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Lost interview with Francois Yves Bertrand


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Hey all. I used to run an online magazine in the mid-90s called Classic Atari OnLine. It was mostly 8-bit stuff but it covered contemporary Atari Corp. systems. It kind of wilted when Atari merged with JTS.


Anyway, in the issue from June 1996 I discovered an interview I conducted with Francois Yves Bertrand. I don't think it reveals anything particularly earth-shattering, but I thought I'd just leave it here just in case there is some interest:



<CAO> Can you tell me some background information on yourself concerning your
past work in France and at Sega?
<FB> In France, I was working for a small coin-op company, SISTEME, and did
develop three games for the European market, and for the Archimedes,
an English computer from Acorn. On Virtua Fighter I did the camera
system for all the game and the collision system. On VF2 I dir
transfert my code from the Model 1 board to the Model 2 and I did
work on a weapon system wich has not been use for VF2.
<CAO> Why did you leave a increadably lucrative company like Sega and go to
Atari (whos entire budget is less than Sega's advertising budget)?
<FB> Well working in Japan, for a Japanese company is certainly not the
easiest thing in the world. I spent two years in Japan, which was way
enough for me. I did enjoy what I did there, but life in Tokyo is not as
fun as life in Europa or the US. I decided to come in the US to see
something new.
<CAO> How long were you at AM2?
<FB> 2 years
<CAO> Did you approach Atari or vice-versa?
<FB> I did contact them during one of my trip in France. Soon, later the US
office called me in Japan, and we decided on a meeting in Sunnyvale.
Every thing went well and I joined the company soon later
<CAO> Did you ever use any other Atari equipment besides the Jaguar?
<FB> No, I have never been an Atari's computer freak.
<CAO> While at Atari, did you enjoy working on the Jaguar?
<FB> Yes I did. The Jaguar was a nice piece of equipment when it came out. If
at this time the company behind it would have push more on the
development side, Atari could still sell some Jaguar today (Sega and
Nintendo are still selling 16 bits machines...)
<CAO> Not considering the company, which machine was it easiest to work on?
<FB> I am not really interested in an easy work. My main interest is pushing a
machine as far as possible, and that is never easy. The PSX is very
easy to use, but you don't have really control of the machine. I hate
that. On the Jaguar side, things weren't easy, but your access to the
hardware is total, letting you do stuff the way you want to do it.
<CAO> Many people see the release of Fight For Life a struggle. Also, many
people have many different stories about this struggle. This is the
information I have collected. Please correct the mistaken
You left Japan and Sega for Atari. You completed Fight For Life on
December 1995 focusing on playability. The graphics were considered
sub-par when the game magazines got a hold of an unfinished version of
the game. Atari rejected the game on that basis and you went back to
work. Fight For Life's graphics got retooled (called Fight For Life
Extreme by the on-line community) and Atari when on a game
cancellation spree and your game almost got cancelled again. Finally,
months after being completed, Fight For Life was released.
<FB> The game has never been canceled. I did work on it for about 19 months,
without any interruption. When the game was presented to the press
for the first time, the graphics weren't done as well as the motion.
Unfortunately, the marketing department gave to the press a set of
cartridges with the sentence 'for review only' instead of 'for preview
only'. All you have heard from there was coming from this mistake. It
is very depressing to have your work screwed like this, but I wasn't
able to do anything at this time. To cover their mistake, they told
the press that the game was going to be rejected and revamped, when
actually the game was just following its normal development schedule.
<CAO> Do you think you took full advantage of the Jaguar's hardware with
Fight For Life?
<FB> I think it was a nice shot, I would certainly do it faster today, but not
that much.
<CAO> About the game, many people I have talked to have complained about the
ending of Fight For Life. In most games, if you're a good guy then
you feel heroic, if you're the bad guy then you get to rule the world
or something, but in Fight For Life you left with a feeling of
nothingness. Why did you choose this ending? Many people are looking
for another ending, is this a futile effort?
<FB> There is two ending in FFL. In Europa when a movie is finished, the hero
doesn't have to live. In the US whatever movie you take, you can tell
from the beginning who is going to make it and who is not. Well it is
a different approach to the same problem. I don't know who is right,
but I don't think that being good make you life longer. Anyway, there
is two ending in FFL, one was here to introduce one of my next game.
<CAO> After Fight For Life, your next project was going to be Pong 2000. Can
you explain what we are all going to miss?
<FB> I would be happy to talk about this one, but all the work I did on this
one is Atari's now. Sorry.
<CAO> Finally, what are plans for the future? What are you currently working
on at Activision?
<FB> I am working on a new Pitfall for Activision. The game should be ready by
march 97 on the Playstation
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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow, that Pong 2000 thing is very interesting. Its a shame he didnt want to comment on it at all. If only we could contact him and ask him about it. Its also cool to know that he really liked the Jags hardware.

Thanks Schmudde.

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Great interview.Interesting thing regarding games that were actually pulled and 'recoded' after getting a mauling at review, then re-reviewed (thinking Dracula on Mega CD Psygnosis and Red Dog on Dreamcast, Argonaught) they only ended up getting a 2nd mauling by the press :-).

Think Sega pulled Shinobi III on Md after Mean Machines reviewers were'nt overly impressed by it, that did however fare better 2nd time around.
Very honest to see this:
<FB> I think it was a nice shot, I would certainly do it faster today, but not
that much.
Kinda brings into perspective that although certain Jaguar games could have been improved, in terms of a faster frame rate, these cosmetic improvements were not going to be a magic bullet and suddenly turn games from utter dogs into flagship titles....
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One of the most impressive fighting games I saw back in this time was Tobal #1 on PSX. Flat shaded IIRC, but it ran in hi-res and silky smooth framerate. It proved that texture mapping was not everything. Too bad Atari couldn't get this through their heads.

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Good call there Stephen on PS1 Tobal....


Think to be fair to Atari..the message the 'press' (at least here in UK) were pumping out was that to be a serious contender in (the then) 'Todays Market' your hardware was going to be judged on it's ability to handle texture-mapped 3D.



Likes of C+VG went dribbling mad (in terms of review score) over PS1 Toh Shid Den, because it simply looked bloody stunning for the time.Played like a dog compared to say VF, but was enough to put pressure i feel on likes of Atari to try and compete (madness, but there you go).Plus it seemed to see Sega release VF:Remix to prove to cynics just what Saturn was capable of..and flat shaded polys were'nt enough to satisfy the press.


Thanks to ATD talking about development of Battlemorph, we know Atari saw things like Shockwave on 3DO and suddenly wanted Jaguar CD games to look 'just like that' (Freelancer developers said similar).....was never going to work, but i can see why they felt they had to respond in kind.

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The only good "OWN" Project by Atari was Black Ice White Noise


mergin shadowrun with GTA3, digitised persons, Adventure, nice action Actors etc...

Elements we find many years later in GTA3, Watchdogs (Huge City, email, cyberspace)


finaly a promising project.. ahead of its time.. sadly canceld

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Had Atari invested resources into projects like Black Ice White Noise and a lot more of it's groundbreaking nature, rather than trying to get clones of everything popular on MD/SNES/3DO/32X etc, it could have become, if nothing else a very nice '2nd machine' for a lot of folks, just for the exclusives.



Probably taken a lot less flak from the press as well....

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