Alan McNeil insight on the inspiration for Robotron

  • Extensive interview about Alan’s gaming history CLICK

“I talked to Eugene Jarvis and Larry DeMar [the developers of the Berzerk-influenced Robotron: 2084] when I was considering working for Williams.  They are both great guys.  I remember Eugene saying that Berzerk irritated them and they wanted to modify it to include some tougher situations.  That was the itch they scratched for Robotron.  I’m the same way.  Something will irritate me and I’ll want to improve or redesign it” -per The Making of…Berzerk in Edge Magazine

Berzerk WIKI-

  • Alan McNeil, an employee of Universal Research Laboratories (a division of Stern Electronics), had a dream one night involving a black-and-white video game in which he had to fight robots. This dream, with heavy borrowing from the BASIC game Robots (Daleks in the UK), was the basis for Berzerk, which was named for Fred Saberhagen‘s Berserker series of science fiction novels.
  • “Evil Otto” was named after Dave Otto, security chief at McNeil’s former employer Dave Nutting Associates. According to McNeil, Otto would, “[smile] while he chewed you out.”[2] He would also lock McNeil and his fellow employees out of the building to enforce a noon-hour lunch, as well as piping “beautiful” music into every room.
  • The idea for a black-and-white game was abandoned when the color game Defender was released earlier the same year to significant success. At that point Stern decided to use a color overlay board for Berzerk. A quick conversion was made, and all but the earliest versions of the game shipped with a color CRT display.
  • Alan’s contact info-



Alan McNeil (from “Intruder Alert:  Berzerk creator Alan McNeil on gaming’s past and present” at Examiner)

  • “A salesman visited us during the development of Berzerk with a ‘speech chip’ for intended for helping blind people. They were hoping to get it into toys or games. It sounded very robotic and was limited to 24 or less fixed words of vocabulary.”
  • “I was sick of smiley face buttons wrapping paper and nasty store clerks that gave you no help at all then said ‘Have a nice day! It seemed like a painting yellow smiley faces on everything was supposed to make us all ignore nastiness.  So that was why a smiley face.  I’m a pretty sarcastic guy when it comes to cultural trends.”
  • “They sent me the album and I loved that song. I’m a bit biased but thing it was better that Pac-Man Fever. Maybe that’s sour grapes because Pac-Man is the game that finally knocked Berzerk from number one after a long run. I also got called by Don Was of Was/NotWas. He wanted to know how I did the robot voice and if it was my voice. They might have been working on Robot Girl.”
  • “It’s like the difference between travelling storytellers and movie production houses. The number of people involved, money spent and the creative process have changed. In the old days a single person could cook up the whole game, programming and art.”
  • “If I did another I think I would aim it at the coin op collectors because they are a lot of great people in collector land.  I still have left over ideas from Frenzy.  Also, during moving out after divorce I found four folders of game ideas.  I’ve got nothing and no one telling me it’s childish to do games and get a real job except maybe the bills. So you never know, if I get ahead of the bills I’m ready for a creative project.”

Graphic from Alan McNeil (Oct 2010)- “This is the artist original for the side panel. They let me keep it after the rejected it for cost.”


Alan McNeil- “The Bezel was always the same. A comic book fan showed me a comic book cover the was almost identical to this art. He suspects the artist copied the cover.”


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