Hayenga was an Apple II and Atari hardware and software programmer.
Keithen worked on the JoyPort, Computer Foosball, RealSports
Football and several other unpublished projects such as Tempest
for the Atari 5200.
At last we meet! It took me four years of CGEs to catch up with
you, but we finally met in San Jose at CGE '04.Thanks again for
spending a few minutes to demonstrate your prototype game Tempest
on the 5200 console at the Atari2600.com booth. How about a bit
of history for us?
KH> I'll do a quick history. I bought
one of the first Apple II's and wanted to allow multiple people
to play at the same time. Steve Woita and I collaborated to develop
the JoyPort that allowed either two Atari style joysticks or four
Apple paddles to be used in multi-player games. I programmed Computer
Foosball for the Apple II as the first game for the JoyPort
that allowed one to four players. So when the original Atari programmers
left to form Activision and Imagic, I was an experienced 6502
game programmer that Atari hired as a replacement.
GR> What was the first thing you did for Atari?
KH> My original assignment was to be
a war game called FoxFire, not to be confused with FireFox
the movie made by Clint Eastwood. Almost everyone still at Atari
had turned it down, but I was willing. It was the title of a movie
about war games with a Romeo and Juliet aspect and the
game (and me) were going to be mentioned in the movie as advertising
for the game. The movie and the game were never done.
GR> When did you get to program for the 5200? You were the
one responsible for adding voice to RealSports Baseball,
KH> Yes. They needed someone to finish
RealSports Baseball for the 5200. Jim Andreason had started
it right after having done RealSports Football and he needed
a break. Rather than finish his game I started all over and got
extra ROM space to put in voice. Jim did come back to help me
finish off the game play. It was awarded title best sports game
of 1983 by Video Game Update and best sports game of 1984 by Electronic
Game Player Magazine.
GR> When did Tempest come along?
KH> After RealSports Baseball,
Tempest was the first game that I got to choose to work
on. I got great cooperation from Dave Theurer who programmed the
arcade version. He gave me listings that I could borrow from.
GR> The graphics in the unreleased prototype are fabulous,
and the sound effects are incredible. Are they the arcade SFX?
KH: I was able to use the sound files exactly
because Tempest and the 5200 used the same sound chip.
I could also use all the tables that told which levels each set
of creatures came in. But since the arcade game was vector graphics
based while mine was bitmapped, I had to make trade offs. I didn't
have enough sprites to show all of them that could exist at the
highest game play levels.
GR> So how complete did Tempest get?
KH> The first prototypes, which were
shown at an earlier Classic Game Expo, just had the beginning
of the game, just enough to show the playing field tubes. It went
out just as a preview to show buyers what we were intending to
get out for the next Christmas buying season. After I got in some
game play, another version was created just to test how far I
had come. That is the version that you got a copy of. It mainly
had the gun rotating and firing, plus the flippers rotating around
the top of the tubes, plus zooming down the tube. I was very surprised
to see that anyone had resurrected that version.
GR> This was towards the end of the original Atari before the
crash. Is that why the game never was finished?
KH> I continued to work on Tempest
right up until the Trammiels bought the company and let most of
us programmers go. I had added in spikes and was working on the
tankers and fuseballs when we folded. Unfortunately, the ROM lab
and testers were the first people to get laid off, so there was
no one to burn a copy of my latest version. So when I tested the
version you have I was hoping to see the spikes, etc. Oh well,
it was still more than I ever expected to see and hope it works
out for you!
GR> So what are you doing these days to keep busy?
KH> Since CGE I have been back at a permanent
job at PalmOne. It is partially due to game programming. A couple
of years ago, a group of us had put out some shareware games for
Palms. We made enough to pay for a trip to England and pay for
a few new computers, but not enough to have been our daytime jobs.
Now here that experience has landed me in a different job entirely.
I'm doing DTS work and telling others how to program for us.
GR> By the way, what's the origin of your name? I think the
reason I missed you at CGE in Vegas is I was looking for an Asian
KH> Our family name was originally spelled
"Heijenga". I think the Hei should be sounded like "Hi"
as in Heidelberg. It is German from around Emden on the Ems River,
which is the border with Holland. No German I have met has ever
thought it sounded remotely German. So I thought maybe it was
more Dutch. I relayed that to a friend I worked with from Amsterdam.
His response was, "I guess a lot of Jewish names are like
that." I guess it doesn't sound Dutch either. So on my Dad's
side, I am all German and Swiss. Keith/Keithen is Scottish in
GR>, Thanks again, Keithen, for sharing some history, and for
autographing my 5200 Tempest box!
KH> My pleasure!