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Ex-Activision Designers Launch Retro Game Publisher Audacity Games™

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I'm guilty of reading these posts and feeling a very strong negative vibe from people. I'm a passionate person and as you can see from my posts in this thread I love this place. Others are mentioning concerns and I am stepping up running my mouth when maybe I don't have a place to. I do not intend to start crap, but am being proactive in defending the community if some person or group wants to imply the people here are not as good as them. I did not accuse anyone or anything, I just registered my displeasure with them if they ever did. You know, because what people earlier in the thread were either saying or implying. Again not trying to start anything, but anyone that doesn't respect what we have would lose my support and business, and I don't think I am alone in that. We have a small community and we need to stick together even if we have different ideas on how to maintain our community or in the case as I suspect with Audacity, grow our community.

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32 minutes ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

BTW: Circus Convoy seems to be are really good game. Maybe we should discus more about that.

When the cab of the lead truck pulls forward-- I would agree that that's impressive.

 

I really liked the chameleon color change on the car, and the pipe organ at the beginning.

 

5 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

BTW: Did you notice the startup problems of James' cart? Was that a physical thing? Or is James' hardware behaving differently again? 

I wondered about this too.

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What I like most about the game is its clever design resulting from their self-imposed hardware limitation.

 

If you have only 128 bytes of RAM and want to create a 128KB game, you have to design your game to the former limit. Which means, you have to reuse your RAM over and over again and you can only track so much. What they did is breaking up the game into scenes and stages. But in an elegant way which doesn't make this obvious to the player. That's really good game design.

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch
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26 minutes ago, mos6507 said:

 

Come on, man.  You're manufacturing controversy up out of thin air.

I'm not the one who mentioned that one of them might have had a condescending attitude. I am not trying to stir up drama. I am saying that I don't appreciate anyone coming here and crapping on this community and the hard work that these people do. If they weren't jerks then awesome, I'm looking forward to what they produce. I'm looking forward to what they add to the community. I love this place, and I started getting strong negative vibes from some of the posts in this thread and posts in other recent threads. I can understand that stuff happens in the TACO and Amico threads, but there seems to be spill over now.

 

I've never said that I thought they were boo-boo to the community. If it isn't clear, I have not seen the video so I do not have an opinion of any of their behavior. That's why I assumed that if multiple people had concerns, then there was probably something there. I reacted to other people's concerns and not anything I had direct contact with. That is my bad and even though I threw an IF in my original comments, I see how my comments could be taken the way you and others had. Again, not trying to be part of the problem, just trying to stand up for the community I like to call myself part of. I'm sorry if I've cause any strife in the community.

Edited by JasperAK
I type too fast

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7 minutes ago, Propane13 said:

I wondered about this too.

I grabbed a screenshot from the video. James tried 4 or 5 times and except for the last one, it was always the same screen showing up. It had no playfield/ball, the 2nd player was missing and many colors were wrong. It looked like some initialization code was missing.

 

My first guess would be that the game started in the wrong bank. But unless James got an really old copy or his console behaves very special, I am sure this bug would have found early during development. I suppose they will look into this now, maybe its an hardware issue.

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1 minute ago, JasperAK said:

If it isn't clear, I have not seen the video...

IMO you should watch it first before creating any broad statements based on 2nd and 3rd hand information.

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I really like that they had brand new professionally made injection molded cartridges manufactured.  They look GREAT!  And no need to cannibalize old cartridges.

 

 

Edited by chad5200
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The chameleon graphic looks like the SUSE logo in reverse, but I guess there are only so many ways to draw a chameleon.

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16 minutes ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

What I like most about the game is its clever design resulting from their self-imposed hardware limitation.

 

If you have only 128 bytes of RAM and want to create a 128KB game, you have to design your game to the former limit. Which means, you have to reuse your RAM over and over again and you can only track so much. What they did is breaking up the game into scenes and stages. But in an elegant way which doesn't makes this obvious to the player. That's really good game design.

 

Kinda reminds me of Swordquest, but done well.

 

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I like how, while they track time for those who want to keep track or do speed runs, there doesn't seem to be artificial time limits otherwise, and you can take your time to figure out the game.

 

I was also quite impressed with the menu display, which is accessible without seeming to get accidentally triggered by gameplay.

 

Also, the graphics and style are certainly noteworthy. I lot of the beauty of the old Activision games, but still having elements of a more "modern" homebrew look.

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17 minutes ago, mos6507 said:

 

Kinda reminds me of Swordquest, but done well.

 

Yes the modular design approach is awesome!

 

SuperCharger Disk BASIC scales up to 2MB in size using DOS commands for anyone who wants to build modular Activision games like that in BASIC! :) 

 

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5 hours ago, Tempest said:

I'm probably going to annoy a lot of people, but here we go.  Grabbing my soap box...

 

The classic gaming community has become impossible to please.  For years, almost right after the 2600 finally died out and people started becoming nostalgic for it, people begged the original 2600 programmers to do another game.  Of course back then they were still working their real jobs and had no time to spent trying to do a unprofitable side project to please fans.  Now that time and technology have marched on and they can finally do it, people still complain!  They're not doing this for free, they're selling a product so some complaints or concerns are fine, but the level of nitpicking and 'armchair programming' (if that's a term) is mind boggling.  This community has started to grow toxic over the last several years.  As much as I hate to use that overused and loaded word, it fits.  I'm surprised people even bother anymore, all they get are demands and complaints.  We used to be better than this.

 

Ok I'm done.  Carry on people.

 

BTW this isn't aimed at any one person, just my observations of the entire community these days.

Seconded.  Now it's my turn to annoy some people ... :evil:

 

I think this attitudinal shift in the community is related to the generational shift that Glenn mentions.  We've seen an influx of younger people who are new to classic gaming, and also people who had a 2600 when they were kids and are now returning to classic gaming after a long absence out of a sense of nostalgia.  They have brought a much different mindset into the community from the prevailing one that I remember from ~25 years ago, when homebrew games for "dead" systems like the 2600 was a much smaller hobby.

 

Back then, you had to be pretty deep into "the scene" to even know that there was such a thing as homebrew games in the first place.  You were perfectly happy to drop a check or money order in the mail, wait patiently for four to six weeks, and get a humble 4K game in a plastic baggie—complete with a recycled cartridge board and shell, a scissor-cut label and a folded manual printed on a cheap home printer, and artwork drawn by the programmer on graph paper—because you had more of an appreciation of the entire process that went into creating it.  Enjoying that process, and that there were fellow hobbyists who shared your interest in it, was an integral part of enjoying homebrew games, because there was an understanding that it was a true labor of love for all involved.

 

Among other things, the shift that has happened since has lead to very different expectations.  People now want easy online purchasing and lightning-fast turnaround just like Amazon, they want convenient digital distribution just like Steam, and they want their games for a few bucks each (or even less) just like mobile games.  Oh, and they want the games to have the same production value as a commercial release, and to utilize all the latest technical "tricks."  If they don't get it, they come to forums like this one and complain, just like they do with multi-million-dollar games that fail to meet their expectations.  They may genuinely enjoy classic games, and they may genuinely want to support the homebrew authors, but they don't have the same sense of history or the same technical acumen that the average hobbyist used to have, and so they don't understand the full implications of what they're asking for.

 

Of course, creators and publishers of homebrew games (however one defines the term) have nevertheless risen to the occasion and have found ways to meet many of those expectations.  Partly, it was done for their own convenience; printing individual labels and manuals as one-offs is time-consuming and annoying, and buying up and repurposing old cartridges is unpredictable and highly labor-intensive.  It's wonderful that we now have resources which make it so much easier for an individual to source professionally-printed labels and manuals, and to have new cartridge boards made, all at relatively reasonable prices.  (New plastic shells are still more expensive, of course.)  It's also wonderful that options like the AtariAge Store's Custom Cartridge Service now exist for people who can't do all that by themselves, or who simply prefer not to.  If someone had taken a homebrew cartridge from AtariAge made in 2021, and showed it to me in 1997, I would have been amazed that such a thing was even possible—and even more amazed that I'd be making cartridges myself someday!

 

But, as much as today's homebrews may have some of the trappings of commercial releases, I think it's a mistake to treat them as such or to bring the same expectations to them, or to the people who make them.  I also think it's a mistake to confuse new games that are made for the 2600 as labors of love, and new games that are made for the 2600 as commercial products, and I think there's a bit of that confusion happening, too.  The people behind Audacity Games have made it perfectly clear that this is a commercial venture for them, and there's nothing wrong with that.

 

4 hours ago, mos6507 said:

Come on, man.  You're manufacturing controversy up out of thin air.

Yes.  Unfortunately, this is another modern trait that has crept into the community.  Social media has trained people to take what someone says, to read their own meaning into it—whether it's an implication they're imagining or an outright hallucination—and to respond to that, usually loudly and angrily, and not to what was actually said.  I wasn't going to comment on anyone's impressions of the ZeroPageHomebrew interview until I'd heard it myself; I'm listening to it now, and so far I have no idea what you people are talking about when you say they came across as "condescending" or whatever, because I am not seeing that at all.  They're simply approaching the development of new 2600 games from a much different context and perspective from yours.  They specifically called out homebrew authors, and specific tools that they've used; what more do you want from them?

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I just got through the entire stream. I loved it. My thoughts:

 

1) The game looks really good. Beautifully polished graphics and smooth gameplay. There is a lot of apparent depth in the design too, and should have good replay value.

2) They put a lot of hard work into this. I love that we are hearing about it when the project is ready instead of waiting in Limbo for a few years.

3) I noticed the game started up in a weird state. It looks like something wasn't initialized properly, but maybe it was prototype copy.

4) I noticed the icon graphic right away, and I'm glad David pointed it out. From a programmers perspective I know many people would miss something like as it does appear very subtle, but it is more of the polish that is unique in constructing an image on the 2600. I really loved it.

5) I see some back and forth in this thread with "Developer" and "Homebrew". The history of the 2600 is still alive and organic in new games, new technologies, new publishers, etc... and for myself I feel it doesn't matter how you really define it as long as you enjoy it.

6) Audacity is using a 128K rom because that was the smallest size available, and they were happy to use the space. I am also happy they did it because they are making games for today that they want to make, and not clinging to old imposed constraints like a life raft. They are only using the 128 bytes of RIOT ram, but this is very managable when you have lots of rom and a very modular game where you can re-use ram for different kernels in different banks. You just have to carry a few values through out the enitre game like the time, number of stars, etc...

 

Anyhow it's all good stuff and I'm super stoked for this. 😀

 

 

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I just want to clarify that my comments weren't meant to imply that AA is a toxic community, it's the best one on the internet these days (or I wouldn't be a moderator here).  My comment was directed at the classic gaming scene in general.

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3 minutes ago, Omegamatrix said:

Audacity is using a 128K rom because that was the smallest size available, and they were happy to use the space.

Are they even using the full space? Maybe some banks are completely unused. Or did they tell in the interview and I missed it?

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Just now, Thomas Jentzsch said:

Or did they tell in the interview and I missed it?

I don't think they mentioned it; at least I don't remember hearing it and I was trying to listen for that stuff.

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7 minutes ago, Omegamatrix said:

Audacity is using a 128K rom because that was the smallest size available

What?  This isn't true at all.  For instance, here's a 32K DIP EPROM (OTP, can only be programmed once) still available new:

 

https://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Microchip-Technology-Atmel/AT27C256R-45PU?qs=sGAEpiMZZMutXGli8Ay4kN4PpSZpwfyvhpEAPCDtWXU%3D

 

This is the most common part I use across a variety of systems (2600, 5200, 7800, ColecoVision and Atari 8-bit).  I also employ a variety of other sizes as well, but I burn (no pun intended) through a ton of these.  The largest size game we sell for the 2600 right now is 64K, but that is going to change soon.  We have new boards we are testing that support larger games.  There really hasn't been much demand to produce games larger than 64K as that is a TON of space on the 2600, but there are a few games in development that go beyond that.  :)

 

 ..Al

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7 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

BTW: Did you notice the startup problems of James' cart? Was that a physical thing? Or is James' hardware behaving differently again? 

 

Yeah, and it seemed to be consistent.  I suspect one of the banks is missing the correct startup code.

 

2 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

After the show I am not sure how closely they follow the homebrew scene.

 

At the gaming events I've gone to they've always checked out the AtariAge booth.  At PRGE 2017 John was showing David Crane his ports of Scramble and Super Cobra when David started to ask questions about DPC+, which John handed off to me; so they while they may not follow it as closely as we do, they do follow it.

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10 minutes ago, Tempest said:

I just want to clarify that my comments weren't meant to imply that AA is a toxic community, it's actually one of the best ones on the internet these days.  My comment was directed at the classic gaming scene in general.

Seconded again!  I don't participate in social media at all, so I'm especially grateful for the community that we have here on AtariAge.  I think the depth of expertise and the range of experience that our members have brought together has made AtariAge into a unique and valuable resource; it's like the best elements of local user group meetings from back in the day, only in an online forum.  I've found it enormously helpful for my own projects, and like most of us, I'm always looking for opportunities to give back where I can.

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Thank you everyone for watching the interview last night, it was a lot of fun talking to David, Garry and Dan about their new game. It's always interesting hearing the feedback after the developer interviews I do on the show, especially ones that may touch on polarizing topics. The lively discussion in this thread shows the passion and love everyone has for the console and our community!
 

7 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

BTW: Did you notice the startup problems of James' cart? Was that a physical thing? Or is James' hardware behaving differently again? 

2 minutes ago, SpiceWare said:

Yeah, and it seemed to be consistent.  I suspect one of the banks is missing the correct startup code.

I just tried the Circus Convoy binary on Stella with developer settings on it booted perfectly even after 20+ tries. I will clean the cartridge later today and see if it's my system or a possibility of something else.

 

- James

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5 minutes ago, ZeroPage Homebrew said:

possibility of something else

bad mojo?  ghosts? maybe this is the topic for a future game...

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12 hours ago, somebooks said:

So although I've come to really like the word -- almost carries an "artisan/hand-crafted" kind of connotation to me now -- and although any game that's released for a system without paying royalties is probably technically "homebrew"...  I definitely understand their aversion to the word.

I am paying authors royalties for most games being sold in the AtariAge Store.

 

 ..Al

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2 minutes ago, Albert said:

I am paying authors royalties for most games being sold in the AtariAge Store.

 

 ..Al

Oh yes, for sure (which is wonderful). I meant paying royalties to Atari, like third-party developers did back in the day when the 2600 was still being produced. 

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4 minutes ago, somebooks said:

Oh yes, for sure (which is wonderful). I meant paying royalties to Atari, like third-party developers did back in the day when the 2600 was still being produced. 

Third party companies weren't paying anything to Atari.

 

 ..Al

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3 hours ago, Jstick said:

 

I keep seeing comments like this in this thread...

This is what Dan actually said (timestamp 39:10):

 

"We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the homebrew. Homebrew kept the system alive, and made people interested in it. It's wonderful, the things that have been done in homebrew to keep the machine alive.

It's one of our favorite systems, and certainly it's become a favorite for a lot of people, and you know we're very, very happy that they took the step forward a number of years ago. I think John Champeau told me I think its about 15 years he's been playing with homebrew...

...that's wonderful the work that's been done"
 

It seems pretty obvious that they do have respect for the homebrew scene, and they even gave a shout out to John specifically.

Thanks for that, I am glad to stand corrected on that.

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