New Kickstarter for Atari 2600 Star Castle - But should you support it?

Bill Loguidice's picture

I posted about this as a comment in another thread, but since this is such a big deal I thought I would whip up a quick front page blog post to give it its due. There's a new Kickstarter for an Atari 2600 version of Star Castle, a 1980 vector-based arcade game from Cinematronics that received an excellent port to the Vectrex home console in 1982. While the Atari 2600 can only produce raster, not vector graphics like the Vectrex, a recent port of the game was created by D. Scott Williamson, an original Atari programmer, albeit one who started working there six years after the 1982-release of Howard Scott Warshaw's Star Castle-inspired Yars' Revenge. Williamson was similarly inspired to create his Star Castle homebrew by Warshaw's creation, so he purposely limited himself to 8K of ROM for authenticity's sake, even though the cartridge hardware that he made could handle up to 64K.

Long story short, Williamson ended up wanting tens of thousands of dollars for his programming effort--a reasonable request if this were the platform's early 80's heydey. Unfortunately for Williamson, most homebrewers these days do it for the proverbial love of the game, so no one was willing to pay anywhere near that. In fact, in a convoluted AtariAge thread, his actions and subsequent reactions, not to mention that of the community's, eventually led to another homebrew programmer being himself inspired to create a version, which he released for free, here, and by all accounts is superb.

Undeterred, Williamson decided to take his case to Kickstarter, which you can see here. It's a genuine soap opera (one that I'm not even sure I have sorted correctly), albeit one within a niche of a niche within our industry. It will be interesting to see how this Kickstarter works out for Williamson. I'm certainly intrigued by the cartridge with flashing lights timed to the gameplay and admire his engineering effort, but $100 for a complete, boxed copy is a bit tough to swallow. Maybe with a bit of time I'll reconsider...

What are your thoughts on this mess? Obviously Williamson can charge what he wants for his work - and it's up to the market to decide what they'll pay (and they didn't pay the first time around; maybe this Kickstarter will be different) - but is he out of touch with the realities of the homebrew market? After all, even the best homebrews can struggle to sell 250 boxed copies at well below his $100 boxed copy asking price...

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davyK
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Think I might have posted

Think I might have posted about this a month or so ago in another thread? Anyhow - While the author did seem to wind a lot of people up - I guess there was a bit of misunderstanding on both sides.

There always has to be a road to absolution for people and I'm sure the nastiness will die down - its quite a small community and its a poor show if someone as able as Mr Williamson were to be isolated.

It looks to be a superb job- again - the homebrew scene never ceases to amaze me with what can done with the 2600 despite the extra memory being used (though in this case it runs in 8K - even more impressive!!).

Haven't had a chance to check out the response project yet..owning a Harmony is a great place to be!

Bill Loguidice
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This is now 100% funded

This is now 100% funded thanks to the word spreading elsewhere as suspected. Now, it will be interesting to see how far over 100% it goes and what is then done with the extra money... (one challenge will of course be accommodating a super high number of cartridge requests)

Hopefully this leads to more homebrew funding, which could certainly help some of the delivery schedules of these projects, as well as hold the homebrewers more accountable for coming through in a timely manner after being funded...

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
And yet another reason to put

And yet another reason to put him in the like column if you agree or disagree.. taking the time to post... Very cool of him. I think its sometime hard to understand true passion for something you dont have the same passion about.. and when two sides of the sam thing, the ying and yang hit.. I cant ever see myslef buying a 2600 game... even if its the console i grew up on, loved in my youth. But I see there are alot who do :) But then.. the Atari Jaguar, not a system i even think about much has games I want and would pay alot of money for.. (iron soldier 2) so i guess i understand it some. Gotta admit the clear case and lights are ... cool.

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
You know, I think that

You know, I think that Kickstarter page mentions every interview ever done with HSW except for ours. Sigh.

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Bill Loguidice
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The power of Kickstarter

This: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/698159145/atari-2600-star-castle/posts . Basically, he got enough money where it was worth his time to create a PAL version. It's not necessarily a hard thing to do, but again, without the extra money, he wouldn't have had the incentive. We've seen this time and again with these kickstarters, where the original requesters have a certain vision, but as more money than they hoped was pumped into the project and they got additional feedback, they went (and were able to go) above and beyond their original visions. The Pebble e-watch added waterproofing. Wasteland 2 added more dev support and platforms. Etc. Perhaps THAT'S the real power of kickstarter, to make the best product absolutely possible. If any of these projects went with traditional funding, they would surely have been less than what they now are. Even if this Kickstarter thing is a fad - and it may very well be - for now it's a very powerful creative model and something of an idealized fusion of past creative models, which have included rich benefactors and traditional funding...

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Bill Loguidice
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Star Castle arrived!

The fifth Kickstarter I supported arrived:

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