Choose from the following list of laserdisc game manufacturers to see their prototype games.
Knight Rider - Atari had a few different ideas on the laserdisc game drawing board. Knight Rider was one of those ideas. Unfortunately a Knight Rider laserdisc game never saw the light of day.
Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom - Read here what could have been a video disc game based on the second Indiana Jones movie.
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 laserdisc footage. Below are the videos showing the footage contained in the prototype laserdisc, which is currently property of a collector.
Malibu Grand Prix - A driving laserdisc game that was filmed at the hugely popular Malibu Grand Prix driving center in Redwood City, California, which used miniature indy race cars. Below are some images and video coming from the prototype laserdisc (currently also property of a collector): there is about 20 minutes of game footage, plus some rare, behind the scenes action of the crew, and other Atari Employees. This game was cancelled too, when they realized that laserdisc players were not reliable enough for use in arcade game.
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 a video from the test laserdisc containing footage of Golf Trainer /
Battlestar Galactica: it is basically test footage that used modified Firefox code. Again Atari dropped the project before any serious development started. Near the end of the video is a frame of signatures from everyone who worked on putting this test game together.
From an e-mail to Owen Rubin:
The video on the disk is recorded in such a way that playing it back would look like garbage. It is a bunch of still frames that you play out of order so that you can change what you are playing seamlessly. For example, the landing footage is one of 9 to 16 or so frames from different positions as you approach the landing bay. Imaging a 3x3 of 4x4 grid of possible positions you can approach from, with the center being straight on. If you fly straight, the program would display every 9th frame which was the video of flying straight. If you moved right, you would select the proper "frame view" and it would look like you moved in the video to the right, and now play every 9th "right position 1" video frame in order. With this scheme, you could fly in 2 dimensions with the joystick while the game pushed you forward in the third as well, controlled by a throttle.
Road Runner - This unique laserdisc 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 laserdisc. 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 laserdisc 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 laserdisc pressing
Prototype cabinet at CAX
Prototype cabinet at Atari facility
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 laserdisc 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 laserdisc 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 laserdisc. 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 laserdisc 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 lose 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 laserdisc 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 released 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 to 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 had 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 your 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 laserdisc games that isn't listed here? Be a contributor!
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