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.
Here’s some video. First, a sexy teaser trailer.
And here’s a gameplay demo from Starsnipe, recorded right when the game became available.
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.
“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?
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
Check out other real asteroid news on AtariAsteroids.net.
“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.