Gaming

Imagining the Past

I’ve just finished watching the above documentary and recommend you do too. There’s a couple of things (mostly that it sometimes uses its run time on non-Zelda stuff) I dont like about it, but as far as YouTube videogame films go its not too bad, especially as the narration is actually edited properly for a change. I often find YouTube videos are edited so the narrations are really fast with no natural pauses and its at that point I tend to switch off, so to watch the above was actually pleasing. I’d have liked it to be longer and go into more depth on the process of the game but what is there is entertaining enough.

It does raise one point though, and its something that members of a community I’m part of have discussed when looking through a list of the “Greatest Games Ever“. Are our memories of what we’ve actually played distorted to some degree? How do we class a game as being played? Taking Link to the Past as the example here, I’ve definitely played it, via emulation and on the SNES Mini, but I’ve never actually gotten very far, mostly because both methods offer so many other distractions and choices that I’ve never stuck it out. But I roughly know what happens and know its essentially the origins of the rest of the franchise up to Breath of the Wild. I even own the original SNES cartridge and begun it on that once upon a time (which I bought back when Gamestation were still around and were stocking retro titles). I included it in my list of the games that I’d played, but its also one that I feel guilty for never actually finishing, even though its rare that I stick any game out long enough to actually see the end credits roll. Normally getting my fill or being distracted by something else shiny before I reach that point.

Advertisements
GT Sport

GT Sport: 2019 FIA Manufacturers Exhibition Series. Round 6: Nurburgring GP

Qualifying Position: 14th

What a dire race. It was just so uneventful really but I knew it was going to be tough in qualifying when I could only get one time out of my Medium tyres due to picking up a penalty when cutting a corner due to someone losing control and swerving across the track, the ghost didnt pick up in time so I had to go through via putting all four wheels beyond the track limits.

Onto the race itself, again, I was struggling with the tyres and up until the pit stop the only interesting things to happen were hanging out with a guy in a VW Golf with teeth, hanging behind a blue Toyota and keeping a French guy in a Peugot behind me despite my tyres being deader than dead. The rears were okay, and I cant comment on the other manufacturers but the Mercedes’ seem to chew up the fronts real bad.#

Anyway, my intention was to pit on lap 5, put some softs on and a dash of fuel, then pit again around lap 9 for some more softs and just try to do some fast laps, run my own race, try not to get involved in scraps and scrape some positions back. Then I accidentally selected hard tyres and was fucked, basically. For a few laps after the pit stop the Golf and I traded places but for some reason he fell really far back and due to my tyres and me trying to fuel save I just couldn’t close the gap to the Toyota that was in 12th. As I crossed the line to start the 11th and final lap my fuel tank was at 5%, I turned the engine the whole way down and just hoped I had enough fuel to keep position and reach the counter getting to zero as I knew I wasn’t going to be fast enough to do. I think the guys behind me were in similar shape as the gap stayed at 10 seconds for the whole lap.

Final Position: 13th.

TV

A competition in creepy

Netflix have been really pushing their True Crime documentaries over the past couple of years, particularly since they released Making a Murderer. Two have recently generated quite a lot of discussion: “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” and “Abducted in Plain Sight”. My other half have watched both this week and despite Netflix’s promotion of “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” via their Twitter focusing on it being scary

its that “maybe don’t watch alone x” comment that really stands out, and indeed certain websites have clung onto it to say how scary it is. But you know what? Its just not. Sure, its a good documentary about a notorious guy and the thing I took away from it was just how egocentric Bundy was. He was the perfect killer, so “intelligent” he thought he was better than everyone and only “confessed” to his crimes right at the very end as a delaying tactic to try and avoid the death penalty, his “intelligence” (read: ego) was such that he wouldn’t let his defence lawyers, State appointed or otherwise, do their job, he knew he was a better defence lawyer. Not only that but he gave him opportunity to relive his crimes. However, we all knew that he met his maker, and whilst the World will never know the extent of his crimes, its clear he’s no longer on the loose and that the worlds Policing and profiling specialist learned an awful lot from those cases. What is scary about the world we live in afterwards is that the media we consume does still stereotype to an awful degree, murderers in TV shows are nearly always weird, counter culture types that don’t socialise and have strange behaviours.

Onto Abducted in Plain Sight which my partner and I found far more terrifying. Why? Because of the sheer ineptitude of absolutely everybody involved, sure the fact we have three girls ourselves may play into that fear to some degree, but as each moment, each cock-up, every manipulation was revealed and how the girls family were, seemingly, more interested in protecting themselves from their own indiscretions, our jaws dropped further and further. The story is something that you just could not make up, could not imagine, it’s beyond baffling, and yet it happened. Not only that but “B” has committed similar crimes on other young girls and never served any serious jail time prior to taking his own life. That the mother of Jess recollects being seduced as part of his plan to get closer to Jess with a smile on her face, seemingly looking back on that time almost fondly, because he made her feel special, never seemingly properly acknowledging the fact he only made her feel like that in order to get close to his real target. Likewise Jess seems to still be in love with “B” (and has even admitted her relationships since haven’t been the same, that she hasn’t loved them like she did “B”). That to me is terrifying, that despite everything they don’t seem to have learned their lesson, and despite Jess’ tears and her voice cracking there still seems to be a longing there for the relationship to have continued.

Gaming, review

Drowning

Drowning is a game that is about a school boy (its never expressed that the narrator is a boy, but the games creator has stated in its synopsis), moving from Year 7 to Year 8 and ultimately Year 12 (so the game starts with the narrator being 11 years old) who is suffering from depression and how he deals with having depression during his school years.

It’s a strong subject, and the manner in which the tale is told suggests its a deeply personal matter to Polygonal Wolf. As you slowly walk through the games different locations, following a strict path, text appears suggesting a conversation between the narrator and their own mind. It’s all sensitively done and at times genuinely moving and cathartic, and aside from the occasional grammatical and spelling error (for which I’m not one  to judge!) its down to Polygonal Wolf’s talent to get, what I presume, are his own thoughts and feelings down in a manner that the player can relate to.

 

The tale is told as you walk through some beautiful settings, all created in a low polygon and pastel effect with the tone changing, alongside the music, as the narrator gets older and their depression becoming deeper. What starts off as an almost innocent walk through some woods, full of bright sunshine and bold colours, later develops into dark, cold atmospheres that it would be easy to say are cliche but perfectly fit with the words that appear on screen.

However, whilst Drowning is great at getting all of these feelings down, when the narrators mental health begins to find its own voice, and begins to challenge what it is being told, be it positively or otherwise, the dialog can feel a little clumsy and forced, as though the writer knew what they wanted to aim towards and just headed straight for it, much like the linear path that the player is forced to walk along. It never really feels like you are part of the conversation, nor that there is any room for discussion to go beyond a certain path, which ties into the way the game handles its multiple endings.

The initial ending is easy to unlock, its literally following the path laid out in front of you until the game reaches its conclusion and the credits roll. But there are three other endings to walk through, all of which involve convoluted exploration that, due to the linear nature of the path (there’s nothing to suggest you can leave the intended path at any point unless your literally pushing against the walls on either side at all times) I can’t see how anyone would figure out how to unlock them. I personally only experienced them after following a guide to see if they offered anything different.

That being said, an initial run through for one ending only takes about half an hour, personally speaking as someone who has received treatment and is still undergoing treatment for depression, Drowning is a title that I’d urge anyone to play through in order to either maybe understand their own inner monologue and realise that, actually, this happens to an awful lot of us, or if you care for someone you know to be struggling, it could help give you a better insight into why they act the way they do.

Formats: PlayStation 4 (Version Tested), PC, Switch, Vita, Linux, Mac
Release Date: 31st January 2019
Publisher: Sometimes You
Developer: Polygonal Wolf
Key provided by Sometimes You via Keymailer

Gaming, GT Sport

GT Sport: 2019 FIA Manufacturers Exhibition Series. Round 5: Fuji International Speedway

https://youtu.be/cX3tvX_xcPk

Qualifying position: 11th

I went into this race having rage quit out of Rounds 3 and 4, mostly due to issues with my control pad that I’m only experiencing on GT Sport where the car will suddenly refuse to turn, especially going into left handers. For Round 5 I decided to switch to using the d-pad and it wasn’t anyway near as bad as I thought it would be. There was some difficulty getting the car to turn in or be stable during long fast corners but I’m sure in time I’ll adjust.

I managed to put my Mercedes in 11th on the grid which I was fine with, there were points during Qualifying where I was placed 6th and 7th but faster laps went in at the end and I couldn’t improve.

I always find the opening lap/s to be a case of just staying out of trouble, which in the replay footage above you can see I more than managed until I was punted by the VW going into the hairpin at the start of the second lap, I then cut the following corner trying to keep my speed and got hit with a penalty to be served at the end of the lap. Fair enough, problem being though that I kept struggling to keep the car on the track in the second to last corner, and did so for a few laps.

Short penalty served I was part of the mid-pack and there was jostling and bumping all over the place. At one point two in front of me, including Eusebiosomethingorother (who I found was involved in most of the jostling), were serving their penalties in the appointed area, Eusebio moved off the line, the other guy didnt but I knew that he’d Ghost so I could go through him, the game forced us to clip and threw me onto the grass so an easy pass ended with my being the second car in a very close pack of four going into a 1st gear hairpin corner.

As we were coming up to the pit window I had another penalty to serve, I think I took a corner too close or rubbed someone a little too hard, its difficult to recall, but it was near the end of the lap so it was set to be served at the end of the following. My medium tyres had gone at this point, I could barely get any grip going into corners and the car was running too straight so I chucked it down the pit lane, missed the chicane but didnt get punished for it (and flew in front of the VW who’d punted me off earlier as we entered the pit limiter area), quickly changed to Softs, no extra fuel and left the pits where I started.

Unfortunately I was thrown off by the increased grip of my new tyres and cut two corners heavily and was given a 6.5 second penalty. But my increased speed and others pitting too late pushed me up to sixth and in clear air. I couldn’t close the gap to Eusebio so just continued running my own race but felt my tyres pretty much go two laps from the end and the gap between myself and seventh closed really rather quickly. If I hadn’t have cut those corners earlier and recieved the larger penalty I could maybe have hung on to the position, but as it stood once the Honda (I believe) caught up to me there was no fight left in my tyres and getting the car slowed enough to get it through the corners and point the front end where I wanted it to go was proving too difficult and I just let him through, cut my losses and watched the gap to 8th, trying to manage it and ultimately succeeding.

I’m aware this is the first raced I’ve blogged on, I’ll try and continue to do the rest of the races, I didnt think of recording previous races here.

Gaming

Apex Legends

Lets get this out of the way, I’m not much of an FPS player, I mean I did used to play them a fair bit, but we’re talking TimeSplitters, Rainbow Six 3 Black Arrow and Rainbow Six Vegas as titles that I played a hell of alot of, oh and Overwatch (on which I used to play either Lucio or Zenyatta). Anything that had a more serious lone wolf style element to it and, well I was useless, so I never put in the time to get better because quite frankly I’m not of the disposition to spend time doing something I’m not enjoying to just get better and be part of the “in” crowd.

A week ago, EA and Respawn surprised everybody (well, nearly everybody, those at EA and Respawn and a select few “influencers” knew what was going on) and released a new FPS with a Battle Royale theme as a free-to-play title, set in the Titanfall universe (a series I’ve heard great things about and I do own the second one, but have never actually played) but not featuring some of the elements that make Titanfall Titanfall, to which everyone (again, except those at EA, Respawn and said “Influencers”) collectively said “Say Whaaa?” (including crossing our arms across our chests) before downloading it and collectively becoming hooked.

It’s totally surprised me that 1. EA have released this in the manner in which they have, and being honest? I’m waiting for the catch, waiting for that mistake thats just round the corner that will send everyone back to Fortnite. 2. That I’m enjoying it as much as I am, dont get me wrong, I’m monumentally shit at it, I think I have over 30 games (not alot compared to some) but only have 8 kills. My accuracy is ridiciulously poor, I panic under pressure and I hang back and am usually the first in my squad to be taken out. So why am I enjoying it so much?

Well, the squad based element would be enough to put me off, its not like Overwatch in that you can blend in to a team, do the job your chosen Hero/Legend/Whatever is designed to do and get by, here you HAVE to be good at FPS games AND be a useful member of the squad using your Hero/Legend/Whatevers abilities properly and not being a burden on the other two members of your squad as the three of you fight to be the last team standing out of 19 others. However, there does seem to be an element of camaraderie amongst the community, and those of us who dont know which end of our weapon is which are (so-far, it has only been a week afterall) accepted.

I think also, that the games ping (you can point at stuff/in a direction and hit a button to alert your squadmates), revival and respawn systems encourage you to stick as a team and after all, if theres three of you versus two of them then the odds are in your favour even if one of you cant hit a barn door even if you’re stood right in front of it, at least that person (me) can act as a distraction to your opponent (or thats how I justify not receiving a slew of abuse through my TV’s speakers, not that many people verbally communicate anyway). I’m assured it gets even better when you’re playing with people you know or have opportunity to play with regularly, but as I find socialising a bit of a challenge and feel really awkward talking over a headset I’m yet to experience that side of the game.

bitparade, Gaming

bitparade: Polybius/Steven Roach interview

I used to run/write for a site that was originally called Gamepulse and then (due to me not owning the original domain, just borrowing it from a guy I used to play PSO with) Bitparade, but for a variety of reasons the site no longer exists, and as I have this blog sat here I’m going to try and collate as much of what I wrote as possible starting with the sites most linked-to article: Polybius.

I put this together back in 2006/2007 after spending a fair while reading up on the myth, this coincided with “Steven Roach” making a post on either the old GamesTM or Retro Gamer Magazine forums, I don’t recall which. I pm’d him and asked if I could send a bunch of questions and he responded that I could and below is the entire piece I put together from that point on.

Gamers all love a good rumour. Indeed we love them so much, GameSpot have set up specific section, Rumour Control, to discuss the latest tales and either verify them or debunk them. One recent popular rumour is that of the Final Fantasy VII remake. This has been around for many years, but speculation reached its’ pitch at 2005’s E3 event in Los Angeles, USA, when, as part of its PlayStation3 announcement, Sony Computer Entertainment showed the intro to the much loved RPG, reportedly in real time PS3 Graphics.

But something I recently discovered is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Stories first surfaced in the late seventies and early eighties and then really took hold on the internet in the late nineties. A publisher released an unknown arcade game into a handful of Arcades in Portland, Oregon, USA. This was normal practice; cabinets would be released in small amounts for play testing before the full scale production was released. But according to some sources this particular game never made it past this point. Reports surfaced that kids had suffered fits whilst playing, sparking controversy amongst local media. With games frowned upon anyway (much as they are today), some even suggested that games brainwashed kids. It was withdrawn from production and the game was removed from the places it had been distributed to and not heard from again.

For a lot of games in their arcade infancy, some would go on to be re-worked and then re-released; Tempest was one such game, but this game I had discovered seemed to disappear completely. Before the cabinet was removed kids would allegedly dare each other to play on the game and would spread rumours of its dangers. Many such tales began spreading that not only did it cause players to fit, but that it also caused amnesia (leaving some unable to remember their names or where they lived), disorientation, nausea, vomiting, the inability even to be sad. Some claimed they never wanted to play another game ever again and there were even claims of suicides. More lurid tales began to circulate of men in black suits arriving at cabinet locations, collecting data from its sub menus. These men came to take them away when the product was recalled, triggering paranoid gossip of Government involvement, trying to train kids in some sort of underhand manner. Surely this can’t be the case, these are have to be just rumours? Well that’s what I’m trying to find out, on my journey to discover the truth behind Polybius.

According to the majority of the sources I’ve come across, Polybius was developed and released somewhere between 1979 and 1981. The Coin-Op Museum website actually lists it as 1981, but according to another two sources who claimed to have been on the development team, it actually began in 1979. This makes sense as games have always seemed to take 1 to 2 years to begin development and ship. The team may have consisted of around 10 or 20 people, depending on who you believe.

The problem with the Polybius myth is that there is so much different information on offer with many over the top ideas. A game that can wipe the memory of those who play it, in the 1980’s? Not easy to believe is it? It’s like something straight out of Hollywood. Take these two films-War Games and Nightmares, both of which both tell the story of a teenager playing a game that has dramatic consequences. A lot of people claim that is where the rumours stem from; the name of the particular film can be a little mixed up, no ones quite sure what its called, yet a lot of people profess to have seen it.

In War Games, Matthew Broderick plays David Lightman; a boy who comes across a game called “Global Thermonuclear War” and finds himself almost launching a missile attack on Russia, which he manages to stop with the programmer’s assistance. Aside from the fact the film includes a computer game and Government Officials; it’s difficult to see any other links between War Games and Polybius. More convincing perhaps, is that the rumours are based on Nightmares, starring Emilio Estevez as a teenager. In the film, everyone is talking about an arcade game called The Bishop of Battle; rumours are rife that no one has ever beaten the game, but that one kid has managed to reach the final level, level 13. Upon playing the game, Estevez begins to hear voices instructing him to complete the game. So one night he breaks into the arcade and begins playing, when he reaches level 13 its like nothing he’s ever seen before. This is more than likely the film people are talking about in referring to these rumours, as normally they mention a multi part film. Nightmares is such a film.

It seems everyone has their own opinion on Polybius, whether it was just a game that was pulled for causing epileptic seizures, a Government conspiracy, a completely different machine or even just an old April Fools joke. The only “evidence” of Polybius is a cabinet shot, too grainy and more like an old newspaper print to be believable and to someone skilled enough in Photoshop is easy enough to fake. There is another picture, this time a screen grab of the games title screen. It has a basic black background, blue/green Polybius text and the normal arcade cabinet “insert coin” and “copyright” text, which both seem very similar to those used by Williams on Robotron and Joust. Also worth mentioning is that no game with the name Polybius has ever been copyrighted, leading some to doubt its existence.

Many people claim to have played the game or even own a ROM version of it, yet those who supposedly own such a version of the game will not give out any links to obtain it and searches on programs such as LimeWire and Kazaa lead to no results. Hindering the search is the fact that many of the sites that feature links to anything to do with the game tend to be anywhere between 2 and 5 years old, with many of them now being dead or just search pages. That isn’t to say there isn’t information available out there somewhere, it’s just becoming increasingly harder to find.

Another path I’ve tried to following is that of finding that uses the Online persona CYBERNOGI, whom it seems, according to many USENET members, created Polybius. Upon finding CYBERNOGI’s homepage, I discovered that this is a German programmer and they are also the founder of “Logologie” the worlds fist ever cyber-religion. Many believe that CYBERNOGI created Polybius as some sort of April Fools Joke, yet no amount of searching around the Internet links the two together.

CYBERNOGI did create a dumped ROM of an Eastern Germany shoot’em’up called Phoenix, and also has an interest in trance inducing (“zoner”) games. But other than that, there is no hard physical evidence that links Polybius to CYBERNOGI. It seems that years after Coin-Op posted details of the game in 1998 (presuming CYBERNOGI created the joke before that date) people are still searching for answers today, or even claiming they know the truth.

To add to the difficulties, people have decided to attempt to put together their own pieces of software and claim it to be Polybius. The most famous of these simply just crashes after the Title screen, which looks exactly like the screen grab that’s doing the works and emits an odd noise. Those who believe in the rumours of mind control and amnesia believe this to be due to the difference in the technology from the games arcade cabinet and today’s PC’s-“obviously” the PC’s wont have the technology in the government would have been testing for mind control.

The most believable of all the theories behind Polybius is that it is, in fact, just another game. Many believe it to be early code for Tempest, as descriptions of how the game plays seem to be very similar to it, with symptoms such as epileptic seizures that were happening during the earliest recordings of Tempests’ testing. As for the other feelings the game supposedly gave to people, well sickness and dizziness can happen where ever there is the feeling of motion- some only have to catch a glimpse of SEGA’s OutRun to give them a feeling of motion sickness. Recently playing Marvel Nemesis almost put me off ever wanting to play another game, but as for the other symptoms, it looks like kids trying to scare each other. We’ve all been there, except with most of these rumours it usually revolves around horror films. But imagine for a moment that your in an arcade. A kid’s playing a brand new game and there’s lights flashing. He begins to feel sick, then passes out and begins to have a fit. At the that young age you’re going to tell your mates all about it, maybe even exaggerate it, then they’ll do the same and then the whole story spins out of control.

This is the possibly most believable theory because of the methods of the games industry during this time (many games made it into arcades for a short period of time, only to be scrapped due to problems). But something that is also interesting to note, is the fact that another arcade cabinet has emerged, using a similar board structure to that that we have believe Polybius was using. These are the only two arcade machines known to use this particular board, coupled with the development team supposedly situated somewhere around what is now the Czech Republic and Germany (a pointer towards CYBERNOGI enhanced by the team who supposedly developed the title calling themselves Sinnesloschen). The Czech Republic link comes from a post made by a man calling himself “Steven Roach”, who claims to have been on the development team for Polybius, who also stated that they developed it from porta cabins in Czechoslovakia.

The other arcade game is called the Poly Play, sharing a similar name, plus the board it runs from as Polybius, it’s hardly surprising to hear that this may be another source of the rumours. Add to this the fact that no one can make their mind up whether Polybius is a shooter, a puzzler or something else, certainly helps its case of the being this infamous game- Poly Play features up to eight games, consisting of puzzle, racing, shooting and sports games. The machine itself is rare, as when the Berlin Wall came down, someone felt the need to recall all the cabinets and dismantle them. Only a few were salvaged out of the 1000-1500 made. Poly Play is from Eastern Germany, which also adds weight to the name of the Polybius developers name originating from Germany (it roughly translates as Sense Deleted), although the Poly Play cabinets were manufactured circa 1985, which doesn’t fit in with the original dates of 1979 -1981.

To add more fuel to the fire, I managed to contact Steven Roach with regards to much of the information that I have detailed. The more I asked about his involvement with the game and the more he answered my questions the more solid everything he states seems to be, although a huge part of me remains sceptical at the same time.

Firstly can we have some background information on yourself, Sinneschlossen, and Polybius?

Steven Roach: I’d be happy to – My name is Steven Roach and I’m based in the Czech Republic where I’ve been living since the age of fifteen when I relocated from Rhyl in Wales in 1965 due to my parent’s business interests in import/exports. Sinneschlossen was a company set up by myself and three other mainly amateur programmers in 1978 that worked on component parts for Printed Circuit Boards that saw programming as a limited but very profitable sideline. I think the fact that it wasn’t the focal point of our business took the pressure off of us and hence we created some quality work which drew the attentions of the industry – there were so few people on the development “map” as it where at the time, it wasn’t difficult to get ourselves noticed.
We were approached around 1980 by a Southern American company that shall remain nameless for legal purposes to develop an idea they had for producing an Arcade Game with a Puzzle Element. They were very keen indeed to gain a distinct advantage in developing something new in an already competitive market so we were offered a staggering commission-based renumeration package to develop something special that utilised the technology. They liked our focus on the need for originality as the market was becoming saturated with very similar games which couldn’t realistically hold people’s attentions forever.
We developed the game in little more than two portacabins that were knocked together where we spent many stressful mornings, evenings & nights which was a great pity because it compromised our relaxed and innocently amateurish approach to our business in spite of the financial possibilities but they were the best years of my life – making excellent money with all this new and exciting technology and being surrounded by friends and family – very special times.
The game received a limited release in Portland, Oregon – it was common for the larger companies of the time to have “test areas” etc so they could gauge whether it was popular enough for national or international distribution and a young boy from the Lloyd District suffered an Epileptic Fit while playing the game. The company descended on the town to remove the machines and apparantly caused a great deal of hysteria while doing so.

—-
Theres been alot about Polybius floating around, could you tell us why you wanted to tell your story?

SR: Certainly. I’ve always wondered whether anybody remembered the game or even had an opinion on it outside of people we knew. A friend then told me that some sort of Urban Legend had sprung up around the Internet that the game was some kind of experimental government hardware designed for brainwashing people – this was, and is, very amusing but then I discovered Screenshots and even a shoddy attempt at some sort of game which is a bit of a slap in the face to a something we considered to be ground breaking at the time.

—-
What sort of game was Polybius? How did it play? What was the aim of the game?

SR: Most games of the time were based around the idea of destroying wave after wave of aliens without any real need for thought. For obvious commercial purposes, we needed to incorporate this kind of action but wanted to add a puzzle element to the game without giving it an educational edge – a game that was reasonably difficult but that relied on intense individual skills and thought behind actions made. Many games of the time were purely about destroying waves of alien spacecraft and that was it – we favoured a two pronged approach without overcomplicating the gameplay so it could maintain longevity.

The game centred around a moonbase, largely plagiarized from Star Wars which displayed a number. There were six sets of different aliens: the first, which varied through six levels, appeared as random waves sent out from the moonbase which needed to be destroyed. The others were numbered between one and ten which had to be repelled back into the base to lower the total. The figure had to match exactly to clear the level otherwise you lose two lives or just the one if you had one remaining

The moonbase has a completely random number between one and ninety-nine which is displayed on the front. There are six different waves of ships: one that is numbered individually and needed to be repelled back into the moonbase by bouncing them off the ship as opposed to destroying them, sending them back into the moonbase to get the figure down. The others were purely out to destroy your ship.

The longer the level went on, the more frantic the game became. Not only that, if the Aliens managed to get past you, they formed a line at the bottom of the screen. The numbered aliens would fire lasers back towards the ship to try and increase the number again and take you out as well, as well as the normal ones gathered there trying to kill you. The longer you dithered, the more intense the gameplay came.

We studied a great deal of footage on synchronized swimming and flight patterns of wildlife to gain inspiration as to how we can vary the imagery of the oncoming spacecraft. Galaga was a good example at the time of how you can make the gameplay graphically enjoyable and a pleasure to watch.

We admired Astro Blaster, Phoenix and other games of the ilk but we wanted people to feel they were having an experience as well as playing a standard video game and neutrals to appreciate it. Our main priority was the atmosphere, effects and playability which was the key to keep people playing in our opinion.

—-
Do you feel alot of the rumours have any sort of truth behind them, and if so, how out of proportion do you think they have been blownout of proportion?

SR: They have some truth in the fact that anyone living in or around the Lloyd District of Portland, Oregon would have witnessed quite a lot of drama and hysteria around the time. There would have been a lot of extremely worried board members, engineers and possibly shareholders flapping around trying to create as less a fuss as possible but probably creating more by their presence there. Imagine if a large food store chain had produced a potentially lethal batch of foodstuffs which had been distributed and the chaos a situation like that would have thrown up – largely the same principle.
We were dealing with naïve, wealthy people that had no idea of what they had on their hands; either a Billion-dollar industry or a Billion-dollar time-bomb


What went so wrong for the game to be pulled?

SR: A thirteen year old boy from the Lloyd District of Portland, Oregon had suffered an Epileptic Fit while playing the game, only six days after the machines had literally been installed. One of the senior employees that I knew very well contacted me to tell me that it caused immense ripples of panic throughout the company who were of the opinion that they had “created a monster” as such. It may sound laughable now but please bear in mind that this was 25 years ago when the Video Game Industry was in it’s infancy.
We never really received any specific information as to what point in the game the seizure occurred which was very annoying at the time and caused us a great deal of consternation. Also, because they settled out of court, there is no legal or existing first hand account which is also annoying, both then and now.
I think it had to be the explosion of the Moonbase itself – there were two flashing white bars would appear to separate the moon upon implosion and lots of rhythmic flashing while the moon particles scattered, then a brief burst of speech which purely said “Polybius” after the last piece of debris has disappeared. This was a really impressive effect if we say so ourselves and we didn’t see anything on the market for years afterwards that could have competed with it.
Possibly because the whole cabinet was completely black, it may have caused a greater degree of focus which triggered off the reaction. Saying that, knowing America’s litigation-obsessed society, the Mother could well have made it all up and chanced her arm that she’d get some money out of it – it certainly worked if that was the case.

The industry in its time was in its infancy, and made all kinds of mistakes, do you feel this was the best possible route for the publisher to take?

SR: Maybe. I wish I could make people understand that people considered video games to be a pretty serious addiction and, although we had play tested the game thoroughly, no-one could be sure that playing on these cabinets for hours on end wasn’t detrimental to your physical or mental health. At the time, it was probably the right move but it’s sad to see how laughable it all is now.


Do you believe there could be some sort of content left in one piece out there?

SR: We signed over all rights to the game when it was suspended from active distribution, the technology was returned to the company and that was it – believe me, in a lot of ways, we were glad to see the back of it at the time. We were kept in the dark for several years as to whether the game would ever see the light of day in any capacity but we didn’t hold out any hopes – the problem was that the industry moved at an incredible pace over several key years in the 1980’s and by the time all the red tape and paranoia had cleared, Polybius had probably already fallen behind other games of that era so it is very unlikely in my opinion that any part of the game was incorporated into other projects.
There were seven cabinets produced, distributed and withdrawn to our knowledge which is quite a lot of costly storage space over a long period of time so they were likely to have been broken up and disposed of at some point, whether they could have been retrieved from some skip or other I don’t know but again, it’s very unlikely.


Is there anyway that, in the modern age of computer trickery, that members of the original Dev team could put together an example of what Polybius was?

SR: The five of us moved on into our own projects away from the video game industry and personally speaking, we’re all probably getting a little long in the tooth to revisit our roots in the gaming past (we’re all well into our fifties) but I don’t think it is the unlikeliest thing in the world. I’ve received a great deal of replies from people wanting to know about Polybius, how the contracts were put together, what games of the time inspirited us etc and it’s all been very heartening – I hope to share as much of it with the others as I can.
I’ve also received a couple of firm offers about a possible on-line re-creation of the game but am conscious of the fact that I may be adding to the paranoia that has sprung up around this game. It all needs a great deal of thinking about. If the company approached us about incorporating Polybius in one of their Retro Game Packages that are proving to be very popular on the newer platforms of today, I think I speak for all my colleagues when I say we wouldn’t hesitate to accept such a proposition.


Is there any actual artwork available?

SR: We had a Marquee sent to us for our opinion – it was much to “showy” for what we wanted and we rejected it, favouring a plain black cabinet and bold logo. We wanted the game to do the talking and the effects would have worked well against a plain black setting. We may still have this somewhere but it hasn’t immediately come to light unfortunately.


There are pictures of what could possibly be the original cabin all over the internet, along with what is rumoured to be a screen capture of the games title screen, is there any truth in these pictures?

SR: The cabinet itself was produced in the United States and, from all the information we were given at the time of distribution, the pictures that I’ve seen on Klov.com actually does bear a reasonably strong resemblance to the preliminary amusement industry press that we received. We all agreed that the game itself was enough of a selling point without extensive and costly artwork and that a bold logo and plain black exterior would give it an air of mystery.
No other screenshots that I’ve seen are remotely anything like what we put together.


There was a machine released in Russia/Germany called Poly Play, that featured a handful of different games to choose from and play, and also had alot of flashing lights. Alot of the rumours around Polybius are very confused over what sort of game it as exactly, with many of the descriptions being similar to content on the PolyPlay, it is rumoured the 2 also featured a similar board on which they ran, is there any possible way that the 2 could be linked outside of the rumours?

SR: There is always a chance – maybe we were one of several development teams that the company involved sent the technology to, it’s certainly a possibility. If there were financially-driven deadlines to produce a game and get it onto the marketplace, we may have been one of several teams asked to manufacture something along those lines. The amount of clone boards were rife amongst the industry at the time so it wouldn’t surprise me if someone took advantage of a rare situation that was offered to them


Sinnesloschen translates as Delete Sense in German on Googles translation tools, many people claim this was done on purpose and is grounds for the rumour of the game causing Amnesia, could you finally dispel any of these rumours?

SR: Sure. It involves a funny story as such. Ulrich Koller received a call from our bank who we had requested to set up another account as we wanted to treat this venture as a separate entity. We wanted a name with a European flavour and discussed a lot of possible names but nothing sprang to mind – if this was to be the first of many titles then we wanted a name with a certain presence. Marek liked the idea of something along the lines of S.Y.S. “Suspending your Senses” or something along those lines where the focus was completely on the game with no other thoughts present apart from the gameplay itself. When the Bank phoned, Ulrich just blurted out “Sinnesloschen” which, didn’t quite translate to what we had in mind but we stuck with it.


Finally, despite how much you claim to that you were part of the original dev team, there will always be sceptics, unless the game is uncovered somehow and released in retail form, what do you have to say to those that don’t believe you and have you anything that could possibly win them over?

SR: The first thing I would say is that I completely understand and would probably have the same level of scepticism if I was investigating something of a similar nature. That said, I’m always happy to hear from people regarding the game and have already answered a great deal of correspondence. The people who have taken the time to write to me have gone away, if still not completely convinced, a little better informed.
Also I have nothing really to gain from this – I’m very much a realist and know that there will always be a Question Mark hanging over our place in the annals of gaming history unless the company involved are prepared to release the hardware, which has probably long since been disposed of.
_____________
The Polybius legend is probably impossible to solve, unless someone comes forward with evidence that completely and utterly either rubbishes the rumours or can confirm any of the details. Out of all of them, the easiest to believe is that the game was removed from its test area after 4 weeks due to the game causing seizures. Whether this has anything to do with Tempest is pure speculation. I can safely say that this isn’t so much a hoax as it is Chinese Whispers. For now we can just assume the story being just another faulty game taken from the market and left to sink into gaming folklore. The legend is one of those things in life that everybody will have an opinion on when they hear about it, and that’s fair enough, but it would be nice if people didn’t jump to conclusions based on internet message boards, especially when the majority of them are made up of young males who have nothing better to do than make up silly little stories. Mr. Steven Roach’s story certainly makes sense, especially considering the infancy the industry was in at the time, and the fact that many people, even now, believe that video games do more harm to those who enjoy them than they do good. I think it’s also fair to say that Polybius did exist, but not in the way that most people believe, and that alot of the rumours probably stem from company executives that were around the Portland area of the US at the time of the test machines being removed.

I know for one that, if anything completely concrete did surface, that I’d certainly stand up and take notice as Polybius is one of those things in life, especially for gamers, that needs some closure, if only to stop people making up stories about brainwashing and amnesia.