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O   N   L   I   N   E

The Vectrex at CGE '99

by BaronVR

Photos by BaronVR, CyberRoach, and I.C.When.

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The Vectrex Guys Group Lecture...

In the opening lecture at CGE 99, Jay Smith, Tom Sloper, Patrick King, and Michael Cartabiano, all from the original Vectrex team during it's heyday, related a wealth of information about the development of the unit and it's games.

The Lecture in Realaudio:

vecguys1.ra (838k, 7:10) Jay Smith, (formerly) the head of Western Technology, discusses the Vectrex timeline, the proposed color Vectrex, and the proposed handheld Vectrex.

vecguys2.ra (826k, 7:04) Tom Sloper, game designer, discusses the birth, adolescence, and graduation of Spike both as a character and a game.

vecguys3.ra (1.1MB, 9:47) Patrick King, designer/pitchman, talks about the 12 Pillars of Videogame Design and how they were applied to Web Wars.

vecguys4.ra (1.4MB, 12:04) Michael Cartabiano, design manager, discusses the many fascinating projects proposed to expand the Vectrex product line.

vecguys5.ra (496k, 4:15) Q&A Session


At the Hardware Legends Panel...

aug13_46.jpg (14392 bytes) (Jay Smith)

Excerpts in Realaudio:

jsmith-hwl.ra (1.1MB, 9:13) Jay Smith's comments from the HW Panel (not including his statement on emulation from below):
1. His background...
2. Major design changes before the final Vec design...
3. Did they know their place in videogame history at the time?
4. The future of videogaming...

legends.ra (730k, 6:15) Commenting on emulation:
1. Ralph Baer (Odyssey)
2. Jerry Lawson (Fairchild Channel F)
3. Jay Smith (Vectrex, of course!)
4. Joe Decuir (2600)
5. Jay Fenton (Astrocade, Gorf, Robby Roto)...


The Color Vectrex...

cge-cv2.jpg (199093 bytes)  cge-cv3.jpg (157173 bytes)  mvc-039f.jpg (60789 bytes)


1982 Prototype...

mvc-049f.jpg (37716 bytes)   mvc-040f.jpg (46026 bytes)   cge-cv1.jpg (241494 bytes)
mvc-043f.jpg (59395 bytes)   mvc-046f.jpg (55017 bytes)   mvc-048f.jpg (62982 bytes)


The New Controller/SMS 3D Glasses Adapter...

cge-vt1.jpg (73898 bytes)  vectrllr.jpg (51558 bytes)  cgevectrex1.jpg (33587 bytes) (Patrick King)


Post-Show Notes (needs a rewrite)...

Okay, the big big stories...

   The color Vectrex prototype...yes it was there and I got photos and video of it, however, it was not operational. It was even damaged from the experimenting that was originally done on it (more on that when I get together a transcript of the Vectrex team's lecture...). It basically looked like a normal Vectrex, but with a red reset button and a hole in the color phosphor coatings of the monitor...

   More [visually] interesting was the original Vectrex prototype from 1982. It was in a metal case that was shaped like a normal Vectrex, but it was hand painted black and had a generic label on the front. The case was left open so one could see the interior. I'm not into electronics so I don't know how the interior differs from a normal Vectrex, but I'll scan the pictures and let you all figure it out...

   And then there's the mystery Vectrex's a replacement Vectrex controller by Kevin Horton made out of a Genesis controller, a la Dondzila. However, this controller allows you to use a Sega Master System pair of 3D goggles with a Vectrex (in black and white only). Once the Sega glasses were firmly inserted into the jack on this special controller, the 3D effect was as good as the image from a real pair of Vec 3D goggles...take heart all those who can't afford the real 3D Vec glasses at $500 a pop!

   But then the crowning jewel of the whole experience was listening to Jay Smith, Tom Sloper, Michael Cartabiano, and Patrick King relate their experiences at Smith Engineering developing the Vectrex and many of those classic games at the inaugural lecture of the Expo (again, that lecture must be transcribed because a summary wouldn't do justice). After the lecture the talk continued in the hallway and it was fascinating. More on that when I've had a chance to pull together my notes...

   Tim Skelly (mastermind of many Cinematronics games later ported to Vectrex) was there at a later lecture, "Arcade Legends". The lecture itself glossed over his Cinematronics years, however, the talk afterward was lively. It seems the inspiration for Rip-off started when he was working for a radio station and he was talking to a woman from a competing station. She made the comment that all young kids know how to do is cooperate, that none of them know how to Rip Off was created with a cooperation theme in mind...

It's been fun finally meeting many of the people I've been posting/emailing/chatting with. During the lectures the term "pure gameplay" came up many times. Be it Spike, Web Wars, or Rip-Off, I would say that was a perfect theme for the day...

Another later post of mine:

Jay donated the Color Vectrex Proto to the CGE museum and also he also
donated the original 1982 handmade prototype. I'll develope my film and
scan the pictures as soon as I can.

When the 4 Vec Guys were all gathered around after the lecture, I asked
about unreleased games. Actually, while I walked over someone was
already cornering Jay about Mail Plane (anyone want to own up?). Not
only don't any of them have the games or source code, but Jay didn't
even know about the games in the works when the Vectrex folded.
Apparently, Smith Engineering wasn't doing them (did he say that MB was
developing them? Hmmm). They all seemed to remember the development
system being sold in it's entirety to a guy in Europe (maybe the one
who contacted John D?) Whoever he is, those games are probably with
him...some original artwork is still around somewhere, I should email
someone about that...

I asked prod manager Michael Cartabiano about the Vectrex computer and
he categorically denied that it made it past the early stages of
development. Vec BASIC may have been doing math and simple printing
(enough to run a benchmark test, say) but it never reached a stage
where it could really do anything useful :(

I wondered if the Vec computer might have extended the life of the
Vectrex (since computer fever started in 83/84, but Michael and Tom
(Sloper) both thought that there were too many other factors involed...

And with the controller/3D adapter...there's no email or website for
it, but Sean Kelly said it would be about $60. When the waiting list
people are contacted, I'll have more info...


screenshot3.jpg (32024 bytes) Ralph Baer playing the 1966 handbuilt prototype of the first Video Game console, the Odyssey

cge-1.jpg (94757 bytes) The Hall of Classic Consoles

fsesnow1.gif (30654 bytes) A strange weather anomaly that occurred the day after everyone went home ;)


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