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About ballyalley

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  1. I don't think that I've ever gotten deep into a game like I've done with the Apshai series. Possibly the closest I've come is with Miner's 2049'er sequel, "Bounty Bob Strikes Back," on the Atari 8-bit computers. After I looped Miner 2049er two or three times, I tried to perfect playing the follow-up game, but I could never get past the level called "Acid Rain," which seems impossible to me. I didn't want to cheat by looking up how to complete it, but maybe it's time to that now. Adam
  2. That's a nice collection. I like that the fantasy series use black boxes and the sci-fi series uses yellow/gold boxes. I don't think I noticed that before now. Adam
  3. In these two updates from Michael, he describes testing Bally custom chips to Allen. He also explains how his work is going on his hi-res boards. Adam ---------------------------------------- From: Michael Matte Sent: Monday, August 16, 2021 9:47 PM To: Allen S Cc: Adam T. Subject: ALLEN CUST ADR CHIPS Some time ago, my hi-res SRAM Astrocade failed. The last several days, because I was making great progress in restoring the Astrocade, I decided to try and finish this project. I'm happy to report the hi-res SRAM Astrocade is up and running great again. I tested your first of 6 custom address chips you mailed me, per our agreement, and found it to be operating perfect in both low and hi-res modes. So you know exactly what I am doing with your chips, here is my detailed test procedure. - Enter hobby room with shoes off. - Touch metal light fixture before handling motherboard or components. - Check custom address chip for bent pins. - Clean dull pins using used 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper. - Carefully install chip in socket. Use fingers to align pins if necessary. - Make sure chip is all the way down into socket. - Visually check all 40 pins for a bent pin. - Double check 40 pins for good socket connections using an ohmmeter. Note: It is possible (low risk) during installation for the tip of a pin to be bent inward and under the chip. - Use Bally schematic and MCM large data chip diagram to check all 40 pins for a good (zero ohm) connection. It takes nearly 20 minutes to perform this test. MCM Design recommendation: Perform ohmmeter check test to confirm a perfect custom chip installation. Place MCM temporary custom black finned heat sink with Si grease on top of the address chip. This chip can heat up pretty warm when running in hi-res for a long period of time. Use 6" fan to help dissipate heat radiating at address/data chips and power supply components. This cooling option might extend the lifespan of the data chips, Q1 transistor or voltage regulators, which may not have internal thermal protection. I have seen in the past, the custom address/data chips cease functioning when they got too hot, then function again when cooled down. Run the following programs to test for a crash or graphic glitches. Do power on motherboard 2 or 3 times to run all tests. Any power on issues? HI-RES MODE - Original hi-res test demo* - Watch entire multi-page demo (19 minute program) - Hi-res 12 fish (magic writes) demo* - Hi-res screen RAM test (will stop running if RAM error is detected) - Test pattern variation (watch several passes) - Low-res Checkmate on a hi-res map (run a few rounds to see if it will crash) LOW-RES MODE - BalcheckHR Checkmate variation, 100 rounds nonstop (crash test only) - BalcheckHR fish demo** - Balcheck nonstop test ** (will stop running if RAM error is detected) * Run at least 60 minutes ** Run at least 30 minutes Label chip as an address chip and include MCM low and hi-res status assessments (GOOD or ISSUE). Bye. MCM ---------------------------------------- From: Ken Lill To: Michael Matte Sent: Saturday August 21 2021 12:43:55AM Subject: Re: Hi-Res Astrocade News here's a preliminary sketch. tell me what you think. On Tuesday, July 13, 2021, 03:06:04 PM EDT, <Michael Matte> Hi Ken. It just occurred to me that your one SRAM chip idea may work if you wanted to multi-page the low-res mode. However, in the hi-res mode, at least 4 SRAM chips are required because of the way the hi-res mode map is fed into the data chip. Four 74LS166 chips are needed to serially feed the map into the data chip via the SERIAL 0 and SERIAL 1 inputs. Each of the 4 chips has 8 lines wired to screen RAM data outputs, totaling 32 lines for the data out serial feed. I still would like to see a sketch of your idea. Once I see your idea in my head, I might be able to use a variation of the idea. A new idea I have is to feed the output of IC6 in DWG3, which senses when all 4 RAS lines are high for the video scan feed, through an inverter and then to the four 74LS245 enable pins, which should disable the 4 chips from the 4 video data buses during the video scan. Then feed the DATEN line to a decoder to direct the appropriate video data bus for the Z80 screen RAM read or the magic OR, XOR function read. This idea is similar to the 74LS253 application in the hi-res DRAM scheme. I might have to tweak this idea. Anyway, this is an idea I will definitely experiment with. Bye. MCM ---------------------------------------- From: Michael Matte Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2021 2:04 AM To: Ken Lill Cc: Adam T. Subject: Re: Hi-Res Astrocade News Thanks for taking the time to consider, then create a more simplistic SRAM scheme for the custom chip's hi-res mode and for emailing me your documented schematic. I can see you spent a good amount of time documenting your idea, emailing me a pro – grade schematic. It looks like the Z80 would be able to write to or read from your hi-res SRAM scheme. However, the scheme is not compatible with the custom chip hi-res video display scan (read). You should check out DWG 6, which is archived at https://ballyalley.com/documentation/hi-res_packages/hi-res_packages.html Scroll down near the bottom to view DWGs 1 thru 6. DWG 6 shows the entire video display scanning scheme with an overview commentary. There are also some DWG 6 comments just before DWG 1. The commentary will also point you to a doc with an in depth description of the custom address/data chip operation in low or hi-res modes, including the hi-res video display scan. The Nutting Manual system description also provides some info. I could hook up my Kingst LA and save a hi-res sampling that would show the video scan wave forms. I could run my short "Z80 Halt" program, so all you'll see on the sampling are the wave forms related to the hi-res video scan. This program will halt the Z80 so it will just execute NOPs. The Z80 will not write to or read from the screen RAM when halted. Apparently, the video scan also doubles as a DRAM row address refresh, so you probably wouldn't even see an independent refresh attempt in the sampling. I think, if I emailed the saved sampling file, you would be able to view it. Let me know if you would like me to email you a sampling of the custom chip's hi-res video display scanning. My failed hi-res SRAM Astrocade is now up and running great again. This is the Astrocade with the hi-res 128KB, 8 page multi-pager. I now have 2 working modified for hi-res motherboards with a 28 pin dual in line ribbon cable socket mounted on the bottom front of the motherboard. My hi-res DRAM Astrocade utilizes a 24 pin socket. I have begun work on my final hi-res Astrocade which will have 3 add under boards along with a provision for a 4th board. There will be a sliding horizontal rack for boards 2, 3 and 4. I'm utilizing a customized 7 x 8.5" quick connect breadboard first for board 1, so I can make quick changes to run various tests. The breadboard 1 will only have the screen SRAM and its interfacing. I am expecting to have this board running in low-res within a week. I have come up with a really cool building block wiring procedure. This should really help me isolate any incompatibility issues with my newly modified for hi-res motherboard, which appears to have a Z80 screen RAM read issue with my SRAM scheme as documented on the Bally Alley. I have 3 reasons to further investigate the Perkin's hi-res interface, which is also documented on the Bally Alley. I broke down the Perkin's interface schematic into 3 schematics so the interfacing scheme is easier to read. My quick connect breadboard 1 will be used to further my Perkin's investigation and run "Perkin tests". My DWG 5, as documented on the Bally Alley, is set up for a manual low or hi-res selection. A low/hi-res software selectable scheme will require additional chips. My now running low/hi-res SRAM Astrocade is software selectable and works great. In this case, the low/hi-res mode indicator latch is wired on the load side of the multi-pager data buffer. I ran an experiment and wired the D0 bit latch on the line side of the multi-pager 74LS245 data buffer, which was directly connected to the Z80 data D0 line. This simple change creates a black screen power on issue. I mentioned this issue to you previously and you recommended adding a pull-up resistor to this flip-flop latch input connection. I wanted to let you know I have not yet tested your recommendation, but plan to test the recommendation during my breadboard 1 project. I have also bread boarded and tested a simplified 4KB low-res only SRAM scheme that can plug into either of my two 28 pin modified for hi-res motherboards. This scheme works great. The low-res scheme was really created to be used as a diagnostic tool should my hi-res SRAM Astrocade fail in the future. This diagnostic low-res board should help determine if a failure is on the modified motherboard or on the low/hi-res SRAM board. Since there doesn't seem to be much of a hi-res interest within the Astrocade community, I'm debating whether I should spend time recording a video series on my YouTube channel that highlights the building progress of my final hi-res Astrocade. If I do record the video series, watch for a video of this low-res only board running with the modified for hi-res motherboard. I'm sending Adam a copy of this email because of his interest in MCM Design projects. Bye. MCM ----------------------------------------- I have just one more hi-res update from Michael to catch-up on and post here. Adam
  4. During the first week of August, Michael fixed a hard-to-find issue with an Astrocade board that he was repairing. Here are the two email that he sent to Allen and me about it. Adam ---------------------------------------- From: Michael Matte Sent: Thursday, August 5, 2021 6:53 PM To: Allen S. Cc: Adam T. Subject: Allen BD1 Man, I've been experiencing Astrocade motherboard failures lately. My Allen BD1 had a failure recently. The board powered on with a black screen and the Z80 Check program wouldn't execute. I thought maybe I killed the Z80 when I was using this board to test my new Remote Z80 diagnostic board. Turns out there was no negated 7M clock. This clock was not present at the Kludge board pin 1. Since the regular 7M clock was ok, I knew the crystal and transistor Q2 were ok. I never worked in this area of the motherboard before this failure. - Found a way to remove all that RF shielding surrounding the Kludge board area. - Desoldered the Kludge board. - Desoldered U16. - Soldered in the two 8 and 16 pin pc sockets you gave me. These were really nice sockets in that they had metal contacts on their bottoms to help make contact with the top motherboard solder pads. Do you remember where you purchased these sockets? - Installed new SN75361AP and 74S74 chips. - Soldered in a new crystal since the original was very old. The motherboard works great again. Yippy! Now there are only 3 chips on this board with no sockets. Nice! I plan to use this board as a low-res test board and also as my final "modified for hi-res" motherboard. It's a dual-purpose board. Cool! Bye. MCM ---------------------------------------- From: Michael Matte Sent: Thursday, August 5, 2021 6:58 PM To: Adam T. Subject: Second Modified For Hi-Res Motherboard. Good news! My second modified for hi-res motherboard is up and running perfect in low-res. This board killed 2 custom address chips. Man, I hate losing a custom chip to a failure. That sucks. Bye. MCM ---------------------------------------- It seems that Michael has really improved his skills troubleshooting nearly ten of Allen's most troublesome-to-repair Astrocade motherboards. Adam
  5. Michael saw this post yesterday and sent me some additional comments about it. Adam ---------------------------------------- From: Michael Matte Sent: Tuesday, September 14, 2021 2:11 PM To: Adam T. Subject: RE: Posted Hi-Res Astrocade Updates: July 21 and 30 Here are 4 photos of the remote Z80 CPU wire wrapped prototype board mentioned in the emails below. Allen now owns this cool diagnostic tool. I do have plans to add this tool to my current BalcheckHR board scheme. I would like to make this upgraded BalcheckHR board available as a professional grade PC board for any Astrocade enthusiast who is interested in using the board's various diagnostic programs to troubleshoot an Astrocade motherboard. I also plan to demonstrate the board's diagnostic programs on my you tube channel. The HR suffix stands for Hi-Res. The 8KB BalcheckHR package does include 2 hi-res diagnostic programs. There are 3 additional low-res diagnostic programs that are included with a multi-carted EEPROM. Browse the Balcheck section on the Bally Alley website for more info. My plan is to work on the above projects after my final hi-res Astrocade project is completed. Bye. MCM ---------------------------------------- Great pictures, Michael! Adam
  6. Cosmic Raider was one of the last Astrocade releases. It came out in 1983. Adam
  7. From time to time, I make a search for the Macintosh version of "The Temple of Apshai Trilogy." My previous searches have always come up fruitless, or, at least, with non-working copies. I just did a search and came up with a site that claims to have an archive of the game in zipped a2r and StuffIt format: https://www.macintoshrepository.org/32357-temple-of-apshai-trilogy I thought that a2r files were for the Apple II, but perhaps the format has opened up to other platforms. I have no way to test these files. Is there someone here who can use it on a real classic-era Macintosh or somehow emulate a vintage Macintosh? Adam
  8. This Data Driven Gamer blog site is full of Apshai information. Thanks for the link. I've browsed one Apsahi article and then I realized that the TRS-80 version of these other Dunjonquest games are covered in detail (some in multiple parts): Dunjonquest: Temple of Apshai [P1] [P2] [P3] Dunjonquest: The Datestones of Ryn Dunjonquest: Morloc's Tower Dunjonquest: Hellfire Warrior [P1] [P2] [P3] Dunjonquest: Upper Reaches of Apshai The Keys of Acheron I'll read these over the next few weeks; these are meaty articles and there are new maps in them. I played the TRS-80 Temple of Apshai game under emulation several years ago. I was surprised about its slow drawing speed, but I guess all of the BASIC versions of Apshai are slow. That's one reason I like playing the Trilogy better: it's faster, plus it's turn-based. I wonder why "Ahab" doesn't try some of the other versions of the games. Adam
  9. Here are two email messages that Michael Matte sent on July 21 and July 30, 2021. These are related to his BalcheckHR breadboard hardware diagnostic tool. More information about that hardware is available here: https://ballyalley.com/emulation/cart_images/cart_images.html#BalCheckHRAstrocadeROMImage https://ballyalley.com/documentation/BallyCheck/BallyCheck.html#BalcheckHRUserManual https://ballyalley.com/documentation/BallyCheck/BallyCheck.html#BalcheckHRUserManualScans The following two email exchanges that Michael Matte had with Allen and me, is about working on an astrocade motherboard that fails. He designates this board as BD7. Whenever Michael refers to "you" or "your," he is referring to Allen. Michael talks about how he substitutes a Z80 that is not connected to the Astrocade motherboard and yet it allows it to run on the Astrocade motherboard. This uses hardware that is Michael's own design. He does not plan to create it for others, even though he has been offered the opportunity to, perhaps, have this is design placed on a professional-grade PCB. These two pieces of email give a behind-the-scene look at the process that Michael uses to diagnose a regular astrocade (a non-hi-res console) using a tool he originally designed for his hires unit. Adam ---------------------------------------- From: Michael Matte Sent: Wednesday, July 21, 2021 9:33 PM To: Allen S. and Adam T. Subject: ALLEN BD7 I installed a Z80 and 74LS367 in my upgraded BalcheckHR breadboard. This breadboard was shown on my first YouTube video. I checked all the applicable wiring on the breadboard and wiring to my connected working motherboard. My remote Z80 substitution idea works. I used my logic probe to confirm the motherboard Z80 was tri-stated off. I connected the breadboard to your failed Allen BD7, which will crash about 8 seconds after the menu powers on. Your board is now working great, when operated by the Z80 that's on my BalcheckHR board. How about that? The Z80 WAS acting up. The logic probe pulsing at the Custom Address RAS0 output line is now pulsing normally. My suspicion was correct about this irregularity when I compared my working motherboard with your failed motherboard. I'm finding out that my logic probe is becoming a very powerful diagnostic tool. I'm going to let you replace the Z80 because you have the proper tool and the skills for replacing such a big chip. I have an address chip that runs perfect in low-res, but has an issue in hi-res. I would like permission to test your address chip in ALLEN BD7 to see if it runs perfect in hi-res. If yes, I would like to swap address chips. I would of course test the swapped chip in your board thoroughly to make sure it runs perfect in low-res. I would also like to confirm both of those address chips you shipped me run perfect in low and hi-res before I ship your Astrocade back to you. If not, would you be willing to swap/ship me another one of your spare address chips? I'm thinking of having Ken create a pro grade PC board for my new upgraded BalcheckHR board scheme, which includes the new remote Z80 diagnostic option. Ken said he would be willing to create some pro grade PC boards for me. How does he work that? Would I have to install the components? Surely there would be some other Astrocade technical enthusiasts that would be willing to purchase such a board. That is so cool. If there is a functioning Z80 on a motherboard that is suspicious, it is not necessary to desolder and substitute a new Z80 to determine if the suspicion is correct. There is now a new and simple Z80 test diagnostic option. Just connect my new upgraded BalcheckHR board and flip a dip switch to tri-state off the motherboard Z80. Bye. MCM ---------------------------------------- From: Michael Matte Sent: Friday, July 30, 2021 1:00 AM To: Allen S. and Adam T. Subject: Remote Z80 Diagnostic Board I finished hard wiring my new remote Z80 diagnostic prototype board. I'm testing it now. It's performing great, better than the breadboard, which had longer wiring and quick connect contact points. The hardest part of using this Z80 test board is remembering to press the reset button on the remote Z80 board instead of the Astrocade motherboard. This remote Z80 scheme was a cool idea! I'm likely going to someday hard wire this remote Z80 scheme together with the BalcheckHR scheme on one board so the remote Z80 can also run the 4 EEPROM diagnostic programs. Maybe Ken could create some pro grade pc boards. I also have a plan to build a multi-cart cartridge with 4 diagnostic programs. The intent of this diagnostic cartridge is to help you and I reduce the number of chips that are desoldered by guessing where a failure is. I'm planning to mail Allen BD7 back to you this coming Mon Aug 2. I want to document my new prototype board, including photos and also photo copy some documentation for you. This remote Z80 should save you time and grief. It's real easy to use. Just connect it to the motherboard and power on. There's no switches on the board. Your cost is to swap two of my custom address chips that run great in low-res, but not in hi-res with some of your spare address chips. You ship me some custom address chips so I can test them in low and hi-res. When I find 2 of your address chips that run perfect in low and hi-res, then you're paid in full. Any chips that you mail me that don't work perfect in low and hi-res will be mailed back to you. That's the deal. OK? Allen BD7 is working perfect using the remote Z80. Something is not quite right with the motherboard Z80. I ran the BalcheckHR Checkmate variation and the Fish Demo on BD7. They ran perfect. The Checkmate variation has no pizza break and will run 100 rounds nonstop. The Fish Demo is a very good test for motherboard perfection because it moves 10 fish around the screen using magic XOR graphic writes and has an elapsed time counter. Bye. MCM ---------------------------------------- The next two email messages that I will be posting here are both from August 5. I hope that people enjoy reading about how Astrocade motherboards can be diagnosed using software designed by Michael. Every time an astrocade motherboard is saved from the dustbin, I get a warm feeling inside me. Adam
  10. After carefully browsing through my email, I see that I have nine updates about Michael Matte's various hi-res Astrocade projects. I will try to post all of these updates in the next few days. Adam ---------------------------------------- From: Michael Matte Sent: Monday, July 12, 2021 7:36 PM To: Adam, Ken and Lance Subject: Hi-Res Astrocade News I wanted to inform you guys (Ken, Adam and Lance) that I modified my third motherboard for low/hi-res operation. This motherboard has only 3 chips that are not in sockets. Two of those 3 chips are not even needed for my low/hi-res scheme and can be removed from the motherboard. To my surprise, there is some kind of incompatibility when connecting this modified board with my low/hi-res wire wrapped SRAM board. There is a Z80 screen RAM read issue, which seems to be related to the 74LS138 decoding scheme. This issue has been difficult and time-consuming trying to resolve it on a wire wrapped board. Since I was planning to build a quick connect breadboard for experimentation with my third (final) hi-res Astrocade, I have decided to try to resolve the read issue on the breadboard. This makes more sense to use a breadboard to investigate this incompatibility. A breadboard will also reduce setup time when using my logic analyzer to view logic wave forms during the experimentation process. I also have a new idea for decoding the direction and enable pins for the four 74LS245 Z80 screen RAM write/read chips, which I would like to experiment with. Hopefully, I'll be able to resolve the read issue. I also found out that I have a custom address chip that runs great in low-res, but has a hi-res mode issue. This chip was tested on my working hi-res DRAM Astrocade and my logic analyzer. The chip outputs extra, undesirable active-high RAS0 and RAS1 pulses. This is the second address chip I've seen that operates perfectly in low-res, but not in hi-res. I might modify a fourth motherboard for hi-res as a backup board and have also around 9 sets of custom address/data chips, all which could be utilized to check for compatibility. Bye. MCM ---------------------------------------- Ken Lill replied to Michael with some advice: ---------------------------------------- To: Michael Matte From: Ken Sent: Monday July 12 2021 9:10:47PM Subject: Hi-Res Astrocade News Upon reviewing your DWG 5 I think that you can reduce the chip count by approximately 4-6. Using the A12-A14 addresses on the IC8 and tieing the data enables there, you'll only need one 245 and one 62256. ou may need a latch per 16 bit bus drawn here, I think. This may also help syncing all of those lines. The input data is all the same, so only one 8 bit buss is needed there. The outputs will coincide with IC12. If you want to consider this and have questions, either email me or we can make arraingments to talk on the phone, your discretion. Ken P.S. remember, the less circuitry you have, the less problems you typically will have! ------- From: Michael Matte Sent: Tuesday, July 13, 2021 11:56 AM Subject: RE: Hi-Res Astrocade News Thank you so much taking the time to email your feedback. I already experimentally determined the IC10 and IC3 gates in DWG 5 are not required along with the series 47 ohm DATEN resistor in DWG 3, which I removed. I would like to experiment with your suggestion for the hi-res screen SRAM option with NO multi-pager. I admit a fresh new look at the scheme is in order. Quick experimentation is the major reason I want to use my quick connect bread board (with a condensed area lay out) idea instead of wire wrapping a scheme. Could you possibly USPS mail me some kind of sketch to help me understand your recommendation described below? Your idea intrigues me. I used the larger SRAM package for screen RAM to keep the chip type identical with my multi-carted user SRAM scheme, which I am setting up for compatibility with optional user applications using specific EPROMSs or EEPROMs. However, for the final compatibility tested screen SRAM scheme, I could switch to the narrower package. With regard to a professional grade low/hi-res screen RAM pc board, how do you install (solder in) chips on your boards and how do you feel about installing pc sockets? Bye. MCM ---------------------------------------- Michael's next update that I will post is from July 21. I'll try to post that tomorrow. Adam
  11. Thanks for the thoughtful comments here. I like to see people who wander into this thread who are either playing the game for the first time or revisiting. It looks like you have prior experience with the game. Is that right? I have been waiting to reply to this post because I wanted to play the TRS-80 version of the Temple of Apshai to check a few things, but it's obvious to me now that I'm not going to do that anytime soon. Rather than keep my reply on the back burner and never getting to it, I thought that I would throw in my comments now. Part of the beauty of the Apshai games is the vagueness. I didn't used to feel this way when I was playing the game back in the 1980s. Back then, I wanted stats. I wanted numbers. I wanted power ups. I wanted more equipment to buy. I wanted to know when I leveled up. Upon revisiting the game, I still wanted all that extra baggage. The simplicity of the game came to me when I was playing the first edition rules of AD&D a couple of years ago. Normally, back in the 1980s, I was dungeon master. This time, during our extended adventure, I was a player. I had forgotten how much of the rule-set is meant to only be known by the dungeon master. The Temple of Apshai games tend to keep it that way. There is an air of mystery. You pick up boots. What do they do? You don't know. You pick up a Skull Ring and put it on. Nothing happens. What does it do? You don't know. That is the way of the early role-playing games and Apshai games molds themselves after that system. Having said that I admire this "unknowingness" about the Apshai games, I'm going to do an about-face and say that keeping secrets from the player in the world of tabletop role-playing games works pretty well because the dungeon master is able to fill in gaps and give explanations that an early CRPG cannot possibly do for the player. For instance, the DM might say to the player who places the Skull Ring on his character's finger, "You're not sure, but you do feel a bit different." This is a clue that perhaps the DM can fill in as the game progresses over the course of an hour or two or even over the course of weeks. You mentioned the centipedes and give an explanation of which level and room they are found in the game. I suppose I must have asked about this in an earlier post in this thread, perhaps many years ago. If that is so, then I have forgotten. I would try to speak to the monsters when I first played the game. It does work on some of them. Rather than attacking you, they let you pass by them. Unless I'm down to my last few hit points, then I don't bother with this method of gameplay. After all, a friendly Antman and a nasty Antman are worth the same amount of experience points. How many experience points? I have no idea! Thank you for filling in the details about how the magic system works for swords. I was not aware of this fact until now. I guess I always have a sword when I play the game. What happens if the player doesn't have one in their possession? You credit Ahab at Data Driven Gamer with this information about the sword magic. Could you please link to this information please? I would say that in The Temple of Apshai Trilogy, experience certainly influences combat. There are some creatures, I think, that can't be hit if you are a low level character. Don't ask me about the details here, because, as I've mentioned here before, I mostly attack the creatures using either arrows or magic arrows. Someday, maybe a group of people will fully document the Apshai games. In the meantime, much of the game will remain a mystery. Adam
  12. Michael Matte posted his newest hi-res Astrocade demo today. It is called "MCM Design's Modified Hi-Res Astrocades Part 3 - The Hi-Res Multipage Test Demo." Michael uploaded this video in 720p. You might have to manually select this resolution. Other than Michael, this is the first time anyone has ever seen an Astrocade run with a hi-res screen RAM multi-pager. This multi-pager flips 8 hi-res pages of screen RAM. It is not a multiple ROM to RAM, ROM to RAM flipper. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMtG7cg4mcg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMtG7cg4mcg Here is Michael's full description of the demo (available to read on YouTube). ---------------------------------------- MCM Design's modified for hi-res SRAM Astrocade has 128KB of static screen RAM for use with an onboard hi-res 8 page multi-pager. An 8KB program was created to test the multi-pager, then execute a hi-res Fish Demo. Below is a listing of the 8 pages indicating what graphics appear on each page. Page Hi-Res Graphics 0 text introduction with 17 lines of custom 7 x 9 pixel text 1 narrow vertical stripes on a split screen 2 end view of aquarium plus 15 magic write variations 3 narrow horizontal stripes on a split screen 4 10 color textured test pattern 5 narrow vertical plus horizontal stripes on a split screen 6 title page with custom enlarged text characters 7 custom screenshot variation of the game Gunfight 0:00 BEGIN EXECUTION OF THE HI-RES MULTIPAGE TEST DEMO The text introduction will be displayed nearly 60 seconds allowing ample time to read the custom hi-res text characters written by an Astrocade computer. The test demo writes 7 hi-res pages of graphics to pages 2 thru 7 while the page 0 text intro is displayed. Several passes of the 8 page flipping will execute next. The speed of page flipping will increase with each pass. Each page flip produces an audio output. 3:34 CRITTER MOVES AROUND ERASING GRAPHICS IN ALL 8 PAGES After the page flipping, you will see a critter moving around and erasing graphics in all of the 8 pages. The 98 byte program that is executed to move the critter actually resides in the bottom of page 7. This program calls subroutines within the cassette cartridge ROM. Audio comments are included during the motion of the critter. 7:38 HI-RES FISH DEMO After the critter finishes erasing graphics in the last page, which is the custom Gunfight screenshot, the hi-res Fish Demo is executed for 2 minutes, followed by a loop back to the page 0 intro text. 9:39 EXECUTION OF THE MULTIPAGE TEST DEMO WITH NO MULTI-PAGER HARDWARE If no multi-pager hardware is present, the multipage test demo will execute in the following manner. All of the 8 page graphics will be visible but QUICKLY written ending in the final page Gunfight screenshot. The screenshot colors will very with each audio output. The color variation and audio output occurrence will increase over time. A crash will likely occur at the end of the color/audio output variation or there will be a loop back to the quick 8 page graphics write. 12:31 MOVE CRITTER AROUND 3 PAGES (SCENES) USING A HAND CONTROLLER Final Comments When a page is flipped, there are no issues with any graphic pixels. However, there are 2 what could be described as video display disturbances. The first occasional disturbance appears as a momentary long, but narrow white streak, typically on the right side of the screen RAM area and seems to be prominent in the page 7 Gunfight screenshot. It has been determined that this disturbance is related to the changing of colors. This disturbance is also seen when the test demo is executed with NO multi-pager hardware (see video clip at 9:39). This explanation was confirmed when the program was revised to use only 1 color table for all 8 pages. When only 1 color table was used, the noted disturbance was not present. The second occasional disturbance cannot be described with words, but is easily visible. Perhaps this particular disturbance is related to a TV graphics display appearing abnormally fast. Normally, the TV display data in the screen RAM area has to be cleared, then the appropriate graphics has to written to screen RAM. MCM Design also tried running faster chips, but this second disturbance would still occur occasionally. End Of Description Sept 2021 ---------------------------------------- Here is my reply to Michael that I sent to him today after I watched his this newest video: I just watched part 3 of your demo called "MCM Design's Modified Hi-Res Astrocades Part 3 - The Hi-Res Multipage Test Demo." Here are my comments: - You did a great job describing the program in the text. - I like your voice-over explanation; it helped me understand and follow along with your text explanation. - I watched the movie in 720p, which I changed to manually. It looks great. - I like the explosion sound effect that happens between page transitions. Once the transitions speed-up it really adds atmosphere to the video. - The last part of the demo, where the creature flips back and forth between the three screens adds plenty of potential for an 8-page, highly detailed, graphic adventure. - One idea, if you can manage it, would be to create an animation of a full-screen, eight-cell animation. I'll post this video link to the discussion group and AtariAge today or tomorrow. Great work! Adam
  13. Thanks for the link. The Atari++ emulator seems to be geared toward Unix-based systems, however there does seems to be a pre-compiled binary of Windows 32-bit systems. I'll give it a try over the weekend. Adam
  14. Nope, that doesn't work for me either. I'm afraid that both the Google and AtariAge search engine is ignoring the ++ (even when I put it in quotes, like this "Atari++"). I just get results for Atari, which basically gives me infinite posts. Could someone please provide a few specific links related to Atari++ to get me started? Or maybe just an explanation: what is Atari++. Adam
  15. I watched your video and this looks to be what I'm trying to do: print to a file. What format is the PRT file? I looked up "Atari++" using Google. Um. I couldn't find anything about it. Is it an emulator? In this video, the emulator seems to be running on an ST. Is that right? I have next-to-no skills with that platform. Somehow, I thought that printing to a dot-matrix printer would be a simple task. Alas, I fear it is not that simple. Adam
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