Subject: [stella] Re: Need programmer: Atari 2600 RPG Project|
From: emooney@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (Erik Mooney)
Date: Fri, 04 Apr 1997 21:22:26 GMT
>Wow.. pretty ambitious. Considering what a pain it is to write a >"regular" 4k 2600 game, I wonder how many people currently are capable of >coding a 16k bankswitched game, with RAM to boot? Has anyone >disassembled Millipede or Stargate to check the feasability of using 16k >bankswitching for an RPG game? As long as your assembler can compile into the 16k format, it isn't that difficult. The debugger in PC Atari supports viewing multiple banks of data. Bankswitching should be easier for an RPG than for Millipede or Stargate because, ideally, the main code for the game would take around 2k and then you could have multiple other 2k sections to store say, the layout for various areas in the game.. necessitating a bankswitch only when entering a new area (reminiscent of Ultima 5-6 era and early Sierra games on the PC.. "Please insert disk 3") instead of the dozen bankswitches per frame Millipede goes through. Adding support for the 128 bytes of "Superchip" RAM wouldn't be that difficult as long as you've got info on where the RAM is located within the 2600 address space. I haven't found any such docs yet, but I'm sure someone knows. Emulators support this format, so testing is easy; testing on a real console is difficult, though, unless you've got a 16k EEPROM that supports the required bankswitching and has the Superchip RAM, and you have an EEPROM burner. I still think the best format for a 2600 RPG would be a Supercharger multiload, distributed on CD.. this would be much cheaper to manufacture and distribute (considering 4k carts cost at least $10, a 16k cart with RAM would be upwards of $25-$30), and would allow 2k of RAM easily and up to 99 banks of ROM - even if it isn't pretty graphically, the size of the game world could easily rival NES RPGs like Zelda and Final Fantasy. This could also be released as a PC CD-ROM, with each load stored as a .wav file and some kind of interface so pressing only 1 or 2 keys loads the specified chunk.. this'd also allow a virtually infinite number of loads. Theoretically, you could even devise a cable to run from the second joystick port (which can be configured to output.. a standard DB9 serial cable fits the Atari port, though I don't know offhand what the pinouts are) to the PC serial port, thus letting the Atari signal the PC what and when to load.. thus making the entire process automatic (not unlike a PSX or Saturn loading the next section from CD.) Ultimately, I suppose both these ideas could be combined, with up to 98 loads stored as CD audio tracks so it's playable from any CD player, and also include a PC interface and cable for automatic loading. Possibly the B/W switch or one of the difficulty switches could toggle between automatic and manual loads.. or even, autodetection could be done: the 2600 sends a signal on joystick 2 regardless of any switches.. if the Supercharger doesn't detect an incoming waveform, it displays "Please load track X." Disadvantages of CD: smaller target audience, and the available supply of Superchargers would likely be exhausted if such a project was actually completed. It may even be possible to bypass the Supercharger if a PC is a file server. Suppose we've got a cart with say, 2k ROM (mostly screen-displaying and input-reading routines) and 2k RAM.. then, if we're hooked to a PC via a serial cable in joystick 2, the Atari could demand anything from the PC (which would have effectively unlimited storage) such as dungeon maps and store that in the 2k RAM, where there should also be enough room for character data. The joystick ports can be configured for either input or output, and I think that the trigger can be set for input while the directional switches are output, allowing bidirectional communication without having to switch the port back and forth. Timing would obviously be tricky, though not impossible. An EEPROM and burner would be required to test unless we can get an emulator to support this, but once the screen-display routines are done, the rest of development shouldn't be too hard. Despite the requirement of a PC, I don't think this violates the classic-system spirit too much.. the only thing we're breaking is the ROM storage barrier (and adding some RAM, but the Supercharger already does that) and we're not adding any hardware beyond a standard (hopefully) serial cable. </brainstorm> =) >I guess you could write Adventure differently 4 times and bankswitch >between the 4 parts.. :) Nono, write ET four times and bankswitch! Sixteen screens of pits to fall into! =) -- Archives available at http://www.biglist.com/lists/stella/archives/ E-mail UNSUBSCRIBE in the body to stella-request@xxxxxxxxxxx to be removed.