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GDC Video: Making the Atari coin-op classic Crystal Castles
Franz Lanzinger's GDC 2013 postmortem of Atari arcade game Crystal Castles is now free and includes a Q&A with the original dev team and a live session with Lanzinger himself playing piano pieces from the game.
Courtesy of the GDC Vault, Franz Lanzinger's hour-long GDC 2013 lecture is now free and features a postmortem of Atari arcade game Crystal Castles with an unplugged session of Lanzinger himself playing the game's music live. The music that was so recognizable in-game was because Atari then had no system in place to license music. That didn't stop Lanzinger from giving a live piano jam session at GDC, featuring OST snippets that were borrowed from Beethovan and Tschaikovsky. Afterward, Lanzinger reflected on what he felt went right and wrong with the game itself. He was satisfied with the level warp system, non-violent but exciting gameplay, and trackball controls. However, he admitted those controls also limited the sales of the game. He also lamented not writing a cohesive storyline and not preserving code from early field tests, which were regrettably lost forever. He later shared his relationship with Atari. He recalled being against programming in joystick controls in the game home release. He also had to write a long essay about why his game needed to have an ending, which was against the grain for arcade games at the time. Lastly, the other original team members behind Crystal Castles joined the stage for a special Q&A wrapping up a memorable, 60-minute postmortem at GDC 2013. Session Name: Classic Game Postmortem: Crystal Castles Speaker(s): Franz Lanzinger Company Name(s): Actual Entertainment, Inc. Track / Format: Design Overview: Why was Atari coin-op so successful at creating dozens of original and highly influential games in just a few years, many that still sell today? In this 30-year anniversary classic postmortem Franz Lanzinger, the original programmer and designer, will analyze, review, and spill the secrets of Atari's classic arcade game, Crystal Castles. Featuring Bentley Bear picking up gems and getting chased by trees and bees, Crystal Castles broke ground as a fast-paced, yet nonviolent, 3D isometric game. It was Atari's first arcade character game with an ending and included an ingenious secret warp system. Franz, also a professional pianist, will perform the music on his stage piano with the audience getting a live, close-up view. The talk will feature rare documents, sketches, photos, videos, and even actual 6502 code from the heyday of Atari coin-op, defiantly known as "Coin-op, the real Atari."