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Elektronite act as game developer, collaborating with several programmers around the world.
RVG would like to thank, William Moeller, Valter Prette and Carl Mueller, Jr. for all taking timeout to do this interview.
For people not familiar with you or your work, tell us a bit about Elektronite?
Elektronite is an Intellivision publisher that was founded in 2005 by Valter Prette from Italy.
I also run the www.intellivisionworld.com web site and am the author of the appreciated Intellivision Collector's Guide (14000+ pdfs and a hundred of printed copies have been distributed).
The original aim of Elektronite was to foster the development of tools and documentation to allow people to create new games for the Intellivision platform. Valter spent a lot of time contacting several software houses and aquired licenses to develop games for the Intellivision.
Elektronite's first software title was a very ambitious version of "Defender of the Crown". Unfortunately, the software author lost interest and the title languished for years, unfinished. Despite Valter's best efforts, Elektronite had nothing but vapourware. People didn't take Elektronite seriously.
When I decided to go into Intellivision publishing with my business partner Carl Mueller Jr., I contacted Valter to see if I could help out. He had a great brand name, and a cool logo and slogan. He just needed some help. We bought Elektronite, and made Carl's game D2K Arcade for Intellivision, Elektronite's first complete in box release.
What drew you into developing solely for the Intellivison , why not Coleco Vision or Atari Lynx or Atari 5200 etc..is there a steep learning curve in creating games ?
Elektronite is staffed by people who love the Intellivision. It was my first game system, and remains to this day my favourite. It may not be the most popular,
but we think there is a market for GOOD new Intellivision games.
Carl and myself have been involved in Intellivision development for many years. Carl wrote the world's first Intellivison emulator for DOS (published by Intellivision Productions, Inc.) in the mid 1990s. Carl is probably the most skilled Intellivision programmer alive today. That isn't an exaggeration. When Carl started writing the first emulator, there was literally no technical information freely available. He chipped away until we learned more and more about the Intellivision. I was involved in compiling the Intellivision information and obtaining technical support for Carl.
From my perspective, Intellivision is not only my first step into the gaming world, but the best example of a classy retrostyle product, due to the quality of the package and manual contents compared to other consoles of the same age.
What is your favorite game on the IntelliVision and why?
I don't have just one favourite game on the Intellivision. However, some of the games I keep playing are 1. Baseball 2. Astrosmash! 3. Burgertime 4. Beauty and the Beast 5. Buzz Bombers 6. Utopia
Lately, I have been playing a TON of D2K Arcade :-)
My favourite is Tron Deadly Disk because he remind my of the cultural shock introduced by the movie at the time.
Burgetime and Lock'nChase to mention more.
Carl Mueller, Jr.
I really couldn't begin to form a list, but Astrosmash!, Night Stalker, and Baseball would definitely be at the top.
Are you planning to update any more games?
D2K Arcade is based on D2K Arcade Jumpman Returns which is an unofficial sequel to Donkey Kong. Nintendo is aware of D2K. The Intellivision version was done with the blessing of the arcade author. Carl knocked on Nintendo's door in Kyoto Japan to show them our game. So far they have been unresponsive. If we can get the rights, we would love to do a better version of Ms. Pac Man for the Intellivision.
Are you working on any original titles?
Elektronite is gong to be publishing 'Paddle Party' which is a very original game for the Intellivison. It is a group of 'pong' like games. It is hard to describe but it is original that is for sure!
Next year, we are doing a version of 'Caverns of Kroz' an Apogee game from the 1980s. Although it isn't an original concept, it will be an homage to the original, not a port. It is officially licensed.
Have you thought about making a better controller for the system?
Yes. If we get the support, we would like to produce one. We may do a kick starter to see if there is enough interest.
Would you consider making games for others systems?
Elektronite is owned by Classic Game Publishers, Inc. Our goal is to publish for other classic video game systems. We hope to become a publisher for people who have a quality game, and want to get it made into a real product. If you are looking for a publisher for your original game, let's talk!
What did it take to bring such a good port of DK to the Intellivision? What kind of special software/hardware was needed to develop the game?
Carl Mueller, Jr.
D1K/D2K does not require any special hardware. It uses the stock capabilities of the Intellivision.
Early on in the development, I tried to do the game with the built-in operating system of the Intellivision (the exec), but it was clearly not up to the task. I designed a game engine that could update the sprites at 60 frames per second, supported multiplexing, and "half-pixel" positioning, which all combine to allow for much smoother motion than one would expect from an Intellivision game.
The sound engine also allows for overlaying of multiple streams of sound effects and/or music with support for volume and tone effects. It's prioritized, so more important sound effects may replace less significant ones. It may be the most sophisticated engine out there for the Intellivision.
Have you considered programming for the 2600? Any chance you'll make a better DK version for 2600?
Carl Mueller, Jr.
The 2600 is an impressive machine, but I'm afraid I would not want to put in the years of study it would take to really do a game like DK justice. I suppose if another programmer wanted to take up the task for Elektronite, I could help him to perfect the gameplay.
How hard is it to concept a game from paper to screen and roughly and how long does it take to achieve this from a developers point of view?
Carl Mueller, Jr.
I can only speak for myself in that it takes a long, long time. I literally scratch out code on paper until I get it the way I think it should work.
It usually turns out designed better, and it's really necessary in my case since I program by voice (being unable to type), and doing so makes it very
difficult to make corrections, so it's better it turns out right the first time.
The graphics are a little more straightforward, but again, if you want to do something special you're going to be playing around with lots of combinations.
The sprites can be scaled and overlaid in different ways, sometimes producing interesting effects. Since there's only eight, you want to get as much mileage
out of them as you can.
I suppose if I did nothing but program an Intellivision game, I could design and finish one in about eight months… But that's the minimum for me.
A year and a half to two years is a bit more realistic.
How many copies of D1K and D2K have you sold? Are you satisfied with the reception the game has had?
We are very pleased with the reception the game has had. So many people are blown away by not only the quality of the game, but the quality of the package as a whole.
We are not unhappy with the number of copies sold. However, we feel that we can do a lot better as we get more well known. D2K Arcade's packaging is of the highest quality. Unfortunately, due to our start up costs to obtain that quality, we have had to price it at $68 US for the complete in box version. For those who want to just play the game, we offer a budget release of just the cartridge and manual for $50 US.
Our future title "Minehunter" will retail for $55 US, and D1K when it is sold complete in the box will be $50. Paddle Party will also retail for $50. Some titles that require licensing may have to be priced higher, but we feel that $50 is the 'sweet spot' for a complete in box game.
What was the first homebrew game you released? How many homebrew games have you released since you started? What are they?
Carl Mueller, Jr.
Nothing officially published, but I wrote the first homebrew demo in 1995, called "Running Men". :-) This was before hobbyists had the ability to load and test code on a real machine. I also wrote a "Sound Effects/Music Demo" that's basically a jukebox that plays music from various Sega Master System games, such as Phantasy Star.