Escape from the MindMaster, Dragonstomper, Survival Island, Sweat, etc).  He designed a new board, so he could have easily added a DPC chip or more RAM.  But now everyone else who uses that board will be restricted to the same limits. And clearly you can see the limits of it in Circus Convoy.  Like most of Crane's games, you have only 3 or 4 truly different screens, with variations of those screens.  with CC, you have the outside/cars screen, the mini-game screen, and moving objects confined to specific areas (to avoid flickering).  No scrolling, like with Pitfall II, but more like Pitfall - 255 static screens, all of which are variations of the same screen.  Yes, technically CC has scrolling, but it's limited to the shrubs on the side of the road, much like the trees in Skiing, except you can at least interact with the trees in Skiing.  Now, if he designed the game so that the screen scrolled as you ran along the top of the cars, then yes, that would have been far more impressive and worth the top prices they're asking.  And with 128K, he could have included digitized music or voice.  Atari pulled that off with Quadrun, and that game is only 8K w/o any special hardware.  Am I supposed to be impressed with the little tune he implemented for CC because it's in tune?  Does it even use both channels?  He used Dan Kitchen's method of how he created the music for Pressure Cooker (again, copying Dan!).  Like I said, I expected more from Crane at this point.

All the various trinkets and extras that come with the higher packages don't interest me.  I'm a gamer, not a collector.  So they're definitely targeting collectors.  Also not thrilled about having to pay $100 to get a digital copy of the game, esp when the U.S. allows you to make 1 archival copy of media for yourself.  If I have the means to do that myself, why would I pay an extra $40 for someone else to do it for me?  I'd sooner just buy another copy of the game.  At 48m in, Crane also commented how the $100 Collectors Edition price is equal to what people paid for games back in the early 80s.  He then made a followup comment, instead saying the $140 VIP edition price was equal to that, "taking inflation into account" and said Pitfall originally sold for $39.95.  All of these comments are false.  First, the retail price of Pitfall was $31.95:

http://www.ataricompendium.com/archives/reviews/pitfall/pitfall.html (Video Game Update review mentions the retail price).

You can't use retail prices, because nobody pays that!  A few months ago, I spent considerable time archiving video game ads from one of my local papers.  When Pitfall was first released (late September 1982), the earliest ad I found had a price of $28.95 on it. A month later, the price was down to $25:

Boscov's

http://www.ataricompendium.com/archives/ads/newspaper_ads/citizens_voice/boscovs/citizens_voice_12-16-82_boscovs_ad.jpg  week
before Christmas, below manufacturer's price (not listed)
http://www.ataricompendium.com/archives/ads/newspaper_ads/citizens_voice/boscovs/citizens_voice_3-5-83_boscovs_ad.jpg March
1983 $28
http://www.ataricompendium.com/archives/ads/newspaper_ads/citizens_voice/boscovs/citizens_voice_12-15-83_boscovs_ad.jpg
December 1983 $15

General Radio

http://www.ataricompendium.com/archives/ads/newspaper_ads/citizens_voice/general_radio/citizens_voice_9-30-82_general_radio_ad.jpg
earliest ad
http://www.ataricompendium.com/archives/ads/newspaper_ads/citizens_voice/general_radio/citizens_voice_11-4-82_general_radio_ad.jpg
earliest ad with price (1 month later) - $25
http://www.ataricompendium.com/archives/ads/newspaper_ads/citizens_voice/general_radio/citizens_voice_11-18-82_general_radio_ad.jpg 2
weeks later. Same price
http://www.ataricompendium.com/archives/ads/newspaper_ads/citizens_voice/general_radio/citizens_voice_12-16-82_general_radio_ad1.jpg
week before Christmas, same price.
http://www.ataricompendium.com/archives/ads/newspaper_ads/citizens_voice/general_radio/citizens_voice_10-27-83_general_radio_ad.jpg
October 1983, same price

More proof?  Here's Zayre's ad from September 1982 ($25, with retail $29.95), and Shop Rite's ad from October 1982 ($24).

So nobody uses retail prices in price comparisons.  Video game prices on average today are approximately 2x as much from what they were 40 years ago.  Using this inflation calculator, that $25 in 1982 is now equivalent to $68:

 
The recent release of CD Projekt's Cyberpunk 2077 has an MSRP of $59.99 but was sold for $10 less a week later, so it's actually cheaper than Pitfall was!

https://www.pcgamesn.com/cyberpunk-2077/sale

Well, their server crashed Saturday afternoon and the sale was delayed 24hrs, at which point it was hit-or-miss whether you got your order processed.  The VIP editions seemed to have sold out within the first hour, and best estimates on AA are they between 500-750 copies were sold overall, so they certainly made some decent money, not to mention the record for the fastest-selling homebrew and most-copies for a homebrew ever.  But there's several pages on AA of people's complaints about their website, as well as AG's Facebook page.  I just can't imagine why, since they're only accepting Paypal, why they wouldn't use Paypal to simple create some order 'buttons' for their website.  I did that with the VideoSoft games I sold 10 years ago, and it worked w/o any issues.

Speaking of that AA thread, when the question of royalties came up, Yarusso made a comment about how Activision didn't pay Atari royalties, which is completely false.  Atari sued Activision and the lawsuit was settled.  The specifics have never been released, but Activision did pay Atari.  Same with Coleco (see attachment).  Same with Imagic.  Same with every 3rd-party company back then that Atari sued.  I don't think the royalty was that much, but even $1 per cart would have been a significant amount of money, especially with games selling a half-million copies or more (especially the 3.5 million copies of Pitfall).

citizens_voice_10-2-82_zayre_ad.jpg

citizens_voice_10-5-82_shop_rite_ad.jpg

 

vgu_apr83_p8_atari_and_coleco_settle.jpg

Edited by Scott Stilphen
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