Interview de Ken Rose. AvP programmer (Jaguar). 25/02/2004




1. Ken, could you please give our viewers a brief introduction about yourself?

I'm married with 3 kids, and live in the San Diego area. I grew up in the SF Bay Area, and discovered computers in high school in about 1973.

My high school was unusual at the time in having a computer (a PDP-8e) on site. I earned a degree in computer science from Berkeley, and later
a certificate in project management from Santa Cruz. I fell into the game business when a friend recruited me for Synapse Software, in '82 if
I remember. I did a number of projects for them and others (including Atari) until getting a full-time job with Sega in '91. From there I
went to Atari in '94, and stayed until early '96, when I went to VM Labs. I'm now with VM's acquirer, Genesis Microchip.


2. What role(s) did you play at Atari, and what games were you involved in?

My cards said "Software Project Leader" or some such. I worked for a while on bringing up the Jaguar modem, which unfortunately had some
hardware troubles. That had me working closely with Richard Miller, who went on to found VM Labs.

I was the lead programmer on Black ICE\White Noise. That had me writing the core game logic, the systems-level software, and overseeing two
other programmers. I also had a large, but unofficial role in project management for that project.

After that was cancelled, I worked on the GameFilm system for several months until I went to VM. I had made fun of interactive movies up until then, but that one actually worked.


3. What did you think of the architecture and general development for the Jaguar? Was there any particular advantage you enjoyed, or any difficulties in dealing with the dev tools/production hardware?

Generally speaking, I liked it. The typical Japanese machine of the day (maybe still) had its video RAM on a peripheral with difficult access.
The Jag had it right there where you could fiddle with it. The 68k was familiar, and is a fairly nice machine, and the GPU was very nice,
though it had a memory access bug that prevented it from running instructions in main RAM. That was annoying.


4. Which games have you played (if any), and which was your favorite?

I was never a very big game player. Before I started doing games, I never understood actors who wouldn't go to the movies. Now I do - after
you've spent your day working on one, the last thing you want to do is try to relax in front of one.

That being said, I prefer the older style games. They seem to have paid more attention to making a fun game, and less to making a graphics
extravaganza. I like Pong, Pac-man, Asteroids, Missile Command and a few like that in the arcades. On home machines, I'm fond of Lemmings,
Toejam & Earl, and maybe a couple others. I liked Battlezone, and did the port for the XEGS, which was an 800 in other plastic. It's one of
the few games I've worked on that I enjoyed playing the week it was finished.


5. Now that the Atari Jaguar is an open system (read: released to public domain), were there any games in development you can talk about that the community may not be aware of?

Not that come to mind.


6. Could you describe the corporate culture of Atari while the Jaguar was in the market?

It was fairly dysfunctional as a company, but as an engineering group, it was an almost completely bullshit-free environment (I'll refrain from
naming the VP who's responsible for the qualifier), which was very nice. As a company, they never seemed to have gotten out of the extreme
cost-conscious mode they needed when Warner got out. They needed it then, but it makes no sense to stall a project for a week to save $50 on a disk drive, or to get the president's signature to buy a box of CD-Rs.


7. What have you worked on since leaving Atari? What are you up to today?

I've been at VM Labs, doing the C compiler, the OS, and a bunch of miscellaneous stuff, and at Genesis, where I'm also doing tools & OS stuff.

Thank you very much in advance. It's always great to track down anotherAtari developer and pick their brain to get some insight about the ystem,
and more importantly, its developers.



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