In your letter section in the September issue Chris Snyder wrote in asking about becoming a game designer. I’ve been a computer fanatic for about a year now and love to write software for the game-hungry software houses that are all around. It was very smart of you to tell Chris to get into assembly language, because that’s about all the companies want.
Anyway, I thought you might like to include a list of companies that are buying programs from independents: Broderbund (Apple and Atari computers); Strategic Simulations (war and arcade games for Apple and Atari); software for all major computer systems); Big Five (arcade games for TRS-80, Apple, Atari); Advanced Operating Systems (all types for most major systems); Aardvark (TRS-80 Color Computer, OSI); Futurview (arcade, adventures for TRS-80); and Instant Software (all types for all systems).
Also, and this is especially for Chris, Atari has a regularly-running contest for various software categories with the reward of having Atari market your product, an Atari Star Award and, of course, some money.
Ed: Thanks, Morgan. I’m sure this info will be of service to many of our creative readers. And check out this issue’s piece on how to prepare for a career as a game designer.
MORE FROM INTELLIVISIONARIES
I am now a reader of Electronic Games and I must say that I really do enjoy your magazine. Unfortunately, I do have one bone to pick. The only thing is that in all the issues I’ve seen there hasn’t been one bit of praise for the Mattel Intellivision, and the Atari VCS can do no wrong.
Despite the larger library offered by Atari, Mattel has some 40 cartridges available. I’ve played both systems and have found Intellivision superior to the VCS in graphics and sound.
I just received and read your September issue and I’m totally fed up with your obvious bias against Intellivision.
Each issue, you devote minimal lip service to Mattel’s games. When you even bother to include an Intellivision game in “Strategy Session”, it’s always about an old game that few people are interested in any longer (eg., Astrosmash, September issue). People want to hear about Space Hawk, Night Stalker, Sub Hunt and Reversi.
West Chester, OH
I was originally going to write asking why you didn’t give equal space in your magazine for home videogames, but I see with the September issue that you have started to give equal time not only to home gaming in general, but also to the Intellivision, which is the system I’m most interested in. I expect even more coverage will be devoted to Mattel’s game player since the announcements of compatible cartridges by Imagic, Coleco and Activision.
Ed: Whew. Abe Lincoln once made a very cogent comment about fooling ail of the people all of the time. Well, it’s just as tough to please all of the gamers all of the time. In any case, another famous statesman once said: “Let’s look at the record.” A search through issues May through October reveals that “Strategy Session” dealt with four Atari VCS-produced games, three VCS-compatible cartridges, and five Intellivision contests. Also, though we would hardly refer to a game such as Astrosmash as “an old game that few people are interested in” (especially in light of the nationwide tournament held this past summer), EG tries to confine “Strategy Session” to games that have been on the shelves for a month or two. It’s our feeling that readers prefer to read strategy pieces concerning games with which they are familiar. Once all the basic play mechanics are mastered, it’s time to look at how the heavy gamers do it.
It’s a tough job, but EG tries to cover the field in proportion to the popularity of the various home systems. There are simply more VCS units out there than Intellivisions.
I recently purchased Donkey Kong by Coleco. One night I was watching TV and the commercial for it came on and the game on TV looked just like the coin-op, so I thought about it for a bit, and then decided to get it. When I hooked it up to my Atari VCS, I was really quite surprised to find that it wasn’t at all as it was advertised. I think this fits in with the Gamer’s Bill of Rights!
San Ramon, CA
Ed: This is quite a tricky bit of business, Aaron. You see, Coleco produces versions of its various titles for the VCS, Intellivision and its own ColecoVision edition, a fact which that same ad prominently announces. The VCS adaptation is an excellent effort, but the ColecoVision version is simply better, featuring magnificent arcade-level sound and graphics as well as three scenarios. Buyers of versions of Coleco cartridges for other systems might want to check the games out before purchase.
I am interested in creating and programming computer games but we can’t afford any large home computers such as the Atari 400/800 and Apple II. I have the BASIC cart for the VCS, but it does not offer much memory at all. Recently, I found what appeared to be an answer to my problem…a personal home computer for $99.95. After reading the ad, I think it’s just what I need but my parents don’t think it will do what it says! Can the Sinclair ZX-81 really handle game programming? I’m sure others would like to know as well.
Little Rock, AR
Ed: The Sinclair system, which has been around the U.S. and Europe for over a year now, is an introductory level computer capable of very limited game programming. It can now be boosted to 16K and is owned by Timex. Watch for an upcoming “Test Lab” that will examine the mini-system under a magnifying glass.
WHOLE LOTTA’ QUESTIONS GOIN’ ON
I have included pictures of the new pinball simulations you discussed in your August issue (Zero Gravity Pinball and Night Mission). As you all know, many companies are making specialized controllers for the Atari systems (2600 and computers). Will anyone be making a “trigger”-style joystick, such as those on the coin-ops Gorf and Tron? Also, the Intellivision Master Component has a “hole” in which to fit the game cartridge, but how is one supposed to fit the game cart in it when the slot is already occupied by an Intellivoice unit?
San Mateo, CA
Ed: In the words of Rosanne Rosannadanna, “You sure ask a lotta’ questions, Dan!” But then, that’s what we’re here for. Okay, first off, the trigger-format joysticks are indeed the most ideal controllers for pinball games in video format. As of now, however, the only such controller is the Astrocade paddle-joystick hybrid. You might want to contact Cliff Blake of Screensonics to see about buying an adapter that will allow these Bally-built controllers to work on the Atari systems.
Regarding the lntellivoice, it works the same way the Odyssey² voice synthesis unit does. The voice module is inserted into the cartridge slot and the cartridge is plugged into the voice unit. The only difference between the two systems is that the O² voice contests can be played either with or without the chatter while the talking Intellivision games are a separate, non-compatible line.
And that about wraps things up for this issue’s reader feedback. We at EG never cease to be impressed at the volume, quality and enthusiasm demonstrated by our truly special readers. Thanks.