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daniel3302

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About daniel3302

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  1. Seeing the list of attendees, I would have liked to come out and see everyone, but personal obligations preclude that. Please send my regards to the other BSRs Daniel
  2. It was 35 years ago, so my memories are a bit fuzzy, but I do not remember ever using the KC for game development. As I recall, we had a double row of cubicles (4x2) with a PDP-11 at the end of the row serving the 8 programmers (or maybe it was 3x2 and only 6 programmers). I only remember using the video terminal and the MC with the "magus board". Two side memories just jostled by that description of our work environment - 1) I remember Ray Kaestner worked on the other side of the cubical wall from me, i.e. we were on the same row of cubes. Presumably, this is why the Loco-Motion machine showed up at the end of our row one day (as Ray was originally to be assigned that game - I was working on a LUCKI game at the time). Well, it was the proximity of that distraction that led to my instant addiction which led to my inspiration that led to my demonstration that led to me being assigned to Loco-Motion! 2) The other game distraction of mine was Hack ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hack_(video_game) ) which was played on the PDP-11 via the video terminal and keyboard (not KC). I remember that Mark Kennedy also played and once made the comment that the keyboard was pressure-sensitive and the harder you pounded on the appropriate key, the stronger your hit against whatever monster you were fighting would be. Of course he was pulling my leg, but at the time, he said it so earnestly and so dead pan, that I just wanted to believe him! Anyway, you should be able to see that my implementation of Tower of Mystery was strongly influenced by my addiction to Hack!
  3. I am pretty certain that the ToM double t-card contained the EEPROMs I burned as the doors were closing and they were hustling us out of the building (well, figuratively, but it was the last week). intvnut dumped the t-cards and told me that it is a unique version compared to existing rom dumps.
  4. I have just shipped my supply of Mattel memorabilia away to the National Videogame Museum. I hope you all get to enjoy it there. Included were: 1 T-card Loco-Motion 2 T-card Thunder Castle 3 T-card Royal Dealer 4 T-card Tower of Mystery (2-card set, final ME version) 5 EE-PROM set Tower of Mystery (11/12 proms) 6 Double T-card Y-adapter (may need repair) 7 Powered Double T-card Y-adapter/power supply 8 Blue Whale development cartridge 9 Blue Whale serial communications adapter 10 Loco-Motion Development notes and BSR reviews 11 Tower of Mystery Development notes 12 Mattel Electronics Personnel communications 13 Mr. Sound Usage Document 14 Loco-Motion Game completion Award plaque
  5. Here are the official documents I saved from my time at ME. Starting off with my Annual Performance review: Clearly this was after Loco-Motion was complete, and I was busy finishing up Mr. Sound, and the nature of my second game (which was to be Tower of Mystery) had not yet been determined. Later that year, after much lobbying from Keith, Don, and others, and also due to brain drain to other game companies, Mattel finally put together an incentive program. The details were presented to us here: A few weeks later we had to sign release waivers, cause that what corporate lawyers are for. But even with that, there were more rounds of layoffs, morale fell through the floor, and those who were left were looking to leave on their own terms, rather than wait for the next round of RIFs. As a last-ditch effort to keep the core of talent that remained, additional incentives were added to keep the remaining staff. To no avail. The end was coming anyway. Note the irony of the date of this last notice, compared to the date of my next annual review as noted on the first document! Thanks for letting me share an all-too-brief period that brings me much joy in its remembrance.
  6. I can't tell you how many brilliantly creative new ideas I have had, ... only to discover that it wasn't so new.
  7. As a consolation prize, I am offering, gratis, a screen resolution scan of the notes to all unsuccessful bidders on these auctions, to be sent by e-mail. Daniel
  8. I hope a bit of self-promotion is not considered too gauche: eBay Auction -- Item Number: 263608715754 and eBay Auction -- Item Number: 263608716610 Curious why this second link does not seem to work. Here it is directly: https://www.ebay.com/itm/263608716610?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1558.l2649
  9. My latest additions to my Gallery are some design notes from ToM that reference one of my other innovations. As you may know, the Exec provides programmers with a grand total of 147 bytes of RAM for all of your game's state storage. Now, if you handle your own interrupts and object motion, you can also grab some of the 16-bit memory dedicated to the moving objects, but that still is a pretty tight squeeze for any kind of complicated game. Now ToM had a lot of binary state to keep track of, with whether the player was affected by magic items. You can see in ToM-flags3 a matrix of magic items, many of which would change character state for either a time period or while the item was in use. For example, small potion 2, Fire Resistance, would set the flag POT.Asbes[tos], and similarly the Ring of Fire Resistance would (while worn) set the flag RG.Asbes[tos]. This meant I needed a lot of bits for all these flags. I grabbed them out of the background graphics RAM (BackTab). BackTab was located in the 16-bit RAM chip, but the video processor would only read and use the lower 14 bits. The upper 2 bits were don't-cares as far as the video was concerned. So, why let 2bits x 12 x 20 entries = 480 bits go to waste? I wrote macros and code to store and read bit-addressable state flags, as well as code to protect these bits when re-drawing the screen (e.g. when going down stairs between levels). So you can see in the other two scans some of the accumulated logic between all of the different magic item effects and the global state flags, as well as a piece of code to perform the logical accumulation.
  10. Yes, this is one feature I was particularly proud of, and was quite disappointed when I saw that John T had taken it out of the Tower of Doom released version. Recognizing that playing through a single game could take a very long time, I wanted to put in some kind of game save/game restore feature, something unheard of in the videogame technology of the time, as there was no non-volatile RAM available on either the cartridge or the console. My scheme was to output the current game stats (as shown in the first four lines) plus encoded values for the item in your hand, the game type (difficulty, etc) and the initial random seed. Finally, a checksum value that tied all these data together. The player would be responsible for recording these values on non-volatile media (paper and pencil). To resume the game, the player could enter the values for the saved game. The Password (checksum) would prevent "cheating" by modifying stats (setting your strength to 18 say) or trying to "create" a killer character. Also, only the item in hand could be saved - the pack in a resumed game would be empty.
  11. On to Tower of Mystery memorabilia. Just uploaded to my gallery are the room maps in ToM. Each tower level was created randomly by first selecting a matrix of (I believe it was 5 vertical by 3 wide) of room connections, starting with the room with the stairs to the level above. Each room could have, or not have, a connection on the West, East, North, and South walls (referenced as bits 1, 2, 4, 8 ) thus giving 15 possible configurations. Once the matrix of connection configurations was made, one of the 8 pre-designed rooms for each configuration was selected. In this way, a fully connected semi-random level would be created. By using a pre-set random seed, the exact same "random" level could be created if one returned to a previously explored level, without having to actually save any configuration information in the 147 bytes of RAM available to use in the Exec. If you look carefully at these room maps, you will notice a few that have the shapes "D" and "B", and pair that when connected shows "dhb" Yes, I was a subversive. There is also an "M" (sideways) that could connect too the sideways "B". That was for fellow BSR Mark Buchignani, who helped me design the rooms and play test the game.
  12. So I found a folder with design notes from Loco-Motion as well as the internal game reviews done by fellow BSRs. I have scanned in a sampling in my gallery.
  13. So I see Steve Roney's mildewed, rusty, broken notebook listed (and with already 2 bids on it!) on ebay, and I can relate with my own process of döstädning and my experiences of selling junk out of the basement. When my wife asks me why anyone would want to buy that crap, I remind her of her dear departed father's story. My father-in-law, of blessed memory, in his second career was a dealer in used, rare, and out-of-print books. He would get his inventory from people who were downsizing and he would buy their whole libraries. He met a lot of people this way. He told of one house he visited, where proudly displayed on this person's wall was his collection of toilet seats. So whenever my wife asks me "Who would buy that?" I just say, "Somebody out there collects toilet seats!"
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