Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Cool!  You may be able to override the default styling of the links if you want, though it seems that you'd want to only do it for non-mobile clients.  That's an aspect of site authorship I've got no direct experience with at all.  My site's all old-school pre-fancy-tools days and not mobile friendly. :P 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, intvsteve said:

My site's all old-school pre-fancy-tools days and not mobile friendly.

 

The Bally Alley website isn't mobile friendly either.  This used to sort of bother me... but I don't think about it anymore.  If anyone is interested in the Astrocade, then it's presumed that they have the knowledge on how to use a personal computer.  If a user's phone can't handle the hardcore power of BallyAlley.com then they'll know that they have to use a more powerful system to access the awesome site that covers the best game console ever created (that can run "AstroBASIC").

 

Adam

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, ballyalley said:

 

...the best game console ever created...

 

Adam

I second that!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I uploaded episode 11 of the Bally Alley Astrocast today.  In this episode I'm joined by my 25-year-old son, Dominic. We recorded this episode over Christmas break while he was visiting.  We discuss Dominic's memories of growing up with an Astrocade in the house in the late-to-mid-nineties and early 2000s. We also review the Bally BASIC/AstroBASIC game "Hamurabi."

 

1817541274_Hamurabi(DickHouser)(AstrocadeScreenshot)_02_tn.jpg.71e10d75a04d645068de325ca2b1f28e.jpg

 

You can listen to the podcast here:

 

http://ballyalleyastrocast.libsyn.com/podcast/bally-alley-astrocast-episode-11-hamurabi-by-richard-houser

 

As always there are plenty of show notes.  Also, as always, the links in the show notes are black, so they're hard to see-- but they do work.

 

Enjoy!

 

Adam

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad to see a comeback of this podcast after a 2 year gap. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, S1500 said:

Glad to see a comeback of this podcast after a 2 year gap. 

 

What I've learned from the long gap between episodes of the Astrocast is that in order to keep going then I need to record something.  Anything.  Even alone.  I should have know that already, for writing is the same way.  If I'm waiting for inspiration, then I'll be waiting forever.  Just write.  I'm thinking this now about the podcast: just record should be my new motto.

 

I'd like to see the podcast built up to a once-a-month schedule with maybe a special episode now and then too.  We'll see how it goes.  In the meantime... thanks for listening!

 

Adam

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Astrocade has become one of my most desired systems for 2020. I’m so glad theirs a podcast available to listen to!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, adamchevy said:

The Astrocade has become one of my most desired systems for 2020. I’m so glad theirs a podcast available to listen to!

 

 

Good luck getting your first Astrocade this year.  Have you always wanted the Bally Arcade, or is this a newly desired console?

 

When you get your Astrocade, please send some feedback to the Astrocast and let us know what you think of your new system.

 

Ada,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I uploaded episode 12 of the Bally Alley Astrocast today.  In this episode of the Bally Alley Astrocast, Adam is joined by his good friend, and sometime-co-host, Chris++. Adam and Chris review the Bally Arcade/Astrocade game "ICBM Attack." This is one of the very rare third-party programs that was released on cartridge. This 4Kb game was released in 1982 by Brett Bilbrey, Mike Toth and Marian Nalepa (Spectre Systems). It requires a special controller called the "Spectre Handle" to play the game.

 

icbm_attack_title.gif.5d18e74a366176b4c41eb4ee9c94b632.gificbm_attack_game.gif.40d38110c8d703f783619e90fefa45f9.gif

 

You can listen to the podcast here:

 

http://ballyalleyastrocast.libsyn.com/podcast/bally-alley-astrocast-episode-12-icbm-attack-by-spectre-systems

 

There are tons of show notes which are in black (as if you've already viewed the links), so they're hard to see-- but they do work.  Hopefully I eventually figure out what is wrong here.  The links all look and act normal in preview mode when I view the show notes at Libsyn.

 

Have fun!

 

Adam

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just listened to episode 0 today. I really look forward to hearing about what’s in the archives that you guys purchased. I also look forward to episode 1 tomorrow. Thanks and great work! Now I need to find a working Astrocade.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, adamchevy said:

I really look forward to hearing about what’s in the archives that you guys purchased. I also look forward to episode 1 tomorrow.

 

When the first Astrocast episode was recorded, I didn't really know exactly what I wanted the podcast to be about with each episode.  Podcast zero was just an experiment.  Heck, who am I fooling?  Each episode is an experiment.

 

After the podcast's long hiatus, I came back not with a fresh start and new ideas, but just a less complicated idea of how to accomplish what I wanted to do in the first place, which is just talk about some of the games and the unusual software for the system.  Some of the earlier episodes get bogged down in the history of the astrocade.  I still want to cover history and future episodes.  In fact, there is no doubt about that at all, history will continue to be covered.

 

Since you are a fresh listener, and are new to the astrocade, I'd like to hear what you like and dislike about each Astrocast episode as you listen to it.  I'm not asking for a "book report," just some quick comments.

 

Although you don't have an astrocade yet, I presume that you have at least tried one in some capacity, either using an astrocade at a game show or you've used an "Astrocade" under emulation.  Is that right?

 

Adam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 

When the first Astrocast episode was recorded, I didn't really know exactly what I wanted the podcast to be about with each episode.  Podcast zero was just an experiment.  Heck, who am I fooling?  Each episode is an experiment.

 

After the podcast's long hiatus, I came back not with a fresh start and new ideas, but just a less complicated idea of how to accomplish what I wanted to do in the first place, which is just talk about some of the games and the unusual software for the system.  Some of the earlier episodes get bogged down in the history of the astrocade.  I still want to cover history and future episodes.  In fact, there is no doubt about that at all, history will continue to be covered.

 

Since you are a fresh listener, and are new to the astrocade, I'd like to hear what you like and dislike about each Astrocast episode as you listen to it.  I'm not asking for a "book report," just some quick comments.

 

Although you don't have an astrocade yet, I presume that you have at least tried one in some capacity, either using an astrocade at a game show or you've used an "Astrocade" under emulation.  Is that right?

 

Adam

 

I’ve never played an Astrocade before. I’ve never been to an expo of any kind for retro video games, and I really don’t like messing with Mame. I have been interested in the Astrocade since I learned of its existence about 2 years ago.

 

I saw it as a forum topic first here on Atariage under the classic gaming general section. I then started looking into some YouTube videos.

 

I was immediately impressed with its sound and graphical capabilities when compared with my favorite game system the VCS.

 

Some personal background, I’ve been on Atariage since 2013 and have owned als most every major console from the years 1976 and up. I especially enjoyed my foray into the Vectrex and Colecovision. But the great homebrews always keep me interested in the VCS. Also time and money are a limiting factor. I’ve delved deeply into each system that I have chosen to get into playing.

 

One of my main catalysts for getting into any new system is the history and podcasts surrounding it. I love the deep and rich history that most of the early consoles of the 70s have. It’s fascinating to me to learn about how the Technology was developed and why it was developed. I also like learning about the continued development for each system.

 

The Astrocade seems like the next step for me in my retro gaming adventure. I like the history that Bally has in the Arcade space and that the Astrocade as I have learned from your podcast shares some of the same arcade hardware.

 

Anyway, I would be pleased and delighted to share my thoughts on each podcast in some detail as I go through them.

 

I am currently looking to procure an Astrocade. Oh and on another note I really like the idea of the Astrocade controller. That was my deciding factor in getting the console. What an exceptional design, especially given the time it came from and the lack of previous console tech to draw from! I also have four kids, so that is a nice perk having four player capacity. That’s also a remarkable feature for this early of a system.

 

I found a guy on ebay:

 

c6d9cb7388fbf4ded906187487fed08a.jpg

 

He looks like a reputable seller!

 

Thanks again

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, adamchevy said:

 

I found a guy on ebay:

 

c6d9cb7388fbf4ded906187487fed08a.jpg

 

He looks like a reputable seller!

 

 

 

Yup, Allen does great work.  I just talked to him on the phone on Thursday.  I plan to interview him sometime soon.

 

A local friend of mine bought a refurbished Astrocade from Allen last year.  When it arrived it had gotten jostled in the main and the keypad wasn't quite working right.  I emailed Allen about this and about one minute later (literally!), my phone rang.  This isn't "normal" service, I guess (since Allen and I "know" each through forums, phone calls and email), but he was able to walk me, through over the phone, adjusting the keypad's matrix layout so that everything worked fine.

 

It sounds like you're really ready for a dive into the astrocade-- I think you'll enjoy the system very much.  And if you don't, then send the Astrocade you purchase my way and I'll see that it gets disposed of properly.  ;-)

 

Adam

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My review(overview) of Episode 1/podlistener report:

 

My first impression was Wow! That’s a lot of information for your first episode. I had to listen to the episode one more time to get the other half that I missed the first time. Not really a podcast for casual podlisteners, which I’m not. And that’s a huge plus in my book! You guys know your stuff and obviously have a lot of passion for your chosen subject.

 

I like the podcast flow. I really enjoyed the sound of the presenters voices. I know it’s easy to be critical of your own voice, but you guys have enjoyable voices to listen to. I also like the idea of having more than a single host. Ferg somehow pulls it off, but I think he could even benefit from a solid co-host.

 

I liked the description and detail about the

games and the way it was presented. It really made me want to try choosing 0 players on a real Astrocade and watch the computer play against itself. What an amazing thing to have built in to a 70s console! Gunfight and Checkmate sound like great built in games!

 

I liked the coverage of the Arcadian Newsletter. What a nice addition to your show! It’s great to hear from a newsletter written during the consoles Heyday.

 

I really liked the discussion on your podcasts opening music. That’s so cool that your son(if I remember correctly) wrote the music. It sounds like a nice 70s/80s sitcom jingle. It really fits the show very well. It’s like listening to beautiful woodgrain coming out of a flute, if that was possible.

 

I also liked the discussion about your website ballyalley.com. I gave it a visit and am reading through some of the pages on your website about the Astrocades hardware. It’s a really nicely organized website dedicated to the console.

 

Anyway great episode! I look forward to listening to number 2 on Monday.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the review of the first episode of the Astrocast, Adam.  Your review was much more thought-provoking than I expected to get from a casual listener who has yet to use an astrocade system.

 

You noticed several of the issues that I have concerns about the podcast too.  The podcast early episodes are probably not for casual listeners, but that wasn't the orginal intention.  In the last couple of episodes I think that the podcast has become more casual, and for that I am happy for that was done on purpose.  I love the idea of being able to provide additional information about the astrocade not available in other places, but a podcast is not really a good way to get the information across to a listener.

 

I'm 100% comfortable listening to my voice now.  I also have gotten past issues hearing myself say "um," or "uh," or all those other issues that we have when we are speaking out loud.  I also have, sort of, fixed some of the mouth noises that occur from using a digital microphone versus an analog microphone.  I've had a comment on my YouTube channel that it is gross and that the person couldn't listen anymore.  I can understand that, but I can only do what I have the ability to create and do myself.  Therefore, if mouth noises make it into the final product then they are there in all of their disgusting glory (but, really, are they that bad?!?).

 

I completely agree that a co-host is a necessary component of the podcast.  It's not always possible, but when one is available, then a podcast benefits from two people (usually not more) enormously.  As you will hear in future episodes, there are some segments that I sound like I'm droning when I'm talking about newsletters.  It's kind of painful to hear now.  Luckily, Paul Thacker and I begin to discuss the newsletters and letters in later episodes and the flow sounds much better.  Newsletters and letters haven't been discussed recently, but Paul says he's willing to record that episode again.

 

Sure, you can you watch the astrocade play Checkmate against itself, but it will draw its own art with Scribbling too.  To me, this is one of the earlist forms (January 1978) of screensaver-looking art.  Of course, the Astrocade does actually have a built-into-the-ROM screensaver that blanks the screen after a certain amount of time.  Most games also support pause.  It's a great system!

 

Your description of the podcast's introduction music as "beautiful woodgrain coming out of a flute" is certainly the best compliment for the music that I have ever heard until now.  I forwarded my son a link to this overview so that he could see that comment.

 

You want to get a Bally Arcade and you had not visited the Bally alley website yet?  Surely, how can that be possible?!?  There is enough information there to last a lifetime.  Rather than viewing all that information online, it can all be downloaded from archive.org in two large chunks.  Not only is the information on my website available there, but also the information that has not yet been added to the site can be downloaded too.  Here's a link to all of that, plus a description of what you get:

 

https://ballyalley.com/documentation/Archives/Archives.html

 

I hope that you enjoy the upcoming Astrocast episodes.  Your point of view seems important to me because you are listening to the episodes in a very compressed period of time.  At least, that seems to be the plan.  Episodes were created over a very lengthy period, and they change quite a bit from episode to episode, so you'll see many changes over the next week.

 

Adam

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your kind words about my review. I am currently going through the second episode and finding it just as informative and technical. It’s a bit longer than the first 2 at nearly 3 hours so I’m going to need a few more days on this one.

 

Is it me or does the Bally Arcade/Astrocade not get the attention it deserves? Even here on the Atariage forums I’m surprised by the lack of attention. I’m really astounded that it doesn’t have more Homebrew and hardware created for the system. It’s really a shame given that it has such amazing potential. The ram amount alone makes the system seem much better to program for. I always hear/read about the amazing custom chips that were created for the VCS. I think the same could be said for the Astrocade. Just some thoughts I’ve had so far by traversing through the Bally Arcade/Astrocade content that’s available out in the wide internet.

 

I look forward to updating this thread soon with another review.

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/11/2020 at 1:30 PM, adamchevy said:

Thanks for your kind words about my review.

 

I pointed my son to your review and he commented to me:


"I definitely enjoyed [the review of the podcast], thanks for sharing! He was very flattering of my sound. Not sure if being told it sounds like a 70s/80s sitcom is quite what I imagined, but I can see where he's coming from! Now I can say it was intentional, like I'm trying to bring you back to the Astrocade's heyday ;-) "


Looking back at the longer episodes of the Astrocast, I regret putting them out in that format.  I like the shorter episodes better than the longer ones.


For such a short-lived system, one that was plagued with hardware problems from the very start, I'm glad that people notice the astrocade at all.  Does it deserve more attention?  Possibly.  Probably.  Some current issues that any potential astrocade fan fases now are trying to get a working unit.  The MAME emulation of the astrocade works okay for using cartridges, but the astrocade's unusual hand controller (which is great, don't get me wrong) makes it hard to play some of the games properly or easily.  Making a 24-key keypad for use with the MAME emulator is quite possible, but other than myself, I don't know anyone else who has taken the time to do it.


Depending on your point of view, the astrocade may or may not have plenty of homebrew.  Sure,  there isn't much modern homebrew, with only two cartridges ("War" and "Crazy Climber") released for the system.  There was a recent demo created for the Astrocade called "Astrocademo" by Genesis Project which you can watch here:

 

 

If you consider the BASIC games released on tape to be homebrew, then there is a ton of classic homebrew for the system.


The astrocade's 4K of RAM is deceptive.  That RAM is all screen RAM, which must be shared with a ROM program on cartridge.  Under normal circumstances only a few hundred bytes are available, although more can be gained at the expense of using more screen real estate.  For an example of Screen RAM being visible on the screen, watch the computer "thinking" as it generates the maze for the cartridge game "Amazing Maze:"

 

 

The Astrocade's custom chips are quite amazing.  It's the reason why arcade games that use them such as GORF and Wizard of Wor look and sound so good.


Adam

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Review of Episode 2

 

First, I really liked the longer length the first time I listened to it. The second time through it was a bit hard to get through the episode.  The overall length of the episode was fine , but the Ward Shrake interview was a bit long.  I really liked hearing the stories of his collecting adventures and his view points on many different topics.  Ward didn't focus  much on the Astrocade specifically, which made it hard to listen to the second time through.  It was fun to hear about the Vic20, I didn't really know much about that system. 

 

My favorite part of the episode was the Arcadian letters and the game reviews.

 

The game reviews weren't thorough enough for my liking.  I enjoy hearing more about the programmers and from the manual.  I understood that you (Adam) were not a fan of the game panzer attack, and that you did not wish to return to it.  I wonder if this was in contrast to the experience you had playing combat with your friend a few days prior.  I am a huge combat fan as well, and I am saddened to hear that the Astrocade did not receive a comparable game.  Is there perhaps a basic game that was an upgrade of panzer attack?  Your review of Red Baron and that it was a better game was a relief.  I'm glad that both games didn't turn out to be a disappointment.   One of my favorite books growing up was Snoopy and the Red Baron, I have been looking forward to playing this game on the Astrocade.  The review of Castle of Horror made it sound like a fun game, but also frustrating.  I look forward to hearing more about tape games as the podcast goes on.

 

I haven't been able to find much about BalZerk.  I hope this game eventually gets completed. BerZerk is one of my favorites on the 2600. 

 

The Arcadian Newsletter was fun to listen to again.  I especially enjoyed hearing about the different console serial numbers and how it related to overheating issues.  That's something I have been keenly interested in since I'm looking into purchasing my first Astrocade.  After listening to the Bob Fabris letters in your podcast I went to Archive.org and downloaded the entire archive. 

 

Once again it was an enjoyable listen and I look forward to Episode 3.

 

-Adam

 

 

Edited by adamchevy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, adamchevy said:

Review of Episode 2

 

First, I really liked the longer length the first time I listened to it. [...]

 

 

@adamchevy, thanks for your feedback on Astrocast #2.

 

The interview that I conducted with Ward Shrake was sort of a test of several factors that would play into the Astrocast podcast when it eventually became a reality.  First, I was testing the microphone that I used at that time.  Second, I wanted to interview a friend who had done some early work on the Astrocade (he made the first multicart for the system).  Since Ward and I knew each other fairly well, it was easy to wander back and forth between various topics that I knew he was already familiar with, such as the Vic-20.  Someday soon, I plan to conduct some more interviews and I will do my best to provide more focus for the interviewee.

 

I'm glad that you like the letters to the Arcadian.  I've listened to many classic gaming podcasts and the Astrocast is the only one that has anything remotely similar to this segment.  I'm sure this would be a popular segment on other podcasts if material such as letters written to a 1970s/1980s publication were available for a system such as the Intellivision or Atari 2600.  As far as I am aware to this day there are no other archived documents of such material that exists for other consoles.

 

I honestly can't remember how thorough Chris and I were when we reviewed Panzer Attack/Red Baron.  We recorded that first review in my garage, as we were getting construction done on our house.  We also were using an odd astrocade set up at that time.  It isn't that I'm not a fan of Panzer Attack, but the game does have some limitations.

 

One of the beauties of playing games in the modern era is that we can have various game systems.  Of course, this could have been done back in 1978 too.  Someone could have owned an Atari VCS and a Bally Arcade, but it would have been an unusual situation.  Now, it's easy enough to obtain, at reasonable prices, both systems.  There is no reason for there to be an equivalent to Combat on the Astrocade.  I'm glad that the astrocade has its own games, or variations of them that work within its own limitations.

 

The BASIC game, Castle of Horror, is a great idea.  It functions well-enough for a game written in BASIC using, I presume, machine language subroutines.  Since this episode was released, I have revisited Castle of Horror and gotten used to some of its control issues.  Still, the game isn't a favorite of mine to play, but it does show the broad spectrum of what people try to achieve using the extremely limited resources available to them on the astrocade when programming in BASIC.

 

The next episode of the podcast is going to include a review of Outpost 19 by WaveMakers, one of my favorite games for the astrocade and one that stretches BASIC to its limits on this "Tiny System."  If you get a chance, then try the game out under emulation.  The game doesn't require exact timing, so should work fine.  I suppose before we review the game for the episode I should try to play the game in MAME to see how well it works there.

 

BalZerk was never completed.  I think Lance has left that project behind him now.

 

I'm never sure what people think of the coverage of the Arcadian newsletter.  Paul and I plan to record another Arcadian segment for the next episode.  We were exchanging email about this just yesterday.  I think we're going to cut coverage back to one newsletter per episode.

 

When you begin to look through the Bob Fabris archive that you downloaded, if there's anything in there that catches your eye that you'd like to see covered, then send us a suggestion about it.

 

Also, I'm glad that you are able to take advantage of the download of the entire archive at one time.  If you include both archives of the Fabris collection and the BallyAlley website collection, then you are getting nearly 20 years' worth of archiving available to look at in near instant time.  I hope that people are able to appreciate the amount of effort that it took to make this collection available to the public.

 

Again, thanks for the feedback and I look forward to hearing what you say about the upcoming episodes that still lay waiting comfortably for you to listen to them.

 

Adam

(Yeah, with two Adams here, our signatures could get a little confusing!)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Episode 3 Review:

I listened to episode 3 three time. It was a pleasure each time. This was my favorite episode so far.

I really enjoyed your opening segment when you discussed playing arcade games at real arcades. I also remember playing arcade games at malls and other unique 7 eleven/gas stations when I was growing up.

I found the segment where you discussed the games to be very informative, even mentioning the programmers and game development in great detail. You even went into detail about the box art and cartridge labels which was nice to here about.

I was initially very excited to play crazy climber on the Astrocade, and I still look forward to playing it. But the controls don’t sound like much fun unless you play with an X Arcade or some type of real arcade controls. The idea of training to climb a building sounds like the workout of your life. You should be able to do pinky push ups if you successfully train and climb a building.

The segment where you talked about the Birth of JS&A was a joy to listen to. Part of that joy was the addition of Paul Thacker to the Discussion. He did a great job doing research and really was a great contribution. I look forward to hearing more from him in future episodes.

The Arcadian Newsletter was very interesting once again. I really like the discussion about the computer side of the Astrocade including possible printers and other peripherals. What a shame that the Astrocade didn’t become the most powerful piece of computing hardware the world would ever know, and all for $299.

I found the Discussion of ZGRASS fascinating. I wish I could dabble with that language. Maybe if Disney could get access to it then they could finally make a great Star Wars movie! I look forward to hearing more about this unreleased programming language.

Finally, listening to those deplorable letters that customers received from JS&A when they had been waiting for their Home Library Computer to arrive for a year is pretty great. What company today could pull that off? I guess that’s why their no longer in business. You can’t treat customers like that.

Imagine what the Bally Home Library Computer could have been if they made good on all of those promises? They would have been a true Atari competitor and probably would still be around today. Oh well, it’s great history to look back on and listen to.

Thanks again Adam for another solid and fun episode to listen to! I look forward to number four!

On a side note my Bally Astrocade finally arrived in the mail today! I’m going to send it off to Allen to be expertly diagnosed and put into peak operating condition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, adamchevy said:

[Bally Alley Astrocast #3 - Crazy Climber and Missile Defense (released July 26, 2016) Review:

 

Hey, @adamchevy, you're spoiling me with these overviews of the Astrocast episodes.  I'm going to have to make sure to include some of your feedback in upcoming episode the podcast.

 

I'm trying to think if I've ever listened to an episode of any podcast more than once.  I guess I have listened to some special episodes, like an episode of the Antic podcast that is an interview.  I'm quite flattered that you find the Astrocast interesting enough to warrant such attention.  You actually make me want to go back and listen to the episodes myself.  I did listen to episodes #1 and part of #2 to get myself back in the mood for recording the podcast a few months ago.

 

I barely remember talking about playing arcade games.  I'm trying to recall if this was when Chris and I went to a local bar called Sister and played a few of the games that they have there.  Since that time I have gone to Ground Kontrol in Portland, Oregon.  That place is famous for the amount of games that you can play at any time.  However, it's been difficult for me to play any arcade and home console games too much due to my trouble with RSI.

 

One of my favorite bits when reviewing games is talking about the programmers and, when possible, a game's development.  I have partially disassembled some Bally Arcade cartridge games, and this makes me a bit more knowledgeable when I'm talking about them.  Of course, anyone can look at the code in a BASIC game, which is part of what makes BASIC so fun to mess around with on any platform.

 

Before Chris and I started the Astrocast, I once went to his house, this is about seven or eight years ago now, and he went through the game we were playing (I forget which one it was at the time; it may have been Astrozap 2000!) and he made a listing of the BASIC program to the screen.  He made a few changes, all very quickly and without being familiar with the program for more than a few minutes.  I can't remember exactly what he did, but I think he changed the input method in some way and maybe the speed of the game.  I love that the astrocade allows tinkering with the games!

 

Crazy Climber is a difficult game to play in both the astrocade and in the arcade.  In 2017 I went to the Louisville Game Expo and they had the arcade version of Crazy Climber there.  I played a few rounds of the game and got some pretty bad blisters from the extremely repetitive up-and-down movement of the joysticks.  Back and forth; up-and-down: it's a ritual meant to punish a player.  You know the game must be good though, as even as I suspected I might be getting blisters, I kept on playing the game.  If you happen to get a newer version of the astrocade multicart, then Crazy Climber is on it.  Give the game a try!

 

I never know what people are going to enjoy in the podcast.  In a way, that doesn't really matter to me.  I make the podcast because I enjoy creating it and having fun with a few people in the astrocade community when we record.  It's a special bonus that people listen to the podcast and feel as though they get some benefit from it.

 

When talking about the company JS&A, I have to wonder to myself whether anyone cares.  Luckily, Paul Thacker joined me and we were able to get on very well.  He makes the episode segments that he records with me much more exciting.  In a few episodes, you will see that Paul becomes a co-host of the show.  Paul and I just exchanged emails today about when we can record a new Arcadian/letters segment.  It looks like it will be next week; I look forward to it!

 

If you like the background about JS&A, you might enjoy coverage that will probably happen in episode #14.  Yesterday in the mail I got a book from 2012 called "Secrets to a Creative Mind: Become the Master of Your Mind" by Dave Nutting.  I'm not sure how much about the astrocade's history will be mentioned within its pages, but Dave Nutting Associates did design the Bally Arcade in the 1970s and the system is mentioned in the brief overview of the book on the back cover.

 

If you enjoyed the coverage of the Arcadian newsletter, then I urge you to check out some of the issues that are available on ballyalley.com.  Some of the later issues, starting around volumes 4 and 5, have some great ads for some of the tape games.  These are ads for astrocade programs that were mostly never available in any other printed form.

 

If Disney owned the rights to ZGRASS then you are right, they probably could make a new Star Wars movie that was worth watching.  Nah, probably not.  I'm not sure how much we ended up covering about the ZGRASS language, certainly not as much as I had first envisioned.  It's hard to talk too much about a language that is not usable on any platform. 

 

I forgot that we covered the letters that JS&A sent to users who ordered the Bally Home Library Computer when it was first announced in the September 1977 issue of Scientific American magazine.  Those letters were fun to look over because, as you mentioned, I don't think any company would get away with that sort of treatment of their customers now.

 

I hope you enjoy listening to the upcoming episodes and that you are not letdown as the length of each episode creeps a bit longer each time.

 

And... most important of all... congratulations on your purchase of your own astrocade.  Send in some feedback on what you think of the system when you first fire it up.  Hopefully, you have someone in the house who can play some two player games with you.  I suggest giving the built-in games Gunfight and Checkmate a good try.  Next, if you have the multicart, then make some time for some of the more popular titles.  Even better, if you have time to play and submit feedback for Cosmic Raiders, then I'm curious as to what you think of this game that was only made for the Astrocade platform.

 

Adam

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  Hey, [mention=36990]adamchevy[/mention], you're spoiling me with these overviews of the Astrocast episodes.  I'm going to have to make sure to include some of your feedback in upcoming episode the podcast.

 

 

 

Adam

 

 

 

I will have plenty of help playing multiplayer Astrocade games. I have a son who is 11, a daughter who is 14, another daughter who is 7, and another daughter who is 5. They all love playing Atari games with Dad. I’ve been getting them ready for the Astrocade by showing them pictures and letting them listen to your podcast in the car. My wife on the other hand is not a video game fan, but she has played a few rounds of Space Wars on the Vectrex with me and loved it!

 

I would like to hear more about JS&A! I hope to find some more info in the Bob Fabris letters. I really look forward to reading through the Arcadian Newsletters that are posted on your website. I’ve actually been looking through Archive.org for them.

 

I’ll let you know what I think of the Astrocade once it gets back from Allen’s.

 

I’ve been following some of the discussion on the groups.iso. I would really like an option that is more future proof than refurbished Astrocade consoles. I look forward to seeing what they come up with as far as a hardware solution. I was thinking a Raspberry pi 4 might be a good foundation for an fpga core. But I’m not sure that would work?

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Overview/Impressions of Episode 4:

 

You mention in the beginning of the episode that your discussing of the Arcadian letters was dry and boring. I didn’t think that at all. I think they add great replay value to each one of your episodes. I would challenge any podcast listening Veteran to recall in detail all of the information in the first four episodes of your podcast.

 

I really liked listening to you and Chris discuss Sea Devil. It made it sound like a good underwater version of Defender. I’ve always liked Defender in the 2600. I also liked your coverage of the Pits. Chris mentioned liking to create his own version of the game manual instead of the one the company provides. I’ve never thought of doing that. I need to give that a try sometime. I do love a good game manual story though. I think it helps you see the game how the creator imagined it to be.

 

The discussion you and Paul had on the Arcadian letters were also very good once again. Sorry for the vagueness, the first four episodes are starting to blend together in my mind.

 

The thing I got most from episode four was a desire to try typing in some basic games into the Astrocade, and to look through the Bob Fabris collection that’s on Archive.org(thanks so much for your and Paul’s efforts in Archiving the Bob Fabris collection! What a treasure!).

 

I enjoyed the short Tune at the end called Golden Slippers. I would like to mess around with Basic and try and create some music. I think using an Assembly editor would even give you more music creative ability on the Astrocade. Did anyone ever release an Assembly editor for the Astrocade?

 

Thanks again for another episode.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/17/2020 at 6:50 PM, adamchevy said:

I would like to hear more about JS&A! [...]  I look forward to seeing what they come up with as far as a hardware solution. I was thinking a Raspberry pi 4 might be a good foundation for an fpga core. But I’m not sure that would work?

 

You said that you want to hear more about JS&A and, I presume, their involvement with Bally in the initial distribution of the Bally Home Library Computer.  There's so much missing information here.  Bally exited the home videogame market in 1979/1980.  It is sort of a mini-miracle to me that the Bally Professional Arcade was released in 1981 by Activision, Inc. as the Bally Astrocade and then just the Astrocade.

 

I am aware that the Raspberry Pi 4 has an FPGA on it, but I am not sure to what extent it is capable.  Quite a few generations of FPGA chips have come and gone over the years, and I'm betting that even the least expensive current one is capable of running an astrocade "core" on the chip.

 

Adam

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, adamchevy said:

Overview/Impressions of Episode 4:

 

Thanks, @adamchevy, for your overview of Astrocast #4.

 

Well, if you didn't think that the coverage of the Arcadian letters was dry and boring, then that is encouraging.  To keep the Astrocast on a "regular" schedule, it will probably require that the letters/newsletter segment is on an irregular episodic "schedule."

 

Sea Devil was a pretty fun game to play.  The Pits, for all its simplicity, is still one of my favorite astrocade BASIC games.  In December 2019, just three months ago, but nearly 3 years after the Astrocast episode covering pits was released, I uploaded an overview of The Pits to YouTube.  I wanted to do this a long time ago, but is finally available and you can watch it here:

 

 

If you enjoyed Chris's made-up-on-his-own videogame story, then I think that you will enjoy his book from 2015 called "The Classic-Gaming Bookcast."  You can download a free e-book version of it here:

 

https://orphanedgames.com/articles/Bookcast_Articles/the-classic-gaming-bookcast.pdf

 

There is a review of the book, here:

 

 

Finally, Chris began making videos of his book, here:

 

 

If you think that you are being vague about the Astrocast, after having just listened to them very recently, then imagine how my mind reels when I try to remember specifics from episodes that were recorded three-four years ago.  This is one of the reasons that I am amazed that programmers remember anything about the games that they created thirty or forty years ago when they're interviewed now.  If someone asked me the very same questions about what I was doing in 1980 or so, then I would say, "Hell, I don't remember!"

 

I find it encouraging that you would like to type in a BASIC game for the astrocade.  Do you have experience programming in this language?  If not, then the manual is a wonderful introduction for someone who has no programming background.  If you do have a background in any programming, BASIC or otherwise, then manual just the right place to start.  It's here:

 

https://ballyalley.com/basic/basic.html#AstroBASICManual

 

Please, don't bother retyping any programs that have been archived from tape or have been retyped already.  Perhaps you would care to try programming your own video art or a small game.  Be creative and see what you can come up with on your own.

 

Creating music for the astrocade using Bally BASIC or AstroBASIC is something that I have tried to delve into before on my own, but I have no talent for it.  There are several methods for creating music, the best one is to use the program that was developed specifically for this task and is in the AstroBASIC manual in "Lesson 9: Three Voice Music with Astro BASIC."  It allows you to make music that uses all three voices of the Astrocade.

 

You are correct to presume that programming in machine language would give you more flexibility when creating music using the astrocade.  The "Astrocademo," is a 2019 Euro-style demo for the Astrocade that includes some fantastic music.  Here's video recording of it, each showing it in some different manner:

 

Here is the first video:

 

 

and the second:

 

 

There was an assembler released for the astrocade, but it worked from tape and required extra RAM.  It was written by Dave Ibach and is called the General Video Assembler:

 

https://ballyalley.com/program_downloads/ram_expansion_required/programs_a-h/programs_a-h.html#GeneralVideoAssemblerXB

 

There is also a a cartridge machine language monitor called Machine Language Manager.  I made four video overviews that described what it is and how to use it.  Here's a link to the first one:

 

 

I hope that you continue to enjoy the Astrocast and keep digging through the archives of the Bally Arcade/Astrocade.

 

Adam

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...