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Atari "dream team" reforms to make games for "the new arcade", iOS

"The Jedi Council of videogame design."

A "dream team" of old Atari heroes who shaped early videogames are reassembling to pump out games for iOS - "the new arcade".

They will be known as Innovative Leisure. Boring - my imaginary dog could do better.

They will be lead by Seamus Blackley, the man who co-wrote the initial Xbox proposal and assembled the original Xbox team. His journalist wife Van Burnham, author of Supercade, will help. Be a bit rude if she didn't.

Their mission? Simultaneously make 10 games for THQ to publish on iOS later this year.

"This is the dream team from Atari," Blackley told VentureBeat.

"We have to create a quality experience, hone it, and tweak the crap out of it so that you get the same level of gameplay that people demanded in the arcade era. It's scary as sh*t if you don't understand gameplay."

Seamus Blackley, co-creator of Xbox and leader of Innovation Leisure

"We are looking at the new arcade, and 99 cents on the iPhone is the new quarter. People are playing on all these new devices and are finding the joy of the arcade games.

The Jedi Council, which backed Anakin Skywalker.

"We are carrying on where Atari left off, focusing on innovation in gameplay," Blackley added.

"We have to create a quality experience, hone it, and tweak the crap out of it so that you get the same level of gameplay that people demanded in the arcade era. It's scary as sh*t if you don't understand gameplay."

Seamus Blackley described his key recruits as "the Jedi Council of videogame design".

They are:

  • Dennis Koble - known for: Sprint 2 (1976) - now making: Super Sitting Ducks
  • Rich Adam - known for: Missile Command (1980) - now making: Sonic-like game Echidna
  • Ed Logg - known for: Asteroids (1979), Centipede (1980) - now making: he'll test all new games
  • Lyle Rains - known for: Tank (1974) - now making: a game that will target Angry Birds
  • Bruce Merritt - known for: Black Widow (1982) - now making: a "perspective twister"
  • Tim Skelly - known for: Rip-Off (1980) - now making: he'll be the "in-house game guru"
  • Owen Rubin - known for: Major Havoc (1983) - now making: he'll test all new games
  • Ed Rotberg - known for: Battlezone (1980) - now making: he'll think of new ways to play games
  • Bob Smith/Rob Zdybel - known for: the Atari 2600 console (1977) - now making: they're "reinventing the trackball" for the iPad era

These 11 creaky old pioneers (including Blackley) will be bolstered by fresh-faced interns. The company will be 30 employees strong, which is a pretty big operation.

Blackley's funding the operation out of his own pocket, and with money put forward by THQ (demand cash up front etc.).

Blackley and gang will deliver their vision for "the new arcade" next week, at the DICE Summit in Las Vegas.

There are some great pictures of "the Jedi Council" posing next to the arcade games they helped create on Time.

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Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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