It's Time To Dig The Most Widely Published Home-Videogame Yet!

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About 'Miner 2049er'

by The Editors of Electronic Games

(Appeared in the August 1983 issue of "Electronic Games" Magazine)

  • What is it about the hot new climbing sensation, "Miner 2049er", that has set the electronic gaming world on its ear? Fact is, this Bill Hogue-designed tour de force is as important for what it isn't as for what it is. So, to begin, Miner 2049er isn't:

    * A home version of an existing coin-op.
    * Based on a popular, existing licensed character.
    * Published by a company with a big rep in the gaming field.

  • The phenomenon -- and make no mistake about it, Miner's publication is perhaps the most significant software event of the year -- starts from the fact that this is one super-duper program. Not just "good": Miner shines with the aura of true greatness. Software publishers have offered computerists some mighty fine disks over the years, but few are as fundamentally playable -- and original -- as this epic- length action contest. The fact is that, until the recent crack-down on infringers by the coin-op manufacturers, all too many computer games were little more than knock-offs of pay-for-play machines. No one will ever know how many computer games came into being as a result of "fact-finding" trips by designers to their local family amusement centers. More than one programmer has returned from the arcade after pumping a few tokens into a promising game, with the outlines of something awfully similar already percolating in his head.

  • That state of affairs has changed, and the introduction of Miner 2049er is a monument marking computer-dom's turn toward greater software innovation. Nowadays, home arcade titles like "Journey" (Data Age) and "Chasm" (GCE) are reversing the expected flow by going into the coin-op format after their initial release on cartridge.

  • In Miner, Bill Hogue has created a contest with arcade-quality play- action buttressed by sound and graphics that are pretty close to computer game state-of-the-art. The 10 screens of challenge present the story of Bounty Bob, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who is tracking down Yukon Yohan, a nastie who is hiding out in a huge mine that once belonged to Nuclear Ned.

  • Remember, though, that this is the year 2049. As the gamer works through enthralling screen after enthralling screen, he/she will get to experiment with such play-features as matter transporters, hydraulic scaffolds, jet-speed floaters and even a cannon that can propel Bounty Bob to the first top level of the final playfield. Each of the mine stations is also patrolled by mutants who can kill Bob.

  • The goal of this contest, which has elements of both the climbing game and the maze chase, is to inspect every foot of every level of all 10 mining stations. When Bounty Bob finishes off one four-deck station, the action automatically switches to the next playfield and a fresh set of problems. The maze-chase aspect comes into play when Bob must capture a power item to neutralize the mutants for a few seconds so he can dispatch them safely. Still, Miner 2049er is highly original when taken as a whole.

  • The marketing of Miner 2049er is providing to be just as innovative as the game itself. Instead of publishing the program for one or two systems, a major campaign has succeeded in licensing this delightful creation for just about every system around, from the Atari 800 and VIC-20 to the TRS-80 Color Computer and the Panasonic system. More than 15 editions of this game will be published.

  • Soon it will be possible for just about all home arcaders, no matter what kind of equipment they own, to tackle the trials and tribulations of that futuristic lawman, Bounty Bob.


  • Bill Hogue knew Miner 2049er was a good game, but he never expected it to become a sensation. "You just start out programming a game," he comments modestly. "You never plan the entire thing."

  • The germ of 2049er was a bounty hunter concept. "The 'Fall Guy' was one of my favorite television shows at the time," explains Hogue. "We started doing it with one guy trying to catch the other, but it started turning out to be a little too much like Donkey Kong. So instead of trying to get to the top, the ideas was then modified to occupy the framework. The 'Bounty' name somehow stayed with the character and he became Bounty Bob.

  • While Miner 2049er put Hogue permanently on the map, the Los Angeles resident had previously done well at creating programs for the Radio Shack TRS-80. Among his hits were Super Nova, Galaxy Invasion, Attack Force, Robot Attack (the very first TRS-80 game that talked), and Defense Command, which he demonstrated to David Hartmann on ABC's "Good Morning America". Not bad for a 21-year-old who began learning about computers as a salesman in a Radio Shack store!

  • "I started there when I was 17 and didn't know a thing about computers," Hogue says. "They had the first TRS-80 back then and I bugged my store manager to get additional programs and then continued to learn more and more. It was a small store and not too many customers came in at night so I had time to play with the machine."

  • "In my third semester of college I wrote Super Nova."

  • Hogue felt that the TRS-80 was limiting him too much, so he went looking for a good color computer to write his programs. He settled on an Atari, and Miner 2049er was his first offering.

  • But creating computer games is only one part of the job at his company, Big Five Software. "I have to run it, too," he sighs. "There are a lot of guys who are just game designers. They can write a game and dump it off somewhere and wait for the money to come in -- which would be nice." He adds, "Although I wouldn't want to do just that."

  • And while 2049er is fairly bug-free, at least one program correction had to be cleared up in early production runs.

  • At level 6, by the radioactive waste tank, if a player tried to get Bounty Bob to walk into it, the tank wall would stop him. Although, if Bounty Bob jumped up and did a certain series of moves, and then for some reason retraced his steps, part of our hero's hat would be inside the tank wall. If Bob turned right, the player could make him walk right through the tank wall and into the radioactive waste.

  • Looking into the future, Hogue has several new games he is working on and sees the ever-increasing memory capacity of compouters as a challenge to give the games more aspects and things for the operator to do.

  • If someone wanted to become a game programmer, what does Bill Hogue advise?

  • "Be careful. If you have another job, don't give it up for programming full time. I was lucky to be able to get started and be where I am today," he confides. "I know many people who have started small companies and failed. Not because they had garbage, but to get noticed, you need great stuff. It's risky."

    Typed by Keita Iida

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