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potatohead last won the day on April 26 2013

potatohead had the most liked content!

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About potatohead

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    Portland, Oregon
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    If it has bits, I'm up for it!

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  1. The machines we keep tell all. I would have my originals but a ton of stuff was stolen during a rushed, forced move. Fortunately, prices were good, so I just replaced them. Well, I did upgrade the //e to a Platinum. Did that mostly for the keyboard and longer potential service life. I actually use my Apple monthly for writing and some little projects here and there. I just like having something old that will do a respectable 80 columns. Looking at the FujiNet work though... I may have to break out the XL. That is seriously cool! My PC's all got donated, and I had some really great ones due to what I did for work. Higher end Intergraph machines mostly. Was fun to load up Win 98 on those and give them away to people in need. Fastest Win 98 machines they would ever see, lol. There isn't a single one I would have kept. The Atari, if nothing else, gets kept for the occasional game of Star Raiders. That was the first, "Oh wow" game for me, and it's fun to play still. I like the slowdowns on the original ROM too.
  2. I did not get a PC, until 1991. Well, I had one briefly, about a month, but it was on loan for a program someone wanted me to write. Otherwise, I was happy computing and BBSing on an Apple //e, gaming an an Atari 800XL, and programming various things in 256 artifact color (mostly fractals and game ideas, sounds) on a CoCo3. At work I had been using PC machines off and on and had started writing a program to help manufacturers and engineers process precision sheet metal parts. On a drive home, I happened to swing into a thrifty store and they had an Amstrad XT machine for $20! It had a 20MB hard card too! It met the minimum specs for that same CAD system, given an 8087 processor, which a family member had and gave to me. They were moving up to a 386, so the 8087 was a freebie. Perfect! Aaaaaaand it sucked! CGA, 640K, 8Mhz CPU, hard card, mouse, monitor, floppy drive. I added another one and a three button mouse and was set! It was super slow for CAD. But, it was a nice upgrade for BBSing. Full color ANSI was nice and that same year I got a dialup Internet account to get on the net proper. For Usenet, I liked the Apple better. The nice sharp text and excellent keyboard made a better experience, but I digress. That PC was enough to run CAD and I got a lot of coding done at home, and could sell it properly because I was no longer mooching a work computer. Being super slow actually helped! Normally on a 386 AT class machine, the program ran fast. On that Amstrad, I could see it draw line by line, which helped me to optimize the program and debug easier. Was killer actually. So long as you didn't want to make a real model with any respectable detail. Got it all done and sold a ton of copies. The program was fast! Those funded a 386/25. Mooched Win 3.1.1, winsock and got online with a browser the moment I could run one. That 386 had 5Mb of RAM! One on the mobo, 4 more on some card. It was cheap too. Project computer I got for a couple hundred bucks. Many "requires 8 Mb" programs would run with 5Mb. Poorly, but I was fine with that. Used the 386 to write a bunch of Gcode for my former employer and some friends and have funded every other computer I have ever used right through today by doing some serious hobby computing to get more or better machines. So yeah, the moment I had to get a PC, it was complete shit, and was only a 20 spot! The 90s for me were just as fun as the 80's. I kept using 8 bit machines for various things, mainly communication and some writing, while I got some PC'S and ended up with a job involving high end SGI computers! Got those the same way I did my first PC. Saw a screaming deal and went for it, doing project to upgrade along the way. Sometime around 2008, I ditched all of it, going laptop for pro use, 8 bits for fun, and embedded little micros for more projects and fun. Been a nice ride. I still have my 800XL, an old 400 because they look really cool, Apple Platinum (upgraded when my other one got stolen), CoCo 3, and nosc consoles. The high end unix gear was replaced with a nice scope, electronics, 3d printer and various micros and little systems built around them. I live applying things I learned in 8 bit land to microcontrollers today. Still kind of hate PCs. But I fund the fun stuff with them, so there you go.
  3. Sure glad it got one! One Xmas morning, a good friend (now passed away) called me up and said he got this Atari 400 computer thing... Sparked what was going to be a lot of damn good times. We played it often, one person on keyboard, one on joystick. Amazeballs for the time!
  4. WOW!! I somehow missed this one. Great production!
  5. Top few keyboards: The ones SGI shipped. There is a smaller version too. Typed A LOT on these. Love 'em. I do write on my //e regularly. Platinum. It's a great keyboard. Have known it since I was a kid. IBM clicky keyboards, various models.
  6. Mine begins with a "fast" 300 baud, upgraded from 110 the year prior, acoustic coupler. I was in middle school, and listening to the sounds lit my mind on fire! Hearing the bits made a big impression. It made me think about radio and how far away stations were like bright stars in an evening sky. Here there were wires, but those sounds could travel in many ways. Somewhere there was a big timeshare computer giving me a little of its potential. Basically, magic. And I knew then I was going there. Did not know how, but I did not care, and I thought about all this and what it might mean for many bus rides, my mind filling with crazy visions of a world where this magic gets performed regularly. Soon, I had an Apple computer in my bedroom next to a souped up 48k Atari 400 with better keyboard installed. This was a bog standard Hayes. My Atari lacked the serial needed, but the Apple had it on a card. So, I started BBS'ing on that machine. Later, I got an internet account as part of my work. I used other people's gear too. This was my first real Internet connection. All mine, and paid for too! I got started with an Amstrad PC with CGA graphics and some hard card installed. The PC was a POS, but it had 640k RAM, two floppy drives in addition to a 10MB hard card. YUGE! But slow and ugly graphically. 16 color text was spiffy and made early dial into a UNIX shell account fun to do. I used Procom to dial up and get online. This was all pre web. A short time after that, I got some really cool 9600 baud modem that needed special lines at the ISP to work. They had a couple, which freed two lines for the handful of us at 9600 and above. USENET at 9600 was amazing! And that speed made pulling games off ftp.funet.fi viable too. My ISP also offered disk transfer offline. You asked for a larger storage quota, fetched it onto the UNIX machines there, then a person could swing by to talk shop and get data copied onto a variety of supported devices. I loved that and used it a time or two. Fun. This went on for a while into 1990. In 91, I got online proper using a PPP connection. First real session with no shell and such needed. I was online with my own POS PC. I used the apple very little now. Was good for conversation and email, but that was was it. Did some side gigs on that Amstrad and scored some crap 386 PC with 5Mb RAM. Loaded Win 3.11, winsock and got it online, dialup at 14.4. I do not remember the name of that cheap ass, cpu munching modem, but it worked well enough. USENET continued to be my go to, but I was also exploring lots of stuff. When I could get a browser, 14.4 started to be painful and so I stepped up to a killer external 56k modem. US Robotics. The Amstrad and 9600 baud machine went to someone going to school, and I got better PC machines, build your own style. I used the crap out of that 56k, until DSL. More magic! Suddenly, I could push 100kbytes / second out of my home and get close to a Megabyte coming in. I continued to dial up on the road for quite some time, close to the 00's. Used Juno free and a laptop from Micron featuring a built in 56k CPU munchery, but that laptop was fast enough running win 98 to avoid most worries. Today, I do not have a modem of any kind.
  7. That is how it starts. You can go back and watch older ones and see progress and how the art changes over time too. IMHO, the demo scene is something more people might enjoy given some intro and context. We have a fledgling one in the US now, but the real scene has always been EU centric. I like to watch every party. I manage a lot of them and then catch up as time permits. It is fun to see the various effects, occasional new hardware exploit, and clever ways of presenting the art. Even the clunky old CGA PC saw some NTSC artifact action recently. (8088 MPH) Another favorite is the wild category. People get various gear to do cool stuff, like driving vector displays off a VGA port, or thrashing little micros well beyond expected performance. Check out TITAN and their recent work on the Mega Drive. Nuts good. The cool thing is all the old machines have seen some love. Rivalries are ever present, but not too big of a deal. It can be all about doing that thing not doable (until it is) on "that other computer" as much as it can be pushing it on a favorite one. Have fun! You have decades of killer productions to enjoy. Pace yourself.
  8. That's ok. Bigger productions are nice to experience. These demos are pretty great. Always nice to see A8 productions. Killer art in all of these. I actually liked the unsolved one more than I thought I would.
  9. Emkay, let's see something nice, and simple. Breakout, software sprite for paddle, ball. Moving consistently, frame by frame. Each row of bricks 6 or more colors, bonus points for each column seeing six or more colors too. I won't respond to advocacy for that DLI heavy mode again, until I see something in motion. Edit: And I'm asking, because back in the day, when I had an Atari and an Apple, I tinkered with various schemes. When one uses the CPU to dynamically alter the display, that is normally associated with a VBLANK routine to sort what may need to happen, cycles consumed during screen, the screen DMA, and RAM Refresh. All those tend to add up. Here's the thing: Memory back then was basically a couple Mhz. An Apple will fetch, either 40 or 80 bytes per line, without stalling the CPU. That 1mhz clock allows for a simple sharing scheme. Top half of cycle on CPU, bottom half on refresh / video display. Ataris run faster, but do interrupt the CPU for refresh and graphics access. And, BTW, true to the colors = memory cycles required per line, an Apple can do a 16 color display at 140x192, when it's fetching those 80 bytes. Due to how it's clocked and constructed, that happens with no cycle mooching from the CPU. Still a full 1Mhz. But, the trade-off made there was more screen complexity. An unaccelerated Apple can't do much motion on that 16K graphics screen. The 4Mhz ones can, and it's spiffy, but that's wandering way off topic too. Point being: If an Atari is displaying more colors, it's either at a lower resolution (GTIA), or more CPU time will be consumed somehow during graphics display. There is no getting around all of that. This is true again because colors = memory cycles required per line period. One can buffer them, C64 bad line style, or simply mooch them every line, or make two memory busses Apple style, or run with a bit faster RAM, Color Computer 3 style. (That one can actually do a 256 color artifact display without slowing the CPU. Super spiffy, and basically unused, which was sad. But, maybe someone will one day. See my blog for some sample images produced by Jason Law when the two of us were seeking to demonstrate this to the CoCo community some years back.) This particular game is blasting a lot of pixels for animation. That Mechner got it at 1Mhz on an Apple with the frame rate he did is impressive. And one look at the draw code, which is published today, shows it was non trivial. All the cycles are needed. Big sprites in motion are the most taxing thing on 8 bitters that lack sprite systems capable of big objects. All that masking, draw order sorting, etc... simply has to get done, or there is flicker, or the frame rate goes way down. If this display scheme is not too crazy, then a simple, software sprite production should not be difficult, and should leave ample CPU free too. So, let's see it. If what you say is true, maybe there are cycles enough for a PoP type production. Nobody knows. It's real work to find out. So do some, A soft sprite Breakout game, with a reasonable color set, and good motion will tell the tale nicely enough without being a super serious amount of work. And you have been asked this by others. The reason is simple: That real work could be put toward completing a nice PoP port, or it could be put into a dynamic screen display scheme that may or may not (likely not) result in enough cycles left to do the nice PoP port. Our OP wants to complete a nice PoP port, not invest in a dynamic display scheme that is more likely not to lead to a nice PoP port. This is entirely understandable and reasonable. Otherwise, the lack of productions very strongly suggests there simply will be an Achilles Heel in there somewhere. I have my suspicions, but prefer proof be in some pudding. Let's see it. Start a thread. I'll even make sure my Atari is warmed up, and out of storage to evaluate it all too. I stand eager to do that. Now, like I said, I won't respond again. No need to pollute this thread. Honestly, I would strongly advise anyone not to respond, until you put some real skin in the game. Breakout. It's not hard. We all can code it.
  10. BTW, while we wait for great home brewers to do their thing, I've been watching this project: https://www.facebook.com/LawlessLegends/ They made a mini-game, which I played through. Excellent. I'm linking it to show off the killer artifact art. I think LL is very close. Playtesting going on. Fingers crossed. Now, there are two we can look forward to in the future. I am gonna have to score a 128K Atari...
  11. That's basically correct. It all comes down to the way the Apple and Atari generate their color signals. Both computers used a fixed color phase, not alternating and they did per scan line timing so that all the artifacts stay consistent. It was all about avoiding the dot crawl, or shimmer that can be seen on high contrast visuals. Text and computer graphics definitely qualify. Minimizing color fringing artifacts is also why the Atari defaults for text are White on Blue. It's also why text fonts are done with two pixels everywhere possible. The Apple ones are single line, and are a total mess when the color is on. That difference probably boils down to the Apple targeting composite monitors, which were mostly monochrome, and the Atari targeting a TV. In Atari terms, ANTIC E has one pixel per cycle of the color signal. One pixel can be any color, almost entirely artifact free. All the color info is there for the pixel. The Apple artifact colors line up the same way, because it's the same color cycle. The only real difference is 7 pixels per byte (which made things a huge mess regarding color and sprites), and at 40 bytes per line, results in 140 pixels, not 160 like the Atari. And the screen widths show the difference. Apples have a more narrow active graphics window due to that 7 pixels per byte arrangement. On an Apple, even and odd bytes artifact differently too. Pre-shifted sprites either need to account for that difference, or the draw routine needs to handle it. On an Atari, every byte artifacts the same, because 8 bits is even, and 7 bits is odd. I am pretty sure, and should check again this weekend, that means toggling the high bit differently based on byte being even or odd to see the intended color. Because of all that, color positioning is half the resolution = 140 pixels / line. And the PoP internals reflect that. The Apple screen draw routines use a lookup table to get all the Y screen positions. That is due to the crazy memory map. It's linear per line, otherwise, the lines have a more complicated start address. And there are even holes in the screen. Bytes are in the screen memory page, which is fixed, and are not displayed. Woz could save a chip and did, which is why all that is true. This crazy mapping can be seen when a high-resolution image is loaded from disk. One can see the bands of addressing play out as the entire screen fills in narrow horizontal bands. I'm only dropping that info here to highlight how bad ass Mechner was to have produced this title on a 128K Apple. I very strongly agree. It's not much, but will totally make the game pop. Seems like a reasonable expectation too. The other obvious choice is pretty grim, which is to hold a color for the prince and enemies, which would compromise the pretty great playfield art. Anyway, cool beans. Have fun. I am eager to see the final outcome.
  12. Just heard about this. NICE WORK! Love the art. So far, that first level looks spiffy! Re: Use feature [x] because [y] You know the drill rensoup. Even if it's just 4 color for the play area, the art looks really good. It will be fun to play. So, your baseline kicks some ass. Love it. Do what you can / will do. When it's done, and it will be kicking ass at that point, because it has to. Nothing to compare it to. ...when it's at that stage, all those "use feature [x] because [y]" discussions and their advocates have every opportunity to hack away. You know, offer up something to compare to. I like this game. It's fun, and it's historic. Made an impact. Will be good to see it on an Atari machine. Sidebar: Interestingly, 6 colors is enough to do pretty much anything. For the last couple, few years I've been taking a break from Atari 8 bitters, and (love them, and it's just how interests ebb and flow) have been having fun with an Apple //e Platinum. Way back in the day, as a kid, these two machines were basically my roots. We had the Apples at school, and I had an Atari at home. Later on, got an Apple //e at home. Got my first start at 6502 assembly language on an Apple, and later improved on it considerably on my Atari with MAC/65, cartridge version. Today, I have a couple young ones who are going to get that Apple school experience. Should be fun. Then some "Star Raiders" Also fun, but I'm way off topic now. Artifact color is a strange and interesting beast. The Apple could do 6 colors on it's high-res screen, because of artifacts and that high bit pixel shift option. Probably, that is why the Apple version of this game uses byte boundaries. It only made sense. That's where the color boundaries are. In my opinion, the Apple gets a little more help on this game from how it works in two ways. One is there being no screen DMA. That 1Mhz is a full 1Mhz. No interrupts, no refresh, nothing. Good thing too, because the complicated graphics screen was a PITA to make fast. Despite the low clock, Apples are pretty quick, due to the CPU being uninterrupted. And the other bit of help comes from how artifact color differs from, say ANTIC mode E. If we ignore the 6 color vs 4 color deal, the truth is an artifact color pixel can be half the size of an ANTIC mode E pixel. On the Atari, this can be seen in mode F, by setting the background to 0, and plotting a couple white pixels at even and odd screen locations. What people end up seeing is a red or blue (ish) pixel there. Two of them together will form something that looks a lot like a mode E pixel, but on many TV sets, not quite the same. Those vertical bars can appear, and that's where the actual pixels are, with the circuits of the TV or monitor sort of filling in the rest. In terms of effective resolution, there isn't any real difference. There are only so many X positions a given color object can have on either system. But, when it comes to art, patterns and such, the Apple and it's pretty crude TV signal, could stretch those 6 colors pretty far using patterns, and how many TV sets tend to handle color. It can look like a lot more colors, and it can look like it has a bit more detail than it actually has in terms of gameplay, motion, and all that good stuff. Being able to get a "half pixel" is part of what I mean here, and that can be seen in the Apple PoP art all over the place. I am writing this to communicate the basic difficulty of this port. I'm not writing it to say "X is better because" It's the little things! PoP benefits from all the little things on the Apple and it shows. Another place this happens to show up is the ULTIMA series of games, which put the artifact color and ability to make "pseudo detailed" art to damn good use on the Apple. That goofy 6 color screen is enough to do anything. A 4 color screen just isn't quite the same. And that makes things harder. Nice work man. I like what I see, particularly the playfield art.
  13. For me, it ebbs and flows. Atari machines are the least interesting to me right now. I did a ton of stuff I wanted to do. Some other stuff I wanted to do favored a different machine, and that was the CoCo 3. Right now, and for a little while now, I've been into the Apple //e and have a GS ROM 1 or 0, can't remember right now, sitting there waiting. One day, I'll get off my ass and get a keyboard / mouse for it and have some fun on that 65816, which I've always wanted to program some on. The thing is, someone, somewhere will do something interesting on an Atari, and I'll get it out and have some fun. Or, things will circle back around, and there will be something I want to do that favors a CoCo again... Or, maybe I finally snag a C128. One time, early on, I got rid of gear when that happened. Never again. Got it back before things got out of hand. Whew! I've never collected. I do get enough gear to do stuff I want to do and play some games. That's kind of a "reference" system that can run most things people might create. I really love playing, or otherwise interacting with others retro creations. I will say, now is the time if you want a couple good CRTs. I got a PVM and love it. Amazing how some pro grade circuits make these older machines look so damn good. Most of us were missing out man! I should have gotten one sooner. Well, maybe not. They were a lot of money. But, yeah. If you have any CRT love, now is the time. Score a good one or two. Enjoy the tech. Nothing beats glowing phosphors in a tube. (says this while watching big ass plasma TV) Old games are great on CRTs and that makes sense as that was what they were created on / for. Same goes for a lot of SD programming. The art direction, and lots of little stuff shines on a good to pro grade quality CRT. It's pretty amazing to look at older DVD productions on a CRT intended to display them. I probably won't give that up, until some time from now when the CRTs die and it's super hard to get them going again. Maybe that won't happen for a long time. TL;DR: Yeah. It's happened. No biggie.
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