Arcade antics

by Paul Morrison

I've got a little treat for you diehards, a little something to whet your whistles.

When we think back to arcade conversions, we often imagine programmers sitting in the company office, playing an arcade machine for hours at a time, taking notes or recording it so that they could make as accurate a representation as possible.

But what about those who were programming a clone of an arcade game or an unofficial version?  How did they go about the task?  Did they write it from memory, borne out of ploughing coin after coin into the machine, or were there other ways of getting the information they needed?

In this They Were Our Gods exclusive, taken from a much larger interview which will appear in the book, one programmer explains how, without an official licence behind him, the task of getting the information needed to replicate a game was somewhat more difficult...

"We had a big company outing where we identified an outlet that had the game and went out on a mission to take pictures of it. It was true comedy. I had no idea at the time [if] it was even illegal, but as the news sunk in at what we were doing the whole thing started to become a very serious matter. What was even more of a surprise for me (and I think all of us) was the reaction of the coin-op staff who were a very equal rival in the antics. They didn't want anyone taking pictures in their parlour, and so ensued a game of attack and counter-attack of various strategies at taking pictures, some more successful than others, with the police eventually making an appearance as we raced down the street back to our getaway cars and back to the office, booty intact, and mission accomplished."

I can't help but laugh as I picture the scene and wonder if it was commonplace up and down the country at the time!  Feel free to speculate what the game was and who was behind these clandestine photo sessions.  All this and much, much more will be revealed when the book is released...