After Atari cited TxK‘s similarity to its own Tempest franchise, the company took necessary steps to block the game’s release on PC, PlayStation 4, and Android systems. Fearing that “I can never make a Tempest style game ever again”, the game’s creator, Jeff Minter, accused Atari of being a “copyright troll”. Since then however, Atari has taken conciliatory steps to ensure an amicable resolution, with its efforts yielding the announcement that not only is Jeff Minter to continue making a “Tempest style” game, but that he’s currently working with Atari in bringing over its Tempest franchise to all major gaming platforms. Titled Tempest 4000, the game offers a continuation of the same signature gameplay that was so beloved amongst old school gamers, yet benefits from modern 4K visuals that are further enhanced by a pulse-pounding 90’s techno soundtrack. However, with so much controversy surrounding the project, I spoke to Simon Deal (Senior Producer, Atari) about his company’s working arrangement with Jeff Minter, and what gamers can expect from TxK‘s own spiritual suceessor – Tempest 4000. Enjoy!
Tempest 4000 is is coming out on PS4, XBox One, and PC, and will also be taking advantage of higher-end console iterations that utilize 4K. So I assume it’s coming out for the Pro and the X. Will there be any difference between the Pro and the X versions?
No, they’ll be running at 4K resolution, and those would be the enhancements for those particular consoles.
What about in terms of content?
No, there will be parity across all three platforms.
Even though I’ve just mentioned 4K, what’s the likelihood of the game coming out on Switch?
Switch is something that we’re looking at as a potential product platform for the game. But at this time we’ve got nothing to announce.
Other than the three platforms that we’ve made public at the moment, we’ve got no plans to announce anything else at this time. But stay tuned for more information in the future.
Atari recently announced a “comeback” into the console hardware sphere. Can you talk a bit about that in terms of what the new Atari console is going to be about and whether Tempest 4000 is going to be part of that particular console’s lineup?
That’s the Atari Box. But at this time, there isn’t any information that we’re able to share on that.
Jeff Minter worked on TxK, the game that was pulled from PlayStation Network. That was the spiritual successor to the old Tempest games. And a lot of people are arguing that Tempest 4000 is almost like an iterated version of TxK, and a spiritual update to that game. Will there be any levels from TxK that will be making an appearance in Tempest 4000? What would you consider to be the main difference between TxK and Tempest 4000? And at the same time, will TxK be making a comeback on the PlayStation Network digital storefront now that you’ve resolved your differences with Jeff Minter?
So Tempest 4000 itself is based on Tempest 2000. Anything that we discussed in the past regarding TxK… TxK is a separate product, a Sony entry into the series, and this is the sequel to Tempest 2000.
Dave Theurer worked on the original Tempest. And Jeff Minter took over from 2000 onwards. Why hasn’t Dave Theurer been approached to work on the future sequels? And at the same time, what is the likelihood of being able to rope him in, at least in terms of getting some advice for Tempest 4000?
We haven’t spoken to Dave Theurer regarding this. This was a collaboration between Llamasoft with Jeff Mentor and Atari. And any interactions that could be made, we’ll be making suitable announcements at that time.
How hard was it to be able to get Jeff Minter on board, bearing in mind that he was quite disparaging with regards to Atari when TxK was pulled?
I think what we’ve done is decided to resolve any differences that were behind closed doors. And now we’re just looking to the future and making sure that Tempest 4000 will be the best product that it can be.
How many people are involved in Tempest 4000’s development, apart from Jeff Minter?
Llamasoft is made up of two individuals, which are Jeff Minter and Ivan Zorzin. And they’re working on developing Tempest 4000. It’s a two-man development team.
Any external assistance? Soundtrack?
Soundtrack is yet to be finalized. But we’ll be taking influence from the Tempest 2000 soundtrack which is 1990’s tech. We’ll be announcing more in due course.
Will Tempest 4000 be a boxed release?
It will be getting a retail release, and we’ll be announcing that retail release in the future.
When is the game out?
Tempest 4000 will be out for PlayStation 4, XBox One, Steam PC for Holiday 2017.
Do you have a release date?
Stay tuned for a more formal release date.
Tempest 2000 came out in 1994. Tempest 3000 came out in 2000. Tempest 4000 is coming out 17 years later. I know that we’re having a bit of a retro revival at the moment, but do you think there’s a big enough fan base for Tempest? What made you think that the time was right for Tempest to make a comeback now after a 17-year absence?
We’ve had the conversations with Jeff ongoing for a while. And once we’ve resolved these differences, we thought it would be the perfect time to bring back a new sequel to Tempest. At the same time, we’ve obviously had some very early discussions, but we’ve got nothing to announce at this time regarding any further collaborations. In terms of fans of the actual game and why it would be a suitable time, we really wanted to bring the game to the current gen consoles… take advantage of the 4K and any enhancements that the additional Pro and X give. And we just want to ensure that… Sorry, can you repeat the question?
There’s been a 17-year gap between releases…
In terms of the fan base, there are the hardcore fans who remember Tempest back in the day. There’s also this new generation of fans that aren’t aware of Tempest. And we’re taking steps as to reimagine some of our current IPs that we have in the back catalog. And we’ll be announcing things in the near future on those.
I don’t know the original Tempest, but I remember Tempest 2000, and now I’ve seen Tempest 4000. To what extent is Tempest 4000 faithful to what has gone before? And at the same time, what influences has the game been able to pick up from what’s going on in the modern gaming scene?
The core gameplay is very hard. It is Tempest… The core gameplay is still there as a volumetric tube shooter. We’ve got the same enemies that come in and obviously taking advantage of the 4K capabilities and more of the GPU that we can harness from the consoles themselves to really bring those effects and update the visual experience overall.
What about leaderboards?
Global leaderboards will be supported. For each of the game modes, we’ll have online global leaderboards.
Will that be cross-platform?
No, not across platform but just specific to the individual platforms.
Tempest 4000 has 100 levels. How long will it take the average person to complete those 100 levels, even though it’s ultimately a score-attack game?
That’s hard to say. It depends on the player’s skill… what the actual goal of the player is. They may want to go straight into the game and go right through the 100 levels. And then they may experience certain challenges. The intention of the game is not to have any nasty difficulty spikes, and more to build up the Tempest experience. We want all players to be able to get to each of the levels. But at the same time, if a player wants to spend a little bit more time maximizing the score on each level before progressing, it’s up to them. They can play how they want to play the game.
Given that Jeff Minter is the developer of this particular project, and he must’ve just run through the game like a speed attack challenge, or whatever you want to call it… For those really good Tempest players, how long do you think it could take them to complete 100 levels? What’s Jeff Minter’s record? 37 minutes?
I don’t know.
Will there be a Time Leaderboard in the game as well?
Just the high scoreboards there will be.
You obviously are collaborating with Jeff Minter on a retro revival update. What are Atari’s plans in terms of bringing out a further software products?
For the time being, we’re concentrating on Tempest 4000. But naturally, we’ve had some possible discussions about that. But we haven’t got anything to announce at the moment. But that is something that we’ll be looking to do in the future.
Is it part of Atari’s rejuvenated attempt at becoming a major part of the modern gaming landscape?
I think Atari has always had a place in modern gaming landscape. We’ve got a lot of very beloved IPs in our back catalog. And we’re always looking to see what IPs could be best suited for updates. There will be new games coming out in the future, and we’ll be leveraging that. But at the same time, we’ll also be looking to bring brand-new games to the gaming platforms, and those will be announced in due course.
Nolan Bushnell founded Atari. How much of an input is he having with regards to modern-day Atari proceedings?
Nolan doesn’t have any day-to-day interactions with Atari.
Thank you very much.