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Everything posted by RetroElectroDad

  1. I have all four on disk and only The Eidolon is in the hard plastic case. My Activision Koronis Rift is in a soft plastic case similar to RoF and Ballblazer. Pictured on Instagram:- http://instagram.com/p/XvaFq7Fxz1/
  2. I've not played that game before - very interesting and will have to give it a try. It sounds like kind of a forerunner of Rome: Total War!
  3. I’m a compulsive collector / hoarder and I hadn’t made an inventory until now for this post. Many of the computers and consoles have expansions / add-ons for CF/SD mass storage and mini software collections. Computers often have disk drives etc. so there’s lots of extra equipment lying around. Most come from eBay over the last 13 years of active collecting if I’ve not had them since new. I think it was all kicked off when I wanted to buy an Atari VCS because I’d not been able to have one as a kid - it was kind of a gateway drug that led me on to basically wanting anything I’d ever seen a magazine advert for back in the day. These days I just tend to get a machine out once in a while for a session and take a picture for Instagram or sit and gaze at the machines and boxes when I'm supposed to be working! I’d say the TI-99/4a was my first real programming platform, though I moved on to the Atari XL to be able to (cost effectively) learn to program in assembly language as I was jealous of other machine’s being able to PEEK and POKE. I’d say the TI (especially with Extended BASIC) was great to learn on initially because it didn’t use those hardware access instructions and made you concentrate on program structure and efficiency. I did have the ZX81 before the TI, but only typed programs in from magazines and quickly moved on for colour and sound. The list of computers and consoles is below (all UK PAL unless stated), except for the handhelds. I think I may have a problem and have just prevented myself from compulsively buying a CoCo 2 on eBay. Computers: TI-99/4a PAL silver (x2) and a beige NTSC with PEB Atari - 400, 800, 1200XL NTSC, 600XL, 800XL x 3, 65XE, 130XE, 520STE x 2, 1040 STFM, Falcon 030 Commodore - VIC-20, 64 (x2), 64C, SX-64, Amiga 500, Amiga 500 plus, Amiga 4000. Sinclair - ZX81 (x2), Spectrum 48K (x2), Spectrum+, Spectrum 128, Spectrum +2A, Sinclair QL Acorn - Atom, Electron, BBC Model B (x2), Archimedes 3010 (x2) Apple - IIe (x2), Mac LC, Mac LCIII, Powerbook G4, iMac 17” (2006), iMac 27” (2010), MacBook Pro 15” (2006) Tangerine - Oric 16K, Oric Atoms Sord M5 EACA Colour Genie Memotech MTX512 Mattel Aquarius Sharp MZ-711 MSX - Yamaha CX5M (x2), Toshiba HX-10 (x2) Philips NMS8250 MSX2 Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer Tatung Einstein Dragon 32 Amstrad CPC 6128 Sam Coupe Consoles: Atari VCS (x3), 2600Jr, 7800 Nintendo NES (x2), SNES (PAL and NTSC), 64 (x2), Game Cube (Japan and UK), Wii (x2), Wii U Sega Master System I and II, Mega Drive (Japan and UK), Mega Drive II (with Mega CD), Saturn (Japan and UK x2 ), Dreamcast (x2) Sony PlayStation, PS2, PS2 Slim, PS3 60GB, PS3 Slim, PS4 Microsoft XBox, Crystal XBox, XBox 360 (original version), Xbox 360 (black) Neo Geo CD NEC TurboGrafx and PC Engine Turbo Duo Amstrad GX4000 Philips G7000 (Odyssey II) and CDi-210 Fairchild Channel F (Grandstand) Intellivision Colecovision Acetronic MPU1000 (x2) Winthronics Academy (Pong clone) 3DO
  4. I think if I was dis-regarding personal memories and trying to be objective, I'd have to champion Star Raiders as the definitive Atari game. Bearing in mind it's an 8K ROM and in the first wave of releases for the computers it really is a great achievement in game programming and use of the resources of a new platform - fast, colour, first-person view space combat in 1979! The thing is, a screenshot doesn't do Star Raiders justice as the graphics look dated when not moving and it's only when played that the game shows it's calibre and you get that real Atari 'feel'. There's the wonderful maybe one second pause just before you exit hyperspace when you hope you've managed to steer the ship to the correct destination and you're maybe just about to enter a dogfight and you can really feel the tension. Then there's the desperate attempt to escape to save your damaged ship with failing systems using a blind hyperspace jump that could take you anywhere. All this wrapped up in a frantic race against time to save the galaxy Any game that inspired both Archer Maclean and Jeff Minter deserves a place in the all-time all-platforms hall of fame.
  5. As a Retrobate and subscriber, it's great to hear of more Atari coverage coming up in Retro Gamer! I was a lonely UK Atari owner up in the North East looking on with envy at the other areas that had Atari specialist shops as I could only get new titles by mail order. I wrote a short article for retrogamescollector.com here: http://www.retrogamescollector.com/atari-8bit-memories/ about growing up owning an Atari computer in the UK. Not that I think they're necessarily the best games, just personal favourites because of where I was at the time and associated memories.... Alternate Reality: The Dungeon Played this one through a number of times with many late, late nights. Incredibly involving with great replay value. Boulderdash Became a compulsive completion with a perfect difficulty curve. Star Raiders My first Atari game coming with my new computer and really convinced me I'd made the correct platform choice in moving on from my TI-99/4a. Mercenary Many hours lost to exploring the 3D world of Targ in a flying block of cheese. Zork The last pick is always the most difficult as there are so many more I'd like to have in the list but I loved the Zork trilogy and they really got me into text adventures. If you pushed me for more - Koronis Rift For me, the best of the early Lucasfilm games that started life on the Atari. Fort Apocalypse Synapse at their best. Necromancer Synapse still at their best - frantic action where each level builds on how well you did in the previous. Rainbow Walker Those Synapse guys just couldn't stop releasing top quality games! Dropzone What hasn't already been said about this masterpiece. Bounty Bob Strikes Back For me, the game Manic Miner wishes it could have been. Drelbs Weird and wonderful. M.U.L.E The best four-player game until Bomberman arrived. Trev
  6. The games I lost most late night hours to would be these, from most to least accessible:- Alternate Reality - The Dungeon (probably The City too but for some reason I never got around to playing that one) Ultima III and IV Wizard's Crown and The Eternal Dagger (very hard core with a strategic battle system) I'd find it very hard to pick a favourite. I still have on my wish list to play (but I never seem to have enough time to devote):- Temple of Apshai Questron Phantasie
  7. Sorry for the delay, I've only just installed the keyboard and it's working fine. Yes, it was one of those keyboards but I thought I'd take the risk with no other option to hand. Like mimo mentioned, I found the '4' key was loose, fell out in transit and bounced out on use but after a while it seems to have stuck. I can see there may be a problem though. All in all, I'm happy with it as I now have a fully working 800, all keys work and I've kept the keycaps off the old keyboard just in case.
  8. Instagram - retroelectrodad

  9. On it's way to me from eBay (http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=4&pub=5574883395&toolid=10001&campid=5336500554&customid=&mpre=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fitm%2F321109903565%3FssPageName%3DSTRK%3AMEWNX%3AIT%26_trksid%3Dp3984.m1439.l2649) a 600XL with 1064 memory expansion. Comes with a 1010 tape drive (no PSU), Alley Cat cassette and four carts - Centipede, Miner 2049er, Boulders & Bombs and Blue Max. I don't think the price is too bad at £50. I really need the 600XL - I got my childhood machine out to take a picture for Instagram (retroelectrodad on there) and it's giving me a black screen on powering. I'm planning on using this working 600XL to help identify the problem with a bit of chip swapping. If I can't repair then I can always put the working motherboard in my old unit - I love the keyboard and it's in pristine condition. Also just received a new 800 keyboard through eBay from B&C to deal with the broken spacebar on my 800. This has been an ongoing project as when it arrived it had a faulty ROM board and one faulty 16K RAM board (also replaced via eBay from B&C), hopefully it will now be fully functional. Now if I could only fix the 810.....
  10. An superb blog - it's bookmarked for me now. I read the MULE article and have found a few Zork articles to follow. Thanks for sharing!
  11. I had two TI-99s that I hadn't used for a long while that had the same problem when I started them up. Corrupt characters and then eventually the computer would hang. Luckily I had two F18As waiting to be installed so I thought I'd at least use one to practice the installation and lo and behold installing the F18A corrected the issue and I had a working TI. Seems it was the VDP chip in my case.
  12. Not XB I'm afraid, but I posted a link to the WAVs of Atlantis in the "Raising Atlantis" thread:- https://dl.dropbox.com/u/45563934/Atlantis.zip
  13. I finally got around to checking my 1200XL's serial number - seems quite a high one! 83S DA 79646 143 - somehow made it to the UK and then to me through eBay, has S-Video, 256K RAM and built-in APE port
  14. Successfully installed F18A in a TI with a faulty VDP. Only lasting effect is a sticky cartridge port cover.

  15. Some progress... the zip file contains my Classic99 DSK1 directory containing:- ATLANTIS - the original side A file ATDATA - transferred side B data as a single file ATLDISK - the side A code with the file open command changed to read the new disk file in DSK1 ATXFER - the program I used to take the cassette data and create the disk file Now, running the new disk version in Classic99 I get a memory full error at line 39, on a real TI it's at line 28. Now to try to work out how to save some memory! DSK1.zip
  16. Aha! I was expecting the middle 13 records with 2 values to result in 26 files. Thanks for pointing that out! May not need to locate my cassette cable after all.
  17. That's what I had. The problem is that from my reading of the code there are 76 items of data so the split doesn't quite marry-up. That's why I thought the way to go would be to create a version of the code to read the data from cassette and write to a single disk file using the real hardware (and my CF7+), then change the Atlantis code to read the new disk file and deal with any memory issues should there be any.
  18. As a British TI99'er I felt I should buy that copy of Atlantis and try to move it along. I'd hoped to get a chance to work on transferring it to disk over the weekend but failed (ended up with a large number of individual TIFILEs from side B) so I thought I'd post the wavs for both sides and see if anybody else can transfer it faster than I can, which is very likely! https://dl.dropbox.com/u/45563934/Atlantis.zip If nobody gets around to it, I'll certainly be giving it a try - it looks to me like I'll need to find my cassette cable and use modified side A code to read the data from side B and transfer it to a disk file. That probably sits behind modding my PAL modulator for composite in my todo list right now. Trev
  19. I scanned the manual today - quite low-res at 75dpi but I hope it's OK.... https://dl.dropbox.com/u/45563934/TI%20Speech%20Editor.pdf
  20. Typing those C&VG programs into my TI was my programming education. Not that the games were well coded, more that fixing the typos and bugs was an excellent start in learning to program. I don't recall a single listing from that magazine being correct. Happy times!
  21. I'd give the advantage to the TI sprite system against Atari's PMG in straightforward use for the types of game being released when they competed against each other. The PMG are lower resolution, narrower, more expensive memory-wise in normal use and there are fewer of them. However, I do think that PMG has advantages in some areas - the larger areas of colour when scaled up can act as an underlay to the playfield graphics and soft-sprites in front of them, it's easy to create large vertical overlays such as cockpit struts for a flight sim, screen area borders that you don't need to redraw when scrolling etc. The real power comes when you combine PMG with the Display List and in particular the Display List Interrupt. This lets you change anything about the graphics - mode, colours, character set, scrolling offsets, with scan-line accuracy and without having to count the scan lines in a kernel as you would need to in the 2600. If you wish, and I think some early 2600 conversions did, you could write to the player register directly in a DLI or kernel without memory access and change the player hardware bytes, colours or enable/disable them on each scanline but the computer hardware was engineered to make this unnecessary. For PMG players using DLIs you can shift a single player around, changing position and/or colour of the player stripe on different mode lines down the screen so that it bahaves like a number of sprites. If you consider something like Miner 2049er then it's likely that in some if not most levels all of the enemies are made from a single player stripe chopped around and colour-changed. For demo purposes, you could split the player on each mode line and combine the missiles into a 5th player to give you 5 players x 24 player splits = 120 apparent sprites if you only want horizontal movement. Not very useful or practical I know put possible.
  22. I went with the mini-customised Spectra2 in the data bank with the untouched library in my main bank 0. I'm trying to keep all of the bulk data separate which is why, although my code doesn't need a multi-bank setup, I decided to start with two banks and see how it goes. For managing the routines in different banks, I'm trying out a branch table just after the cartridge header in each bank that stores branch instructions to the routines in that bank. Then I branch to the routines indirectly through the table branch instructions. I copy the branch table labels into an include file for other banks when a new routine is added. If I need to change anything I don't need to recompile the other banks unless there's an addition to the branch table for a new routine as the table labels are frozen. I'm thinking that I can then remove the branch table by moving the labels to the actual routines when it's all stable at some later time. Spectra2 has really saved me so much effort and it's letting me concentrate on getting used to the TMS9900 coming from a 6502 mainly. I've only found one issue to now - in the YX2PX / YX2PXX routine I was getting X pixels a little offset to the character positions and found that I needed to clear TMP1 for it work correctly. I added the line in the Spectra2 library:- YX2PX MOV @WYX,TMP0 YX2PXX MOV R11,TMP2 ; Save return address SWPB TMP0 ; Y<->X< CLR TMP1 ; Clear ready for shift MOVB TMP0,TMP1 ; Copy X to TMP1 ... ... Really I find at the moment that every time I try to add something I break something so progress is slow but without the runtime library I'd be nowhere. Thanks again retroclouds!
  23. Hi spookt I have a copy of the Atari Cassette Enhancer, bought from new many years ago now, but there's no further information than the cassette inlay. The only instruction is on how to load it and an overview of the functions without any detail at all - I'm usually very careful with my software and keep everything but having searched I can't find anything more. I can't believe that the instructions in the inlay could be everything though as they're nearly useless and I do have what may be a false memory of a folded A4 sheet with instructions so I'd like to know if you do find more info.
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