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Thomas Jentzsch

Legacy versus ARM-based 2600 Game Development

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I whipped up a quick label to use on ARM-based games.

 

CHEATING.thumb.png.f0591d959beec58b927a7e216709dee7.png

 

OK, I'll go back to the taco thread and leave you nice people alone.

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Listen, I know you are all worried about the ARM processor. I am here to tell you the real danger is the LEG processor (Lethal Energetic Gamemaker).

 

@Albert clones 49 to 72 had these chips embedded in them. Now I am not saying that they are fully cyborg, but the impact was undeniable. Literally hundreds of Galagon's were being produced at a rate that just wasn't... human. It was almost as if these things were self replicating. It got so bad the store was shut down with a sign that Albert was on vacation. Which Albert? We know there are several of them working 24/7. Honestly I think it's a decoy and they are building an army. I am seriously thinking of digging up my floor to build a shelter, except that it is concrete. So I got to re-think this whole thing...

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4 hours ago, AW127 said:

Of course. Nobody here in this thread will be another meaning in this point, for sure. Nobody ever demanded, that a certain kind of games, if arm-supported or not, should not be tested, not be made public or not be showed the general public. The discussion is more about the description of certain games and maybe about a better distinctness of all the game types and also about mixed-up competitions. At least from my side.

You seem to have read way more into that quote than I had intended... It was simple a side note and nothing more.  :)

 

Though I am a bit surprised by how everyone ran with it.  But I really shouldn't be because I believe what we are seeing in this thread/discussion is people venting their frustrations... something that's been long over due.  That's really where the "attacks" are coming from.  Developers on both sides of the ARM/no-ARM fence want to their works to be appreciated for what they are; whether they are normal/classic Atari 2600 games and new "super-charged" Atari 2600 games.

 

I do agree that we all need to work towards trying to educate the general public more on the differences between the games.  ...And educate ourselves also in the process... Research!

 

Could you clarify "mixed-up competitions"?  Are you referring specifically to ZPH's Atari Awards or something else entirely?

 

 

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3 hours ago, CapitanClassic said:

For developers who have written in bBasic, or DCP+, and 6502 assembler, does developing the game using those other frameworks feel the same as writing 6502 assembly? I get the feeling you still need to be very cognizant of the TIA’s ability to only output two players, two missiles, and a ball per scanline. If that is the case, then bBasic/DCP+/ARM games would still feel very much like developing a game for the Atari 2600 using only 6502 assembler.

Well... ChaoticGrill is written entirely in 6502 assembly because it only uses the DPC+ driver for bankswitching, fast-fetchers, and 4K RAM.  So basically, yes.  :)

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6 hours ago, AW127 said:

When there are no limits anymore, why then using the old systems at all? Where is the sense of this then? I also would not give a lot money for a great oldtimer car, which looks from the outside like a great old famous car-model, when I would know, that it has the most modern motor of the newest Porsche or Ferrari model built inside and a lot other modern technic too inside. Then I can buy a Porsche or a Ferrari from the beginning on and don't need to search for a oldtimer at all.

 

An Atari 2600 cartridge with a supercomputer inside of it still has to use the Atari's built-in guts to display the screen. It's similar to helping an old person cross the street. You're not carrying the old person on your back. The old person still has to walk across the street. You're just helping them get to the other side faster.

 

The car example is not really the same. Making modifications to a console or making an add-on that must be plugged into an Atari 2600 for certain Atari cartridges to work would be like ripping out the guts of an old car and replacing it with future tech.

 

Making cartridges that will work with any version of the console is not the same as replacing the guts of a classic car. As I've posted on this page, Atari was using bankswitching in 1981, CBS Electronics started using RAM PLUS in 1983, and we got DPC in 1984. If the Atari 2600 really was a permanent part of a home entertainment center and big game companies were still making a profit from producing new Atari 2600 cartridges over the years, those cartridges would be way more advanced today than they are right now. Game companies would have been introducing new ways to beef up the cartridges every year since 1984 (that would have been over 30 years of improvements).

 

This reminds me of a recent blog post I made about the View-Master. If the View-Master would have been more popular and they figured out a way to have moving 3D images inside of reels that would work with any classic-style View-Master, it wouldn't change anything about the View-Master itself. It's still a View-Master.

 

If you take a magic pill or get surgery to improve your manhood and it gives your partner more pleasure, your partner has not changed. The only thing that has changed is your "cartridge." Your partner might have said that the size of the cartridge doesn't matter, but most partners secretly like bigger cartridges.

 

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9 minutes ago, splendidnut said:

Though I am a bit surprised by how everyone ran with it.  But I really shouldn't be because I believe what we are seeing in this thread/discussion is people venting their frustrations... something that's been long over due.  That's really where the "attacks" are coming from.

 

What frustration? About what? I am not a game programmer at all, for what should i have any frustration regarding the ARM? This is not more than fictitous allegations. Maybe you are frustrated, because not everybody is the same meaning like you in this point?

 

11 minutes ago, splendidnut said:

Could you clarify "mixed-up competitions"?  Are you referring specifically to ZPH's Atari Awards or something else entirely?

I think this speaks for itself and is easily understandable. In competition, when awards on the Atari-2600 were given for example, the normal games compete directly against the ARM-supported games, which not increases their chances to say the least. It could be thought about separate competitions. I do not begrudge "Galagon" the awards (to prevent the next fantasy discussion), it's a very good game and earns awards, i just say, that it would be more fair, to let this game compete only against other melody-games games and normal A2600 games only against other normal games. Problem then maybe could be, that not enough games come together, when competitions are separated?

 

1 hour ago, KaeruYojimbo said:

I whipped up a quick label to use on ARM-based games.

 

CHEATING.thumb.png.f0591d959beec58b927a7e216709dee7.png

 

OK, I'll go back to the taco thread and leave you nice people alone.

 

1 hour ago, Omegamatrix said:

Listen, I know you are all worried about the ARM processor. I am here to tell you the real danger is the LEG processor (Lethal Energetic Gamemaker).

 

@Albert clones 49 to 72 had these chips embedded in them. Now I am not saying that they are fully cyborg, but the impact was undeniable. Literally hundreds of Galagon's were being produced at a rate that just wasn't... human. It was almost as if these things were self replicating. It got so bad the store was shut down with a sign that Albert was on vacation. Which Albert? We know there are several of them working 24/7. Honestly I think it's a decoy and they are building an army. I am seriously thinking of digging up my floor to build a shelter, except that it is concrete. So I got to re-think this whole thing...

 

Ah i see, it turnes into a funny discussion now. Finally. :)  But "KaeruYojimbo", why only such a nice new label for the ARM-supported game-cartridges? We should additionally use another new label, which belongs directly on the Atari-2600 console itself? I beamed it directly from 1979 into 2020.

 

1963673957_thenewlogo.thumb.jpg.e2fe8640b57fd296662793abefd88d68.jpg

 

Can be printed directly on adhesive paper. 😀

 

 

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13 minutes ago, Random Terrain said:

 

If you take a magic pill or get surgery to improve your manhood and it gives your partner more pleasure, your partner has not changed. The only thing that has changed is your "cartridge." Your partner might have said that the size of the cartridge doesn't matter, but most partners secretly like bigger cartridges.

 

Really? Many man would think they are not real man anymore, when they must use a pill first, just to get their little friend work. Could even be, that the partners meaning here is the secondary problem then.

 

13 minutes ago, Random Terrain said:

 

The car example is not really the same.

 

The car example is not really the same. Okaaayyyyyyy. But the dick example is the same, right? :)

 

Edited by AW127

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2 minutes ago, AW127 said:

What frustration? About what? I am not a game programmer at all, for what should i have any frustration regarding the ARM? This is not more than fictitous allegations. Maybe you are frustrated, because not everybody is the same meaning like you in this point?

 

That quote was not targeted at you.  I was talking about everyone's frustrations IN GENERAL.  Why were you triggered by that?

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9 minutes ago, splendidnut said:

That quote was not targeted at you.  I was talking about everyone's frustrations IN GENERAL.  Why were you triggered by that?

 

Normal, cause you quoted me, when you talk about frustration, it's clear whom you meant.  :)

 

 

 

 

Edited by AW127

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Hm, i am having some trouble with my PC and the thread here. First some messages was not sent and then they were sent three times. Now three times the same stands here. Must make a newstart and will be back in some minutes. :)

Edited by AW127

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7 minutes ago, AW127 said:

 

Normal, cause you quoted me, when you talk about frustration, it's clear whom you meant.  :)

That was not my intention.  Usually when I quote a person, I use that as spring board for the rest of my post.  I apologize for any confusion.  Only the first line (about the side-note) and the last line (clarification on "mixed-up competitions") were actually meant for you specifically.  The rest of that post was for everyone.

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Okay, i am back. Had a strange problem with my PC some minutes ago. First i could not sent new entries or now i think, the thread simply dont updated first. Then i sent it again and again and now its there three times. Maybe an operator can delete the double-posts, seems like users can not do this by their own.

 

Back to the topic - it's okay "splendidnut", i dont wanted to argue at all, when i started this whole topic. Sadly it turned in a direction where argueing comes up, but also okay. Not always, all people must have the same opinion. That's all normal, i dont have a problem with that.   :)

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32 minutes ago, Random Terrain said:

 

An Atari 2600 cartridge with a supercomputer inside of it still has to use the Atari's built-in guts to display the screen. It's similar to helping an old person cross the street. You're not carrying the old person on your back. The old person still has to walk across the street. You're just helping them get to the other side faster.

 

The car example is not really the same. Making modifications to a console or making an add-on that must be plugged into an Atari 2600 for certain Atari cartridges to work would be like ripping out the guts of an old car and replacing it with future tech.

 

Making cartridges that will work with any version of the console is not the same as replacing the guts of a classic car. As I've posted on this page, Atari was using bankswitching in 1981, CBS Electronics started using RAM PLUS in 1983, and we got DPC in 1984. If the Atari 2600 really was a permanent part of a home entertainment center and big game companies were still making a profit from producing new Atari 2600 cartridges over the years, those cartridges would be way more advanced today than they are right now. Game companies would have been introducing new ways to beef up the cartridges every year since 1984 (that would have been over 30 years of improvements).

 

This reminds me of a recent blog post I made about the View-Master. If the View-Master would have been more popular and they figured out a way to have moving 3D images inside of reels that would work with any classic-style View-Master, it wouldn't change anything about the View-Master itself. It's still a View-Master.

 

If you take a magic pill or get surgery to improve your manhood and it gives your partner more pleasure, your partner has not changed. The only thing that has changed is your "cartridge." Your partner might have said that the size of the cartridge doesn't matter, but most partners secretly like bigger cartridges.

 

I don't think there is anything wrong with buying an old car that you really love and putting a modern crate engine in it, especially if it's not a show car and will used as a driver.  Many people who like old cars actually do this.  Another option is buying a wreck and just pulling the whole drivetrain, the harness and sensors and so on.  Yet another option is rebuilding the engine and making upgrades to it.  Bore out the cylinders, change out the cam, valves etc.  Having modern components in a classic to make it faster or more reliable or whatever the case may be, while retaining the classic styling and interior, is not at all a bad idea.

 

 

Steroids is probably a better example.  You can't just pump yourself full of steroids and get big and ripped. You still have to work out really hard or you will just get fat.  It won't magically make you a better football player either, you still have to practice a lot.

 

Steroids also cause grief for sporting competitions.  If they allow steroid use, it becomes a race to the bottom and everyone has to use steroids to remain competitive.  This seems to be more or less what people are complaining about.

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6 minutes ago, christo930 said:

I don't think there is anything wrong with buying an old car that you really love and putting a modern crate engine in it, especially if it's not a show car and will used as a driver.  Many people who like old cars actually do this.  Another option is buying a wreck and just pulling the whole drivetrain, the harness and sensors and so on.  Yet another option is rebuilding the engine and making upgrades to it.  Bore out the cylinders, change out the cam, valves etc.  Having modern components in a classic to make it faster or more reliable or whatever the case may be, while retaining the classic styling and interior, is not at all a bad idea.

 

I have a completely opposite view to this. No way in hell would I destroy a classic car by putting modern stuff in it.

When I see vintage motorcycles "done up" with new chrome, new paint jobs, etc.... I despair at the loss.

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Here i like this sentence

 

25 minutes ago, christo930 said:

Steroids also cause grief for sporting competitions.  If they allow steroid use, it becomes a race to the bottom and everyone has to use steroids to remain competitive.  This seems to be more or less what people are complaining about.

 

and here i like this

 

18 minutes ago, Andrew Davie said:

 

I have a completely opposite view to this. No way in hell would I destroy a classic car by putting modern stuff in it.

When I see vintage motorcycles "done up" with new chrome, new paint jobs, etc.... I despair at the loss.

 

 

Not that people wonder, why i click on "like" on both entries, though "Andrew" wrote, that he had a completely opposite view than "christo", but this was about another point in the entry.

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55 minutes ago, AW127 said:

1963673957_thenewlogo.thumb.jpg.e2fe8640b57fd296662793abefd88d68.jpg

 

The SillyVenture party in Gdansk doesn't allow modern technology in the Atari competition along similar lines -

 

Gdansk is an awesome town and I loved the salt mines when I visited, memories of the swirling underground rivers a mile below ground flowing with sparkling pastel colors influenced my Breakout2002 entry and possibly, whomever wrote Zork.

 

 Take a look at the party - these guys are uber nerds having tremendous fun!  I wouldn't mind if they allowed the ARM to compete but I understand the authenticity being a reason to disqualify it from competition for not being a contemporary Atari technology even though it fits in the cartridge port:

 

There is also an international BASIC 10 liner competition that bB cannot enter because of the form factor, SuperCharger BASIC has an old-school mode for folks that like to write classic BASIC just like in the 80's that is compatible with the contest.

 

I think these perspectives are both just as valid as Nolan Bushnell's latest take that any system can be used to create an Atari game.

 

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I think the biggest issue with this thread is no one actually really knows what it's about. The title really doesn't do justice either because it looks like something from a mortal kombat splash screen "Legacy vs ARM -- FIGHT ". You only need to read through the 12 pages of comments and programmer or not it will leave your head spinning to what is really the subject.

 

Humans by nature want to solve issues and when topics are really not clear as to what they're really about everyone's going their own route. Like said before the differences are apples and oranges so what really is the conversation about...

 

Also using the automotive analogy about classic cars is probably not the best idea. If any of you are like myself with a passion for cars on numerous automotive forums it's this thread x10. Infact the age old debate "should classic cars be modified" is never ending topic. Always ends the same "do what you want it's your car ect ect", "no that's blasphemy ect ect" It's like a broken record making no progress, it just goes on and on and on and on...

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22 minutes ago, Mr SQL said:

 

Gdansk is an awesome town and I loved the salt mines when I visited, memories of the swirling underground rivers a mile below ground flowing with sparkling pastel colors influenced my Breakout2002 entry and possibly, whomever wrote Zork.

 

 

Cool. :thumbsup: Not long ago, that i was in Poland with two friends, by the way. We visited Zakopane and Oppeln (Opole), cause one of these two friends is half-german and half-polish. His mother is from Oppeln and his grandmother still lives there. And there is a sky-jumping event in Zakopane also in these days.

 

And Atari is big in Polands retro-scene. I knew this not only from people like Lotharek (from Lothareks Lair), who built things like the HxC, SIO2SD, Ultrasatan-adapter and so on, but also from some other polish people, which i know from different forums or retropartys.

Edited by AW127
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50 minutes ago, Andrew Davie said:

 

I have a completely opposite view to this. No way in hell would I destroy a classic car by putting modern stuff in it.

When I see vintage motorcycles "done up" with new chrome, new paint jobs, etc.... I despair at the loss.

Beats rusting in the junkyard or worse, the crusher.

 

Don't get me wrong, original is good too.

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'Kay... lemme see if i can write some sort of coherent response to this without getting too many peoples' knickers in a twist (or undies in a bunch, if you're on this side of the pond).

 

I should point out I've been putting this post together off and on over the course of several hours, so it may have lost any of its intended coherency. The problem is, English is my primary language, but I'm just not very good at it. ;) 

23 hours ago, Andrew Davie said:

But we're not all developers anymore. In fact, I daresay that developers - the "good old boys" if you like - are now a tiny tiny fraction of those interested in Atari 2600. It's no longer a community about developing games on the machine. It's much more a community interested in playing games on the machine.

The same thing happened to MAME. It started out as an arcade game preservation project, but as more casual users discovered it, the complaints (and vitriol) about it just started rolling in as people began to complain about what they wanted it to be, rather than what it actually was intended to be by the developers.

 

When I got to AtariAge, it was breath of fresh air after the drama within the MAME scene (I miss OverClocked...). AA was a smaller community then, but it had already moved well beyond a primarily developer focused site, and the majority of the forums were user-centric. I ended up gravitating toward the developer forums though, because that part of it fascinated me far more than the games that I had already played to death over the previous 20+ years. The new life being breathed into this antiquated little machine intrigues me to no end. If there were no homebrew scene, or no new games being made, my interest in the 2600 would've died long ago except as a historical curiosity. My console certainly wouldn't have the center seat in front of my TV, getting more use than my PS4 does. (My PS4 is lonely... even though I keep buying new games for it.)

Quote

But I've been disillusioned, as I said, with the community "feel" - it's no longer tight-knit and supportive. It used to be something special and rewarding. But now it's fragmented, argumentative, and seems not to care about the mental health and happiness of others in the "other camps" in the community.

Popularity is the downfall of any online community. (Shakes fist at young people who listen to the 'hip and hop' music, and ignore my shouts of "get off of my lawn" while their faces are buried in their mobile cellular telephone contraptions.)

Quote

And back to the comments on the YouTube videos. It is clear that the majority of people look at a video and compare to the games of the past and their childhood - and are of course gobsmacked. There's little correction in the comments of the mistaken belief that these games could have been done "back then" and I've finally come to the conclusion that it really doesn't matter.

To the end user, it indeed doesn't matter. But it would be nice if there was more commentary on YouTube from the programmers in that regard.

 

It's too bad that it doesn't matter though, and that more people aren't curious about what goes into making a homebrew. But that's pretty-much how it goes with any consumer products. Creators create. Consumers consume. If the creators are lucky, maybe some consumers will have their interest sparked in how things are created, and come to some superficial appreciation of it. But generally, only other creators of a similar mindset will genuinely appreciate the inner workings of those creations, and why they're important to their creators.

16 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

Since I got little feedback to my quoted post, I have to say that I am still quite irritated.

 

Why feel people negative about this kind of discussion? Why is having different opinions and sharing them regarded as something bad (or make some people feel bad)? As far as I can tell, the whole discussion here was very rational and polite. There were no personal attacks, insults, name callings etc. which are poisoning the web. Is this maybe a fall out of what happens in the web, so that people are afraid that such discussions may leak that poison into AA? 

 

I really would like to understand.

Because when suggestions are made that other peoples' creative work might be treated differently than the way they intended, then those creators feel marginalized.

 

For example:

On 1/5/2020 at 7:06 PM, AW127 said:

True. And in my mind really begins a little fear, that "normal" Atari-2600 games, could have a hard time in the future. Don't understand me wrong people, i really appreciate quality games like this here (waiting by myself for the digital download of "Galagon" with big anticipation), but on the other hand, there is this little fear growing inside me, that normal Atari-2600 games could have problems, getting enough attention in the future, no matter how good they are and no matter how much good program-code a programmer has put inside. They simply can't do what the ARM-supported games can do and alot people EVEN DON'T KNOW that certain games are ARM-supported. Maybe this should be made more clearly recognizable on the boxes of these games, or something like that? (just a suggestion) And so, the normal technical limits of the Atari-2600 could maybe disappear, but exactly these limits, defines a retro-system.

So while the main point of this post was a concern about the possibility of hardware-enhanced games gaining favor over non-enhanced games, the part that jumped out to me was:

Quote

normal Atari-2600 games could have problems, getting enough attention in the future, no matter how good they are and no matter how much good program-code a programmer has put inside. They simply can't do what the ARM-supported games can do and alot people EVEN DON'T KNOW that certain games are ARM-supported. Maybe this should be made more clearly recognizable on the boxes of these games, or something like that? (just a suggestion) And so, the normal technical limits of the Atari-2600 could maybe disappear, but exactly these limits, defines a retro-system.

The way this can be read, is that:

  • "Normal" 2600 games are at risk, because of ARM-supported games.
  • ARM-supported games can't be defined as retro-system games, despite the fact that they can be played on them.
  • People aren't aware of the intricacies of ARM-supported games, and therefore those games should be branded as such to inform people that they are not "normal".
  • Developers who have coded ARM-supported games are putting "normal" 2600 games at risk by doing so, and their work should be branded as "not normal".

That may very well have not been the intent. But it can certainly be read that way, because the implication is that someone is suggesting that someone else's work should be defined in a certain manner.

 

If I can flip the tables here for a second, and make an absurd comparison: What if the suggestion had been "Maybe all 'normal' 2600 games should be labeled that they have no extra hardware inside?" (Which was, in way, suggested.) How would programmers of non-hardware-enhanced games respond to that?

 

I'm pretty sure nobody would want this slapped on their game:

 

no-arm-no-foul.gif.d1ba6ead0e1380d08e4840b9ea4e2c9a.gif

Now of course, this is intended as a joke, and not as a serious suggestion. But it wouldn't feel very cool if that were the implication, and this is what someone was suggesting should be seen in the AtariAge store, right?

 

its-a-compliment.jpg.3e5e594ca85675dedeeb9538fed66e00.jpg

 

This game makes no use of advanced hardware, extra RAM, or other modern cartridge enhancements.

 

8 hours ago, AW127 said:

The discussion is more about the description of certain games and maybe about a better distinctness of all the game types and also about mixed-up competitions. At least from my side.

On 1/23/2020 at 4:40 AM, Thomas Jentzsch said:

So for me the whole topic is not about if modern technology should be used or not (as a developer or customer I can decide if that is relevant to me or not), but only about being transparent and informing the customer. The AA store already has e.g. the Melody label, but the info behind is probably too technical and detailed for most customers.

I'd suggest that one way to go about that would be for programmers to create a blog entry for their games. They could type up a description of how they made the game, why they made it, and why those choices were important to them. Then they could ask Albert to add a link to the game's store description. Or if they don't want to go the blog route, just link to the development thread itself. Something like:

 

Read more about how the programmer created this amazing game!

 

But it would be up to the programmer to decide whether they wanted to include that or not, and it would give the programmer the opportunity to promote their work exactly as they saw fit to do so.

On 1/12/2020 at 1:48 PM, AW127 said:

On some of the questions from different people here in this thread, you can easily see, that they don't know, that the game is enhanced. Not all people here are specialists to the Atari-2600 and it's games.

And most never will be. And I submit that it would make absolutely no difference to the vast majority of those people even if they did know that somehow the game was enhanced. All they typically care about is the end result.

Quote

You react this way, other programmers react in another way. Alot of programmers don't want to program the ARM and when bad comments then come about the "normal" games of these programmers, they probably stop making new games. That's an equally valid point to your statement.

As for "bad" comments - which games, and which comments? I see a lot of non-hardware-enhanced games that get tremendously positive comments. ZeroPage Homebrew showcases them frequently. If a game is getting bad comments, maybe the issue lies with the game itself, and doesn't necessarily stem from a point of comparison with hardware-enhanced games.

Quote

What has programing the ARM to do with the Atari-2600 and it's normal technical limits anymore?

It's an evolution of the platform, and the limits being pushed against are those that the programmers choose to impose upon themselves. Who's to define what's "normal". At what point are programming tricks or bankswitching schemes used on the 2600 considered no longer "normal"? 1978? 1979? 1983? 1989? 2000?

 

Had Atari followed their original plan, the 2600 would have been replaced before the end of 1979 with what would instead become the 400/800 (and eventually the 5200). Then everything after this point wouldn't have existed anyway.

On 1/12/2020 at 2:20 PM, Thomas Jentzsch said:

IMO it is clearly not the games' or your fault (you are doing your very best to make everything fully transparent), but how the ARM and non ARM games are treated by too(?) many people. They are comparing apples and oranges, and even tend to believe that some great modern games tower above the master pieces of the developer legends of the past. There is a risk that this becomes mainstream and then will affect the console's history.

I recognize the concern, but how many are "too" many people? 10? 30? 100?

 

I don't see this happening. Not in any meaningful way.

 

For one thing, the history of the 2600 and its legacy games are well-established and well-documented.

 

If the perception changes that hardware-enhanced games are somehow now the normal for the system, I think that it would be by such a small minority of the populace it would have effectively zero tangible impact on the console's actual history. This is already a small community, and the number of people paying attention to it (much less buying homebrews) is smaller still.

 

Besides that, the ARM itself is part of the console's history now. For over 10 years. Homebrews are what is keeping the 2600 alive, and hardware-enhanced games are part of the homebrew scene. But only a part of it.

 

As for the console's history, do you mean it's actual history, or the perception of it within this community? For people outside of this community that I've talked to about the 2600, it's almost a joke. It's considered such an antiquated, underpowered, primitive system that it effectively has no merit in their eyes.

 

When I look at something like AtGames' Flashback, I cringe at many of the games that are on it, because they don't really represent the best the 2600 could do, even back-in-the day. How negatively does that affect peoples' perception of the 2600, and on a much larger scale than homebrews ever will?

 

Let's consider for a moment the early games of the 2600:

 

874312586_Combat(1977)(Atari)_1.thumb.png.350a0873ad18cd7c545861ef1f22eed4.png608026060_VideoOlympics(1977)(Atari).thumb.png.38f9a8c8a4c349806484c82c351a00c6.png1089363334_StreetRacer(1977)(Atari).thumb.png.a02bc412404ac8aa5865411c810432cf.png1948608980_FunwithNumbers(1980)(Atari).thumb.png.8083eac3d581f351dd15d0c37295d1db.png362432307_Hangman(1978)(Atari).thumb.png.f6e97fe1703430a8e10d12cfe3c98ce8.png770803334_StarShip(1977)(Atari).thumb.png.59d1f3e9f5c44d8388fd3aaf748dfad2.png

 

That's what the general public thinks of the 2600, if they think of it at all.

 

But consider what came out a few short years later:

 

1614919843_GrandPrix(1982)(Activision).thumb.png.ce5f99486a0415389e24af04693bf61f.png330272317_Pitfall!(1982)(Activision).thumb.png.6c0987c9f80ac17f72996e27cef1dd0d.png763529626_RobotTank(1983)(Activision)_1.thumb.png.acdf192b035dcedb0ebad7e9b637fcbf.png1321121515_AtlantisII(1982)(Imagic).thumb.png.3e3181ed7bddbdcd64d0bcbee6ada3d9.png

538076170_DragonTreasure(Funvision)_2.thumb.png.d02f1cef360a87085a86f5baf6ff883e.png1718995669_Ms.Pac-Man(1983)(Atari)_3.thumb.png.d5e1dc36612e807a1cd30dc007b557af.png

 

Those don't look even remotely like they used the same hardware. But that's what those of us who owned, played, and loved the 2600 remember. Both extremes and everything in-between.

 

That said, most people, including probably most who frequent these forums, have no idea how the same console could produce both sets of games. Labeling a game as hardware-enhanced will make no difference to them.

 

As an aside though, when I've shown people with a fascination for technology the homebrews that are being created, universally they're impressed. Whether it's a hardware-enhanced game or not, just the thought that you could create a 2600 game yourself blows their minds. The more enthusiastic ones (typically ones who played 2600 games back-in-the-day) will invariably ask, "How'd you do that?" Then I can get into discussions about how the console displays graphics, different ROM sizes, bankswitching, extra RAM, and yes - the ARM, and that we even have flash-based carts we can load thousands of games on. Then they want to go get a console of their own.

Quote

But when, for example, for my C64 as many Super-CPU-games would come out as normal C64 games and when then, in the end of the year, people would name mostly SCPU-games for the "favorites of the year", i would make the same statement, that i made here with my fear, that normal C64 could disappear in the future. Should people simply overlook, that something like this could happen?

Did "normal" C64 games disappear? Are these Super-CPU games?

On 1/11/2020 at 12:08 PM, AW127 said:

For me, this is not the main-point. Of course people can and should write software for the upgrades, it's also interesting, how far it can go technically. But the problem and the main-point is, that this could finally prevent programers, from writing normal games for our beloved Atari VCS-2600 in the future. THIS is the problem in my opinion.

 

And i don't think, that you, as a Atari-2600 fan like we all are, would like it, when no normal games would come out in the future for the machine. I really DON'T hope, that this will happen, i just express my fear, that it could happen. And it can happen. And if it happens, what ARM-supported games then have to do with the real Atari-2600 hardware in the future, when they are not bound on the limits of the real console? Then borders disappear and the Atari-2600 games could loose their special characteristics in the future. Would be sad, i think. But okay, it's not possible to stop the march of time, but sad it would be anyway.

I highly, highly doubt this will happen.

 

There's nothing preventing anyone from making a 2600 game anyway they want to. For some, the challenge has been and remains making a game under the original constraints of the system. We have more people making homebrews for the 2600 now than I've ever seen, including games written in assembly, batari Basic and C, with some programmers incorporating multiple approaches. The hobby is more vibrant and diverse than ever. Many of the most fun games currently being created are simple games that run on stock hardware. I can't count how many games of Amoeba Jump or Tower of Rubble I've played, and I'm really looking forward to playing through many of the other games I've seen previewed on ZeroPage Homebrew.

 

The 2600 will always appeal to programmers who want to explore its quirky "racing the beam" architecture. New people are still discovering it and taking on that challenge.

 

I'm still amazed that there are new games being made for the 2600. As I mentioned before, that's why I'm here. I originally came to AtariAge to find my old ROMs for use in Stella, and stayed for the homebrews. Had there been no homebrews, I would've lost interest in the 2600 years ago.

On 1/6/2020 at 8:54 PM, AW127 said:

And exactly then starts the thing, were fairness has ceased to exist for the normal games then in the future. Of course, new normal games will loose the most direct comparisons against new ARM-supported games. If all people THEN WOULD KNOW, why they mostly loose, it would not be a problem for me, but some people don't know.

8 hours ago, AW127 said:

The discussion is more about the description of certain games and maybe about a better distinctness of all the game types and also about mixed-up competitions. At least from my side.

It's up to those who have created a competition to determine what "fairness" is. If they want to include everything in one category then that's up to them. If they want to split everything out based on whether a game is hardware-enhanced or not, that's up to them. Should AtariVox games have their own category, and not be included with other games in the Music/Sound category? Should games that use SaveKey for high scores be excluded for not using technology available back-in-the-day? Those could both be considered unfair.

 

If people don't agree with how a competition is run, then that's an issue with the competition itself, and how it's run, rather than a call for peoples' work to be categorized as "normal" or not. All competitions are inherently unfair to someone.

 

For example, in 1982 the Oscars refused to even nominate Tron for best visual effects, because the Academy thought that computer graphics was somehow "cheating". (But that's okay - I haven't given any merit to the Oscars since Star Wars lost Best Picture to Annie Hall in 1977.) Beauty and the Beast was nominated for Best Picture in 1991, and lost, but eventually the Academy added the Best Animated Feature award to recognize animated films in their own right. So the awards changed to fit the art. The art didn't have to be relabeled. 

Quote

They then maybe think about a new normal game:

 

"Ooouuhh this game is not good, look at "Galagon" or "Mappy", they look much better. Here in this game, the programmer did not a goob job..."

 

Or they think something like that. And this could be a problem. Cause with such comments, programmers of normal games, then could loose interest to go on programming new games for my beloved Atari-2600. This is my fear.

The question is - what motivates someone to make a game? Is it for accolades? And if so, from whom? If someone is doing a hobby for accolades, then they're going to be severely disappointed. Are they doing it for the technical challenge? Then what anyone else is doing shouldn't matter.

 

Of course, when we create something we want people to like it. But there will always be comparisons. There will always be criticisms. Ultimately, a programmer (or other creator) must be satisfied with what they do for their own reasons, and not worry about comparisons. If the comparisons ruin the enjoyment, then maybe it's time to step away. But that doesn't mean that what they're being compared against should somehow be penalized or categorized, especially if you're choosing to put that work out there to the same audience.

 

I stepped away from art for years, because I became incredibly frustrated comparing myself to others. I felt pressured to draw as well as others did, and this poisoned me against my own work. So I stopped drawing because I began to hate doing it. I wasn't those other artists, and I never would be. They had different experiences, skill levels, insight and thought processes. Different. But not "better". I finally started drawing again because I rediscovered the love I had for drawing the way I drew. I stopped worrying about what others were doing and the successes they were having, and instead chose to admire and be inspired by their work. If someone ends up liking what I do, great. If not, that's up to them. But if someone who is a professional artist with decades of experience shows up here and participates in a label contest (as an aside - they already do), I'm not going to suggest that their work be tagged as "Created by a professional artist" because I somehow think their inclusion is unfair. Rather, I see that as an opportunity to up my own game (so to speak) and create something at the highest level I can, within my own abilities. I'd fully expect the professional to win, but I'd still enter the contest anyway because I wanted to, and I'd still want to see what others thought of my entry on its own merits. I would never want to see professional artists discouraged from entering, because it should be equally fun for them, and also I'd be deprived from seeing all of their work.

On 1/13/2020 at 10:54 PM, AW127 said:

i can see, that you are not a real retro-gamer. Not a user, which likes retro-systems because of what they really are. Because if you would do, you would know, that various retro-systems are defined mostly by their technical possibilities and also by their technical limits. Especially the limits are, what makes a retro-system special.

You may not have intended this to be antagonistic, but it is. This comes across as extremely arrogant, because you're telling someone else how they should define themselves relative to being a retro-gamer. I choose how to define what being a "real" retro-gamer is to me, and nobody else gets to define that. Similarly, I'm not going to define that for anyone else, either. This could be a language thing, but expressing something as an absolute is not the same thing as expressing it as an opinion. In my opinion.

Quote

And exactly because of this, i made the suggestion with a clearly visible "logo" on the boxes of new ARM-supported games, that all users then knows, about some of the technical details. The logo is not for devalue the work of the programmers of such a game, it should only contain the words "ARM supported" or someting like that, which would give all users the clear message to their minds

 

"don't compare me with a normal Atari-2600 game, because i can use much stronger hardware"

But this does devalue the work of the programmers of such a game, because it is branding their work as "not normal", and telling people that their work is not to be compared with other games.

Quote

That would be all. Therefore my logo suggestion on the box and it should be not a small logo, which can hardly be seen.

Again, the problem with this is that you're suggesting how other peoples' work should be defined. Effectively, "You should put big logo on your box that tells people your game is not to be considered 'normal', nor should it be compared with other 'normal' Atari 2600 games."

 

Yes, I realize it was "just a suggestion". But it comes across as an insult, because it demeans their work, and therefore, the programmers themselves.

 

(I have no idea if this clarified anything or not. But I'm tired of writing this, and I need some dinner.)

Edited by Nathan Strum
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25 minutes ago, TwentySixHundred said:

Also using the automotive analogy about classic cars is probably not the best idea. If any of you are like myself with a passion for cars on numerous automotive forums it's this thread x10. Infact the age old debate "should classic cars be modified" is never ending topic. Always ends the same "do what you want it's your car ect ect", "no that's blasphemy ect ect" It's like a broken record making no progress, it just goes on and on and on and on...

It's actually a good analogy in the sense that the opinions on that are just as mixed, and shows that opinions here are just as mixed and will go on forever so what is the point in talking about it more?

 

It's only a good analogy in that it shows its futility as an argument. It fails as an actual analogy entirely because if you want to make it more accurate to what am ARM in a 2600 cartridge would be like here, it is not at all like replacing the drivetrain of an old car. It's more like putting a tiny, but powerful engine bolted to the front of a Model T's original engine which is left in place, but you can only run it during 25% of the original engine's combustion cycle.

 

Your power is not unlimited at all. It's limited by the physical constraints of the original drivetrain.

 

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1 hour ago, Andrew Davie said:

I have a completely opposite view to this. No way in hell would I destroy a classic car by putting modern stuff in it.

When I see vintage motorcycles "done up" with new chrome, new paint jobs, etc.... I despair at the loss.

I'd happily own a '69 gun-metal blue Boss 302 in original condition.

 

But if I had a rusted-out hulk of one that was a total non-runner and the money to fix it up, yeah, I'd totally throw a modern drivetrain and suspension in it to make it a proper daily driver.

 

With air conditioning.

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24 minutes ago, batari said:

It's more like putting a tiny, but powerful engine bolted to the front of a Model T's original engine which is left in place, but you can only run it during 25% of the original engine's combustion cycle.

 

Your power is not unlimited at all. It's limited by the physical constraints of the original drivetrain.

 

I agree and it's more like bolting an centrifugal supercharger to a Mustang running an 302 Windsor. The upgrade only gives performance when the user taps into it. Basically a performance bolt-on yet keeping the engine and driveline original. Another hot topic with automotive enthusiast and a good analogy i would have to agree yes it is in that aspect. I retract that part of my statement 👍

Edited by TwentySixHundred

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I will not go into every single point of this very long post, cause then i would really write very very long to answer all of this. English is not my native language and i had needed enough time, just to read this long entry and then to translate everything in my head into german with searching on the internet for some words, i not fully understood. This is troublesome, when an entry is that long and when its not your own language, you can imagine. If i would answer now to every single point, which affects me, i would need 3 hours for it and i just don't feel like.

 

But to some points, which i really see differently.

 

2 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

The way this can be read, is that:

  • "Normal" 2600 games are at risk, because of ARM-supported games.
  • ARM-supported games can't be defined as retro-system games, despite the fact that they can be played on them.
  • People aren't aware of the intricacies of ARM-supported games, and therefore those games should be branded as such to inform people that they are not "normal".
  • Developers who have coded ARM-supported games are putting "normal" 2600 games at risk by doing so, and their work should be branded as "not normal".

 

 

Point 1 - Indeed. Seen in the long run this is my meaning

Point 2 - Not completely what i said or meant. They can be seen as retro-system games, cause some chips of the console, also are used when they run. but in my opinion they can not be seen as "normal" retro-games of a system. they are a special-case of games for that system.

Point 3 - exactly

Point 4 - I have not said that their work then is "not normal", but it is normal, that stronger and better-looking and better-playing games, when they appear in a big number and win all prices, will displace good normal games seen in a long run. That's my opinion on this point yes. Of course, everything seen in the long run.

 

2 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

If I can flip the tables here for a second, and make an absurd comparison: What if the suggestion had been "Maybe all 'normal' 2600 games should be labeled that they have no extra hardware inside?" (Which was, in way, suggested.) How would programmers of non-hardware-enhanced games respond to that?

 

I'm pretty sure nobody would want this slapped on their game:

 

no-arm-no-foul.gif.d1ba6ead0e1380d08e4840b9ea4e2c9a.gif

Now of course, this is intended as a joke, and not as a serious suggestion. But it wouldn't feel very cool if that were the implication, and this is what someone was suggesting should be seen in the AtariAge store, right?

 

 

This would break all rules of meaningfullness then. Cause the normal games use the normal technic of the console and don't need to have a logo on it, just to underline this again. It's clear anyway, so why should they have a logo. The ARM-supported games are the new one, they come to something, which existed since 1979.

 

Therefore, let me answer you with an example. When for example tenthousand people immigrate into another country, what is the normal rule then? That these tenthousand immigrant people try to adapt to the people in this country, or that the millions local people of that country must adapt to the new tenthousand people? I think, you know the answer by your own.

 

2 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

And most never will be. And I submit that it would make absolutely no difference to the vast majority of those people even if they did know that somehow the game was enhanced. All they typically care about is the end result.

 

In my opinion it makes a difference at that point, when questions from newbies come like "why something like this has never been done before" or "that game looks so much better than ... game".

 

Here some people claim, that it is offending to call ARM-games "so-called Atari-2600 games" or to ask for making a logo on it, which says "arm-supported", but imagine how it is for the programmer of this normal game, which is mentioned in a sentence like

 

"that game looks so much better than ... game"

 

especially when such a sentence comes from people which even dont know, that there is a big difference in these games, cause one has a technical help and the other not. In a sentence like that, you can literally feel the accusation to the programmer, why he had not made his game better. But how should he, when his game for example already is on the limits of that, what a normal game can do on the Atari-2600.

 

And this then, i find offending and unrespectful against the programer of this normal game.

 

2 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

Did "normal" C64 games disappear? Are these Super-CPU games?

 

On the C64 we have a completely different situation, cause the SCPU is not a big thing at the moment. But like i told before, when for example in one year alot new SCPU games would come out and then alot of them would be called "normal C64 games" by people and then be best games of the year for the C64, or would be on the first places in the Lemon64 gamelist or wherever, i would have the same stomach-pain with it and i would fear, that normal C64 then could be superseded by the SCPU-games. But it don't look, like this will happen on that machine in the next years. Therefore, completely different situation and not a good comparison.

 

2 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

It's up to those who have created a competition to determine what "fairness" is. If they want to include everything in one category then that's up to them. If they want to split everything out based on whether a game is hardware-enhanced or not, that's up to them.

 

True. But this then don't mean automatically, that nobody ever then can make a suggestion to it or being different meaning about it and crititizes something on it. The creators of a competition have the free right to make the competition how they want and the people have the free right to say, what they think about a competition then. Right? That's what i did.

 

2 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

If people don't agree with how a competition is run, then that's an issue with the competition itself, and how it's run, rather than a call for peoples' work to be categorized as "normal" or not. All competitions are inherently unfair to someone.

 

Okay, then let all boxers in the future fight against each other, no matter which weight they have. Then let the best lightweight boxer, the favorit, which would probably win the gold-medal, directly box against one person of the heavyweight division. Later, when the lightweight boxer has lost and asks, whats going on, then tell him: "oh sorry man, but that's an issue with the competition itself, you know. but we can not categorize all of you different boxers. sorry man". Then imagine, how poor and sad this fella will feel.

 

He was the favorit of winning the gold-medal and he probably had made it, when all his opponents would have also been lightweight boxers like he is, but now the tournament-rules has changed and new opponents from other weight-classes has come in, and now he must fight directly against those people. Much bigger, much stronger and much heavier than him. How should he win? But maybe he is satisfied again, when you then tell him: "boy, all competitions are inherently unfair you know."   :)

 

2 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

I stepped away from art for years, because I became incredibly frustrated comparing myself to others. I felt pressured to draw as well as others did, and this poisoned me against my own work. So I stopped drawing because I began to hate doing it. I wasn't those other artists, and I never would be. They had different experiences, skill levels, insight and thought processes. Different. But not "better". I finally started drawing again because I rediscovered the love I had for drawing the way I drew. I stopped worrying about what others were doing and the successes they were having, and instead chose to admire and be inspired by their work. If someone ends up liking what I do, great. If not, that's up to them. But if someone who is a professional artist with decades of experience shows up here and participates in a label contest (as an aside - they already do), I'm not going to suggest that their work be tagged as "Created by a professional artist" because I somehow think their inclusion is unfair. Rather, I see that as an opportunity to up my own game (so to speak) and create something at the highest level I can, within my own abilities. I'd fully expect the professional to win, but I'd still enter the contest anyway because I wanted to, and I'd still want to see what others thought of my entry on its own merits. I would never want to see professional artists discouraged from entering, because it should be equally fun for them, and also I'd be deprived from seeing all of their work.

 

But now imagine this. That the others had "different experiences", "skill levels", "insight and thought processes" is normal and can not be prevented. But at the end, ALL these people draw on the same kind of canvas, using similar kinds of brushes and nearly the same colors, which they mix like they want. Then only those things you mentioned counts and the result then of all those people, including you, can be seen on the painted picture. That all those pictures are different and that also the meaning on certain pictures differs is normal.

 

But now imagine, you paint a picture and other people painting a picture and you know, that you are a really good painter, but then you recognized, that the other people have much better quality of canvas, much better quality of brushes they can use than you and much better quality of colors, which can be mixed-up much better than your colors. What then? You can paint as good as you want then, but the other pictures will probably look better than yours. And later all the painted pictures from all people hanging together on a wall side by side and then visitors come into the room and looking at all those pictures. Then you listen to some of them and you hear that one person says to the other about your picture "look at this. hm, not really bad, but the pics besides looks much better."

 

Would you then not have the feeling that you must now go to this person and clarify WHY the other pictures looks better. That its not your fault, cause you painted as good as you could, but it was not possible to make the picture better, cause your materials was much worse than the materials from all the other painters. That your picture now looks more bad, has nothing to do with the fact, that the skill-levels of the other painters are higher or someting like that. Would you not want to tell this to this person then? Be honest.

 

2 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

But this does devalue the work of the programmers of such a game, because it is branding their work as "not normal", and telling people that their work is not to be compared with other games.

 

 

Their work can be compared with other games, but those other games should use the same or similar technic then. Or to stay with the painters, the same materials then, the same canvas, colors and brushes.

 

2 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

Again, the problem with this is that you're suggesting how other peoples' work should be defined. Effectively, "You should put big logo on your box that tells people your game is not to be considered 'normal', nor should it be compared with other 'normal' Atari 2600 games."

 

And who says that "not normal" is such a bad phrase? When you like "not standard" better, we can also use this. And not I define, that a ARM-supported game is not a "normal" (standard) game, for me, the used technic itself, defines this. Or can you tell me, how it can be, that some melody-games then looks and plays better than Atari-7800 games, when they are just "normal standard Atari-2600 games". This would be not possible at all then. Cause when it would be the normal case, that A2600 games looks and plays better than games of the successor consoles A5200 and A7800, then Atari would have made a big mistake back in time and used worse technic in later appeared consoles. But i guess this is not the case and that it should simply be normal, that games of later published consoles looks better then games for the older console. C64 games also dont look better than Amiga games right? And Atari 800XL games dont look better than Atari-ST games.

 

2 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

(I have no idea if this clarified anything or not. But I'm tired of writing this, and I need some dinner.)

And now imagine, you must write all this in german and translate every sentence in your head and look-up for missing words somewhere all the time. Then you are in my world now.   :)

Edited by AW127

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Wow, a lot of discussion while I was asleep. Let me address only a few points.

  • As long as the label for an ARM game is worded positively (e.g. "ARM enhanced"), I think this should not make a developer feel bad. Especially if this is done voluntarily. Personally I wouldn't mind if my own stock hardware game would get such a positive label (e.g. "Legacy hardware only") too. :) 
  • The analogy of the boxer largely doesn't fit, because winning competitions is the a major part of boxing. This is not true here.
    But that analogy makes me wonder if the ZPH awards are elevating the problem.
    Since the ARM games arrived, they defined a new benchmark for Atari 2600 games. And some developers who prefer developing for more original hardware already felt that their work was clouded by the ARM games. This was not the fault of anyone, it was/is like it was/is. Anyway, the competition was already on. Both types of games were competing for getting attention e.g. from the community and the customers. And it soon showed that most people didn't care or know about the technology used. And e.g. the feedback on AA and other platforms plus the AA store sales showed this.
    So that was the situation before the ZPH awards. And then the same thing happened again, both types of games had/have to compete against each other in a direct competition, even though the differences are quite well known to the organizers and there were some discussions already. So that part fits to the boxer analogy. This year, the new 4K category eases the problem, but for all "normal" games >4K it still exists. But then, you cannot have an endless number of categories... :ponder: 
  • I am not deep into other scenes, but I have read that due to extra hardware some kind of fragmentation happened. We should not let this happen here.
Edited by Thomas Jentzsch
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