[stella] missile bitdepth

Subject: [stella] missile bitdepth
From: Glenn Saunders <krishna@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 7 Sep 1997 10:14:16 -0700 (PDT)
On Sun, 7 Sep 1997, Erik Mooney wrote:
> Fine... it is I that's doing this.  The "never done before" part (to
> the best of our knowledge) is to have four independent detailed
> player-controlled flickerless objects on the same scanline.  In single
> resolution.  With color changes every scanline.  We're using the
> missiles to display two player objects, and the players for the other
> two.  Video Olympics had four such objects, but they were undetailed
> pong bars, and according to 'kickass', that doesn't count. :)  Ditto

Aren't the missiles too narrow to be anything but undetailed?  You can
snazz up the color but they are only what, 1 or 2 bits wide?  The only way
to get around this is to alter their horizontal as well as color down the
screen so they can become diagonal slashes and animate the changes so
although they are a line, they are a COLORFUL line that seems to dance
back and forth.  If it's possible to alter the missile width register on
the fly as well maybe you can get shapes like: 

   - red
    -  grey
     - light grey
   ----  white <-- width register set to quad
     - light grey
    - grey
   - blue

A shape like this kinda looks like an airplane.

When the 2600 was designed, the choice of having two players, two
missiles, and a ball was carefully chosen so that both Combat (where the
missiles are used as missiles) and Video Olympics (where they are used as
players) would be possible (in which case, the ball would come in to
complete things).  (Also, the strobing function for 3 copies was done to
be able to pull off the 3 biplanes/jets function in Combat, which I
believe was also there in the Jet Fighter arcade game.  It wasn't a high
priority item but since it was easy for them to implement, they did it.)

Anyway, it was assumed that since the only way to get 4-player
simultaneous play was via the paddles, that you'd only have to pull off
pongish games, hence no need for the missiles to be 8-bit width.

Despite that, there were, of course, 4-player games that got around this
by just not having four player-controlled objects on the same diagonal. 
Party Mix and Warlords are perfect examples.

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