Choose from the following list of laser disc game manufacturers to see their prototype games.
Knight Rider - Atari had a few different ideas on the laser disc game drawing board. Knight Rider was one of those ideas. Unfortunately a Knight Rider laser disc game never saw the light of day.
Golf Trainer - A golf simulator where you would hit actual golf balls into a projection screen. Sensors would measure you swing, where the ball hit the screen, etc., and would calculate and project the ball on the screen onto the real course from the laser disc footage.
Malibu Grand Prix - A driving laser disc game that was filmed at the hugely popular Malibu Grand Prix raceway, which used miniature indy race cars.
Battlestar Galactica - Here is another title that Atari was working on. It would have been a conversion kit for their FireFox arcade game. Below is an image of the test laser disc containing footage of Golf Trainer / Battlestar Galactica and also a promotional video from Atari describing Battlestar Galactica.
Road Runner - This unique laser disc game used footage from Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon series. The Road Runner, Coyote, and other objects/obstacles in the game were CG, while the road and background images were from the laser disc. When you died, the game would cut to a scene from the cartoon series of the Coyote getting killed in one the many humorous death scenes.
Before the game was released, Atari decided that laser disc technology was not the way of the future so Road Runner was shelved. A year later the game was released as a conversion kit for their popular System 1 cabinets, but as a CG-only version. The road and background images were now CG and all of the cut scenes were removed.
Master tape used for laser disc pressing
The prototype cabinet was on display at California Extreme 2010. Below are videos of the attract mode and game play.
Below is an excerpt of an email from Owen Rubin discussing his role with laser disc games during his time at Atari. Owen was the third programmer hired at Atari, where he worked for 8 years from 1976 thru 1984. He developed some of Atari's arcade hits like Sky Diver, Human Cannonball, Space Duel, and Major Havoc.
I spent two summer sessions at MIT in 77 and 78 (or maybe 78 and 79) educating myself on laser disk games and technology in the Architecture Machine Group (later to become the Media Lab), and basically came back to Atari and suggested that we did NOT do any games with laser disc. Bottom line, the technology would not survive the arcade environment, was slow and unreliable, and was very expensive for what you really got out of it. And I was right, but we started several games anyway. One was Firefox, one was Road Runner, which was tested in an arcade, and then redesigned to not have the laser disc because it kept failing. Then we started Battlestar Galactica, for which an early LD was made but not much else.
On Knight Rider and Battlestar Galactica, we went to Universal and got to look through a LOT of footage (some aired some not) of shots from the shows. On Knight Rider, the game was going to be a driving game where you had to use KITT's special features to catch the bad guys. Jumping, speed, guns, electronic jamming, etc. It would be a combination graphics and video game (NOT like Firefox) with graphics better than most driving games and live video mixed in, and the voice of KITT helping you along in the game. When you did a stunt with KITT, you would see an instant replay of the stunt in live video from the show. We also had some great footage that was never seen. Like what REALLY happened to the cars after they made a jump. It really crumpled the front of the cars a lot, but that was edited out. If you missed a jump timing in the game for example, you would see the car land and crumple and you loose a life (or whatever). There were lots of outtakes that would have made great game play error footage. We never got much further than that as we killed all laser disc games shortly after Road Runner.
Road Runner was similar. It used video game graphics for the game play almost identical to the game that was releases except that it used LD video instead of graphics for the background. Very cool to have the game graphics go in and out of cartoon footage. When the Road Runner would "get" the coyote (like making him fall off a cliff or hit a truck) the game would pause and a LD "video replay" would show a real cartoon segment with that same thing that just happened. For example, in the game where the coyote has avoid stepping on the land mines, when he does, the game shows him getting blown-up in graphics, and then (not always) a video would show a real cartoon excerpt from a Road Runner cartoon of the coyote getting blown up. It was very cool.
On Battlestar Galactica, it was my idea originally as I was a Galactica fan obviously, (those are Cylon ships in Major Havoc, and the graphics displays in the tactical display were drawn like in Galactica as well), the guys who did Star Wars and Firefox started the project. I did a small amount of work as well. All that was really done was some footage on the LD that let you land a fighter ship into one of the landing bays on either side of the large ship.
I also did a Golf Simulator game where you actually hit real golf balls at a projection screen and the ball was projected the rest of the way. We recorded thousands of pictures of the Los Gatos golf course on a LD. When you started, we would project the view from the tee. You would hit a real ball with a real club, we has sensors that measured your swing, your weight balance, and where the ball hit the screen and we would calculate and project the ball on the screen onto the real course. After each shot, you could get a lesson from a Pro on something the system analyzed you might have done wrong, we measured so many things, and had about 200 lessons from golf pros. A graphic top down view would display where you shot went, and then we would display the next view. It had silly things like going into water hazard footage as well.
Do you have any information on prototype laser disc games that isn't listed here? Be a contributor!
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