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A big, flickery mess?

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Nathan Strum


So... back to one of the things on my "To-do" list - namely, "Stupid Game Ideas". (Pretend that was said in a loud, booming voice with lots of echo.)


...ideas... ...ideas... ...ideas...


These are the games I would make for the Atari 2600, if I had any clue about programming.


And trust me... I don't. I've read through a bunch of the 2600 "how-to" stuff, and even though I kind-of get some of the limitations of the 2600, and have a vague sense of what the hardware is doing, I have no knowledge of actual programming whatsoever.


Even batari Basic can't help me, since, of course, that requires knowledge of BASIC. I haven't had a class in BASIC since 1979 or '80, and then I just used it to make pictures and simple animation, rather than actual "programs". Funny how some things never change.


So, I have all of these pent-up ideas for 2600 games, and I figured I'd post them here, rather than cluttering up the homebrew forum with them.


Not that I'm saying people do that, mind you. :roll:


Anyway, the first game I was thinking of posting about was an original* idea I came up with 25 years ago. But I think I'll warm up on an arcade port, first.


*Original meaning completely derivative of other games, but with minor gameplay additions and changes.


So here then, are rough mockups for... Bosconian!


First, the arcade screenshots:

arc_bosco_1.gif arc_bosco_2.gif


Then the 2600 mockups:

26_bosco_1.gif 26_bosco_2.gif

I wanted to keep the "space-turd" look of the original asteroids. ;)


The space stations would almost certainly need to be made out of the playfield, but that brings up a question... can you actually scroll the playfield in 8 directions? Yikes.


Another big problem with Bosconian is not only do you have to scroll the playfield around, but as you shoot pods off of the space stations (or completely blow it up), the playfield has to change in smaller chunks. Same thing (ideally) when the middle of the station opens to shoot a missile:



I did, however, come up with a possible solution for the radar screen. Now, usually in 2600 ports, they stick it at the bottom of the screen so it can be its own flicker-fest, separate from the game area. But I think you could actually lose the radar - mostly.


At the beginning of each wave, the layout of the stations could be shown on a separate screen, so you at least got an idea of which way to go. Then, on the main screen, there would be a flashing green indicator (playfield again?) along the border of the screen, that would lead you in the direction of the next nearest space station:



Anytime there was a space station onscreen, the indicator would go away.


The full radar screen could also be brought up with either player 2's fire button, or a console switch. While not really necessary, it wouldn't be a bad idea.


Of course, this effectively loses the radar screen for tracking enemies, but it keeps the basic gameplay intact.


There are other problems, too.


Besides the whole scrolling playfield thing, is the fact that there tends to be a lot of enemies (and their shots) onscreen. Plus, the player's ship shoots both fore and aft at the same time (this is one of the things that makes Bosconian unique, so it would be a "must have").


And then, there's putting the score someplace. Minor detail. ;)


But just think how cool it would be to have the AtariVox shout, "Blast off!" at the beginning of the game. :D


Well, that's it for Bosconian (I didn't see much point in mocking up the title screen). So next time, maybe I'll post one of my original ideas.


And if I can get this posted in the next six minutes, I'll have made my "seven in a row", too. :)

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The work here so far looks really good. It could be a lot of fun, even scaled back. The main game play is what makes the game so fun, not having all the levels.


Of course, I say this as a person who cannot program for the VCS at all. But I did really enjoy Donkey Kong and several other 2600 arcade ports which were scaled back, yet retained the essence of the game play.


I have one idea to contribute in relation to your earliest posts. The score need not be posted on the screen of play. It could be included between screens, like in Yars' Revenge. It would work, and free up space for all the other things you must display.


And though you might know this, The Namco Museum 50th Anniversary Edition has a great version of this on the Game Cube version. I was bummed the Game Boy version didn't include it. But the Game Cube version really hit the mark.

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