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Dark Knight Games: The Whole Story - The Atari Times

Dark Knight Games: The Whole Story

Exploring the history of this Jaguar controversy
by Dan Loosen

October 9, 2003
Dave Bell came onto the Jaguar scene around what had to be late 1998 claiming that his company Dark Knight Games would be making a new Jaguar CD game entitled Defcon 1. He shortly thereafter produced a screen shot that was unbelievably stunning for the Jaguar, and announced plans to team with a company named VD3D (Visual Designs 3D) to produce a joystick, along with some more games for the Jaguar.

Photo Courtesy of JustClaws.atari.org The Jaguar community reacted with great excitement - this game would prove that the Jaguar was as powerful as a Playstation, and it could bring a lot of attention to the console. Almost as quickly as the excited posts happened, the screen shot was proved to be a fraud by some of the programmers at 4Play. The effects and the colors would be impossible to generate on the Jaguar as either an game play or a static screen. He took his findings back to Jaguar Interactive and defined the problems with the picture.

Dave Bell countered by stating that this picture was from the computer version of the game that DKG was also developing, and that the Jaguar version would look similar. A while later, Dave Bell admitted that there was no computer version of the game, and that the picture was produced in Photoshop hoping to lure developers to make either a Jaguar version or a computer version of the game.

Dave Bell in an effort to provide some credibility for Dark Knight Games, bid a few hundred dollars on a development kit for the Jaguar. Luckily for him, eBay was undergoing growing pains at the time and the system was offline for the final two hours of the auction. Dave received a full development kit for the Jaguar for around $400-500 dollars. Dave's triumph was not what he expected, and the Jaguar community blasted him for getting it when it could have gone to someone who "would've used it."

During this whole ordeal is when VD3D released the joysticks through DKG. The problems with the fact that the joysticks only worked on a select number of Jaguars containing a certain chip was true, and it took DKG / VD3D over two years to sell all 15 or 20 that were produced. Around the same time, I started a thread which Dave responded too. After some heated debate on JI2 (or JI1?), we met on AOL IM to wage our war off the site.

Dan - If you are going to announce a project, you should have some programmers and actually be able to back up your claims.
Dave - We do have programmers! They are better than anything that you could do.
Dan - No they aren't.
Dave - Prove it.

I did. I sent Dave a program that Gary and I had wrote in sixth or seventh grade (we were now Seniors in high school) and Dave apologized and offered to work with us. Gary and I decided to become our own subsidiary named "Team 13" and we soon had signed a contract and were taken under DKG's wing.

The reason we did this is simple: Dave offered us something that we didn't have - financial backing - to get us a development kit and get us off the ground. Within a few weeks, we had a small Team 13 section up to the Web site, and we had an Atari Lynx development kit on it's way to Milwaukee so we could start our game.

Fake Defcon 1 Screenshot.

Gary and I, always the innovators, decided that we didn't want to wait until we were done with a Lynx game to produce something. We knew that the Lynx game could take us months, and probably years to complete, so we decided to make a joystick that worked for the Jaguar. We produced the Team 13 joysticks, a crudely made joystick extension for Jaguar joypads. They sold for $13.00, which was only $1.00 more than the going rate for new joypads at the time, and we heard a lot of positive responses from those who bought them. Those who did not purchase a joystick ridiculed it though.

We started to develop another, more sturdy joystick -- the Jaguar JAMMA Joystick, and we also decided that we would carry a limited selection of Jaguar and Lynx games. We were authorized to purchase $2,000.00 worth of merchandise that DKG would pay us back for to sell, and we were supposed to send DKG the JAMMA Joysticks to inspect. Since the JAMMA Joysticks parts are extremely expensive, I told Dave that I did not want to send him the joystick unless he paid for shipping. He refused. The plans sat around.

Dave started to complain that we were not updating our Web site enough. He told me that we needed to update it because that is what the investors were looking for - and the investors didn't care about products. I told Dave that Web sites do not make money and products do. He told me I was wrong and that we needed to overhaul our Web site soon or they would take it over.

At the same time, our first shipment of $1,500 worth of Lynx stuff arrived. We decided to announce the Jaguar JAMMA Joystick on the Web site, but not put a date down when they would be ready to see if we could get Dave to approve it that way.

A few days later, our section of the Web site was suddenly gone. Dave blamed it on the fact that they were switching servers. He kept blaming it on different things for nearly a month, while he also continually told us that a check was in the mail for the Lynx stuff.

Our Web site never came back. The check never arrived either. Gary and I made the decision that we had to sell this Lynx stuff somehow, and we wanted to sell our JAMMA Joysticks, so we decided to set up our own Web site, which became the GOAT Store, LLC. We will forever be indebted to the person who believed in us and gave us free Web space to set up our initial shop. Due to our workings with Dark Knight Games, we had become Jaguar community outsiders, and if it was not for his help I would probably still have $2000.00 worth of Lynx stuff sitting in my basement.

As for Dark Knight Games, they did receive the money they were seeking -- nearly $500,000 worth of it. After changing their name to Chasma, Inc. and redoing their Web site about a million times, they have finally began to produce products. They now have three games out for wireless devices. They also had to secure more financing to actually produce them.

Sadly enough, most of the reason they got the funding was from things that Gary and I had done for them, or had told Dave Bell. For the year or so that we helped out, we basically ran the company. When we left, Dave Bell was quite lost for a while.

Chasma focuses a lot on promoting Dave, which is funny. When we joined, we were told that we had to find a big title to add to our names. We refused. Now, Chasma is full of CEOs, COOs, CTOs and VPs. It's really disgusting.

Ironically, from kicking us out Gary and I founded the GOAT Store, LLC which has never required any financial backing and has been successful in our eyes, even though we've never really made any money from it. People enjoyed our JAMMA Joysticks, and we've sold most of that original Lynx purchase. Of course, we've also had a lot of fun using our gaming addiction to host Atari Jaguar Festival 2K1 and the Midwest Classic. Considering everything, I'm really happy with how everything worked out and I wouldn't trade the odd Dark Knight Games experience for the world!

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