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John Saeger

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About John Saeger

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  1. John Saeger

    z26 4.x

    Thanks guys! Actually, this is more like the old version. Something simple from a simpler time.
  2. I used to think emulation was about preservation. I can still remember the first time I played Yars' Revenge. It was so cool. This was back in the 90s actually. You could buy a console for five bucks and carts were 19 cents. That's why I got interested, it's what we could afford. But that game was so cool I thought we needed it on a computer because the 2600 stuff was junk. What if they all get thrown away? So for me it was about that. But once displays went to flat panels I was nothing but frustrated. Emulation was nothing like the original. It looked to me like a lost cause. Sure flat panels aren't as bad as they used to be and maybe that's a little bit encouraging, but it will never be the same... But anything is better than nothing I guess. I don't know why kids are interested these days, but they seem to be. Old consoles, typewriters and fountain pens. Lady Gaga writes her songs on a typewriter. Many of the fountain pen videos on youtube seem to be by kids. I know, what a weird thing to watch. It gets better. Ink reviews! So I dunno. Maybe there's something about simplicity in an over-complicated world.
  3. John Saeger

    z26 4.x

    I suppose I should at least say *something.* Right? http://www.whimsey.com/z26/ It's up to 4.02 by now. But I guess the main feature of this series is I ported the TIA engine from the original assembly language sources. So as far as I can tell, most things, like "early" HMOVE and the multi-sprite trick seem to be working reasonably OK. The sound is reasonably OK too. So there you go. You can leave a comment if you like. Thanks!
  4. I hope you don't think I was being rude for not liking emulators for "preservation." Fact is, I pretty much agree with what you say here. But for me, it's not just about preserving games, it's about preserving the experience. After decades of watching and even participating with emulators, they just aren't "there." Cool toys, yes. I still like them for that. But not quite "there" for preservation.
  5. Oh yes, please get a real 2600. They're like 50 bucks at your local video game store. At least that's how it is around here in Seattle. And while you're at it, get yourself a real CRT TV set. Try for something "period correct" from around 1982 or so but if that's not possible get as close as you can. Right now I have a 1992 Hitachi and that's as close as I've gotten so far. The nice thing about my Hitachi is that it plays Battlezone without jitter. Things from the 21st century tend to jitter on that game. So there are differences between CRT TV sets. That said, anything is better than nothing. Get a CRT! "Why that?", you might ask. Because there's a world in there that modern emulators haven't touched. There is an opportunity for the "new guys" to make some progress. At least that's my opinion. Have fun!
  6. I don't want to say too many bad things about emulators. But seriously, why would you want to run an emulator? Sure I run at least one emulator from time to time but by far my favorite way to play 2600 games is on an unmodified 2600 plugged into a CRT TV-set. They make these very nice adapters that screw into the CATV input of the TV set so you can plug the Atari video cable right in. I can get these adapters at the same videogame stores that I can buy a 2600 at. So it's easy to do. Why not do that? And frankly, I think folks interested in preservation should be collecting TV sets now while you still can. Because my most recent TV set took weeks to show up at a thrift store. And by the way, avoid flat screen, the sprites look a little weird at the edges. Go with the curved screen. Other than that I'm not sure what homebrew games are the good ones. I think there's at least 9,999 homebrew roms by now. So how do we pick out the good ones? I think this is part of preservation. You need to show folks things they would like to see. It's pretty hard to sort through that many roms if you're "just passing through" so to speak. Then if you're interested you can look through the rest. But again, what are the good ones? This "scene" has been going on for 20-25 years. It seems like a list of 20-25 of the best homebrews would be a nice thing to have. Any ideas?
  7. z26 3.02 uses sync to monitor exclusively, and 4.00 will be about the same. So if you have a gaming monitor and you've set it to 144 Hz the 2600 game will run fast. Until I figure out a way to change monitor frequency with software you probably need to set the refresh rate of your monitor to 60 Hz to get at least NTSC games running at approximately the right speed. Something I've noticed on one of my systems is that I can actually set the refresh rate to 50 Hz so there is even a way to play PAL games at around the right speed on some modern systems, which I think is pretty cool. But my attitude is that sync to monitor is such an essential feature of a 2600 emulator that I don't even want to support any other method, even if it's a little less convenient than dusty old methods like "phosphor mode" which were needed during the "dark ages" of 2600 emulation, before OpenGL and other frameworks that support a reliable sync to monitor became pervasive. Sorry for the slow reply. John
  8. I dunno Thomas. I beamed back in for a while to see what the world looks like. I'll tell you what, I don't recognize anything. What is an Atari 2600 anyway? What is worth preserving? You go to a museum and what do they show you? They show you the "good stuff" right? What is the "good stuff" for the Atari 2600? Is it the DPC+ bankswitch scheme? OK so now we get to write assembly language in two languages at once! What does that have to do with an Atari 2600? Is it a cart for the Atari 2600? Or is it a gameboy advance with a 2600 strapped on underneath? And what does it have to do with great game design anyway? It goes on and on about some technical features that makes things more "advanced" but has anybody figured out how to make things more fun to play? Besides, you are missing the challenge of writing a 4K game with a handful of bytes of RAM. You see, I like Demon Attack. I like Phoenix. I like Yars Revenge. And guess what... I like Halo2600. What a breath of fresh air. Get yourself a Supercharger and fill it up. What happened to that? Has anybody come up with anything more fun than that? Has anybody come up with games that are more fun than Demon Attack or Yars Revenge? So I don't know what an Atari 2600 is any more. Except to say that there are still some places I can go to buy a "real" 2600 off the shelf and some games. I like that. Maybe that's telling me something about what a 2600 is. Maybe that's telling me something about what should be preserved. Maybe...
  9. Here is more than you want. I guarantee it!z26-demos.zip
  10. Hi there! I don't know if this is off-topic for this thread and I'm replying to an old post, but I've been sort of seeing what's been going on lately... But the thing is, *I* have the source code to 1.1. Looks to me like you could distribute it if you want to. Here is the license: =============================================================================== License Information and Copyright Notice =============================================================================== This software is copyrighted by Bradford W. Mott. The following terms apply to all files associated with the software unless explicitly disclaimed in individual files. The author hereby grants permission to use, copy, and distribute this software and its documentation for non-commerical purposes, provided that existing copyright notices are retained in all copies and that this notice is included verbatim in any distributions. If you distribute this software, the entire contents of this distribution must be distributed. The software may be modified for your own purposes, but modified versions may NOT be distributed without prior consent from the author. If you would like to do something with this software that the license prohibits (such as distributing it with a commercial product, using portions of the source in some other program, etc.), please contact the author. --- In other words, you can look at the source code, you can give away the source code, you can do whatever you want except give away a modified version. I always thought that was kinda wonky. But hey, he finally GPL'd it so I was fine with that. Other than that, 1.1. wasn't just DOS, it was UNIX too. In fact I'm not so sure the first version of Stella actually ran on DOS. Do you know? Do you have access to the *first* version of Stella?
  11. This is kind of an old topic but I was doing a composite video mod to one of my 2600s and I saw the weird pattern in Reactor. I thought it was so unusual I searched for Reactor and found this thread. In any case I found it to be pretty easy to get rid of the pattern. Just add some large electrolytic capacitors to the main board. I have a bag of 470uf capacitors so I used those. Simply putting a capacitor across the voltage regulator goes a long way toward making the pattern go away. Another good place is right across the TIA chip between pins 1 and 20, and at the same time putting one in parallel with the 4.7 uf capacitor near the RF modulator. Another cap between pins 2 and 4 of the 6507 did no harm but by the time you get to this point the video is pretty much squeaky clean. Of course my 2600 no longer has the RF modulator. I removed it and used the left over holes as a convenient spot to plug in my transistor, so, as usual, YMMV. Having said all of that I decided I liked it better when I could see the weirdness so I took the capacitors back out again. But to each his own and I may change my mind later. Or maybe I'll set up one 2600 with capacitors and have another one without. We'll see... It's only a hand full of games where the pattern is particularly distracting. And by the way you can add Jedi Arena, Qbert, and Planet Patrol to the list of particularly weird games. So what this says to me is that the weirdness is caused by noise on the power supply lines leaking into the (analog) video signal. It also tells me that some carts cause more noise than others. For the folks who enjoy writing games and packaging them in carts I think it would be nice to figure out why some carts are different. Maybe some carts need a bigger decoupling capacitor depending on what kind of ROM chip they are using. For example, maybe Reactor would be quieter with a larger, possibly electrolytic capacitor in parallel with the 0.1uf capacitor that seems to be on that board. But I'm just guessing...
  12. Not on any system I've tried. Stella starts up immediately and loads a ROM very quickly. Pressing Escape brings you back to the ROM launcher, where selecting another ROM again is very quick. I can start and stop several ROMs per second. I don't know how much faster it needs to be than that. Also, Stella contains an internal ROM properties database of over 3000 ROMs, holding all sorts of information (like ROM name, manufacturer, etc) which must be loaded when the application starts, and searched each time a ROM is loaded. It uses binary search for this, so it is very fast. And it does extensive autodetection of both bankswitch type and TIA settings, so it will necessarily take a little longer to start a ROM, analyse it, run for a few frames, etc. But on every system I've ever tested, this extra delay has been imperceptible. I suppose I could make it even faster by removing the built-in database and autodetection, but I feel these are very useful things to have (and many users have agreed). Ha! You got me! Everybody's systems are different. On my system, with Stella, it's like hold your breath and hope for the best. Especially with the opengl modes. Lots of times the screen just turns white and then I have to reboot. What can I say? But that's neither here nor there really. So who wrote the Stella TIA? It's pretty nice. John
  13. I discovered another bug in z26 v3.01. When firing the players laser in Laser Blast, the gun appears below the ship, the associated sound is produced, and an explosion is produced on the ground. No laser line is produced between the players ship and the explosion on the ground. Also, one thing became apparent to me with the z26 user interface that should be changed. When selecting a game from the Play a Game screen, it is difficult to discern which game is the one desired due to the screen width (53 characters including the : on long lines) being shorter than the length of file names. This is problematic when two or more files have the first 52 characters identical. I have several suggestions for ways to address this. 1. Allow the user to use the left and right arrow keys to scroll the whole screen or selected game name left and right to expose obscured text. 2. Allow the user to press the question mark key (?) to pop-up a window with a word wrapped version of the full name. Pressing an up or down arrow key should cause the window to automatically disappear. 3. Make a two or three line high window on the top or bottom which shows the full name of the selected game. 4. Truncate the center of the name and replace the omitted text with an ellipsis (...) indicating that the name is incomplete. 5. A combination of two or more of the above, such as providing both items 1 and 4. Lastly, when switching from the z26 task to another one using Alt+Tab, the mouse pointer is stuck in the upper left hand corner of the screen and therefore is unusable. When switching back to the z26 task it occasionally delays for about a second and blinks on the screen for a fraction of a second and then disappears/crashes. Thanks in advance Good catch with laser blast. It's not fixed yet. I posted 3.02 which does fix the alt-Tab issue. At some point I'll do *something* with the long filenames. Probably not this week though... Thanks for the feedback! John
  14. With any form of PC hardware you absolutely *NEED* a lot of options in whatever emulator you're messing around with. You need to be able to accommodate all the differences in hardware, screen sizes, sound capabilities, and most importantly, Controller configurations! You need be able to handle Joysticks, adapters, keypads, paddles, race controllers, trackballs, keyboards, mice, gamepads, AND MORE! And every hardware setup will not appeal to everyone, so you need a good common default that works all around. Once you've spent the 5 seemingly required "introductory" hours getting your emulated console set up to your preferences, you shouldn't have to dick around with menu options. You can just select your game and go! Done and done. As far as z26 being lightweight compared to stella being overweight, this is a non issue. Especially on today's hardware. It's not like that either emulator needs to be distro'd on a DVD like an o/s! As far as "immediacy" goes, I see no difference between stella and z26. They take the exact same number of clicks and mouse movements to get a game going. Exactly. 1- open the emu 2- click/scroll/type you're way to the game 3- select it and start it 4- hit the virtual reset switch and play begins. how is z26 more immediate??? Perhaps it looks more old-school-terminally, like a tele-type terminal? More "DOSSY" ?? IDK, I'd rather have an emu that works and is tested prior to being released. Actually, z26 can get into a game - back out and into the GUI way faster than Stella. Way. That's where the immediacy comes from. That's where the *feeling* comes from. I've always crowd-sourced testing. Always. There is no way I can test 10,000 rom images. You are the first person ever to complain. That doesn't bother me much because actually, you are being one of the most helpful. I appreciate it. Anyway, either today or tomorrow I'll release version 3.02. As far as I can tell, it fixes all reported problems except laser blast and meltdown. It even fixes pole position. Thanks to everybody for the feedback so far. I will give more detailed responses to some of the suggestions for new features over time. I'm not ignoring you. It would be great if after 3.02 comes out we can start a new list of broken games and games with bad graphics. Thanks a lot! John
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