Here's a rare and fascinating thing: a collection of 10 year's worth of internal Atari Games correspondence from between 1982 and 1992, all stored, public and ready for your voyeuristic consumption.
What you'll find isn't just boring business talk. There's everything in here, from high-level corporate discussions to guys making dinner reservations to people just doing what they do best over email: bitching about other people.
Other highlights include warnings against storing pirated games (from other companies!) on Atari's servers, staff complaining about the need for credits in a video game...look, there really is everything on there, if you feel like taking a peek behind the inner workings of what was once the most powerful company in video games, it doesn't get much more interesting than this. The only things that have been removed are people's personal phone numbers and addresses; everything else is there raw and uncensored.
Here's a sampling of the kind of stuff you'll find:
I have gotten the run-around on the Marble Madness audio levels. Morgan says it's Brad's fault because he is not using all the loudness range. Brad says that's not true. Morgan wants to fix it by increasing the output to 15 vp-p. I say that's bullshit.
Or this gem, from 1984 (and just as true today)
Entertainment is not a fad, but repetition does not make for good entertainment. The game industry must stop cloning the old games. We must come up with original concepts. It does not necessarily mean creating bold advances in technology. It means taking bold advances in our imagination. If we can achieve that, then a games sucess is assured.
I need to take two weeks vacation as soon as the Driver Main prototype PC boards are ordered.
Gary was originally scheduled to be done with the board around August 14. Somehow this has gotten changed to July 31. Gary and I believe that the original date is more realistic. The plan is to try to finish the board by Friday, August 7 and have the next week for checking.
This means I would have to postpone my vacation to Monday, August 17 through Friday, August 28. I would return on Monday, August 31.
This presents a problem. As of 7/15/87 I have 197.99 vacation hours accrued. Because of Atari's vacation policy, if I don't take any until August 17 I will lose 7.99 hours because of the 200 hour limit.
I have already lost 1.66 hours in that manner by postponing my last vacation in order to get the project hardware through a critical juncture.
By the way, it is bad enough that I've already lost 1.66 hours. Did they have to round 200 to 199.99, too?
WELL I DECIDED TO SPLURGE FOR NEW YEARS EVE. I MADE THE RESERVATIONS MONTHS IN
ADVANCE. I CALLED AHEAD 1/2 HOUR BEFORE TO SEE IF THEY WERE BEHIND SCHEDULE.
I WAS TOLD ABOUT 10 MINUTES. SO I SHOWED UP ON TIME. I WAITED 50 MINUTES BEFORE
I LEFT. ALL I RECIEVED WAS VERY INSINCERE APOLOGIES, AND THE STATEMENT (I QUOTE)
" WELL BY THE TIME YOU GET ANY WHERE ELSE IT WILL BE JUST AS LONG A WAIT".
SO WHERE WAS THIS, YOU ASK. A DIVE CALLED "LE MOUTON NOIR"
See? It's all kinds of stuff. Also, nice to see THE ANGRY ALL CAPS EMAIL dates as far back as email itself.
The emails (well, technically Vax Mail, but it's largely the same thing) were made public by Jed Margolin, who started at Atari in 1979 as an arcade hardware designer and worked there until 1993. Note that they're not every email ever sent from inside Atari during that time. They're just the ones Jed had access to. You can read them in their entirety at the two links below.
Pay No Attention to those Folks Behind the Curtain [Jed Margolin]