Re: [stella] Repository

Subject: Re: [stella] Repository
From: Piero Cavina <p.cavina@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 10:58:36 +0100
At 21.17 20/02/98 -0800, you wrote:

>Erik J. Eid wrote:
>> 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.
>It's not a large step.  Seriously studdy Nick's "How to Draw a
>Playfield", and start messing around with it.  Getting all the right
>tools together to successfully make a small change to this program is
>really the first step.  Once you've done that, it's just a matter of
>finding the time to plow ahead.

Erik has some good points, IMO.
Programming the 2600 can be very hard, if you want a complex, single
scanline resolution kernel like let's say Pitfall, but simple kernels like
Combat, Adventure, Air-sea battle aren't such a nightmare.
Maybe beginners are missing some advices about the path to take. I think
that if a beginner starts disassembling Pitfall, he risks giving up after
10 minutes.

My advice is to go on in small steps, like I did.

1- learn the basic concepts from the programmer's guide. And I mean
"basic": don't waste time on VDEL, for example! What's the use of VDEL,
anyway? ;-)
2- learn how to draw a playfield :) - compile that program and mess with it
3- forget the playfield, and experiment with player/missile graphics. Write
a simple 2-sprites demo, learn how to position the sprites during VBLANK
and experiment with collision detection.
4- add some playfield now

>From this point onwards, you'll have to learn the "advanced" techniques.
Probably this is the point where most beginners have troubles. Work in
doble-scanline resolution for the moment.

5- This is the time for sprite reuse. To draw multiple copies of a sprite,
you'll have to reposition it in the kernel. You'll have to store the
x-positions in two ways ("normal" and fine-coarse), or to convert to
fine-coarse in the kernel. Learn the pros and cons.
6- add some non-reflected playfield 
7- try to put something else in the same space of the reused sprite, for
example a missile. There will be lines where you must reposition a thing
and enable something else. Then you'll be ready for a lame vertical
shooter! :)
8- if you want, try to convert your kernel to single-scanline resolution
9- alternatively, swap the missile with a (monochrome) player. Add
animation to either the player or the enemies. Remember, many 2600 games
use one sprite for the player, and multiple copies of the other for the
enemies. Berzerk, Oystron... :)
10- ad libitum.. :)


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