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Dionoid

Stella Programmer's Guide - reprinted book

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Hey Dion!

This is THE Steve Wright that wrote the Stella Programmer's Guide so many years ago. Thanks for formatting my programming guide into a book version. I had no idea that so many people are still interested in programming games for the 2600. There was absolutely no information on programming the chip set when I started at Atari so I decided to sit down and learn everything about the chip and how to program it before I wrote my first game which was Championship Soccer which later was rebranded as Pele's Championship Soccer. Loved my days at Atari! Long live Classic Gaming!!

 

Doing another Atari interview next week for the Video Game Newsroom Time Machine. You can check them out at https://videogamenewsroomtimemachine.libsyn.com/

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On 9/20/2021 at 6:19 PM, SteveWright said:

Hey Dion!

This is THE Steve Wright that wrote the Stella Programmer's Guide so many years ago. Thanks for formatting my programming guide into a book version. I had no idea that so many people are still interested in programming games for the 2600. There was absolutely no information on programming the chip set when I started at Atari so I decided to sit down and learn everything about the chip and how to program it before I wrote my first game which was Championship Soccer which later was rebranded as Pele's Championship Soccer. Loved my days at Atari! Long live Classic Gaming!!

 

Doing another Atari interview next week for the Video Game Newsroom Time Machine. You can check them out at https://videogamenewsroomtimemachine.libsyn.com/

I keep a copy of it within arm-shot when doing VCS coding. Thank you for writing it! :)

-Thom

 

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@SteveWright if you hadn't written that the Atari Homebrew scene would have grown like it did. It would have certainly slowed it down at the least. You book played such an important role in this! I own a copy of it and have also used the pdf of it extensively over the years.

 

BTW, people really love Championship Soccer too. I started a project to give some original Atari games a menu screen. One of those was Championship Soccer. I hope you like it.

 

https://atariage.com/forums/topic/300168-original-games-updated-with-menus/?do=findComment&comment=4584037

 

 

Best regards,

Jeff

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On 9/21/2021 at 9:19 AM, SteveWright said:

Hey Dion!

This is THE Steve Wright that wrote the Stella Programmer's Guide so many years ago. Thanks for formatting my programming guide into a book version. I had no idea that so many people are still interested in programming games for the 2600. There was absolutely no information on programming the chip set when I started at Atari so I decided to sit down and learn everything about the chip and how to program it before I wrote my first game which was Championship Soccer which later was rebranded as Pele's Championship Soccer. Loved my days at Atari! Long live Classic Gaming!!

 

Doing another Atari interview next week for the Video Game Newsroom Time Machine. You can check them out at https://videogamenewsroomtimemachine.libsyn.com/

 

Good to see you here, Steve.

So, what do you think of the modern homebrew works like Aardvark, Galagon, and the MovieCart... to name a few?

 

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On 9/21/2021 at 1:19 AM, SteveWright said:

Hey Dion!

This is THE Steve Wright that wrote the Stella Programmer's Guide so many years ago. Thanks for formatting my programming guide into a book version. I had no idea that so many people are still interested in programming games for the 2600. There was absolutely no information on programming the chip set when I started at Atari so I decided to sit down and learn everything about the chip and how to program it before I wrote my first game which was Championship Soccer which later was rebranded as Pele's Championship Soccer. Loved my days at Atari! Long live Classic Gaming!!

 

Doing another Atari interview next week for the Video Game Newsroom Time Machine. You can check them out at https://videogamenewsroomtimemachine.libsyn.com/

Hi Steve, great to know you joined AtariAge!!

Thanks for writing the Stella Programmer's Guide, which still helps me a lot when developing games for the Atari 2600. It was my pleasure to format your guide into a book version.

 

-Dion

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Wow - how did I miss this?  Awesome work @Dionoid, thanks for the PDF.  I'm ordering a copy of this.  Really cool to see the original author @SteveWright here too.

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On 5/6/2018 at 6:50 AM, Dionoid said:

 

 

I thought it would be nice to have this guide as an actual booklet, so I took the PDF, cropped and scaled it for printing on US Trade Size (6" x 9"), then added a nice book-cover and finally uploaded it to lulu.com (the on-demand printing company).

 

You can order it for $2.45 here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/steve-wright/stella-programmers-guide/paperback/product-23612618.html

(in Europe the price is somewhat higher: €3.45)

 

 

Hi Dion,

 

I just saw this - thanks so much for creating a booklet for the Stella Programmer's Guide, it looks great! :thumbsup:   I just ordered one - can't wait till it arrives! :cool:  

 

Also, a huge thanks to Steve @SteveWright for originally creating the SPG.  I recall reading it from end-to-end way back when and without it I may have not have ventured into 2600 programming to begin with.  

 

Thanks,

John

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Hi all, there is an updated version of the Stella Programmer's Guide booklet available on Lulu
(link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/steve-wright/stella-programmers-guide/paperback/product-23612618.html)

 

Changes:

  • Using white instead of cream paper for better readability
  • Removed the last 4 empty pages, to lower the price even more - now less than $3 (without shipping costs)
  • Fixed a huge amount of spelling errors that were introduced by Charles Sinnett's restructuring. There were some minor errors like "siddabled" instead of "disabled", but also some more serious ones like "movable objects can not be placed..." instead of the original text "movable objects can now be placed...". See also discussions here and here.
  • Fixed the page numbers in the Table of Contents
  • Rewrote the original documentation on VDEL Vertical Delay, which was incorrectly stating that VDELP0/1 just delayed the player graphics by 1 scanline. And also included information about VDELBL.
  • Added earliest/latest write-cycle information for the playfield registers. E.g. for asymmetric playfield in reflected mode, you need to write second PF2 exactly at cycle 48 to have it displayed properly. Thanks to @SeaGtGruff and @Thomas Jentzsch for sharing that information on the forum.
  • Added a warning for the RESPx registers to not modify them during the 24 cycles after a HMOVE
  • Added information on 'early' cycle 73/74 HMOVE and how this avoids the HMOVE bar artifacts (aka HMOVE 'comb effect'). Also added detailed information about moving 0-15 pixels (color clocks) to the left when using HMPx and an early cycle 73/74 HMOVE.
  • Layout change in the description of the NUSIZx registers, which now more clearly shows the different object sizes/copies
  • Fixed the color table for the COLUx registers and added PAL colors
  • Added/fixed information about strobing horizontal position registers. E.g. when strobed during HBLANK, player objects are *not* positioned completely on the left of the visible screen, but 3 color clocks "in" the visible scanline (for ball/missiles this is 2 color clocks). Also, the objects do *not* get set to the same clock as when their reset register was strobed-- they get set to the position that is 4 clocks later (missile/ball) or 5 clocks later (player), assuming the reset register wasn't strobed during HBLANK. Thanks to @SeaGtGruff for explaining this on the AtariAge forum.

 

Below is a photo showing some of the updated information:

IMG_6340.thumb.JPG.e7d236f637fa782c8d31996be1a7bbee.JPG

 

Note that I've added the updated PDF to the original post for your convenience.

Edited by Dionoid
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Hurrah on the updates, my procrastination paid off!  ;)

 

Just ordered this and the 6502 book.  How well do these stay open on the table?  I usually print things like this out with spiral binding so they lay flat .. but decided to get the books since they look nice and are so inexpensive.

 

LeChuck

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4 hours ago, LeChuck said:

How well do these stay open on the table?  I usually print things like this out with spiral binding so they lay flat .. but decided to get the books since they look nice and are so inexpensive.

I know what you mean: I also like reference-books to stay open on the table, so they act as a second screen 🙂

As these booklets are relatively thin and the cover contains folding lines (both on the front and the back), it is easy to fold each page to one side. Then it stays open like this:

 

IMG_6342.thumb.JPG.5bbad32708d1f0c064916d643f68c17e.JPG

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13 hours ago, Dionoid said:

Changes:

  • Added earliest/latest write-cycle information for the playfield registers. E.g. for asymmetric playfield in reflected mode, you need to write second PF2 exactly at cycle 48 to have it displayed properly. Thanks to @SeaGtGruff and @Thomas Jentzsch for sharing that information on the forum.

Maybe you should mention that some TIA variations are slightly slower (1 color clock). This leads to problems like the stray pixels in Pesco (you can emulate that with Stella).

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Can't believe I've missed this all this time. Thank you for doing this. I may have to order a physical copy. Nice touch that you actually defined the color values too. I'll have to look into modifying my code to coincide with the now defined color values.👍

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On 11/4/2021 at 12:08 PM, Thomas Jentzsch said:

Maybe you should mention that some TIA variations are slightly slower (1 color clock). This leads to problems like the stray pixels in Pesco (you can emulate that with Stella).

Yes, that's the reason I used the safe cycle values as shared by you and @SeaGtGruff in this post. I originally thought these slower TIAs were limited to 2600 clones (which I don't care about too much), but apparently also some authentic specific 2600 and 7800 machines have this problem.
I agree that a short mentioning of the slower TIAs makes sense. I'll add that to a future updated version of the booklet.

 

I can't find a rom for that Pesco game. I understand it is a homebrew, right?

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On 11/3/2021 at 6:06 PM, Dionoid said:

Hi all, there is an updated version of the Stella Programmer's Guide booklet available on Lulu
...

Sounds great!  I just ordered a copy.  I have been using PDFs of the programmers guide for years, but there's definitely times that it would be convenient to have a hardcopy reference.

 

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I've found some errors in the book, grammar and spelling stuff.

 

Section 1.0 --> "consists" should be "consist" i.e. "objects consist of..."

Section 7.0 --> "course" should be "coarse"

Section 12.0 --> NPT1, NPT2, NPT3, NPT4 are missing their I

 

Pg 12 Section 2.1 --> "IntervalMnemonic" is badly run together

Pg 13 Section 4.0 --> "carious" should be "various"

         Section 5.0 --> "hand-head" should be "hand-held"

Pg 16 SECAM --> Table has mixed upper/lowercase.  Maybe intentional.

Pg 19 --> "Additional synchronization between the software and hardware."  Not a complete sentence.  This whole paragraph is oddly worded.

Pg 20 --> "part of the new value may both"  should be "values"(?)

Pg 28 --> "previous one and is enable by" should be enabled

 

Minor stuff, but just FYI for the next edition.

 

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On 11/17/2021 at 11:31 AM, glurk said:

I've found some errors in the book, grammar and spelling stuff.

 

Section 1.0 --> "consists" should be "consist" i.e. "objects consist of..."

Section 7.0 --> "course" should be "coarse"

Section 12.0 --> NPT1, NPT2, NPT3, NPT4 are missing their I

 

Pg 12 Section 2.1 --> "IntervalMnemonic" is badly run together

Pg 13 Section 4.0 --> "carious" should be "various"

         Section 5.0 --> "hand-head" should be "hand-held"

Pg 16 SECAM --> Table has mixed upper/lowercase.  Maybe intentional.

Pg 19 --> "Additional synchronization between the software and hardware."  Not a complete sentence.  This whole paragraph is oddly worded.

Pg 20 --> "part of the new value may both"  should be "values"(?)

Pg 28 --> "previous one and is enable by" should be enabled

 

Minor stuff, but just FYI for the next edition.

 

Great feedback! I fixed all these errors and uploaded the latest PDF to the original post.

On pg 19 there was indeed a part missed from the original TIA documentation (see 2600_Tia.pdf).

On pg 20 I removed the word "both" (instead of changing "value" to "values"), which I think made it more readable.

 

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On 11/19/2021 at 12:58 PM, Dionoid said:

Great feedback! I fixed all these errors and uploaded the latest PDF to the original post.

 

I got my copy last week.  I really appreciate the little updates like the PFA cycle deadlines on pg 38. Thanks!

 

I wonder if you could get permission to include the symmetric and assymetric PFA cycle timing diagrams that are posted here in the AA forum in an appendix?  And/or maybe the sound programming info from RandomTerrain (Duane Hahn) here: https://www.randomterrain.com/atari-2600-memories-music-and-sound.html ?

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