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The free-wheeling development of the disastrous E.T. for Atari 2600

"It's awesome to be credited with single-handedly bringing down a billion-dollar industry with eight kilobytes of code. But the truth is a little more complex." - Howard Scott Warshaw, developer of E.T. for the Atari 2600
"It's awesome to be credited with single-handedly bringing down a billion-dollar industry with eight kilobytes of code. But the truth is a little more complex."

- Howard Scott Warshaw, developer of E.T. for the Atari 2600

The creator of the infamous E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 -- a game that was developed in five weeks and serves as a symbol for the North American video game crash of the 1980s -- spoke to the BBC in a new interview that recounts the history of its development.

Howard Scott Warshaw flew to Hollywood to meet Steven Spielberg, flew to London for the premier of the film, and flew through the game's five-week development with no almost no breaks except his drives to and from the office. 

"I started working at the office but after a while I realized there was a problem; I still have to go home to sleep and eat occasionally. So we had another development system installed in my house so that I would never be more than two minutes away from working on the code except when I was driving."

"I'm not sure exactly what I was full of but whatever it was, I was overflowing with it," Warshaw told the BBC, about what posessed him to agree to make the game under such enormous constraints.

The full interview, which has several snapshots from Warshaw's personal collection, is worth a read -- whether or not you remember the game more from playing it or from its discovery in a New Mexico landfill (pictured).

For a happier story, you can watch this GDC 2014 classic postmortem of Warshaw's hit Yars' Revenge.

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