RE: [stella] Stella sequencing

Subject: RE: [stella] Stella sequencing
From: Colin_Hughes@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date: Wed, 6 Jan 1999 11:40:33 +0000

I agree will Andrew, I enjoy coding the 2600 ( although nice sony bits have
taken my time recently ) and anything I code will be designed for a 2k or
4k cartridge. ( Mainly because I can't draw to save my life )


"Andrew Davie" <adavie@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> on 06/01/99 10:54:59

Please respond to stella@xxxxxxxxxxx

To:   stella@xxxxxxxxxxx
cc:    (bcc: Colin Hughes)
Subject:  RE: [stella] Stella sequencing

I disagree strongly enough with Glenn's posting, to reply :)

Glenn advocated the use of modern-day enhancements (such as memory
improvement) on the 2600 platform, citing the low cost of gobs of memory as
an interesting area to explore;  what kinds of games could be developed on
the 2600 using these resources that weren't available in the 2600's heyday?

> I think that the Karate game is a good case study in how far 2600
> programmers may be willing to go in the memory department.  There is
> certainly merit in Haiku-like 4K ROM programming, as games like Oystron
> attest to, but to me, what excites me about 2600 development in 1999 is
> what can happen when you take advantage of the low cost of memory and the
> fileserver PCs we now have next to our 2600s (with Supercharger) and
> these modern tools and advantages to the 2600 and see what happens.

I'm much more the purist.  The supercharger is bad enough!  I see little
point in developing for a (modern-day) expanded 2600.  You might as well
program the NES or SNES or N64 if you're after improved graphics, or
The 2600 was released with a challenging footprint, so to speak, and it's
the programmer's ability to make this machine sing, with almost nothing,
that impresses.  THAT'S the challenge of programming the thing.  Sure, you
can store gobs more images and have heaps of differing kernals with this
memory.  But... why?

I programmed the S/NES machines their heyday, and the very worst thing to
happen (from a programmers' point of view)  was the addition of hardware
(graphics chips, memory bank switching) on the cartridges.  Sure, it made
for better games.  But no fun to program, because rather than crafting
beautiful code, you simply ended up figuring ways to pack hundreds and
hundreds of frames of animation into bank-switched memory.  Boring.

I doubt I'll ever finish a 2600 game - but if I do, it won't be a
Supercharger game.  Bank switching is for woosies :)  Stick to the base
machine, show people what the thing can do when driven by a great
programmer!!  The joy of 2600 programming is the elegance required, the
economy, and the tradeoffs that have to be made (memory usage / speed /
timing).  It's a very evenly balanced system in those terms - any decision
one one of those greatly affects the others.

There are clearlly two schools of thought.  Haiku-like programming, as a
phrase, appeals greatly to me.  I guess the alternative approach, espoused
by Glenn, could be termed "Government-expenditure programming".


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