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I'm thinking about making a Fantasy Role Playing game for the Atari 2600


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#1 Cador OFFLINE  


    Space Invader

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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2013 6:32 AM

(originally posted on: 2600 Programming for Newbies. reposting here to spur discussion)

Here's some background on my technical knowledge:

-I read the Stella programmer's guide about ten years ago. So I think I understand the capabilities and the limitations of the TIA.
-I know 6502 machine language fairly well.

Most of my games programming has been done on the Commodore VIC-20. My most well known homebrew game for that platform is "Realms of Quest III". Here are some links about the game:


Now, I'm not expecting to be able to pull off an Ultima or Wizardry-style game on my first Atari 2600 game. And since the Atari 2600 doesn't have a save game feature, the scope of the game will be modest (instead of a 6 character party, it will involve a solo player character). I'm thinking of the following features:

-A dungeon crawler where the 3D wireframe graphics drawn by the 2 missiles, ball, and the horizontal lines will be drawn by the playfield
-use the 2 sprites to display wandering monsters, water fountains, thrones, pits and other elements that can be shown in the dungeon
-in-context game music (different tunes for when you're in the castle, in the dungeon, fighting a monster, and fighting a boss, etc)
-proceduarlly-generated dungeons based on a random number seed. So the game would be different every time.
-I'd like to be able to make use of text. I'm thinking of using the 48 pixel routine to display the following information:

STR 18 DEX 18
INT 18 CON 18
WIS 18 CHA 18

EXP 99999
GOLD 99999

HP 999/999
SP 999/999


How difficult would it be to display the preceding on it's own separate screen?

I'm just at the thinking stage right now. But I'm also hoping to spur discussion on the feasibility of actually making such a game for the Atari 2600.

#2 LS_Dracon OFFLINE  



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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2013 10:57 AM

Based on youtube video I think the game can be done on 2600.
You can even recycle some code (assuming you code the game in assembly).
The difficult is draw the screen. I recomend you make the dungeons entire by playfield pixels, similar you see on homebrew Squeleton +, leaving missiles to make doors. Althoug you can draw doors with sprites in a place that doesn't shows enemies/objects.
Also you can't display the text in side of dungeon graphics because you need these sprites to display the graphics of dungeon (not to mention time to update the data).
I think you need to reduce the status information on screen, leaving a button function to display not so relevant status values.
Show to us some mockup of the screen with 2600 style :)
Good luck with your project.

Edited by LS_Dracon, Wed Jan 9, 2013 10:59 AM.

#3 Gateway OFFLINE  


    River Patroller

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Posted Wed Jan 9, 2013 9:08 PM

Fantasy and RPG games are always welcome on the 2600! :)

I agree the text screen for showing stats may have to be shown elsewhere, so the game screen would clear and show the text on screen by using the select switch for example, then you would need to redraw the game screen. If all of the screen's elements and their locations are in memory, then that shouldn't be a problem. I guess what I mean is: your biggest challenge will be how to use the limited space on the screen.

If you haven't already, take a look at some other homebrew 2600 games that use some of the elements you are talking about that would fit into an RPG game. Also, AA member theloon has a discussion here about using simple words perhaps at the bottom of the screen that you could select from to use during the game:


Dungeon homebrew:


Skeleton+ homebrew (as LS Dracon mentioned):


Ature homebrew:

http://www.atariage....age__hl__ ature

The above games are just examples of what has been done on the 2600 and to help you visualize some ideas for your project. Note that Skeleton+ was done in pure assembly and the others I listed were done using batari BASIC.

The 2600 has yet to have a true RPG game in its library although others have attempted it in the past with mixed results, so I am looking forward to see what you can/will create. 8)

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: rpg

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