... Jerome Domurat
By Scott Stilphen
DP: What is your educational background?
Jerome Domurat: My background and education was in animation, not in graphic design. I never made it to the world of ray trace special film effects, as I was sidetracked by the real-time instant fun activity of videogames. My major in college was narrowcast video and animation. So my interest in computers was the same.
DP: How did that translate to designing games on the 2600?
Jerome Domurat: Atari, at the time, was beginning to recognize that the games need to be visually active and that it was difficult to portray some animations in such low res. There were a few of us who had some animation background and tried to apply that knowledge to the technology. It was quite a struggle making something look fluid in so few pixels. There were basically no tools and some of the 'animating' I did was written directly in hex into the game, compiled and assembled, and then we would see if it worked or not. Though it was a lot of effort, the results still weren't spectacular but at least they were acceptable.
DP: How did you get your start at Atari?
Jerome Domurat: I had been working on computer software for museum exhibits at the American Museum of Science & Energy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. We'd been developing Commodore 64 and Atari 800 exhibit quiz games. A few of the programmers I was working with had been hired by Atari. While I was in San Francisco for a conference, I went to visit one of the programmers at Atari. While I was there he suggested that I check out Atari and see what jobs were available. They were in a tremendous hiring mode. At that point I didn't think I was that interested. But after spending an afternoon talking to Marilyn Theurer in the VCS group, I was interested. I could see that they were interested in more complex adventure games, which is the type of game I enjoy working on. I got an offer from Atari and they relocated me to the west coast. I worked in the VCS engineering group from November 1981 until Jack Tramiel took over Atari in 1984. Then I worked for Jack's Atari for 2 years, leaving in 1986 to go work at Apple.
DP: What program(s) did you use?
Jerome Domurat: I worked at Atari on development tools for animation. Dave Theurer had written a wonderful program on the Atari 800 (named GGE) to create animations. It used a joystick controller and allowed you to draw with 16 colors and then see the animated sequence. I don't recall what the acronym stood for. There were a number of software graphic and animation tools developed. Visual development went from typing hex code straight into the source to being able to cut & paste the data from floppy to source. Everyone had a "Holy Grail" quest for finding easy prototyping and hence quick development of new game ideas. Writing a game from scratch took somewhere between 3 to 6 months.
DP: What was the creative process like?
Jerome Domurat: I worked a lot with the engineers in brainstorming and storyboarding game ideas, and then illustrating the images for software on the 2600 and 5200 video games machines. Working closely with programmers to create game play graphics and backgrounds, I was involved in software development from initial conception, storyboarding, to final game graphics and implementation.
DP: You also worked on Sega's Jurassic Park?
Jerome Domurat: I was responsible for directing the design and development process for Jurassic Park Sega CD. Included the hiring of talent, defining roles and job descriptions, and the process. The Jurassic Park team created an action-adventure “non shoot em up” game that is different than most video games. Using a first person adventure style format, the game contained video messages and dinosaur field guide information contributed by paleontologist, Dr Robert Bakker.
DP: Do you recall any titles that you worked on that were never released?
Jerome Domurat: There was such a wide range of unreleased products that I haven't tried to list them, but I had worked on a drawing program for the Atari 800 called Sketch that was never commercially distributed.
|exhibit quiz games||Atari 400/800, C-64||American Museum of Science + Energy||unknown|
|Raiders of the Lost Ark||Atari VCS/2600||Atari||released|
|RealSports Soccer||Atari VCS/2600||Atari||released|
|Sorcerer's Apprentice||Atari VCS/2600||Atari||released|
|Dumbo's Flying Circus||Atari VCS/2600||Atari||unreleased|
|RealSports Baseball||Atari 5200||Atari||released|
|Jungle Hunt||Atari 5200||Atari||released|
|OS graphics||Atari 520ST||Atari||released|
|Star Raiders||Atari 520ST||Atari||released|
|NeoChrome Apple||Atari 520ST||Atari||released|
|Jurassic Park||Sega CD||Sega||released|
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