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“We (Williams) would have applied the decal sides at our factory, but any painted stencil work would have been done at our wood cabinet supplier. When we first started building Defender, we were in a small factory space on Belden Avenue where Williams had previously designed and built slot machines. We never expected Defender to be as big of a hit as it turned out to be, so not a lot of factory space was ever contemplated being needed. There never would have been room in the Belden facility to be spray painting on the side cabinet art. Because of the success of Defender, Williams started looking for more manufacturing space, which turned out to be a factory facility up in the Gurnee, Illinois area…”

Williams Electronics’ Defender Dream-Team

    Eugene Jarvis: Head designer and lead programmer
    Sam Dicker: 2nd programmer on Defender
    Larry DeMar: Software contributor
    Paul Dussault - Software contributor
    Steve Ritchie: Design contributor
    Constantino “Connie” Mitchell: Cabinet Graphic Art Design
    Ray Gay: Printed Circuit Board Design Engineer
    Tom Hart: Lead Electronic Hardware Design Engineer
    Charles Bleich: Electronic Hardware Design Engineer
    Walter Morrera: Electronic Hardware Design Engineer
    Tony Knezevich, Electronic Hardware Design Engineer
    Rich Grande: Electronic Technician
    Rosie Williams: Electronic Technician
    A legion of dedicated assembly workers and office staff
    Ken Fedesna: Administrative Project Leader (Lead Producer)
    Velma Figuroa- Administrative Assistant
    Michael Stroll: President of Williams Electronics
The Makers of Defender
Game Play
Doug Mahugh‘s Manuscript

Some Holy Grail Stuff:
10-man pick-up Wave 1 - LINK
10-man pick up wave 2 - LINK

Freezing the game - LINK
Humanoids on the ceiling - LINK
Demo Reel - LINK
Original Cabinet Spotting
…about the DRJ and LED high score names: “Eugene used to call himself “Dr. J” and indeed I used to go by “KID”. The scores are at a level that anything but pathetic scores push out the default because there is value to players to be able to get on the board. Some of the default scores have our birth dates embedded for fun. Often the all-time high score had the release date embedded.” [Larry was LED or KID on hi-score tables]

…about the 2000pt bonus pick-up and drop move on Defender Stargate right at the end of the wave - which was also known as a ‘Zowie Bonus’: “We called it a “pro-catch” at the time. A reward to those trying to do the Defender move [which was extremely difficult and risky for just 500pts on Defender] so it gives this extra reward (and because we held up the ending of the wave until the human’s fate was determined it was easier to accomplish)”  / “Never heard the phrase “Zowie Bonus”, we called it ‘Pro- Catch’ when it was conceived but there was no internet to spread the jargon. Let me correct that last statement. There was an internet in 1981 (I used the “Arpanet” as early as 1978) but there were no game communities sharing information.”

…about the difficulty settings: “Hard for the player is a conservative setting by the operator. Easy for the player is a liberal setting by the operator. The manual and operator settings were created for the game operator’s point of view, with setting history going back to electromechanical pinball machines with jumper wires that changes the settings. Often there were tags next to jumper blocks showing “Cons” or “Lib” to help guide these selections.”

…about the hidden nuances of the program and meeting Doug Mahugh: “Yeah. That’s how Eugene and I felt after our initial meetings with Doug. Some of the things he showed us we already knew, but many of the nuances were things we weren’t aware of. We also had not seen anyone with such casual control of the game (with or without a planet) as for all other mortals the only stable state was “Game Over” which the game drives hard toward at all times.”

…about the name of the ship’s firing: “Well if Buckner and Garcia called it a ‘laser’ that must be the case . The lasers used a pixel color which was cycled through a rainbowish sequence which was internally called “laser” color. The scores also are painted in this same cycling color and this same sequence using the laser name was used in many games (including Robotron) following Defender. The killzone of the laser is only the tip.”

…about the Lander logic: “Each lander randomly targets a human when they are created. This explains why they will pass over some humans and then pick up a different one. The ‘Scout’ behavior is known and I think the lander must be in the pickup mode when their human gets grabbed to activate it.” / “If you’re holding a human it can still be randomly picked as the target. I believe that in cases other than the scout (where the human became unavailable during the abduction cycle) that the landers target a new human when their human is no longer available.” / “In general operation a lander whose human is grabbed will target a new human. The “scout” only occurs when the 2nd lander starts the abduction cycle before the first lander has grabbed the human. Eugene and I were very defensive coders. I can’t tell exactly how the code works, but it is clear that another check is made when the lander tries to grab the already abducted human and as a result of the unavailability a different course of action results. From my memory, the lander returns to the correct hover height but doesn’t move left or right (which would be consistent with it “seeking” it’s current x position. So I can’t say for sure if the lack of picking a new human to target is a bug, or merely a decision to act more conservatively when this “error” condition was encountered. I suspect if you shoot a human that is being descended upon that you would get the same result.”

…about the pod and swarmer behaviour: “The smart bomb / Pod behavior in Defender was a bug of sorts. The inconsistent handling of the swarmers that are “inside” the pods was not intentional, and probably originally simply overlooked. The system processes a smart bomb by traversing the object list (which was a linked list of dynamic memory elements for the coders watching) and blowing up the objects that were explodable. The swarmers are not on the list when this process begins but rather are created when each pod is exploded. The way it worked, they could sometimes be created in front of the processing and sometimes behind the processing which is the determining factor of whether the bomb takes them out. Eugene liked the variable nature of this once it was discovered so it was left alone….”“In Stargate we decided to make the game more attractive by consistently killing all the swarmers in the pods. This was also done to help balance out the yllabians and firebombers that were added to the mix of wave completion.”

Don Hodges on the extra-life bonanza:

Larry DeMar on why 25pts is awarded for running into a bullet or mine: “Eugene would be able to give the definitive answer, but having come from the world of making Pinball Machines, where everything the ball touches scores something (such as 10 points for hitting the slingshots or dead rubber bumpers) Eugene assigned a point value to each type of object which included bullets and mines. Most likely independently the decision was made to kill the object which crashes into the ship (useful when it’s the last enemy). So I conclude that the scoring for the bullet or mine is a side effect of these combined facts. If at some point lasers or smart bombs destroyed bullets or bombs then these would be the scores given for their destruction. As I opened with, this is only my guess.” Eugene Jarvis continues: “Larry is correct, of course. Everything has value.”
Larry DeMar, co-designer of Defender about the so-called prototype Defender coin-ops with colourful side art: “There were lots of games with that decal (rather than the yellow and red stenciled paint that adorned most of the the cabinets). Certainly hundreds. Maybe thousands.”

…about the gold Defender: “The 50,000th Defender made was constructed in a gold cabinet. It was on display in the California Ave. Headquarters for years after it was built. It was then seen in the new manufacturing facility in Waukegan in the mid to late 90’s when it first opened. In 1999 I was trying to search through warehouses for a different old game and stumbled on the Gold Defender. I had them send it to Eugene’s house. Then, in 2005, at Mike Stroll’s 65th birthday party, Eugene suggested that we give Mike the Gold Defender and arranged to have the game moved to the party. Mike was president of Williams during the videogame glory days and the gold game was his creation to begin with so it went full circle in 25 years. Here is a photo of myself, Mike and Eugene with the Gold Defender at Mike’s birthday party:“

Ken Fedesna on why Defender Stargate was renamed ‘Defender II’ for the home console market: “We were threatened with copyright infringement by the “Hollywood guys” and took the path of least resistance.”Larry DeMar on game artwork and images: “It should be noted that John Sheldrake is an artist that worked for us doing some of the art for Robotron and Blaster. For us, that was a significant step as in Defender and Stargate, all of the art for the images was done by the programmers, making crude images with colored pencils on graph paper then translating these blocks to pixel colors in the program. John worked part time for Vid Kidz and used some crude art tools to create images on the screen (viewing oversized blocks of the pixels where the editing was done while simultaneously viewing the image in its tiny pixellized glory. Eugene created this program which was called “Picasso”. Eugene and I also created some of the Robotron images. By our next game, Blaster, John was working with another part-time artist, Ken Roberts and art for videogames was almost solely created by artists going forward.”

Ken Fedesna on the Defender marquee: “The initials CJM I believe were for Constantino Mitchell who was one of the pinball artist and I also believe did the marquee art for Defender.”