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Racing the Beam Explained (Retro Game Mechanics Explained)

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I'm an atari800 guy so don't normaly come in this part of the forum, but just thought I'd post this link in case anyone isn't sub'd to this great channel:

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

If space aliens made the VCS the beam would fly around in Lissajous patterns and get all crazy and stuff.

Edited by Keatah

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It is confusing to me how two of the most well known video game “flops” for the 2600 could possibly be the cause of the 1983 NA video game crash. How can PAC-man and E.T. which are among the top 10 best selling games on the system possibly be the cause of a crash?

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_Atari_2600_video_games

 

It would be like arguing that Avatar and Avengers: End Game were the cause of the Movie Theater collapse in the early 21st century.

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1 hour ago, CapitanClassic said:

It is confusing to me how two of the most well known video game “flops” for the 2600 could possibly be the cause of the 1983 NA video game crash. How can PAC-man and E.T. which are among the top 10 best selling games on the system possibly be the cause of a crash?

 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_Atari_2600_video_games

 

It would be like arguing that Avatar and Avengers: End Game were the cause of the Movie Theater collapse in the early 21st century.

Because armchair quarterbacks and "hipsters" that weren't even born for 25 years after it happened like to pretend they were there, and re-write history for us.

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That’s right. I was there in the thick of it all. And it seemed more like a pause to sort out vaporware and tone down assertive marketing.

 

We all took the time to ante up on computers and move into more grown-up stuff.

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9 minutes ago, Keatah said:

That’s right. I was there in the thick of it all. And it seemed more like a pause to sort out vaporware and tone down assertive marketing.

 

We all took the time to ante up on computers and move into more grown-up stuff.

There was never a down time for me.  My dad got the 2600 when it came out, original 6-switcher.  I had my 400 in 1982.  Used it without a break until 1991.  Constant upgrades during that time.  More RAM, 300 baud, then 1200 baud.  1050 disk drive, then ICD doubler (true double density and triple the disk speed).  There really was no downtime for me.

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Posted (edited)

I've been subscribed to him for a while. There was something that popped out at me on this video. At 0:38 he asks "How many bits are used to produce one frame of gameplay on a standard Atari 2600 game?"

 

At 1:49 he says there are 39 bits, but he's not counting the (real) background color (COLUBK) as a bit. I think it should be counted.

Edited by azure

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6 hours ago, SpiceWare said:

always amazed at how ill-informed people can be.

 

1167940386_ScreenShot2021-06-17at2_58_08PM.thumb.png.ebcb53db72083bce60441b08b21045fb.png

I lost brain cells just reading that comment.

 

JFC, the VCS/2600 was almost 6 years old by the time of the '83 crash. The A8, Odyssey2, VIC-20. Intellivision, ColecoVision, 5200 and C64 had already arrived on the market by that time ... And the console continued in production UNTIL 19-fucking-92!!!

 

But sure, decide the system wasn't "successful." WTF ever, idiot commenter-man. 

 

The Rock Reaction GIF by WWE

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Very nice and well explained, but I question the "STZ" instruction at 16:50 or thereabouts :)

Actually a great video.

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On 6/17/2021 at 10:20 PM, DrVenkman said:

JFC, the VCS/2600 was almost 6 years old by the time of the '83 crash. The A8, Odyssey2, VIC-20. Intellivision, ColecoVision, 5200 and C64 had already arrived on the market by that time ... And the console continued in production UNTIL 19-fucking-92!!!

 

People get pissed off when I say this, but in a roundabout way, does this not indicate that the 2600 was "responsible" for the '83 crash?

 

That is, the 2600 (VCS) comes out, video game sales explode, and within a few years, you've got 6, 7, 8 different machines on the market, and Atari cranking out product like that growth was going to continue exponentially.  Of course, it didn't, but the 2600 held the line and outsold everything else on the market until 86-ish.

 

My theory of the case is simple: the market (read: the total number of people buying video game products) had decided the 2600 and its existing library were good enough through the mid 80s, and that's that.  In 89, the market had finally grown enough to sustain 2 video game consoles long-term, and it wasn't until the turn of the century that it had finally grown enough to sustain 3, and we'll see how it goes from here, but it's been that way going on 20 years.  But in the early half of the 80s, companies were jamming product out like 2021 levels of adoption were right around the corner, spurred on by the incredible success of the 2600.  So, in a sense, the 2600 could be said to be have a causal connection to the crash, but for a different reason than is commonly cited.

 

Now, granted, sales on the whole went into the gutter in '83, according to the stats, but they we're talking about a few bad years.  If so many companies hadn't been so over-invested, they wouldn't have all gone belly-up and we wpuldn't be talkimg about it as The Great Crash.

 

There are other plausible explanations of the events, but for my money, "E.T. was a bad game", "the 5200 joysticks were crappy", and "too many third parties made inferior games" are not among them.  Every single one of these things  and more besides are still operatove today, and I don't see any looming crash on the horizon.

 

 

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The 5200 joysticks were a problem that would have forced a change of direction (and probably a nasty backlash) if the console had been a success.  The real problem was a lack of improvement.  The really good games were all hitting the Commodore 64.  Consoles couldn't compete with it.  All that RAM and floppy disk media was too much to compete against.  What could the poor VCS do against that?  Atari Pitfall 2 still commanded my attention (I didn't like the ports much), but most of the things I "needed" to play were hitting the C64 or Apple.

 

I also remember my dad lecturing me that we already had some of the launch games for the Coleco and 5200.  They didn't have enough exclusive new games to sell the systems.  Ultima and Castle Wolfenstein pushed the limits of what a video game could be in big ways--and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein and Ultima 3 were absolutely epic in '84.  At the time, I didn't think I would ever game on a console again.  It was the C64 that remained part of my gaming life all the way until 1989, not the VCS.  That machine is a legend.

 

Where I lived, we decided the 5200 and Coleco weren't worth the money and the C64 was already a better buy in 1983--in addition to the ability to work the "educational" value of a home computer with our parents.  The Commodore 64 is where core gaming went and it held influence for a long time.

 

I won't bother describing the NES much.  I will just say this:  core gamers of a certain age remember the first time they saw Super Mario Bros vividly.  It was a revelation.

 

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On 6/17/2021 at 12:59 PM, SpiceWare said:

always amazed at how ill-informed people can be.

 

1167940386_ScreenShot2021-06-17at2_58_08PM.thumb.png.ebcb53db72083bce60441b08b21045fb.png

I find it more sad that I'm unsurprised. :(

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The more I read about the VCS the more I'm confounded. Was it this different and complex (compared to Applesoft bit-mapped graphics) because its designers were macho masochists? Was it because that's how things were done? And its design was a necessity with so few transistors on-die.. Was it because the engineers purposely put in this level of versatility? Dunno what to make of it anymore!

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5 hours ago, Keatah said:

The more I read about the VCS the more I'm confounded. Was it this different and complex (compared to Applesoft bit-mapped graphics) because its designers were macho masochists? Was it because that's how things were done? And its design was a necessity with so few transistors on-die.. Was it because the engineers purposely put in this level of versatility? Dunno what to make of it anymore!

It was designed with the rationale that if you could save 0.0005 cents per unit by simplifying the hardware, do it.

The versatility and hence the longevity is because the design was brilliantly elegant. It's like a hardware haiku.

 

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You have to remember, when this was designed.  No way would enough RAM for a screen buffer be affordable.  Years later, the 400/800 series of computers almost shipped with only 4kB of RAM.

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19 hours ago, orange808 said:

I also remember my dad lecturing me that we already had some of the launch games for the Coleco and 5200.

 

Bingo.  This is precisely the attitude to which I attribute the crash.  It wouldn't be until '87-'88 when the NES and to a lesser extent the SMS hit the scene represented a true Next Big Thing.  The technology just wasn't there and affordable enough until then.

 

19 hours ago, orange808 said:

Where I lived, we decided the 5200 and Coleco weren't worth the money and the C64 was already a better buy in 1983--in addition to the ability to work the "educational" value of a home computer with our parents.  The Commodore 64 is where core gaming went and it held influence for a long time.

 

I think a more accurate way of putting it would be to say this was a big point of bifurcation.  A lot of "core" arcade-y sort of players eventually moved on to the NES and beyond, and another subset moved on to Ultima and Prince of Persia of Persia.  There was and is a lot of overlap between the two, but there was definitely a splitting of design sensibilities at this time.

 

19 hours ago, orange808 said:

All that RAM and floppy disk media was too much to compete against.  What could the poor VCS do against that?

 

Age more gracefully.  Somewhat overstating it, but there is an evergreen quality to the much of the 2600 stuff that isn't quite there with the C64.  I know people love Ultima and Castle Wolfenstein, but if you weren't there when they happened, those games are incredibly hard to get into now, and I have a huge tolerance for atavistic designs.

 

For me, this is not so with the 2600, though the appeal will always be limited withel either system.  But I can have people over for the 4th of July BBQ and still get people down for a few games of Kaboom or Boxing.  M.U.L.E.?  Caveman Ugh-lympics?  Not going to happen.

 

That's not to trash the C64 or oversell the 2600, but there's just something about that absolutely ruthless level of efficiency that the 2600 demanded that resulted in incredibly lean designs that keep that candle burning loooooong after it should have burned itself out.

 

 

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On 6/17/2021 at 8:02 PM, Keatah said:

That’s right. I was there in the thick of it all. And it seemed more like a pause to sort out vaporware and tone down assertive marketing.

 

We all took the time to ante up on computers and move into more grown-up stuff.

X2! Home computers promised us grown-up stuff business software utilities and education to learn, all in addition to video games. 

On 6/19/2021 at 8:31 PM, MrTrust said:

People get pissed off when I say this, but in a roundabout way, does this not indicate that the 2600 was "responsible" for the '83 crash?

It was but not the way it's portrayed; home computers with color and sound like the Atari, and even those without like the zx81, took tremendous market share from the home console market. 

 

Instead of just a few consoles to compete with there was a home computer war with many attractive models capable of colorful games and screenshots, even in BASIC - learning BASIC came with the promise per the books of the era complete with colorful screenshots, that you could create games with screens visually looking like Atari games. Going over a friends house to play Atari might see you playing on a TI-99/4A, C64, Apple II or TRS-80 home computer, the lines blurred with the niche market conglomeration/desegmentation from Atari and other consoles.

 

That was the crash from my perspective, my company having benefited from it like all the Home Computer software houses did; the crash was exhilarating for the home computer software market.

 

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"Play Atari" meant anything on the TV. Even computers with separate monitors. And often stretched down into the red LED sphere too. This was from day one

 

"Play Atari" always included junk food and reading science books and EGM. Maybe some modeming & BBS'ing, maybe some electronic project kits from RadioShack too. It was all indoor techie stuff.

 

I can't ever imagine the VCS was majorly responsible for the industry crash. The crash was much bigger than any one console or any one precipitating event. There were problems with coin-op cabs. Mom'n'pop purchased cabs and placed them in gas stations and supermarkets on the promise of $$$, but end of week rolled around and they only collected $. This was a money-making scheme and mom'n'pop didn't give a rat's ass care in the world about the gaming experience. Not one iota. Their main concern was fitting the coin collection day into their weekly schedule with minimal interaction. Or that show-stopping maintenance call.

 

I was fascinated by the notion one could control things on a TV screen; this in the mid-70's with Pong and other B/W games. Made it a point to check out any videogame placed in a Pizza-Hut. But come the early-mid 80's I wanted to focus my attention on other things like videogames on computers - which were free with WaReZ, or just a 1-time outlay of cash to purchase a game forever.

 

The story of Liberator was an example of increasing efforts expended by a company resulting in less and less return. The industry was overheating. Companies trying all sorts of comic book tie-ins, overly complex story lines, too much merchandising. Videogames being everywhere was fatiguing on the pocketbook. It was time for a pause.

 

As much as us kids lived and breathed videogames there was only so much one could consume.

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