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Thomas Jentzsch

Legacy versus ARM-based 2600 Game Development

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What would define the lifetime of the system? The time while it was in production?

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I don't know if we're still looking for logo suggestions, but here's mine:
 
ARM.png.4ae75be06d4693e808faf731be2bf6b9.png
I really like this logo or something similar if AA was to adopt such a marking for new games.

Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

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2 hours ago, Mr SQL said:

like a ballplayer with Tommy Jones Surgery. The ballplayers ARM still looks normal, but the added tendon really changes the game.

Tommy Jones?

 

You mean Tommy John.

 

(I wonder if Tommy Jones has had Tommy John Surgery?)

 

(Lastly, I realize you're trying to make a joke, but it's debatable whether TJS gives a pitcher any advantage. About 20% of pitchers who have it never return to the majors and various studies have returned mixed results as to whether those that do come back are "better.") 

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13 hours ago, KaeruYojimbo said:

Tommy Jones?

 

You mean Tommy John.

 

(I wonder if Tommy Jones has had Tommy John Surgery?)

 

(Lastly, I realize you're trying to make a joke, but it's debatable whether TJS gives a pitcher any advantage. About 20% of pitchers who have it never return to the majors and various studies have returned mixed results as to whether those that do come back are "better.") 

 

Tom Jones - No Hole In My Head (Official Video) - YouTube 

Yes Tom Jones is awesome, probably why I mixed them up ;) 

 

I disagree about the studies because tendons have contractile properties unlike the ligament that is replaced. After about 5 years the transplanted tendon turns into a ligament losing it's contractile properties, but during that timeframe the players arm is much more powerful so I think it's a good analogy; ballplayers are even getting ARM enhancement in the minor leagues now. 

 

16 hours ago, Keatah said:

What would define the lifetime of the system? The time while it was in production?

Yes because that defines the system as retro. SillyVenture uses this metric so that 1 Mhz productions are truly 1 Mhz productions and therefore do not allow players to have ARM code in their Art show. Programs are an Art form, modern Art posed artistically as legacy retro Art is just more Art for everyone to enjoy.       

 

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34 minutes ago, Mr SQL said:

ballplayers are even getting ARM enhancement UCL replacement in the minor leagues now. 

In high school and college too. I vaguely remember reading about young players wanting to have it done as an elective procedure thinking it would be a one-way ticket to the majors, but I haven’t heard anything lately. Either it didn’t make any difference or they couldn’t find a surgeon willing to do it electively.

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On 5/19/2021 at 9:05 AM, Dionoid said:

To me, the only limitation of a cartridge is that it has to fit into the cartridge port.

 

 

  What if it was a cart that was a rasberry PI with its own HDMI out, that only used the Atari as a 5V power supply or whatever? And maybe joysticks? But what if it used Bluetooth wireless controllers or its own USB ports?

Is it still an "Atari" game if it's a rasberry pi that happens to be sitting on an atari? 

:-D

 

I'm not saying there are strict limits, but I gotta think there are some kind of gray areas, or at least reasons to recognize the differences. 

 

On 5/19/2021 at 9:05 AM, Dionoid said:

 

And I bet no-one complained that the DPC co-processor in Pitfall II was 'cheating' when this game hit the market in 1984 🙂

 

Sure, nor the Starfox SuperFX chips etc.
But Pitfall II was 1984. It's at least an interesting question, if technology 20-30 years after the system was a retail concern is the same kind of beast quite.

It's like, you can Leonardo's designs for a helicopter to fly.... IF you attach a modern engine to it. But you can literally get a bathtub to fly, with a modern engine.

Again, not total hate - I mean I personally still ask "isn't it arbitrary to target the 2600 if you don't want to be constrained by its constraints?" but there's absolutely a middle ground - where you're still using the TIA and its objects. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, kisrael said:
On 5/19/2021 at 3:05 PM, Dionoid said:

To me, the only limitation of a cartridge is that it has to fit into the cartridge port.

What if it was a cart that was a rasberry PI with its own HDMI out, that only used the Atari as a 5V power supply or whatever? And maybe joysticks? But what if it used Bluetooth wireless controllers or its own USB ports?

You have a point there. If a cartridge has its own video output and only uses the console for power, then I don't think you can consider it a cartridge anymore. Then it's more of a "gimmick" IMO. A cartridge should be part of the system architecture, communicating using the internal busses.

 

1 hour ago, kisrael said:

Again, not total hate - I mean I personally still ask "isn't it arbitrary to target the 2600 if you don't want to be constrained by its constraints?" but there's absolutely a middle ground - where you're still using the TIA and its objects. 

To me, the fun in programming for the '2600 is working with the limitations of the TIA (+ discovering its quirks) and writing tight 6507 assembly kernels where every cycle must be counted. When using the ARM coprocessor, these constraints are still there; they are only a bit widened:

  • you can gain some cycles in the 6507 assembly kernel(s), which can be used to enrich the game's graphics.
  • game logic can be offloaded to the ARM, which allows you to enhance the gameplay; or in some cases, making the gameplay possible/feasible at all.

 

Of course ultimately, the fun in programming a game is to know that other people enjoy playing your game. It still amazes me that 44 years after the '2600 was initially released, people are still pushing the bar with new games!

 

 

Edited by Dionoid
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15 minutes ago, Dionoid said:

You have a point there. If a cartridge has its own video output and only uses the console for power, then I don't think you can consider it a cartridge anymore. Then it's more of a "gimmick" IMO. A cartridge should be part of the system architecture, communicating using the internal busses.

Ok, so we are in agreement, that there are SOME limits, conceivably. Beyond fits in a cartridge slot and pulls power from it.

I agree it's sometihing about the busses. But I have some reservations about something like "DOOM on a Raspberry PI in a NES cart" if it used tech like we saw here 

If someone made a whole game w/ that... like just used it as a a 48x192 display... eh, for me that's the darkest of the grays :-D to totally ignore the stuff in the TIA except as as blank a slate as possible... to me that feels closer to the "gimmick" as you say.

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10 minutes ago, kisrael said:

Ok, so we are in agreement, that there are SOME limits, conceivably. Beyond fits in a cartridge slot and pulls power from it.

I agree it's sometihing about the busses. But I have some reservations about something like "DOOM on a Raspberry PI in a NES cart" if it used tech like we saw here 

If someone made a whole game w/ that... like just used it as a a 48x192 display... eh, for me that's the darkest of the grays :-D to totally ignore the stuff in the TIA except as as blank a slate as possible... to me that feels closer to the "gimmick" as you say.


In that case, as I said with NES Doom, the developer wrote a VGA to PPU display driver. If someone were to do something similar for Doom2600, they would have created a VGA to TIA display driver. It isn’t as if the game (Doom) being developed is a 2600 game, rather the video driver is a 2600 game development.

 

From the perspective of the consumer, Doom2600 would still be a 2600 game. From the developers perspective, it is a game written in C, with a display driver written for the 2600.

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4 hours ago, Random Terrain said:

If the Atari 2600 was supposed to be a permanent part of our home entertainment centers, the cartridges would keep getting more advanced over time.

Unlike records, the carts have gotten more sophisticated over time. Both in software and hardware. From the first 2K scheme to BUS and CDF. From mask ROMs to modernized geometry in the co-processor.

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Heh, yeah, I've been thinking about Random Terrain's saving of the "hula hoop" ad.

 

I don't think it means quite as much as RT takes from it ... I mean, if that were true in that way, why release the 5200?

 

Like in context, I think it's fighting against "one game, more or less" systems like SuperPong or whatever. Given how cheaply they threw the system, just enough to play Breakout and Tank games but luckily with enough flexibility to go beyond that - you can't really make the argument that they were designing for all the decades ahead. 

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21 minutes ago, kisrael said:

Heh, yeah, I've been thinking about Random Terrain's saving of the "hula hoop" ad.

 

I don't think it means quite as much as RT takes from it ... I mean, if that were true in that way, why release the 5200?

More that that. Atari internally expected the VCS to age out of the market around 1980. The "Candy" project, which later became the Atari 400, was originally planned to be a keyboardless console that was the remedy to that problem. [source]

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15 hours ago, CapitanClassic said:


In that case, as I said with NES Doom, the developer wrote a VGA to PPU display driver. If someone were to do something similar for Doom2600, they would have created a VGA to TIA display driver. It isn’t as if the game (Doom) being developed is a 2600 game, rather the video driver is a 2600 game development.

 

From the perspective of the consumer, Doom2600 would still be a 2600 game. From the developers perspective, it is a game written in C, with a display driver written for the 2600.

This technical description fits many ARM games now; building a soft video driver may also be implemented using legacy technology as per my examples here which inspired the technique on the ARM.    

 

The gameloop detaches from the TIA to effect a 5x speed increase in the 8-bit CPU's processing speed, it reconnects every other frame dropping the refresh rate from 60 Hz to 30 Hz to accomplish the driver. 

      

6 minutes ago, kisrael said:

Heh, yeah, I've been thinking about Random Terrain's saving of the "hula hoop" ad.

 

I don't think it means quite as much as RT takes from it ... I mean, if that were true in that way, why release the 5200?

 

Like in context, I think it's fighting against "one game, more or less" systems like SuperPong or whatever. Given how cheaply they threw the system, just enough to play Breakout and Tank games but luckily with enough flexibility to go beyond that - you can't really make the argument that they were designing for all the decades ahead. 

Good point, marketing hyperbole is also a big factor in systems and software. The Activision teams authenticity has raised the difficulty in claiming ARM games are "just like the DPC coprocessor in Pitfall" or a legacy enhancement from the flyer like CBS RAM or Sara.

 

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25 minutes ago, RevEng said:

More that that. Atari internally expected the VCS to age out of the market around 1980. The "Candy" project, which later became the Atari 400, was originally planned to be a keyboardless console that was the remedy to that problem. [source]

Roughly that's what the 5200 was, landing in 1982 right? Pity about the joysticks. 

 

(Atari 8-bits are so impressive. (and the whole culture, like with the Atari Program Exchange). But I think they were pricey when they came out? Like Atari and Apple had these amazing systems, and C=64 came out a bit later, cheaper but more tuned for playing games, and then they were all competitors.. Sometimes I feel bad hopping to the C64 for the games when Atari had been a much better development machine)

This idea of "forever systems", and then say the 5200 vs the 7800, brings up the idea of backwards compatibility. I know sometimes non-gamers (like my mom :-D ) are shocked that it's not the standard. 
I guess the most consistent strategy for that was the Nintendo Gameboy -> GBC -> GBA -> DS line, where at least the first revision of the hardware played the previous gen. Oh and same for GC->Wii->Wii U.

(Of course that's the opposite of what we're talking about... new systems playing old games, not the extremes of new game capabilities on very old systems.)

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1 hour ago, kisrael said:

Heh, yeah, I've been thinking about Random Terrain's saving of the "hula hoop" ad.

 

I don't think it means quite as much as RT takes from it ... I mean, if that were true in that way, why release the 5200?

 

When they did the ad, games were getting more advanced and the Atari 2600 was more popular than ever, so why not use it as a "record player" forever for those who don't want to pay hundreds of dollars for a new console that might suck when they already like the console they have?

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10 minutes ago, Random Terrain said:

 

When they did the ad, games were getting more advanced and the Atari 2600 was more popular than ever, so why not use it as a "record player" forever for those who don't want to pay hundreds of dollars for a new console that might suck when they already like the console they have?

Under 50 Bucks! (50 Bucks??) Now isn't that nice!

 

Maybe "record player" is a good analogy! I mean... the record player got edged out by tapes and CDs!  So even Atari's ad copy example wasn't forever-forever, just much more renewable than TV pong machines, and with more depth than hula hoops)

(And of course... LPs have shouldered out CDs in the retro category... Which is... kind of weird, CDs are actually pretty phenomenal in terms of perfection, but people like the warmth. Maybe that gives hope for Atari 2600 :-D )

 

 

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1 hour ago, kisrael said:

Roughly that's what the 5200 was, landing in 1982 right? Pity about the joysticks. 

And then the XEGS again, in 1987. Candy in 1979 would have been much better timing for such a console release, market strategywise. 

 

I won't comment on the sticks, because people living in Proline houses shouldn't throw rocks.

 

1 hour ago, kisrael said:

(Atari 8-bits are so impressive. (and the whole culture, like with the Atari Program Exchange). But I think they were pricey when they came out? Like Atari and Apple had these amazing systems, and C=64 came out a bit later, cheaper but more tuned for playing games, and then they were all competitors.. Sometimes I feel bad hopping to the C64 for the games when Atari had been a much better development machine)

They 8-bits were pricey, but a good chunk of that was ram. A console doesn't need as much ram as a computer does, since the program resides mostly in cart rom, and the Candy console would have no doubt been more streamlined in other ways.

 

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, CapitanClassic said:

In that case, as I said with NES Doom, the developer wrote a VGA to PPU display driver. If someone were to do something similar for Doom2600, they would have created a VGA to TIA display driver.

 

18 hours ago, kisrael said:

If someone made a whole game w/ that... like just used it as a a 48x192 display... eh, for me that's the darkest of the grays :-D to totally ignore the stuff in the TIA except as as blank a slate as possible... to me that feels closer to the "gimmick" as you say.

I see your point. In case of a VGA to TIA display driver, the developer wouldn't have to care about the TIA or the 6507 assembly kernels anymore. For me, this would take away the fun of programming for the Atari 2600. Luckily, using the ARM doesn't take away this fun 🙂

 

Still, I think it would be cool if someone would create a VGA to TIA display driver and run DOOM on an Atari 2600, using a Raspberry Pi inside a cartridge shell!

 

Edited by Dionoid
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1 minute ago, Dionoid said:

Still, I think it would be cool if someone would create a VGA to TIA display driver and run DOOM from a Raspberry Pi inside a '2600 shell!

 

It would be a cool gimmick. As long as it didn't get too "popular" as a typical way of making new content, it would be fun

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32 minutes ago, Dionoid said:

Luckily, using the ARM doesn't take away this fun 🙂

Yes and no. The design of an ARM kernel is quite different from a normal one. But both are challenging to squeeze out as much as possible. Just different.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, kisrael said:

It would be a cool gimmick. As long as it didn't get too "popular" as a typical way of making new content, it would be fun

A bit like running Dragon's Lair on the C64:



8)

Edited by Rom Hunter

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