Howard Scott Warshaw Discusses Saboteur

Howard Scott Warshaw Discusses Saboteur
Howard Scott Warshaw The team at Atari recently asked legendary game designer Howard Scott Warshaw some questions about Saboteur, and the connections between Saboteur and Yar’s Revenge.

Q: What’s up with the Yar in Saboteur?

HSW: That’s a good question. Perhaps a better question is: What’s the Yar up to in Saboteur? You will note the Yar contributes to the building of the rocket transport, but it is not clear what exactly that Yar is contributing. Remember this: You can take the Yar out of Saboteur, but you cannot take the saboteur out of Yar.

Q: The hero in Saboteur is a heroic mining robot hailing from Cytonia.  What are his origins?

HSW: The identity of a Cytonian mining robot is part of an elaborate cover story. The same could be said for the explanation of other activities in Saboteur. So far, very little has been revealed about the true purpose of this manufacturing facility. I can’t tell you everything right now, but suffice it to say that the hero in Saboteur is actually a human being on a species-critical mission.

Q: The Yars’ Revege comic book explains that Yars descended from the common house fly on Earth, who were transformed into magnificent, sentient creatures through some sort of accident. Can you tell us what happened?

HSW: I *could* tell you what happened, but we don’t have enough pages here. I can tell you that the transformation from house fly to Yar was an evolutionary process over hundreds of years. But fear not, the entire story of the Yar-niverse (of which the Yars’ Revenge scenario is but a morsel) will be coming soon.

Yars' Revenge Comic Book

Q: The villain in both Yars’ Revenge and Saboteur is the Qotile. Why are they so mad?

HSW: You wacky humans! You think just because someone kills you they must be angry. Are you mad at the ants you step on while hiking? Or is it just an unfortunate consequence of a chance interaction? Also, I would question your assumptions about the role of Qotiles in Saboteur. The Yar-niverse is full of secret motives and agendas.

Q: Why do you think Yars’ Revenge was such a popular title on the Atari 2600?

HSW: I believe there are several reasons. Yars’ Revenge is a stimulating, multi-sensual experience. That was one of my chief design goals. Also, Yars does two things gamers love to do; establish interesting new rules and break pre-existing limiting rules. I suspect Yars’ Revenge appeals to the rebel in all of us. For a full take on Yars' Revenge, my Atari experience and much more, please check out my book: Once Upon Atari: How I made history by killing an industry. 

Q: Considering Yars’ Revenge was such a popular game on the Atari 2600, have you ever thought about revisiting this universe?

HSW: Have I thought about revisiting this universe? Yes, but only for about 3 decades. Of course, I call it the Yar-niverse. I believe lots more entertainment will be coming from this world. In fact, precious few people realize just how deeply Saboteur is already stitched into the Yar-niverse. Remember, the Hotot identity is just a cover story. Soon we will begin the epic journey into the perceptual vortex that IS the entire Yar-niverse.

To learn more about Howard's work in the video game industry, check out his book Once Upon Atari.