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Interview: Eric Ginner - The Atari Times

Interview: Eric Ginner

Lynx Programmer
by Ed Castle

October 4, 1996
Ed Castle: What games have you worked on?
Eric Ginner: I programmed Ms. Pacman, Shanghai, Checkered Flag, Rampart, Batman Returns for the Lynx. I was also involved in testing a lot of the early Lynx games.

Which was/is your favorite (to play, and to program) and why?
I like playing Robotron, mostly because I just like shoot em ups in general. I also like Shanghai because it gives you the feeling that you can improve each time you play.

Which game took you longest to finish programming?
Probably Checkered Flag, since it was a half finished project when I started working on it. A bunch of time was spent trying to continue it, then I ended up starting over because it would be more efficient. Batman Returns also took quite awhile because we had to try to make it somewhat like the movie.

Are there any interesting secrets in the games? (Except the ones listed on my page.)
Rampart - Pause, then press opt1 17 times, opt2 9 times, A 11 times, B 23 times once that is done, you can pause, then do one of these:
Right - conquer the next battle
Left - conquer the next battle and go to the victory screen
Up - set timer to 30
Down - give each player 7 cannons

(I couldn't get this to work, let me know if you do - Ed)

Ms. Pac-Man - pause, AAB, gives you turbo speed

You worked with many different people, was there anyone in particular you remember/liked? (Say who)
Who (you told me to say it!) Yes, Jerome Strach.

If yes, why?
We started doing Ms. Pac-Man as a way to learn about programming the Lynx and also to get some experience in programming games. We ended up working on five Lynx games together. It was very helpful to have another person to bounce ideas off of, solve problems, do experiments, etc. It made learning all the new stuff a lot easier and a lot more fun. We also could impress each other by putting weird stuff into our games, like strange sound effects, graphics, etc.

Which game was the hardest for you to develop? Why?
Checkered Flag. It was the first game I did as a full time programmer. It was also the first game that I didn't voluntarily choose to do. Before Checkered Flag, I did Ms. Pac-Man and Shanghai. I was going to make those games just for fun because I liked them, they were fairly easy to do. Getting the multiplayer stuff to work was somewhat of a challenge, but also a lot of fun.

Which is your favourite Lynx game?
Robotron. Other favorites: Rampart, Shanghai, Chips Challenge, Slime World, Zarlor Mercenary.

Who's idea was it to put the billboards up like that in Checkered Flag, yours or Atari's :)?
We just copied the idea from Pole Position. For the most part, we could decide on our own what went into our games. Atari never did have much in the way of 'games' people except for the testers, so just about all of the good ideas were our own or came from the testers.

Do you know anything interesting we'd all love to know about the Lynx?
Hmmmm, can't think of anything really interesting. There was a thing that let you hook up a Lynx to a TV and see the video on the TV screen. There were some plans to do a really small version of the Lynx, but it never happened. The development system was great. You could get a basic game structure working in a day and could do a complete game in a few months.

It's Rampart!
This is one tough game!
Bit Buster!
It's his favorite game.

Reader Comments for Interview: Eric Ginner

Atari World Championships 1981 by Mike Arnett on 2008-12-28 10:35:12
I was in Chicago playing centipede during that time and finished 4th. I was just curious if you happened to be one of the first or second place finishers. If so, I'd like to know.

e-mail me at texas_kitshicker@yahoo.com
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