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#1 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:47 AM

Has anyone attempted to look through Thwocker's code and see if the game can be made playable?  At the moment you can't complete a level as touching the Exit doesn't work.  Someone (Thomas?) had looked through the code years back thought there may be more to it, but I don't recall if that ever went anywhere or not.  

 

http://www.atariprot...er/thwocker.htm

 



#2 Inky OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:57 AM

Was Thwocker the actual name of the proto?  Seems like an odd name for a music themed game.



#3 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:03 AM

Yes there's a prototype with that name on it.



#4 PingvinBlueJeans OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:06 PM

I take it you've never actually talked to Charlie Heath about this game?



#5 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:37 PM

No I haven't.

#6 PingvinBlueJeans OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 24, 2017 3:17 PM

Might do some good to track him down.

While we're on the subject of Activision prototypes...

After all this time, how have we still not identified the two unknown prototypes? Activision was not that big of a company, and all their 2600 games were done in-house, so someone must know something about these or at least who was working on them. Crane, Kitchen, et al have appeared at CGE and such over the years. Has anyone ever asked them about these?

#7 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:12 PM

You'd think. I personally haven't talked to any programmer in a while. Too many other people are tracking these guys down and doing great interviews so I figure I'll leave it to them.

#8 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 25, 2017 3:37 AM

I vaguely remember, that I looked through the code back then. Maybe, if I find the time I will have another look to check if it can fixed. 



#9 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 25, 2017 5:20 AM

I went through my old mails again. Back then, I created a dirty hack which allows moving to the next level after you collected all notes. Around 2003/2004 there were some plans to release the game, but it is much less complete than it may seem. There would be quite a lot of work involved to make it really playable. And we would have to make assumptions about the game play. E.g. 

  1. How was the scoring planned after you collected all required notes? What would give you how many points?
  2. What happens when the music ends? Do you have to reach the exist before? If not, do you loose a life? Do you still progress to the next level?
  3. Any chance for extra lives?
  4. Was any kind of difficulty selection planned?
  5. How should we fill in the missing sounds and music?
  6. The level design also only seems only preliminary.

So basically we have a prototype, which demonstrates the general game play idea, but lacks most detailing.



#10 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:08 AM

BTW: Inside the prototype ROM I found the following unused graphics. They probably don't belong to Thwocker but to a completely different game (not necessarily Atari 2600!). Can anyone identify those?

       X
X      X
X      X
X      X
X     X 
 XX  X  
   XX   
  XXXX  
   XX   
X X  X X
XX    XX
X       
 
 
       X
       X
 X     X
 X     X
 X    X 
 X   X  
 XXXX   
  XXXX X
   XX  X
X X  XXX
XX      
X       
 
 
       X
       X
       X
 X     X
 X    X 
 X   X  
 XXXX   
 XXXXX X
   XXXXX
X X     
XX      
X       
 
 
X       
X      X
X      X
X      X
 X     X
  X  XX 
   XX   
  XXXX  
X  XX   
X X  X X
XX    XX
       X
 
 
X       
X       
X     X 
X     X 
 X    X 
  X   X 
   XXXX 
X XXXX  
X  XX   
XXX  X X
      XX
       X
 
 
X       
X       
X       
X     X 
 X    X 
  X   X 
X  XXXX 
X XXXXX 
XXXXX   
     X X
      XX
       X
 
 
X      X
XX    XX
  X  X  
   XX   
  XXXX  
   XX   
  X  X  
 X    X 
X      X
X      X
X      X
        
 
XX    XX
X X  X X
   XX   
  XXXX  
 XXXXXX 
 XXXXXX 
   XX   
  X  X  
 X    X 
X      X
        
        
 
X      X
XX    XX
  XXXX  
 XXXXXX 
 XXXXXX 
 XXXXXX 
  XXXX  
   XX   
XXX  XXX
X      X
        
        
 
XX    XX
 XX  XX 
  XXXX  
 XXXXXX 
XXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXX
 XXXXXX 
  XXXX  
   XX   
 XX  XX 
 
 
XXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXX        
XXX  XXX
XX XX XX
XX XX XX
XXX  XXX
XXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXX
 
        
        
  XXXX  
  X  X  
  X  X  
  XXXX  
        
        
 
   X    
  XXX   
 X X X  
   X    
   X    
   X    
   X    
   X    
 
 
   X    
   X    
   X    
   X    
   X    
 X X X  
  XXX   
   X    
 
        
        
     X  
      X 
XXXXXXXX
      X 
     X  
        
        
  X     
 X      
XXXXXXXX
 X      
  X     
        
        
   XX   
  XXXX  
  XXXX  
   XX   
        
        
     X          
   X XXX        
 X XX  X X      
 X XX  X X      
   X XXX        
     X          
                
                
  XXXXXX        
XXXXXXXXXX      
  XXXXXX        
    XX    
 
 
      X         
    X X  X      
  X X  X X X    
X X X X  X X X  
XXXXXXXXXXXXXX  
  XXXXXXXXXX    
    XXXXXX      
      XX        
 
 
      X         
     XX X       
   X X XX X     
 X X XX X X X   
XXXXXXXXXXXXXX  
  XXXXXXXXXX    
    XXXXXX      
      XX        


#11 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 25, 2017 7:47 AM

I went through my old mails again. Back then, I created a dirty hack which allows moving to the next level after you collected all notes. Around 2003/2004 there were some plans to release the game, but it is much less complete than it may seem. There would be quite a lot of work involved to make it really playable. And we would have to make assumptions about the game play. E.g. 

  1. How was the scoring planned after you collected all required notes? What would give you how many points?
  2. What happens when the music ends? Do you have to reach the exist before? If not, do you loose a life? Do you still progress to the next level?
  3. Any chance for extra lives?
  4. Was any kind of difficulty selection planned?
  5. How should we fill in the missing sounds and music?
  6. The level design also only seems only preliminary.

So basically we have a prototype, which demonstrates the general game play idea, but lacks most detailing.

 

From playing Thwocker and other games of the era my theories:

 

1. No idea, but I'm sure an educated guess could be made

2. I always assumed you had to reach the exit before the music ended or you lost a life and had to start the level over.  I suppose you might have just had to recollect the notes and try again without losing a life, but that seems too easy.

3. Yes.  Activision games generally allowed for extra lives

4. Yes.  There are 16 variations selectable from the title screen so I assume some of these are difficultly changes

5. No idea, but I'm sure an educated guess could be made

6. Do they?  I guess I never noticed.

 

 

Honestly most of these are minor issues to me.  But if you're trying to actually finish the game then I can see how you'd want to know the answers.  All I really want to know is:

 

1 .Why you can't finish a level in the current prototype (bug or missing gameplay feature)

2. What else was planned from a gameplay perspective (are there still missing features?



#12 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 25, 2017 8:18 AM

To answer your questions:

  1. missing gameplay feature (no code)
  2. no idea :) 


#13 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 25, 2017 8:42 AM

 

To answer your questions:

  1. missing gameplay feature (no code)

 

Ah that was what I was afraid of.  Oh well, your quick and dirty hack works well enough. 



#14 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 25, 2017 9:02 AM

Actually I just tried your hack in the Harmony cart and it didn't work.  Is there anything special about it? 



#15 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 25, 2017 9:06 AM

IIRC the code works only when the ROM starts at the 1st bank. For Stella this works, for Harmony the start bank is AFAIK random.

 

You should try loading multiple times, maybe it will work every 2nd time (on average).



#16 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 25, 2017 9:51 AM

I just tried it several times and it just shows a black screen with a nasty tone playing constantly.  The unhacked proto seems to start up ok though.  Maybe I have a bad rom?  Can you post the hacked one again?



#17 4ever2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:09 PM

As for the unused graphics, some of them look like ones from 20th Century Fox Turmoil. That's my guess... could be wrong though...

Edited by 4ever2600, Sat Feb 25, 2017 12:10 PM.


#18 Kr0tki OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 28, 2017 7:38 AM

BTW: Inside the prototype ROM I found the following unused graphics. They probably don't belong to Thwocker but to a completely different game (not necessarily Atari 2600!). Can anyone identify those?

Most of the graphics is identical to Explorer (prorotype of Pastfinder) for the Atari 8-bit computers. (Pastfinder is similar as well, but to a lesser degree.) In fact there are more similarities; compare the following areas:
Explorer       Thwocker
$2736-$274E    $0753-$076B
$28F8-$29A8    $084A-$08FA
$29AB-$2E88    $0919-$0DF6


#19 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:13 AM

Now that's interesting.  Were they just reusing EPROMs and something didn't get erased?  Why else would there be 8-bit game graphics in a 2600 game?   There's no way they were planning a 2600 version of Pastfinder, it's too complex.



#20 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:57 AM

Were they just reusing EPROMs and something didn't get erased?

Yup, that's how it works. You can find a lot of garbage in ROM in unused areas. Sometimes compiled code/graphics from other games, sometimes remains of the development system or source code etc.

 

I have a blog entry for the latter.



#21 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 28, 2017 9:03 AM

@Thomas: Can you repost your fixed Thwocker rom?  The one I have won't work on my Harmony cart for some reason (I tried several times and the original works just fine).

 

@Kr0tki: Have you ever compared Explorer to Pastfinder?  That's another game I need to get to, but it's pretty complex so finding differences is hard.



#22 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 28, 2017 9:03 AM

Most of the graphics is identical to Explorer (prorotype of Pastfinder) for the Atari 8-bit computers. (Pastfinder is similar as well, but to a lesser degree.

Yup, that's the game. Thanks! :thumbsup:



#23 Kr0tki OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:39 AM

Now that's interesting.  Were they just reusing EPROMs and something didn't get erased?  Why else would there be 8-bit game graphics in a 2600 game?

Well, the games have some similarities, both being vertical scrollers; maybe they were trying to reuse Pastfinder's sprite routines in Thwocker? Ans copied the routines together with the graphics?
 

@Kr0tki: Have you ever compared Explorer to Pastfinder?  That's another game I need to get to, but it's pretty complex so finding differences is hard.


Here are disassemblies of Pastfinder and Explorer. Compare the files and read the comments in code for details. The differences are:
- Title change, obviously;
- Copy protection that writes to ROM area has been removed (not in all places though);
- a few bytes added for padding, not used in game though.
Overall, the only meaningful change in the prototype is the title.

Considering that the copy-protection in Explorer has been removed on purpose (as in, replaced by NOP instructions as opposed to simply not being there), I have some doubts if the known Explorer ROM dump is really a 100% unmodified copy of the prototype cartridge.

Attached Files



#24 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:48 AM

Well, the games have some similarities, both being vertical scrollers; maybe they were trying to reuse Pastfinder's sprite routines in Thwocker? Ans copied the routines together with the graphics?

Nope. The same EPROMs where simply used by completely independent development teams.

Those artifacts of other games can be found in a lot of games, especially inside prototypes, because those usually do not utilize all space. Often you just cannot identify the origin.

#25 CPUWIZ OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Mar 19, 2017 12:13 PM

You can't program EPROM's, that are not erased ($FF).




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