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Coded over ~35 years: For American Football Fans - Atari 8 Bit Bowl!

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Hello Atari Age members


Funny story - I am an american football nut (later coached football as an adult) and as a teenager in the 80's attempted to code a football game on my Atari 800.  My vision was to build game that had somewhat realistic variations and outcomes based on the offensive and defensive plays that were selected, the trends of events in the game, etc.  I was able to construct a basic shell- define the graphics, the layout of the screen, the core graphics approach, and a basic "prediction engine" that somewhat realistically produced an outcome of each play.  For example, a nickel defense would provide better coverage against most passes, but may be vulnerable against a surprise run...or a blitz would have a greater chance of sacking the QB, but would leave some vulnerabilities in pass coverage if the sack didn't happen, etc.  As a high school student, I drew out each formation, pass coverage, etc. and also produced a computer "AI" (if you can call it that) to pick the best plays depending on the game situation.  I created the skeleton of the game, some run plays installed, no pass plays, and you couldn't actually play a game - you could play 3 or 4 downs and the game would stop because it was incomplete.


This was in the mid-1980s...then life got in the way and I got too busy/lost interest in 8-bit programming as I went to college, etc.


However, a couple of years ago (I'm now in my 50's!) I began to wonder if I could resurrect and complete the game.  I managed to locate the original 5.25 diskette which luckily was in a plastic case, bought an interface cable, moved the code to my PC, got an emulator, and began trying to remember the code and approach I had started 30+ years before.  


To make a long story short, after a lot of re-training myself and looking at some old paper documents on the prediction engine, the game is complete.  My kids and I have play tested it about 60 times.  After 30+ years I finally got it done.


The graphics, as you will see are rudimentary and laughable.  However I do think we've achieved some interesting game play that makes it a kick to play.  I've had games that were 50-7, others that were 7-6 dogfights, games that had 300+ yards passing with 4 touchdown passes, others where the pass game simply didn't click and it was a ground focused game.  I'm about 50/50 against the computer AI.  It's not perfect, but for folks who are interested in football strategy as well as Atari 8 bit games, it may be a little bit of nostalgic fun.


The disk image is attached- the game itself is called "BOWL8BIT" and is written in Atari BASIC.


Would love to hear any comments, good or bad, either on the football aspect or on the Atari aspect.  


Some interesting Atari coding notes:

* People will recognize the graphics characters as a redefined character set - I wrote my own joystick-driven "INSTEDIT" type character editor as a teenager and used this to generate the code and data statements that form the shapes of the football players and graphics

* I stole the code from some magazine (Antic, I think) to create the custom display list, with Graphics 0 at the top and bottom and the Graphics 1 mode which makes up the football field


Game play notes:

* You can choose a "long" or "short" game- in long games plays take 30 seconds of clock time each, in a short game plays take a minute of clock time each


Best regards to all Atarians













Final 2020 Football Disk.atr



Edited by Mr. CTIA
Updated disk file to be most current
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First glance...

Complaints are cosmetic, scoreboard could use some work, classic look and character of the sports scoreboard just isn't there...

give us some yard lines doesn't matter if they are pencil thin or ascii/atascii thick... it's iconic...

if you want to keep the path the ball traveled onscreen that's fine just make where it 's been less intense or pronounced as to where it is.


Just splash of some color here or there would be nice.

    You worked so hard on this, it deserves to be dressed up for game day, not for scrimmage or practice...   :)

Edited by _The Doctor__

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On 5/10/2020 at 1:57 PM, Mr. CTIA said:

Would love to hear any comments, good or bad, either on the football aspect or on the Atari aspect.  


Hi Mr. CTIA,


Congrats on finishing your old project, and thanks for sharing.


I've had the time to play a few full games now, and here are a few of my thoughts and observations.


I like the play/formation selections. The outcomes have a decent amount of variation. A few more options like "play-action pass", etc. would be nice, and some special plays like "fake punt", "fake field goal attempt", "onside kick", and option to go for 2 points after a touchdown would add some hope for the desperate. :D


The scoreboard display after the first kickoff doesn't look right (shown below). Everything's fine after the next play runs, though.




Points should go to the board as soon as they happen. I noticed when attempting the extra point after scoring a touchdown that the scoreboard hadn't added my 6 points yet.


Some of the textual displays are squashed together, such as "1and3".


Maybe the "Select Defense/Offense Now" beep, could happen every 5 flickers (or similar) of the text? Seems a little too much at the current rate. Also, the flicker could probably be a little slowed down.


Ball carrier's/receiver's end position sometimes doesn't match the play results. For instance "gain of 5 yards", but graphically the ball carrier was tackled behind the line, etc.




Also... you might be interested in checking out Lance Haffner's 3-in-1 Football game for the C64 or Apple II. This is a really neat football sim with a lot of options and use of real teams and real player/team stats for predicting outcomes. There was supposed to be an Atari version released, but nobody is yet to come up with a copy. It may never have gotten officially released, and possibly doesn't even exist in unreleased form anymore.


As a result, I had looked into converting the game for the Atari. The code could be used almost straight from the C64; but it uses MS BASIC, which doesn't allow enough free memory (on the Atari version) to use the code as is. I was currently considering using BASIC XE, which would also provide enough memory (with a 128K machine) to add some nice graphic/scoreboard displays.


No code conversion has been done yet -- and I have no time for the project atm -- but I did start toying around with some graphic display ideas. I wasn't planning any animation, but just some lineup positions, and maybe final play outcome positions.




3 in 1 - Gridiron 19a (smaller lcd).xex


Here's the thread where some things were being discussed about it. There are also some posts where the C64 and Apple versions are attached.


Top Games You'd Like To Have For Atari 8-bits: Lance Haffner's 3-in-1 Football





Edited by MrFish
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