Atari XL-XE and software houses

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tresas
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Atari XL-XE and software houses

Post by tresas »

Hi everybody,
I remember that during the '80s when I owned an Atari 800XL, I had less game choices than Amstrad, Commodore and Spectrum users. Traditional companies like Ocean, Imagine and Psygnosis didn't create games for my computer. I was under the impression that the big software houses had a strange attitude towards Atari. On the other hand, I think that there were many (probably less famous) software houses that weren't involved with the other computer manufacturers that I mentioned above. Do I remember correctly? Does anybody else have the same impression? If yes, then why was this happening?
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Re: Atari XL-XE and software houses

Post by jruark56 »

tresas,

Don't know about Europe, but here in the US the major production houses supported the Atari brand well. They only pulled out of the Atari market when it became evident that Atari was offering only token support for their 8 bit platform.

Piracy was also bandied about as a reason why software developers were less than happy to market their products to the Atari 8 bit user, but I believe that history has shown that piracy was no more rampant in this market than in any other. We just had a smaller user base. The effects may have been more noticeable because of that.

I do recall a decent amount of "home-grown" software being produced and marketed toward the end of the Atari XE/XL life cycle. Mostly made by individual people. This was an attempt to keep the platform alive. Most of this software was either given away for free on the major time-share networks or marketed as shareware. I don't know how successful the shareware concept was for the Atari platform.

Maybe your experience is something of a mirror of what was happening/had happened in the US. The official support from Atari was going in another direction (the ST line) and some smaller developers saw an opportunity to fill a void for the existing user base. Just a thought.

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Re: Atari XL-XE and software houses

Post by tresas »

Thank you for the answer! You have got many points! I wonder if the real reason was that we were a smaller user base than Amstrad, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64. I also wonder if Atari had a strict policy for software houses regarding copyright laws.
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Re: Atari XL-XE and software houses

Post by Greyfox™ »

From a European point of view, I grew up on the Atari platform and I feel a more concrete reason to why many companies in Europe didn't support it, was what I believe to be the Atari had more skilled programming acumen in America and the fact that it's 8bit range was created there, and seems to be more American software houses like datasoft, sysnaps and also it's a known fact that their was more coverage in programming teaching magazines etc found in more amercian publications than Europe, so some of the best software came from there, also I think that Commodore with its c64 managed to win over the european Market place as a great all round 8bit computer, although the atari 8bit range had superior graphic chips and was able to display 256 colours at the same time , no other computer at the time could do. I think the c64 was the victor, hence why I think Atari didn't get a look in, it was either the atari 8bit or the c64, the c64 won, the others BBC and spectrum, well they where developed and engineered in the UK, so that was a given. although there was a small amount of game development done in in Europe, likes of masteronic, English software did stuff in the mid 80's and brilliantly too, but it would be the likes of LK Avalon and allot of polish games developers near the end of it's cycle showed what could be done, shame they didn't shine in the early days when that atari could of benefited of show of powerful programming and software maybe the European developers might of seen it's protenial.

I reckon the English game devs, simply couldn't get out the goods of the Atari the same way the Amercians could, or they simply whe not prepared to take a risk on a system they felt hadn't got a huge user base the speccy, BBC, or c64 did, it's a sad fact, but this is what I feel happened, as I was one of those people looking at the advertisements in the English magazines and been disappointed to the fact that the great games coming out where not gonna be heading to the Atari :(
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tresas
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Re: Atari XL-XE and software houses

Post by tresas »

Thank you for your answer!!! I thing you got exactly the point!!! The major problem of 8bit Atari computers was the lack of support of European software houses (and especially of the British and French) that played a great part in the success of the Zx- Spectrum and Amstrad cpc.
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Re: Atari XL-XE and software houses

Post by nativ »

8 bit wise I only ever saw ZX Spectrums and a couple of friends had Acorns, didn't find an XE till a couple of years of having the STe.

Software was everywhere for the ZX too, like in the newsagents too.
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Re: Atari XL-XE and software houses

Post by thorsten_guenther »

The Atari XL/XE sold far less than the C64 here in Germany, but were about on par with the Speccy. Yet, from about 1983/84, hardly any new software came from across the Pond, Atari Deutschland dropped their software distribution around the same time and the native programming scene was small - YMMV, but only Christoph Schulte-Vennbur (who wrote the "Axis Komputerkunst" intro and "Slotmachine", Peter Finzel ("Cavelord" and "Schreckenstein") https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8o0Gc4CiOLA and Julian Reschke ("Highway Duel" and "Nadral") were able to reach the highest levels of proficiency on the A8 back then.

Mastertronic and Firebird then published some titles - mainly ports from the Speccy, and some mediocre ones among them, followed by other UK publishers (Atlantis, etc.) in the mid to late 1980s, but only after the fall of the iron curtain the (mainly Polish) publishers like LK Avalon again reached a high quality level.

Oh, and Activision published Peter Sabath's already finished port of "Shanghai", and a rather mediocre port of "Rampage" (one "player" for each of the characters!).
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Re: Atari XL-XE and software houses

Post by kiwilove007 »

The Atari Home Computers (400/800) really had only a few years of prominence and active support - the peak of which was probably the Synapse years - where we saw the appearance of Blue Max, Encounter - and then it all went downhill rather fast.
The appearance of the XL/XE line didn't see the release of any outstanding titles that took full advantage of 64K and more... the best Lucasfilms games were it's earlier titles - that ran fine on the older computers, rather than it's last two.
Dropzone to me, showed how it should have been done - which didn't require 64k.

It is quirky how things turn out..

In late 2012 I would not have thought that I'll be working on a Atari 400/800/etc project again... but 2013 turned out unexpectedly well... with the progress and development of GTIABlast! --- now AtariBLAST!
The latest demo is actually quite nice - which won't make an appearance until later this year... by which time it should be looking and running even better than what it is now...
Using Atari 400/800 architecture - it really shows how advanced this hardware is - but it does require the time and effort to get to know how to best use it.

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Re: Atari XL-XE and software houses

Post by Retrogamer_ST »

Synapse was one of the best. Activision also released many great titles, like Great American Cross Country Road Race, i still love that game. Other great software houses were English Software, Broderbund and First Star.

It's a bit of a shame that several well known software houses went bankrupt in the great video game crash of 1983-84 who released many great titles for Atari 2600. Software houses like Xonox for exemple.

Some of the big developers for Atari 800 like English software only released a few titles for the ST.

Right now i run lots of games on Atari 2600 using the Stella emulator. I want to know more about Ataris legendary game console that outsold all other Atari products alone and sold over 30 million units.

Atari 2600 is more similar to A8 then i first thought. Tha magic Atari colours is there thanks to Jay Miners TIA chip. Not only that, Atari 2600 seems to be capable to do things that even Atari 800 can't do thanks to it's odd way of displaying graphics directly to the screen.

Well, i have to continue to get to know Atari 2600 better. :)
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