Re: [stella] [Stella] I'm new here and have some question.

Subject: Re: [stella] [Stella] I'm new here and have some question.
From: Rob <kudla@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2000 00:39:41 -0500
At 10:56 PM 11/20/00 -0600, Mark De Smet wrote:
>As someone who has never programed assembly, or any other language, you
>need some sort of book on assembly language programming.  I have never

Depending on his aptitude, it may not be necessary to learn some newer
architecture first and then try to fit that knowledge into the 6507's
instruction set.  

Knowing at the time only BASIC and Logo, I learned assembler well enough on
the C64 using only the PRG (similar to stella.pdf), Mapping the 64
(basically a big reference, I think it's floating around on the net now)
and some article in Transactor or something about fast screen writes to
write an Xmodem implementation for my BBS, some sprite routines for a game
and most of a MacPaint viewer for the 64.  

If you have any procedural programming experience at all (read: other than
Visual Basic or anything else that's event driven), especially C, it's
sufficient to just think of assembler as a really verbose procedural
language.  If you need a better-documented way to learn 65xx concepts
before diving into the 2600, I'd suggest getting a C64 emulator and writing
a few little sprite demos or something on there, since there's so much more
documentation available for it and doubtless some tutorials people scanned
or typed in from back then.  Then maybe something clever where you change
the colors every scanline since that stuff is so important to 2600
programming, and by then stella.pdf and Nick's playfield demo will look
pretty familiar though you may have a little surprise waiting in the form
of 128 bytes of RAM and two 8-pixel sprites.

In its own way, assembler on the 64 was actually more flexible than
Commodore BASIC... and I'd still rather debug it than COBOL!  Jumping to
the 2600 wasn't that difficult; it was the other parts of the 2600
(counting scanlines etc.) that tripped me up.  (Well, I overcame those
problems but not the free time problem...)  And those parts are documented
pretty well considering there was never a grassroots programming community
as big as the 64 had.  

In comparison, I've found it pretty hard to write working code for the
Gameboy, Odyssey2 or Vectrex, all of which use non-65xx instruction sets.
It's like going from English to German - you can say all the same things,
but the way you say them can be different in unexpected ways.  (And of the
three of them, the Vectrex is probably the closest thing to the 2600 in
terms of kernel design, only it has a sort of API.)

If you decide you like coding for the 64, going back to it after the 2600
will seem like a dream, too ;) 


kudla@xxxxxxxxx ... ... Rob

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