Wow.... yesterday I watched Carol Shawns icon award on YouTube and I watched old 80s Canadian computer tv show with you explaining stuff (it was the show about games) and in background you were demonstrating eastern front on an Atari 800. Then I found in the attic my 2600 and found as well German edition of De Re Atari...
By the way, I worked with Carol and, as the video says, she was definitely a code wizard, although Ed Logg was problem the ultimate in code wizardry. The video emphasizes that Carol was one of the first women in the business, but the funny thing is that nobody saw anything special or odd about women in the business. That group was a pure meritocracy; if you knew your stuff, you were respected, and Carol definitely knew her stuff. I never once saw anything like sexism or sexual harassment in the Engineering group at Atari. There may have been plenty of it in other departments, but I can't recall ever hearing or seeing anything worthy of mentioning in that regard. Carol mentions one anecdote involving Ray Kassar, but he was a bit of a jerk anyway. Perhaps she could provide us with an anecdote about sexism in Engineering, but I doubt that there was much. I certainly never heard anything like that in conversations.
Good to hear from you again Chris. This is neat piece of Atari history. Good to see it preserved, and thanks for sharing.
So, was this not completed due to your exit from Atari during the game industry downfall/crash?
You know, I can't recall when I did this. It was right around the time of the collapse. I recall working on two projects during that time: Last of the Incas and a sequel to "Eastern Front (1941)" called "Western Front (1944)". I abandoned both when I decided to make the jump to Macintosh. There was a delay between being laid off (January 1984?) and beginning work on the Mac because I had to wait some time to get the Lisa development system that I needed to program for the Mac. Perhaps I worked on these projects during that interlude.
It has been 35 years since I wrote that code, so I can't recall many details. The basic idea was something called "Galilean relativity": the idea that what you know at one location depends upon slow-moving information. That was the key issue in the Spanish response to the various Inca revolts: on the mountain trails, news travelled at the speed of a runner. The little sparkly things that traverse the roads are meant to demonstrate that. By the way, I was rather proud of the algorithm used to control that animation.
You're right that the combat algorithms were never completed. Such algorithms are pretty straightforward to build, so I put them off until the end, because they are easily adjusted to balance the game.
Skimming through the code was fun; assembler code is so different.
If somebody does plunge into this, I'll try to answer questions about it.
I'm not sure if any of you folks have seen this photo, but I ran across it in an archive just now and thought that perhaps you might get a laugh out of it. It's just a photo of me while I was working on Eastern Front (1941).
I have cleaned up the documentation for the Eastern Front (1941) source code package. It was badly corrupted, and portions are simply gone. I did the best I could with a bad situation and managed to reconstitute some of the most important stuff. Unfortunately, I could not find the original package, and so none of the hand-drawn material is here; I have only the stuff that I could find on the diskettes. If anybody has the physical package and would be willing to scan all the hand-drawn material, that would help greatly. In any case, I attach the zipped package containing the source code and the explanatory essays. Have fun with it. I spent far too much time cleaning this thing up. I have other work to do!
I realized that the simplest way to distribute this stuff is simply to ZIP it all up and post it here. This is a ton of stuff, much of it junk. Pick through and, if there's any text that you can recover, please post it here.
I have begun a project to make publicly available all the source code and documentation I can dig up from the old days. This turns out to be harder than I thought. I sent a bunch of my old Atari floppies to a fellow at the Atari museum and he was able to recover about half of them, for which he produced a CD-ROM with all the old floppies in .ATR format. Unfortunately, since I don't have an Atari emulator, I had to decode the text files by hand, which took some effort. Moreover, the results were still rather garbled, so I have to go over them by hand to do what I can to clean them up. I'm currently working on the source code for Eastern Front (1941). The big job here is the long text explaining what each module does. I'm still digging through it.
Those diskettes contain a lot of stuff that I'm sure people would be interested in. I believe that the fellow at the Atari museum posted them all as .ATR files. They included my source code for a number of aborted projects: Western Front 1944, Last of the Incas, and other stuff. If you guys don't have access to this stuff, I can make it available.
I also discovered a bunch of printouts of source code in the attic: Eastern Front Scenario Editor, Wizard, and Excalibur. I intend to scan these and convert them into ASCII source. That too will take some time. In the meantime, if anybody here could convert an .ATR text file into ASCII, I would much appreciate the help.
And by the way, I also found a reference that says that I *did* in fact study Ed Rotberg's scrolling code before making Eastern Front (1941). My statement above is therefore incorrect. Chalk it up to failing memory.
I just ran into this while searching for references to my Eastern Front (1941) source code. I can answer the original questions. Yes, my code was inspired by Ed Logg's demo, but I don't believe I ever saw Ed's code; the code implementation was pretty obvious from the specs. There was no legal issue because on my employment contract I was required to specify any software that pre-existed my employment at Atari, and I listed both Tanktics and Legionnaire on that contract.
It's true that the scrolling map was not so difficult a task. However, at that time I was the world's first software evangelist, trying to get programmers to write for the Atari machines, and I really pushed them hard to use the scrolling feature, but it took a while before people started using it. The problem was that it had to be implemented in a Vertical Blank Interrupt, and many programmers at the time were just learning about interrupt programming. That's one reason why I released the source code for Eastern Front (1941). And in fact, we started to see more scrolling games about six months after we published the source code.