released project | OCTOBER 2016

Atari 2600 vr


project description

a virtual reality experiment on gamification in which we studied and reimagined three classic Atari 2600 games on virtual reality for educational purposes. By studying original material on the development processes of classic games, we were able to explore how gamification can benefit our societies in the future.

a study on gamification

To this date, we still admire the Simplicity of the game design of classic games. The most promising outcome of our internal study was to show how it is possible to provide very entertaining experiences with a small set of well thought gameplay mechanics. By reimagining these classic games in virtual reality, we found that it is possible to develop fun virtual experiences by limiting user interaction within a very small set of game rules.

In early days of electronic gaming, new Game genres were born quite frequently. Game development Studios often pioneered a whole new genre by releasing a first-of-its-kind videogame. In a time which there were less precedents, this may seem like an easy task, however we found there’s much to do with the creative thinking of game developers. Current xr technologies enable us to take gamification to the next level and we found that prioritizing this creative thinking is key to developing meaningful and unique virtual experiences, specially considering there are platforms with a lot of unexplored potential.

lastly, The early days of electronic gaming development were ruled by optimization techniques. from calculating the memory usage of every sprite to writing gameplay code that fit in a 8kb cartridge, we can learn a lot about optimization from classic games. Current xr technologies, even if cloud based, rely heavily on optimization to maintain a stable 90 fps performance while showing high fidelity graphics.

TO what extent will gamification help us in the future? Which industries can benefit from gamification in a world where our reality is extended with virtual worldS? These are some of the many questions that we explored with aerolito’s online and live courses participants, after we learned from developing this project.

Gameplay footage of the first levels

Gameplay footage of the first levels

Main features

  • Three classic atari 2600 games completely redesigned for virtual reality. Multiple different gameplay mechanics reimagined, while preserving the key concepts of what make these classic games fun.

  • The development process generated quality Educational Content and a lot of insights on how we can reimagine classic game development concepts when developing for xr technologies. This content was made available to aerolito’s courses participants.

  • A guaranteed warming feeling of nostalgia for those who enjoy remembering the days of blowing into cartridges.

technical aspects

THE PROJECT WAS DEVELOPED FOR the oculus rift USING UNREAL ENGINE 4.12. We began gathering original material on the development processes of several classic games, such as manuals, game design documents and interviews with the developers. We then chose the three games we wanted to reimagine in virtual reality and began the development of a proof-of-concept for each of them.

After successfuly developing a proof-of-concept, we started creating the final 3D models using MagicaVoxel, which were then imported into autodesk 3ds max and later into unreal engine. All Gameplay mechanics were ported into unreal using blueprints, and then redesigned to better fit virtual reality. Aspects such as number of lives, punishments, score system worked surprisingly well unmodified, however, other aspects sucha as character’s speed, jump height and an additional movement axis in one of the games were highly modified to ensure a fun experience.

lastly, The ui Elements were designed in Adobe Photoshop and all audio samples and music were processed in audacity. Once the three games were finished, we tested internally and recorded the user experience on a videocase.

IN early 2016, development for Atari 2600 VR began.

IN october 2016, Atari 2600 VR was internally released as an educational case for aerolito to explore the future of gamification.

Atari 2600 VR is a non-profit project created by atari™ fans at aerolito for educational purposes and internal usage only, and it doesn’t have any commercial attachments with the franchises here celebrated: pitfall!™, River Raid™ and H.E.R.o.™.

Atari and the Atari logo are trademarks owned by Atari Interactive, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Pitfall!™ is a video game developed by Activision in 1982. River Raid™ is a video game developed by Activision in 1982. H.E.R.O.™ is a video game developed by Activision in 1984. all of these copyrights are owned by activision.

Gameplay footage of more advanced levels

Gameplay footage of more advanced levels