Atari just announced a co-production agreement with original Wu-Tang Clan producer/rapper RZA, to make an album based on sounds and music from their classic games.
While we don’t expect it to be the same sort of genius as the 1982 LP, “Asteroids,” we DO expect it to be a whole other level of genius.
“I’m so excited to work on these iconic games to deliver what I believe will be one of my best albums,” said RZA. “I am going to invite some of my friends to join me and it will be Game On with the first beat!”
The original video game giant Atari has had its share of trouble finding its way around the game industry these days, but this is unquestionably a Good Idea.
Read the official Atari press release here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just when we thought there couldn’t be anything cooler in the world of Asteroids, there’s this:
It’s Human Asteroids, a project by Two Bit Circus for their proposed STEAM Carnival, designed to turn kids on to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.
Human Asteroids uses a Microsoft Kinect to track the player in a rolling chair, who becomes the spaceship. Asteroids are projected on the ground with lasers, and the player fires with a smartphone.
The player in the video is Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari.
The STEAM Carnival has a Kickstarter campaign going until midnight on June 2, 2013. If successful (and at the time of writing, they’re close), they plan to take the Carnival on the road at several major west coast American cities.
[UPDATE] This story has been making the rounds today, and Two Bit Circus has just passed its fundraising goal of $100,000, with two days still to go.
atari.com/arcade currently offers eight classic titles: Combat, Lunar Lander, Missile Command, Pong, Super Breakout, Yars’ Revenge, Centipede, and of course, Asteroids. The interface is a slick example of what you can do with HTML5 and a multi-touch device, being released as a showcase for Internet Explorer 10 and the Windows 8 Tablet. It works just as well on any other HTM5-capable browser or tablet, but you get ads.
For Asteroids, they kept close to the original vectorgraphic style: the ship looks the same (although a color), the asteroids are different shapes but the same idea, and the lasers are nice, simple dots. The result is not too bubbly or over-complicated as modern games can be, and yet isn’t trying to make you feel like you’re playing on a lousy old TV. Thumbs-up from us.
The game play is nice and smooth, as is everything on the site. On a computer, you navigate with W-A-S-D or arrow keys, and fire with the spacebar. On a tablet, controls hover over the graphics. The action is basically the same as the arcade, with two differences: you can hold down the fire button to charge up and get more punch out of your laser, and there is no friction. In other versions of Asteroids, you eventually slow down after hitting the thrust button. Here you do not: you have to spin around and reverse-thrust to slow down. This takes a little getting used to, but it’s more like the real experience of shooting asteroids in friction-free space. Clearly based on NASA’s asteroid-shooting training simulators.
The big news with the new Atari Arcade isn’t Asteroids, though — it’s the open invitation to developers. The existing classic games are a showcase, with the idea that anyone can create, distribute, and profit off their own games in the arcade (pending approval). It’s not Facebook (the Asteroids Online app seems to have disappeared). It’s not iTunes (although the latest update of the Atari Classics app is pretty good if you’ve got iOS, and Asteroids Gunner is going strong). Atari Arcade is now creating its own online platform, which can be a go-to game site with the space for user involvement.
Atari has been searching for its identity since becoming active again in the last few years, and this feels like a good fit.
Microsoft has also been developing an increasingly maker-friendly image in recent years, most notably with the whole XBox Kinect story. When the Kinect depth-sensing camera was initially released in November of 2010, open source hardware company Adafruit offered a $1,000 bounty to the first person to create an open source driver. Microsoft said they didn’t condone tampering with their stuff. Adafruit upped the reward to $2,000. Microsoft said, no, really, don’t do that. Adafruit said $3,000, and by that time someone had figured it out. Soon there was an explosion of creative projects in all fields by clever individuals using the Kinect for something other than games. It holds the world record for fastest selling consumer electronics device. Microsoft relaxed its anti-hacker stance (although technically the device wasn’t hacked, in that the USB output is unencrypted, although it all depends on your definition of hacked). And then by June of the next year, Microsoft had come full-circle and released a Software Developer Kit for the Kinect. Microsoft realized that there was a market here, and it earned them major maker cred.
We’ve heard reports of Atari founder Nolan Bushnell-sitings at MakerFaire and various tinker-tech hacker spaces. It seems like a good move to share the fun.
With all this in mind, the Atari Arcade developer page is worth a visit. There is documentation about how they created the games in the arcade, with snippets of code. At GitHub you can download the whole Atari Arcade SDK, including CreateJS and the Atari Arcade Repository.
The classic games are fun to play, but it’s the tip of the iceberg. We look forward to seeing where this goes.