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Intellivision Memorabilia

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So one of the works at Mattel of which I am most proud was an internal design tool for creating and editing sound effects dubbed Mr. Sound.

 

While I doubt any code of that remains anywhere, I did just unearth a print-out of the users' guide that I published to the other BSRs.

 

A scan of the first page is in my gallery:

IMG 20180215 0003

 

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Cool. Any other documents laying around that may interest intv fans? Or more of Mr Sound...

 

Thanks

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So "Mr Sound" is a program running on the Intellivision that can create an assembly file and upload it to a PDP-11 or VAX. Is that correct?

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So "Mr Sound" is a program running on the Intellivision that can create an assembly file and upload it to a PDP-11 or VAX. Is that correct?

Yes, it had an on-screen editor to enter/delete/modify the assembly code sound macros, and then the ability to play the sound. This allowed for iterative improvement of the sound effects. When the effect was satisfactory, it would be uploaded back to the host. Prior to my writing this tool, the programmers had to either just use an existing sound from some other game, or very awkwardly edit the assembly on our PDP, assemble, link, download, and play. Then edit the assembly, assemble, link, download, etc for each tiny variation.

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So one of the works at Mattel of which I am most proud was an internal design tool for creating and editing sound effects dubbed Mr. Sound.

 

While I doubt any code of that remains anywhere, I did just unearth a print-out of the users' guide that I published to the other BSRs.

 

A scan of the first page is in my gallery:

 

Post more Daniel,post more! :)

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So one of the works at Mattel of which I am most proud was an internal design tool for creating and editing sound effects dubbed Mr. Sound.

 

While I doubt any code of that remains anywhere, I did just unearth a print-out of the users' guide that I published to the other BSRs.

 

Hi Daniel,

 

Thanks for sharing this, fascinating. All hope may not be lost when it come to recovering the Mr Sound code, it seems that a great deal of material made its way to Intellivision Productions in the mid 90s following the closure of INTV. Unfortunately, but perhaps understandably, Keith Robinson never seemed to have the time to sort and release the interesting, but commercially worthless material. With his sad and untimely passing last year there does seem to be a fresh impetous to have a spring clean, and there have been precidents of such material suddenly turning up with other game systems, noteably the RCA Studio II. I guess you never know...

 

Because the core of Mr Color made its way into Game Factory I have taken a quick look to see what its sound support is like. Unfortunately it seems to be quite basic, limited to choosing one of 32 precanned effects, most of which seem to have been taken from early games (e.g. the crowd cheer).

 

Coming back to Mr Sound, did you work on it with anyone else, or was it primarily your baby? Other than the pitch, volume and duration of sounds what other attributes did it allow you to control? Did it support pitch and volume envelopes for example? Presumably a complete effect was made up of a number of elements spread across different the three tone and single noise channels that were sequenced together. How was sequencing handled, did it support things like repeating an element or elements? Did Mr Color support the additional voices in the ECS? Was the resulting sound code entirely static and stand alone, or did it plug into a sound framework in the game on the Intellivision to do things like support music and the prioritisation of various effects and sound?

 

And as has already been said, if you can share any other material, that would be great :)

 

 

Cheers

 

decle

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So the more you guys ask me about this stuff, the more I realize I've forgotten. Anyway, I worked with Andy Sells on Mr. Sound, and I remember that Dave Warhol also did a lot of the music and sound effects, so maybe he remembers some of the programming details that I don't. But what I remembered last night was that there was a sound function that was called I believe during each interrupt either by the Exec or it was code in the Exec or maybe just everyone included it? That's when I realized, "Hey, I found that copy of Your Friend, The Exec

IMG 20180217 0001

So I looked in that to see what I could find about that.
It was not as useful as I had hoped.

IMG 20180217 0002

However, in the back I did find a table that was more useful.

IMG 20180217 0003

So the sound chip was memory mapped, and setting memory values enabled you to control the three sound channels. IIRC, A standard collection of macros would be interpreted by the sound function to set these registers. If you can't see the last image, the registers set the frequency and amplitude of the channels as well as a simple envelope to alter the sound over time. There is also a noise generator for each channel.
The sound function had dedicated memory as 'sound registers' for things like timing control.
That's about all I can dredge up for now.
Daniel

 

 

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Added to Gallery - For most of my time at Mattel - this was the extent of the game developer's incentive program.

Only toward the end, when facing a lot of pressure, did they offer any cash bonuses, and by the time it would have paid anything, ME was out of business!

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I knew I had it somewhere!

After the demise of ME and with the rise if Intv, I was asked if I could finish up Tower of Mystery for eventual publication. I did not have time or equipment to do the proper job (and I was living on the East coast, far, far away from everyone else in that world), so I declined, but offered to consult as needed.

John Tomlinson got the nod to do the job, and I was sent off a complete printout of the final version of ToM that I wrote so that I could comment and answer questions that John had as he was trying to decipher the things I had done.

 

I just found that listing!

Along with it I have some technical programming documents:

  • Customer Procurement specification for the STIC
  • CP1600/1610 Microprocessor Data Manual
  • AY-3-8910 Programmable Sound Generator Data Manual

 

Also random collection of notes including a list of magic items, prototype room maps, and code fragments

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So the more you guys ask me about this stuff, the more I realize I've forgotten. Anyway, I worked with Andy Sells on Mr. Sound, and I remember that Dave Warhol also did a lot of the music and sound effects, so maybe he remembers some of the programming details that I don't. But what I remembered last night was that there was a sound function that was called I believe during each interrupt either by the Exec or it was code in the Exec or maybe just everyone included it? That's when I realized, "Hey, I found that copy of Your Friend, The Exec

So I looked in that to see what I could find about that.
It was not as useful as I had hoped.
However, in the back I did find a table that was more useful.
So the sound chip was memory mapped, and setting memory values enabled you to control the three sound channels. IIRC, A standard collection of macros would be interpreted by the sound function to set these registers. If you can't see the last image, the registers set the frequency and amplitude of the channels as well as a simple envelope to alter the sound over time. There is also a noise generator for each channel.
The sound function had dedicated memory as 'sound registers' for things like timing control.
That's about all I can dredge up for now.
Daniel

 

 

 

It's ok we are old and we forget stuff! :)

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Since I found my final version AD&D3 - Tower of Mystery T-card set (it takes 2 t-cards since it was 24K and your standard T-card holds at most 16K)

IMGP5856

I have been afraid to actually try it out, afraid, that is, of being greatly disappointed that it no longer works after all these years.

Well, I finally bit the bullet today and dragged the works out of the closet and plugged it all in. At first, Success!

IMGP5855

 

But alas! it was short lived. One tap on the wheel and the screen goes blank. I don't know if bits on the eeprom have been corrupted, or if the T-card circuitry is bad or if some connector is just dirty.

 

Well, at least I'll always have Redondo Beach.

 

Daniel

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Since I found my final version AD&D3 - Tower of Mystery T-card set (it takes 2 t-cards since it was 24K and your standard T-card holds at most 16K)

 

I have been afraid to actually try it out, afraid, that is, of being greatly disappointed that it no longer works after all these years.

Well, I finally bit the bullet today and dragged the works out of the closet and plugged it all in. At first, Success!

 

 

But alas! it was short lived. One tap on the wheel and the screen goes blank. I don't know if bits on the eeprom have been corrupted, or if the T-card circuitry is bad or if some connector is just dirty.

 

Well, at least I'll always have Redondo Beach.

 

Daniel

Is that the same version that was given to INTV Corp back in 1984? There is a rom file of a "Tower of Mystery" prototype on the internet. I wonder if it's the same.

It wouldn't be hard for someone to dump the rom chips if the t-card is bad. How would you play this; did Mattel have a way to plug-in both cartridges at the same time?

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Since I found my final version AD&D3 - Tower of Mystery T-card set (it takes 2 t-cards since it was 24K and your standard T-card holds at most 16K)

I have been afraid to actually try it out, afraid, that is, of being greatly disappointed that it no longer works after all these years.

Well, I finally bit the bullet today and dragged the works out of the closet and plugged it all in. At first, Success!

 

But alas! it was short lived. One tap on the wheel and the screen goes blank. I don't know if bits on the eeprom have been corrupted, or if the T-card circuitry is bad or if some connector is just dirty.

 

How would you play this; did Mattel have a way to plug-in both cartridges at the same time?

 

Hi Daniel,

 

Very cool. As mr_me suggests I guess you must have some kind of dohickey that allows you to plug both T-carts into an Intellivision at the same time, is that right? Looking at the labels on the EPROMs it seems that neither T-cart could be expected to work on its own. I suspect the one on the right in your picture has code for addresses $5000-$6FFF and $9000-$9FFF, with the left one having $A000-$AFFF, $D000-$DFFF and $F000-$FFFF. If you plug the right one in on its own you might get the title screen, but without access to the code on the left one things are likely to come to a grinding halt pretty quickly.

 

Interestingly if we take the prototype ROM image from the internet that mr_me mentions and chop it in half, effectively removing the second T-cart by deleteing the code from $A000 and up, and adjust the .cfg file to reflect this change we see exactly the behaviour you describe. The title screen is shown by JzIntv and the the game crashes when you hit the disc. :)

 

 

Cheers

 

decle

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Since I found my final version AD&D3 - Tower of Mystery T-card set (it takes 2 t-cards since it was 24K and your standard T-card holds at most 16K)

 

I have been afraid to actually try it out, afraid, that is, of being greatly disappointed that it no longer works after all these years.

Well, I finally bit the bullet today and dragged the works out of the closet and plugged it all in. At first, Success!

 

 

But alas! it was short lived. One tap on the wheel and the screen goes blank. I don't know if bits on the eeprom have been corrupted, or if the T-card circuitry is bad or if some connector is just dirty.

 

Well, at least I'll always have Redondo Beach.

 

Daniel

wow! That's likely the version shown at the Consumer Electronic Show 1984 and possibly the most awaited game by Intellivision fans at the time (at least, surely by me). It's an amazing piece of modern history

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Is that the same version that was given to INTV Corp back in 1984? There is a rom file of a "Tower of Mystery" prototype on the internet. I wonder if it's the same.

It wouldn't be hard for someone to dump the rom chips if the t-card is bad. How would you play this; did Mattel have a way to plug-in both cartridges at the same time?

 

There was a Y-connector for stacking two t-cards:

Y connector

 

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And as for dumping the eeproms, I am in communication with Intvnut to do just that. We will see if it is the same as the ROM version on the internet.

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So I looked in that to see what I could find about that.

It was not as useful as I had hoped.

 

Hi, Daniel,

 

At the very back of the EXEC document, in the appendices, there is a "Supplement I" section that is headed, "DESIGNING SOUNDS," page "S-1." The section is dated "26-Jun-79," so perhaps it's not in your document? It's 19 pages long and describes the sound synthesis framework of the EXEC, including all the macros and some examples.

 

Do you not have this document? If so, please let me know.

 

-dZ.

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Nope, my Exec has appendices A-F, and then some extra pages on memory maps and graphics, but there was nothing on sound (other than the memory map of the sound chip).

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Nope, my Exec has appendices A-F, and then some extra pages on memory maps and graphics, but there was nothing on sound (other than the memory map of the sound chip).

 

Aha! The one I've seen (posted in some Brazilian site or such) said "Edition 2.0 -- 1981 June 22" on the cover. It is a PDF of a badly scanned image of an old Xerox copy. It includes 6 chapters (with the one-liner for the sound chip you mentioned), A to F appendices, an index to macros and EXEC subroutines, and the sound designer supplement.

 

Check your PM.

 

-dZ.

 

EDIT: OK, I just checked again the "original" PDF where I saw it and it includes a bunch of scanned documents together with the EXEC manual, such as hardware references and the CPU instruction set. At the end, it also has the sound designer supplement.

 

I conflated it as being part of the EXEC manual, but it seems to be a separate document just scanned and packaged together. It may prove useful in sparking your memory about the Mr. Sound application. :)

Edited by DZ-Jay

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