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Atari 2600 Dune Prototype Discovered!

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Actually, what was found was not even the source code, but a listing file which was generated by the assembler. And this file had large gaps, with no data. We have the code accessing this data, but we don't have the data. E.g.:

     7                                  ;********** DIGIT GRAPHICS
     8         B300                     .=.&FF00+100
    21
    22
    23                                  ;********** SEGMENT GRAPHICS
    24         B400                     .=.&FF00+100
   434
   435                                  ;********** BALL ENABLE TABLE
   436         B900                     .=.&FF00+100
   478
   479
   480                                  ;********** PLAYER MASK
   481         BB00                     .=.&FF00+100

The first column is the line number of the code. Notice the gaps of data missing.

 

Later on we have tables which are meant to define rooms. But they are filled with all the same byte. So there is no structure which can build the world of dune (therefore I created a random maze, instead of an all empty space). And then we have sound code, for which no data exists.

 

The listing that was found tells a story what kind of game was planned, but lacking a lot of detail.

 

BTW: Some code (vertical sync, sound) matches Cookie Monster Munch, for which Gary Stark is credited too.

 

BTW#2: I wonder why these missing data lines where excluded from the listing. Ideas:

  1. information hiding
  2. shortening the listing file
  3. ...?
Edited by Thomas Jentzsch

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On 9/12/2021 at 9:53 AM, Rydr Warklub said:

Funny how this just got bumped, considering the new Dune just premeired.

It's almost as if some sort of cause-effect phenomena manifested itself.

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1 hour ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

Actually, what was found was not even the source code, but a listing file which was generated by the assembler. And this file had large gaps, with no data. We have the code accessing this data, but we don't have the data. E.g.:

     7                                  ;********** DIGIT GRAPHICS
     8         B300                     .=.&FF00+100
    21
    22
    23                                  ;********** SEGMENT GRAPHICS
    24         B400                     .=.&FF00+100
   434
   435                                  ;********** BALL ENABLE TABLE
   436         B900                     .=.&FF00+100
   478
   479
   480                                  ;********** PLAYER MASK
   481         BB00                     .=.&FF00+100

The first column is the line number of the code. Notice the gaps of data missing.

 

Later on we have tables which are meant to define rooms. But they are filled with all the same byte. So there is no structure which can build the world of dune (therefore I created a random maze, instead of an all empty space). And then we have sound code, for which no data exists.

 

The listing that was found tells a story what kind of game was planned, but lacking a lot of detail.

 

BTW: Some code (vertical sync, sound) matches Cookie Monster Munch, for which Gary Stark is credited too.

 

BTW#2: I wonder why these missing data lines where excluded from the listing. Ideas:

  1. information hiding
  2. shortening the listing file
  3. ...?

I spoke with Gary a long time ago (before Dune was found) and he never mentioned it when I asked about unreleased games he did.   I believe Curt asked both of them about it and they said that no coding was started.  Memories fade over time though so he could just be misremembering.

 

BTW what would the game look like with the code unaltered?  Would there just be empty screens?  I keep thinking I should review the unaltered game the way the code was found, but then again that isn't a real representation of the game either since code is missing. 

 

Maybe someone purposely stripped that data out and was planning on using the code for something else?  That's all I can think.

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20 minutes ago, Tempest said:

BTW what would the game look like with the code unaltered?  Would there just be empty screens? 

First it wouldn't assemble. And with that fixed, we would have all blank screens.

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2 hours ago, Tempest said:

No we don't.  Curt (RIP) found the code in a hidden directory called War that was in someone else's main directory whose name I can't recall now (Dan Hitchens maybe?) on one of Atari's old mainframes.  That person had no idea about the game and it wasn't theirs.  Bruce Poehlman and Gary Stark did an initial write up for the game but they didn't program it and had no idea who did.  

 

Maybe by looking at the code someone can find some programmer 'fingerprints' that might be able to point to the programmer, but that's a long shot.  It's almost like this game shouldn't even exist but it does.  It was mentioned on one status report but had no name next to it (or maybe it had Bruce and Gary next to it but as I said they didn't do the programming).  My memory on all of this is getting fuzzy over the years.

The code was indeed found in a folder called WAR that was in Dave Shepperd's SYSOP directory on the VAX.  He doesn't remember where it came from, other then he most likely found the files were sitting somewhere on the network and stored them there.  We have no idea who started this project. 

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1 hour ago, Tempest said:

Maybe someone purposely stripped that data out and was planning on using the code for something else?

The data was (most likely) still there, when the code got assembled, but excluded from the list file output.

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42 minutes ago, Dutchman2000 said:

The code was indeed found in a folder called WAR that was in Dave Shepperd's SYSOP directory on the VAX.  He doesn't remember where it came from, other then he most likely found the files were sitting somewhere on the network and stored them there.  We have no idea who started this project. 

He was a coin-op guy wasn't he?

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2 minutes ago, Tempest said:

He was a coin-op guy wasn't he?

He was the IT support guy for Atari, Atari Games and finally Midway Games West.  

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Interesting and strange. Obviously, I know very little about actual programming- I just hack here and there. However, from Tempest's description at Atariprotos, it sound like the gameplay may be similar to Swordquest games. Any similarities in the coding there? Just a thought.

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52 minutes ago, dr. kwack said:

Interesting and strange. Obviously, I know very little about actual programming- I just hack here and there. However, from Tempest's description at Atariprotos, it sound like the gameplay may be similar to Swordquest games. Any similarities in the coding there? Just a thought.

Actually it would be closer to Adventure I think.

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This game didn't get finished because of the crash. Fuck the crash. Dune is an awesome series and to have an Atari game would be the icing on the cake. True nerd heaven.

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