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Pengwin

Starting my first game

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Just thought I would make an announcement that I am planning to write and release my first A8 game.

 

Before I tell you what it is, a brief digression.

Even though i have had an 800XL since about '84, any programming I did was not game related. Most of it was also in BASIC. I have since played with Kyan Pascal, a tiny bit of Action and Quick. I was planning on writing this game in Quick as it provided a good compromise of speed, and readability. However, after reading through a thread in the programming section, I installed WUDSN and MADS to teach myself assembly. This was only yesterday! Armed with my trusty copy of Programming the 6502, by Rodney Zaks, and a pdf of Mapping The Atari, I began a brief experiment of converting some of what I had written in Quick over to assembly. The process, whilst not 100% straightforward, was quite painless. I managed to get a introduction screen, some DLI's and a VBI up and running with considerable ease. So, I have decided to rewrite the project completely in assembly.

What I am saying is, bear with me, this could be a simple project (I hope), or possibly a long drawn out painful process.

 

Anyway, on to the game. Taking a leaf out of XXL's book, I plan on porting a Spectrum game over to A8. The game is Hungry Horace, a pac-man clone released by Melbourne House in 1982. This will probably bring on groans of anguish form Spectrum lovers, but hey, it's my first game and I wanted something simple.

 

For a brief run down on how I am going to do this, I will be using Antic mode 4 for the in game screens (with a single Mode 2 line for the score and lives). PMGs will be used for Horace himself, but the rest of the graphics with be standard UDGs.

 

As I said, I started this yesterday and I have already created the Intro screen and the level loader, as well as converted the UDG and level data to assembly from Quick.

 

As I get more done, I will keep you posted.

 

If you want to see the original Hungry Horace game, here is the link

If I manage to pull this off successfully, I may look at doing the other 2 official Horace games as well.

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Unless you're doing a lookalike/workalike type effort you'll also be wanting to learn Z80 Assembler.

Plus get up some knowledge of the Spectrum inner workings.

 

Pretty big steps.

 

For a first effort you might be better off doing something a bit simpler, or maybe a game using a mix of Basic + Assembler.

As you get better you can always go back and convert more and more parts of it to Assembler, eventually ending up at 100%

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Like you said, it's more of a lookalike/workalike project.

 

I chose it because I don't have to worry about what the graphics or levels are supposed to look like, I am literally grabbing screen shots from Fuse to get the look of the graphics and levels. It just means that I have a goal to achieve, without having to plan the actual game itself.

 

Unfortunately, my z80 assembly is very limited and beyond the way the screen is organised, I don't know too much about the inner working of the spectrum.

 

This is more of a learning exercise for me, but I figure I should at least have a product at the end of it.

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If you need more books on Assembly language for Ataris check here:

 

http://www.atarimani...-books_1_8.html

 

Thanks Ken, I already have those. Someone posted a torrent on here a while back with a whole load of books, some of which have found their way onto my android tablet, so I have been reading them. I'm also using Atari User magazine articles to help with some of the things I still get confused about, they are an invaluable resource for people starting out.

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Good luck with your game! There are plenty of helpful programmers on AA, so if you get stuck just ask.

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Can you offer some advise to me also. I was thinking about getting into this (game production) now that the dust is settling in my life for the moment.

Are there Windows tools to aid in the development, or should we/I use the original languages and tools, i.e. MAC./65, etc.

Any great combination of tools that are much needed? Thanx.

 

Also, are there any decompilers available to break down existing code (carts) so I can make some enhancements, etc.

Edited by chrislynn5
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I'm no expert, but my set up at the moment is Eclipse with WUDSN and MADS assembler on my Mac, but all of which are available on PC as well.

 

If you don't want to go the assembly route, then there are some cross compilers available (cc65 and Effectus spring to mind).

But if you would rather code on real hardware, or on an emulator, then pick any language that is available. Quick and Action are good for game development, and I believe some of the Forth variants are also good for this. I would personally avoid Pascal on the A8 for game dev.

 

Other things to consider are character set designers (Envision on A8, or EnvisionPC), PMG designers and things like that.

 

Because my project is relatively simple, the only extra tool I am using is EnvisionPC (recompiled for OS X).

 

For testing, I hear Altirra is one of the best emulators for debugging.

 

Also check out Atari Archives for any documentation you might need.

 

Finally, the most valuable resource available is probably this forum.

Edited by Pengwin

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I can also recommend the BASIC + assembly modules method for quickly prototyping a game. usually, the logic does not have to be super fast. Memory move routines, memory clearing routines, sprite movement, etc. - that has to be fast, so do it in ASM. Also, any interrupt of course has to be in ASM.

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I know it hasn't been said much, but I would actually recommend Forth for game development, and there are a great many FORTH environments available for the Atari 8-bits.

 

It has the advantage that it is both fast and interpreted, so different parts can be built word for word, and tested as needed.

 

http://atariwiki.strotmann.de/wiki/Wiki.jsp?page=Forth <-- page with FORTH information on it.

 

-Thom

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I looked at Forth before I started this project. But, coming from a more procedural background (C, Pascal, Basic), I found Quick, then assembly, to be much more intuitive for me.

 

Having said that, I do agree that Forth could be an option for some people, particularly as it is a lot more portable than assembly. There are some excellent Forth envirnments for other systems as well (White Lightning for the Spectrum springs to mind).

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