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100,000!

Posted by Nathan Strum, 02 August 2009 · 5,532 views

To-Do Lists
Well, for whatever reason, my blog is the first one here at AtariAge to hit the 100,000 views mark. (Although I'm a little disappointed that the score didn't roll over.)

The rather astonishing thing about this, is that only about 97,532 of those are me either clicking "reload", or going back into my old posts and correcting spelling and grammar mistakes (although regular viewers know full well those almost never happen :roll: ). I figure another couple of thousand views are due to various web-bots auto-clicking their way through the site; another few hundred are probably Albert just checking up on me to make sure I don't spill the beans on any top-secret homebrew projects (like the forthcoming "Howard the Duck" Book Cart); and the rest are people either clicking on my blog by mistake, or you - faithful readers! And for that, I say "thank you." The check is in the mail. ;)

However it happened, I can't help but think that if I had a dime for every view, it would probably take me forever to roll them all up so I could cash them in at the bank.

On a serious note, I do appreciate everyone who reads this blog, and has helped it to acheive this milestone (or millstone). And so it only seems appropriate to post some sort of a re-cap of the blog to this point, as well as an updated To-Do List of projects (one or two of which may actually get done by the time this blog gets to 200,000 views). That, and it's been nearly 11 months since the last To-Do list, and at the moment I can't think of anything else to post about.

As kind of an "extra" of sorts, I'll throw in a couple of tips I've figured out during this whole blogging thing, that's made the process of creating blog entries a little easier.

Blogging Tip #1: Pre-compose in a text editor. One big problem with composing a blog entry in a web browser, is that if the browser crashes or your connection goes offline, you can lose everything you typed. By composing in a text editor instead, you can save as you go, then just copy/paste everything into the browser window when you're ready to post.

So, what's been up?

Well, I've now posted 53 episodes of the world-acclaimed* Artie the Atari. And if I ever come up with more ideas, someday I may even make it to 55 or dare I say it... 60!
*Several people from other countries around the world have commented positively on the strip, so I'm counting that as "world-acclaimed".

I've also written 19 movie reviews (some of which can be found in my Animation section, where I also have posted musings about the animation industry and a little bit about my job in CalArts' animation program). The best movie so far: The Dark Knight. The worst: Chicken Little. Oddly enough, I have yet to see The Dark Knight a second time. (I really need to get a Blu-Ray player some day month year.)

There are about eight CD reviews (depending on how you're counting), although at some point I'd like to dip back into my collection and start reviewing more of my favorite CDs (and some not-so-favorites).

I've posted a handful of Photoshop tutorials, which is something I'd like to do more of, but they're quite time-consuming to put together.

I'd really like to write up some more Stupid Game Ideas!, but again, it's all a matter of having enough time.

Mostly though, this blog has inadvertently turned into a giant repository for homebrew reviews (or Homebreviews™). So far, I've written 87 reviews, spread over 27 entries, covering nearly every Atari 2600 and 7800 game that the AtariAge store carries (and several other things as well). Number 88 should be showing up sometime in August, and it's the one review that nobody thought would ever happen! Watch for it!

I hadn't really planned on reviewing all of those games. In fact, it was some 42 blog entries before the first Homebreview ever showed up. But something unexpected happened: I started working on more and more homebrews. A lot of them. And as payment for working on them - I got a free copy of each game I worked on, plus some store credit. Add to that the store credit and games from the label contests I've won, and well, it added up to a whole lot of games. So I figured the least I could do was go through and write reviews of them (since in a number of cases, there weren't any reviews at all). Now then, before you say, "Hey - wait a minute! You got all of those games for FREE?!", just keep in mind that every label, manual, or set of sprites that I - or anyone else - creates for a game, takes a lot of hours. Some projects have taken dozens of hours (which still pales in comparison to the amount of time the programmers put into them), so I'm essentially doing it because I enjoy doing it - not because I get something for it (just don't tell Albert that ;) ). Besides, it's a real kick being involved in the homebrew scene, and the games and store credit do make for a nice bonus. :)

Besides that, I actually paid for Star Fire, Marble Craze and Qb long before I figured out this whole "artwork" scam. ;)

Blogging Tip #2: Select all and copy, before submitting. This goes back to the whole "browser crashing" problem. If you are composing in the browser (or adding finishing touches like formatting and links), select everything and copy it to the clipboard (or better yet - a text editor) before hitting either "submit" or "preview". This will give you a backup copy of what you typed, in case things go bad.

Anyway, since this blog was mostly started to keep track of Atari-related projects and the like (and since I hadn't yet started a paragraph in this entry with the word "anyway"), I thought I'd post a list of the various projects I've been involved with. I did this once before, but that was a few projects ago...

Finished Homebrews/Reproductions:
  • 2005 Holiday Cart: Reindeer Rescue - Game graphics
  • 2005 MiniGame MultiCart - Label and manual
  • 2006 Holiday Cart: Toyshop Trouble - Various game graphics
  • 2007 Holiday Cart: Stella's Stocking - Various game graphics and title screens; Stay Frosty game concept
  • Actionauts - Additional manual and label formatting
  • AtariVox Speech Synthesizer (hardware) - Label and manual
  • AtariVox USB Interface (hardware) - Label
  • Bee•Ball - Manual (layout only)
  • Colony 7 - Various game graphics, title screen
  • Conquest of Mars - Title screen logo, reserve ship sprite, label and manual
  • Elevators Amiss - Label and manual
  • Encaved - Label (based on sketch by Simon Quernhorst) and manual
  • Fall Down - Running man sprite
  • Four-Play - Title screen, label and manual
  • Gingerbread Man - Label and manual
  • Juno First - Game graphics; with Dave Dries: label and manual
  • Krokodile Cartridge (hardware) - Label, OS X icon
  • Lady Bug - Graphics, label and manual
  • Lead - Manual (based on concepts by Hernán Callo)
  • Phantom II/Pirate - With Dave Dries: Label and manual
  • Rainbow Invaders - Various game graphics, label, additional manual formatting
  • Raster Fahndung - Additional manual formatting
  • Solar Plexus - Coloring on label art
  • Space Battle - With Dave Dries: Label and manual
  • Squish 'Em - With Dave Dries: Label and manual
  • Sync - Label and manual
  • Ultra SCSIcide - Label, additional manual artwork
  • Warring Worms: The Worm (Re)turns - Label
Other projects:
  • The Atari 2600 Video Mods Comparison Project
  • "Artie the Atari" Magnets for the AtariAge store
  • Various AtariAge flyers
  • Miscellaneous other work for AtariAge (laying out label sheets, creating Photoshop scripts, etc.)
  • batariBasic logo
  • AtariVox logo
  • Stella at 20 (ah yes... more on that in a minute)
I've also tested various homebrew games and hardware (including a recent marathon session with the Harmony cart), and there are also a handful of games I contributed work to which never got used, but such is life. ;)

Blogging Tip #3: When publishing a draft, copy it to a new entry before posting. The AtariAge blog software puts a time and date on an entry based on when it was first saved, even if it was just saved as a draft. If you later publish that draft, it will still have the original time and date attached to it - not when it was actually published. To get around this, when you're ready to publish, just copy and paste the text from the draft into a completely new entry, and publish that one. Then delete the old draft.

So... on to the inevitable To-Do List, which like all previous ones, will rapidly become obsolete and yet probably won't be replaced with another list until 10 or 12 months from now.

Miscellaneous projects:
  • Layout die for AtariAge label sheet - finished
  • AtariVox+ manual and label(s) - awaiting text
  • Logo for Melody carts - finished
  • Artwork for Harmony/Melody carts - Harmony logo, pre-production and final cart labels, application icon, SD card label and manual - finished
  • New magnets for the AtariAge store - still not sure what form these will take, or if Albert will just go another route
  • Video Game Movie Reviews (formerly at my old MacMAME site) - Update Joysticks review for DVD, update WarGames review for new DVD release, review Intrada release of WarGames soundtrack, review The Wizard; move all reviews to a new website
  • Stella at 20 - Ah yes. Well, I may take up working on this again in the fall. Another AtariAger has been slated to work on it, and although he hasn't expressed any desire to not work on Stella, neither has the project been moving forward for many months now. I'll have a new editing system at work which can easily handle all of the footage at broadcast quality (ironic, since broadcasts ceased on June 12th ;) ), but as always, the issue is time. Still, it's a project I'd definitely like to see finished, whether I'm the editor or not, since I think it's something a lot of Atari fans would enjoy. Stay tuned...
  • The Atari 2600 Video Mods Comparison Project - This website needs a complete overhaul. Many mods have come and gone since the last round of testing, and with a couple of new CyberTech mods on the horizon, plus the ones from Longhorn Engineer, the time is quickly approaching to gut the whole site and start everything over from scratch. A huge project, to be sure. But the whole point was to be a resource for people searching for the best video mods, and right now, it isn't.
  • Create a GarageBand sample set of 2600 sounds - Eric Ball sent me a set of samples! All I need to do is get them into GarageBand. :thumbsup:
Homebrews/Reproductions in active development:Homebrews/Reproductions on hiatus (development may or may not resume on these):
  • Lawyer* (hack) - Game graphics, manual, label, etc.
  • Zombie* - Title screen graphics
  • Space Zombie* - Game graphics
  • Marie Antoinette* (development stopped) - Game graphics
  • Bruce* (speculative project) - Game graphics (second round of mockups done, starting on third)
  • Chetiry (on hiatus) - Title screen graphics
  • Man Goes Down (on hiatus?) - Label and manual; (Albert may have a lead on author Alex Herbert, so keep your fingers crossed)
  • Moon Cresta (on hiatus) - Game graphics (in progress); (game is only about 10% coded, but shows great promise)
  • Rip-Off (on hiatus) - Game graphics (done), probably label and manual; (John Champeau has a very nice start on this, so I hope to see this finished someday)
  • RPS (development stopped) - Game graphics, label and manual; (some recent developments may yet cause this game to see the light of day... :ponder: )
  • Stellar Fortress (in development?) - Player's ship sprite (done); (still hoping to see Trogdor finish this - or any - game ;) )
  • Street Pizza* (in development?) - Game graphics (one of these days I really need to get back to this...)
  • SuperBug (on hiatus) - Player's VW sprite (done); (may resume development when the Harmony/Melody carts are finished?)
  • Thomas' bouncing-happy-face-game (in development?) - Enemy sprite (I've done some work, but nothing that's clicked yet)
  • Unreleased prototype #1* (on hiatus) - Box (mostly done), label and manual (started), possibly some graphics tweaks
  • Unreleased prototype #2* (in progress) - Title screen bitmap (done); With Dave Dries: Box, label (done) and manual
  • Wizard of Wor Arcade (on hiatus) - Graphics (mostly done), probably label and manual; (John Champeau also has a very nice start on this, so I hope to see this finished someday, too)
* indicates code name for unannounced project

Plus, there are a few more projects waiting in the wings, too. But I decided to only list ones that I've actually done some work on.




Congratulations! Dang, I'm as behind on your blog as I am on Cybergoth's, but I intend to get caught up. I always enjoy what you have to say, how you say it and learning about what it is you're saying it about.

Those blog tips are good too. :ponder:
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Congrats! You even have more views than #2 and #3 combined!
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Congrats! You even have more views than #2 and #3 combined!


Huh? 122,236>100,003.
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Oops - #2 and #3 of my favorite* blogs :ponder:

* click the Yar symbol after each blog to control favorites
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This is my favorite blog. Period.

BTW: Nathan, I just realized that you never worked on one of my own homebrews. Eventually this has to change!
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That's an awesome number of views. Congrats, Nathan! :ponder:
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Nice milestone - your blog provides a good snapshot of the current 2600 homebrew scene (since you are involved in almost every title!).

With regards to the Harmony/Melody cart - I suspect there will be some label and manual requests coming along there soon also! Thomas has now taken over coding of the menu system, so I'm not sure what the logo requirements are. My previous plan of having a Harmony logo at the top of the menu screen probably can't be done with the current code-base.

Chris
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Congrats!
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Thomas has now taken over coding of the menu system, so I'm not sure what the logo requirements are. My previous plan of having a Harmony logo at the top of the menu screen probably can't be done with the current code-base.

As soon as the code is settled enough, I will come back to this.

But maybe Nathan could help a bit with the font design. E.g. how do you display #, §, @ or & within 3x7 pixel :ponder:
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But maybe Nathan could help a bit with the font design. E.g. how do you display #, §, @ or & within 3x7 pixel :ponder:


I suppose you could cheat and use 4x7 for a few of the characters? This approach seems to be used by the Novaterm and Splintered 3x7 fonts.

Chris
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I suppose you could cheat and use 4x7 for a few of the characters? This approach seems to be used by the Novaterm and Splintered 3x7 fonts.

Novaterm seems not to cheat. But Splintered uses 5(!) horizontal pixel for #. Cheaters! :ponder:
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#.#

#.#

###

#.#

###

#.#

#.#
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Why would you need §? It's sort of an unusual character.
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Why would you need §? It's sort of an unusual character.


###
#..
###
#.#
###
..#
###
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Why would you need §? It's sort of an unusual character.

what is it? Google doesn't turn up anything when I copy/paste the character.
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Why would you need §? It's sort of an unusual character.

what is it? Google doesn't turn up anything when I copy/paste the character.

http://en.wikipedia....ki/Section_sign
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Now we are really hi-jacking Nathan's blog. And create even more views! :ponder:
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&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Here are all the fonts in the forums for &. Most are similar, but some are not - do any of these look doable?

EDIT: When drawing an ampersand by hand, it's common to draw a backward "3" with a line on top and bottom. That could be done:

.#.
.##
#..
.##
#..
.##
.#.
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Now we are really hi-jacking Nathan's blog. And create even more views! :ponder:

All part of my master plan! :)

EDIT: When drawing an ampersand by hand, it's common to draw a backward "3" with a line on top and bottom. That could be done:

.#.
.##
#..
.##
#..
.##
.#.

That works. I usually use an upside-down and flipped 4.

Here are some other examples I found online:
Posted Image
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I always enjoy what you have to say, how you say it and learning about what it is you're saying it about.

This is my favorite blog. Period.

Thanks (to everyone) for all the kind words! :)

BTW: Nathan, I just realized that you never worked on one of my own homebrews. Eventually this has to change!

At some point soon, I'll take another crack at that enemy sprite. By the way - when are you going to finish up Robot City? :ponder:
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