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Found 14 results

  1. Herman Schuurman by Klaus Lukaschek Interview taken December 2015 Herman Schuurman had a 36 years career at Texas Instruments, from November 1977 to his retirement in 2013. In March 1978 he got promoted to be Lead Programmer for the Consumer Products Group in Lubbock. The description of his work is taken from LinkedIn for that designation: Software design for advanced personal computer products. Design and implementation of Text to Speech system based on TMS5200 speech synthesizer; TI 99/4A mini memory development system; I/O section of 99/4 Home Computer; I/O section of BASIC interpreter; system software for various peripheral devices. [https://www.linkedin.com/in/herman-schuurman-60584b9/] Q) What was it like to work for TI in the Consumer Products Group? It was a lot of fun. Lubbock is a relatively small community (around 180,000 when I lived there), so we had a tight-knit team there that also got together outside of work. Lubbock itself is desert-like – dry heat in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s part of the south plains; flat as a pancake, with no hills around to speak of. The names of surrounding towns reflect this: Levelland, Plainview, Shallowater, etc… I was hired in for the Personal Computer Division in Lubbock, but I worked for the Consumer Products Group in Almelo, The Netherlands while my American work permit came through the system. In March 1978 I finally moved to Lubbock, having never actually seen the place. Q) Can you describe your relationship to TI as an employee? You almost worked your whole life there. Until recently, TI had a lot of different subdivisions. This allowed me to work from consumer to industrial systems to research, etc… Lately TI has been concentrating more on analog, so I guess it would be more difficult to stick around for your entire career and still have a variety of assignments. Q) How did it came that you left the Consumer Products Group at TI in 1981? I joined the Dallas-based group that Don Bynum originally came from, the Corporate Engineering Center. By the time I left, most of the system design was over, and the team was moving to application design. Q) Can you describe in detail your involvement with the TMS5200 speech synthesizer? The original design for the TMS5100 was done by Larry Brantingham, Paul Breedlove, Richard Wiggins, and Gene Frantz. Gene was heading up the speech group (home of the Speak & Spell) when I joined TI in Lubbock, and Larry moved to TI France (Nice) soon after. I eventually wound up in a group with Richard Wiggins when I joined the Corporate Engineering Center in Dallas. The second generation of the TMS5100, the TMS5200, was used to power the speech peripheral. My involvement with the speech synthesizer was to create the text translation and allophone stringing software in coordination with Kathy Goudie (who worked for Gene), who was responsible for creating the allophone (sound) set and the translation rules. The linked article by Sharon Crook is basically a rehash of the internal documentation on the text to speech software. Q) All TI-99 Speech Synthesizers have the door that was meant for inserting Speech modules, early units even have an interface for such modules. However no modules were released. Do you have an insight on this? Can you enlighten us with a story about how this was planned and later abonded? The speech module came with 200-odd canned speech phrases that could be used in software modules. There was a provision for phrase ROMs to be added later to expand the available vocabulary, but the introduction of the text to speech capability made that a moot point. Q) Can you describe your involvement in the TI-99/4 project? The Home Computer (99/4) project started about a year before I joined the team in Lubbock. I believe the original promotors of the project were Granville Ott and Len Donohoe. I was originally hired to work on the SR-70, a small scientific computer, but by the time I landed in Lubbock, that project had been moved to the Data Systems Group in Austin, and I was put to work on the SR-62, a small self-contained computer that shared most of its software with the Home Computer. In addition to the Home Computer stuff, the SR-62 had a small built-in monitor and a thermal printer. When the Home Computer eventually fell behind schedule, the entire SR-62 team was moved over to complete the 99/4. Since my background was in operating system design, I worked on a lot of I/O related stuff such as the audio cassette, thermal printer, etc. I also was responsible for the I/O section of the BASIC interpreter, including formatted I/O, etc... One of the more complex peripherals was the floppy drive. Bill Nale and I split that design, with Bill responsible for the hardware and the low level software, while I took the file system design and implementation. This was the only time I remember having contact with anyone from Microsoft, even though a lot of 99/4 websites seem to think that Microsoft was responsible for a lot of the software on the 99/4. We had Bob Greenberg come out once to validate the file system design (there were no design changes). Q) The TI Dimension 4 almost looks like the TI-99/4 and is from 1978/1979. Do you know anything about it? Link for Schuurman to the dimension4 atariage Thread It sure looks like an early 99/4; I don’t remember the Dimension 4 name, but it may be an early marketing name for the 99/4. It was definitely not the Z80-based version, since that looked more like a high-end stereo component, including the wooden side panels. Compared to the 99/4 it was extremely fast, since the video was memory mapped (and you had a speedy processor). Before I arrived in Lubbock, there was some work done on a native GPL chip, but by 1978 that had been replaced with an 8-bit TMS9985 based design. Unfortunately, that chip never ran correctly, so we had to eventually fit a 16-bit TMS9900 into an 8-bit design. If you like to see more info on the 9985 design debacle, check out Karl Guttag’s page at http://www.kguttag.com/2013/08/10/if-you-havent-tested-it-it-doesnt-work/. Q) Do you still have a TI-99? If yes, can you describe what you have kept. When was the last time you used it? A few years ago I gave all my 99/4a related hardware and software to Joe Zbiciak, since I hadn’t touched it for quite a while. Joe is more into legacy systems, so he had a better use for it. I kept the Panasonic monitor, but it failed a few weeks ago, so now I’m totally out of 99/4a related stuff. Q) Was your Text to Speech system reused for other Speech products from TI or other companies? Not to my knowledge. A remember Ute Marcotte was working on a German version of the text-to-speech rules/allophone set, but I don’t know if that ever made it out. Most of the later interest seemed to be in speaker independent speech recognition, which I worked on several years later in the Telecom Systems group. Q) Having some relationship with Speech, what is your opinion on Apple's Siri? Compared to the early work we did on speaker independent speech recognition, both Siri and Cortana are phenomenal. Of course the amount of CPU power and available memory space are also incomparable. I use the speech recognition on the iPhone quite a bit, and it is really good. Q) Does your name have an origin in the Netherlands or some close-by country? Can you enlighten us? I was born in the Netherlands and spend the first 24 years of my life there. I graduated from the Technische Hogeschool Twente (now known as the University of Twente) in Enschede, the Netherlands. After graduation I joined TI and moved to the USA. Although I graduated in Electrical Engineering, a lot of my background was in embedded systems and Operating Systems design/implementation, which is why I was hired by TI. Q) Do you know how it came that the command to load a program is called "OLD" on the TI? It probably came from the original Dartmouth BASIC, where OLD was used to retrieve a program from storage, and NEW to start a new program. Q) Bill Cosby was the front face for the TI-99 to the public, was it a person the employees looked up to as well? Advertising was all handled by the marketing team, but Bill Cosby was very popular in those days, both from his earlier I Spy series, and through the Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids show. In addition, the fact that he had a Doctor of Education degree didn’t hurt. Q) What was the role of Don Bynum you worked with? Don was working on a redesign of the 99/4 while in the Corporate Engineering Center in TI Dallas (the Ranger). In late 1980 he moved to Lubbock to take over the home computer group from Pete Bonfield (who moved on to become Chairman and Managing Director of ICL in England). He drove the 99/4a and peripheral box efforts, and later the 99/2 and 99/8. I never actually saw it, but he was rumored to have an old piano cabinet with the 99/4a peripheral chain taking up the entire cabinet. A few months after the introduction of the 99/4a I moved from the Lubbock team to Bynum’s old group, the Corporate Engineering Center in Dallas. Q) Was it clear from the beginning that there will be some Text to Speech software or was it some brilliant idea by an employee? I don’t know who came up with the text-to-speech idea with the speech group, and Kathy can’t remember either. I’ll check with Gene Frantz to see if he still remembers. Keep in mind that it was not a given that text-to-speech would actually work acceptably in the 9900 until we actually implemented it. Q) So we could say, that your work on the Text to Speech made the speech modules for the Speech synthesizer irrelevant, right? Yes. Q) On what scientific work was your Text to Speech software based on? Was there any linguist or phonetic scientists involved? TI already had an active speech team located in the Lubbock (one of their best known products is probably the Speak N Spell). The person I worked with, Kathy Goudie, has a Ph.D. in Linguistics, and the allophones used in the text-to-speech software were created from an extensive speech database that had already been developed within the speech team. Q) I couldn't find much information on the SR-62 and the SR-70 computers, have they ever been released? What have the specs of the SR-62 been? Since you said it should have shared its software with the 99/4, this might be interesting for our people to know. Not surprising, since these are internal designators, and neither product ultimately made it to market. The SR-62 was essentially a self-contained home computer with a built-in monitor and a thermal printer. Q) Do you know how much Microsoft or Bill Gates was involved in the TI Basic / System Rom of the 99/4? Microsoft was not involved with the 99/4 development. They (in the form of Bob Greenberg) were contracted to develop BASIC for the SR-70 (which is also sometimes referred to as the 99/7), but the BASIC for the 99/4 was developed in-house. Q) Why was the native GPL chip replaced with the TMS9985? How far was the GPL chip developed? Although it was before my arrival in Lubbock, the GPL chip was supposed to be developed for an external customer. When that customer dropped out, the GPL chip was also dropped, and was replaced by the TMS9985. Q) Accessing peripheral devices through a DSR interface allows us to connect modern devices to the TI without modifying the System Rom. Do you know who came up with the idea on this? Did TI had that before the 99/4 already? It’s been too long to remember the exact details, but it was probably worked out between Bill Nale and me. Bill would have handled the level 1 features (hardware communications, sector read/write, disk formatting), and I would have handled the file related features. Since the hardware was developed concurrently with the software, it allowed me to work on the file system code by simulating the low-level routines on a TI-990 minicomputer, using a large file on the minicomputer hard drive to simulate a floppy disk. Keep in mind that I already developed a similar system for an Intellec-80 (Intel 8080 based) system using 8” floppies as part of my thesis. Q) How did you feel when you heard that TI will leave the home computer market after being involved in setting it all up? Sad, although it was probably inevitable due to the financial losses. I’m still glad I had a chance to work on it though. Q) What was the policy of TI with hardware/software/documentation/schematics on canceled projects? It seems a few lucky employees got a TI-99/8 when TI left the market. Typically you have to get official permission to legally get any of this stuff. That said, it is entirely possible that management at that time gave away some memorabilia. Q) How do you feel when you hear that those machines are still running after all those years and there are some people still doing stuff with them? Absolutely amazed and delighted. I would have never guessed the 99/4 would survive for over 35 years, especially with the typical rapid turn-over in the computer age. Best Regards, Herman Schuurman
  2. Hello all! As some of you know, Braxton Soderman and I (Tom Boellstorff) are hard at work on our book about Intellivision (and having a wonderful time with it). I've recently run into a wall looking for a document and wanted to see if any of you could leverage your superpower sleuthing skills on our behalf. In February, 1982 a report “The Video Game Industry” was issued by an analyst at Goldman Sachs named Richard Simon. References to this report appear in places like PlayThings magazine, and also three times in the New York times in 1982-83: https://www.nytimes.com/1983/10/17/business/video-games-industry-comes-down-to-earth.html https://www.nytimes.com/1982/10/24/business/what-s-new-in-video-games-taking-the-zing-out-of-the-arcade-boom.html https://www.nytimes.com/1982/12/19/business/the-game-turns-serious-at-atari.html But I cannot find this report anywhere online. Folks at the Strong Institute of Play have tried as well with no success. I have contacted Goldman Sachs but they are so secretive they will not even confirm if they still have a copy or not. I'm going to keep trying to find someone at Goldman who would be willing to help track down this 37-year-old report that can't possibly be of use to them now lol. But given that the report was quoted in PlayThings, the New York Times, etc., some copies of it must have been distributed to some folks in the industry. It might be lost forever, which would be a shame, but I'm going to keep trying on my part. But if anyone out there can find a copy of this, we'll be more than happy to thank you in the acknowledgments to our book (if you would like that, screen name or regular name lol). It would be so cool to find out what Simon's analysis of the whole situation was at the time! I'll watch for replies in this space, or you could email me at [email protected] if you find any leads!
  3. http://www.jeuxvideo.com/videos/chroniques/431783/l-histoire-du-jeu-video-la-jaguar-console-rugissante.htm
  4. The poster for the upcoming Gameplay: The Story of the Videogame Revolution documentary film is now ready, and shown below. When the Website is ready, I'll post again, and also once distribution details for this year are finalized. The film, which is based on the Vintage Games series of books by me and Matt Barton (we're also writers and producers on the film), covers the history of videogames from the perspective of those who made it happen. Those interviewed include Nolan Bushnell, John Romero, Todd Howard, Daniel Murray, Darion Lowenstein, Eric Lindstrom, David Crane, and many, many more. The narrator is Cain Devore. The film also has a Facebook and Google+ presence, although Armchair Arcade is still a great place to find out new details (in fact, here's the same thing as a blog post there so you can see the PDF).
  5. Just want to gauge the interests about the Coleco / ColecoVision (ADAM) History Book The book is first going to be available as hard copy Then later will become available as Ebook Are you interested by this book? Also, feel free to post questions, suggestions, comments and critics
  6. Greetings Atarians! Books on videogame history still keep coming and tend to be even more focused on specific topics. A recent (Jan 2016) example is the catalog accompanying the FILM AND GAMES. INTERACTIONS exhibition, which was organized by the German Deutsche Filmmuseum. This one presents reflections, interviews and scientific considerations regarding the intersections between film and games and is a worthy addition for a gamers library. (For details click HERE ) How retro-grade is this one? Naturally Tron, Tomb Raider and Wing Commander are touched more in-depth, whereas other "oldies" like E.T., Pac Man or SW: Empire Strikes Back are at least mentioned within certain contexts. For me FILM AND GAMES. INTERACTIONS is a worthy addition to my (scientific, historical) bookshelf on videogames. Check it out, if you are aiming for completion in this domain as well.
  7. What is the best book you know of on the history of video games from pong days through the third generation?
  8. For those unaware, Warren Robinett has been beavering away on a book about his masterpiece for the Atari 2600, the game simply titled Adventure. According to his website the e-book should be released this year. Last September I sent him an e-mail to have my name placed on the mailing list for the eventual announcement of the book's completion, and I couldn't resist adding some "fan mail" stuff to the message. Mr. Robinett was kind enough to send me a reply, some of which I will now share as I (and hopefully many other Adventure fans) eagerly await his first-hand account of the genesis of one of the most popular video games ever made. I hope these excerpts will serve as a sort of preview of the book (or perhaps a mini-interview). I gather he is putting the book together on the side as he stays busy with professional engineering work, so patience with the process has been my way of looking at it. ************************ EBM: "Dear Mr. Robinett, I anxiously await your e-book The Annotated Adventure. I like your idea of having the C and assembly versions run parallel on the pages, for comparison's sake. Most important to me is your commentary: I have enjoyed your various writings and lectures concerning the game and I'm eager to learn more. One of my favorite aspects of the game is the translational symmetry of two rooms in the grey dungeon (including the dot room), contrasted with the reflectional symmetry of the majority of rooms in the kingdom. An interesting choice... I wonder if there was a reason behind it. I also enjoy exploring the way the rooms align for all the non-player objects as they travel unhindered by walls. It is fun to discover how these paths devolve into loops, and to map these paths using different methods: graphical, symbolic, numerical, etc. Starting in any given room, and determining which rooms lie along a path of travel in one compass direction, reveals many interesting aspects of the kingdom's layout. As of course you are aware of, some paths of travel are revealed to go from screen to screen in a "circular" pattern i.e. 01-02-03-01-02-03, whereas other paths follow an initially linear pattern that falls into a subordinate "circular" pattern i.e. 01-02-03-04-05-03-04-05. Some paths are lengthy, while others (originating in the gold castle room and the number room [game select screen]) are abbreviated greatly. What I am most eager to learn from you and your e-book is how you made decisions regarding the manner in which the rooms communicate in an architectural sense (ignoring the walls, of course). Some of the reasoning seems easy for me to suss out, but some of it eludes me. Limiting access to the castle rooms is sensible for gameplay reasons. The horizontal loop of the main hallway directly south of the gold castle seems intuitive. Many areas of the kingdom constitute somewhat self-contained realms like this, lending a sense of place to a potentially bewildering layout. But there are some long routes, like moving south from the black castle through the blue labyrinth which ultimately results in a small "circular" route that doesn't revisit most of the screens that preceded it. Was every path like these strategically planned, or are there any "accidental" results that follow from other layout decisions in a natural way?" WR: "One thing I can tell you is that you have analyzed this topic more deeply than I did when making the game. I did make the castle gates the only way in and out of the castle interior regions. And I did try to make regions like the Blue Maze mostly link to themselves (but there had to be at least 2 exits from the Blue Maze, since it stood between the Yellow Castle and the Black Castle). Beyond that, every room had to have 4 links that went somewhere, because a Dragon or the Bat was going to sooner or later cross every edge of every room. If there was an apparent problem, I fixed it. But beyond the foregoing stuff, the precise topology of the game world just sort of evolved, as I added new regions during development. Regarding the 2 rooms that did not have reflectional symmetry in the Catacombs (dark maze) inside the Black Castle, I had an attribute bit in my room-list data structure that controlled which Playfield symmetry was used. I had never used anything but reflectional symmetry up to the point I added this attribute bit to the data structure. I didn't really need the one you call "translational symmetry". But the Atari VCS platform didn't give you much to work with. I was trying everything I could think of to make the game more interesting. It was really quite pitifully boring in its earliest stages. So I added the alternate symmetry in a dark maze so that it would not be instantly obvious that I had the broken the symmetry — it would slowly dawn on the player that those two rooms were different. So my reason was not all that deep. I was just grabbing some low-hanging fruit to add just another little piece of variety to the game." ************************ I believe the forthcoming book has been discussed elsewhere in the forums, but I am writing this to remind everyone about the book and to encourage those who are interested to sign up to Mr. Robinett's mailing list and confirm interest in the project. As I said, it's not like it can be rushed (nor would I want it to be) but making it known that interest is there will no doubt help the work see the light of day in good time.
  9. Writing this because: - People on YouTube seem to be missing some history - I'd like my kids to maybe read it (someday) - Some of these things I can't find on the internet Please add your own stuff and corrections. What would you highlight (add asterisks to) as being significant? ------------------------------- Early 70's I remember being in Disneyland with family waiting for "American the Beautiful" Circle-Vision 360 and they had a play tic-tac-toe agents a computer or electronic something. I just remember it winning every time. Watching rockets blast off going to the moon. Mid-70's Balsa wood airplanes w/rubber ban windup propeller. Tandy Leather co (get tools and kits to make designs in leather mostly for wallets. My dad had a lot of tools)(Tandy co owned Radio Shack) Burning wood kits (no lawsuits back then) No 8-track tapes but still had cassette adaptor for the car 8 track player. ONLY 3 TV channels! (Maybe a UHF fuzzy channel)(something called VHF and UHF (one dial U-2-3-4..12-13 and the other channels 15-20-25-...–80 that didn't click) Saturday morning cartoons (Hanna-Barbera: Speed Buggy, Scooby-Doo) CB radios (new language "breaker one-nine"), 8 mm home movies (no sound), board games (master mind, monopoly, battle ship), bikes (kid would do wheelies, and jumps ala Evel Knievel) First calculators (I remember a magnifier on each digit) Library no computer! card catalogs, microfilm, microfiche 1972 Magnavox Odyssey home ~pong system with gun (Magnavox latter sued Atari and others for Pong) 1975 Oct Saturday Night Live 1975 Monty Python and the Holy Grail 1975 Atari/Sears pong 1976 Bicentennial (USA 200 years old, Red, White, and Blue everywhere, posters with 1776-1976 on them, special quarters) 1977 May Star Wars IV (was such a hit that having a Star Wars T-shirt made other boys envious)(Kenner Star Wars Early Bird Kit) 1977 Space Wars arcade (my big brother and I played this in Disneyland after riding Space Mountain in the Starcade (currently they have Fixit Felix with Wreck-It Ralph they look like Donkey Kong machines)) 1977 June ****Apple ][ **** $1,300 (Atari employee #40: ) 1977 June TRS-80 computer $600 (Radio Shack) 1977 handheld electronic mastermind 1977 Sep **Atari 2600** heavy 6er $200 with Combat, fun but you need another person. 4k rom addressing 9 games (all early games are 2k, it is more expensive to make 4k) 3 different controllers: joystick, paddles, driving (Indy 500 only(game was to bring home a fun arcade game that had big steering wheels for multiple players) 1978 Merlin game, Handheld LED Football, Simon 1978 ****2600 Space Invaders ****(Atari 2600 killer app) (pretty much first game you can play by-u-self for hours. (Well maybe Surround or Code Breaker) Otherwise you had to get a friend over or convince a sibling or parent to play with you) 1978 Dr. Demento (radio show of funny songs, this show will start "Weird Al" Yankovic, Space invaders by Uncle Vic, ((Locked In The Closet With You by SuLu))) 1978 Adventureland text RPG on the TRS-80 1978 Basic Computer Games book (a book with basic programs to type into your computer to play games) (We also would have magazines with type in games and latter some would be rows of data statements : "100 DATA 4E 00 48 63" and the basic program would write the data to a cassette tape and then you could load the games and play Late 70's - Early 1980's Shacky's Pizza all you can eat with the whole family with video games silent moves would play on a big screen and a player piano would play music. 1979 Galaxian arcade game (Shacky's had one we would flick pennies up the return slot to add a credit until the owner bent the metal on the return slot) 1979 Steve Jobs goes to PARC and see a GUI! 1979 Nov 2600 Asteroids (first bank switching game:8k) 1979 Nov Atari 8-bit computer With Star Raiders killer app Arcade: Pac-man, Missile Command (first trackball), Battle Zone 1980 Commodore VIC 20 1980 Intellivision $300 1980 ***Adventure*** (OMG saw this at a friend’s house and got this game within a couple days) 1980 first Activision games 1980 July Airplane! Movie (A friend was playing Adventure at my house. He saw the maze blinking with only one object. He said there must be something in here. I'm all naw. We said there is a little square right here and he got the ladder and got in there and hit something in the corner. It was a dot but it was late and he left to go home. I was so excited. While carrying the dot I went to the main hall way and the line on the left disappeared! But it didn't let me through ahhhh! Well eventually I got through the other line but didn't know what it said.) 1981 we started seeing arcades in strip malls with tokens! (I use to go after school and play Gorf and centipede and they expanded the arcade and Robotron: 2084 and Donkey Kong came.) And Golf and things had a ton of arcade games. 1981 Arcade: Gorf, Donkey Kong 1981 Dec Pac-Man Fever song 1981 Aug IBM PC (thus starts the monopoly switch from IBM to Microsoft (also hardware to software). 1982 July Tron movie 1982 Aug Commodore 64 1982 Aug ColecoVision with ****killer app: Donkey Kong****** 1982 Sep Star Raiders 2600 with touch pad 1982 Tron arcade game 1983 Kid controller 1983 Dragon's Lair (first laserdisc video game) 1983 Oct Coleco Adam home computer attachment to ColecoVision video game (a quick story: Adam was sold in JC Penny's (Tucson El Con downstairs) in Video games in the toy department and they had a computer department. Someone walks up to the guy behind the counter at the computer department and asks “where is the Adam computer?” Reply: that would be in the toy department. The person leaves and we both crack up laughing.) 1983 video game crash(or home video game console crash) I remember outside the KayBee toy store ("where you guna find a KayBee toy store?" (Tucson mall bottom floor) loads of 2600 games in a bin, one box I remember had a big tank on it with the title: "Tanks but no Tanks" and no one wanting to buy them because they mostly sucked and we wanted computer games. (watch David Crane video on Pitfall (54 min in): no quality control/lockout chip and 3rd party crap games) A stupid home computer commercial with a kid going off to collage on a train and coming back because of "lack of computer skills". Part of the Video Game crash for me was that parents said if we are going to spend money about $200 on a video game thing why not buy a computer that plays video games and my kid will learn some programming and not just waist time. 1984 Firefox video game with laserdisc background (based on Warner Bros (parent company to Atari) Firefox movie. (First 7800's had a laserdisc port) Arcade: Paperboy, Marble Madness 1984 March IBM PC Jr (home/cheep computer w/ inferred keyboard) 1985 Oct *****NES *****(rebirth of console gaming) ... Bulletin board systems distributing pirated software
  10. The Starpath SuperCharger was a powerful add-on for the Atari 2600 that allowed games to be loaded from cassette with better graphics and deeper gameplay. The Immortal John Hancock shows us all the games for it plus much more. I imagine there are a lot of people on this forum who own a SuperCharger - Correct? Which are the best games for it?
  11. It's been 11 months with over 200 hours of weekend editing but I've finally finished my 41 Years of Console Gaming History video. In this video I take a look at games year by year from 1975 to modern times. Initially this was a youtube series but this is a combined and heavily edited down version. Viewers picked different consoles and games to try each year as we moved through time. This video is the final result of our journey and I've got to say, the Atari 2600 when it first came out in 1977 really impressed us with its huge colour pallet. Atari 2600 games were popular and almost always got the most votes in this video. Anyway, enough rambling... If you want to just see the Atari 2600 games skip to 5:12 and watch for about 8 minutes. If you're interested you can keep watching the whole journey as we move to the Atari 5200, NES, Sega Genesis and so on P.S. I know... you guys hate the fact I mapped all the games to a DS4 controller
  12. I was pointed in the direction of this forum by some good folks over on Reddit. I have come into the possession of what seems to be a PAL release of Star Strike by Telegames. I have not been able to get much information about it, other than a few mentions, and its appearance in a few databases. http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-2600-vcs-star-strike_7809.html and http://www.completeroms.com/dl/atari-2600/star-strike-telegames-pal-/1760 I've been provided with a little more information about Telegames and how they came to license the game, but putting a value on it has proven very difficult. There are no eBay listings that I have been able to find, let alone a finished auction. I am aware this game -even though, perhaps rare - might not necessarily be that valuable. I'm not an Atari collector, my preference lies with the PC and PS1/2 consoles for now, so this game would probably be part of a trade in the future. https://imgur.com/a/1XhNZel Thanks for your time.
  13. Part I: Who's Your Daddy? I was going through my e-mail archives today looking for a particular topic, when I inadvertently stumbled upon the actual birth of Christmas Carol! It's a conversation I had with Joe Z. during December 2010, while working on my port of Pac-Man. We were commenting on the colour limitations. It's funny how things turn out. It started out as a quick-and-dirty distraction and it ended up taking over my life for a significant period of time. Notice those fateful words at the end of the first message, "I'll continue with Pac-Man after Christmas." Well, I've seen that movie and I know how it ends! Anyway, below is the full conversation, at least those pertaining to the Birth Of Christmas Carol, which occurred at noon on Sunday, 19 of December, 2010. Watch the story unfold and read how the characters came to life. I've included the different versions of the ROMs as they were sent throughout the conversation. Subject: Re: Pac-Man auto-pilot test From: DZ-Jay To: Joe Zbiciak Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2010 11:55:22 -0500 On Dec 19, 2010, at 11:44, Joe Zbiciak wrote: > You're using color 13 (light blue, which is a bluish purple). Is color 12 > (pink) too close to red? Exactly. Color 13 was the only one that worked for Pinky. #12 looked more like bright Fuchsia than Pink, and so was too close to red--at least in jzIntv. > As for the eyes... yes, low res is a pain, isn't it? Tell me about it! *sigh* dZ. P.S. I decided to take what I have of Pac-Man right now and transform it into a quick and dirty game with a Christmas motif by changing the sprites and the maze. This is just as a "treat" for the guys on the list. I think I can pull it off in a couple of days, since it's mostly graphics changes. The logic will be just stupidly scripted antagonists moving around. I hope to have enough time to even include Arnauld's tracker playing a little Christmas ditty. It should be cool! I'll continue with Pac-Man after Christmas. dZ. Subject: Re: Pac-Man auto-pilot test From: DZ-Jay To: Joe Zbiciak Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2010 18:29:12 -0500 On Dec 19, 2010, at 11:55, DZ-Jay wrote: > P.S. I decided to take what I have of Pac-Man right now and transform > it into a quick and dirty game with a Christmas motif by changing the > sprites and the maze. This is just as a "treat" for the guys on the > list. I think I can pull it off in a couple of days, since it's mostly > graphics changes. The logic will be just stupidly scripted antagonists > moving around. > > I hope to have enough time to even include Arnauld's tracker playing a > little Christmas ditty. It should be cool! > > I'll continue with Pac-Man after Christmas. Here's a first test. I just redrew the background and re-configured the maze. Right now it's just blue blocks (ice cubes?), but I plan on changing it soon. The ghosts are there for testing, they will go away soon. Pac-Man will be replaced by a little elf sprite. The antagonists will be two: one ghost and an evil snowman. The power-pellets have turned into magical snowflakes. The fruit will be a wrapped present. The game is called "A Christmas Carol: The Ghost Of Christmas Presents". Yes, that's "presents," as in gift Here's the premise: An evil snowman has stolen Santa's Christmas presents and hid them away in a cave near the North Pole. The cave is haunted by the Ghost of Christmas Presents, who enjoys very much the company of wrapped packages and will not easily let them go. Santa has sent Elvin the elf to hunt down the snowman and bring back his presents. You must avoid the Ghost and retrieve the package from the cave before the evil snowman returns and kills you. There are four magical snowflakes strewn around the cave which, when touched, will temporarily make Elvin invincible. dZ. cc_test1.zip Subject: Re: Pac-Man auto-pilot test From: Joe Zbiciak To: DZ-Jay Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2010 18:24:23 -0600 dZ, Cute! I think everyone will love it! BTW, I played around with it for a couple minutes and found a couple minor bugs. In the first screen shot, you can see that I managed to get PM to stop at a "dead end" at a half-card boundary (ie. I turned at the right spot, and I think the cornering logic did something funky, since you have some wide-open spaces that it's not accustomed to yet). In the second, PM is stuck. Once he hits the indicated spot, he stays stuck. --Joe Subject: Re: Pac-Man auto-pilot test From: DZ-Jay To: Joe Zbiciak Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2010 20:13:07 -0500 Regarding the half-card boundary, that was by design, but admittedly a stupid idea. I thought it would give the sprite a bigger range of motion, but it just ended up being weird. The other bug (screenshot #2) was real: That tile had a an open exit toward the wall, so as soon as Pac-Man enters the block, he can't get out. I fixed that. I also removed the half-card movement, so the Pac-Man can only move within the center of the paths, as you would expect. Can you try it now, please? dZ. cc_test2.zip Subject: Re: Pac-Man auto-pilot test From: Joe Zbiciak To: DZ-Jay Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2010 20:23:16 -0600 dZ, Yep, the one hanging location is fixed. I did find another... --Joe Subject: Re: Pac-Man auto-pilot test From: DZ-Jay To: Joe Zbiciak Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2010 21:28:53 -0500 Gosh, I saw that one, sorry. I think that's all of those. The "maze" is defined as an ASCII map with exit attributes. What you are finding are those boo-boos such as this: ........ .######. ........ #......# ...^.... #......# ........ #......# .....>.. #......# ...v.... #......# ........ #......# ........ .######. Where a tile has an open exit pointing to a wall. I think there aren't any more. I'm working now on a simple Auto-Pilot script to move the Ghost around the maze. That way I don't have to worry about AI (at least not for the ghost). dZ. Subject: Re: Pac-Man auto-pilot test From: Joe Zbiciak To: DZ-Jay Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2010 20:36:02 -0600 On Sun, Dec 19, 2010 at 8:28 PM, DZ-Jay wrote: > Gosh, I saw that one, sorry. I think that's all of those. Cool. > The "maze" is defined as an ASCII map with exit attributes. What > you are finding are those boo-boos such as this: > > ........ .######. > ........ #......# > ...^.... #......# > ........ #......# > .....>.. #......# > ...v.... #......# > ........ #......# > ........ .######. Ah yes, that makes sense. You can make similar sorts of "inconsistent world data" in Space Patrol by placing rocks and craters too near each other. Leads to some fun graphics glitches. > Where a tile has an open exit pointing to a wall. I think there > aren't any more. I'm working now on a simple Auto-Pilot script > to move the Ghost around the maze. That way I don't have to worry > about AI (at least not for the ghost). Coolness! :-) --Joe Subject: Re: Pac-Man auto-pilot test From: DZ-Jay To: Joe Zbiciak Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2010 21:54:43 -0500 OK, got the script ready! The Ghost goes on a pre-determined pattern, and your goal is to avoid him. Right now, collisions are not being checked, so it's just visual. Collisions are detected easily with the Pac-Man engine: it's a matter of comparing the virtual tile coordinates of the sprites after every move. Attached is the latest build with the Ghost script. In case you are curious, I have attached the script file. I also include the maze source file, in case you feel adventurous and want to play with the configuration (or search for more inconsistencies). I can honestly say that this silly, simple game is about 80% complete! dZ. cc_test3.zip Subject: Re: Pac-Man auto-pilot test From: DZ-Jay To: Joe Zbiciak Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2010 22:01:00 -0500 Oops! There's a rather big bug: When you eat an energi^H^H^H^H^H^Hmagical snowflake, the ghost disappears after flashing white. I went cleaning up the code that loops through four ghosts at a time and I may have messed up something there. I'll deal with it tomorrow. Talk to you later! dZ. Subject: Re: Pac-Man auto-pilot test From: Joe Zbiciak To: DZ-Jay Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2010 21:02:34 -0600 I was just about to report that. Guess you found it on your side. :-) Yeah, the AI state machine stuff can be easy to mess up in unique ways. I remember having some weird crashes in SP when trying to get ships to exit, for example. Subject: Re: Pac-Man auto-pilot test From: DZ-Jay To: Joe Zbiciak Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2010 06:42:53 -0500 OK. I fixed the frightened color issue. Although in this mini game, the frightened mode should just make the elf twinkle (for invincibility) instead of changing the ghost. I also altered the script to introduce pauses every so often, where the Ghost looks around. Sometimes he does a "double-take" before moving It's all definitely non-random, but my focus is to use my already existing assets, and I don't have any AI or random elements pre-fab. I'll spend some more time in the maze (my wife wants me to add Christmas trees), and then I'll start working on collisions. Oh, and a slight change of title. The game is now "Christmas Carol vs. The Ghost of Christmas Presents." Carol is the elf, you see. (Please don't kill me dZ. cc_test4.zip
  14. Let me know what you think! Details about the trailer for Gameplay: The Story of the Videogame Revolution here: http://www.armchairarcade.com/neo/node/5676 Direct link here:
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