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Keystone Kapers II Found


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50 minutes ago, Supergun said:

Oh I absolutely agree. I listened to the entire interview with Dan & I enjoyed it thoroughly. Dan’s years of experience, combined with his vivid imagination and whole hearted dedication, are what makes his games so good. His programming talents & attention to detail are what makes the difference between an average game & an excellent game.


As a child, when looking to get my next 2600 game, I specifically looked for Activision games. In much the same way as in when I was a teenager, I would purchase Konami games for my NES. They were the best of the best.


Activision’s use of colors, and details, and sound effects were always the best. Also the game concepts were always original too. And the gameplay was always fun & engaging as well as simple to control.


And I had never really thought about the “clean” concept of Activision’s 2600 games until I heard him describe & explain it; although even as a young kid I must have  subconsciously realized it because it was somewhat evident to me, I just couldn’t put it to words.


I still remember the day I bought 2600 Reactor (Parker Bros.) and thinking that my cart might be defective because of all the “interference” it had on screen!

Hi Stargunner!  Thank you so much for your kind words.  I've always said the difference between a good game and a great game is attention to detail.  And just like you stated, most players won't know why they feel one game is better then another.  But if you analyze it behind the scenes, you'll always find a dedicated game programmer, artist or designer who took the time to polish each part of the game they touched.

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5 minutes ago, adamchevy said:


Thanks for your response. I’m glad that these games are being worked on! It’s great to see an original Atari 2600 programmer come back and make games! I look forward to following your blog. Thanks for making new games for the 2600!


My pleasure!  I love creating games for the 2600!

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On 10/16/2019 at 8:01 PM, TikiDan said:

Hi River Patroller!  Please be sure to see me at PRGE.  I'll be on the 12:00pm Activision panel on Sunday with my brother Garry and Dave Crane.

I'm really looking forward to your new games.  Maybe ask Gary and Dave if they'd like to join you and do some 2600 games? 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Can wholeheartedly say looking very much forward to these games. I can understand about changing anything Activision may give a crooked eye to as it's no longer the happy & fun place that cranked out awesome games of our collective childhood but a soulless monolith that would press us under their thumbs for the sheer glee of it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I literally just met David Crane & Gary Kitchen a few hours ago at the Free Play Florida Show here in Orlando. They were both very friendly and I was able to talk with them and ask them questions for several minutes. Dan is here as well, but he had already gone back to his hotel room for the night. But I’ll be able to meet him tomorrow as well. The three of them are also giving a panel discussion tomorrow afternoon that I’ll be attending. I’ll be sure and report back here again.

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Wow, what a show! It was absolutely awesome! Thanks so much to the organizers of this great yearly event.


(And I’ve got a great story to tell, that will surely bring laughter & joy to everyone here, but I will post this first. Wait up for it!)

So to catch everyone up on this topic, I’ve been trying to solve one of the last mysteries we have regarding the now infamous: “unknown Activision proto #1” game. (shown below)
(as some of you will recall, back in 2017, we were finally able to confirm the “unknown Activision proto #2” as “Hard Head”.)
(shown below)
But the name of the other one still eludes us! The only clue we have is the letters: “SCRMNN” written on it.
So today, I had the unique opportunity to personally ask David Crane, Dan Kitchen, and Gary Kitchen about this mystery at the show. So I prepared the best I could this morning by bringing the cartridges to the show & making them available for them to see themselves; in action & on real hardware. They graciously agreed to do so and, they all agreed that the game was likely made by the Boston Team 
The information that I have been able to gather thus far is that there were TWO East Coast Design Centers:
Boston Design Group
New York/New Jersey Kitchen Group
So identifying & confirming the staff there, would be a great help. And so here’s whom we know of so far:
Jim Cherney
(manager of the 2 East Coast Design Centers)
Tom Lopez
Encouraged the team to join Activision rather then Imagic.
Jim McGinnis
(development manager at Parker Brothers)
Worked on fractal terrain generation?
Dave Lampkins
(ex Parker Brothers engineer)
Mike Brodie
(ex Parker Brothers engineer)
Rex Bradford
(programmed the unreleased proto Kabobber) (shown below)
Charlie Heath
(programmed the unreleased proto Thwocker) (shown below)
And the New Jersey Group:
(Gary Kitchen, Dan Kitchen, John Van Ryzin) (need to clarify though, as there may be others)
So again, we still don’t know who programmed Hard Head, but at least we know it’s name. While we still have yet to identify the programmer or the title of the other game, but “SCRMNN” is a starting point of sorts.
(“Screen Manipulation”?)
Here is a screen capture again:


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So check this out!

In what will surely be remembered as a historic & comedic moment, when we showed David, Dan, and Gary these 4 unreleased games, I then proceeded to tell David that I had “one last really special & unique game” that I wanted to get his opinion on! I purposely brought it to the show in a plain black Activision cartridge, with no label or markings whatsoever, to enhance the mystery & build up the anticipation.


And here is that moment, and their reactions to it, which just happened to be captured in this great photo!



(Gary is top left, David is seated, Dan is bottom left, and I’m on the right.)


The cartridge contained the infamous “Venetian Blinds Demo”. LOL! It was really just all in good fun, and everybody had a great laugh.


Again, a thousand thanks to these guys for attending the show. It was truly a pleasure meeting them and discussing things with them.


And I didn’t mean to derail the thread here, so by all means, we can get back to discussing the upcoming Keystone sequel, as well as Bon Voyage! which are both looking to be landmark titles for the 2600. I can’t wait to buy & play them in the future!

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  • 2 months later...

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