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CREATED XXX.XX.XXXX
UPDATED DEC.01.2007
BILL HINDORFF INTERVIEW
PROFILE
Name Bill Hindorff
Profession Programming, Game Producer
NES Reference Tengen (Atari)

Welcome to another interview with a former NES programmer, Bill Hindorff. Who you might say? Well Bill worked at Tengen and programmed Super Sprint and was producer on most other Tengen NES releases. It took awhile to find someone from tengen, although I knew where I probably would find one, in fact I have already interviewed a former tengen dude, namely Franz Lanzinger, but I mostly remember him by his Krazy Kreatures game which was released by American Video Entertainment.

Bill Hindorff is now "VP of product Development" at Midway, a few of the old Tengen NES team works there aswell. Well I hope you enjoy the interview.

INTERVIEW
BILL HINDORFF:
Greetings,
You were forwarded to me as one of the last employees that was around when Tengen was doing NES titles. Dave O'Riva, Ed Logg and Jose Erazo are also still around from then. (Everyone else is working elsewhere although we have leads on several of them.)

NES WORLD:
You're the programmer of Super Sprint, did you do everything yourself (gfx/coding)?.

BILL HINDORFF:
No, I did the game programming in 6502 assembler (and was the second programmer, taking up the job after the original programmer left without finishing. There was not much to work from when I started.) The new graphics were done by Greg Williams. Several others helped (Steve Woita was one, with data generation for the tracks so the drone cars behaved. A coin-op person, Hal Canon, did the audio. Jim Blum and Dave Sheppard did the tools.) We did most of the work on Atari Mega 2's that we bought from the "other" Atari.

NES WORLD:
Was Super Sprint the only NES game you programmed?

BILL HINDORFF:
Super Sprint was the main game. I also started on the second RBI before changing to a producer role working with our outside developers.

NES WORLD:
Remember who coded the extremely cool Tengen Tetris? It's gotta be the best Tetris port ever, shame about the license problems which meant that it was taken off the shelves

BILL HINDORFF:
Ed Logg... as I mentioned above. Ed is probably more famous for Asteroids, Centipede and Gauntlet coin-ops and has recently led the team that did Gretzky Hockey, SF Rush and Rush 2 for N64.

NES WORLD:
Btw, how long was Tengen Tetris sold? a few weeks or months?

BILL HINDORFF:
At most a couple of months.

NES WORLD:
A few Tengen titles were never released, such as Police Academy, Cyberball and Airball, just to name a few. Remember why these weren't released?

BILL HINDORFF:
Yes. Police Academy just never came together despite two different programmers starting it. Cyberball and Airball were more a sales and marketing call. They didn't feel that we could sell enough. Airball also required a custom cartridge that was more expensive at the time and required gearing-up a manufacturing line.

NES WORLD:
Personally I've been quite interested in the "Police Academy" game, which type of game was it? did a full version exist?

BILL HINDORFF:
There were two different versions...neither were anywhere close to complete. The first attempt had several static graphic screens of the major characters displayed, one after the other, and then went to example bonus levels (run the cursor around, since there was no character yet, collecting donuts...cups of coffee...etc.) It was even shown at CES. The second attempt was more a traditional side-scrolling, 'Super Mario', type game. One level was partially done then it was decided that it was not going to be unique enough (or fun enough.)

NES WORLD:
How/why did you start making NES games?

BILL HINDORFF:
Me myself or the company? The answer to both is that there was a tremendous sales opportunity back then.

NES WORLD:
How many worked in Tengen's NES game division?

BILL HINDORFF:
This started out as just a few game testers, someone to run the division, a marketing person and a sales force of three. The first three games; RBI, PacMan and Gauntlet, came from Atari Games' coin-op programming teams. Shortly after, a Tengen-only development team was added: a tools programmer, a game programmer and an artist and they did Super Sprint. It grew to about 40 at its peak.

NES WORLD:
Were there any game ideas which never turned into a game? Do you remember any?

BILL HINDORFF:
Yes...I can't reveal them because they're still the company's intellectual property.

NES WORLD:
Did Tengen have a lot of lawsuits filed against them, from Nintendo, when they decided to scrap their license? Why did they decided to make "unlicensed" games anyway?

BILL HINDORFF:
I won't go into this too much. There was one lawsuit concerning the Nintendo cartridge security in general and one lawsuit with respect to 8 bit NES Tetris.

NES WORLD:
Which game was the best selling title?

BILL HINDORFF:
If you count all the versions, the best selling 8 bit NES title was the RBI series of the Tengen manufactured games. PacMan, that we licensed from Namco, is the overall single best seller although Gauntlet did impressive numbers.

NES WORLD:
Did Tengen have a lot of problems with the lockout chip? (I know American Video Entertainment did).

BILL HINDORFF:
No.

NES WORLD:
Did tengen ever think about doing SNES games (Color Dreams managed to code a Super Nintendo game called Super Noah's Ark, using the Wolfstein engine)

BILL HINDORFF:
We did do SNES games after Time Warner bought us. We brought out Super RBI and Primal Rage on the SNES, for example.

NES WORLD:
Which game was the last one to be released by Tengen (R.B.I. Baseball 3?)

BILL HINDORFF:
Nov. of '93 was the last Tengen product out since we were bought by Time Warner spring of '94. The last game done by then Tengen's internal staff was RBI Baseball '94 on the Genesis. We also shipped several licensed titles.

NES WORLD:
Are there any Tengen NES games with bugs discovered after the release?

BILL HINDORFF:
I prefer to call them "features" and there were a few. I don't remember any major problems though. This was probably due to the fact that we put 200 man hours of test into all our cartridge product. If a serious bug was found, and fixed, during testing, we'd reset the clock and play another 200 man hours. We kept doing this until we saw no serious bugs.

Most of Tengen's NES division are kept in boxes at Midway, dev kits, manuals, protos and such. Although most, if not all, protos left are either erased or the EPROMS have been reused for other stuff and the dev kits are pretty beat up.

I might also add that Midway still owns the copyrights for the Tengen NES games and they will sue anyone, they catch, copying them.