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Why can't the Atari 2600 display better graphics?

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I have two more questions Thomas. For the CX-80 and Amiga I need to know which direction the changes represent. I made a table:

Moving in which direction? (UP/DOWN/LEFT/RIGHT)
A)        CX-80: 00 ---> 01 ---> 11 ---> 10  
B)        CX-80: 00 <--- 01 <--- 11 <--- 10
C)  Amiga Mouse: 00 ---> 10 ---> 11 ---> 01
D)  Amiga Mouse: 00 <--- 10 <--- 11 <--- 01

The second question is what does the trackball output when it's not moving? Does it just hold its last state?

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Is there any room for improvement in Missile Command, such as by using more ROM and/or RAM and/or modern programming techniques?

 

The biggest problem with Missile Command on the Atari 2600 in my opinion, is the limit on how many ABMs you can have in the air at the same time (3). In the arcade game, there is no such limit. You can launch all 30 ABMs from the 3 bases if you want, as fast as you can push the 3 buttons 10 times each. This makes the 2600 version's gameplay unfair, because in the faster rounds, there are more missiles coming at you than you can possibly get to, given the 3-shot limit, and the limit on how fast you can move the aiming cursor (though the latter is eliminated or mitigated by Thomas Jentzsch's Missile Command TB hack).

 

Other things which would be nice:

 

- If your ABMs had contrails like in the arcade version

- If the sound of your ABMs firing didn't get overridden/silenced by the sound of explosions, but rather, mixed like in the arcade version

- Secondary, tertiary, etc., explosions, like in the arcade version.

- If there were airplanes and satellites dropping missiles like in the arcade version.

 

Of course, 3 missile bases would be nice too, but that isn't feasible with a 1-button controller (and having the base-to-fire be auto-selected by the computer is pointless in my opinion).

Edited by MaximRecoil
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Missile Command Arcade (Missile Command Hack) (2006) (Kurt Howe) (WIP) (8K) has 3 missile bases, uses 2 joysticks, has planes and satellites.

 

Is there any room for improvement in Missile Command, such as by using more ROM and/or RAM and/or modern programming techniques?

 

The biggest problem with Missile Command on the Atari 2600 in my opinion, is the limit on how many ABMs you can have in the air at the same time (3). In the arcade game, there is no such limit. You can launch all 30 ABMs from the 3 bases if you want, as fast as you can push the 3 buttons 10 times each. This makes the 2600 version's gameplay unfair, because in the faster rounds, there are more missiles coming at you than you can possibly get to, given the 3-shot limit, and the limit on how fast you can move the aiming cursor (though the latter is eliminated or mitigated by Thomas Jentzsch's Missile Command TB hack).

 

Other things which would be nice:

 

- If your ABMs had contrails like in the arcade version

- If the sound of your ABMs firing didn't get overridden/silenced by the sound of explosions, but rather, mixed like in the arcade version

- Secondary, tertiary, etc., explosions, like in the arcade version.

- If there were airplanes and satellites dropping missiles like in the arcade version.

 

Of course, 3 missile bases would be nice too, but that isn't feasible with a 1-button controller (and having the base-to-fire be auto-selected by the computer is pointless in my opinion).

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Missile Command Arcade (Missile Command Hack) (2006) (Kurt Howe) (WIP) (8K) has 3 missile bases, uses 2 joysticks, has planes and satellites.

 

 

Does it work? I can't find much about it searching Google, except for this video:

 

 

I can't even tell what's going on. It keeps switching back and forth between different screens.

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attachicon.gifMissile_Command_Arcade (2006).bin

This is what I have:

 

Thanks. That's an interesting game, but I don't see how it would be practical to play without building a custom controller with inputs from both controller ports on the same controller. I don't get the reasoning behind the graphical changes which make it look less like the arcade version instead of more like it, and it has collision detection problems. Plus, as far as I can tell, the planes and satellites don't drop any missiles on you, which defeats the purpose of having them in the game. Unfortunately, the biggest problem with the original 2600 Missile Command remains in this hack, i.e., the can't-fire-more-than-3-shots-at-once limitation.

Edited by MaximRecoil

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Unfortunately, the biggest problem with the original 2600 Missile Command remains in this hack, i.e., the can't-fire-more-than-3-shots-at-once limitation.

The only practical way to get what you want is a completer re-write with the help of a coprocessor. Look at Space Rocks for a good example. That was simply not possible to do without the coprocessor.

 

 

So, it unfortunately probably won't be done unless a programmer takes interest.

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Thanks. That's an interesting game, but I don't see how it would be practical to play without building a custom controller with inputs from both controller ports on the same controller. I don't get the reasoning behind the graphical changes which make it look less like the arcade version instead of more like it, and it has collision detection problems. Plus, as far as I can tell, the planes and satellites don't drop any missiles on you, which defeats the purpose of having them in the game. Unfortunately, the biggest problem with the original 2600 Missile Command remains in this hack, i.e., the can't-fire-more-than-3-shots-at-once limitation.

Yeah, you're right about the 3 blast limitation.

I would think it to be much harder to do the three bases rather than have more fire blasts which could flicker like crazy.

It was a good start at a hack by Nukey Shay and was in a folder with the source code and the other Missile Command Trak-Ball versions, and a couple of graphic hacks.

 

I believe you were to play this with a trak-ball in joystick mode and the Track And Field controller which has the other joystick mapped to three buttons which correspond to the bases.

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...

Anyway, I got frustrated by two other projects, so I spend a little time with Reactor again. The attached versions are preliminary, most likely the controls have to be tweaked.

...

Feedback is welcome.

I played the Arcade Reactor and this 2600 Reactor Trak-Ball.

I still can't find anything needing to be changed.

I did make it to Level 3 with the trak-ball version. It is still a very hard game, but adding the trak-ball improves gameplay.

 

Link to download your Trak-Ball version of 2600 Reactor Here.

About the game:

Level 1 bounce and push the particles into the "control rod" dots at both sides.

Clear a side and the contained core shrinks. Clear both sides and earn a Decoy.

Push particles into the smaller chambers for immediate points and large bonus points between lives that help to reach the extra life 10K levels.

Level 2 the core turns into a vortex that will pull you in, so you need Decoys earned in Level 1 to help lure particles to the outer walls and control rods, and to keep the particles away from bouncing your ship into the vortex or the outer walls.

You may escape the pull of touching the vortex by moving clockwise in small circles.

Level 3 the core is back to being contained, but the lights have gone out and the walls and core are invisible.

 

The Arcade game Reactor by Gottlieb uses a trackball and 2 buttons. It talks like Q*Bert would sound if Q*Bert spoke English, using the same/similar speech chip, mostly saying how many particles are left in a level.

Button 1 activates a repelling force.

The 2600 Reactor is programmed like this repelling force is always on.

Button 2 drops Decoys.

 

50K level is my highest score in 2600 Reactor TB.

Another 4K 2600 game that does play surprisingly like the arcade game, both of which get poor reviews due to their difficulty, unique different gameplay mechanics, and needing to learn what to do as it is not too obvious.

Those three things quickly add up to a new player saying it is too hard, too different, and too confusing I don't like it, before they can see the depth, challenge, and bigger picture of it all.

Like Random Terrain says, do you like to memorize patterns so you play with little challenge, or do you want the game to vary, change, challenge you, and progressively increase in difficulty?

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Millipede CX-22 Trackball. :)

 

First, horray! Amazing gameplay with the trak-ball. I did manage to get into the 110,000 range.

Second, it is hard to move up/down. Seems to need a lot of rolling up/down compared to left/right.

If up/down can be adjusted without taking away from the left/right please do, otherwise don't because left/right accuracy is more important.

Third is just nit picking facts. See what I did there with the bug thing? The man who designed the Atari Trak-Balls says the proper naming is "CX22" no dash, and Atari spells their controller "TRAK-BALL".

 

Finally, overall it seems more difficult, but maybe that's just me. I did have the 7800 on Difficulty A (I think), but switching to Difficulty B it seemed to stay just as hard. I never remember seeing 3 spiders and 2 ladybugs all at the same time! How evil!!!

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In a nutshell, if the Atari 2600 was MEANT to display better graphics, the 5200, the 7800 and subsequent systems wouldn't have the need to exist pure and simple, if the 2600 had had arcade quality graphics right off the bat there would be no 5200, no 7800 no systems that followed those, and the system would have been so great there probably wouldn't have been a ColecoVision or Intellivision because the graphics would have already been so good that NO ONE could compete with them. And if the graphics had been that good also we would not have been introduced to the other gaming systems that came after it.

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Thanks. That's an interesting game, but I don't see how it would be practical to play without building a custom controller with inputs from both controller ports on the same controller.

 

Here's Nukey's original thread on Missile Command arcade where these issues were discussed. http://atariage.com/forums/topic/71805-missile-command-arcade/

 

Iesposta remembered right: it works with the Track & Field controller, and Atariboy2600 even created an overlay you can cut out.

 

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Played version 2 of the Millipede Trak-Ball today - excellent work! Wonderful gameplay from the original combined with great Trak-Ball controllability. Well-done, sir!

 

Now, I see you've put out a version 3 ... Care to let us in on any additional changes made? Thanks! :)

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In a nutshell, if the Atari 2600 was MEANT to display better graphics, the 5200, the 7800 and subsequent systems wouldn't have the need to exist pure and simple, if the 2600 had had arcade quality graphics right off the bat there would be no 5200, no 7800 no systems that followed those, and the system would have been so great there probably wouldn't have been a ColecoVision or Intellivision because the graphics would have already been so good that NO ONE could compete with them. And if the graphics had been that good also we would not have been introduced to the other gaming systems that came after it.

 

I agree although I also feel that limited ROM sizes contributed greatly to their lack of better graphics. Bankswitching and higher ROM size (and, of course, the programmer to put it all together) could have made superior ports of what was later released by competitors and considered better.

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Look, the VCS was basically "designed to play" three basic games: Pong and its variations, Tank and its variations, and Breakout-type games. That's why there are two "Player" graphics, two "Missile" graphics, and a "Ball" all built into hardware, along with the hardware "Playfield" graphic. Every single other type of game aside from those things is a greater or lesser miracle of programming, even including such early genre-defining games as Adventure, Space Invaders and Pitfall!

 

So let's let all that sink in for a few minutes, shall we, as we appreciate the mind-numbing genius that lets games like Centipede, Millipede an Reactor (themselves unlike anything the VCS was "designed to play") use Trak-Ball control like their arcade counterparts.

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Played version 2 of the Millipede Trak-Ball today - excellent work! Wonderful gameplay from the original combined with great Trak-Ball controllability. Well-done, sir!

 

Now, I see you've put out a version 3 ... Care to let us in on any additional changes made? Thanks! :)

In version 2 there was a pixel missing on the 'e' in the Millipede. It got erased by accident when I converted "Trackball" to "Trak-Ball".

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Are these trakball hacks playable with a mouse and stella?

Yes, however I find too much movement and the player being controlled gets confused where the edge is, as in I am 1/3 into the screen and it fails to move any farther left. Maybe I have some setting wrong or... ?

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