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Much more fun than that E.T. game
December 9, 2009 4:46 AM   Subscribe

Panic, makers of fine Macintosh software, commissions an illustrator to work with the concept "What if we were around in 1982, and our apps were early Atari 2600 games?" Awesomeness ensues.
posted by porn in the woods (59 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's funny because it's new stuff, but it looks just like old stuff.
posted by cillit bang at 4:52 AM on December 9, 2009


portland rules.
posted by krautland at 4:56 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


They have some damn fine artists working there. Those things are PERFECT.

Boy, they aren't afraid to charge for them, either. Ouch.
posted by Malor at 5:41 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Loves me some CandyBar; loves me some Transmit.

That's all the Panic I need at the moment.
posted by bwg at 5:50 AM on December 9, 2009


What would you call that "art" style? Like the article says, it's terrifying, and exactly in line with that narrow 2600 timeline.
posted by notsnot at 5:55 AM on December 9, 2009


Panic is a Macintosh software slash t-shirt company. They make a FTP and freaking usenet software, and they sell t-shirts based off of Keita Takahashi videogames (Katamari and Noby Noby Boy). I guess they got Takahashi's approval because he hates attention and would be appalled if he sold a lot of t-shirts, or something. What a weird company.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 6:06 AM on December 9, 2009


Loves me some CandyBar; loves me some Transmit.

But *nothing* beats Coda.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:13 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Coda's barely been updated at all in the two plus years since v1.0 - well, they're released a lot of patches and bugfixes, but nothing substantive.

They've openly admitted that the version 1 UI was a serious "misstep", but have shown no interest in fixing it. Even the promised "minor changes" to make it work better haven't materialised.

Perhaps they should switch to making T-shirts full time. It seems to be where their heart is.
posted by cillit bang at 6:14 AM on December 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Panic is a Macintosh software slash t-shirt company.

Maaaan, whoever didn't say "Instead of making these into posters, we should make them into t-shirts" should be fired retroactively back to 1982 (or whenever they were born, whichever is later).
posted by 23skidoo at 6:20 AM on December 9, 2009


Unison is awesome, and I dig the box of kleenex on the fella's desk in the artwork.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:21 AM on December 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


What would you call that "art" style?

I'm not sure what, or if, it has an actual name, but it was actually a fairly common style back in the 70's and into the 80's. Back when illustrators actually drew and painted their creations on paper or canvas. Lots of illustrators worked in similar "collage/montage" styles...though these versions certainly veer to the "manic" end of the spectrum. Great work.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:39 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


They've openly admitted that the version 1 UI was a serious "misstep", but have shown no interest in fixing it. Even the promised "minor changes" to make it work better haven't materialised.

Wait a second, you're getting mad at a developer for not delivering an update they vaguely mentioned on their blog? One that you didn't pay for? Jesus christ, fuck them for being slightly open about what they are working on. It's entitled fuckers like you that make me glad I'm not a software developer.

You're almost as bad as the people who got bent out of shape about the Tweete 2 iPhone app update.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 6:41 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


notsnot: "What would you call that "art" style?"

Vingtsixcentism?
posted by Joe Beese at 6:49 AM on December 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Lots of illustrators worked in similar "collage/montage" styles...

Yes they did.
posted by mintcake! at 7:00 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


not delivering an update they vaguely mentioned on their blog

To be honest, nowadays that counts as corporate communication.
posted by smackfu at 7:03 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait a second, you're getting mad at a developer for not delivering an update they vaguely mentioned on their blog? One that you didn't pay for?

We bought Coda licenses for $99-a-piece when v1.0 came out. Conceptually it strongly matches our company's workflow, but there were a few rough edges that we expected to be ironed out over time, and they haven't. We'd be very happy to pay for upgrades, if they existed.

What we're not happy about is being stuck using the clunky v1.0 UI forever and ever with no way forward.

Meanwhile, MacRabbit are promising some interesting updates in Espresso v1.1, which sounds like it might match Coda in functionality. No pointless uninspired retro games artwork though.
posted by cillit bang at 7:08 AM on December 9, 2009


You're almost as bad as the people who got bent out of shape about the Tweete 2 iPhone app update.

You mean the yet-to-be-delivered Tweetie for Mac update. It's still at 1.x while the iPhone version is on 2.x.

Never thought that my Mac would play second fiddle to a phone.
posted by mrbill at 7:09 AM on December 9, 2009


Jesus christ, fuck them... It's entitled fuckers like you...

Talk about getting bent out of shape. Dial it back a notch, maybe.
posted by cribcage at 7:11 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Of all the threads I thought might erupt into explosive flamewars this morning, I gotta say this was not one . . .
posted by The Bellman at 7:34 AM on December 9, 2009 [10 favorites]


I can't really recall what 1982 smelled like. That's the most interesting ponderable I came away with. (Which is not to say that the art isn't cool, because it is. It's just not what I'm going to be thinking about for the rest of the day.)
posted by Wolfdog at 7:44 AM on December 9, 2009


I can't really recall what 1982 smelled like.

The aftermath of a key party.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:56 AM on December 9, 2009


I can't really recall what 1982 smelled like.

To me it smelled like the iodine my mom put on my thumb when I got blisters from playing Atari 2600 games.


I'm serious. Whenever we'd get a new game (a rare but wonderful occasion), my father was usually better at it than me at first. And I'd play it non-stop whenever I could get TV time (after school before he got home, waking up in the morning before school) until I could definitely beat him.

Though I can look back on that fondly, it's also with a longing that I can't focus on ANYTHING with that level of dedication anymore, even the things I love.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:56 AM on December 9, 2009


I can't focus on ANYTHING with that level of dedication anymore, even the things I love.

No kidding. Depressing, isn't it?
posted by aramaic at 8:03 AM on December 9, 2009


psst! hey! hey you! porn in the woods! I have a secret for you!

you rock!
posted by shmegegge at 8:14 AM on December 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


I love the Transmit fake box artwork so much I wish I could buy just that one poster.

When I was a kid, my dad ran a taco truck between businesses, and one of the businesses was a toy warehouse/importer. My dad made friends and connections with employees and trades were made of free food for toys, and I happened to be lucky enough to have just about every early 80s console and game produced (I probably played 2600 the most, intellivision second, but I actually loved a few colecovision games dearly. Oh and Vetrex was the system I played well into 1990).

So I had this wall of 2600 cartridges, maybe a 100 or more, and it's crazy but when you get one a week for a couple years and you play the shit out of them for a day or so and then give up, you can still walk into the room and think "there's nothing good to play here" despite your friends' eyeballs falling out of their heads when they walk into your living room at seeing the number of choices.

During the times I was sulking and bored because I didn't want to try another 20 minute run at Pitfall, I used to stare at the artwork on the boxes and cartridges for hours, wondering openly about the disconnect between the richly layered visual stories portrayed in the artwork versus the clunky blocky gameplay contained within.

Several times a week I'd just pick up a box and stare at the artwork for something like Barnstorming, and I'd wish I was on the ground at that farm, watching that crazy pilot steer his crop duster through Old Man Evan's barn as the chickens flew everywhere and the farmer's daughter blushed.
posted by mathowie at 8:14 AM on December 9, 2009 [41 favorites]


Fucking Portland. Just decide between Vancouver or Seattle, k?
posted by bardic at 8:27 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wolfdog: "I can't really recall what 1982 smelled like."

As I associate that year with the height of the nuclear freeze movement, I would say it smelled like the acrid stench of fear.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:31 AM on December 9, 2009


I started Art school in the fall of '82 and remember that being a modern illustrator meant having cardboard boxes full of magazine clippings all categorized to use in illustrations. A fair number of people used an opaque projector to transfer/resize these reference images.

I remember a teacher (old guard form the early 60's) saying that relying on an opaque projector was a good way to slowly starve to death.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:32 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


My 1982 smelled like the plastic my Dukes of Hazzard Big Wheel was made of, specifically the smell of the wheels after skidding to a stop.
The two facial expressions of the Unison guy are just way to goddamned funny. Also: panic rules.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:47 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would say it smelled like the acrid stench of fear.

Pretty much this. I was terrified of nuclear war. As well I should have been - the Russians were just waiting for the chance to bomb us all, as every other TV show, movie, news story, and even the president himself reminded me on a daily basis.

Also smelled a lot of hair products.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:51 AM on December 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


1982 didn't smell like Drakkar Noir? I've been lied to all these years?
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:58 AM on December 9, 2009


The smell of 1982 is mostly synthetic and is a unique mix of the following scents:
  • Brut 44 deodorant
  • The partly dried electrolytic smell of the handheld electronic game Merlin
  • The more subtle, but still present olfactory overtone of Strawberry Hubba Bubba bubblegum
posted by jeremias at 9:02 AM on December 9, 2009 [6 favorites]


This reminds me, I got most of my Atari games in a strange way.

My stepdad was a computer engineer, worked for a very large defense contractor. Somehow, some of the engineers either managed to get a hold of the original chips from games or one of them bought a cartridge and pried the chip(s) out. Either way, they were able to copy the games to new chips which they naturally brought home to the kids. At home the chips were placed in homemade cartridge/circuit board, a latch was flipped to hold them in pace and then the whole cartridge was inserted into the game unit just like any other cartridge. Here's a quick sketch of how it all looked. I think the chip holders were different sizes, but I can't swear to it. Most of the earlier games only needed one chip, but the later ones (like Pitfall I think) needed two chips. I remember thinking about the engineers were really smart because they built in space for two chips even when one was needed.

The chips were stored in little plastic cases, with a piece of foam, so the prongs of the chip didn't have to rest against anything hard I presume. Changing games was a matter of turning the system off, flipping the latch down and carefully, CAREFULLy, removing the chip and placing it in the plastic box. Fun times.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:15 AM on December 9, 2009 [14 favorites]


~wondering openly about the disconnect between the richly layered visual stories portrayed in the artwork versus the clunky blocky gameplay contained within~

Totally this.

Now it's the opposite...the art you see in WoW ads doesn't even begin to capture the grandness of the experience within.
posted by chronkite at 9:25 AM on December 9, 2009


1982 smells like the inside of a Chess King.
posted by Spatch at 9:32 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


mathowie: "I used to stare at the artwork on the boxes and cartridges for hours, wondering openly about the disconnect between the richly layered visual stories portrayed in the artwork versus the clunky blocky gameplay contained within."

Same here. I've wondered sometimes when games reached the point that they actually began living up to the ability of the artists designing the box art.

For me, I think the turning point was Myst in 1993/4; so maybe it was the CD-Rom that finally let games surpass the cardboard they came in.

Although the more that I think of it, some very late-floppy-era games (ones that came on huge stacks of 3.5" disks) were pretty immersive and had strong plotlines too, so it's probably unfair to write them off. But their graphics were still generally pretty poor compared to the offset-printed box. (My favorite game in this genre was "Sensory Overload", which not even Google seems to recall anymore.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:49 AM on December 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm reminded of these awesome fake 2600 boxes on mightygodking's site.

Brandon Blatcher: those latch thingies were ZIF sockets!
posted by zsazsa at 9:57 AM on December 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Also
posted by COBRA! at 10:02 AM on December 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


I traded every one of my Atari 2600 cartridges for six floppies loaded with copied C64 warez. To me, a 10-year-old bored with the Atari and thrilled by the adventure of computing, it was a steal. To the gigantic hacker lady that showed up on our doorstep to trade hundreds of dollars worth of physical cartridges for the cost of six blank floppies, it literally *was* a steal.

But hey, at least she left me my copy of Combat. I wish I could go back in time to smack myself.
posted by waxpancake at 10:10 AM on December 9, 2009


My favorite thing about the old atari boxes was that you knew what they were: they were the attempts of an artist who likely wasn't all that into playing games to try to explain what the fuck was supposed to be happening on screen, likely by having a coder explain it to him in a way that totally didn't really explain it. there was always a sense of bewilderment about the old atari boxes, when it comes down to it, Adventure didn't make any sense, and Breakout was narratively incomprehensible.
posted by shmegegge at 10:17 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


It smelled like shit

1982 - The children of the sixties now reek of shitty perfume and hairspray. The women's heads rising from hideous shoulder padded polyester creations, trying to emulate the wealthy bitchy heroines of Dynasty. Their pudgy fingered husbands trundle along beside them pulling at their collar dreaming of golf courses and the next Bo Derek spread.

Their man is in the White House, finally they get to to dress up flash some cash and hoot at the masses.

Step aside peasants.
posted by pianomover at 10:33 AM on December 9, 2009




Panic are really awesome guys - their software was what made me jealous of Mac users before I switched, even though when I switched I realized that CyberDuck was better and freer than Transmit and MacVim and/or TextMate were better than Coda, and Bittorrent (utorrent and Transmission) were better than Unison.

Then again, I still want to use their stuff because it's just so cute looking that I would buy another Mac and all Ikea furniture to go along with it. The power of artists.
posted by tmcw at 11:26 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Loves me some CandyBar; loves me some Transmit.

After a few years and a few versions, I gave up on Transmit after the ninth time it renamed a file all on its own, and I'm back to the reborn Interarchy now. Better, faster, more reliable.

But those Panic guys sure do make purty icons. And the Atari boxes are damn pretty, too.
posted by rokusan at 11:50 AM on December 9, 2009


I traded every one of my Atari 2600 cartridges for six floppies loaded with copied C64 warez... To the gigantic hacker lady that showed up on our doorstep... it literally *was* a steal.

Odds that this old-school hacker lady is a MetaFilter member: about 50-50.

I await the throwdown.
posted by rokusan at 11:52 AM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I traded every one of my Atari 2600 cartridges for six floppies loaded with copied C64 warez.

And you're just finishing loading the last game up now, aren't you?

Man, them 1541 drives were slow.
posted by Spatch at 12:09 PM on December 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ahh.. 1982. I remember having Intellivision back then, while all my friends had Atari 2600. I was always arguing with my Mom because she thought I should be perfectly satisfied with just three games for my Intellivision. After all, there were hundreds of different difficulty modes for each game, so it should be like, a new game every time. At least that's how my Mom explained it to me. It took me a whole year to talk her into getting me Star Strike. As far as Mom was concerned, an 11 year old boy should be more than happy to get ONE video game a year.

Fast forward to 1985, and my little brother and sister get a NES for Christmas. Not only that, but their own television so they can play Nintendo in their room. They got all the games they wanted, no arguments at all.

Man, being the oldest kid sure did suck.
posted by smoothvirus at 12:37 PM on December 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Probably should have toned down my original comment, sorry cillit bang. I still think you're being silly, it's not like if they didn't did this there would be done with the new Coda by now, but still.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 1:57 PM on December 9, 2009


I traded every one of my Atari 2600 cartridges for six floppies loaded with copied C64 warez.

And you're just finishing loading the last game up now, aren't you?

Man, them 1541 drives were slow.


Heh, that's for sure. By 1985 anyone with a clue was rocking an Epyx FastLoad cartridge.
posted by porn in the woods at 2:10 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or you'd punched in TurboDisk in MLX.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:03 PM on December 9, 2009


it's not like if they didn't did this there would be done with the new Coda by now

Possibly not, but it'd certainly be nice if they (and Gruber and the rest of the Max community) showed as much enthusiasm for well-written productivity apps as they do for the latest escalation in the graphical doodads arms race.
posted by cillit bang at 3:40 PM on December 9, 2009


Laughing pretty hard at this comment from the Panic site:

Looks like Lou Reed was using Unison during the “Sally Can’t Dance” era.
posted by porn in the woods at 4:07 PM on December 9, 2009


I always found the disconnect between the Atari booklet art and the game itself disappointing. I'd look at the box or cartridge and my imagination would go crazy and then I'd try playing it and would be let down until gradually I got into it.
posted by frenetic at 4:51 PM on December 9, 2009


Possibly not, but it'd certainly be nice if they (and Gruber and the rest of the Max community) showed as much enthusiasm for well-written productivity apps as they do for the latest escalation in the graphical doodads arms race.

I wasn't aware that there was a graphical doodads arm race in Mac software development :p. But yea, I don't think there is any undue excitement over these on mac blogs (I haven't seen anything more than a link and "oh hay that's cool") and well, I think you are being a huge spoil sport if you get out of shape over Panic having a little fun. There certainly was a bigger deal made over Coda being launched than this, and if Coda 2.0 came out it would certainly be bigger than this. Might not make Metafilter, Pepsi Blue and all, but Gruber would write reams about it at least.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 5:12 PM on December 9, 2009


Can somebody translate what the applications in question actually are? I was able to guess the Panic one largely because of the truck, but the others are a mystery to me.
posted by John Shaft at 8:51 PM on December 9, 2009


Can somebody translate what the applications in question actually are?

I can! Transmit (trucker one) is a file transfer client with a truck for an icon. Unison (freaked out guy at computer one) is a Usenet newsreader. CandyBar (chef one) is an icon changer. Finally Coda (zen one) is a web/HTML editor for super hand-coders.

As always, the art is always way cooler. Glad you guys mostly enjoyed this ridiculous project!
posted by cabel at 9:32 PM on December 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


This has me interested in who did the artwork for the 2600 cartridges and the Intellivision cartridges:

AD&D
Armor Battle
Sea Battle
Star Strike
Sub Hunt

And I have to get around to making that documentary called CHOP DUB: The Voice Over Talent behind the Five Deadly Venoms
posted by juiceCake at 10:17 PM on December 9, 2009


I wasn't aware that there was a graphical doodads arm race in Mac software development

Apple has only ever supplied the most basic set of UI widgets to developers, and excludes things that have been commonplace in Apple's own apps for years. Therefore even boring software that looks like it's just using standard bits and pieces (like Coda) has actually required a significant investment in graphic design, just to keep up with Apple.
posted by cillit bang at 1:20 AM on December 10, 2009


Hey juiceCake, check out this FAQ on the Intellivision. Do a browser search for "cover art" there is a lot of minutiae in there including the names of the artists.
posted by jeremias at 9:54 AM on December 10, 2009


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