Atari Announces New Game: Asteroids Outpost

Posted on February 19, 2015

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Atari has unveiled the Asteroids reboot that CEO Fred Chesnais and Senior Product Lead Peter Banks first mentioned last year, Asteroids: Outpost.

Instead of being an arcade-style shooter like the original, it’s a sandbox survival game with online gameplay, where you explore an open world and build up what you need to get by.

The tagline is “Welcome to the new Gold Rush.”

With the earth’s mines nearly spent, industrialists rely on the wealth of the heavens. Our solar system’s massive Asteroid Belt is a mother lode of resources… “The Belt” is the humanity’s newest frontier, as wild and untamed as any that man has faced.

Ambitious prospectors blast off with little more than an Outpost Module and a Mining Tool, to tear the hide off these asteroids and find their fortunes.

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Stephen Kleckner spoke with Atari’s Peter Banks for GameBeat. Banks says:

“Asteroids has a long and storied history… With the legacy of official versions and clones out in the world, you could almost call Asteroids a genre unto itself.

“That said, our goal with Asteroids: Outpost is really to expand the world of Asteroids beyond a single gameplay mechanic and explore the wider context of the game.

“The game is set on a massive asteroid, in our solar system’s asteroid belt, and part of the game is defending yourself and your base against deadly asteroid showers… Tied to this, a core gameplay mechanic is the construction and control of anti-asteroid defense systems to protect your outpost. This mechanic evokes classic gameplay without specifically reproducing it and fits comfortably within the larger context of the overall gameplay.”

Maybe Asteroids: Outpost will have a vector-based stick-figure mode?

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It is being developed for the PC platform only, by Salty Games, and will be distributed through Steam. They’ll make it available for Early Access, meaning players can give feedback during development. Right now, there’s a splash page on the game’s website, as well as a Facebook page and Twitter account. The Steam page for Asteroids: Outpost is here. More news coming soon.

Read the full Peter Banks interview at GamesBeat, here.

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Universal’s Asteroids Movie Gets Rewrite

Posted on February 06, 2015

We were JUST wondering what’s up with Hollywood’s Asteroids movie, like two days ago.

It’s been five and a half years since Universal Studios acquired the film rights to the game, and over two years since the last official word, when Jez Butterworth replaced Evan Spiliotopoulos, who replaced Matt Lopez, as writer.

Yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter reported that a NEW new new writer, F. Scott Frazier, has been brought on for rewrites.

It’s like the game. They keep working away at the script, hammering out plot points, building scenes, giving and addressing notes, until all the big problems are made into smaller problems, and eventually they’re left with a completed script, like the blank screen after shooting all the asteroids. And then, boom, the screen is filled with even more asteroids and they have to start all over again.

The producers must have passed 10,000 points to earn that fourth writer.

Read past news about the movie here.

Another Asteroid Buzzes Earth

Posted on January 24, 2015

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On January 26, 2015, asteroid 2004 BL86 will pass 3 lunar distances from Earth — not nearly as harrowing as when 2005 YU55 zipped past in 2011, but still close enough to excite scientists, who will study the asteroid with microwaves.

microwaveThe asteroid should be close enough to Earth for amateur astronomers to see it with small telescopes and large binoculars, and for professional astronomers to reheat leftovers on the asteroid surface.

Download an animation of the flyby, and read more about it at NASA JPL’s website.

Check out other real asteroid news on AtariAsteroids.net.

1981 Article Depicts Asteroids Boom

Posted on November 30, 2014

IMG_0020.JPG“Successful Asteroids play requires a Zenlike diffusion of concentration, in which the player sees everything but looks at nothing in particular.”

This insight was written by David Owen in the February, 1981 issue of Esquire magazine. His article, “Invasion of the Asteroids,” is some of the finest reporting we’ve ever seen, documenting the game at the height of its popularity.

The story starts out in the video arcades of Manhattan, where the expected crowd of teens is joined by professional men in suits, who regularly forgo their lunch break for a chance to play Asteroids. The author then makes a pilgrimage to Atari HQ in Sunnyvale, California, and speaks with Lyle Rains (V.P. of engineering and the man with the idea), Ed Logg (the programmer who made Asteroids what it is), Howard Delman (head of engineers, who designed the game’s printed circuit board and created its sounds), and others.

The trip ends with a glimpse of Asteroids Deluxe, still in development at the time, and being tested at a local arcade.

David Owen’s voice is that of a fan and Asteroids purist, who understands the nuances of the game. He has gone on to have a prolific career as a journalist and author, including five books on golf — perhaps there is some connection between the games?

In any case, this article is a fantastic snapshot from the time when an Asteroids machine could be found on every corner. The article was just put online by Alex Belth at The Daily Beast: read it here.

Atari’s New Vision for Asteroids

Posted on September 03, 2014

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Joystiq interviewed Atari CEO Fred Chesnais at PAX Prime 2014, where he explored his ideas for a modern-day Asteroids experience.

Says Chesnais: “For Asteroids, the initial game was – you remember the game – you get crushed by the asteroids. So what happens now? You land on the asteroid. And then what you have to do is you have to survive on the asteroid. So you can have an Asteroids game, which is basically a survival game in space.”

“You can have a survival game on an asteroid that combines crafting, space survival, PvP, PvE. And I think that’s very relevant in the current world when you have games like Day Z and Nether, that are doing very well on Steam. Just to give you an idea.”

Senior Product Lead Peter Banks says about Atari’s classics: “We’re not just bringing them back exactly as they were. We’re putting our 2014 glasses on: ‘What would this game be if we made it today?'”

When asked if his concept was stream of consciousness during the interview or an actual product in development, Chesnais says: “Coming soon. And I would play that game.”

“Stay tuned,” Banks adds.

Read the full article here.

Recon: Tilt Classic Arcade & Ale House

Posted on July 24, 2014

7 Fayette Road
South Burlington, VT 05403 (map)
Phone: 802-383-8458
Website: http://tiltvt.com/

The brand new Tilt Classic Arcade and Ale House in South Burlington, VT is a boon for northern nerds during the long winters. It features two floors of games, with pinball upstairs and cabinet games downstairs, as well as locally-sourced food and a large beer list. There are game-related drink specials (like the “Hadouken” with Habanero infused Green Mountain Vodka cut with Rookie’s Ginger Beer), and a “Game of the Week” game meat menu special.

The Asteroids machine was out of order when we arrived, but was quickly repaired and set to free play to compensate for the downtime. Our party of course took advantage of the reset to get our names on the board! There was a good mix of old and new pinball machines (Gorgar, Addams Family and Ripley’s Believe It or Not, as well as AC/DC, Metallica and Lord of the Rings) and lots of classic arcade games such as Centipede, Pac-Man, Galaga and Mortal Kombat 2.

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Mensa Votes Asteroids Top Video Game

Posted on July 16, 2014

Mensa is the smart club, for people scoring in the top 2% on IQ tests. Their American branch recently polled its members to pick the top ten video games, and arcade Asteroids came in number one!

This comes as no surprise.

We spoke to a member of Mensa, who said, “It was quite a task fending off the powerful Legend of Zelda and Diablo II lobbies!”

Well done.

The full list is as follows:

1. Asteroids
2. Donkey Kong
3. Tetris
4. Ms. Pac-Man
5. Call of Duty 4
6. Bioshock
7. Super Mario Bros.
8. Diablo II
9. Chrono Trigger
10. The Legend of Zelda

Denny’s Ad Campaign Includes Hashteroids

Posted on July 01, 2014

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Denny’s has just released a remixed version of Asteroids — “Hashteroids” — where you shoot hash browns with a ketchup bottle spaceship.

The plot: “You’re aboard the SS Denny’s Condiment Transport ship and the mission is clear: deliver 40 tons of condiments to the 4th planet in sector 7d.”

Denny’s teamed up with Atari for their summer 2014 “Greatest Hits Remixed” campaign, creating food-based versions of Asteroids, Centipede, and Breakout on Denny’s mobile app. There will also be TV ads promoting the remixed menu.

The campaign was created by ad agency Erwin Penland, targeting parents who grew up in the ’80s. Read the full story at Advertising Age.

Atari Documents Acquired by Museum

Posted on July 01, 2014

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Twenty-two palettes’ worth of documents from Atari’s heyday were recently acquired by the International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG), housed at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY.

The “Atari Coin-Op Divisions Collection, 1972-1999,” is a massive collection chronicling the development and production of virtually every Atari coin-operated game over that time period.

The material includes development binders and source code for Asteroids, beginning with developer Ed Logg’s handwritten notes on the control setup and sound effects.

The acquisition also includes Maze Invaders, a coin-op game which was assigned to Ed Logg and built in 1981, but never released.

For the full story of how ICHEG came by this mother lode, read Owen Good’s article at Polygon.com.

And for a brief history of Ed Logg and the birth of Asteroids, read this.

Asteroid Breaks Up Just Like In The Game

Posted on May 29, 2014

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Astronomers from UCLA have observed an asteroid being ripped apart by “YORP torque.”

They used a team of telescopes from around and above (Hubble) the world, and saw big pieces becoming smaller pieces, becoming smaller pieces…

CNET reports that it’s just like in the game.

Excellent.