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Does anyone have an Encore and a Light Sixer?


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#1 Karl G ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:37 PM

I'm trying to track down an odd issue to see if it is specific to one console/multicart combo, or if it can be replicated by anyone else.

 

Specifically, my game crashed on the Zeropage Homebrew light sixer when loaded with a Harmony Encore.  Since then, it has been stable on the same system with an Unocart, and on a different system (a Jr.) with the same Encore cart.  On my end, I have had no problems on hardware with an Unocart on my Jr. or on the 7800.  To summarize:

 

  • Game on ZPH light sixer and Harmony Encore: unstable
  • Game on same light sixer with Unocart: stable
  • Game on Atari Jr. with same Harmony Encore: stable
  • Game on my Unocart on my Jr. and 7800: stable

 

The only thing I can think to try is to see if there is instability with the combination of an Encore and a light sizer for anyone else, or if it is an isolated issue.

 

Does anyone have this combo of hardware, and be willing to try loading my game?  Thanks in advance for any help.

 



#2 monzamess OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 22, 2019 6:17 PM

Seems stable to me but I only tried it for about 5 minutes. Light sixer with Harmony Encore.

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#3 Karl G ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:16 AM

Great!  Thank you for giving it a try!



#4 SpiceWare OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:02 AM

Works on my light sixer; however, it is hit or miss in Stella:
 
Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 9.42.54 AM.png
 
Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 9.43.07 AM.png
 
Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 9.44.09 AM.png

 

Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 10.36.01 AM.png
 
Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 9.43.12 AM.png


I have Stella's Developer mode turned on, I suspect you don't. As a developer you really need to turn it on.  It'll expose issues that can cause problems on some, but not all, Atari consoles - which is exactly what we're seeing here for ZPH. A common problem is to leave off a # for an immediate mode instruction, such as using LDA $02 when you meant to use LDA #$02.



#5 Karl G ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 23, 2019 10:00 AM

Thank you for trying it out. I have been developing with developer options enabled, actually, and I have caught a number of bugs that way. My posted version isn't my current version since I switched to my own world map because I want to avoid spoilers. I was thinking my last posted version was stable, however. It is possible that I have fixed whatever problems you have encountered in the midst of my development since then. Could I send you my current version privately, perchance? I appreciate your advice and help.



#6 SpiceWare OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 23, 2019 10:35 AM

Sure thing, I'll check it out this evening.



#7 chewy OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:19 PM

is there a 32k version availble at all for regular harmony cart, maybe an earlier build



#8 SpiceWare OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 23, 2019 3:02 PM

Was waiting for a compile so did some quick tests.  Works fine on my light sixer.  

 

Works much better in Stella, though still "crashes" on occasion:

Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 3.30.36 PM.png

 

Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 3.37.33 PM.png

 

Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 3.46.44 PM.png

 

Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 3.47.19 PM.png

 

 
 

What's interesting is I've never seen RWP in the Breakpoint Status box below the TIA ZOOM before. I suspect, but don't know for sure as I don't see it in the online help, that it's for Break on Reads from Write Ports.

 

Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 3.50.52 PM.png

 

Based on the different random images being drawn for each crash, I suspect RAM isn't getting initialized.  So I typed RESET and stepped scanline by scanline thru the init process and watched as zero-page RAM was initialized (green arrow), but never saw cartridge RAM (purple arrow) get initialized.

 

Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 3.57.20 PM.png

 

So the first thing I suggest is to modify your init routine so it also zeros out cartridge RAM.



#9 Karl G ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 23, 2019 3:45 PM

It's true that I don't initialize SC RAM, but I also use every byte of it for my tiled display, status bar and message bar, so it all gets written to within the first few frames before it is read from. I can certainly add that as a precaution, though.

I'll take a look at the option to break when reading from write ports to see if I can get that to trigger. If you happen to see any steps to reproduce a crash, please let me know. Thanks again for taking a look at it.

#10 SpiceWare OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 23, 2019 4:00 PM

Cartridge RAM definitely appears to be used before it's initialized.  Enter the debugger then type:

  • reset
  • frame
  • frame

you'll end up with garbage graphics.  Type frame once more and you'll see the expected graphics.

This reminds me of a bug I had in Stay Frosty 2, caused by using a variable for the snowball that wasn't initialized before the first frame of the game screen was drawn.  At the time Stella didn't have ARM support, so I recorded my display then stepped thru it frame by frame to figure out what was wrong.

 

Screen Shot 2019-04-23 at 4.52.00 PM.png



#11 Karl G ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 23, 2019 4:57 PM

You were right - I was reading before doing my initial write.  I would think that in this case the difference would just be cosmetic if the eye could catch it.  I added the initialization to a known value (blank tile for map, and space character for status/text bars).

 

It looks like the debugger option to break when reading from write ports is already enabled.  I haven't gotten it to trigger so far.



#12 SpiceWare OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:05 PM

I haven't gotten it to trigger so far.

 

 

It's not common.

  1. load game
  2. wait for game screen
  3. hit CONTROL-R
  4. goto 2

 

Just did that 30 times and the debugger trapped 4 times.



#13 Karl G ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:20 PM

Excellent.  I can get it to trip by the same way.  Once I added the RAM init code, I can't any longer.  One bug gone, thanks to you.  Thanks again.  :)



#14 SpiceWare OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:55 PM

Awesome!  Hopefully ZPH can run it on his sixer now.






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