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TI-99/4A Atarisoft Ports?

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One of the best parts of PRGE was listening to tales from some of the original Atari and Intellivision programmers.

 

Does anyone here know details on the Atarisoft TI-99/4A library? Who did the ports? Atari’s take on the beige QI console? Did they outsource the programming? Etc.

 

 

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I vaguely remember a webpage with an interview.. but it's not in my bookmarks..so maybe I am recalling incorrectly

 

Greg

 

ps: when it says your post wasn't posted, it was..so you got 4 of this post.. I let the moderators know

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Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

 

ps: when it says your post wasn't posted, it was..so you got 4 of this post.. I let the moderators know

 

Maybe they should call the APP Tapadupe Pro?

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I remember reading a comment from the guy who added the white in the PacMan ghosts' eyes as soft sprites on the TI-99/4A. Was it a comment on YouTube?

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I’m interested on how Atarisoft decided to support the TI with mostly excellent ports of their hits. With the exception of Pole Position (ugly) they’re some of my favorites. Seems like a lot of unappreciated effort on the Atari side of things.

 

PRGE reminded me of the lack of historical information for the 99/4 relative to the other major systems. I’ve read ORPHAN CRONICLES but haven’t noticed many interviews or comments from the original TI people. I’d be interested in hearing stories from just about anyone involved.

 

Lots of good stories no doubt.

 

The remaining creators of the 99/4 and it’s software library will probably be surprised to know there’s interest remaining.

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ps: when it says your post wasn't posted, it was..so you got 4 of this post.. I let the moderators know

Thank you! We've taken care of the duplicate posts.

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Centipede, James Landowski

Dig Dug, James Landowski

Donkey Kong, Douglas Brian Craig and Howard E. Scheer

Jungle Hunt, Jim Dramis and Paul Urbanus

Moon Patrol, Douglas Brian Craig

Pac-Man, Howard E. Scheer

Pole Position, Garth Dollahite and Paul Urbanus

Protector II, Mike Yantis

Vanguard, Garth Dollahite, Jim Dramis and Paul Urbanus






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iiinteresting

 

[P] Vanguard, with Jim Dramis, Paul Urbanus (1983, TI99, Atarisoft) from COIN

 

doesn't say nreleased

 

Yes. And [P] is programmer, not published. And is only used with 4 titles. ;)

Edited by sometimes99er

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With the exception of Pole Position (ugly)...

 

Yes, the graphics in Pole Position can be under appreciated, but the game play is good!

 

If I remember correctly a couple of years back Rasmus played around with 'what could be' in a racing type game for the TI. I got so excited to see him tackle that... then found out he had no plans to take it any further... I was quite literally CRUSHED! icon_tears.gif (still am)

 

The TI has multiple "Top View" racing style games, but Pole Position was rather unique for the TI. Honestly with all the fancy hardware we have these days I'm surprised an improved remake or original in that style of work has not materialized.

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Centipede, James Landowski

Dig Dug, James Landowski

Donkey Kong, Douglas Brian Craig and Howard E. Scheer

Jungle Hunt, Jim Dramis and Paul Urbanus

Moon Patrol, Douglas Brian Craig

Pac-Man, Howard E. Scheer

Pole Position, Garth Dollahite and Paul Urbanus

Protector II, Mike Yantis

Vanguard, Garth Dollahite, Jim Dramis and Paul Urbanus

 

ref.: https://dadgum.com/giantlist/

 

 

 

 

So these are TI coders doing Atari titles in-house?

 

At least a few of these people I recognize as TI programmers: Urbanus and Dramis of Parsec fame.

 

Why then block Atari titles with the QI console?

 

Did the deal include Atari coders contributing anything?

 

Could have been a licensing deal gone bad?

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

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Why then block Atari titles with the QI console?

 

Not Atari titles but ROM-based titles (without GROMs). This is at best collateral damage. You could also suspect that this was a kind of panic. Maybe one of those suggestions in some meeting calling for "drastic measures".

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Not Atari titles but ROM-based titles (without GROMs). This is at best collateral damage. You could also suspect that this was a kind of panic. Maybe one of those suggestions in some meeting calling for "drastic measures".

 

atari titles were ROM based..

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What I wanted to say is that TI's intention was (in my view) not to block Atarisoft in the first place, but to block ROM-only cartridges in general, and so the Atarisoft cartridges (being ROM cartridges) became a collateral damage.

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So it seems TI and Atari somehow teamed up on coding the Atarisoft titles?

 

Seems odd to me that TI programmers were involved at all. I always assumed there were Atari programmers tasked with the TI-99/4 conversions.

 

 

 

 

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I remember reading a comment from the guy who added the white in the PacMan ghosts' eyes as soft sprites on the TI-99/4A. Was it a comment on YouTube?

 

I read that same quote a while ago, and was able to dig it up.

 

Howie Scheer wrote in a comment on a YouTube video:

I'm actually the guy who wrote the TI-99/4A version of Pac-Man. I worked for a small company named K-Byte in Troy, Michigan, who got the contract from Atarisoft to develop it.
One of the reasons the game is slow is that I didn't like having single-color ghosts, and decided to give them white eyeballs. The video chip on the TI-99 only provided 4 single-color sprites. (For those who don't know, a sprite is a small square of pixels - 16x16 I think - that can be positioned anywhere and is superimposed over the playfield.) With 4 ghosts + 1 Pac-Man, I was already one short, and could not use sprites for the eyes. Thus, the eyes are actually bit-mapped as part of the background playfield. (If you notice, when they move horizontally they pass EXACTLY over the dots, and when they move vertically the dots fit EXACTLY in between them.)
I don't remember for certain, but I'm pretty sure that Atari agreed that the improved look was worth the slowness of play. (If not, they would have forced me to change it.)
At that time, the program did everything: The code, the graphics, and the sound/music. However I think I probably had some help with the music from my buddy Jeff. Soon after that we started using specialists for graphics, sounds, music, and then later key algorithms.
TI-99/4A cartridges only supported 8K of ROM. While developing Pac-Man, it became clear that I needed at least 12K, so the K-Byte engineering department came up with a way to have two ROM chips piggy-backed on top of one another, mapped to the same address space. Some additional hardware was added to the board that sensed when the code tried to write to ROM memory. When it sensed this, it switched which chip was enabled. Ingenious EE's...! That how we accessed the extra 4K.
The ROM issue was why there were no animations between the acts. I believe Atari decided to drop them early in an effort to try and stay under the 8K limit, and then never asked us to add them after it was obvious we had to go to 12K. This was probably because they wanted to get the game into stores in time for Christmas, and didn't want to spend any more time in development.
I also did Ms. Pac-Man. The main difference (other than the boards and the bouncing fruit) was that they wanted to change the ghost behavior. Half way through the development of Pac-Man they had hired a guy who had won a Pac-Man game contest, and employed him as a tester. He pointed out to me that the screens in Ms. Pac-Man had "safe spots", such that when Ms. Pac-Man went to these spots, the ghosts would stop chasing her and go into specific "orbits"; each ghost in their own region of the screen (upper left, upper right, lower left, lower right). If you play the game, try and find those spots...you'll see what I mean. That may be why occasionally it seems like the ghosts aren't chasing you - you were in a safe spot, and they weren't!
Working at K-Byte was an extremely fun time. Not only was I writing games, but I had many of my closest friends working with me. When I was developing Pac-Man, some of my buddies were developing Donkey Kong for the TI, as well as Donkey Kong, Defender, and Dig-Dug on the C-64.
Ahhh, the memories....(grin).
Thanks for taking an interest in my game!

 

 

 

Source:

 

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Easter Egg Alert! Howard E. Scheer sat down with the TI-99/4A Videogame House and provided some insight on the development of Pac-Man for the TI system. In that interview, he talked about a very rare Easter Egg...rare in that only early production runs of the cartridge had the code still intact.

 

I put an Easter Egg in Pac-Man, also. However, there were two versions of the game (there was a mid-production bug fix or something); the first version had it, the second one didn't (I took it out to make room for the change I had to make).

 

This one was more complex (I didn't want anyone stumbling upon it). You had to do something like this (let me see if I remember how to get it to work):

 

(1) Set the high score to 110.

(2) Start a new two-player game.

(3) With player #1, let a ghost catch you while you still have zero points.

(4) With Player #2, go straight right until you hit a wall, and then stay there (you should have 160 points I think).

(5) When a ghost catches you, press and hold the "H" key (or maybe all three: HES).

(You MAY need to be on your 3rd man to do this.)

 

I'm not sure if this is right. Even if it is, if you have the 2nd version of the cartridge it won't work.

 

Let me know if you try it and if it works.

 

 

ref.: http://www.videogamehouse.net/pacman.html

Edited by sometimes99er

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InfoWorld, November 28, 1983

 

gallery_11132_2312_26641.jpg

 

I was able to find AtariSoft titles in Target and K-Mart for a couple of years afterward. Up until it seemed there was a massive effort to purge all old stuff and you could find TI and VIC-20 cartridges on clearance shelves, after that Triton and Tenex catalogues were the place to find them. I wonder how many of the AtariSoft carts wound up selling.

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