Interview with Tim Snider

With all the stuff that was written about Tim Snider after he announced this game and especially after he decided to pull it from CCAG, I thought it would be great for Tim to tell what happened with Venture 2. So, I set up an interview with Tim and I think you will find it very interesting. As with all my interviews (including the interview with Leonard Herman that comes next), I just list the questions and the responses to them.

#1-A sequel to Venture, what made you decide to do this? A fan of the game?

Tim-I am a HUGE fan of the original Venture for the Atari 2600. Games like this, Adventure, Crypts of Chaos, Haunted House, etc., were my first tastes of computerized adventure gaming.

#2-How does this game differ from your other projects, the Mystery Science Theatre, HozerQuest: Thrift Store Simulator or The Blair Witch Project?

Tim-I've described V2 as "more than a hack, less than an original." Programming-wise, it was the first time I diddled around with the actual code rather than just alter the sprites - though I did that too. I took the original Venture II code and created new rooms, creatures, and surprises. It was quite an undertaking. I also handbuilt each cart that was sold, because I wanted to learn how the EPROM, circuit board, and hex inverter came together to make a working cart. V2 was a hardware as well as a software lesson for me. Lastly, I wanted the presentation of V2 to be special, so I came up with the idea of custom-designed treasure chests for the cart to arrive in. I
just thought it'd be cool to have the box represent the game's concept - like if Intellivision's Dracula game came in a coffin or something.

#3-The treasure chest and the whole packaging is great. What made you decide to do this?

Tim-Not sure. I guess I thought it'd be cool to have one and I thought other collectors might feel the same way. So I went ahead and made one for each of the 24 carts I sold.

#4-How much time did it take to build one of these treasure chests?

Tim-I bought the treasure chests in bulk from a local hobby store. (though it took three shipments before I had enough. They kept under-ordering.) My wife and I handpainted each one, then added the gold "banding" and laminated box label. All said, the boxes took 2 months from start to finish. Each cart I hand-wired took about 2 hours to do - if I did it right the first time. Else, I had to remove the solder, find out where I made my mistake, and re-do it. (I only had the 24 EPROMS and couldn't afford to order more.) And, I have a real job from 9 to 6 each day, so
everything was made after 7 p.m. weekdays and on the occasional weekend. All told, the assembly for everything took a little more than 3 months or so.

#5-Was it the time it took to build the treasure chest, the costs or both that made you decide to limit them?

Tim-Well, they werenít going to be "limited" per se, because V2 was originally going to be released at Ohio's CCAG meeting. Since it was a smaller meeting and since I was going to release them without any fanfare, 24 carts would've been enough for the folks there. However, the original shipment of 24 EPROMs were lost in the mail and didn't arrive until after CCAG had come and gone. So, I figured I'd churn them out for CGE2K1 so I could get them into the hands of collectors. Granted, the cost to put these together was tough to initially lay out, but it was the time it took to do each cart and box that limited the number created. I was only making as many as I could Ė I was never trying to create some "false sense of rarity." Also, since I was planning to turn over manufacturing to Randy at Hozer Video Games, I didnít feel that these first 24 were any more special than the others Hozer would create. They just happened to be the "first" ones released.

#6-Did the sales of your earlier games, play any part in the decision to limit the initial run?

Tim-Uh, no. The V2 run was not "limited." They were just the first 24 released to the public.

#7-There was alot of interest in the cart, before it was released. Did this surprise you?

Tim-Bluntly, hell yes. I created V2 because it was a game *I* wanted to play. I figured there might be another 20 folks out there who wanted a copy as well. I was unprepared for the demand. Perhaps this was naive-ness on my part, even though I had made arrangements for Hozer to take over distribution. As far as I was
concerned, anyone who wanted a copy could get one. But too many people
wanted the "extra-special-jiffy-keen-custom-made-author-produced" boxed
treasure-chest version, and they were willing to make life miserable for me until they got their way. It's sad really. Ironically, since CGE 2K1ís end, V2's been available at Hozer for a month now and I don't think one order has come in for it. It begs the question, "Who was demanding those initial copies: game-players or
collectors who wanted only to fill their holes?"

#8-If you knew how much negative feedback you would get on the limited nature of the cart, would you have still gone ahead with the treasure chest edition?

Tim-Nope. I would've made one for myself and sent the BIN to Hozer for mass-production. I'm very proud of what I created, but I'm also very soured on the experience. I'm working on a new Atari game called They've Risen, but I don't think I'll do anything other than write the game and send it to Randy at Hozer for distribution.

#9-Was there anything other than the uproar in the newsgroup that led you to pulling the cart from its release at the CGE?

Tim-I had e-mails sent to my personal computer telling me they were going to track me down at CGE and demand a copy of V2 until I relented. I was taken to task on various classic gaming message groups. I was called a variety of names and basically bludgeoned. I didn't need the headaches, so I pulled the "general release" and sold the treasure chest copies to folks I've dealt with in the past.

#10-When you went to the CGE, how did people respond to you about the cart?

Tim-I was ready for a ton of backlash, but the people I met were surprisingly complimentary. I think most folks saw what was going on and thought the name-calling was out of line. We agreed most of the name-calling and attacks were coming from folks who werenít able to get to CGE and felt they were missing out on something special. Some of the other homebrewers thanked me for taking the heat. Those who played V2 and saw the chest first-hand gave me a lot of
positive feedback, which was all I was looking for in the first place.

#11-Are there any plans on any other runs of the treasure chest edition?

Tim-Never again.

#12-There was a treasure chest edition of Venture 2 that sold at the CGE. Did you provide it or was it someone else?

Tim-That copy was literally the last copy I created. I contacted the Digital Press guys and told them I had one left. I really wanted to get this into the hands of a collector, so I asked if auctioning it off was a bad idea. They loved it, and gave me the green light to place it up for auction.

#13- Were you surprised by the $200.00 price it fetched?

Tim
-Completely. I sold the copies I made for $20 each. I expected - maybe - $50 or $60 for that last cart. The bidding completely overwhelmed me.

#14-Back a few years ago, a copy of your Mystery Science Theatre cart was put
up for auction by another collector and fetched a nice sum on eBay. Which
one surprised you more, what Venture 2 sold for or the Mystery Science Theatre?

Tim-Both went for more I would've expected.

#15-For people who missed the treasure chest edition, but want to play the game, how can they get a copy?

Tim-Hozer has the game for $16 which includes a cart with a "general release" label and instructions. The BIN is floating around out there on AtariAge and other classic gaming sites.

(I would like to take this time to thank Tim Snider for the interview. I know it was tough for him to speak about it, but he really wanted to let people know what happened and why the game was pulled from CGE.)

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