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I like Pac-Man *bong* *bong*...


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#1 GideonsDad OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 3:29 PM

I was playing Pac-Man to pass some time before class and I realized, I like this game. I know it's not even close to the arcade and I know Ms. Pac-Man really hit the mark on the 2600 for dot-eating action games.

Everything is there: the "teleports", the "power pills", the "special item".

I never knew the ghosts flickered so much until I read the Wikipedia article about Pac-Man (that they take turns appearing on the screen, hmm...). In my research I also noticed Todd Frye was very creative in using techniques to bring this game to the 2600.

I also noticed in the reception section "Goodman further said that the port is a challenging maze game in its own right, and it would have been a success if fans hadn't expected to play a game closer to the original." Which I firmly agree with.

I guess I am a sucker for these less-liked Atari games :)

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#2 Nukey Shay OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 4:21 PM

Considering it as a stand-alone game that may not have been based on anything...

It's still a victim of bad timing. Gameplayers had become more sophisticated by then...and were already used to something better. The overuse of flicker really killed it. There was no reason to do 15hz (other than to use the native collsion-detection - which offers the game *no* savings at all!)...the game could have done 20hz easily and not have been so hard on the eyes. The other flicker-heavy titles at the time were Asteroids and Defender. They got away with it because they at least closely resembled the games they were named after.

Atari added insult by overhyping the game for a year before anything was seen...leading expectations to skyrocket.

Take the name off of it, and it's just another game that ranks from mediocre (at best)...which is really a shame because there's more lurking "under the hood" that was poorly implemented due to the 4k size restriction. The 8k hack I did uses the same engine...all of it's routines are 90%+ the same as the original game's. I'd even recieved kudos for things that I never touched...like controller responsiveness.

#3 GideonsDad OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 4:24 PM

I am NOT a programmer in any since but I know you and others have much improved on the original and it is appreciated.

#4 doctorclu OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 4:30 PM

Nukey you did an 8K hack? Where can you find a copy, and where can you play it?

Does it run on the CC2 on the 7800?


As for Pac-Man, you know, I actually enjoy it more than regular Pac-Man. :)

#5 Nukey Shay OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 4:48 PM

Just a taste of what could have been.

It runs on anything that can do F8 banking (Atari's "standard" way). I left the maze layout unchanged because nobody knows what Frye might have dished up with a double ROM. Some of this...unique center icon, reduced (apparent) flicker, seperate dot color, more forgiving collisions...was done just by optimizing the program. The other 4k was squandered on expanded animation frames and 2 other kernels.

#6 homerwannabee OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 5:34 PM

I guess it would take about two bong hits to like the Atari 2600 Pac-Man version. ;)

#7 Inky OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 6:11 PM

Just a taste of what could have been.

It runs on anything that can do F8 banking (Atari's "standard" way). I left the maze layout unchanged because nobody knows what Frye might have dished up with a double ROM. Some of this...unique center icon, reduced (apparent) flicker, seperate dot color, more forgiving collisions...was done just by optimizing the program. The other 4k was squandered on expanded animation frames and 2 other kernels.


Wow, that is a much better Pac-Man

#8 accousticguitar OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 6:12 PM

In my research I also noticed Todd Frye was very creative in using techniques to bring this game to the 2600.

Could you expound on this?

#9 NE146 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 6:34 PM

Just a taste of what could have been.

It runs on anything that can do F8 banking (Atari's "standard" way). I left the maze layout unchanged because nobody knows what Frye might have dished up with a double ROM. Some of this...unique center icon, reduced (apparent) flicker, seperate dot color, more forgiving collisions...was done just by optimizing the program. The other 4k was squandered on expanded animation frames and 2 other kernels.


Wow, that is a much better Pac-Man



Heck yeah.. it friggin brings a tear to my eye. :P

#10 save2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Aug 3, 2009 7:06 PM

I guess it would take about two bong hits to like the Atari 2600 Pac-Man version. ;)


That's what I was thinking ;-)

#11 VectorGamer OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 4, 2009 2:28 PM

I was playing Pac-Man to pass some time before class and I realized, I like this game.


Well, that's one so far...and it only took like 28 years or so...

: ]

#12 GideonsDad OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 5, 2009 8:28 AM

I guess it would take about two bong hits to like the Atari 2600 Pac-Man version. ;)


That's what I was thinking ;-)


ha...ha...ha...

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#13 GideonsDad OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 5, 2009 8:30 AM

I was playing Pac-Man to pass some time before class and I realized, I like this game.


Well, that's one so far...and it only took like 28 years or so...

: ]


Point being I never thought I liked it and took everyone elses opinion of it as fact.

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#14 GideonsDad OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 5, 2009 8:32 AM

In my research I also noticed Todd Frye was very creative in using techniques to bring this game to the 2600.

Could you expound on this?


This is where I read about Pac-Man for the 2600

http://en.wikipedia....an_(Atari_2600)

in my "research" which is a term I was using very loosely.

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#15 Dauber OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 5, 2009 8:48 AM

I also like the 2600/VCS Pac-Man. Now...I agree, it's not what it could have been, but when it came out, it was what I could play at home. I'd spend hours on that game. Even my brother, ten years my senior, once spent hours one night playing the thing.

The gameplay itself is not bad. The graphics are not bad. The sound isn't horrible. The problem is that it visually and audibly resembles the original game very minimally. But take the original out of the equation and you got yourself a not-bad game.

BTW -- the night my brother spent several hours playing the game (just one game, too -- he surpassed 99,999 at least once), it was on a black'n'white TV...and of course he flipped "TV TYPE" to B&W -- and seriously, the game looks pretty cool in black'n'white.

#16 GideonsDad OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 5, 2009 9:48 AM

Just a taste of what could have been.

It runs on anything that can do F8 banking (Atari's "standard" way). I left the maze layout unchanged because nobody knows what Frye might have dished up with a double ROM. Some of this...unique center icon, reduced (apparent) flicker, seperate dot color, more forgiving collisions...was done just by optimizing the program. The other 4k was squandered on expanded animation frames and 2 other kernels.



That is amazing :cool: ! Thanks!

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#17 accousticguitar OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 5, 2009 10:09 AM

Why do I keep hearing rumors that the game was programmed in a short time period? In Stella AT 20 Tod Frye says he worked on it for 6 months not 6 weeks. Besides that, the article says that it took 5 months for Atari to develop it, then says Tod Frye programmed it in 6 weeks. So which is it Wikipedia, 5 months or 6 weeks?

#18 VectorGamer OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 5, 2009 10:36 AM

Why do I keep hearing rumors that the game was programmed in a short time period? In Stella AT 20 Tod Frye says he worked on it for 6 months not 6 weeks. Besides that, the article says that it took 5 months for Atari to develop it, then says Tod Frye programmed it in 6 weeks. So which is it Wikipedia, 5 months or 6 weeks?


Quite a few books I have read say 6 weeks. And it's believable when you look at the product.

#19 Nukey Shay OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 5, 2009 10:44 AM

In my research I also noticed Todd Frye was very creative in using techniques to bring this game to the 2600.

Could you expound on this?


This is where I read about Pac-Man for the 2600

http://en.wikipedia....an_(Atari_2600)

in my "research" which is a term I was using very loosely.


There's some inaccuracies on that page.

Atari never wanted to market the prototype (and Frye didn't "instead choose to work on a better version"). The better prototype version was turned down in it's infancy by Atari...limiting him to work with native resources. This appears to be fact, since it's confirmed by two other programmers who were around at the time.

Releasing the title to capitalize on the 1981 Chistmas season was always the intent...early ads that made the announcement had already mentioned that it would be.

Being given "given a limited time frame by Atari to complete the project" was common to all titles...except the very early ones where the programmers worked at their own pace. Mostly, a programmer in the early 80's was given 5 or 6 weeks to develop a program...top to bottom...and expected to have it ready for production at the end of that timeframe.

Redrawing the entire screen needs to happen regardless if a "wafer" is removed or not...that's not unique to the title.

I dunno how many consumers were anticipated to buy a new system to play the title...but while the figure of 2 million might be correct, it doesn't mention what percentage of that number were based on projected sales of clones and adapters (in addition to Atari's own) to play VCS programs. As far as that goes, the forecast of all of them put together could have been anticipated to surpass that number based on previous years' consumer rates.

Retail stores expanding their inventory to sell video games was never in response to the announcement of Pac-Man specifically. That had been happening ever since the Space Invaders craze...and everybody wanted a piece of the action.

The causes of the market crash were too broad to be pinpointed on any given title (or company!). Sales were dropping well before the release of the game...the decline had already became substancial enough by the 4th quarter of '81 to reflect on profit/loss statements.

Consumer returns never went back to Atari AFAIK...I don't believe that's possible. Rather, inventory that Atari ate came directly from retailers who could no longer afford to stock games...or ones that had cancelled production-influencing preorders even before finished product had shipped out. Once software had been opened, it's unreturnable to OEM's (even in the 80's).

#20 save2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 5, 2009 10:49 AM

Quite a few books I have read say 6 weeks. And it's believable when you look at the product.


IMO - 6 months is how long a quality game should have taken to develop. But we all
know that Atari back then were slave drivers. Tons of instances where programmers
talked about working overnights, sometimes 7 days a week, no air conditioning in
buildings after 8pm, having food catered in, eating, sleeping and partying AT their
place of work. So, not unrealistic to think it only took 6 "weeks". An Atari
programmers work week was more like double-triple what you're used to today.

Edited by save2600, Wed Aug 5, 2009 10:50 AM.


#21 VectorGamer OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 5, 2009 11:39 AM

The causes of the market crash were too broad to be pinpointed on any given title (or company!).


I agree and I don't know that any of the "so-called experts" ever blamed it on one single company, game title, or event.

I consider several factors making it "the perfect storm" (I feel like I'm missing some off the top of my head so someone can add to the list):

  • Lousy carts like Defender, Pac-Man and ET (I'm picking on Atari because they were high profile)
  • The "been there, done that" factor with games being "same wine, different bottle"
  • Personal computers play games and run other software packages

Sales were dropping well before the release of the game...the decline had already became substancial enough by the 4th quarter of '81 to reflect on profit/loss statements.


This early? Even though Coleco sold 500,000 CVs in its inital prod run and 6 million in two years?

Edited by rmaerz, Wed Aug 5, 2009 11:40 AM.


#22 Nukey Shay OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 5, 2009 1:56 PM

Yup...the market downswing began in late '81 (the previous 2 quarters being Atari's top ones). Anything started in 4th quarter would have a difficult time reaching consumers...companies (including retail) had just begun "tightening their belts".

Hello, Reaganomics.

#23 accousticguitar OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 5, 2009 3:25 PM

Why do I keep hearing rumors that the game was programmed in a short time period? In Stella AT 20 Tod Frye says he worked on it for 6 months not 6 weeks. Besides that, the article says that it took 5 months for Atari to develop it, then says Tod Frye programmed it in 6 weeks. So which is it Wikipedia, 5 months or 6 weeks?


Quite a few books I have read say 6 weeks. And it's believable when you look at the product.

I would like to know where those books are getting their information from. I have the video of Tod Frye saying that he worked on it for 6 months.

Being given "given a limited time frame by Atari to complete the project" was common to all titles...except the very early ones where the programmers worked at their own pace. Mostly, a programmer in the early 80's was given 5 or 6 weeks to develop a program...top to bottom...and expected to have it ready for production at the end of that timeframe.

You mean months, right? If you have 30 programmers turning out 1 game per 6 weeks you would end up with about 240 games each year. That seems a bit high to me.

IMO - 6 months is how long a quality game should have taken to develop. But we all
know that Atari back then were slave drivers. Tons of instances where programmers
talked about working overnights, sometimes 7 days a week, no air conditioning in
buildings after 8pm, having food catered in, eating, sleeping and partying AT their
place of work. So, not unrealistic to think it only took 6 "weeks". An Atari
programmers work week was more like double-triple what you're used to today.

Programmers did most of that of their own accord. They were not required to be there that much. In fact, the only requirement was that they complete 1 game in about 6 months time.

#24 Nukey Shay OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 5, 2009 6:50 PM

Dev station time. I dunno what titles he helped with in the roundtable prior to Pac-Man, but he was getting paid next to nothing while developing a flicker multiplex kernel (i.e. "on probation"). The months mentioned covered both periods.

#25 Nukey Shay OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 5, 2009 7:17 PM

BTW I agree that 240 games per year is excessively high(er than they were). There were only 2 games "in the hat" before work began - Pac-Man and Missile Command. The two programmers...Frye and Fulop. Rob chose the latter, because as I understand it he considered Pac-Man to be unworkable.




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