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Everything posted by raindog

  1. I assume by now everyone's heard of this... http://www.polygon.com/2016/7/14/12193472/mini-nes-classic-edition-faq-nintendo After skipping the Colecovision and Intellivision ones last year (shocking to even me) because I have no more tube displays in my home except my still-working Vectrex, the inclusion of HDMI in this one appeals to me. Is anyone aware of any other plug'n'plays with HDMI outputs, or am I just gonna have to duct tape my Raspberry Pi to my USB repro Atari stick?
  2. Fixed the Wikipedia article... in addition to being unsourced, I really don't think a reference to software obfuscation should be one of the two historical points offered for hardware obfuscation. The article as a whole could use some help, but it probably requires a hardware greybeard, not a software one.
  3. Sure do wish IPB had a "notify only on replies from the original poster" option. Loving DINTAR's work, but I just couldn't care less about what Tod Frye did almost 35 years ago.
  4. As the guy who made what's now called PMA, I have zero problem with people considering my hack to be less accurate than the others that have been made in the 16 years since I made it. Atari did all the work and I just had the clever-at-the-time idea of hacking another game into a plausible Pac-Man, but it's been long since surpassed. I also don't suffer from reading comprehension deficiency, so I understood what you meant
  5. I can only answer #3, but I do own an original Odyssey which my parents bought in '72 or early '73. The overlays are plastic transparencies, and came in (I think) 19 and 25" sizes. No such thing as a 36" television in those days, so you might be stuck getting some repros made at a UPS store or something.
  6. Yes, anything is possible if you just use the power of make-believe.
  7. Reality check... two of my hacks have been among the more popular cartridges in the AtariAge store over the last 15 years, but even combined, the "profit", by which I mean my gross revenue, amounted to well under $1000, putting my hourly rate for hacking far below minimum wage (if I'd taken cash, but for the majority of it I took AA store credit to pay it forward). Actual "profit", as in net income, was well below zero, and people writing games from scratch will spend far more time at it and thus come out further in the hole. But I didn't do my hacks or demos for profit and neither do most Atari 2600 coders. We're doing it for fun, and hiring a lawyer to negotiate a contract isn't fun... trust me. If you're putting together business plans for your VCS projects, you're doing it wrong. Really, really wrong. I assume that's why companies like Ebivision no longer exist today. It doesn't matter how underserved a market is if it's too small to cover expenses. That's why most of us would rather ask forgiveness than permission. What kind of damages could they get? They send a C&D, another demake goes away (unless you're smart enough to release your source so that others might continue it in a non-infringing way) and that's the end of it. Even if you jumped through all the hoops, all you've achieved is working for a company for below minimum wage. If I have to beg someone for something before I start a project, I'm going to either work around them or not do the project. I'm not going to change Pac-Man into a fish or Mario into a raccoon or come up with yet another Flappy Bird/Man Goes Down or whatever. I'm going to sit it out. As soon as hobbyists start treating the hobby like a business, I get disenchanted. This is why I find the current state of Atari homebrew, and threads like this, so dismaying. You are not going to get rich or even make any significant money at all. So just GPL your damn code already and stop pretending your hobby is your job.
  8. Deleted my own reply, for contributing to the problem I myself was complaining about.
  9. Deleted my own reply, for contributing to the problem I myself was complaining about.
  10. Just another example of how AtariAge forums are the opposite of [stella].
  11. Yeah, that was the one. I've certainly used more capable macro assemblers in the 30 years (sigh...) since, but I didn't realize at the time how high of a bar CBM was setting, especially considering how slow and primitive their stock BASIC was.
  12. That's strange, I got a macro assembler on my C64 in about 1984. Kind of primitive, but (apart from when I've done hand-assembly) I've never used an assembler that didn't have macros.
  13. Q*Bert strikes me as strange too, given that they just renewed several of their trademarks in July but I can't remember a Q*Bert product being produced (even as a plug-n-play or mobile app) since the late '90s. Maybe they were planning on doing something for the 30th anniversary and it got away from them... but no, it's not a project I'd start either, with a trademark renewed so recently. Edit: I forgot that Q*Bert appeared in Wreck-it Ralph, and (at least in wikireality) will be appearing in another movie next year. It seems Sony owns the character these days, and Sony is indeed very aggressive.
  14. I'm sorry to have to differ, theloon, but I never sought distribution rights from Namco (or Atari, for that matter) for my Pac-Man hack which has been, by far, my most successful 2600 project. Not taking risks, whether that risk is of rightsholders coming after you or of a large amount of your time making a game that squeezes everything out of the 2600 and does something technical that genuinely hasn't been done before, means you're just one in a sea of unremarkable 2600 homebrews. Using something like batari BASIC makes your game even less notable because, frankly, it requires less effort. That's fine if you're in the "scratching your own itch" category, but not if you're looking for either attention or money in exchange for your time and effort. But those in one camp rarely understand those in the other two, so your opinion isn't surprising. Putting a known name on it makes it more notable. That can be good if, as with the ever-improving Pac-man clones, you've improved over your predecessors. But it can be bad if you make the modern equivalent of ET. To seek permission is to seek denial. Even if you change the name and graphics (c.f. PR) you're still risking aggressive rightsholders coming after you, so you might as well do what your heart tells you. Just keep in mind that if you approach rightsholders, you're on their radar from the beginning if they decide to say no. I certainly didn't. If not having the title will damage your passion for the project, use the title or cancel the project. It's the only way to keep more anonymous, me-too games from appearing now that bB has enabled everyone with a half-assed idea to implement it.
  15. And for those seeking attention, being "intellectually lazy" beats being obscure. You appear to fall squarely into the "scratching your own itch" category, and that's okay, but you can't understand the other two any more than I can understand the "in it for the money" crowd. Edit: that was at DZ, not theloon who snuck in while I was typing.
  16. Two more things: 1. I love the way you've drawn the main character in the first game, in such a way that you could use a ball or missiles with the width register to draw the whole thing, leaving you both players for enemies and items. 2. The second one you've done, if I'm recognizing it correctly, is a property of the mouse house, who are historically total jerks when it comes to copyright, trademark and fan stuff.
  17. We all do homebrew (etc.) for old systems for different reasons. I did them to fix what I think was done wrong back in the day, and prove that the ol' girl was capable of more. Others make games they think were missing (I've crossed that path myself while pursuing my own latter goal). Cybearg seems like he falls into that category. One thing that's universal, though, is that unless your homebrew is absolutely technically stunning, it's going to get more attention for its name than its own merits. A game called "Mr. Green Wrecks Christmas" is not going to get the attention that his first title would get with its more obvious name. (Even with its proper name, it won't get the attention that something like a remake of a game that was very prominent and very disappointing back in the day, or a demake of something that shouldn't be possible on the 2600.) Programmers write code typically for one of three reasons: money, attention, or to scratch their own itch. Usually it's a combination of the three, though we see little enough of the "I'm doing it for money" crowd on the 2600 today that it's really obvious and appalling when it does happen. I can't speak to the second case, but in the first case, speaking as someone who grew up in a town where that particular character was all over the place because his creator lived there, it seems pretty safe. Nonetheless, as I said on the trademark thread, releasing anything to the public is a risk, a greater one when money gets involved, and a still greater one if you get coverage on news sites. It doesn't matter whose side has more merit; it matters how aggressive a legal team the owners of a particular character, title, etc. may have. I feel like I've been lucky, but what it comes down to is that Nintendo are more dickish than most about fan games, Sega and Namco less so, horror film makers still less so, and dead authors of children's books don't really seem like they care much about adaptations for 30-year-old systems. If you want to be sure your work survives, release the source with every ROM release. That's the best you can do. Only Albert can answer whether he'd be comfortable making a cartridge of a game based on a 60-year-old children's book, but if a C&D does show up, at least if your source is released, it'll be out there forever whether or not any cartridges ever get made.
  18. Here's the bottom line: regardless of what "would hold up in court" or whatever, you do what you can get away with without pissing off someone's legal department. Few of us can afford to defend a lawsuit even if our clones have different names, different level designs and entirely different graphics (see PR), and it's unlikely the EFF would choose one of us as a test case to establish precedent. So, we have this thread to tell would-be retro game developers which properties are higher-risk than others. I would have guessed Namco's higher risk than most, but 15 years later, the only threat I received turned out to be a fake one from an opportunist. Nonetheless, I go to TESS before I look at threads like this. If the trademark is expired, I don't worry about it. If someone is keeping it alive, I try to find out why before I invest time into a project I might have to cancel. Those who berate people for pulling projects because they don't think the threatening companies have a leg to stand on have largely never received a cease and desist letter and don't understand what it's like when tens of thousands of dollars of potential legal bills are staring you in the face and a low likelihood of getting them covered by the company suing you even if you win.
  19. That's my take as well, I'm afraid. Still glad I backed the first Kickstarter, but most of the covered material (like most "retro" pop culture references) is after my time. I have literally never touched a SNES or N64, know their libraries entirely through playing emulators in the last decade, and barely played my little brother's NES while I still lived at home. I did like the dawn of VGA PC gaming (id/Apogee/3D Realms/Epic/etc... Commander Keen remains a favorite) but only because I was able to play those games in the office. Yes, there are a lot of great SNES games. I was just a lot more interested in working, drinking, getting laid, and going to shows in 1991 than playing Nintendo. They make my favorite consoles now, but the golden age of videogames, for me, ended -- not began -- with the NES. I won't be renewing, but anyone 5-10 years younger than me probably should.
  20. Yeah, well, emacs on Ubuntu is way, way better than vi on the Mac. Jesus, guys, please let it go. I'm tired of 20 new messages about the most trivial details every morning, but don't want to unsubscribe because DINTAR's actual work is so great.
  21. There are so many options for emulated Pac-Man on every modern platform, it seems a shame to not acquaint yourself with the original. MAME is probably the easiest, though of course no one here can really tell you where to get the ROM images. (Then again, there have been commented disassemblies out there on the web unscathed for years, so apparently Namco's legal department isn't as heavy-handed as the big N.)
  22. Well, to be fair, people said the same about the VCS in general when Pac-Man was released. "What did you expect? It's an Atari." My Odyssey2 actually got a bit of respect when my friends were all playing "donk, donk, donk" and we had K.C. Munchkin. That's why people have gotten progressively more excited with each new and improved take on Pac-Man (and other iconic games demade on the VCS), each bit of proof that the ol' dog has more tricks left in her. The exactitude isn't to say this isn't already amazing. It's to say "wow, we all might be able to help him make the Pac-Man demake to end all Pac-Man demakes". Every detail that makes it more like the arcade (and more playable than the Atari 5200 version we all wanted until we tried those joysticks) just makes it more amazing.
  23. I used that NES trick on my VCS "Boing" demo (in the easter egg), but then, I'm one of those programmers who's also a musician. It didn't really take any extra cycles compared to any other music routine (I just had two tables, one for the lower notes in the chord, one for the higher, and used the LSB of the frame counter to choose the table), but it did double the ROM space required for the music data. That wasn't a problem, since my demo didn't do a whole lot, but in a game like this, it could be. The TIA's set of distortions make it tough because most of the notes are sharp or flat. To create in-tune intermodal frequencies by strobing AUDC[01] repeatedly during the frame might take more than the 4 or 5 evenly spaced writes most modern homebrews' kernels will allow (e.g. sacrifice a scan line where the playfield is symmetrical because there are no dots) in order to produce something that sounds like a note and not a glitchy minor second. If it does work, the resulting tone will likely sound pretty different than pure tones using the same distortion. But hey, Parker Bros. managed to get the Odyssey2 to play the Frogger theme song, so it's probably possible. I love that sound testing tool, and wish I'd had something like it 15 years ago when I still had a TV my VCS would play nicely with.
  24. Apart from slowing it down a little, I think the only thing that can really be done with that is doubling it an octave down, as the arcade one does. I don't know whether any of the available distortion patterns would allow this and still be in tune. Can't remember if I've posted to this thread before now, but if not.... congratulations, dintar816, you've blown all our minds! Think I'm overdue to find a new avatar pic at this point
  25. That does look lovely, and seems like it would be a nice approach to take. (I'd never seen it till now.) I suppose the usual bB blank scanlines are another thing that would help visually distinguish it from actual Zelda games if the OP is using that, though (as in Surround back in the day) I find them extremely distracting. Anyway, I think the OP's statement of intent to make "a demake of The Legend of Zelda" could put it in the same category as PR, since pretty much anything released after 1980 ported to the VCS is automatically a demake. But you're right, no one said anything about making carts. On the other hand, I was never under the impression sprybug was a profiteer either; it was just inevitable once it started getting good that people would start bugging him for a cart. If piders7 succeeds in making something merely as big as Atari Adventure with a Zelda-esque feel, the same thing will happen. Maybe he could call it "2D Dot Game Heroes"
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