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coded thoughts

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7800basic update #1. beans spilled, peek sneaked

For a few months now I've been toiling behind the scenes on a port of batari basic for the 7800. Today I'm going public and showing off a little bit of what I've accomplished. Since a picture is worth a thousand words...   adventurer.bas adventurer.bas.bin adventurer.bas.a78   ...the source code for that quick and dirty demo is decidedly not a thousand words. It's 68 lines of pure 7800basic code, and 12 of those are simple commands to import png images.   There are already a bunch of u

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speakalator - compose phrases for AtariVox on unix platforms

One of the easiest ways to create phrases for AtariVox is to use the PhraseALator utility. PhraseALator is provided free of charge by the folks who create the SpeakJet chip in the AtariVox, Magnevation.   Using a TTL level serial port, you can connect your AtariVox to your PC and pull it's strings from a nice point-and-click interface.   You can use Phrasealator to lookup words in a dictionary and play them back, or you can use it to compose your own words; single-clicking on any of the phon

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Salvo 2085, update #2. News, Fireworks, and Dog Food.

News...   If you don't want to read the wall of text here, there's really there's just one update here: PAC-MAN-RED has kindly signed on for working on the graphics for Salvo 2085. The visuals in the final version should be top notch!   I thought I'd also take this opportunity to share some behind-the-scenes stuff, for those of you that like reading about development details.     ...Fireworks...   While the current Salvo 2085 graphics are a mix of modified arcade sprites and programmer

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Salvo 2085, a 7800basic WIP game, update #1

Between working on 7800basic, recent MESS updates, and a few side projects, I've been also working on a 7800basic game thats an update to the old classic, Crossfire.   In its current state its a bit rough, with programmer graphics, preliminary sound effects, and just a few essential stats on a plain scoreboard. On the plus side its playable, the difficulty does ramp up, and there's Crossfire fun to be had.   salvo2085.bas.a78 salvo2085.bas.bin   The project is eventually supposed to be

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7800basic tutorial - sprite and tile interactions

checking sprite and tile "collisions"   The 7800 has 2 types of display objects, sprites and character/tile graphics. Usually a game's display is made up of tiles for the background, and sprites for the moving objects.   As a game designer, at some point you'll probably want to check which tile(s) your game sprites are moving over, or about to move over. Maybe you need to check if pac-man is eating a dot, or if the adventure hero is going to hit a barrier.   Checking tiles underneath a spr

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racing the beam and riding the speaker

stella's voice   The 2600 isn't widely hailed for it's luxurious sound.   The TIA chip, which is responsible for the sound of the 2600 as well as the video, was designed with fairly minimal audio capabilities. On it's own it has the ability to make fairly simple tones, rumbles, and white noise type sounds.   Similar to how you need to "race the beam" to draw anything useful with a 2600, you also need to "ride the speaker" to add interesting audio texture to your sound effects, changing th

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7800basic update #3. the woods are lovely, dark and deep

The 7800basic 0.1 beta is now public.   It's possible to create games with 7800basic, but it's by no means finished. I figured I'd share some of the features I have planned, in no particular order... some mechanism to fill those pesky DMA holes that I mentioned in the last blog entry. This isn't a particularly sexy feature, but not wasting 2k/4k of space between graphics areas is important. adapt the nice hex2bcd conversion routine that omegamatrix wrote a plot command for drawing fuel

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WIPs of days gone by - part 2

answer me these questions three...   I mentioned in my first WIP article that I have three criteria for evaluating a game idea. Is my concept really technically feasible? Is it interesting? Is it fun? These are sometimes tough to answer without a prototype, so I'll often throw one together to evaluate these points.   While it may seem like insanity to code up something I may well throw away on a system as tough to program for as the 2600, I generally work in batari Basic, so it

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7800basic update #2. powered by good will

Daniel Everett, a linguist who studied the Piraha - a small tribe of hunter-gatherers in Brazil - reported that while the Piraha know of food preservation techniques, they don't actually preserve any food for their own use. Instead, tribe members immediately share and consume their catch with the rest of the tribe, as a sort of gift economy. Preserved food isn't needed because at any one time, one of the tribe is sharing their bounty.   As one of them explained, "I store meat in the belly of m

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WIPs of days gone by - part 1

"Time it was, and what a time it was, it was A time of innocence, a time of confidences Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph Preserve your memories; they're all that's left you" -P. Simon   new code, old system...   For the last few years I've been writing code for the Atari 2600 in my free hours.   It's been said that the toughest game system to program for is the 2600, so it's only natural that at a 2600 coder weighs exactly why he's jumping through hoops with boots on.   Peop

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Salvo, update #3. challenge accepted, humanoid saved

For a while my time has been occupied with work and 7800basic updates, but in recently days I've managed to squeeze in some Salvo updates.   Gameplay additions include: Humanoids to save. The enemies shots don't kill the humanoids, but if the enemies touch the humanoid it will die. By running over the humanoid he'll follow you for the rest of the level, so you can steer him to safety. Presently there's no penalty for losing all your humanoids (other than points) but I have more plans here.

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Irata Anthem, sung by TIA

One of my back-burner projects is a spiritual sequel to M.U.L.E, for the 2600. So far I just have a planet kernel, species+color choice kernel, and the beginnings of a theme. The game will be developed at my usual glacial pace, so I figured I'd share the theme, as it could be appreciated on its own...   irata_music.bin   When working on it I diverged from my typical process a bit. Usually I compose in Rosegarden and then convert from MIDI to assembly data with TIA values obtained from webtun

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of mountaineers and retro coders

the ascent   Mountain climbing is an activity that can be done many ways.   Mountaineers may employ sherpas to assist, or they can choose to climb only with other mountaineers. They may set up base camps at which they have large amounts of supplies, or they may simply climb steadily, carrying a meager stock of supplies that must last the whole trip.   The list of optional equipment a mountaineer may employ is also pretty long - supplemental oxygen, crampons, ice axes, tents, high-tech ther

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WIPs of days gone by - M.U.L.E 2600

One of my back-burner projects, was a 2600 version of M.U.L.E. It was just an inkling of an idea, and I even toyed with the idea of a different sort of game in the same universe.   I've posted about it before, but reworking the M.U.L.E theme for TIA was a hoot. I'm particularly proud of the section in the middle, where the original tune does a series of upward key changes. I managed to replicate the same same rising feeling without the problematic key changes, by laying down a series o

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