Author Topic: RVG Interviews Garry Kitchen  (Read 4770 times)

zapiy

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RVG Interviews Garry Kitchen
« on: October 07, 2012, 22:45:30 PM »

Here is our latest interview at RVG, Garry Kitchen has been in the industry for many years and its a pleasure to be able to bring you our interview.

Huge thanks to Garry for agreeing to do this from all here at Retro Video Gamer.

Enjoy.


TrekMD

Your port of Donkey Kong for the 2600 has the virtue of lacking flicker.  How challenging was it to accomplish this and how were you able to do it?

Garry

I was always completely opposed to flicker on the 2600.  I never wrote a kernel that did it and I would never consider using the technique.  In my mind it was a cop out.  The Donkey Kong kernel was the most complex display kernel I ever wrote.  It had to handle 2 player objects - Mario with a single line color table and the rolling barrel in single color, as well as 2 missile objects (which comprised the handle and head of the hammer), and 6 unique stores to the playfield background data. The rolling barrel movement algorithm was the key to avoiding flicker.  Even though there could be many barrels on the screen at once they could never overlap vertically as the code could only handle one barrel at a time on a horizontal scan line.

TrekMD

Did you feel that you wanted to do more with Donkey Kong on the 2600?  If so, what kept you from doing it?

Garry

There were two huge limiting factors on the DK 2600 cartridge.  The first was schedule, the cartridge was written in about 3-4 months, with no flexibility on the end date.  I worked the last 72 hours straight without sleep to get the code submitted to manufacturing based on Colecoís desired ship date.  The second limiting factor was ROM size.  The game was a 4K cartridge at a time when 8K technology was readily available but Coleco refused to go to 8K for the ROM size because of the added manufacturing cost.  Had the game been allowed to go to 8K, and assuming a longer development schedule, I would have put in all four of the arcade game screens.

TrekMD

Do you feel you could have added the third screen to Donkey Kong had you been allowed to more resources?

Garry

Yes, see above answer.

TrekMD

What was your inspiration for Keystone Kapers?

Garry

Couple of things.  I wanted to do a humorous game and the keystone cop worked for that.  I also had this idea to create a staircase using a vertical player shifted every 8 lines to the left or right, which then evolved into a moving staircase, or escalator.  Once I had that I had to work it into a game idea.

The Laird

Is it true that Coleco made sure that 2600 versions of their games were made weaker on purpose so that their own console would look better?

Garry

Not true at all.  The limitation was purely schedule and ROM size, as discussed above.  The 2600 version actually looked better than the Intellivision version, which was a testament to how hard I worked to duplicate the look of the arcade game on an inferior hardware platform.

The Laird

Space Jockey is a quirky shoot 'em up for the 2600 that is regarded as a bit of a hidden gem, where did you come up for the idea of that and was it difficult to make a horizontally scrolling shooter using that hardware?

Garry

I created Space Jockey as an exercise while I was reverse engineering the 2600.  It was a concept very much driven by the hardware;  many games utilized horizontal bands of objects as is done in Space Jockey.  It was my earliest kernel work on the Atari so it was not a sophisticated display; e.g. double line resolution.  Obviously somewhat influenced by the Defender-style games of the era.

The Laird

What do you consider your greatest achievement in gaming?

Garry

Iím proud of the fact that Garry Kitchenís GameMaker (1984, Commodore 64, Apple II, IBM PC) became a platform that inspired many successful game designers to enter the business.  I hear this often when I meet industry colleagues at events and conferences.

TrekMD

What gave you the idea for Pressure Cooker?

Garry

I was standing in line at Burger King and saw the conveyor belt that took the burgers through the flame broiling process and I immediately thought that this could be a game; as with the escalator, I liked creating 2600 emulations of animated mechanical objects and I thought a conveyor would work well.

TrekMD

Are you aware of the homebrew community for the Atari 2600?  Have you seen anything that has been released by them for the 2600?  How about for other systems?

Garry

I am aware of the homebrew community but I havenít spent a lot of time looking at whatís been released.  I suppose Iíll look at some point.  I enjoyed writing 2600 kernels so much that itís not out of the realm of possibility that I may be tempted to do one myself someday.

zapiy

Are you aware of any unfinished games that might be to hand that could be released? There is a very active retro scene hungry for old unfinished games.

Garry

Nope, I get that question often.  I found a prototype cart the other day labeled ďCop13aĒ but I believe itís the final code for Keystone Kapers.  Iíll keep my eyes open!



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Gone

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Re: RVG Interviews Garry Kitchen
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2012, 22:51:30 PM »
Great read that, he seems like a really intelligent guy.

TrekMD

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Re: RVG Interviews Garry Kitchen
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2012, 22:57:55 PM »
This is great!  Looks like he could have definitely done more with DK had he been given more time and more ROM space.  Too bad that did not happen as it would have been fantastic. Can you imagine a 2600 port of DK with all 4 screens when the ColecoVision only had 3?  I found his explanation for the lack of flicker to be pretty cool too.

It would be great if he were able to make a homebrew game for the the 2600!  I wonder what will get him to do it.  :) 

Thanks for the great read!

Shadowrunner

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Re: RVG Interviews Garry Kitchen
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2012, 23:01:50 PM »
Another great interview guys.  :)

zapiy

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Re: RVG Interviews Garry Kitchen
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2012, 23:05:10 PM »
Thanks for all your questions guys.. i really enjoy doing these as they are always a great read.. getting into the minds of some of the greats.

Own: Jaguar, Lynx, Dreamcast, Saturn, MegaDrive, MegaCD, 32X, GameGear, PS3, PS, PSP, Wii, GameCube, N64, DS, GBA, GBC, GBP, GB,  Xbox, 3DO, CDi,  WonderSwan, WonderSwan Colour NGPC

onthinice

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Re: RVG Interviews Garry Kitchen
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2012, 17:14:19 PM »
Excellent!!! Really great responses to the questions!

DZ-Jay

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RVG Interviews Garry Kitchen
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2012, 18:11:49 PM »
Great interview!  Gary sounds like a straightforward and accessible man.

I too liked the explanation of the flicker-free kernel, though now I'm curious as to how the barrel movement algorithm works to prevent vertical alignment of the barrels in motion.

Great job!  I'm new to this site, but I'm already impressed with the community. :)

    thanks,
     dZ


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