New to me – Tron Design Correspondence between Dave Nutting and Bally

I was browsing tonight, trying to inform myself of the history and timelines of Al Kassow’s work on the Spies archive of arcade game data, and I came across this design document that was apparently part of this archive. At the end is a letter that Dave Nutting from Nutting and Associates sent to Dave Marofske about their meeting about the development of a Tron game.

Fairly formal letter. Didn’t quite jive with the impression I got about Dave after talking with a former Nutting & Associates employee but even the most creative visionaries with their wandering minds can have moments of focus and articulation. (Minus the grammar and spelling issues 😉 For me, this letter just kind of fueled the backstory on why the Earth, Friend, Mission prototype was just thrown at the Tron project – mostly because of unreasonable time lines.

Transcription of the Dave Nutting letter

Dear Dave,

I came away from Monday’s Tron meeting with some concerns for which I have given some thought.

First, I was impressed with the Tron presentation. Bill and George obviously spent a great deal of thought and energy developing their game concepts. I see emerging a real spark of creative energy.

My concerns lie in the area of too many ideas and too many unknowns. Unless these areas are addressed immediately, to commit for a Tron delivery of 1 April is a courting disaster.

The creation of a video game is the same as creating a movie with the significant exception that the video game is real time and the player is a character in that real time action.

In the multi game approach I am concerned over the multi character rolls the player must learn, the different points of view, and most important how the player interacts with the CRT through player controls that would be different for each game.

Addressing these problem parameters, I recommend the following.

  1. The Rings game is unique in its point of view utilizing perspective 3D. It also provides a visual presentation that fully exploits the power of the hardware system. Consider developing just Rings as the Tron game. Establish multi levels of difficulty (ala Tempest). The controls would be the roller ball utilizing similar approach we used with the pitcher in baseball. The Player would have limited control of path of the disc as it travels.
  2. For a multi game approach I would suggest three games Cycle, Tank and MCP, point of view is 2D, two birds eye view, one profile view. To maintain character identification at the beginning of each game Tron animates on screen to his vehicle and then becomes a cycle, a tank, a space ship. The controls would be an eight way Gorf handle plus four buttons ala Zapp. Establish multi levels of each game.

    1. Standard checkmate
    2. Place obstacle on play field
    3. Play area is larger than what is visual on screen (super bug)

The control would be four positions of Gorf handle. The four Zapp buttons could control larger area motion.

Tank – create multi levels of mazes but stay with basic X Y.

The eight way joy stick becomes full effective in open field mazes. If you pull trigger the tank fires in direction of tank motion. Player can alternately choose one of four Zapp buttons and tank fires ala Zapp.

MCP – perhaps the player must achieve several levels of cycle and Tank before he can confront the MCP.

Display MCP as a sudo three D cylinder with vertical panels. Now animate a bright light moving from panel to panel back and forth. player is a rocket ship in lower screen ala Gorf. Player must hit lighted panel to break hole in MCP as light moves back and forth the hit panel animates like a spark gap. Meanwhile the entire cylinder is descending down on player. Player objective is to move up through gap blown in MCP and not move through when spark gap could also destroy him.

The four Zapp buttons could activate different types of missile, laser, missile – fireball etc.

The player can play all games using only the Gorf handle. The four Zapp buttons become secondary features giving player more power as he learns to use them.

This is as far as my thoughts go for today.


Dave Nutting

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