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AtariAge welcomes Philip Price, creator/coder of 'Alternate reality'


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#1 carmel_andrews OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:18 AM

Welcome to AtariAge Mr Price, nice to see another famous 'old school' game coder/designer joining in the fun at AtariAge (assuming ofcourse you are THE Philip Price)

Just one question though, according to various sources (the Wikip being one of them) claimed that there was a 'falling out' between you and Datasoft (who marketed/published Alternate reality) because you wanted all six parts of the alternate reality series packaged as one game whereas Datasoft saw things differently and wanted the 6 parts of the game to be packaged as separate games/programs (which is why the city and the dungeon are packaged as two seperate games)

Any chance you could clear this one up once and of all and also possibly if you still have the source code or disks, release the other 4 parts that Datasoft passed up on

#2 pixelmischief OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:38 AM

Damnit, Carmel! Let the man get settled!

Phillip Price. Wow. 8-Bit gaming royalty. Hell, deity!

#3 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:29 AM

Yeah, who put Carmel in charge of the spotlight? :P It is nice when one of our childhood heroes shows up though. I program the A8 today because I always wanted to do the things they did (well, maybe without the moldy mattress).

#4 Philip Price OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:02 AM

Ahh thank you for the welcome.

Yes I am that Philip Price.

The question concerning the different sequels is a bit more complicated.

I never wanted to release all the sequels at once. But I wanted to have them integrate with each other and I designed that from the start. I designed the game to have versions and be patchable. I wanted the game to seem seamless to the player .I wanted new things to appear in the older games and all characters to be able to move back and forth. I designed and implemented elements of this in the original Atari 8 bit City, the Datasoft developers doing the City conversions did not realize this by looking at my mostly uncommented(Ack!) tens of thousands of lines of code, and once they didn't do it for the conversions they didn't want to do it for the dungeon. No one heard of patching back then, the President even asked me what is this 'version' thing in the game? Computer Science wasn't as evolved as it is now.

(Have go for now, will explain a little more in another message later tonight)

Best,
Phil

#5 WestofHouse OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:52 AM

Welcome, Mr. Price! What an honor to have you here! I look forward to your continued story about the AR saga. What an amazing game. Some of my best memories of my original Atari 8-bit days were sitting hunched over my Atari filling in the map grid in the AR game manual. I will own that game again someday!

#6 Heaven/TQA ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:58 AM

Jesus... Welcome in board... Finally... One of the great Games ever... Would have hundreds of questions...

But as guys told already please settle first... ;)

Ps. Ok... Can not wait to ask

1. Where did your knowledge of the hardware came from as you used So many tricks?

2. What is true reagarding the Matrix influence?

#7 bfollett OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:03 PM

I hope we don't over whelm Philip with too many posts and scare him off, but like so many I can't even put into words how unbelievably awestruck I was when I first started playing Alternate Reality. Then to find how much extra attention to details were hidden in the code. I mean when months after starting a character I caught scurvy because I wasn't eating my fruits/veggies... I mean come on how did he fit so many extras into to so little ram.

Well done and enjoy your admiration.

Bob

#8 Heaven/TQA ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:03 PM

And we played the stuff to death in school... We even knew the songs with lyrics...

And the intro of the city kicks ass... Plus the star field... The dungeon intro was less mind blowing... Oh not to forget the gate of the city... And the texture mapping moving...

#9 Philip Price OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:24 PM

Jesus... Welcome in board... Finally... One of the great Games ever... Would have hundreds of questions...

But as guys told already please settle first... ;)

Ps. Ok... Can not wait to ask

1. Where did your knowledge of the hardware came from as you used So many tricks?

2. What is true reagarding the Matrix influence?


1. Knowledge of the names of registers was from magazine articles. I was self-taught for the most part. On the tricks with the hardware, that was just me thinking up what cool things I could do with the functionality of the hardware. Cycle counting to determine the position of the television electron beam, using a sliding window and emitting to the front and back of the current visual screen, using interrupts to change the color registers on each scan-line (combined with cycle counting and moving the player missiles to be at two places at once on the scan line),the 3D stuff, security, encryption, texture mapping, music driver, all self taught (no books).

2. All I know is what I said before, I was in Westwood near UCLA at a restaurant and two guys sit at my table, and we talked about what was wrong with a current movie that was out (Forget what it was), and then I described what my vision for AR had been , and they turned and said you know ideas cannot be copyrighted with a smile. (They could have been anyone, and I think we all make use of the stories we hear over the years, so if they were them, that's ok, if they were not, that's okay too). I just read an old science fiction book (Which I know I also read in the 70s or 80s) Midnight at the Well of Souls. Reading it now I see that some parts of it could have inspired me to write what I did. Even Logan's Run was a minor inspiration (Machine controlled world, but the story I had with aliens keeping people in cocoons and running a virtual reality to both entertain and learn about 'humans'[which were to them aliens] is not Logan's Run nor Well of the Souls, but the stories we read and hear influence imagination. I know the 3d wireframe multiplayer dungeon crawl game in Plato in the mid 1970s was an inspiration too, as well as all of the science fiction I had read. So if it was them and it provided a little inspiration great, if it wasn't and the two strangers got inspired in any way that is good too. The timing of their remark and the later movie was the only strange thing, and why I originally made the remark. But I also heard they were inspired by a comic book/graphic novel, that is cool too. I originally just shared it because it was a weird experience at the time, and how fate sometimes is fickle.

Edited by Philip Price, Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:25 PM.


#10 Heaven/TQA ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:39 PM

self tought? ok... than a lot more kudos to you... :) I still got the manual in the basement with the original discs of city and dungeon... :)

btw... question regarding holly grail... source code available???

#11 Heaven/TQA ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:39 PM

..

Edited by Heaven/TQA, Wed Jul 24, 2013 12:40 PM.


#12 CharlieChaplin OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:31 PM

Well,

attached is an overview of what Alternate Reality should have been, written by Gary Gilbertson himself (downloaded the ASCII text many years ago, nowadays I cannot find the source anymore)...

And for those that are interested, here is a great story that shows the parallels of A.R. and The Matrix:
http://www.marktaw.c...yTheVideoG.html

Believe it or not, I translated both texts into german language and the translations appeared in Abbuc magazine #89. If you are a member of Abbuc you can read it here:
http://www.abbuc.de/...buc-magazin-089

-Andreas Koch.

Attached Files


Edited by CharlieChaplin, Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:42 PM.


#13 Goochman ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:33 PM

All I can say is thanks for the great times I had playing the AR Series. I was a young teen when these came out and didnt have alot of money, therefore like alot of Atari uses I procured a few games here and there for the standard 5 finger discount :)

Having said that I saved and purchased AR The City for both the 800 and ST and also the Dungeon for the 800 series. Unfort it appears none of those royalties made it into your pocket :(.

The music Gary did was timeless. When my sons were young I would just start AR and they would love watching the animation and listening to the music.

AR is a timeless classic that I would could be reborn and all the modules completed.

Anyhow - glad to see you around here and thanks again for some great adventures!

#14 bbking67 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 1:52 PM

Kickstarter baby!

#15 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:03 PM

Kickstarter baby!

You know.... that's brilliant!

#16 Wrathchild OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:14 PM

Welcome to AtariAge Philip, and honour to see you here!

Having worked before on attempting to get AR: The City to run from a cartridge I have been in awe of the level of thought / effort that went into the game's copy protection as this appears unparalleled by any other A8 title. Can you recall how you set out this and were the ideas things you'd drawn from elsewhere, devised for this game or a mix?

What then also is mind boggling is how the build system to encode / create the master disks was handled. Was this being coded and assembled directly on an Atari?

Best wishes,
Mark Keates

Ah - just caught your post on the 'cracker' thread here
The technique that has made the cartridge port tricky is that the overlay code also contains its own disk write routines

Edited by Wrathchild, Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:24 PM.


#17 rdea6 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 2:50 PM

Profile shows that you have been a member since. 17-November 05 and just now starting to communicate with us. Welcome and your games are AWESOME .

#18 Philip Price OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:17 PM

Welcome to AtariAge Philip, and honour to see you here!

Having worked before on attempting to get AR: The City to run from a cartridge I have been in awe of the level of thought / effort that went into the game's copy protection as this appears unparalleled by any other A8 title. Can you recall how you set out this and were the ideas things you'd drawn from elsewhere, devised for this game or a mix?

What then also is mind boggling is how the build system to encode / create the master disks was handled. Was this being coded and assembled directly on an Atari?

Best wishes,
Mark Keates

Ah - just caught your post on the 'cracker' thread here
The technique that has made the cartridge port tricky is that the overlay code also contains its own disk write routines

Mark,

Yes, AR City was coded and assembled and 100% done on a Atari 800. I wrote the build routines, etc. System had four floppy drives(Only one floppy drive at the start). The computer had a modified third party board(I think it was made by David Small..so long ago..can't remember for sure) that kept floppy drives insync for mastering (So I could exploit track to track alignment). I had a modified floppy drive (I think) from Datasoft that could write weak bits.

When the publisher (Datasoft) got them I do not know their exact manufacturing process.


We(Gary and I) own AR, but they had the rights for ten years to publish City and Dungeon (and even during that time we had the right to do the conversion ourselves, but if we said no, then they could do it(and they converted it to a lot of systems) and deduct all of their costs against our 7.5% of the net..so we never saw a dime, other than money they sent as 'advances' so that we would continue create product and not starve),

Currently a guy (who looks like he ported the game to the zx back in the 80s) is selling an IOS version of AR City and Dungeon. When I confronted him through email saying stop, he said show me proof of your contract from thirty years ago and then I might share some of the money I am making. (i.e. my only recourse would be to get a lawyer and sue him, and I don't have the money for that, nor the time, [hopefully he is not making much]).

Phil.

Edited by Philip Price, Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:20 PM.


#19 Philip Price OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:39 PM

I hope we don't over whelm Philip with too many posts and scare him off, but like so many I can't even put into words how unbelievably awestruck I was when I first started playing Alternate Reality. Then to find how much extra attention to details were hidden in the code. I mean when months after starting a character I caught scurvy because I wasn't eating my fruits/veggies... I mean come on how did he fit so many extras into to so little ram.

Well done and enjoy your admiration.

Bob

Bob,

Actually scurvy was the result of a pirate copy not having subverted my weak bit check [or from the manufacturer error/ mistake of writing the weak bits on the edge of the allowed zone instead of the middle)Which meant higher false positive of pirating).

The concept was that pirate have been out to sea a long time...and well.. probably ran out of citrus and catch a really (and I mean really) bad case of scurvy, The scurvy would also help customer service know if the problem was due to pirating or a problem in the game itself. So my weak bit statistical analysis of the disk is done during boot, I purposely don't do anything with the statistics there since that makes it harder to realize what it did and what the results mean. I then have in the main game's init code a false set of code (So that anyone looking at it in memory or statically (if they decrypt) from the floppy will see something other than what actually happens...I then have a flag set, that my asynchronously running vblank routine sees as cause to add two rows of bytes and store the resulting vector of bytes. That add row and store vector is actually folding a code split(just like a key split) that overlays(i.e. this was my software folding technique) on top of the false code and it does the check of the weak bit statistics and if it detected weak bits where they should not be or doesn't detect weak bits where they should be (By looking at the statistical results from the early add during boot), then it updates the character to have a very deadly case of scurvy that will kill them in about three blocks(I wanted a pirate that made it his far to at least get a very very short taste of the game)

Phil

Edited by Philip Price, Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:45 PM.


#20 Philip Price OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 3:47 PM

Profile shows that you have been a member since. 17-November 05 and just now starting to communicate with us. Welcome and your games are AWESOME .

rdea6,

Takes light a few years to travel here from there. ;)

Thank-you for the complement, I enjoyed writing them, but enjoy more that others had some fun experiencing them,

Phil

#21 bfollett OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:04 PM

Bob,

Actually scurvy was the result of a pirate copy not having subverted my weak bit check [or from the manufacturer error/ mistake of writing the weak bits on the edge of the allowed zone instead of the middle)Which meant higher false positive of pirating).

The concept was that pirate have been out to sea a long time...and well.. probably ran out of citrus and catch a really (and I mean really) bad case of scurvy, The scurvy would also help customer service know if the problem was due to pirating or a problem in the game itself. So my weak bit statistical analysis of the disk is done during boot, I purposely don't do anything with the statistics there since that makes it harder to realize what it did and what the results mean. I then have in the main game's init code a false set of code (So that anyone looking at it in memory or statically (if they decrypt) from the floppy will see something other than what actually happens...I then have a flag set, that my asynchronously running vblank routine sees as cause to add two rows of bytes and store the resulting vector of bytes. That add row and store vector is actually folding a code split(just like a key split) that overlays(i.e. this was my software folding technique) on top of the false code and it does the check of the weak bit statistics and if it detected weak bits where they should not be or doesn't detect weak bits where they should be (By looking at the statistical results from the early add during boot), then it updates the character to have a very deadly case of scurvy that will kill them in about three blocks(I wanted a pirate that made it his far to at least get a very very short taste of the game)

Phil


Hmmm, I actually owned legitimate copies of both the City and Dungeon, so I guess their manufacturing of weak sectors was a bit... lets say weak. Gee if I'd known then that I had bad disks, I could have complained and maybe got sent new ones. All that time I thought I just wasn't listening to my Mom and not eating enough greens. I definitely didn't get scurvy all the time, so the weak sectors must have passed most of the time. Oh and kudos on another cool but cruel pirate prevention technique.

Bob

#22 carmel_andrews OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:51 AM

Have a nice sleep Mr Price....any chance though (since you've obviously re-found some enthusiasm for classic computing in the A8) that you could do some sort of continuation or reboot of A.R (after all, it seemed to have worked for Dr. Who, so why not A.R)

In regards to Tail of beta Lyrae though, was that released before or After English Software's 'Air Strike' which was also one of the first 'scramble' clones, though your scramble clone seems a bit more polished

Edited by carmel_andrews, Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:51 AM.


#23 WestofHouse OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:00 AM

Currently a guy (who looks like he ported the game to the zx back in the 80s) is selling an IOS version of AR City and Dungeon. When I confronted him through email saying stop, he said show me proof of your contract from thirty years ago and then I might share some of the money I am making. (i.e. my only recourse would be to get a lawyer and sue him, and I don't have the money for that, nor the time, [hopefully he is not making much]).

Phil.


If it's the version I tried it really stinks, so I doubt he is making much from it. If I'd known you weren't getting anything from it I would have never bought it. I was just desperate to play AR again and genuine copies for the 800 are almost impossible to find.

#24 Gemintronic OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:09 AM

Is there a way to leave feedback for this guys apps? Maybe we could leave some informative comments about his disrespect..

#25 Bryan OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:39 AM

Is there a way to leave feedback for this guys apps? Maybe we could leave some informative comments about his disrespect..

I think doing an official Kickstarter Alternate Reality project would give Mr. Price the standing he needs to shut it down (or at least expose it as a fraud). I'd fund such a project in a heartbeat.




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