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Classic Games (Games) Programming Games News

Atari Wants To Reinvent Pong 180

Posted by Soulskill
from the officially-out-of-ideas dept.
mikejuk writes "Atari is offering up to $100,000 in a contest for a new version of Pong, the classic game that launched video games 40 years ago, for the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch. The judges for the contest include Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, who came up with the original idea for Pong. So, what does a 21st century Pong look like? How does it play? And what role does touch have in this, the simplest of games?"
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Atari Wants To Reinvent Pong

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  • o like plasma pong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:02PM (#39390899)

    plasma pong...except atari had the creater take it down because of property rights

    • by Dogtanian (588974) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @05:30PM (#39391517) Homepage

      plasma pong...except atari had the creater take it down because of property rights

      There are doubtless countless clones, derivatives and clever variants of Pong. The fact that the current "Atari" (i.e. owners of the name/IP) will bless one as official probably makes little difference. It's common for such companies to produce numerous "official" sequels to famous arcade games over the years. Those are generally forgotten when they want to sell the *next* pointless update of the original.

      It's like Space Invaders. That's a very simple game- you can tart it up or add gimmicks, but they're either going to end up as (a) Space Invaders with shiny graphics, bells and whistles that just exaggerate how simplistic the core game is or (b) something so modernised and far from the original that it's an "in name only".

      The "truest" sequel would be a game that started from the same basic concept as Space Invaders, retaining what made it work, but moving it on and enhancing it, making the original look slightly staid in the process. But Namco basically did that (unofficially) already... 30 years ago with "Galaxian" and then "Galaga".

      Tetris is probably *the* uber-example of a simple game that works well *because* of its simplicity and absolutely doesn't need bells or whistles- the game was probably perfected with the Game Boy version. However, that hasn't stopped them making countless official sequels and spinoffs that add nothing but gimmickry to justify the sale of a game we've already bought many times. I appreciate that Alexey Pajitnov got shafted on the rights early on, and probably wants to make some money from his creation, but it doesn't change the fact that it's all pointless.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        What I don't get is why they gotta rehash the SAME ones over and over AND OVER like Joust, Pong, Frogger, Defender, when there was tons of cool and quirky ones that haven't be run so deep into the ground its right next to fucking dinosaur bones. like how about Vanguard? That was fun. or Pleiades? that was fun too, or Outlaw? And how about not just mining old arcade games, but what about old PC games as well? Its not like mobile phones don't have more than enough juice now to run the graphics in something li

        • by way2trivial (601132) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @11:58PM (#39393311) Homepage Journal

          "Be the ball!"

              It's all about different perspective!

          I want a pong where game play is I'm the ball and I choose the amount of english on the spin

          I want frogger from a first person view. I want an turn based "defender" where I control a massive army against an overpowered computer AI player.
          Dammit, I want a lunar lander where I am fucking gravity......

          • by Dogtanian (588974)

            I want frogger from a first person view.

            It's not exactly first person, but they did do a somewhat 3D version of Frogger [youtube.com] in the late 90s.

            I remember hearing about Hasbro's 3D version of Centipede [youtube.com] at the time and thinking "typical gimmicky attempt to 'update' a classic", but having looked it up, their 3D Frogger appears to have done something interesting with the idea, even if it's more of a sequel that expands on the idea (see my comment on Invaders/Galaxians above) than the remake of the original it presents itself as.

          • I want an turn based "defender" where I control a massive army against an overpowered computer AI player

            Back in high school, a friend and I drew up designs for a game called "Offender", where you played the aliens trying to steal the humanoids from the planet. We got as far as designing sprites, but never coded anything.

        • by Dogtanian (588974)

          What I don't get is why they gotta rehash the SAME ones over and over AND OVER

          Here's why... you said it yourself. It's to exploit...

          some sense of nostalgia

          And even though

          anybody that played any of the originals are probably just as damned sick as i am of these rehashes

          you have to realise that it's in the nature of entertainment corporations that they're going to exploit the heck out of any IP that has made them a lot of money previously, so long as they think they can make a bit more money out of it. They won't stop until long after this has stopped paying off.

          Then after some time someone else will think they can exploit the "franchise" again, and given how the media reports (and people perceive) thin

    • by Larryish (1215510)

      Go ahead, punk.

      Touch my Pong.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:04PM (#39390911)

    It needs to be first person, it needs to have blood, also needs to have dubstep music.

    Oh, and don't forget DLC with new tennis balls and racket designs.

    You can't deny it Atari, this is the only way to go.

    • by rmstar (114746)

      It needs to be first person, it needs to have blood, also needs to have dubstep music.

      And bonus levels! Don't miss the pong faq [musenet.org]!

    • by dkf (304284)

      It needs to be first person, it needs to have blood, also needs to have dubstep music.

      Oh, and don't forget DLC with new tennis balls and racket designs.

      You can't deny it Atari, this is the only way to go.

      Add in a pointless MMO element, and make the ball "angry" too!

    • by mjwx (966435)
      - Generic brown cover based shooter, check
      - Quick Time Events, check
      - Muscle covered generic American protagonist with dry wit, check.
      - Cliche'd sidekicks, check.

      They could just go all the way and call it Pong of Duty.
  • Game play (Score:4, Funny)

    by thoughtspace (1444717) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:05PM (#39390919)

    You have to get a Government form completed. You bounce backwards and forwards between departments. The only difference is that you never get out and the game lasts forever.

  • Ms. Pong (Score:5, Funny)

    by SteveFoerster (136027) <steve AT stevefoerster DOT com> on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:07PM (#39390925) Homepage

    They should call it Ms. Pong, and it should be essentially the same game, except the ball has a ribbon in its hair.

  • Curveball (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:08PM (#39390929)

    already been done... http://www.addictinggames.com/sports-games/curveball.jsp

  • Try Air Hockey for iOS (maybe other platforms as well - I don't know). I'd imagine something with the Pong brand would do pretty well though.
  • by Anrego (830717) *

    Didn't they already do a kind of modernized pong.

    I actually remember it not being too bad. Remember playing it on the playstation (back when I actually liked Sony as a company). Had powerups and a 3D camera system that was actually pretty impressive for it's time. Was a good party game.

  • What's in a name? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by macraig (621737) <mark.a.craigNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:08PM (#39390937)

    Apparently everything, as it turns out. Atari is nothing but a name, bought and sold like something found at Best Buy, and now brandished by a company with no resemblance or heritage to the company that defined the name.

    • by perpenso (1613749)

      Apparently everything, as it turns out. Atari is nothing but a name, bought and sold like something found at Best Buy, and now brandished by a company with no resemblance or heritage to the company that defined the name.

      There seems to be some respect for its heritage. From the summary: "The judges for the contest include Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari, who came up with the original idea for Pong."

      To be fair, even if never sold companies change over time. Apple run by founder Steve Jobs in 2010 was quite different than Apple in 1980.

      • by macraig (621737)

        It's now a company in another country so far away that it's across an ocean and with employees that speak a different language.

        That is not only stupid, it's manipulative and misleading. Everyone might know that certain trademarks like 'Memorex' are a scam, but I doubt the same is true (yet) of this one.

    • Re:What's in a name? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dogtanian (588974) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:51PM (#39391263) Homepage

      Apparently everything, as it turns out. Atari is nothing but a name, bought and sold like something found at Best Buy, and now brandished by a company with no resemblance or heritage to the company that defined the name.

      Yep- the current "Atari" is really just the company formerly known as Infogrames, who bought the name from Hasbro Interactive around a decade back.

      The original- and most famous- Atari Inc. was split in 1984. The computer and home division became Jack Tramiel's Atari Corp. (legally separate, but an obvious successor in interest) which fizzled out in the mid-90s and merged with a second-rate hard drive manufacturer that went bankrupt soon after. The arcade division (Atari Games) was sold to Midway who dropped the "Atari" name in the late 90s, and closed it altogether a few years later.

      IMHO that's where anything resembling a true continuation of the original Atari ended.. Hasbro Interactive and Infogrames were/are connected in name and rights only, but obviously it serves Infogrames', er... *Atari's* retro-credibility better if they get to present themselves as the "classic" Atari and present Bushnell as- or at least imply that he was- their founder.

    • Just like Commodore.

  • Maybe like ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward


  • I see... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Vlaix (2567607) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:10PM (#39390951)
    ... a post-modern Pong, where two balls would throw a stick at each other.
  • 1. Have the ball transmit damage to a paddle on each successful return so that divots are taken out of each paddle. As each paddle becomes more fragmented, a player's ability to successfully return the ball decreases.

    1a. Introduce a healing ball that appears at random intervals headed from the middle of the pong field toward the outside. Capturing this healer would restore some portion of sustained damage.

    2. That's all I got for now.

    • If they won't hire you as an employee why would you help them?

      Instead of a contest for $100,000 why not offer employment? I know a programmer for Atari working on Pong will make $100,000 a year+. They want to get you to do all the hard work of designing the game so they can come along and give you $100,000 to steal it.

      Know what your ideas are worth. They are cheap and this is a complete scam.

      • by narcc (412956)

        Know what your ideas are worth.

        Assuming that the ideas are original, most peoples ideas are worth about $0.00 dollars, many even less than that.

        Do you remember that old advice: never work with an idea man? There's a reason that still rings true today.

      • If they won't hire you as an employee why would you help them?

        Because I do not want to work for Atari but still think it'd be neat to see an idea of mine implemented. Also because I have lot and lots of ideas (except in this one case, heh), and giving this one away doesn't really matter to me.

      • by petsounds (593538)

        Read the rules. First, this isn't just an "idea". You have to submit a final game to them if they like the idea. So really you're just a contractor.

        Now, the rules. You don't get $100k in cash. You get $50k in cash:

        The highest-scoring Winner will receive up to One Hundred Thousand U.S. Dollars ($100,000.00), comprised of a Prize of Fifty Thousand U.S. Dollars ($50,000.00) with the opportunity to earn a Prize Maximum of up to an additional Fifty Thousand U.S. Dollars ($50,000.00), in connection with sales of

        • This was my first thought. And it's only that good if you win. If you don't win, you get nothing. How many entries might you be competing against? 100? 1000? More? Might as well play the lottery.

          Maybe Atari is also looking for more people and is using this as a way to find those who are interested and talented? Odds of that aren't good either. If they are searching for people, they can't hire but a handful even if they wanted to hire more.

          Contests leave me feeling cold.

          • by petsounds (593538)

            Some rough calculations. Let's say Atari sells your game for $2.99. $3 to make it easier.
            $3.00 x 70% = $2.10. That is the profit after Apple takes their cut.
            $2.10 x 2% = $0.042. So Atari's generous 2% profit share nets you about 4 cents off of every app purchase. 4 cents!

            Okay, so how many app purchases would it take to make that other $50,000?
            1,190,476. Almost 1.2 million. Huh.

            And how much does Atari make from those 1.1 million app purchases?
            $2,449,999. Yup. You get $50,000, they get $2.4 million. Seems f

          • Exactly, if you're one of the sem-finalists, put in all the work to produce a playable demo and a trailer but fail get through to the final, Atari owns everything you've submitted and you get nothing.

            If you are "lucky" enough to be one of the 10 finallists, go on to develop your idea into a full game, and don't win one of the top 3 prizes, you only get $5000 and Atari still own everything you've submitted.

            You'd have to be either desperate or stupid to enter.
    • 2. That's all I got for now.

      Sounds like you need to level up, ideasman.
      Get on our level. [youtube.com]

  • Related article (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    No further comment. Just read it!

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:12PM (#39390963)

    Atari is offering up to $100,000 in a contest for a new version of Pong ... So, what does a 21st century Pong look like?

    You realize that the people with the really good ideas are not going to answer your question given the prize money at stake? You are going to have to wait for the end of the contest to get your answer.

  • Everyone defends a section of an N sided polygon. N-1 Balls in play :) You only see the defensive wall of your side. Your score is how many you get by others - the ones that get past you. Totally non serious, but could be hilarious with 100 players and laddered stats.
  • AR (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:18PM (#39390997)
    Augmented reality pong. There is no ball, but you and the other player swing your devices around madly whilst still trying to see the virtual ball superimposed on reality. Should result in many dropped or flung devices and a surge in replacement sales.
  • by erice (13380) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:20PM (#39391009) Homepage

    Use the accelerometers such that the entire phone is your paddle.

    • by aapold (753705)
      AT&T, Verizon and Sprint endorse this plan.

      note warranty does not cover use of phone as paddle.
  • Great, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SIR_Taco (467460) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:21PM (#39391025) Homepage

    "The contest is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columba, eighteen (18) years of age or older as of the date of their entry who have an Apple developer ID and have published a valid and proper Apple iTunes U.S. App Store game prior to the date of their entry...."

    I was semi-excited there for a minute.

  • No, Sir ! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lbalbalba (526209) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:22PM (#39391033)
    Im not telling you my hot new Pong ideas, no way ! Well, im off to collect my $100,000, see ya !
  • by microcars (708223) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:24PM (#39391051) Homepage
    That is what 21st Century Pong looks like.
  • Hah! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aarku (151823) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:38PM (#39391159) Journal
    This is an insanely cheap way for them to get software developed for their brand. A straight $100k with no significant % of income is a rip off for the developer in this market. A good branded Pong app will make millions. A similar brand only gets about 20-25% of the sales. But I'm sure they'll get plenty of entries. Ah well, to be young and ignorant again.
    • Re:Hah! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kat_skan (5219) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:55PM (#39391281)

      What I really like is that the rules say that Atari becomes the owner of your entry. So if you don't win, you can't even throw your game on the app store and see it makes a few bucks there instead.

      Without limiting the foregoing, each Eligible Entrant agrees that upon completion of each stage of production of his or her Entry until final completion of such Entry, such completed stage of production, all materials used in the production of such completed stage of production, the Entry, all derivatives thereof, Eligible Entrant's contributions thereto, and all right, title and interest pertaining thereto, including without limitation the copyright and renewals and extensions thereof, shall be entirely the property of Sponsor.

      You'd have to be some kind of moron to enter this contest.

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        They've restricted the contest to people who already have an Apple Developer ID, so they be used to this kind of abuse.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Seriously, anyone entering this should read the rules very carefully. First of all, it isn't a straight 100k. It's 50k with POTENTIAL for 100k depending on how well it sells. Also, they take all rights for anyone who even enters the contest. Why is that? That's because they aren't going to just sell a new Pong. They're selling a Pong Pak (c) according to the rules. So they're going to take all the entrants that are decent and create a PAK of Pong games and sell that for pure profit.

      Oh, and bonus, the whole

  • Misleading Title (Score:5, Insightful)

    by devphaeton (695736) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:41PM (#39391171)

    "Atari Wants To Reinvent Pong" is incorrect. It should be:

    "Foreign company that owns the Atari trademark wants someone else to reinvent Pong for them, because they blew it trying to reboot a few of Atari's classic titles themselves."

  • by elucido (870205) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:42PM (#39391187)

    I have had ideas for new versions of pong and for many games but I damn sure am not going to give my idea to Atari or any game company. Atari if you want my idea for pong hire me for $100,000 a year and I'll even help you code it.

    Otherwise fuck off :)

  • Would be Wii Sports tennis game.

    Or if they can make a kinnect responsive enough.

  • by SageinaRage (966293) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @04:44PM (#39391199)
    It's called Bit.Trip Beat and it's great.
  • by guttentag (313541) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @05:21PM (#39391445) Journal
    What does 21st century pong look like?

    Imagine a man in an orange jumpsuit with black lettering that reads "enemy combatant." He's wandering around a cell at Guantanamo Bay, alternately bumping into a U.S. military judge, a civilian judge and an official from his home country, who keep shoving him back toward the others.

    It's accurate, but not much fun.
  • Duh! Any modern tennis (or table tennis) video game is a modern Pong!

  • by wjcofkc (964165)
    Maybe they could call it Ping. You bounce a packet back and fourth down tunnels that represent complex circuits. First your packet has to survive the route that you have a split second to pick, then the other player sends it back the same. The routes constantly change.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @06:06PM (#39391709) Homepage Journal

    Don't you mean the people who bought the name/rights after the real Atari quietly disbanded and had its "brains" scatted among silicon valley, to be absorbed into the gray corporate goo? ( http://www.atarihq.com/othersec/dthomas/100496.html [atarihq.com] )

    This is just another investment firm trying to profit off the past of others. Just say no.

    Ya, i'm still resentful, even after all these years.

  • I just implemented a pong game in Minecraft.. 21st century = you implement games inside other game worlds.

  • I didn't think it was possible, but they already made a great pong remake. It was on the PS1 and had a ton of different tables/variations. They ever had a four player (2 vs 2) coop option!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=se5gYQ8wURQ [youtube.com]

  • Looks like this [maniacworld.com].

  • Don't just make it classic pong + AI because then this happens. [irancartoon.com]

  • by bw777 (1111417) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @07:46PM (#39392307)

    Gamasutra covered how much of a scam this contest is [gamasutra.com].

    The executive summary: Atari gets full ownership and rights to every submission, winning or otherwise, and you'll never earn anywhere near $100k even if you win the top prize.

    All of this is rather unsurprising, given the dirty tricks Atari Legal have been playing lately. [slashdot.org]

  • by swell8 (2597795) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @08:31PM (#39392523)
    I started submitting an idea for this in line with a game I am presently working on. At a glance, they seem to share profit and everything is ok, but read the rules. This is what you give up with your entry: All Entries become the sole and exclusive property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. Sponsor shall own all right, title and interest in and to each Entry, including without limitation all results and proceeds thereof and all elements or constituent parts of Entry (including without limitation the Mobile App, the Design Documents, the Video Trailer, the Playable and all illustrations, logos, mechanicals, renderings, characters, graphics, designs, layouts or other material therein) and all copyrights and renewals and extensions of copyrights therein and thereto. http://files.atari.com/pongContest/Indie_Pong_Developer_Challenge_Rules.pdf [atari.com] I bet this company has no clue how to reinvent PONG or how to successfully reach the mobile market. Under $50,000 in cash is not worth a real developer's time an intellectual property and that's just the winner. They own every entry, so without getting a dime, they own full rights to every idea in your submission. This type of exploitation of talent in the form of a gimmicky competition makes me sick. I can't believe I let myself get excited about it at first. Don't let the same thing happen to you.
  • Let's face it, we're dealing with two sticks... and a ball. The only real way I would think it could "revolutionized" is instead of having on a 2d playing field, have it be more 3d oriented inside of a sphere. Again, though... it'll still be 2 sticks and a ball.
    • Nah, there's lots of scope. Instead of two simple bars, you have two 3d-rendered "bats", held by 3d-rendered "people". Instead of a plain black background, you have a blue or green "table" with white markings on all 4 sides to accentuate the edges and one thinner line down the centre of the "table" dividing each player's play area either side of a realistic looking 3-dimensional "net" into 2. Also, instead of a box moving back-and-forth, you could have a 3d-rendered white "ball". Something like this [ign.com] maybe?
  • It was cheap, like 15 bucks, which is why I got it. Autorun did not wok, installer crashed 3 fucking times, had to sign in to steam, installer crashed, uninstall, crash crash, fuck this copy disc to hard drive, uninstall, actually installed and got notice that a update HAD to be installed, thats 400 megs larger than the fucking game on the disc ... 4 hour download. So to sum up, 2 hours after I bought the stupid thing I got to wait 4 more hours before I can even play it ... and according to the reviews its

  • The original Pong coin-operated arcade game did not use a microprocessor of any kind; it was entirely made of 14- and 16-pin logic chips (mostly 7400 series TTL if I remember correctly). Note that this was not a "discrete processor", it was an entirely hardwired circuit. The circuit board was about 15 inches by about 24 inches (don't remember exactly) and drove a black-and-white CRT monitor. Later on, you could get Pong on a 28-pin DIP made by General Instruments. Most recently, I happened to be in Radio Sh
    • by Dogtanian (588974)
      Yeah, I only found that out recently and thought it was quite interesting too. This was also the case with the original Breakout too, apparently.
    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      that new chip is just a micro running software, not a dedicated thing that someone sat down and designed at the silicon level JUST for pong, though its probably masked so you cant reprogram it

  • A tablet game where you look through the tablet and see the ball.

    There's NO good reason to reinvent Pong, it still works fine. And the only worthwhile reinvention has already taken place, and it is called Arkanoid. You may notice that this occurred quite some time in the past.

    But AR is a fad right now so you could probably SELL a Pong game based on AR, which is why I think it's a "good" idea... for them, not for a game.

    • by Dogtanian (588974)
      Arkanoid wasn't a direct reinvention of Pong, it was a reinvention of Breakout, which- while quite obviously descended from Pong- wasn't the exact same game.

      But yeah, as I said in my comment near the start of this discussion, most "new" versions of classic games are just pointless-bells-and-whistles adding would-be-nostalgia-exploiting bull****.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Arkanoid wasn't a direct reinvention of Pong, it was a reinvention of Breakout, which- while quite obviously descended from Pong- wasn't the exact same game.

        yeah I meant to say the "last" iteration but failed.

  • Pretty much like a 21st century buggy whip.

  • Each of you has a paddle shaped object, and you use a physical ball, see, and... oh never mind.

  • If you want to use my idea, feel free to take it an run with it. Just promise to cut me in for a small share. ;-)

    Pong is tired because it's a flat the game needs to evolve.

    At the start screen you first choose a character, like baseball player, karate guy, lacrosse player, soccer player, etc.

    - Stage 1: classic pong, that looks nearly identical to the classic. Only some minor variation based on your character choice. For example, the baseball player may have a little longer paddle, and the soccer pla

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