A few years ago, Andrew Reitano and Todd Bailey started tinkering with an old Asteroids vector monitor. One thing led to the next, and along with Michael Dooley and an absurd level of know-how, they built a new vector arcade game: VEC 9.
This is quite likely the first new vector arcade game created in 30 years… and it looks magnificent.
Check out our old post about their early work on the project.
VEC9 will be at IndieCadeEast in New York City this weekend (April 29-31, 2016).
We’re all about one game here at AtariAsteroids.net, and one game only.
The sequels and clones all stray from perfection, because with Asteroids, the more you add, the more you lose. It’s not about being flashy and destroying asteroids… it’s about something that’s supremely simple in design, yet complex in performance.
Michael Lazer-Walker’s Thrust Vector for iOS actually isn’t an Asteroids clone, aside from the fact that you’re a triangle navigating asteroids, and it has the words “thrust” and “vector” in the title. But it gets our hearty approval because it only has one button (which beats Asteroids by four), is super simple to understand, but is surprisingly hard to master.
It’s an infinite runner game, so you’re constantly scrolling forward, with asteroids in your path. A line sweeps back and forth from the ship, and touching the screen thrusts you forward along that vector. You try not to crash into the asteroids.
And like Atari Asteroids, you don’t play to win… you play to survive.
What’s more, it turns out that Lazer-Walker has some other excellent creations, including another one-button game where you’re a telegraph operator (makes me think of the classic leaf-switch button on an Asteroids machine), and Hello, Operator!, which uses a vintage telephone switchboard. This doesn’t really have much to do with Asteroids, but it’s cool.
The company Made In Space, Inc. has received money from NASA to research their Project RAMA: Reconstituting Asteroids into Mechanical Automata.
They write, “The objective of this study is… to establish the concept feasibility of using the age-old technique of analog computers and mechanisms to convert entire asteroids into enormous autonomous mechanical spacecraft.”
In other words, they’ll use robot 3D printers to re-shape asteroids into mechanical spaceships, moving them into strategic orbits around the planet, or crashing them into bigger, Earth-threatening asteroids.
For a more thorough description of this, and other 2016 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program fund recipients, read “NASA’s Project RAMA Would Use Asteroids to Play Asteroids” at TheDrive.com.
And, here’s the Project RAMA description at nasa.gov.
This fall, Dynamite Entertainment will release The Art of Atari, co-written by Robert V. Conte and Tim Lapetino. The book looks at the history of Atari through its artwork, including profiles and interviews with key figures. Read more at The Nerdist.
Hint: it’s astronomical.
The article uses calculations by J.L. Galache, an astronomer at the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., whose findings should be taped up inside any spacecraft cockpit.
Read Kenneth Chang’s article for the whole story.
It turns out that Eddie Izzard’s all-time favourite computer game is Asteroids.
He recently told The Guardian, “I was king of Asteroids back in the day. I’d play one game for an hour-and-half and get scores of over a million.”
He described his experience to Chris Hardwick (also an Asteroids fan) on The Nerdist podcast in 2014:
“It was so odd, because I was… at first year at university, and the people– I would go to the next door halls of residence, where I wasn’t known at all. Not that I was very well known in my hall of residence. And I would get on the machine, and people would talk about me as if I wasn’t there, ’cause they thought I was part of the machine. Like I’d become part of the machine. They’d kind of go, ‘God, it’s really weird. Yeah, that’s all he does… Look at the number of space ships.’ And they were sitting right next to me doing that, and I just thought, this is weird.” (Nerdist podcast #513 at 1:09:22).
But wait, there’s more! The comedian, marathon runner, and future mayor of London, also has a real asteroid named after him: 2002 RY237 is now officially 196000 Izzard. Visit JPL’s database for details.
As 2015 draws to a close, Atari Asteroids.net is pleased to name Don Yeomans as its first ever Person of the Year. Why? Because while some of us have been targeting vector-based asteroids, he’s been doing the real thing.
Yeomans joined NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1976, and managed the Near-Earth Object Program Office from its establishment almost 17 years ago until his retirement in January, 2015. They “coordinate NASA-sponsored efforts to detect, track and characterize potentially hazardous asteroids and comets that could approach the Earth.”
Yeomans says: “When I began doing this, asteroids were considered little more than vermin of the solar system, irritants that occasionally got in the way of astronomers taking pictures of some distant galaxy. While times certainly have changed, two things about near-Earth objects remain the same. We need to find them before they find us and tell everybody about them as efficiently and as clearly as possible.”
Yeomans received the 2013 Carl Sagan Medal from the American Astronomical Society (AAS) for his work. Article here.
He also wrote Near Earth Objects: Finding Them Before They Find Us, which has all sorts of good information about types of asteroids and how we find them.
So here’s the scenario: you’re out trick-or-treating on Halloween night, and there’s the usual assortment of pirates, zombies, and Boba Fetts. When all of a sudden, you round a corner and come face to face with Asteroid TB145!!! Sure, it’s passing 1.3 lunar distances from Earth, but it still wants candy and is close enough to TP your house if it doesn’t get any.
For more deets, visit NASA JPL.
It turns out that Asteroids: Outpost hasn’t done so well.
Atari CEO Fred Chesnais told mcvuk.com, “With Asteroids: Outpost, the idea was to start with a solo experience and keep adding to it. The fans did not respond to that… We do care about these brands, we are really trying to pay attention to what the community is saying and to do our best. You are only as good as your last game. That’s the problem and also the beauty of our industry. We don’t do it on purpose.”
We’re sorry to see another attempted reboot fizzle, but we have seven words on the matter: rotate left, rotate right, thrust, fire, hyperspace. You can’t beat that.