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TheRealAnubis

How to find out what system your floppy game is for...

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Hi,

 

I just got a large box of floppies and a 1050 drive. While trying to load the disks, some work, some don't some kind of work. For example - Loderunner loads up, but the screen is reddish and all of the graphics are scrambled - this floppy is a copy, so that may be it. Forbidden forest starts to load and then hangs - this is a factory disk that states 'for all atari computers'. Some of the disks are labeled 130xe, but most just have a user printed label with the game name.

 

The Ultima I disk (copy) has 'needs fix XL' written on it, and Ultima II or III won't load all the way either. Epyx Dragonriders of Pern doesn't finish loading (original).

 

I've tried 2 different working drives and 2 different working 800XL's.

 

Is there a way to check which system these games are supposed to be used on?

 

Thanks!

Edited by TheRealAnubis

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If they are for another (non Atari) system they won't load at all. So, either the disks are damaged or the 1050 is acting up. It's not unusual for some brands of diskette to have failed by now. Also consider cleaning the head in the 1050 since bad disks can shed a lot of their oxide coating.

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You'd want to be holding Option until the blue startup screen to disable Basic.

 

Pre-XL games, it's a must do in many cases, later on a lot of the programmers were just lazy and printed it in the manual to do so rather than spending the entire 8 bytes or so of program code to do the same.

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Entirely possible as well. Also, many multi-disk games will appear to boot from the non-boot disk and get to a point and hang.

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If they are for another (non Atari) system they won't load at all. So, either the disks are damaged or the 1050 is acting up. It's not unusual for some brands of diskette to have failed by now. Also consider cleaning the head in the 1050 since bad disks can shed a lot of their oxide coating.

 

Good information! I made sure to clean the heads, and then I left the top cover off so I could see if any of the disks were polluting the head. But my real problem was.....

 

 

You'd want to be holding Option until the blue startup screen to disable Basic.

 

Pre-XL games, it's a must do in many cases, later on a lot of the programmers were just lazy and printed it in the manual to do so rather than spending the entire 8 bytes or so of program code to do the same.

 

For some reason I was holding 'Select', and so there you go! I thought holding down 'Option' just took you to the self test. Sweet! Now I can actually load all of those games! The only question I have now is - how do the colors look on these games? I have C64 as a reference, so I'm not sure how they are supposed to look on Atari. On both 800XL's that I have, the Lode Runner screen is mostly red, and the Ultima III screen seems more green than anything else. Both have the correct appearance on boot. Anyone have any screenshots of an actual 800XL playing either of these games? Maybe I need to do some adjustments...

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Both those games use artifact coloring which is a strange subject. Basically, patterns of high-res pixels can be used to trick a TV into showing color even though the picture is black & white (or some form of monochrome). The colors that show up vary between the different Atari models.

 

Here's more:

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/135614-artifacting-on-the-a8/

 

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/204355-artifacting-isnt-it-weird/

 

Loading games in an emulator like Altirra will give you a good idea of what you should see.

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Well,

 

if a disk or program has "needs fix XL" written on it, this means the program requires an old 400 / 800 OS, also known as translator-disk, to run on an XL/XE machine. The FIX-XL is actually an old-OS (afaik it comes as a file-version). You may load it (or any other old OS version for the XL/XE computers) from DOS or Gamedos, then press e.g. Select to boot your program disk with old OS and Basic or e.g. Option to boot your program disk with old OS but without Basic...

 

 

old_os.zip

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I feel like I had a bad case of noob-itis, but hey, if you don't know, you don't know! I'm still getting used to the row of keys down the side of the 800XL as well - Reset, Option, Select, etc.

 

I will say that these 1050 drives are workhorses. I've had plenty of experience with Commodore 1541 drives, and I think they may be a little more problematic than the Atari ones. It could be a better design, or the Commodore owners just fooled with theirs a lot more..

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Well,

 

if a disk or program has "needs fix XL" written on it, this means the program requires an old 400 / 800 OS, also known as translator-disk, to run on an XL/XE machine. The FIX-XL is actually an old-OS (afaik it comes as a file-version). You may load it (or any other old OS version for the XL/XE computers) from DOS or Gamedos, then press e.g. Select to boot your program disk with old OS and Basic or e.g. Option to boot your program disk with old OS but without Basic...

 

 

 

I'll see if I can find it on any of these disks that I just got. It's a big box stuffed full, so it'll take a bit..

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I will say that these 1050 drives are workhorses. I've had plenty of experience with Commodore 1541 drives, and I think they may be a little more problematic than the Atari ones. It could be a better design, or the Commodore owners just fooled with theirs a lot more..

Commodore and Atari had very different approaches to drive design.

 

Atari used a Western Digital floppy controller to allow standard FM and MFM encoding of the disk. They put in a single sector buffer (128 bytes) and a 6507-based controller to send sectors back and forth. The whole thing is neat and tidy but has some drawbacks. For one, you cannot easily copy protected disks because there's no way to make the drive write anything out of the ordinary. You can format, and you can write standard sectors, and that's it. So, people made hardware enhancements to give the drive more features and disk capacity. The main disadvantage is that a standard FM disk is only 90K, and the 1050's Dual Density is only 130K.

 

Commodore also put a CPU in their drive, but they emulated the floppy controller in software. The drive was extremely slow by default, but it had 2K of RAM and new code could be uploaded leading to Fast-Load routines and custom copiers for protected software. Besides the slow firmware, the big disadvantages were that it had no Track 0 sensor and would knock itself out of alignment, the built in transformer tended to make the drive run very hot, and it could not be easily set to any other drive number. These things were fixed in later models. A 1541 disk holds about 160K.

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Commodore and Atari had very different approaches to drive design.

 

Atari used a Western Digital floppy controller to allow standard FM and MFM encoding of the disk. They put in a single sector buffer (128 bytes) and a 6507-based controller to send sectors back and forth. The whole thing is neat and tidy but has some drawbacks. For one, you cannot easily copy protected disks because there's no way to make the drive write anything out of the ordinary. You can format, and you can write standard sectors, and that's it. So, people made hardware enhancements to give the drive more features and disk capacity. The main disadvantage is that a standard FM disk is only 90K, and the 1050's Dual Density is only 130K.

 

Commodore also put a CPU in their drive, but they emulated the floppy controller in software. The drive was extremely slow by default, but it had 2K of RAM and new code could be uploaded leading to Fast-Load routines and custom copiers for protected software. Besides the slow firmware, the big disadvantages were that it had no Track 0 sensor and would knock itself out of alignment, the built in transformer tended to make the drive run very hot, and it could not be easily set to any other drive number. These things were fixed in later models. A 1541 disk holds about 160K.

 

I agree with you - I know that the Commodore drives were a lot 'smarter' than typical drives, and they could do quite a bit - maybe it was just the sensor being left out that was the main cause of their problems? I can't understand why they didn't implement that feature since it seems most other drives of the day had them...

 

I am a little sorry upon learning about the artifacting methods - the colors used (at least in the few games I've tried) look awful in comparison to the C64. I played a LOT of Ultima III, so when I loaded it up on the Atari I thought something was wrong with the machine, so I tried my other one with the exact same results. I wonder if it would look any better on a standard computer monitor (Commodore 1702) instead of my LCD TV, which doesn't get along well with many of my vintage systems...

 

I'll try the 1702 sometime today and report back, as I don't want to blame the Atari for my monitor being picky...

Edited by TheRealAnubis

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Also, the 1050 system was part of Atari's larger SIO design where each peripheral communicates in a similar fashion.** The upshot is that Atari drives are very easy to emulate since there's only a few different types of communication to handle. This makes the SIO2PC a simple and very compatible project. Emulating a 1541 is a giant mess since you have to be able to handle any uploaded code and then emulate the entire drive on the fly. This is why the 1541 Ultimate is a computer unto itself.

 

 

 

**except tape drives, which have no CPU.

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