If you have a question for me, feel free to send it to owen-at-orubin-dot-com. I can't promise that EVERY question will be put on these pages, but I'll post as many as possible!
All letters are pasted exactly as I get them.
Q: HELLO! MY NAME IS MIKE ELLINGSON AND I WOULD LIKE TO COMPLIMENT YOU ON YOUR GAMING CONTRIBUTIONS. MAJOR HAVOK AND SPACE DUEL WERE MY FAVES AT MY LOCAL ARCADE FOR AS LONG AS THEY HAD THEM. JUST. LOVED EM SO MUCH I BOUGHT BOTH OF THEM JUST OVER 10 YEARS AGO.ITS GREAT TO SEE ALL THE INFORMATION ON THE CLASSIC GAMES ON THE WEB,LET ALONE FIND THE SITE OF YOUR GAMES CREATOR! I CANT BELIEVE HOW MUCH THESE MACHINES VALUE HAS RISEN ALTHOUGH I WOULD NEVER SELL THEM. I SEE YOU HAVE A M.H. DEDICATED CABINET.MAN THOSE ARE COOL. WAY BETTER THAN MY TEMPEST CONVERSION. POOR THING NEVER GOT THE SIDE ART,ALTHOUGH TEMPEST SIDE ART WASNT BAD. IF YOU WOULD REPLY I WAS WONDERING WHICH CONTROLLER YOU LIKE BETTER,THE ROLLER OR THE SPINNER.I WAS ALSO WONDERING IF ANYBODY HAS OR PROGRAMS EEPROMS FOR THESE ANYMORE BECAUSE I READ THAT THESE WERE LIKELY REASONS FOR A GAME TO MALFUNCTION NOT THAT MINE IS THANK GOD. ANYWAYS DONT WANT TO TAKE TO MUCH OF YOUR TIME AND WANT TO THANK YOU FOR TAKING SO MUCH OF MINE!!!THANKS FOR THE SITE ITS NICE TO SEE THE MAN BEHIND THE MACHINE GAME ON!!!!!!
Owen: Thanks for the message. Always great to hear from someone who liked my games.
I did not like the spinner control actually, and it was only used as a retrofit for the old games. The game plays much better with the roller control, and was programmed with that controller in mind.
The cabinet you see behind me is the original prototype for Major Havoc. I was lucky enough to get it when the project was done.
There was a person I know that made me some new EEPROMS with the Return to Vax software, but I cannot give out his name. He can make others, so if you have a problem, let me know and I'll ask him how much.
And as I say on my site, if you really want to thank me, go back to my site and make a contribution, no matter how large or small, to the Alameda County Community Food Bank. Help feed the hungry, and it will be thanks enough!
Q: Hi Owen, I found your web site http://orubin.vg-network.com/index.html while reading RGVAC and your post to the group: Major Havoc Prototype page added to orubin.com, and thought you would be the right person to ask this question to. (NOTE: The rest of this question somehow got lost, but the gist of it was: how would one go about having a new game idea published?)
Owen: Your question is a tough one because the answer you received is exactly the one I would have probably told you.
Most video game companies (lets forget about Pinball for a sec) either create the game in house, or contract an outside game development company to make the games. Typically, they do not buy game ideas, only developed games.
Understand that they get many ideas from outside people all the time. Worse than that, some of these ideas may be similar to ideas already under development. Because of this, most game companies will net even accept an outside idea. Imagine that you send an idea that they are already working on. You later see that game in production. You would probably want to sue them, except they already had a similar idea in development. So to be safe, they do not accept ideas at all.
You may be able to find someone on the outside who will accept it, but the same issue applies. I suggest that you write up and draw up, and if you are able, program up come prototypes of the games. Then make copies, and send then via registered mail to yourself. Keep these copies UNOPENED at this time. This will be your way to prove prior art should someone steal your idea.
I wish I had better news, but unless you can get someone to create a prototype of the game, and then be willing to put together a group to write the game, it is going to difficult.
From Lyndon Jordan
Lyndon: Tunnel Hunt was a game I played better after a few " Malt Ducks". I wish I could find a real cabinet that still worked. It was my "Most Favorite Game". Many memories come back thinking of it.
Rubin you did a great job.
Owen: Thank you.
Wow! Never heard anyone but me say that. It took 4 years for it to actually get to the market. I gave my cabinet away a long time ago I am sorry to say. The game was built by Centuri in Florida. I do not know if you can find another. I still have a working PC from the Atari version.
I wish you could have seen it in the early days when it had round tunnels that split in two forks with different point values, a space wave where you exited the tunnel into space and then saw several new tunnels that you had to go into (Space drained the shields so you had to jump back in quickly) and other very cool targets. Unfortunately they had to make the hardware cheaper so the splits and circles went away, and the space wave could not longer work.
I still liked doing the game, even thought it took forever to reach market.
Thanks much for the compliment.
Lyndon: I have the Mame version Owen...It works really well.
I live in a small town in Kansas that had an arcade called the "Galaxy Fun Center". I would go there when I was in high school back in 1981 or so. Tunnel Hunt was always a favorite for my buddy and I. We always had the high score on a Friday night. As of the past couple of years I have taken up the hobby of finding some of the old games and restoring them as best possible. I was lucky to have a Centipede given to me....I was fixing it up for my girlfriend for Christmas.....then I had a second one in near perfect shape given to me! I must have the only 2 in the area...they are my 1st Atari cabinets. So anyway...I'll find a Tunnel Hunt one day when I least expect it. I have a strong feeling that arcade games (the way we remember them) will have a second comming. Just look at all the sites on the web dedicated to the preservation!
Thanks for the reply. Im honored. Please come up with a Tunnel Hunt 2002!
More from Lyndon Jordan
Question for the web page: Did you have any idea that your games would be in the history book synonymous with the the 80's , Regan and the "ComputerRevolution"? How does it make you feel that people still love ATARI after all this time (after all, the programmers were really ATARI)? You could barely watch an 80's teen movie without some sort of arcade or game showing up in the background. Is it like having kids that did well in school or what?
Owen: I never really thought if it like that. I do like the retro movement and the fact that people are once again appreciating the hard work that went in to creating some cool games with VERY limited technology. And I think MAME is very cool as well, a great way to be able to play many of these games which have long since disappeared. Did I ever expect any of my games to be popular this long since creating them? Not a chance. :-)
I do miss the Atari days, because I was there for a very long time and it was right out of college, and it was more like an extended college because it was [mostly] so much fun. Atari was a very cool place, and the people that made up Atari loved what they did. I am more amazed that many of the original programmers are still making games today.
Lyndon: Its my opinion that all those old games are really new antique treasures. I'm starting get all I can obtain. I really think they will be worth something some day..till then we will just play them.
Owen: Actually, they are worth something now, in some ways costing more than they originally cost. There is someone on my site selling an original Major Havoc in the original cabinet for well over what it originally cost, and it is in great condition. Did I ever think I would help an individual sell one of my games either? Nope! It is a bit overwhelming.
Q: A few years ago I talked to you for a book I was writing on the history of arcade videogames and you were kind enough to provide me with a good deal of information. I have now picked the book back up and am nearing completion. If you are interested, I will send you the appropriate chapters for review when my first draft is done.
I am writing, however, because I came across an Atari game today that I've never heard of. Attached is a page from Replay's yearly catalog issue that has a picture of a game called Witch Hunt. I know that one of the three games in Triple Hunt was called Witch Hunt, but I've never heard of a stand-alone game by that name and I've never seen it listed in lists of Atari's officially released game.
Do you know anything about this game? Was it a prototype that somehow made its way into the catalog issue? (Replay normally only included released games).
Owen: Please, I would love to review the book for you.
Ah, Witch Hunt was an upright dedicated version of ONE of the games from Triple Hunt. Triple Hunt had three games, and it seems that most arcades left it in Witch Hunt, it was the most popular. The biggest problem was the size of the game and how much space it took. I recall the building of the dedicated game, I just never knew they sold any.
It is possible however that the game was sold in Europe and never released in the US, that happened to a few titles. So I recall it being created, just do not remember it it being sold. Sorry, I wish I could help. But from that picture, it looks like a finished game.
By the way, I loved that game because it was so cool for the day. It had a half silvered mirror and the game graphics (simple shapes and objects) were displayed on the screen and showed up OVER the background graphics. We added a monitor mask that made the graphics seem to disappear when they went behind things (like the bear walking behind a tree for example) and the effect was great. Since hardware was not so advanced, it make witches look like they were flying out of the windows as well. The other cool part is that the gun recorded a hit by seeing the light from the screen when the trigger was pulled. If the object was masked, you could not hit it.
Anyway, thank for the trip down memory lane!
An exchange with "Bill"
Bill: Hi! I ran across your site (linked from Aaron Giles site, linked from Mame World) and saw that you were a game programmer for Atari. VERY COOL!
Can you help me out here...
I remember a game that went on tour that was released around the time of the Atari 400/800 (the 400 was my first personal computer) or just after that. The game was Star Raiders (just like the home version) but featured a cockpit which floated on a column of air. It had limited pitch, yaw, and bank. Do you remember anything like that or am I just halucinating? I realize that Star Raiders isn't on your list of projects, but if this thing did exist you may have heard about it.
Thanks for working on all those great games!
Owen: I do not recall it at that time, the closest thing I know was Shrike Avenger we did at Bally but that was some time later (picture on my site.)
Atari did do a Star Wars game in house that was like shooting the guns on the Falcon in the scene from the movie, but it was never released outside the company (NOTE FROM BRIAN: Warp Speed maybe?).
Bill: That's not it, but that sounds really cool!
Owen: No, I do not know this game but that does not mean it was not done. Many small operators took standard games and built some very cool cabinets for them, including things like you mention. It is possible that someone near you made this. Did you see more than one of these at different arcades or just one?
Bill: I am positive it was Atari itself that did this. I'm pretty sure it was one of a kind, or that there were definitely a limited number of them. The way I remember it, they were sent around the country on a kind of good will tour with a full support staff to show off the power of the 400/800 machines (this was also pre-5200). It was pretty big. The cockpit was big enough for one person and was spherical. It sat on top of (floated on) or just inside of a clear plexiglass cylinder which was pressurized from the bottom by what reminded me of vaccuum cleaner blower motors. Think of it as a hover sphere. It floated up and down the tube to simulate climb/dive (by changing the pressure below it). I am not sure how they simulated the yaw and bank.
Owen: Sorry, I wish I could help. I will copy this to my web master who will post the question. Someone else may know! (is that OK?)
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