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Games hacked to work with paddles?

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For many years I have rarely played paddle games. There are only a few that I really loved back in the day (Breakout, Kaboom) , and all my paddle controllers have suffered from jitter forever. Last weekend I was really in the mood for Breakout and so *finally* decided to disassemble, clean and fix a pair of paddles. They are now silky smooth. I spent the afternoon playing assorted paddle games, and then...

 

Started wondering why more games didnt use paddles. And wondered, with all the hacks and homebrews these days, if anyone had hacked a game to use paddles. Certainly driving games like Enduro and Pole position would be great with paddles. Also Gyrus, or maybe something like Phoenix, Beamrider or Juno First? (I only just found out that Astroblast can use paddles...previously I only ever played it with a joystick but its so much better with a paddle). So.... Any paddle hacks out there (or maybe a driving homebrew that I missed?)

 

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Phoenix, Beamrider or Juno First

 

Would be rather difficult for these ones, as they all use some vertical stick movements ;)

 

I'm not convinced by this sort of hack... with a paddle you expect your avatar to go instantaneously at the chosen place, but the time needed to go there with these shmups is part of the difficulty.

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Started wondering why more games didnt use paddles. And wondered, with all the hacks and homebrews these days, if anyone had hacked a game to use paddles.

 

 

They're programatically more complicated. With a joystick you read a single register and immediately have the directions of both joysticks, 2 additional registers return the states of the fire buttons.

 

With the paddles you must ground the capacitors to discharge them, remove the ground, then periodically poll the 4 capacitors to see how long it takes them to fully charge. The polling takes place in the kernel, the routine which draws the game screen, which means paddle games have less complex graphics.

 

This complexity, plus additional time required during the kernel, makes it difficult to hack paddle support into an existing game.

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They're programatically more complicated. With a joystick you read a single register and immediately have the directions of both joysticks, 2 additional registers return the states of the fire buttons.

 

With the paddles you must ground the capacitors to discharge them, remove the ground, then periodically poll the 4 capacitors to see how long it takes them to fully charge. The polling takes place in the kernel, the routine which draws the game screen, which means paddle games have less complex graphics.

 

This complexity, plus additional time required during the kernel, makes it difficult to hack paddle support into an existing game.

Huh. I had no idea that programming for the paddles was so much more complicated! Thanks for sharing the explanation.

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Yup...the number of "samples" read during the display determines the resolution of movement, too.

 

I don't think I've seen a paddle-specific conversion (other than some pinball games hacked to use their triggers - that type is not dependant on timing). There's been some Trakball and Driving controller hacks, tho.

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Very interesting.... I had no idea. I know back in the 80s when I used to play around programming on my 800xl, using paddles was easy as can be. Read a memory location for the paddle value, and just feed that to the horizontal register for your player. I never would have imagined it was so tricky on the 2600. Then again, any time I read anything about programming the 2600, my head spins.... So little ram... Such limited cpu time...no image/video buffer. It blows my mind how anyone can make a game more complicated than Breakout on it. Anyway, thanks for the explanation.

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What's required, from a programming perspective, to read a driving controller? I know that they work very different, internally, than a paddle. Would a driving controller hack require substantially more kernal time than reading the joystick registers?

 

I'd love to see a driving controller hack for Enduro, Pole Position or Gyruss.

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This complexity, plus additional time required during the kernel, makes it difficult to hack paddle support into an existing game.

True.

 

Reading the trackball is even more complicated. But you don't have to do that every scanline to get full resolution. There is a better chance to find some spare cycles over e.g. 10 scanlines than even much less cycles every scanline.

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What's required, from a programming perspective, to read a driving controller? I know that they work very different, internally, than a paddle. Would a driving controller hack require substantially more kernal time than reading the joystick registers?

 

I'd love to see a driving controller hack for Enduro, Pole Position or Gyruss.

Reading driving controllers is very easy. Like the joystick, it is usually read only once per frame. But the problem is the very low resolution (just 16 values per 360°). Therefore using it for absolute positioning (e.g. for 100 pixel width) is not possible.

 

It could be used for relative positioning, but I am not sure if that works well.

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Ram for a TB/DC/Paddle hack could be a problem too, if the original game is tapped out (unless the game was already saving joystick states to a byte you could repurpose, or further optimizations are done to use less Ram).

 

BTW before anyone brings it up: keyboard/keypads are read similar to paddles, but requiring less samples during the display.

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Very interesting.... I had no idea. I know back in the 80s when I used to play around programming on my 800xl, using paddles was easy as can be. Read a memory location for the paddle value, and just feed that to the horizontal register for your player. I never would have imagined it was so tricky on the 2600. Then again, any time I read anything about programming the 2600, my head spins.... So little ram... Such limited cpu time...no image/video buffer. It blows my mind how anyone can make a game more complicated than Breakout on it. Anyway, thanks for the explanation.

 

Yep, that's what I had been thinking. On the 800, at least in BASIC, I just had to PEEK the location and read the paddle position. But I guess we had the BASIC cartridge to thank for doing some of the heavy lifting!

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On the 800, at least in BASIC, I just had to PEEK the location PADDLE(x) and read the paddle position. But I guess we had the BASIC cartridge POKEY chip to thank for doing some of the heavy lifting!

 

Corrected

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That's an interesting question, though -- we've seen Atgames work around a bunch of paddle games so they work with joysticks on the Flashbacks, but it never occurred to me to go in reverse.

 

As others have pointed out, even though the movement of the base shooters might be one-dimensional (just left-right), the paddles are analog and would allow for much faster left-right movement.

 

In other words, we can't make Space Invaders into Kaboom that easily.

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we've seen Atgames convert a bunch of paddle games so they work with joysticks on the Flashbacks

They didn't. Its emulator is using exceptions for specific programs (like the flickerless Asteroids). The game Roms were not altered.

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In other words, we can't make Space Invaders into Kaboom that easily.

 

Makes me wonder if other paddle games could be hacked into a space invaders clone.

 

My brother and I always played night driver as a sort of "reverse kaboom" where alien laser blasts keep raining down, and you have no choice but to stay between them.

Edited by Inky

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In other words, we can't make Space Invaders into Kaboom that easily.

That kernel is not overly busy, so maybe it would work. But I doubt it fits to the game.

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Space Invaders might be possible (there's at least 14 free cycles every other scanline when displaying the most-busy rows, and even a little spare Ram to use)...but then the game may become way too easy.

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I cant comment on any of the programming discussions, but I can definitely agree that the paddle would be huge fun on the 1-axis sliders. The CX-53 Trak-Ball is definitely my favorite way to play Space Invaders and Galaxian on the 5200 - a dramatic improvement in gameplay for all the same reasons Centipede is great with a trackball. I only wish the 5200 port of Gyruss had been programmed to utilize the 5200s analog controllers as well.

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I always thought that a 2 player versus mode of Kaboom! could be fun with one player controlling the bomber with the 2nd paddle

 

@eegad if you want a shooting game for paddle give Solar Storm a try by Imagic. One of my Favourites.

 

 

I'd also like to see someone try to hack the Tank games in combat to work with paddles. You could have 2 vs 2 mode. One player controls the tank direction and movement, the other could aim and fire.

 

Would be more of a hack though - probably needs built from scratch.

Edited by davyK
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The Atari 8-bit version of Kaboom! uses paddles and has this 2-player mode

 

 

I always thought that a 2 player versus mode of Kaboom! could be fun with one player controlling the bomber with the 2nd paddle

 

@eegad if you want a shooting game for paddle give Solar Storm a try by Imagic. One of my Favourites.

 

 

I'd also like to see someone try to hack the Tank games in combat to work with paddles. You could have 2 vs 2 mode. One player controls the tank direction and movement, the other could aim and fire.

 

Would be more of a hack though - probably needs built from scratch.

Edited by flashbackmatt

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