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Welcome to the Intellivision Revolution!

Interview of Michael Hayes

Also known as Zendocon on Atari Age. 

Conducted by 'Rev'. June 2019

 

Same Game & Robots on Intellivision World

 

"What are some of your earlier memories regarding video games?"

There was a document I had written on my old Intellivision fansite in 1998 which answered that question in full vivid detail.  I don't have it any more, but I do remember this:

There were arcades springing up all over the place.  Even corner stores and Mom & Pop restaurants had one or two coin-op machines.  I had played a number of pinball games as well as popular games like Centipede, Space Invaders, and Pac-Man by the time my family bought an Intellivision in 1981.

It came with three games.  First we played Astrosmash, then Space Battle, and finally Poker & Blackjack.  I was 5 years old then.  The whole family was immersed in the gameplay.  I was mesmirized by the general art style: the "blockiness," the bright cheerful color palette, and the standard font.  Best of all, television suddenly became something you do, not merely something you watch and are unable to control.

While we were watching my uncle play Astrosmash to see what the new sky color would be at 20,000 points, I was studying the console box and liked the fact there were so many games already available, and they seemed so diverse.  I pointed to one of the screenshots, I think it was for Checkers, and asked if we could play "this game" next.  I didn't know we didn't already have all the games pictured on the box.

When I wasn't playing (usually because I didn't have my parents' permission), I was spending time studying the game boxes, the manuals, the catalogs, and whatever else there was.  To this day, some of my favorite computer games were the ones that had "feelies," like the fictitious newspapers within Tass Times In Tonetown and Alone In The Dark 3, and the Infocom games' maps, InvisiClues booklets, and bric-a-brac such as the Wishbringer Stone.
__________

"What  was the name of your old website, for those that are not familiar with it?  Is any of your old website still available?"

When I first created it, I called  it The ECS BASIC Library, and posted only my ECS BASIC  programs which I had written by hand into a noteboo k  way back before I had a real computer.

Then I added other content, and renamed it The Intellivision Library, which is what I think  it was best remembered as.  It is not to be confused with David Harley's project of the same name.

Late in its lifespan, when I started to focus more on encouraging the public to join the indie development scene, I renamed it once again to The Intellivision Laboratory.  The handle "intylab" is an abbreviation of that.

It does still exist, in fact, though I abandoned it after I left Graduate School.  Joe Zbiciak was nice enough to keep it hosted at http://spatula-city.org/~intvlib/inty/
__________

"What consoles or computers did you have growing up in your house?"

Just the Intellivision and then the ECS for several years.

One day, my father and I discovered the game The Jetsons' Ways With Words, and we bought it, since at that time, we hadn't seen a new game in ages.  We took it home, only to find out it required the "Computer Adaptor and Keyboard" which we didn't have.  That was when I found out my parents bought the Intellivision under the promise that it would be expandable into a computer.  They were excited to know it must exist after all.  So when the INTV catalog arrived in the mail with the Computer Adaptor and Keyboard available for sale, we ordered it right away.

Not long after that, a neighbor gave me his old Atari 2600 console, and about a year later was when I went to the Nintendo side.  Many of the other kids in school had one, and by the time Nintendo Power magazine went into circulation, the Intellivision already seemed dead.
__________

"What were some of the games you owned?"

I kept the games organized in the order we received them up until the Crash, so it's easy to rattle them off in sequence up to that point.

1. Astrosmash
2. Space Battle
3. Las Vegas Poker & Blackjack
4. Space Armada
5. SNAFU
6. Armor Battle
7. The Electric Company Math Fun
8. The Electric Company Word Fun
9. Auto Racing
10. Star Strike
11. Triple Action
12. Space Hawk
13. Night Stalker
14. Reversi
15. Donkey Kong
16. Lock & Chase
17. Space Spartans
18. B-17 Bomber
19. PGA Golf
20. Tron Maze-A-Tron
21. Kool-Aid Man
22. Frog Bog
23. Utopia

I ended up with about 60 games by the time the '80s had ended, and then when I went to college and discovered Usenet, I collected up a lot of the games I never had.
__________

"Did you have a local arcade you would go to?  Any outstanding memories?"

There were quite a few arcades I remember.  The most popular one was Aladdin's Castle, which later became Major Magic's, which was a lot like Chuck E. Cheese.  The first one I ever saw was called Fun & Games, within the ill-fated Summit Park Mall.  (It was named after Summit Park, which was part of Love Canal, and it was built to serve the Love Canal residents.  We all know what happened just a few years later.)

I do remember visiting Aladdin's Castle a number of times growing up.  There were so many games to choose from.  I loved Dig Dug, Tron, Super Pac-Man, and quite a few others.  My absolute favorites were Pac-Mania, as well as the version of Outrun where you could sit down in a car and it rocked as you made turns.
__________

"Some of your fondest memories gaming with your family?"

That was before the Crash.  My parents' attitude toward the Intellivision changed with the downturn in the industry, when they decided the keyboard expansion was never going to happen.

SNAFU and Armor Battle were wrapped up as presents for my father's birthday in 1982.  We swore we heard the SNAFU music in a Charlie Brown TV special not long before.

My mother always loved Scrabble.  To this day, when we all get together for holidays, all the women usually play Scrabble together.  So we enjoyed Crosswords within Word Fun.

My father wanted Auto Racing, but none of us knew about "realistic steering," so we usually got frustrated touching the disc in one direction and watching the car go in another.  That didn't stop us from playing though.

I liked the Cars game within Triple Action, but my sister liked Biplanes.  I recall drawing on a mini-chalkboard in Kindergarten a picture of Biplanes, with a square bullet occupying the same space as the weather balloon, since it was still on the tower.

Night Stalker was my father's favorite game, and we played that a lot, but never made it to 80,000 points so the Invisible Robot would spawn.  We all relied too heavily on the bunker and were afraid of the Black Robot shooting yellow energy bolts and destroying our bunker.  The first time it happened, we panicked.  We thought the bunker would just slowly disappear one pixel at a time like in Space Armada.

Donkey Kong, Lock & Chase, Space Spartans, and B-17 Bomber we bought at the same time.  I think it was part of a promotion.  We loved Lock & Chase the best because it was the closest thing to Pac-Man that we knew even existed.  I recall the title screen voice of "B-17 Bomber!"  We thought at first that the cartridge was defective.  Donkey Kong was a disappointment because it had only two stages.

There was a family from our church whose daughters used to babysit us and who also had an Intellivision.  That was where I first played Pitfall, Motocross, Utopia, and many of the sports titles.  Sometimes they would bring one of their games over to our house.  As a kid, I couldn't clear the alligators in Pitfall.

My mother has a sister who lives in Connecticut.  Our cousins there had the PlayCable when we went to visit for a couple weeks.  We were all intrigued that there were 24 games to choose from.  That was where we first saw Shark Shark, and some others I only knew about from the Mattel catalogs.  I fell in love with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (Cloudy Mountain), but my father disliked it because of the Dungeons & Dragons name.  The day we were supposed to go home, the game lineup suddenly changed, although it was the 31st day of the month.  Buzz Bombers and Mission-X were in the new lineup.  I liked Mission-X, and we all liked Buzz Bombers.

During the INTV years, my older sister and I played the Space Gunner minigame within Sharp Shot together quite a bit, as well as Shark Shark.  She also liked Atlantis, Happy Trails, and Burgertime, not so much Diner.  My mother liked Pinball, and we both played to reach the Blue table, and to achieve the Gold Mine or hit the Moving Target on the Red table.  Of course, we got Pac-Man once we knew about it.

Just recently, I visited my parents for Father's Day, and I told my father that I finally hacked Night Stalker for unlimited bullets and to disable robot fire.  He was interested in that, as well as seeing the Vectron easter egg.  He thought when we got the ECS that it would allow you to temporarily hack games, and now it had become a reality.
__________

"Some very good experiences.  Do you think they would play the new Amico?"

They probably won't.  I'm the only one in the family interested in video games to this day.  My parents have an iPad, an Amazon Fire Tablet, and a Fire TV Stick, and when we all get together, my nephews usually just play with those.  I usually bring the latest games I created, and sometimes they're interested, but they seem to prefer staying in familiar territory.

When the Intellivision Flashback console was released, I bought an extra copy (my copy includes the original Baseball game), but my parents never unboxed it.  It sat on a bookcase for a couple years, and then they just told me to take it home.  I might give it away as a contest prize at some point.

So regarding the Amico, I think it will be a tough sell to them.  Probably the only way it will gain traction in the family is if they find out I'm making a good amount of money with it as a third-party developer, and I buy extra consoles as Christmas presents.
__________

"Do you recall any discount bins of games that we later learned was the video game crash?  Any purchases as a result?"

Not really, since we only had Intellivision, and everybody else had Atari.  All that happened is that new games seemed to grind to a halt.  We went to our local toy store, Child World, quite often, hoping to find something new.  They always would have Vectron and one or two other common games like Space Armada.  Then one day, there was that copy of The Jetsons Ways With Words that I mentioned earlier.   When we finally got that Atari 2600, I noticed that most games were $1 each, $2 for the good games.  By then, Nintendo was the new king of the consoles.

Child World was one of the anchor stores within the Summit Park Mall, and was replaced with Toys 'R' Us after it went out of business.  It was Toys 'R' Us that had a bigger selection of Intellivision games, along with a lot of games for computers and consoles that I had never heard of.
__________

"What all systems have you owned throughout your life?"

Quite a few.  In my college days, I snatched up everything I could.  I only know there are over 40 different consoles in my collection.  Among them are a couple Vectrexes and several Dreamcasts, and all the Nintendo systems, including Virtual Boy.

Probably my favorite outside the Intellivision was the Atari Lynx.  I've got four working units and all the copies of all the multiplayer games, except I need two more copies of Battlezone 2000.  Third in line was the Neo Geo Pocket Color, with all the US releases, and some of the more interesting Japanese releases.
__________

"Where did you learn to program?"

I cut my teeth programming BASIC games using the ECS.  It wasn't until my senior year in high school that my family got an actual computer.  Then I went to college and got a degree in Computer Science.  There were no Game Design degrees then.  I also took some courses in Music Theory, and I write my own music for my games.
__________

"What programming languages are you experienced in?"

A bunch.  I've usually taught myself whatever I needed to know.  My best languages in college were C and Assembly.  Not so much C++ and Java.

If BASH scripting in Linux counts as a language, you might say I've gotten some experience there as of late.  Also some Lisp, for emacs configuration.

I picked up some C# when I started tinkering with Unity.  I got ahold of something short-lived called Sifteo, which was one of the best implementations of "cube-based" games.  That also used C#.

Nowadays, I'm just taking it easy doing professional work in VBA.  Also, I brushed up on web-design and became proficient in PHP, SQL, JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5.
__________

"What was the first game you programmed?  And the first Intellivision game?"

There were about a dozen games I wrote in ECS BASIC, which I posted on my old website.  Then when I got my first PC, I wrote an RPG in QBASIC.  It was entirely text-based and maxed out the 64K size limit.

Then I got ahold of a game-making utility called Klik & Play.  The best game I wrote for that was something I called Hydrostorm, which was supposed to be a collection of four made-up watersports, similar to California Games, but in a hovercraft with a water jet gun.

My first attempt at an actual Intellivision game was Hunt The Wumpus in the year 2000, which I abandoned until last year.  I was still reeling from the false start I had writing a PC game with a team in 1998, and I didn't bother to properly conceptualize the implementation before I started writing code.
__________

"Tell us more about the portable IntyBasic project, and how that came about."

Originally, I had a designated room called The Lab, where I did my development.  The first Lab in my wife's old apartment is where I cranked out the FUBAR prototype, and one room in our house I still call The Lab.

Shortly after the 2005 release of SameGame & Robots, I got involved in a lot of other activities that ate up nearly all of my free time.  From that point forward, it became a tremendous effort of will to sit down in my Lab and do any development.  So I finally abandoned the Lab idea when I got my first tablet, and I looked for ways to create a development environment on a device more portable than a laptop.

At first, all I could find were shell apps that only allowed you to run Linux commands if your device was rooted.  But I didn't want to do that.  I started to hear about IntyBASIC around this time, but I was skeptical and thought it wouldn't allow for any serious game development, so I ignored it until a few homebrews I bought claimed to have been built with IntyBASIC, and I saw they were good products.

Finally, there came Oscar's book "Programming Games for Intellivision."  I wasted no time buying it and reading it all the way through, and then with only a few days left to go before the extended deadline of the 2018 IntyBASIC Development Competition, I grabbed my laptop, downloaded emacs, and cranked out a game.  It was a literal last-minute entry and I didn't have very high expectations for my game, but I was pleased with how easy IntyBASIC was to work with.

Now, I had momentum, and I tried again to find a way to create a Linux environment on my phone and tablet, both of which are Android devices.  By good fortune, I found something that did everything I needed and didn't require rooting.  It had been a number of years since I had previously used Linux, but as I set up my environment, I documented everything I was doing, not knowing if there might be at least one other person who would benefit from this.

The whole motivation was to have a  portable Lab, and to fit development into the cracks of my schedule.  I'd call it a success, because I managed to finish Blix and FUBAR in a short period of time.
__________

"Most people will recognize you as the programmer of SameGame & Robots, Blix, and the unreleased FUBAR.   Is there any that are missed or perhaps a work-in-progress?"

First, there was RobotFindsKitten, which I wrote as a freebie back in 2016 and gave away on AtariAge.   It was my last project written in Assembly.  I should just give away the source code too so people can add their own nonkitten descriptions.  I'd like to get it added to the official rfk repository someday.

As for Hunt the Wumpus, I'm thinking about cleaning it up and releasing it as a 2-in-1 package, with the 1971 text-based implementation that I submitted for the Competition, as well as the TI-99/4A implementation.

I have an entire sheet of paper with names of game ideas written on every line on both sides.  I had started on another game called Number Zap when I suddenly got going on two new Tron games: Tron Light Cycles and Tron Disc Wars Melee.

Blix is finished and has another game bundled with it, similar to SameGame & Robots.  It should be released very soon.

I am also planning a SameGame 2 & Robots 2, and another two-in-one project, collectively called Chessboard Games.  Also some implementations of board games I created with a 3D printer, and some more experimental ideas like using the NES R.O.B. or putting ECS BASIC to use like in Mr. BASIC Meets Bits & Bytes.

Last but not least, I did finish FUBAR!  It just needs a publisher now, and will need a little tweaking for that publisher.


__________

"What is the back story on Same Game & Robots and how did it get released by IntelligentVision?"

I cranked out SameGame before I attended PhillyClassic in April 2001.  I was playing text-adventure games at the time, and there were several games that "abused the Z-engine," the best among them being SameGame.  I thought that would be not too difficult to write for the Intellivision, and would give me my self-confidence back after my previous failed attempts.  Little did I know just how well-received SameGame would be.

Two years later, I attended PhillyClassic 2003, and I chose to crank out another "abuse" game, this one being Robots.  (Some people have released it under the working title Daleks, but Robots was the generic title.)  Hardly anybody noticed Robots at PhillyClassic, but I did manage to attract a crowd for Chuck Whitby by hooking up his Music Synthesizer and firing up Melody Blaster.

In February 2004, I took a week off from work to intensively program FUBAR, since I had just finished the conceptualization.  During that week, I got a call from Chris Neiman, who asked about releasing SameGame on cartridge.  I told him I was definitely interested in getting my own game released, but I was working on this new game called FUBAR.  If I didn't get it done in time, then I would combine Robots into SameGame and send him that to release instead.
__________

"Who was instrumental in getting SG&R out in physical form?"

It might have been Chris Neiman, or it might have been David Harley.  Because of my admitted lack of self-confidence, I had an idea at the time to release the source code for my games and leave it up to anybody else to finish it.  That seems to have been the case with SG&R, because it suddenly had a released rewrite in 2012 that I wasn't expecting.  Later, I found out that David Harley had tried to finish FUBAR himself in 2011, but abandoned the idea.
__________

"How has the homebrew scene changed from the 2000's compared to today?"

The most obvious change is the development of IntyBASIC, which attracted a lot of people who would never have written something if Assembly continued to be the only choice.  Plus, there's a much more collaborative scene on AtariAge then there was with the Yahoo group intvprog.  Finally, there's the development of JLP, which was essential to make the finished version of FUBAR a reality.

I saw a thread on AtariAge where IntyBASIC had been integrated into a full-blown development environment.  But since my biggest impediment was my schedule, I had to find a way to create my own environment on my phone or tablet somehow.  I was using a Linux PC and an Intellicart when I wrote FUBAR, so when I found out IntyBASIC also has a Linux binary, I created the Linux environment on my phone and my tablet, which I now am using.
__________

"Do you still follow the homebrew scene?"

Absolutely!  I might not always be current on the latest discussions on AtariAge, nor buy up all the games immediatly upon release, but I've done a pretty good job playing catch-up recently.

Given that writing Intellivision games was my life's passion, I don't intend to ever go away completely, regardless of circumstances.  Whether or not it's a profitable venture doesn't concern me.  With the explosion in new releases, the thing is to grow the market.  That could very well happen after the Amico is released.
__________

"What are your top 10 Intellivision homebrew games?"

In no particular order, I was very impressed with Stonix and 4-Tris.  In fact, when I got my copy of Stonix in the mail and fired it up, I had an impulse to erase my whole project of SameGame & Robots, because I knew it didn't measure up.

A few years later, Joe Zbiciak wowed us all once again with his release of Space Patrol.  I traded my copy away before I discovered I couldn't buy another copy.  Thankfully, Joe released the ROM image for us all to enjoy.

I'm very impressed with Princess Quest, and the late Elektronite releases Hover Bovver, Miner 2049er, and Steamroller.  I also like D2K Arcade and Jr. Pac-Man.  Unfortunately, I don't have a physical copy of Ms. Pac-Man, so I can't include that.

Last but not least, there's Piggy Bank.  It's a good game, and it reminds me of Boomerang Kid from NES Quattro Adventure.  I know the story behind its release, and I don't take any offense to it.  I just programmed Blix.  I had nothing to do with its release, and I didn't make a dime from it.
__________

"What are your top 10 Intellivision original games?"

In no particular order, they would be: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Night Stalker, Tron Deadly Discs, Thin Ice, Dig Dug, Beamrider, Ladybug, Blockade Runner, White Water, and Pac-Man.
__________

"How large is your Intellivision collection, do you have the original 125?"

I'm at 122 and holding.  I used to have Congo Bongo with the instruction manual, but I traded it away and never got another copy.  I've never had either of the last two INTV releases: Spiker or Stadium Mud Buggies.  I don't think any of my games are loose except maybe Fathom and Truckin'.
__________

"Do you play modern games as well?"

I have a Nintendo Switch, but I mostly use it to play retro games.  I was playing The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for a while.  As for Playstation and Xbox, I just never could get interested in them.  I only got Playstation 2 for Dance Dance Revolution, and I connected six units with a Firewire hub for Gran Turismo 3.  I actually had all of it set up for my wedding back in 2004.  I also have a PSP Go, which I use for playing retro games as well as this one Roguelike game called Powder.  (I also have Powder running on the Linux environment on my tablet.)

Somebody sold me his Xbox One, but I filled up the hard drive after buying only 5 games!  Then I lost interest and connected the controller and Kinect sensor to my PC.  I also have a MAME cabinet, which I find more interesting, when I'm home long enough to play it.

Once I had set up my development environment on my phone, Intellivision programming became my only interest once again.  I deleted most of the native games on my phone, keeping only things like SCUMMVM and Retroarch.
__________

"Favorite modern games and franchises?"

Breath of the Wild is really about it.  Hardly anything on modern consoles interests me, and among the franchises that I liked, most of them were on Nintendo, and somewhere along the way I lost interest for various reasons.  I actually bought a Wii U console just to earn enough Club Nintendo points to get the reissue of the Ball Game & Watch, and then I bought Call of Duty: Black Ops II because I heard there was an easter egg that let you play the original Zork.  It turns out to be for Black Ops I instead.

A friend and I do like playing TranZit as part of Zombies Mode within Call Of Duty: Black Ops II.  It doesn't have split-screen support, but with the Wii U GamePad, two people can play together on one console.  I discovered you could connect two consoles to the same router and then could have four players offline, so I bought my wife her own Wii U console just for that.  Too bad the Expansion Pack with the additional Zombies maps was never released for Wii U.

One thing I enjoy now is Retroarch on my phone, which integrates emulators for just about every system you can imagine.  Several of the emulators support retroachievements, which adds an achievement system to classic games.  That gives me an incentive to go through all the games I once played and give them all another go.  I'd love to see a future version of jzintv support retroachievements.
__________

"Have you ever met any of the Blue Sky Rangers?"

No, mainly because there are hardly any video game conventions on the east coast, and I don't really have time to travel.  I did meet Cindy Morgan the two times I was at PhillyClassic though.  She was very friendly, and she got a little excited when I told her I program games for the Intellivision.  I should have known she would know about the Intellivision.
__________

"Have you been to many video game conventions, if so which ones?"

Just PhillyClassic in 2001 and 2003.  I'd like to see some closer to home than New York City, and even then it would have to be retro.  Events like E3 don't really interest me.
__________

"What are your thoughts on the recently announced Intellivision Amico?"

Fundamentally, I really hope it takes off and establishes a new trend in the video game market.  I say that because of the Intellivision brand name.  First, ever since the demise of INTV, I feel like I've been in a state of suspended animation waiting for the Intellivision to make a real comeback, if ever.  The Intellivision is unique among the other retro consoles in that the brand name never really died.   Somebody among the original development team has always held on to the intellectual property.  Contrast Atari, which has continued to exist in name only since 1998 when it was bought out by Hasbro.

In addition, I remember when the official BSR website first appeared around 1997, and there was a blurb about "Next-Generation Blue Sky Rangers."  Becoming a third-party developer for the Amico is something I see as my big chance.  Therefore, I care very much that it succeeds.

So far, I think the team is doing all the right things.  Realistically, it's not going to take market share away from the Playstation/Xbox crowd.  But knowing that the potential core audience is probably middle-aged adults with kids, focusing on games that are simple, affordable, and fun for the whole family captures a niche that has been all but neglected since the rise in popularity of more violent games in the 90s.

My biggest concern now is the public's perception of the Amico when it launches.  What I don't want is for it to wind up in the bargain bin next to other failed kid-friendly projects like Hyper Scan, and then for the public to conclude that Intellivision really is dead.
__________

"Where do you see the Amico in 5 years?"

That's a tough call.  On the one hand, with the unique nature of the controllers, it might be a trendsetter.  Or like the Sifteo, it might have had the potential to be a trendsetter but have ended up being sold off to an investor who shelves the whole thing.

Whatever ends up being the case, I want to go all-in and get my own name associated with Intellivision development, for however long it remains commercially viable.


__________

"Any upcoming projects of your own ready to share?"

FUBAR!  That needs to be said first, now that it's been 15 years since I wrote the prototype, and I know quite a few people wanted me to finish it and release it.

Then there's the actual release of Blix with the other mystery game.  Those are the only ones worth mentioning right now, since they're finished.

Now I hope I maintain the momentum I have and release a lot more in the coming years.  As impressed as I am with other developers' games, I notice that most of them are either ports or clones of existing games.  Very few seem to be original ideas.  That's why I'm excited about FUBAR, even though it graphically doesn't have the sizzle that other recent homebrew games have.

What I'll pitch about FUBAR is that it puts JLP to good use, allowing you to save your game settings, AI configuration, and player settings to cartridge, so you don't have to set it all up again every time you play.  Also, between JLP's hardware-accelerated math routines and my own meticulous watch of the VBLANK timing, it now can have any number of AIs with no slowdown.  Speaking of AIs, now all 8 players can be AIs, as I had originally planned.  The lack of available memory without JLP is why there could only be 4 AIs before.

Besides JLP, part of the reason why I waited so long is that I knew FUBAR needed a complete rewrite from the ground up.  For technical reasons that I didn't know at first, the default canvas color is now white instead of black.  The score display is also at the bottom of the screen instead of the top.  I didn't need the smiley face anymore, but I kept it in just for fun.
__________

"Did I miss anything interesting we may want to know about?"

Why stick with the Intellivision?  Why not develop for something commercially viable?

During the 8-bit / 16-bit heyday, I started to notice something.  Quite a few of the games I had for the NES and SNES were mediocre, and most lost all their replay value.  Some of the Intellivision games I found boring, but very few of the ones I had were truly bad.  I became more interested in playing Intellivision once again.  Besides, I didn't have to blow on Intellivision cartridges before they would work.

I was in college when the Nintendo 64 came onto the scene, and I resisted the hype and avoided it.  To this day, the Nintendo 64 is the one Nintendo console I dislike (and I do like Virtual Boy).  Maybe it's because I thought the controller design was stupid (What was Nintendo thinking - it's made for people with three hands!) - or maybe I got annoyed when Sears had crummy games in the "50% off lowest-marked price" discount bin and I bought a game I didn't really want for half of $40 only to find the same game at EB for $15 - or maybe it's because I resented the development advice that all games had to be 3D from now on - or maybe I was too busy resisting anything mainstream.

Whatever it was, I decided that playing Intellivision games that were new to me was better than anything Sony, Nintendo, or even Sega had to offer.  Beamrider was cool to play on a TV that was so old and fuzzy that the "beams" looked like fat vectors and ceased to be pixelated.  Blockade Runner was a good action-packed game for when I had only five minutes to kill.  Now I could make it all the way to Level 6 on Vectron: only 93 levels to go before the "special little visual treat."  Nobody cared if I played Dungeons & Dragons anymore.  Truckin' was neat late at night, and for me the real challenge of the game was figuring it out.  The Intellivision port of River Raid ended up being my favorite one.  I was actually inspired in 1987 for a game just like White Water, which I was now playing ten years later.  I could just keep rattling them off right now.

So the number of released Intellivision games is finite.  By the time I've played them all to my satisfaction, there will be a development kit, and then I'll make new games as I have always wanted to do, for the 20 or so people around the world who just might care.  It matters to me!

But why not commercial viability?  Who cares about that?  A hundred years from now, it will not have mattered what kind of car I drove, and so on, as you've probably heard or seen on Hallmark cards.  People like Beethoven, Einstein, C. S. Lewis, and Buddha live on in our minds.  Why?  Because of their contributions to the world while they were alive.  So what is the secret to immortality?  Get busy and write!  Music, books, a radically new philosophy, whatever.  Just keep writing.  "Now is the time that God favors what you do."  Money is for paying bills so my Lab isn't under a bridge.  But then what?  A large house that gets willed to somebody who doesn't deserve it?

But still, why the Intellivision of all things?  It was my first love, that's why!  You can't forsake your first love and have a clean conscience.  Maybe I could have grown up with a Commodore 64 or even a Microvision, and then I would be singing a different song today.  But until chemists and metaphysicists collaborate to create a real "Mr. Destiny's Spilled Milk" drink, that's not for me to worry about.  Besides, all of us indie developers are still big fish in a very small pond, even if there are a few more now.  Writing for the Intellivision is more likely to stand out than for, say, Windows.

Now, IntyBASIC has made it easy, JLP opened doors to new Intellivision game possibilities, there's ample help on AtariAge for the asking, and I've got my portable development environment.  Now is a very good time to be alive, and then afterward, I'll likely have plenty of time to reflect on the butt-print I left on society.