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Someone to blame (at Atari) and yell at!


davpa

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On 12/12/2022 at 10:22 AM, davpa said:

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You mean like this?

 

I know it looks as if the VCS is not a priority, but all I can say that it is.  It is for me, that is for sure.  A few things happened with Atari 50 when it comes to the VCS, some of it we are still dealing with.

 

This is a new platform for Digital Eclipse (DE) to work with.  DE does a lot of great work across a lot of platforms, but this is the first time they are working with the VCS and the AtariOS.  Some things didn't go the way they thought it would.  I'm sure there was a little bit of hubris at work there too.  Oh, it is just Linux, no problem.  DE works with their own custom game engine and so they needed to do various porting to the VCS, like they do for all platforms.  When they want to port over to Switch or Xbox or whatever, they have pipelines and knowledge on how to do these connections to the platform.  They didn't have those for the VCS being the first time working with it.  What was hurt DE even more is the main engineer, their resident Linux guru, was removed from the project late in the game due to a major personal issue.  So all the work that was going to be done by this one guy was now no longer part of the plan, so that seriously delayed things.

 

This collection is the biggest thing the VCS has to date.  To be honest, the VCS was never designed to deal with this large of a size bundle.  We learned a lot of painful lessons during this.  The VCS, back in 2018/19, was designed for AA or Indie games, something on the smaller size when compared to a lot of AAA games.  The backend has had to have some major tweaks and greasing of the sides to squeeze Atari 50 through.  For example, I was having a hell of a time downloading the game onto my VCS.  No matter what I did, the VCS would time out and fail to install Atari 50.  It was driving me nuts.  My other testers were downloading the game but I couldn't.  For a time I thought so many wild things as to figure out what could be wrong.  Finally, after much trial and error, I found that the VCS hates my D-Link 8-port Ethernet Switch.  Something with that on my network caused the VCS to eventually time out and never complete the download.  Still not sure why that is.  We've kept running into oddball things like that that slowed us down in developing and testing Atari 50.  I've got a huge playbook for when people come back and say "hey, I can't download Atari 50."

 

So the good news is that after a lot of issues, the Atari 50 is soooo close to being sent out to the VCS.  I'm QA testing the hell out of it, even as I'm typing this now.  One or two things need to get fixed but it appears any large bugs are gone and it is a very smooth experience.  Does this make up for the fact that it didn't release with the rest of the consoles?  Hell no.  It f-ing sucks it didn't.  Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, is happy about this.  This is not an "eh, it is just the VCS, who cares" feeling around Atari.  It has been really difficult.  Games get delayed all the time, sometimes things happen.  We thought about delaying all the platforms until we were able to release all of them at the same time, but ultimately that didn't win out.  We had obligations with partners to get Atari 50 released. As much as we wanted the VCS to be part of it we couldn't hold off the other platforms due to other obligations.

 

I'm sure you and a lot of people will dismiss what I say and believe that the VCS is a low priority or that this is a sign that the VCS is being phased out.  It is ok, I get it.  We've had a bumpy track record so far.  I'll just say that the VCS is not a low priority for me.  It is not a low priority for the people I work with.  Atari 50 and the VCS got a bad couple of breaks that didn't fall our way.  We are continuing on developing games and making new hardware accessories for the VCS which I hope will make it out of development and expand the use and functionality of the VCS.  I'm personally working on getting game developers to put new games on the VCS.  This month alone I've signed up 10 developers to put new games on the VCS.  Hopefully those will pan out.

 

I'll just close this with "Thank you for your patience while we get Atari 50 to the VCS."

If the VCS was a high priority I would think ease of porting games to their system would have been at the forefront. A console is kind of pointless without the games.

 

Any hopes that Atari actually tries to make a game that doesn't involve Pong, Asteroids, Breakout, etc.? If Atari is going to grow it is going to be through growing new IPs.

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10 hours ago, MrBeefy said:

If the VCS was a high priority I would think ease of porting games to their system would have been at the forefront. A console is kind of pointless without the games.

 

Any hopes that Atari actually tries to make a game that doesn't involve Pong, Asteroids, Breakout, etc.? If Atari is going to grow it is going to be through growing new IPs.

The VCS was designed around Unity integration.  So Unity developers have had an easy time porting games to the VCS...except for the Controllers.  BUT we have just finished a new API set that will fix the controller issues.  So developing on the VCS can be a smooth experience if you are working in Unity.  Unreal or other game engines are more problematic at this time.  

 

We have plans of 18-ish new Atari releases in 2023.  There is going to be a mix of re-imagined IPs and new IPs.  Our first new IP was Kombinera so we haven't just been rehashing everything.  And in fairness, Yars and Gravitar are much more then an application of new paint on an old car.

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16 hours ago, MrBeefy said:

If the VCS was a high priority I would think ease of porting games to their system would have been at the forefront. A console is kind of pointless without the games.

 

Any hopes that Atari actually tries to make a game that doesn't involve Pong, Asteroids, Breakout, etc.? If Atari is going to grow it is going to be through growing new IPs.

As @davpa pointed out, Kombinera is a great new IP from Atari. It was simultaneously new and also "on brand" as an Atari game. More titles like that will be fun to see in the future (not that I haven't also been loving the "nostalgia titles").

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Yars and Gravitar recharged are phenomenal. Kombinera is brilliant. The future is once again bright for Atari.
 

Easier said than done, but coming up with a new IP that is cool with great gameplay would go a long way. People still love side scrollers, so that may be the route to go. Look at what Sonic did for Sega. Let’s face it: The gaming industry is due for a new mascot IP in the footsteps of Mario and Sonic. Yeah, there was Crash Bandicoot and some others, but it’s been years since those all fell by the wayside. Time for Atari to step up. Maybe pair a new mascot in a game with Bentley Bear, kind of like how Mario got his start in Donkey Kong?
 

Frankly, I’d also rip-off Zelda II with a cool new fantasy world and virtually identical gameplay because there’s definitely a market for us nerds who love Zelda II and The Battle of Olympus all these years later. As much as I love traditional Zelda, and now 3D Zelda, I’m still disappointed we never got a good dose of Zelda II-style action adventure fantasy RPGs at least from time to time. 
 

If Atari could develop their own versions of Mario and Zelda, that would go a long way in restoring their rep as a creative powerhouse. Heck, crossover the IPs with the two big new mascots to make it fun for everyone and nostalgic for us old-timers. After pulling that off, let’s hope for their own version of Samus too 🤣 

Edited by YarsFan
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6 hours ago, YarsFan said:

Frankly, I’d also rip-off Zelda II with a cool new fantasy world and virtually identical gameplay because there’s definitely a market for us nerds who love Zelda II and The Battle of Olympus all these years later. As much as I love traditional Zelda, and now 3D Zelda, I’m still disappointed we never got a good dose of Zelda II-style action adventure fantasy RPGs at least from time to time. 

I'd love to see Swordquest rebooted into a proper fantasy game

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10 hours ago, YarsFan said:

Yars and Gravitar recharged are phenomenal. Kombinera is brilliant. The future is once again bright for Atari.
 

Easier said than done, but coming up with a new IP that is cool with great gameplay would go a long way. People still love side scrollers, so that may be the route to go. Look at what Sonic did for Sega. Let’s face it: The gaming industry is due for a new mascot IP in the footsteps of Mario and Sonic. Yeah, there was Crash Bandicoot and some others, but it’s been years since those all fell by the wayside. Time for Atari to step up. Maybe pair a new mascot in a game with Bentley Bear, kind of like how Mario got his start in Donkey Kong?
 

Frankly, I’d also rip-off Zelda II with a cool new fantasy world and virtually identical gameplay because there’s definitely a market for us nerds who love Zelda II and The Battle of Olympus all these years later. As much as I love traditional Zelda, and now 3D Zelda, I’m still disappointed we never got a good dose of Zelda II-style action adventure fantasy RPGs at least from time to time. 
 

If Atari could develop their own versions of Mario and Zelda, that would go a long way in restoring their rep as a creative powerhouse. Heck, crossover the IPs with the two big new mascots to make it fun for everyone and nostalgic for us old-timers. After pulling that off, let’s hope for their own version of Samus too 🤣 

Basically everything you just said mirrors my own thinking. Bentley Bear should be Atari's Mario/Sonic icon. 

And as far as Yars Recharged goes, this game is a modern classic.

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39 minutes ago, leech said:

Hell yes!  Ha, maybe we can get a collaboration between some people that have too much money to recreate the old contest for the gold!

Maybe this time award the prize to a developer who can deliver a coherent modern Swordquest game instead of players who managed to stumble into the solution of a half-baked disjointed game ?  :)

 

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On 12/20/2022 at 10:59 PM, T.A.P. said:

Can you give us an estimate on how long Atari 50 will remain at the $30 price point before going up to $40? My work schedule is awful this week and I don't know when I'll get a chance to hook up my VCS and get to the store.

December 26th

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15 hours ago, zzip said:

Maybe this time award the prize to a developer who can deliver a coherent modern Swordquest game instead of players who managed to stumble into the solution of a half-baked disjointed game ?  :)

 

well, the Swordquest: Airworld Digital Eclipse created for the Atari 50th Anniv Collection could be a prime candidate for that!  There was no original code started for Airworld, so DE took concept notes and built it from there.  I haven't played through it because the game is huge, but you tell me if Airworld is that complete Swordquest game you have been waiting for.

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1 hour ago, davpa said:

well, the Swordquest: Airworld Digital Eclipse created for the Atari 50th Anniv Collection could be a prime candidate for that!  There was no original code started for Airworld, so DE took concept notes and built it from there.  I haven't played through it because the game is huge, but you tell me if Airworld is that complete Swordquest game you have been waiting for.

Just a suggestion; there should be a collection to buy of physical carts of the four Swordquest games for the 2600.  If the original artist or someone really good at emulating it could make the comic for Airworld as well, that'd be amazing.

 

Of course this would assume that Airworld could actually run on the 2600, which it kind of sounds like it could not?  But how cool would it be to have a proper box set with comics and maybe some Atari pins, etc in it.  I'd buy that! 

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2 minutes ago, leech said:

Just a suggestion; there should be a collection to buy of physical carts of the four Swordquest games for the 2600.  If the original artist or someone really good at emulating it could make the comic for Airworld as well, that'd be amazing.

 

Of course this would assume that Airworld could actually run on the 2600, which it kind of sounds like it could not?  But how cool would it be to have a proper box set with comics and maybe some Atari pins, etc in it.  I'd buy that! 

I've been wanting to corner Digital Eclipse and find out how it was programmed.  I have doubts it was done in 2600 language, so porting it over to a cart would need to be fully reprogrammed.  But since I don't know the answer I need to hunt someone down and find out.

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1 minute ago, davpa said:

I've been wanting to corner Digital Eclipse and find out how it was programmed.  I have doubts it was done in 2600 language, so porting it over to a cart would need to be fully reprogrammed.  But since I don't know the answer I need to hunt someone down and find out.

Your Mission, should you accept it... that'd be amazing though. 

Either that or a refreshed version of the series, maybe bring it up to 8 or 16bit graphics.

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1 hour ago, davpa said:

well, the Swordquest: Airworld Digital Eclipse created for the Atari 50th Anniv Collection could be a prime candidate for that!  There was no original code started for Airworld, so DE took concept notes and built it from there.  I haven't played through it because the game is huge, but you tell me if Airworld is that complete Swordquest game you have been waiting for.

I haven't played it either but it looks heavily inspired by the other three.

 

My issue with the original Swordquest games (and I think many agree) was that it was a grand concept but poorly implemented games that are more frustrating than fun to play.   

What I'd like to see is a totally new game based on the Swordquest Comic books, with an art style that resembles the world in the comic (even if it's done in a retro-pixel style like AtariMana).   And all story and clues should be in-game, not refer to the comics.   If Atari wanted to do a cool concept with an old iP, it might be one to look at.

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6 minutes ago, davpa said:

I've been wanting to corner Digital Eclipse and find out how it was programmed.  I have doubts it was done in 2600 language, so porting it over to a cart would need to be fully reprogrammed.  But since I don't know the answer I need to hunt someone down and find out.

There's plenty of talented 2600 homebrewers here that might port it to 2600 as project,  just to have the complete set

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2 hours ago, zzip said:

I haven't played it either but it looks heavily inspired by the other three.

 

My issue with the original Swordquest games (and I think many agree) was that it was a grand concept but poorly implemented games that are more frustrating than fun to play.   

What I'd like to see is a totally new game based on the Swordquest Comic books, with an art style that resembles the world in the comic (even if it's done in a retro-pixel style like AtariMana).   And all story and clues should be in-game, not refer to the comics.   If Atari wanted to do a cool concept with an old iP, it might be one to look at.

That would be awesome!  Something with animation like Space Ace / Dragon's Lair would be pretty sweet.  Though I'm not suggesting the QTE style that those games are in.

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  • 1 month later...
On 12/4/2022 at 7:42 PM, davpa said:

Hey everyone!  It has been a hot minute since I was lurking in the forums.  Last time I was chatting (6-ish months ago?) I said I was working closely with Atari on a project or two.  Well, that got a little closer as I now work for Atari.  I am working on the Marketing and Development of the Atari VCS for the last 3 months.  What does this mean?  Well, I'm actively talking and arranging new Developers to put their games on the VCS, supporting current Developers with their current and new games being developed, and generally answering questions when I can.  I lead a team of QA testers for games in the VCS (which I have dubbed Team Gremlin), I just wish I was on that job before Tempest 4000 released.  I'm also the head mod at the VCS Discord.

 

So in an effort to be as transparent as possible, these are the places you can find and get a hold of me:

  • AtariAge...duh.  I'll be honest, I'm not frequent here so this is not the best place to get a hold of me if you need something urgently.  I'll do better in being a presence.
  • Discord.  I am the main Moderator over in the Official VCS Discord (https://discord.gg/atarivcs) and I'm @davpa#8687.  I occupy this space the most as it is part of my job.  Even before that I was in it all the time.
  • Email.  Yeah, emails still exist and I still use it.  If you want to email me with anything more official, like you have a game you'd be interesting in having on the VCS, email me at david.paige@atari.com  I ask kindly not to troll me there, please.
  • Facebook.  I'm popping in on the Atari VCS Supporters, Backers, Developers, and enthusiasts group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/2513120825651652/) to update on news as much as I can.  I tend not to use Facebook anymore so I don't visit this section as much as I should, probably, but I'm there.

 

Ok, so there we go.  Now you have a face to blame when the VCS doesn't get your morning slippers for you or solves the World Peace problem.  I'll also do my best to visit here more regularly from now on with info I get and share it with everyone.  Sometimes things are in development so I have to see how something is going to pan out or need more information, so I usually wait to provide facts rather than just knee-jerk speculation or make believe thoughts.  I think we had a few years too many of that kind of action on these forms that I don't want to follow that example.

 

Most of all, I'm interesting in your opinions, negative or positive.  All I ask is that you be civil with negative opinions.  We can learn from our mistakes and what we can do better, but those learning opportunities are missed when it is presented with hostility.  I'm not the guy that gave you a wedgey in the 2nd grade or the guy that cut you off in traffic, so don't treat me that way.  Allow me the opportunity to find my own unique way to piss you off so you can hate me, that is all I ask!  :) 

I don’t yell very often, so you’ll hear very little of that from me. I do love the new VCS, though, and I hope Atari continues to support it.

 

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  • 1 month later...
On 3/26/2023 at 5:14 PM, CMR said:

 

Tell me the VCS is just a side project without telling me it's just a side project.

I feel like that is a half truth. The VCS doesn't have the install base for Atari to put all of their eggs in it's basket. They need to sell to other markets (like Steam, other consoles, etc) because that's where the bulk of their revenue will come from. That said, they have been supporting it pretty well so far this year, with a bunch of 1st and 3rd party releases, and a bunch more on the horizon. I would love to see some of those Steam titles released on the VCS, but I'm not going to fault Atari for lack of support right now. Lately they seem like they're giving the VCS it's due.

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Like I had said in that video's comment section...

 

The "old" Atari SA games only run in Windows and unless Atari gets Valve's Proton layer working on the Linux-based VCS, then you have to run Windows & Steam on the VCS.

 

 

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2 hours ago, MrMaddog said:

Like I had said in that video's comment section...

 

The "old" Atari SA games only run in Windows and unless Atari gets Valve's Proton layer working on the Linux-based VCS, then you have to run Windows & Steam on the VCS.

 

 

Had not thought of that. Good point.

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6 hours ago, MrMaddog said:

Like I had said in that video's comment section...

 

The "old" Atari SA games only run in Windows and unless Atari gets Valve's Proton layer working on the Linux-based VCS, then you have to run Windows & Steam on the VCS.

 

 

Shouldn't be terribly difficult to get something wrapped in, since Proton is an open source project.

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On 3/31/2023 at 1:04 AM, leech said:

Shouldn't be terribly difficult to get something wrapped in, since Proton is an open source project.

 

But will someone at Atari actually make the time and effort...?

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