As part of the MAGfest 2014 event, the Alumni from the “Hallowed Halls of Williams Development” were asked why Robotron 2084 is such a worthy competitive game, lasting over 3 decades:

In the twilight of the human age income equality will be finally achieved. When the last worker is replaced by robotic intelligence, the value of all human effort will be zero.  It is in the spirit of irrational exuberance in the face of ultimate futility that committed Robotron crazies at Magfest  attempt the Robotron:2084 100 Million point challenge.  May the cloud be with you! -Eugene Jarvis

Robotron was and still is the perfect video game in my opinion. Survive the onslaught and you just might be King. I don’t care how good you may think you are at this game, rest assured Robot Ron will make you work for it. May the best Humanoid win! -Mark Ritchie (MDR)

It is a testament to the creative geniuses of the early video game design pioneers that what they brought to life not only endures but has proven to be timeless. Hats off to them all.   -Roger Sharpe

Robotron 2084 is my favorite video game of all time.  While Eugene Jarvis and Larry DeMar are two of my long-term friends, I am not biased about rating Robotron with 5 Stars There is no other video game as intense to play, and it is a very physical game, much like pinball. I played and loved Robotron so much that I was one of the first people to develop knobs and blisters on my hands. Finally, after many plays, my sore hands became callused and that ended most of the pain from gripping the joysticks so hard! I would visit my friends Eugene Jarvis and Larry DeMar at the Vidkidz lab  about once a week after the game became playable.  I contributed nothing to the game but the name “Robotron”.  At first, they called it “2084”. It was obvious to us that Robotron 2084 would be a huge hit, and was acknowledged as a true masterpiece in the world of video games. I can only have a good game of Robotron on the original arcade upright model.  Sometimes we would play Robotron on a linoleum floor and slide the entire game across the floor in intense play. There were often big sweaty hand prints on the glass over the monitor.  After having a totally frustrating game, we would smash it flat-handed.  The glass was tempered and never broke.  I have been thrown out of arcades for my bad habit of hitting the glass on several occasions! Eugene and Larry have proven many times, before and since, that they are absolutely brilliant programmers and master game creators.  For me, there is no better video game than Robotron. -Steve Ritchie

It is amazing to contrast games like Defender and Robotron to many of the games that followed.  For the classic games, there were several characters created, each with a distinct personality and generally predictable characteristics.  The flow, progression and difficulty was merely the mixing of different sets of these characters in each wave and scaling up their aggressiveness.  It is the understanding of the subtleties of these characteristics that have allowed the master players to gain such proficiency.  Many modern games are more about working your way through reams of changing content and using re-buys to work your way through the content.  
 
I think that having the ability to get good enough to “own” this very difficult game like David Gomez or Darrin Cormier among others has provided the incentive for the rest of us to pay our dues and develop the skills to get good at this seemingly impossible uphill battle.  I think it was Steve Ritchie who coined the phrase “Inaccuracy will not be rewarded” and I smile when I think about how it applies to Robotron.  
 
The absence of the re-buy, coupled with the knowledge that you can develop the skills to conquer the beast give us a clear way to measure our progress in the process. Oh yeah, don’t forget the adrenaline rush of being cornered in an impossible position and somehow managing to battle your way out is like nothing else. -Larry DeMar
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NOT ONLY-THAT ROBOTRON  WAS, IS AND ALWAYS BE TO THE VIdEO GAME GENRE ”THE GREATEST GAME” LIKE CHESS IS TO BOARD GAMES; ALTHOUGH DOMINOES AND MAHJONG ARE PLAYED BY MORE PEOPLE, BECAUSE OF POVERTY, OR OVERPOPULATION DEMOGRAPHICS. HOWEVER THE GENIUS AND THE FORESIGHT INTO MAN KIND’S FUTURE AT THAT TIME, BEFORE TERMINATOR IN1984, BEFORE ROBO COP 2 IN1990,……WITH THE FUTURE FIGHT of our very own survival AGAINST THE VERY ROBOTS WE BUILT, AND IN THE END, ARE SET ON DESTROYING HUMANITY -which are indeed, doing, already –
ROBOTRON SET MY HEART AND ART WITH WILLIAMS AND MY GREATEST FRIENDSHIP AND ADMIRATION FOR EUGENE JARVIS AND A FEW OTHER GENIUS GURUS OF DESIGN, STORY.WRITING, VISUAL ART OR MUSICAL COMPOSITION,THEATRICAL CHOREOGRAPHY,………THAT IS WHAT INSPIRED AND DROVE ME, TO ULTIMATELY DESIGN PINBOT OR HIS ROBOT BRIDE ……IRONICALLY ; A ROBOT CALLED “CLINAC” just saved my LIFE, by precision targeted RADIATION on my CANCEROUS BRAIN TUMOR
I WISH ALL OF YOU A HAPPY NEW 2014 !!! WITH NOTHING BUT THE BEST OF VIBES,
                                                                                                                                                  PYTHON ANGHELO.
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In my opinion, for what it is worth, what makes Robotron unique is the control and game flow. You are always in control and the game flows by making each level only slightly more impossible than the last. That makes the game approachable for players that struggle to get to the first Mommy Wave as well as the master players that can roll the score.Because of the way Larry and Eugene built the object list processing, the player’s avatar is always at the top of the list. That means the player can always move and shoot even when there are more enemies than can be moved in a single animation frame. When you get past the first few waves, there is a pause at the beginning of the wave where you can move before any of the enemies do. If you didn’t have this pause, you would be dead before you could react. If you are ever fortunate enough to watch a master player live, on the higher waves you can see that some of the enemies don’t move at all until the nearest ones have been sent to oblivion.That feeling of being in control is very important. We can all remember playing games where the control was not smooth and seamless. You felt like the game beat you. With Robotron, 99% of the time the feeling is “Why did just I do that?”.

The other important factor is the flow of the game. The first few levels build in an algebraic progression. Each level builds on the previous by adding an enemy, but each enemy is only slightly more difficult. There is no “Big Boss Level” to kill you off, just more and more chaos blending to ultimately try and overwhelm you.

That slow build gives most players the chance to continue to learn and progress every time they play. There is no insurmountable enemy that is there to cut the play time short, just your own ability. A few new enemies each wave, letting you learn their strengths and weaknesses. Until you do something stupid to lose the last of your men.

Is Robotron perfect? Of course not. But there is only one bug that is instantly fatal. The dreaded corner enforcer bug. Rolling to the 256th man is not a bug, that is an accomplishment. Rolling the waves back to 0 from wave 255, that is break time for the master player. Even the shot through the grunt’s visor is not instantly fatal (unless you are on your last man and you can’t get a better shot off before he tags you), just really unexpected. So take that, Donkey Kong kill screen.

I admit that I do tarry with pretty new arcade things, but I always come back to Robotron. If I ever only have room for one arcade game, it will definitely be a Multi-Williams with 4″ sticks to play Robotron the way it was meant to be played. – Ken Graham

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