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New pacman for atari 2600

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"We were still new at doing advanced arcade ports to the VCS . There was Space Invaders and Asteroids; both of those used their own color schemes and Asteroids looked and played different from the arcade. I wanted to add more color to the maze instead of black and blue, so I chose the colors."

 

- Tod Frye

 

http://ataribook.com/book/what-are-the-real-facts-behind-pac-mans-development/

 

As for the part about the space games, I've heard that before too, but it seems to have been pretty well debunked in this thread. Here are a couple key posts:

 

 

 

And:

I'm just reporting what he said a few days ago at PRGE.

 

..Al

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Good point about the maze. I didn't like it because it didn't have variety like a true maze. It was the same boring pattern all over. Ms Pac-Man wasn't exact, but it also wasn't a board of repeating rectangles and center rows. There's just something very unappealing about that layout. I personally think it's more than just the color. Yes, black color helps, but it's still a bunch of boxes. Even KC munchkin had a true maze, vs a bunch of rectangles. Variety feels like exploration. VCS Pac-Man feels like going around the same block over and over.

 

Exactly. Even if, for whatever reason, he couldn't 100% duplicate the arcade maze layout, I would think he could have done something other than what amounts to a tiny maze copy & pasted 8 times (with half of them mirrored before pasting):

 

mwpWYnQ.gif

 

And that maze has no "flow" to it as you travel through it like the arcade maze, because it is just a bunch of repeating squares. It is tedious to clear such a maze.

Edited by MaximRecoil
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I'm just reporting what he said a few days ago at PRGE.

 

..Al

 

Yes, I don't doubt that he said that; I'm just pointing out how it seems to contradict what he said previously, and what other Atari programmers have said.

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Exactly. Even if, for whatever reason, he couldn't 100% duplicate the arcade maze layout, I would think he could have done something other than what amounts to a tiny maze copy & pasted 8 times (with half of them mirrored before pasting):

 

mwpWYnQ.gif

 

And that maze has no "flow" to it as you travel through it like the arcade maze, because it is just a bunch of repeating squares. It is tedious to clear such a maze.

Repitition saves ROM space.

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Repitition saves ROM space.

Yes. Especially when you have to keep track of two dot patterns, in a two player game.

However, I feel that was a big issue that made the game boring a repetitious.

 

I remember seeing the Maze on the pre order ad. I was disappointed, but thought it was a cheap placeholder. I didn't recognize the monsters nor Pac-Man, but the monsters (on the box) were rotating left and right. It was kind of comical, and I thought that might be cool. I was disappointed when I saw they were just huge, blocky, flickery blobs! lol.

 

I remember, as a child, I resented Pac-Man's eye, and I resented that! It ruined my ability to imagine him as the cool little ball. I resented the SLOW speed of Pac-Man's mouth. I resented that his mouth never stopped when he was up against a wall. I resented the "ghost eyes" (I didn't see them as spinning in circles). I personally resented the term ghost, as I thought it took away from the whole feel of the game for me. I also thought Pac-Man's mouth had a weird opening pattern. It was more of concave than convex when it opened (It looked more like a hand puppet). I resented the lack of a siren. I resented the lack of fruit. I resented the sound effects. I resented that he didn't face up and down.

 

Please don't blast me for this. I am not complaining, but I am sharing the things I would pick out in my head that took away from making me able to imagine this was still Pac-Man. Even though Ms Pac-Man still ate wafers, I could imagine they were dots. Even though the background "siren" was missing, I could imagine that. Even though her mouth didn't stop when up against a wall, it moved faster, and this helped me to overlook that. (It didn't look like she was sloppy kissing the walls) The beauty of Atari conversions, for me, was being able to fill in the blanks with my imagination. To do this with Pac-Man was a huge stretch, but I sure did try. I would play Pac-Man Fever over the stereo, and try.

 

What a joyous day it was for me when I traded my 2600 and games (including Ms Pac-Man) to get my 5200. I just had to imagine the monsters had white in their eyes and squish the screen a little horizontally. LOL. However, the memories and nostalgia of the 2600 and Pac-Man port is why I had to repurchase a 2600 as an adult (and a Harmony Cart!). It's great to be able to look back and appreciate where I came from and where we've gone. The journey has been great, and watching this Dintari port mature (as well as other modern ports) has been exciting. To see Tod Frye comment on it is like a full-circle connection. It's like Back to the Future or something.. LOL. Past meets present.

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From the videos of people playing the Frye version of Pac-man that I have seen it seems that most people try to get all the dots in one "room" of the maze before moving on to the next. That seems like a natural approach and avoids doubling back but causes the player to move in small repetitive loops. That is boring.

 

It took me a long while to realize that the game can be played with longer zig-zag paths that let the player have a little sense of freedom and flow. You just have to go over the same areas more than once and that is counter intuitive.

 

Also, I just wanted to say that I am one of the people who are freaked out by the placement of the exits in the Frye version. Using the exit at the bottom feels like falling into a hole but then the player reemerges from the perceived sky. That is freaky.

 

The same thing happens in countless space games where aliens pass the player, exit at bottom and return at top and the mind accepts it because we can imagine being in space and that the ship traveled beyond our range of sight and or at high speed and returned in front of us.

 

In the confined space of the Pac-man maze where you are imagining that you are earthbound it is hard to reconcile that path. The side exits work better I think because the mind has experience with people walking around behind you. In that case they appear to exit on one side and reappear on the other and the mind understands how this happens in 3D space and imagines an analog in the 2D game.

Edited by SIO2

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Tod addressed this point directly while talking about his version of Pac-Man. He stated it was company policy to not use high-contrast colors, EXCEPT for space games, in order to reduce phosphor burn-in on televisions.

 

 

"We were still new at doing advanced arcade ports to the VCS . There was Space Invaders and Asteroids; both of those used their own color schemes and Asteroids looked and played different from the arcade. I wanted to add more color to the maze instead of black and blue, so I chose the colors."

 

- Tod Frye

 

These don't conflict with each other - they sounds like two parts of the same story.

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Again, I see Pac-Man, and to a lesser extent the other three biggest arcade ports of 1981/early-1982 -- Defender, Asteroids and Missile Command -- as drawing the line in the sand, or maybe several lines in the sand, about what a good port should and shouldn't have.

That's what I see too - up to and including Pac Man the programmers didn't have as many resources available so the goal was to make something kinda like the arcade game. After that it was feasible to add extra ROM and RAM in the cartridges, which made it significantly easier to do more accurate ports.

 

Tod's comment about the 2 line kernel was rather interesting as well.

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Sure do wish IPB had a "notify only on replies from the original poster" option. Loving DINTAR's work, but I just couldn't care less about what Tod Frye did almost 35 years ago.

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Sure do wish IPB had a "notify only on replies from the original poster" option. Loving DINTAR's work, but I just couldn't care less about what Tod Frye did almost 35 years ago.

 

The next version of the forum software (which I plan on having installed in January) has a feature that will send you notifications anytime a user posts a new message. So, that would be useful in this situation.

 

..Al

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The next version of the forum software (which I plan on having installed in January) has a feature that will send you notifications anytime a user posts a new message. So, that would be useful in this situation.

That's a feature that I will be using to keep up with Kevtris' posts, in relation to his Zimba 3000 system. It's going to take many months before Kevtris has a new prototype to show, so when he does, I want to be notified. :)

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That's a feature that I will be using to keep up with Kevtris' posts, in relation to his Zimba 3000 system. It's going to take many months before Kevtris has a new prototype to show, so when he does, I want to be notified. :)

I will be using it quite a bit as well. Definitely a much-needed feature. Of course, everyone will be freaking out about how significantly different the new forum software is.. Always fun when the forum software goes through major updates (which has not happened in some time!) I will definitely seek some beta testers to help thoroughly test the updated forum before I convert the live site..

 

..Al

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I will be using it quite a bit as well. Definitely a much-needed feature. Of course, everyone will be freaking out about how significantly different the new forum software is.. <grin> Always fun when the forum software goes through major updates (which has not happened in some time!) I will definitely seek some beta testers to help thoroughly test the updated forum before I convert the live site..

That's IF you manage to complete the upgrade. I vaguely remember a forum upgrade not so long ago that went bust, and you had to cancel the whole thing... ;)

 

As long as I don't lose any of my private message threads, and as long as no data is lost in the public forum threads, any upgrade should be alright. (But I will probably hate it at first, like I always do...) :P

 

By the way, sorry for the off-topicness, but would this upcomming forum upgrade be a good time to submit some requests concerning smiley icons? For one thing, I would like the "8" + ")" to stop being automatically converted to 8) because it's annoying when doing a numbered list ( 1), 2), 3), etc.) and secondly, I'd like a proper icon to be added for this smiley: ;P

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These don't conflict with each other - they sounds like two parts of the same story.

 

Saying that you want to change the colors conflicts with saying that you had to change the colors due to company policy. And if they were two parts of the same story, him wanting to change the colors indicates that he would have changed them anyway, whether the company policy existed or not.

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Saying that you want to change the colors conflicts with saying that you had to change the colors due to company policy. And if they were two parts of the same story, him wanting to change the colors indicates that he would have changed them anyway, whether the company policy existed or not.

I don't see a conflict. How about an auto analogy that might help you understand where I'm coming from:

 

1) somebody asks me why I wear a seat belt - I say the state law requires it.

2) somebody else asks me why I wear a seatbelt - I say I prefer to because when I started driving I had a Dodge Dart with a bench seat that I'd slide across in my polyester KFC uniform if I wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

 

By your take on Tod Frye, you'd claim that my answers are conflicting. But to me both are true - they're just 2 parts of the same story of why I wear a seat belt.

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I don't see a conflict. How about an auto analogy that might help you understand where I'm coming from:

 

1) somebody asks me why I wear a seat belt - I say the state law requires it.

2) somebody else asks me why I wear a seatbelt - I say I prefer to because when I started driving I had a Dodge Dart with a bench seat that I'd slide across in my polyester KFC uniform if I wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

 

By your take on Tod Frye, you'd claim that my answers are conflicting. But to me both are true - they're just 2 parts of the same story of why I wear a seat belt.

 

Most people would say they want to, followed by "plus it's the law anyway" if they had reason to believe the person asking them about it didn't already know it was the law. Something which isn't technically conflicting can still be conflicting from the perspective of how people normally communicate.

 

But, regardless of that (and like I said before), the fact that he wanted to change the colors means it would have happened either way, which makes the company policy, if there was one, irrelevant.

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And to me the fact that different colors, graphics, etc. was already the norm for prior arcade ports means we'll just keep going in circles - so this will be my last response to you.

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I thought I'd share this with you guys. I recently installed the 820 ohm color enhancement mod to the TIA in my 4-switch woody, and I noticed a few things about New Pacman that I hadn't observed before. From the "Which Atari model is your favorite?" thread:

 

I installed the 820 ohm [resistor] and wow, it really made a difference! It doesn't really show on camera, but I ran New Pacman 8k and the colors are indeed sharper and brighter. Absolutely no adjustment of the hue pot was needed. I can tell now that Pacman and dots are different colors. Pacman is bright yellow and the dots have a slight yellow-orange tint. Before both appeared as a pale yellow. Oh, and the maze is a deeper, almost royal blue color, not the denim blue color it was before. Also Blinky is a true brick red and Pinky is bubble gum pink. I noticed for the first time the pink tint of the ghost gate as well the cherry and strawberry level status indicators have little pink/white dots on them. I had no idea the fruit sprites on the bottom were multi-layer... :cool: :thumbsup:

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I thought I'd share this with you guys. I recently installed the 820 ohm color enhancement mod to the TIA in my 4-switch woody, and I noticed a few things about New Pacman that I hadn't observed before. From the "Which Atari model is your favorite?" thread:

 

I installed the 820 ohm [resistor] and wow, it really made a difference! It doesn't really show on camera, but I ran New Pacman 8k and the colors are indeed sharper and brighter. Absolutely no adjustment of the hue pot was needed. I can tell now that Pacman and dots are different colors. Pacman is bright yellow and the dots have a slight yellow-orange tint. Before both appeared as a pale yellow. Oh, and the maze is a deeper, almost royal blue color, not the denim blue color it was before. Also Blinky is a true brick red and Pinky is bubble gum pink. I noticed for the first time the pink tint of the ghost gate as well the cherry and strawberry level status indicators have little pink/white dots on them. I had no idea the fruit sprites on the bottom were multi-layer... :cool: :thumbsup:

 

I'm surprised this resistor fix isn't a sticky thread here somewhere. The 4-switch is the most common VCS model, and how many thousands of people are missing out on good colors? Some people never even realize there's anything wrong with the colors of their 4-switch, because they've never seen the much better colors from a 6-switch. Plus, this is an official fix issued by Atari, Inc. back in the day, and they even incorporated it into rev. 16 and higher motherboards from the factory (which I believe is well into the all-black "Vader" era, i.e., I don't think any 4-switch woodies had the fix from the factory).

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I thought I'd share this with you guys. I recently installed the 820 ohm color enhancement mod to the TIA in my 4-switch woody, and I noticed a few things about New Pacman that I hadn't observed before. From the "Which Atari model is your favorite?" thread:

 

I installed the 820 ohm [resistor] and wow, it really made a difference! It doesn't really show on camera, but I ran New Pacman 8k and the colors are indeed sharper and brighter. Absolutely no adjustment of the hue pot was needed. I can tell now that Pacman and dots are different colors. Pacman is bright yellow and the dots have a slight yellow-orange tint. Before both appeared as a pale yellow. Oh, and the maze is a deeper, almost royal blue color, not the denim blue color it was before. Also Blinky is a true brick red and Pinky is bubble gum pink. I noticed for the first time the pink tint of the ghost gate as well the cherry and strawberry level status indicators have little pink/white dots on them. I had no idea the fruit sprites on the bottom were multi-layer... :cool: :thumbsup:

The maze color blue is adjustable with a difficulty switch, darker being more arcade accurate.

Cherry and Strawberry level indicators are a single sprite but the tops are a different color than the red fruit part. There aren't pink/white dots on them or both player sprites. You must be seeing a display chroma bleed possibly?

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The maze color blue is adjustable with a difficulty switch, darker being more arcade accurate.

 

While the difficulty switch does indeed alter the shade of blue for the maze, the color change he's talking about comes from the resistor fix he did. Blue is dark and dull on a standard 4-switch woodgrain (and on an Atari 7800), and brightens up a lot when the resistor is installed. I did the fix recently to both of my 4-switchers; you can see a before and after picture here. Notice the appearance of the blue number 0 and the tank; it is more like the appearance of blue on a sixer.

Edited by MaximRecoil
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