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Shiny Object Syndrome

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One of the big problems that I have with Atari 2600 code development is the ever present "shiny object syndrome". For those who are not familiar with this term, it means that you get easily distracted from a task by cool things that you discover along the way. The problem is that the beginning of a project is exciting, as you struggle to fit your game concept into the constraints of the machine. For example, I find writing the display kernel is a particularly enjoyable process. But, once the main problems have been overcome, and the essence of the game is complete, it becomes increasingly more difficult to finish off the tedious tasks that remain. Usually at this point, the next game idea is burning away in my mind, and I can't wait to get started. post-4982-1108100242_thumb.jpgI have had this problem with all of the games that I have developed so far. Each one is around 95% complete, and only a few rough edges remain. However, as each game has neared completion, I have learned more about the Atari and I can see cool new techniques that I just can't wait to use. I am currently having this problem with Hunchy 2. The main game is complete, and all of the key issues have all been resolved. There are now just a few wrinkles that I should sort out before the final release. However, I have now been reading up on the Supercharger, and I can see a load of possibilities for great new games. I can see that it must take real discipline to get a game ready for a cart release on the Atari. With any luck, the upcoming minigame multi-cart will force me to complete these games, and then I can start the next project properly (more on this another time).Chris

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Hi there!

 

Your observations are spot on. It's really hard not to get distracted by other things all the time and it's really tough to get some things done.

 

A lot of projects just die because of that (Robot City...), since after being done with the "kernel challenge" the hardwork of completing the other 50% of the game kicks in.

 

What helps to bite through this? Mainly "encouraging feedback" and "deadlines" I found :)

 

Also, if a game is done for 80%-90%, definitely don't start another project until the current one is done.

 

What also helps IMHO is doing something completely different, like *playing* games instead. Sit down for a few rounds of Miner 2049er. You'll see how bad it sucks and how much better Hunchy II will be. This can be very motivating :?

 

What also gives me an extra kick during the final phase of a project, is when Dave starts working on the label and manual artwork. I'm so thrilled by this, that I really want to get the game released, just so that everyone can enjoy it :)

 

Greetings,

Manuel

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Hi Manuel,

 

Thanks for your encouraging comments. They inspired me to fix the last few known issues in Hunchy 2 this evening. I should be posting the final version to the Homebrew forum soon, but I have sent it to supercat to check over first. I am hoping to include this on the upcoming minigame multicart collection (with batari and vdub_bobby). I do already spend far too much time playing games :)

 

Cheers,

Chris

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Hi there!

 

You're kidding no? Hunchy II deserves much better treatment than being just an also ran on a minigame collection! It easily qualifies for a single cartridge release!

 

Greetings,

Manuel

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Hi there!

You're kidding no? Hunchy II deserves much better treatment than being just an also ran on a minigame collection! It easily qualifies for a single cartridge release!

Greetings,

Manuel

 

Thanks - I hadn't really considered releasing it on a stand-alone cart. I haven't done this before, so I'm not entirely sure what is required. I guess I should speak to Albert and see if he agrees.

 

Chris

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What also helps IMHO is doing something completely different, like *playing* games instead. Sit down for a few rounds of Miner 2049er. You'll see how bad it sucks and how much better Hunchy II will be. This can be very motivating :)

 

My problem is that once my games reach 95% completion, every time I make a small change I spend a half hour playing the thing. :) I guess maybe in some way that's a good sign, but it does make things difficult. I'm reminded of the story (probably apocryphal) that it took Brahms ages to write his lullaby because he kept falling asleep at the piano.

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My problem is that once my games reach 95% completion, every time I make a small change I spend a half hour playing the thing.  :)  I guess maybe in some way that's a good sign, but it does make things difficult.  I'm reminded of the story (probably apocryphal) that it took Brahms ages to write his lullaby because he kept falling asleep at the piano.

 

I think that is definitely a good thing in your own games, unless you are trying to work to a deadline! I have a similar problem when playing games of the same genre for inspiration. I also spent two weeks playing the original PoP before getting back to my kernel programming!

 

Chris

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Hi there!

 

My problem is that once my games reach 95% completion

 

So what are you working on currently? I have a feeling that you're secretly brewing something right now... :)

 

Greetings,

Manuel

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Hi there!
My problem is that once my games reach 95% completion

So what are you working on currently? I have a feeling that you're secretly brewing something right now... :)

Greetings,

Manuel

 

Yes, I would like to know this also, and I'm sure it will be something special!

 

Chris

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Yes, I would like to know this also, and I'm sure it will be something special!

 

My current "shiny object" is a cart which will hopefully tonight properly implement 16K+Superchip, and should also be able to do all sorts of wondrous things with RAM and bank switching, all while being manufacturable at reasonable cost and fitting within a standard cartridge housing.

 

No TV at the lab, unfortunately, so testing's a bit difficult, but last night Save Mary sorta worked. My write pulses were a little too long, though (address changed right at the rising edge of /WE, and was sometimes early) so the game was glitchy. Hopefully tonight it won't be.

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My current "shiny object" is a cart which will hopefully tonight properly implement 16K+Superchip, and should also be able to do all sorts of wondrous things with RAM and bank switching, all while being manufacturable at reasonable cost and fitting within a standard cartridge housing.

 

No TV at the lab, unfortunately, so testing's a bit difficult, but last night Save Mary sorta worked.  My write pulses were a little too long, though (address changed right at the rising edge of /WE, and was sometimes early) so the game was glitchy.  Hopefully tonight it won't be.

 

That is good news - I didn't realise the design was so far along. I just re-read your description of it in this thread. However, as I am not a hardware guy I don't understand all the details. Will it be straightforward to port code from the Supercharger to this cart? I understand that the bankswitching method will be different, and there will be no point in multi-loads, but I presume that the way memory is written will be the same? The high-rez helper feature also sounds interesting, and might make it possible to port Vectrex-style games to the 2600?

 

Chris

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