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New Mattel Intellivision Article on Gamasutra


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#1 Bill Loguidice ONLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 8:47 AM

Gamasutra has just posted the fifth of six entries from me and Matt Barton in the "A History of Gaming Platforms" series, this time on the Mattel Intellivision, here: http://www.gamasutra..._platforms_.php . This was one of my favorite entries to write in the book this series is based off of, so I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did writing it. As a bonus, I've included on Armchair Arcade the additional captions and images that Gamasutra chose not to include (I think I again improved image quality - by the way, those screenshots are DIRECT video captures straight from an Intellivision II, NOT from an emulator, and everything else of course is also straight from my personal collection). The next and presumably final entry will be on the Atari 8-bit. Enjoy and I'd love to hear some feedback, as I think it ranks right up there with the best overall articles ever written on platform (said with all due modesty and respect, of course ;-) ).

The unused images and all the captions (used and unused): http://armchairarcad...m/neo/node/1842

Edited by Bill_Loguidice, Thu May 8, 2008 8:51 AM.


#2 Tempest ONLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 8:57 AM

The unused images and all the captions (used and unused): http://armchairarcad...m/neo/node/1842


Haha... My company internet filter doesn't like your site:

Forbidden
You were denied access because:
Access denied by WebWasher DynaBLocator content category. The requested URL belongs to the following category: Extreme.


You're too EXTERME! WTF does that even mean? :)

Tempest

#3 Bill Loguidice ONLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 8:59 AM

The unused images and all the captions (used and unused): http://armchairarcad...m/neo/node/1842


Haha... My company internet filter doesn't like your site:

Forbidden
You were denied access because:
Access denied by WebWasher DynaBLocator content category. The requested URL belongs to the following category: Extreme.


You're too EXTERME! WTF does that even mean? :)

Tempest


That's a good one! Try www.videogamesandcomputers.com .

#4 Tempest ONLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 9:15 AM

The unused images and all the captions (used and unused): http://armchairarcad...m/neo/node/1842


Haha... My company internet filter doesn't like your site:

Forbidden
You were denied access because:
Access denied by WebWasher DynaBLocator content category. The requested URL belongs to the following category: Extreme.


You're too EXTERME! WTF does that even mean? :)

Tempest


That's a good one! Try www.videogamesandcomputers.com .


Yep, too extreme for my company. I should see what www.mountaindew.com does...

Neat article. I just wish someone would do an in-depth article on the keyboard component. You always see screenshots of one or two of the programs, but never anything in-depth.

Tempest

#5 Bill Loguidice ONLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 9:25 AM

Yep, too extreme for my company. I should see what www.mountaindew.com does...

Neat article. I just wish someone would do an in-depth article on the keyboard component. You always see screenshots of one or two of the programs, but never anything in-depth.

Tempest


Do you mean the original Keyboard Component or the ECS? The former is VERY difficult as I've never known anyone, ever, that's actually owned one, on top of the fact that only 4,000 were supposed to be released and many of those were recalled (and I bet many of the others trashed). That's one of the true holy grails. There's obviously plenty of info and many owners on the ECS. Really all that's known on the Keyboard Component is mostly from marketing slicks like the scan I included in the article and contemporary press accounts.

#6 Tempest ONLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 9:26 AM

Yep, too extreme for my company. I should see what www.mountaindew.com does...

Neat article. I just wish someone would do an in-depth article on the keyboard component. You always see screenshots of one or two of the programs, but never anything in-depth.

Tempest


Do you mean the original Keyboard Component or the ECS? The former is VERY difficult as I've never known anyone, ever, that's actually owned one, on top of the fact that only 4,000 were supposed to be released and many of those were recalled (and I bet many of the others trashed). That's one of the true holy grails. There's obviously plenty of info and many owners on the ECS. Really all that's known on the Keyboard Component is mostly from marketing slicks like the scan I included in the article and contemporary press accounts.


I'm talking about the original keyboard component. There are a few in collectors hands.

Tempest

#7 Bill Loguidice ONLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 9:28 AM

I'm talking about the original keyboard component. There are a few in collectors hands.

Tempest


No doubt there are, but like many holy grails, they choose to keep them out of the public eye. Not a fan of that approach myself...

#8 intvnut OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 9:34 AM

Do you mean the original Keyboard Component or the ECS? The former is VERY difficult as I've never known anyone, ever, that's actually owned one, on top of the fact that only 4,000 were supposed to be released and many of those were recalled (and I bet many of the others trashed). That's one of the true holy grails.


Actually, I own one, and know a handful of other owners. Frank Palazzolo and I have actually done a fair bit of reverse engineering work on the Keyboard and Frank's dumped a number of the tapes. Frank's done the lion's share of the reverse engineering. I've mainly poured through the 6502 disassemblies and worked out some of the initial low-level stuff and higher level state machines. Frank nailed the tape drive low-level stuff which was the truly tough nut to crack. Frank has a partially completed MESS driver for it too that he's written.

So, it could be possible to review all the completed Keyboard games at some point.

Here's some tech info in the form of commented disassemblies that we've compiled:

6502 disassembly
CP-1600 disassembly

More notes on 6502 code
More notes on CP-1600 code

Also missing from this summary: There's a TMS9927 based character buffer starting at $B800, configured for 40x24 display. It has hardware scroll based on rotating the line assignments. Scrolling is triggered through a memory mapped strobe, documented in the notes above.

Edited by intvnut, Thu May 8, 2008 9:45 AM.


#9 Bill Loguidice ONLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 9:40 AM

Do you mean the original Keyboard Component or the ECS? The former is VERY difficult as I've never known anyone, ever, that's actually owned one, on top of the fact that only 4,000 were supposed to be released and many of those were recalled (and I bet many of the others trashed). That's one of the true holy grails.


Actually, I own one, and know a handful of other owners. Frank Palazzolo and I have actually done a fair bit of reverse engineering work on the Keyboard and Frank's dumped a number of the tapes. (Frank's done the lion's share of the reverse engineering. I've mainly poured through the 6502 disassemblies and worked out some of the higher level state machines.) He has a partially completed MESS driver for it too that he's written. So, it could be possible to review all the completed Keyboard games at some point.



That would be incredible and much needed! Even knowing basic things like construction quality, features, etc., from actual hands-on use and seeing one photographed for real, rather than from marketing slicks, would go a long, long way.

#10 intvnut OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 9:47 AM

Do you mean the original Keyboard Component or the ECS? The former is VERY difficult as I've never known anyone, ever, that's actually owned one, on top of the fact that only 4,000 were supposed to be released and many of those were recalled (and I bet many of the others trashed). That's one of the true holy grails.


Actually, I own one, and know a handful of other owners. Frank Palazzolo and I have actually done a fair bit of reverse engineering work on the Keyboard and Frank's dumped a number of the tapes. (Frank's done the lion's share of the reverse engineering. I've mainly poured through the 6502 disassemblies and worked out some of the higher level state machines.) He has a partially completed MESS driver for it too that he's written. So, it could be possible to review all the completed Keyboard games at some point.



That would be incredible and much needed! Even knowing basic things like construction quality, features, etc., from actual hands-on use and seeing one photographed for real, rather than from marketing slicks, would go a long, long way.


BTW, see my edited post above for tech links. As for construction quality, the unit mostly seems solid, but I've only ever seen one working tape drive, and that was in the Intellivision Productions booth at CGE2K7. And "working" is somewhat generous. It was flaky.

The unit still has an ineffable "toy" quality. For example, keypresses all have a stupid little ASCII-code dependent chirp played for them that makes it just sound and feel like a children's toy.

#11 intvnut OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 9:51 AM

seeing one photographed for real, rather than from marketing slicks, would go a long, long way.


Oh, and here's pics of my whale.

#12 Bill Loguidice ONLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 9:54 AM

seeing one photographed for real, rather than from marketing slicks, would go a long, long way.


Oh, and here's pics of my whale.


Wonderful, I'll link to it on my site!

#13 Tempest ONLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 10:03 AM

seeing one photographed for real, rather than from marketing slicks, would go a long, long way.


Oh, and here's pics of my whale.


Neat! I never knew it started up with a menu like that before. Do you have any reviews or info on the games themselves? There's a video on youtube that appears to be a demo that shows some of the keyboard games, but not too much.

Tempest

#14 intvnut OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 10:14 AM

seeing one photographed for real, rather than from marketing slicks, would go a long, long way.


Oh, and here's pics of my whale.


Neat! I never knew it started up with a menu like that before. Do you have any reviews or info on the games themselves? There's a video on youtube that appears to be a demo that shows some of the keyboard games, but not too much.

Tempest


My Keyboards' tape drive is non-functional, so I don't dare put any tapes in it. The video on YouTube, if it's the one I'm thinking of, is the demo tape I saw at CGE2K7.

#15 Tempest ONLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 11:02 AM

I noticed there's a picture of Choplifter at the end of the article. Has the rom for that one ever been released? I know it's incomplete, but how playable is it?

Tempest

#16 Bill Loguidice ONLINE  

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Posted Thu May 8, 2008 12:43 PM

I noticed there's a picture of Choplifter at the end of the article. Has the rom for that one ever been released? I know it's incomplete, but how playable is it?

Tempest



If you were able to get into Armchair Arcade, you'd see the explanation. Everything in the article is from my collection, and all screenshots are direct video captures, including the screenshot for Choplifter!, so yeah, the ROM is available, though not easily. I played it and captured it from my Cuttle Cart 3. I only played it for the purposes of the article, and it was quite difficult (combination of inherent difficulty and the controllers not being ideal for the game), so I didn't get very far, but from what I could tell, it seemed very far along and wouldn't have needed much more to be a release candidate. It's actually an extremely impressive conversion and would have stood out if it were released at the same time as the computer versions (though surely it benefited from 10+ years of programming experience on the system).




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