Fixing E.T.

By Deane Barker on April 5, 2013

Fixing E.T. for the Atari 2600: E.T. for the Atari 2600 was one of the worst video games of all time.  In fact, it may have sparked the 1983 meltdown in game console sales.

Well, this guy wanted to fix it, so he did.  He hacked the kernel of the game, and made some necessary changes.  Along the way, he explains quite a bit about why the game is the way it is, and why other games aren’t.

The myth: A lot of people blame poor collision detection for this problem. That is simply not true. The collision detection in E.T. is perfect. There are no bounding boxes like in more modern games. Collision detection happens at the pixel level. You can’t get any better than that. If you fall in to a well, it’s because your player character visually overlaps it.

The actual problem: We don’t want pixel-perfect collision detection!

The reason that people so easily fall in to wells is that they don’t expect to fall when, for example, E.T.’s head overlaps a well. After all, his feet are clearly on solid ground!

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  1. If you think about it, graphics in today’s games really changed big time. Most Atari games are really frustrating but if you are old enough to experience it, then you will have a different opinion about it. People before are greatly satisfied with Atari games.

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