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Boot Disk Games. No directory


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#1 peteym5 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:57 AM

I remember many of those games sold and take up a whole boot disk. Games like Autoduel, Ultima, Stealth, etc. I remember putting them into disk drive after dos has been loaded and try bringing up a directory. All you got was gibberish. I know the directory is moved somewhere else other than an area DOS does not use. They might be doing a direct access thing telling the disk drive to start at x sector for n amount of sectors. I know this is done to deter hacking and piracy. This would also get the max use out of a floppy disk so some sectors are not being taken up by the directory.

 

Reason I am bringing this up is that I am wondering if there are any source code around or documentation on how to do some of this stuff myself. I played around with an executable version of the the RPG Adventure games I made that load into extended RAM like the 130XE, or over 128K. As you know the software won't execute properly on computers with just stock 48K/64K. Solution would had been have stuff load from disk as needed.

 

I do agree that cartridges are better. They do it faster, easier to arrangement memory, better security, and longer lasting. Even using Inflate to decompress parts from the ROM into RAM is many times faster than loading files from disk. Faster than UltraSpeed Doubler or Hard Disk. Estimated with latest routine 32K in under 5 seconds.  I was once considering using my Fantasy Adventure RPG engine (currently used with Secretum Labyrinth) with boot floppy disks during early stages of development. I was still working with KJMANN at the time and was looking to do stuff independent of him. He was the middle man between Video61 and myself.  This was before I started communicating with Video61 more directly and became aware of what he has in stock.  I am not going into detail of what happened internally between us. However, I learned several times in my life, it is better to eliminate the middleman and deal with people directly.

 

OK, to keep it on track. I am not real fluent with programming for disk access from the assembler level. I always wrote disk access stuff with Basic and not worried about it.  I am also aware of the XBIOS thing. Has that been updated within the last year? I remember it was short on something I needed it to do involving saving game progress and creating new files. 


Edited by peteym5, Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:01 AM.


#2 1050 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:11 PM

No source or documentation I've seen.

Just the old school method of OS disassembly and/or
boot disk sector disassembly too. Some are very
cryptic in the way they go about it while others
read like good novel.

This and file structure, the ways and means of DOS,
etc. need to be in book. But no such book exists
that I'm aware of. Best we've got is cut up coverage
in Mapping the Atari with a very light touch given
to the meat of the subject usually. Just enough to
fuel an insane quest to disassemble the entire OS
for example. Three months down that road and "Oh,
there it is".

XBIOS not something I'm aware of or interested in,
sorry.

#3 ac.tomo OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:54 PM

The book: Complete and Essential MAP for the Atari contains everything in Mapping the Atari but also has some additional information in one of its appendixes and at the specific memory locations, such as SIO (pointed to from the INDEX), it describes DOS files and also self-booting disks.



#4 slx OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Feb 22, 2018 5:09 PM

Inside Atari DOS has an explanation of the boot process in chapter 20. The first sector of the disc needs to contain information on how many sectors to load where and where to jump for initialization and further program execution.

 

I never programmed for >48K memory but I am quite sure that you can't fill all of its memory in one boot process as you need some code to do the bank switching in between. So you'd probably have to use direct floppy access and read your data sector by sector to get the rest (for this you set up the parameters at $300 and up and then JMP to DSKINV at $E453 to do the work. Mapping the Atari contained enough information for my younger self to accomplish this.

 

Such boot discs don't need a directory at all as long as your code "knows" where to find what. 

 

As long as you only read data from the disc or write fixed-length stuff back this is probably easier and more compact to implement in assembly language than DOS-based file access and will save a little floppy capacity as you can use all 128 or 256 bytes per sector without losing memory for the link bytes (plus of course the space used for directory and VTOC, as you mentioned). 

 

The obvious downside is that it will work with discs or disc images only, thereby eliminating some modern storage options that don't support disc images. A more elegant and portable way would be to use XBIOS (which I have not tried yet).

 

BITD I found it neat that the Atari could do this while the C64 AFAIK can't auto-boot floppies at all.



#5 peteym5 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:35 PM

I imagined they did something with the boot sector and loaded the core program there. Random access the disk for data is something I wonder about with those things. I thought it be a good way to save all the data used for rooms in an adventure game. I would say a 64K Williams Cartridge with compression probably store about the same as a 90K floppy uncompressed and with the extra programming to read/write to disk.  Were enhanced density used for boot disks? Some games used two sides of one disk. 

 

Yeah I know the Commodore OS did not support boot disks. When there was that Atari vs Commodore  (64, Pet, Vic-20,etc) thread going on, one of my big points was Atari had a better set up for DOS and Disk access that was more user friendly that was similar to what many other platforms were using (8.3 file name convention). Commodore you needed to execute all these weird commands from Basic. But as a programmer, you would tailor your game to take advantage of the system you target the software for. Commodore 64, I would gear it for 8 sprites and a color map. Atari 8-bit, player/missile multiplexer and Antic 4 mode using DLIs. The other thing I attacked the Commodore pros over was Commodore had all these different models that were not compatible with each other and needed software specific for each one. Pet, Vic-20, 64,  and 16/+4, all were not compatible with each other. 



#6 _The Doctor__ ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:22 AM

You don't lose all that much disk space or memory for boot loader or micro/pico file systems. and you certainly can compress data saved on the disk as well, you can get quite a bit on a 90K disk, so you can definitely pack way more and and get a heck of a lot more out of a disk than the 64k cart, and I'm not sure why you wouldn't use Dual density and get even more out of a disk.


Edited by _The Doctor__, Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:25 AM.


#7 Mclaneinc OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:00 AM

As I've said before, disks allow for more creativity, with certain boundaries removed so much more can be added, I REALLY hope you embrace the disk Pete, sure, protect the hell out of them but it just makes sense..

 

But as always, your call...



#8 peteym5 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:48 AM

I can always use larger cartridges as well. 128K and 1024K XEGS sizes are available. I have been using 16K to 64K because Video 61 has many boards in stock, cheaper to produce, and final cost is cheaper. Cartridges are also much faster than using floppies, directly execute parts of the program from, copy or decompress to RAM with very little noticeable delay. Problem with disks would mean there would be delays whenever the game needs to access anything. I am trying to come up with something that can save your game progress to disk also. 

 

I was just trying to find some documentation and source code on setting up boot loaders. Use where the directory sectors were for other purposes. One of the games I seen, they wrote a message in the directory about the game being copyrighted and it must be booted to run. Maybe sometime in the future, I can do something on disk. However our decision is to stick with cartridges for now.



#9 Mclaneinc OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 23, 2018 7:56 AM

No problem...Carts it is..



#10 _The Doctor__ ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 23, 2018 8:00 AM

well, you can always do XF551 disks as well 360k or 1050 Flippy disks 130 k a sidex2 260k, or us double/happy/indus/rana/percom disk 180k a side 360k a flippy, and of course you could do as many disks as you like to infinity and beyond!


Edited by _The Doctor__, Fri Feb 23, 2018 8:01 AM.


#11 slx OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 23, 2018 8:43 AM

BITD (up to at least 1985) pretty much all commercial floppies were SD as that was the lowest common denominator. The next most useable format would probably be 1050 enhanced density, but that's as useless for anyone not using a 1050 as double density is to users of a stock 1050. 

 

As probably stated a million times here, it's really a pity that Atari chose not to use double density on the 1050 to save a RAM chip.



#12 peteym5 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:58 AM

I never intended this to be a debate about cartridge vs floppy or cartridge vs digital download. We can debate going larger with either media for ever. 

 

One of my original intentions when creating my Adventure Role Playing Game engine was to help others to make their own Adventure games with it. The "ARPG" engine was meant to be flexible and upgradable. The source code has the compiler options for Executable (XEX,XEXdemo), Williams (32K,64K), XEGS (64K,128K), AtariMax(128K). It also has SIC! cartridge, but I never got around to finishing it, and even considered deleting those parts. Reasons would be SIC! cartridges were only sold by pre-order and not kept on the market. I am not sure what is going on with those "Big Ben Mega" cartridges either, don't see a link on their page "order here." I am going to just buy American. The preorder and release date thing is something Steve Tucker or Lance does not do, its better to put the product on the market and have it always available.

 

I was looking into the ideal of helping others to make their own Adventure type game with this ARPG engine, minus anything specific for "Secretum Labyrinth" (data + custom programming). That compacts many screens of room data, and multiplex more than 4 sprites on the screen. Someone can use whatever media is desired. However there are always concerns sharing source code. This would probably be a co-author or shared author type thing if anyone is interested. I am only looking for a small royalty off the engine per sale. 

 

The Boot floppy thing is something still may be done at some point in the future for another Fantasy Adventure type game. 



#13 peteym5 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:01 PM

I have been doing some checking around with other authors who had done some retro games on floppy disks, trying to get sales statistics, and been hearing that they had not done a whole lot better than what we do on cartridge.  Trying to get more confirmed numbers. They will get a large amount around 20 games in the first month, maybe second, then trickle to 0 to 3 per month beyond that. I understand Thetris + Rolltris, were around 1 to 2 games per month. Not sure anyone has sold more than 100 games. But then again, it this limited market these days, anything over 50 sales is great. 

 

I am considering floppies as a game progrss save for "Secretum Labyrinth" and this XBIOS thing does support direct sector write. I can set up save slots that will save your progress under a name and code you give it. However, it will overwrite anything already on that floppy and I can over write the directory. So instructions will save, use new formatted unused disks for your saves. There had been concerns that someone can dump the game ROM to disk through DOS, but not sure if that is possible with XBIOS that the programmer can only tell the routine to copy only these memory locations to disk. There are settings in the cartridge boot up to boot DOS first, then run cartridge. But I will not be using DOS because "Secretum Labyrinth" uses the RAM where DOS is loaded anyway. 


Edited by peteym5, Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:15 PM.


#14 VladR OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 27, 2018 12:02 AM

I have been doing some checking around with other authors who had done some retro games on floppy disks, trying to get sales statistics, and been hearing that they had not done a whole lot better than what we do on cartridge.  Trying to get more confirmed numbers. They will get a large amount around 20 games in the first month, maybe second, then trickle to 0 to 3 per month beyond that. I understand Thetris + Rolltris, were around 1 to 2 games per month. Not sure anyone has sold more than 100 games. But then again, it this limited market these days, anything over 50 sales is great.

Are you talking about '80s ? Surely they would push more numbers when the platform was mainstream ?



#15 peteym5 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 27, 2018 5:22 AM

Are you talking about '80s ? Surely they would push more numbers when the platform was mainstream ?

No, talking more recent. Anything beyond the year 2000. 



#16 VladR OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:24 AM

I see.

 

Still, with all the collectors, one would imagine slightly higher number than, say, 50 carts for a "great" seller...

 

I guess it's that the homebrew just does not have the nostalgia attached to it...



#17 _The Doctor__ ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:33 AM

The threads move down so quick that if not timed correctly, no one even knows something existed, how many threads, the lament, I didn't know... I missed it etc etc. Many people only visit the retro during down time vacation holiday etc. by then... it's all gone.... I've missed out on things almost EVERY time.... and I'm here alot!   seems every time real life happens to get in the way...  boom that wonderful thing came and went.... We have a market place sort of in a thread.... or you can try to get it put in the store.... what we really need is a tiled year and a half long POSTER/Bulletin TILE board/screen so that everyone quits missing it all... Just saying.  an 18 to 36 month window might get enough people exposure to do this stuff....



#18 VladR OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:36 PM

Until recently I had no idea how big retro events could be in terms of commercial exposure. I visited my first one in Portland last October, and there were gobs of people buying retro games. Hell, I even bought, like, 10-15 games for various platforms.

 

 

So, it's kinda shocking that the number 50 would be considered real great.



#19 peteym5 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:06 PM

There are other factors involved. Geographic location of the seller. When going over oceans, shipping prices go up. Plus different countries have import taxes. Like the European VAT thing.  Type of game and quality is important. Skeptical of doing something similar to something that has been done 100 times before already. I am seeing a pattern emerging that many recent retro games are using software driven graphics modes like Super IRG, or those modes that alternate between GTIA modes and Antic Modes. 

 

I am going to be more open with going Work in Progress videos once In get enough of a game together to show people. Most of our new stuff only has a title screen we made up with Graph2Font. The new Secretum Labyrinth still looks like all the other one already made because I am using existing data to test new features. I demonstrated Helicommander a few months before I plan on releasing it. 3 to 6 months before the planned release is a good amount of time to demonstrate what you are doing.  I do not like teasing people for years, and as you know, everything I usually announce does go up for sale. 



#20 peteym5 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2018 6:16 AM

Majority of my future games will remain on cartridge. If a game needs more memory, it can just use larger cartridges up to 4MB. I was looking at some prospects for disk base utilities that require  disk I/O operations. Loading and Saving files, bring up directory, and other disk IO.

 

Also looking at Saving game progress in Secretum Labyrinth using subroutines known as XBIOS.  Only issue there is a limitation that it cannot create new files, so the user will need to create a blank files ahead of time on a formatted floppy. I am trying to see if I can come up with a hack so it can create a new file to save to. Not sure there is an easy way to do that with DOS yet. It is also possible to do a cartridge + disk game also. Disks containing different worlds, levels, maps, screens, etc. 

 

I am not sure how many would buy into a "Secretum Labyrinth Construction Set" or "World Editor" utility. I would do something like that on the Windows PC.


Edited by peteym5, Tue Mar 6, 2018 6:17 AM.


#21 Gunstar OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2018 12:43 PM

Better check on royalties for using XBIOS in your games...oh, never mind, I forgot everybody else give the stuff out and share with the community...feel free to use everyone else's work without worrying about royalties and copyrights like you.

 

Plus, remember that all those low sales figures are because they all also gave out free versions for download! So why aren't sales better for you then?


Edited by Gunstar, Tue Mar 6, 2018 12:46 PM.


#22 VladR OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2018 2:08 PM

Unfortunate timing of your response given the recent release of StuntCarRacer :)

 

Better check on royalties for using XBIOS in your games...  ...feel free to use everyone else's work without worrying about royalties and copyrights like you.

Wait, what ? So, he's not allowed to use the other libraries now ? Haven't they been released for free and any use, after all :) ?

 

 

...oh, never mind, I forgot everybody else give the stuff out and share with the community...

Do you know his life situation ? I don't, but he's still contributing to the community with new games, new ideas, new development.

 

If he redirected his passion to regular SW dev, he could make not 10 times, not 100 times, but literally 1,000 more money than from those few dozen copies.

 

So, please - for the love of god - enough with the "Money" argument. I'm pretty sure he couldn't survive on that in Romania, let alone in New York. I just checked and 1-bedroom apartment goes for $800-$1,500 in Buffalo.

 

 

Plus, remember that all those low sales figures are because they all also gave out free versions for download! So why aren't sales better for you then?

Oh, come on! You've participated yourself in the StuntCar thread. A truly historical game was released, just like you said : for free. And the responses ? Almost constant stream of bitching and complaints (just look how many of the praising posts have a "but" section (usually wrapped in self-redeeming BS)):

 

"OMG, I can't save the progress"

 

"OMG, the tune is horrible"

 

"OMG, the loading takes FOREVER"

 

and so on :)



#23 Mclaneinc OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2018 2:24 PM

With SCR XXL was in on the idea, not so sure he would be over the moon if someone is making money off his work but he would have to answer that, normally the its free to use has a clause..

 

As for SCR loading, yes its slow but its nice to have an animated loader, tunes ok but the saving does seem to be uncharted a tad..And here's the BUT, but used the opposite way, the game is great, its free and its a classic addition and no matter what the niggles are I'd say EVERYONE is appreciative of the game....

 

As for Pete, I wish him well in a very hard market, I so wish he would think more on the storage but its his show and may he do whatever he likes, if the games are good they will sell..



#24 Wrathchild ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2018 2:44 PM

And QR generation code (used in SCR) has a 'chilled' approach to conditions of use...

 

; "THE BEER-WARE LICENSE" (Revision 42):
; Piotr Fusik <fox@scene.pl> wrote this file.
; As long as you retain this notice you can do whatever you want with this stuff.
; If we meet some day, and you think this stuff is worth it, you can buy me a beer in return.
 

 

 



#25 Gunstar OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2018 2:53 PM

I've had no complaints about SCR at all. I did want to know how to save games since it wasn't working, but I'm not complaining, if I can't ever get it to work, I still love the game. It just means I have to set more time aside to play since I can't save.

 

I really enjoy the games I've bought from Pete, as anyone can tell by my reviews in Excel. I will continue to buy games from him that interest me too. I just hate his attitude over his software piracy paranoia, and even that I wouldn't care about, but then he wants help from the community but refuses to release stuff that others might actually help him with if he did. he expects others to share, except for him. It reminds me of a spoiled brat kid.


Edited by Gunstar, Tue Mar 6, 2018 2:59 PM.





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