Polybius - The Truth

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Stevenroach
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Polybius - The Truth

Post by Stevenroach » Wed Mar 22, 2006 5:52 pm

My name is Steven Roach who is primarily based in the Czech Republic. Sinneschlossen was a company set up by myself and several other mainly amateur programmers in 1978 that worked on component parts for Printed Circuit Boards that saw programming as a limited but very profitable sideline. I think the fact that it wasn't the focal point of our business took the pressure off of us and hence we created some quality work which quickly gained a reputation within the industry.

We were approached around 1980 by a Southern American company that shall remain nameless for legal purposes to develop an idea they had for producing an Arcade Game with a puzzle element that centred around a new approach to Video Game Graphics. They were very keen indeed to gain an upper hand in what was already a very competitive market so we were offered a staggering commission-based renumeration package to develop something special that utilised the technology.

We developed the game in little more than two portacabins that were knocked together where we spent many stressful mornings, evenings & nights which was a great pity because it compromised our relaxed and innocently amateurish approach to our business in spite of the financial possibilities.

Marek Vachousek was the programmer who came up with the name Polybius - he had studied Greek Mythology at Masaryk University and came up with the name because it sounded quite bold and mysterious, which is what we wanted quite simply. The inspiried graphics combined with the puzzle elements and scintilating gameplay was something to behold - we playtested it for hours and hours and it certainly was an addictive game that was well loved professionally and recreationally by all that played it. The company couldn't have been happier and we all thought we were on the verge of something very special indeed.

We then received a phonecall stating that there were concerns within the company that the basic graphics which featured prominently in so many other games of the time were fine for the average gamer to spend hours at a time without any noticable physical or mental detriments but the intense and engrossing gameplay of this new step was very much an unknown quantity so the game was put back several months due to divided opinion within their board of directors, much to our consternation for breaking our backs to finish it on time.

We received heartening collated playtesting figures and were then told that the game would receive a temporary limited release which bouyed us significantly but shortly after, we received terrible news - a thirteen year old boy from the Lloyd District of Portland, Oregon had suffered an Epileptic Fit while playing the game, only six days after the machines had literally been installed. One of the senior employees that I knew very well contacted me to tell me that it caused immense ripples of panic throughout the company who were of the opinion that they had "created a monster" as such. It may sound laughable now but please bear in mind that this was 25 years ago when the Video Game Industry was in it's infancy.

Every effort was made to withdraw the game from the public domain as quickly as possible but the scaremongering was already out in force and a lot of the children were queueing up or daring their friends to play this supposedly nightmarish game. Company Directors descended on the town to assess the situation which may account for these reports of "Strange Men in Black Suits hanging around" and the machines were often taken in daylight, causing minor but noticable incidents.

As far as I was made aware, only seven machines were distributed around the area and no other health-related incidents were reported. I heard "off the record" that the company made a one-off settlement to the boy's family and no more was heard, apart from all the internet-based speculation and resulting paranoia. We disbanded Sinnesscholssen shortly afterwards because we didn't want to restrict ourselves to the stringent deadlines of other companies and favoured distancing ourselves from the game in case of any lingering recriminations which could have done a great deal of damage to our personal and professional reputations which was our livelihood and with some of us having very young families, this was extremely important to us.

As far as I'm aware, no ROM's or otherwise exist unless they remain in the bowels of the company that distributed it. We only received a basic payment in view of the fact that the game was withdrawn without nationwide or international distribution so we grew to loathe it and was often a cursed word whenever we used to meet up and still is today, which is a shame. I still believe we created something that should have changed the face of gaming and would have set us apart from the rest of the industry but Arcade Games were often compared to drugs at the time because of their addictiveness and we created something that small-minded bureaucrats perceived to be the Heroin of the Video Game World that's only crime was to be many years ahead of it's time.

I'm sure people will doubt the sincerity of this so feel free to drop me a line at stevenrroach@yahoo.com as I'm happy to answer any questions.


Steven.

Stevenroach
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Post by Stevenroach » Wed Mar 22, 2006 5:55 pm

As far as I'm aware, no ROM's or otherwise exist unless they remain in the bowels of the company that distributed it. We only received a basic payment in view of the fact that the game was withdrawn without nationwide or international distribution so we grew to loathe it and was often a cursed word whenever we used to meet up and still is today, which is a shame. I still believe we created something that should have changed the face of gaming and would have set us apart from the rest of the industry but Arcade Games were often compared to drugs at the time because of their addictiveness and we created something that small-minded bureaucrats perceived to be the Heroin of the Video Game World that's only crime was to be many years ahead of it's time.

I'm sure people will doubt the sincerity of this so feel free to drop me a line at stevenrroach@yahoo.com as I'm happy to answer any questions.


Steven.

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space_ace
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Post by space_ace » Thu Mar 23, 2006 10:40 am

To be quite honest, I really don't think people are going to accept what you claim without any sort of proof. On the Arcade Myths etc. thread, there are quite a few comments from people including myself who really don't see there was ever any truth or fact behind this supposedly-real game.


Dave

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Kaede
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Post by Kaede » Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:00 pm

Why would he lie though?

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space_ace
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Post by space_ace » Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:22 pm

True - I'm finding it hard to give someone the benefit of the doubt when i've read so much cack in respect of this game but I have to say it is a very well written and intelligent theory/explanation.

I'd be very interested to see what the next response is, if we get one.



Dave

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kiniki
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Re:

Post by kiniki » Thu Mar 23, 2006 1:52 pm

space_ace wrote:True - I'm finding it hard to give someone the benefit of the doubt when i've read so much cack in respect of this game but I have to say it is a very well written and intelligent theory/explanation.

I'd be very interested to see what the next response is, if we get one.



Dave
Its is a well written response. However its word for word the same as posted in the comments of two other sites I came across whilst looking up on it. So either this guy has just cut and paste his message he posted somewhere else, for our benefit.

Or someone has just copied it and posted it as him.

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Kaede
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Post by Kaede » Thu Mar 23, 2006 1:53 pm

Yes, but WHY would someone want to do that?

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kiniki
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Re:

Post by kiniki » Thu Mar 23, 2006 1:57 pm

hand_solo wrote:Yes, but WHY would someone want to do that?
No idea.

I'm not saying he is talking BS. Just that its exactly the same text as posted on another forum..

To be fair I wouldn't fancy re-writing all that out over and over again...
Last edited by kiniki on Thu Mar 23, 2006 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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markopoloman
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Post by markopoloman » Thu Mar 23, 2006 2:50 pm

Polybius- never ever heard of that in my whole entire complete life :shock:

So after reading the first few lines of the first post, I lost interest :roll:


Could someone tell me what this game was? There is just toooooo much crap to read in the initial posts :?

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space_ace
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Post by space_ace » Thu Mar 23, 2006 3:31 pm

Hi Marcopoloman,

Wikipedia and Klov.com should tell you everything you need to know about this game, or don't as the case may be. There is also some information on the Urban Myths/arcade bugs/cheats thread on this forum.

Opinion is quite divided as to whether there is any truth in it.


Dave

Stevenroach
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Post by Stevenroach » Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:34 pm

Hello again to all.

Firstly, yes I did just copy and paste the information from another forum - my main reason for doing so is that all the juvenlistic comments & screenshots are completely false and bear no relationship to the base screen we programmed and is a bit of a slap in the face to what we and the company involved perceived to be ground breaking at the time, which is why I'm scouring the internet to set the record straight so you may well have seen my previous statement elsewhere.

Secondly, I can appreciate your comments Dave in respect of needing proof. The main problem I have with this is that the vast majority of components were imported into the Czech Republic, hence not only were they difficult to come by, they were very expensive and reused on other projects out of financial necessity. The main technology was returned to the company itself as per their request and we were quite glad to wash our hands of it at the time due to the commission deficit as I explained previously.

The cabinet itself was produced in the United States and, from all the information we were given at the time of distribution, the pictures that I've seen on Klov.com actually do bear a strong resemblance to the preliminary amusement industry press that we received. We both agreed that the game itself was enough of a selling point without extensive and costly artwork and that a bold logo and plain black exterior would give it an air of mystery.

I may have some diagrams and I'm sure that some structural text exist somewhere but the workshops are long gone and we all work independently so they may take some time to root out. Personally speaking, I'd love to provide a full breakdown of the game itself because finally, as per the interviews on various arcade game compilations etc, programmers are beginning to see some recognition for their work and, without trying to sound egotistical, we deserve our place in video game history and were robbed of the rewards because of the naivety of the industry at the time.



Steven

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Kaede
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Post by Kaede » Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:43 pm

What was this game about then?

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revgiblet
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Re:

Post by revgiblet » Thu Mar 23, 2006 9:14 pm

hand_solo wrote:What was this game about then?
That would be my question. I've heard it said that it was an addictive puzzle game but what did you actually have to do on it? What was the gameplay like?
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Elgin_McQueen
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Post by Elgin_McQueen » Thu Mar 23, 2006 11:07 pm

This is all rather intriguing. Admittadly i'd never even heard of it until I read about it in the Urban Myths/arcade bugs/cheats thread and then went over to klov.com
TMR wrote: And you wonder why you're being labelled as elitist... you couldn't be any more elite if you were a wireframe.

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space_ace
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Post by space_ace » Fri Mar 24, 2006 10:37 am

I have to say that I'm quietly fascinated by this Steven. Either you are being very genuine and honest or this is one of the most well thought out and intelligent additions to an urban legend that I've ever seen. I think I speak for everyone involved with Retro Gamer and the people who take part in this forum when I say we all want to believe there is some truth in these myths - when The Megatree Developmental work was uncovered not so long ago, I was as chipper as the next man.

It does make sense about early paranoia surrounding video games - there was a very early black and white racing game called Death Race in the mid 1970's which stirred up a great deal of controversy and may have even been banned as a result.

I agree with the others - there have been a great deal of information elsewhere that this was some sort of puzzle game with vector graphics resembling tempest. Can you provide some sort of overview as to the demographics of the game?


Dave

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