[stella] Repository

Subject: [stella] Repository
From: "Erik J. Eid" <eeid@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 20 Feb 1998 22:19:41
Greetings from one of the newbie lurkers...

I've been thinking about the current state of things in the Atari 2600
development world.  It's been nice to see new games floating our way (Okie
Dokie, Oystron, Dark Mage, etc.), but there hasn't been a flood as yet.  I
remember seeing someone on a web page making an observation that this is
due to the level of difficulty involved in programming for the 2600.  As
one who didn't even program in 8-bit assembly language before the Stella CD
came out, I can certainly say that the learning curve is a big obstacle.

I thought back to the early days of learning programming.  I had an Atari
400 computer, then later an 800XL and a 130XE.  What enabled me to learn
was a boundless supply of magazines and books.  I subscribed to Antic, then
ANALOG, then back to Antic again.  I bought a number of the COMPUTE! books
as well.  In these magazines and books, not only was there source code one
would type in (!), but articles accompanying the code that would explain
particular techniques.  How many Basic games from ANALOG used Tom Hudson's
fast player-missle routines?  Plenty.  Were it not for these magazines, I
would not have seen how to set aside memory for a character set, create a
custom display list, move sprites, and other ideas.

As far as I know, there is no similar fountain of knowledge for 2600
programming.  We have a few arcane documents, like the Stella Programmer's
Guide, handed down from the ancients.  :)  There are a few games for which
we have source code, but not all of those are commented.  But the source
code is presented as a coherent whole.  I think the only technique
dissected separate from a game that I've seen is a sprite-positioning
routine from SoundX.

What would be immensely useful is to collect techniques as well as full
games.  Wouldn't the beginners out there love to know how to create a
six-digit score, read the paddles, do bankswitching, or reuse the sprites
while drawing a non-symmetrical playfield?  Wouldn't they like to do this
with provided explanations rather than staring at opcodes and equates?

I know I would.  The main thing that's kept me from starting a game has
been seeing just how large and insurmountable that first step appears.

Encourage a newbie!  Share your wisdom!  Collect it in a massive volume and
distribute it to the masses!  :)

Thank you for listening to my babble.

   .      .     \_ +\_ + o_-/     .   O
     .            \-_o -=/-   .          .
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/* Erik Eid */   \____||L/\_____/
/* eeid@xxxxxxxxx */_______________________

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