Question- Why did you opt out of putting mazes in Robotron?  (Author’s guess is the programming overhead with a maze generator, or it gets in the way of really interesting enemy dynamics, hot off the success of Defender enemy dynamics.) 
  • The original spec for Robotron called for a series of hand designed mazes leading to a final confrontation with Master Robotron CPU.  But obviously we never got around to this.  Why?  Because the game became fun at a very early stage, and the open playfield was a super rush, and allowed a tremendous variety and dynamism.  By algorithmically auto dispatching a wave based upon a table of preset parameters the game attained tremendous variety, making a maze unnecessary and maybe even limiting and inferior.  When you are on a 6 month project, and basic law of design is once a game is fun you are done!  – Eugene Jarvis 2/4/2013
Question- How did the Robot designs come about for Robotron?   The Berzerk robots are perfectly classic.  What did it take to come up with a robot that was visually appealing without taking the easy route of looking too much like Berzerk?  Who exactly did the artistic design for Robotron? 
  • The art and animation for Robotron was a combination of artistry from , and programmer art from myself and Larry DeMar, and contributions by artists Ken Roberts and John Sheldrake   The art was developed using graph paper and colored pencils and later with a custom pixel art development station we called Picasso.  When you are pixel pushing with 16 colors and small characters it is a real challenge to bring life to the animations – every pixel counts! – Eugene Jarvis 2/4/2013

Question- Any other Berzerk related insights that aren’t commonly known, as it related to the design work in Robotron? 

  • Probably my favorite aspect of Berzerk (other than the basic game and awesome sounds) is the fact that the robots kill each other or themselves  by shooting or colliding with walls.  Having the Grunts die when walking into an electrode in Robotron was a vestige of this behavior.  Another thing was the Hulks indestructible nature. (inspired by Evil Otto in Berzerk). – Eugene Jarvis 2/4/2013

The History of Robotron: 2084 – Running Away While Defending Humanoids

According to Jarvis, “I was a great fan of the game Berzerk, and the frustration of that and all other single-joystick games was that you have to move toward an enemy in order to fire in that direction. Berzerk had a mode that alleviated that somewhat in that you held the fire button down, the character would stand still and then a bullet could be fired with the joystick in any direction. So essentially in that mode the joystick fires the bullet. I just put on a separate joystick to fire bullets.”

Jarvis toyed with the idea of a more passive game with no firing, where you would kill the robots by making them walk into Electrodes, but soon realized that this was not the path to gaming enlightenment:

“It was fun for about fifteen minutes, running the robots into the electrodes. But pacifism has its limits. Gandhi, the video game, would have to wait; it was time for some killing action. We wired up the ‘fire’ joystick and the chaos was unbelievable. Next we dialed up the Robot count on the terminal. 10 was fun. How about 20? 30, 60, 90, 120! The tension of having the world converge on you from all sides simultaneously and the incredible body count created an unparalleled adrenalin rush. Add to it the mental overload of a truly ambidextrous control, and it was insanity at its best.”

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