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Steverd

How is Harmony for newer games vs Uno?

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I own the UNO-CART and today found it would not load: Pac-Man 4K, Star Castle, Scramble and Zoo Keeper

Does the Harmony cart play all of these new ones, or would you just run on Stella?

I wanted to use a real 2600 for video purposes, but now might need to use Stella.

 

Thoughts?

 

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Pac-Man 4K should have worked on the UNO-CART, it's just a standard 4K ROM.

 

The others were developed on the Harmony using new bankswitch schemes such as DPC+, CDF, CDFJ.  These all run on the Harmony, but not the UNO-CART.  Stand Alone cartridges of these games are made using a Melody Board, which is a Harmony without the SD card slot and USB port.

 

You can show the Frame Stats in Stella to figure out what bankswitch scheme a game is using. This is done by hitting the Developer Key COMMAND-L on a Mac or ALT-L on Linux or Windows. Doing this reveals that Scramble is using DPC+.

 

 

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Do note that it's possible games will come out that work on the UNO-CART, but not the Harmony.

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3 hours ago, SpiceWare said:

Do note that it's possible games will come out that work on the UNO-CART, but not the Harmony.

Sounds like I should own BOTH then!

Thank you

 

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Nice - I just order the Harmony Encore tonight!! Excited!

BTW - LOVE your 2600 uno case label - did you make that yourself?

 

 

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22 minutes ago, Steverd said:

Nice - I just order the Harmony Encore tonight!! Excited!

BTW - LOVE your 2600 uno case label - did you make that yourself?

 

 

IIRC, it’s one of three labels that you can choose from. Or at least you could when the carts first came out. I like the ‘Text’ style label.

 

<Yep...one of three labels>

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10 hours ago, SpiceWare said:

Do note that it's possible games will come out that work on the UNO-CART, but not the Harmony.

How complicated would it be to create versions for both carts?

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11 minutes ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

How complicated would it be to create versions for both carts?


Don't know, haven't kept up with the UNO-CART so am not fully aware of the differences.

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16 minutes ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

How complicated would it be to create versions for both carts?

It wouldn't be too complicated. The binaries have to be compiled for PlusCart/UnoCart

 

basically only the pointer addresses have to be changed and the memory definition in "custom/src/custom.boot.lds":

 

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batari's invested a lot of money buying parts to build Harmony Carts/Melody Boards. If he's been able to recoup that then sure.

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The UnoCart and the PlusCart support batari's bBasic framework for classic Atari games, it's the ARM (DPC+) extensions to extend bBasic and the ARM game schemes mentioned that are not compatible.

 

If the idea is for the games to be incompatible on purpose as copy protection to recoup investments that is the programmers choice, otherwise why not make Atari games more compatible everywhere??

 

I've been working with @batarito expand the Harmony support for large SuperCharger games where the UnoCart is currently in the lead and I think it would be great to see a cross compiler designed as @Al_Nafuur described to translate the ARM games or common libraries for the ARM shared between the multicarts so the enhanced games could be enjoyed by players everywhere just like classic Atari games -

 

I developed a cross compiler along these lines for SuperCharger BASIC to translate the binaries to CBS RAM format so that SuperCharger games could be run on the Atari Portable which lacks native support for the format. 

 

Those classic memory schemes are tricky to equate being totally different - I think you guys have it relatively easy building compatible library routines for those ARM chips equipped with a gazillion cycles and bytes of RAM even if one is half as powerful :) 

 

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The C source for batari Basic DPC+ games is available and I have posted on the PlusCart thread about how these might be compiled to work on PlusCart and other platforms such as UNO, but for some reason, the games still generally don't work, and the reason why is unknown. Hopefully this issue can be solved.

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2 hours ago, SpiceWare said:

batari's invested a lot of money buying parts to build Harmony Carts/Melody Boards. If he's been able to recoup that then sure.

It is completely up to the individual authors what they wish to do with their own code, and what platforms they wish to support.

 

It's worth mentioning that there will always be recouping of costs as I have never made money from Melody boards, and never expect to. They have always been a financial risk for me and always will be. However, one thing that has kept it alive is that they are subsidized by Harmony cart sales, so as long as that continues, Melody will continue as well. Harmony and Melody help each other, actually.

 

Back when Melody was first envisioned, there were many advanced cart boards designed and none ever was adopted. We called it the chicken-and-egg problem: programmers won't write games for a board that doesn't yet exist in huge numbers, and hardware developers won't invest in manufacturing large numbers of an expensive board until a game exists for it. That, and the price point had included a profit for the developer as well. All this together would increase the price of the games markedly.

 

So I made the investment myself in thousands of Melody boards with no expectation of profit. I invested in thousands of Melody boards initially, enough cash put down up front, out of my own pocket, to buy a new car outright, knowing full well the risks involved, and that Melody itself was solely to enhance the hobby.

 

Soon it became clear that even a huge financial risk to get the boards out there wasn't enough for real adoption of Melody, as only after I invested lots time and energy, collaborating with others to create DPC+ and the C code extensions, and add the support for it to Stella and batari Basic, did programmers start to target Melody boards specifically.

 

That all said, I might have been able to make money on Melody boards by publishing Melody games myself, but I wanted AtariAge to publish them instead and help support this place. Also, AtariAge stuff is of such high quality, with the materials and presentation and everything else, that is really hard to match and I know I never could. I think that this choice to produce Melody boards for AtariAge games has also contributed to the overall success as programmers have full confidence in AtariAge to publish their titles.

 

The newest run of Melody boards are improved, and can potentially do things that no other cart board that I am aware of, in any state of development, can do. There are now at least three games that I know of in active development that utilize these improvements, but even these games only just begin to tap the full potential.

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OP should also consider that not all new games will target your flash cart as a freely distributed download. If you really enjoy new titles, you should support the devs and buy the games. A flash cart isn't necessarily a ticket to free new games. All you really need is a flash cart that plays legacy software. 

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I don't want to see too many incompatible flashcart formats come out. Causes fragmentation in this already tiny market. One platform is really sufficient. If new and compelling features come out they should (ideally) be integrated into the existing standard while maintaining backward compatibility.

 

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9 minutes ago, Keatah said:

I don't want to see too many incompatible flashcart formats come out. Causes fragmentation in this already tiny market. One platform is really sufficient. If new and compelling features come out they should (ideally) be integrated into the existing standard while maintaining backward compatibility.

 

When new games are coming out with fresh cart enhancements under the hood, it's a sign. 

 

It means:  the platform is alive. Still alive and still kicking after all these years.

 

I'm not ready for the Atari VCS to permanently downshift into legacy mode just yet. One standard feels like a victory lap farewell tour singing the greatest hits.  

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One standard makes a more diverse set of features available to everyone. And one standard can carry those features into the future as a whole package. No part is left behind.

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People can create as many standards as they want. Standards evolve and change, and programmers are free to choose whatever standard suits them best, given all of the considerations involved. As said, there should be no expectation that every flashcart will run every new game out there, or that flashcarts should all be compatible with one another's games. Nor should there be an expectation that cart boards like Melody will always be compatible with existing flashcarts.

 

As Melody was created before Harmony was even conceived, I believe any future market should be driven by the power of cartridge boards themselves, not necessarily by the capabilities of flashcarts. I always believed that cart boards should come first, before flashcarts that support them, not the other way around.

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2 hours ago, orange808 said:

When new games are coming out with fresh cart enhancements under the hood, it's a sign. 

 

It means:  the platform is alive. Still alive and still kicking after all these years.

That depends on the scene, at the SillyVenture demo party the ARM is a sign that you love the old hardware just enough to not actually code for it:

2 hours ago, orange808 said:

I'm not ready for the Atari VCS to permanently downshift into legacy mode just yet. One standard feels like a victory lap farewell tour singing the greatest hits.  

Don't miss the fun with legacy code Orange, there are silicon secrets from Cyan engineering still waiting to be unlocked!

Atari architecture is so unique that there is room for new discoveries in the legacy modes as well as ARM expansions.  

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Maybe there’s some larger long-time-frame, across the ages, secret message to be discovered?

 

Who knows what’s inside those  chips..?

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21 hours ago, Keatah said:

I don't want to see too many incompatible flashcart formats come out. Causes fragmentation in this already tiny market. One platform is really sufficient. If new and compelling features come out they should (ideally) be integrated into the existing standard while maintaining backward compatibility.

With the same argument you can object against all flash carts. Either you accept that there is (ever evolving) new technology added to the 2600 or you have to stick to the original specs. 

 

Since most people welcome the new, ARM enhanced games, this will most likely become the mainstream of Atari 2600 games. And since people accept the technical improvements, this will motivate further hardware developments. Which will lead to even more advanced hardware (and games). And fragmentation.

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1 hour ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

With the same argument you can object against all flash carts. Either you accept that there is (ever evolving) new technology added to the 2600 or you have to stick to the original specs. 

 

Since most people welcome the new, ARM enhanced games, this will most likely become the mainstream of Atari 2600 games. And since people accept the technical improvements, this will motivate further hardware developments. Which will lead to even more advanced hardware (and games). And fragmentation.

I don't like the fragmentation either, but no single person has control over the hobby and the direction it leads,

 

One thing I have thought about is that most tech becomes obsolete in a few years, but tech for certain niche markets progresses pretty slowly. While eventually there may be more advanced hardware and games, the timeline is a lot slower.

 

I recall in the early 1990s I worked for a place that used what appeared to be very dated tech equipment. It looked to be from the 1960s, with a boxy metal case and huge brown dials. However, it worked very well and did the job, and to my surprise, this company had been making these since the late 1960s with no changes in the design, and the equipment cost $500 mew back then. In 2015, I looked on eBay as I wanted some of that old equipment for personal use, but I was shocked to find these going for $400 on average. And no, it wasn't due to age, as I further shocked to find that the company never stopped making them, and still made these new with no changes. And they still make them today, with no apparent changes in over 50 years, for $750. I did find one for $220 that was broken, but was able to fix, as there was also a sizable repair market for these.

 

I think flashcarts and (2600 games, for that matter) are kind of like this, as there isn't a strong push to obsolescence after a few years. In a way, these flashcarts won't ever really be "obsolete." I mean, it was actually more than 12 years ago that the first Melody board was developed, and 9-10 years since DPC+ was developed, yet we still call these games "new."

 

 

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