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|Even if titlescreen says 1988, Hard Drivin' was released in February 1989. |
1668 units were produced in the USA and 200 in Ireland for European distribution. The selling price was $7995.
This was the world first driving simulator to use 3-D polygon graphics.
Despite claiming to be a real driving simulator, there were a lot of discrepancies between the game's software physics and the car physics on screen. However, the cockpit physics were considered very accurate at the time.
You may have noticed that the Credit Screen lists Doug Milliken as a Test Driver (See Staff section). He is listed as a Test Driver because Atari didn't want anyone to know what he really did. Hard Drivin' had to be as accurate as possible. That meant doing an accurate car model to mathematically describe the physics of how the parts of the car (engine, transmission, springs, shock absorbers, tires, etc.) react to each other, to the road and to the driver's inputs. The pioneer in the field (in the 1950s) was William Milliken of Milliken Research. His son, Doug, has continued his father's work. Doug is probably the world's leading expert in car modelling. Doug and his father wrote the book on car modelling.
Patents that come out of Hard Drivin' are :
5005148 : 'Driving simulator with moving painted dashboard'.
5354202 : 'System and method for driver training'.
5577913 : 'System and method for driver training with multiple driver competition'.
Prior to the release of Hard Drivin', Namco had acquired a controlling interest in Atari games by 1986. The sharing of R&D information would spawn many games of the same polygon engine years later. It can be credited that the success of the Hard Drivin' engine set the trend for the high quality simulation games in the early 90's.
One of the buildings along the speed course, a small camouflage-painted building, if approached from behind (a non-trivial task, given the off-road time limit) has a sign above its normally-unseen door that says 'THE HUT'.
If the driver slowed down and stopped in front of one of the buildings, a 'keyhole' appeared on the building's door.
There is no apparent Ferrari license shown in any version of the game.
Jeff Garabedian holds the official record for this game with 531400 points at Aladdin's Castle at the Pontiac Mall in Waterford, MI in the summer of 1989.
There were 15 officially released versions, counting 11 cockpit and 4 compact versions, including various British, German and Japanese versions.
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