Re: [stella] old vs new

Subject: Re: [stella] old vs new
From: "Thomas Jentzsch" <tjentzsch@xxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2001 15:11:21 +0200
Andrew wrote:
> This got me to thinking.  Thomas, in your opinion, what are the modern games
> like, in terms of coding style and sophistication, compared to the games
> from years gone by that you've actually had a good look at the code of?  Are
> modern games more complex?  Better written?  Are the old games (in general)
> poorly written and sphagetti-like?

I think, it mainly depends on the experience and talent of the programmer. 

During the early years, everything was new: the cpu, the 2600 hardware and maybe coding at all. I have only looked at the Surround code and I think Alan Miller was still learning.

Later (River Raid, Starmaster, Pitfall! time) nearly all hardware tricks seemded to be well known. But still there are differences between the codes. 
Carol Shaw was coding sometimes a bit strange, but as far as I can tell, very efficient. 
Alan Miller had learned, but sometimes still his coding was not optimal. And there are parts, which are so bad, they must come form someone else or a different era.
David Crane's coding was mostly very efficient and easy to understand.
(I don't know, if my oppinions are fair, i.E. I don't know how much time they had for completing their work.)

Today, the hardware is well known, so the results depend on the programmer only. But still there is a wide variation. I think the better ones can be compared to those written in the beginning eighties (and I haven't looked much into later games). Other games are even less good coded than maybe most of the early games, because their developers are still in the learning process.

The complexity hasn't changed too much. Still most "modern" homebrew games are limited to 4K and the 16K Thrust isn't very complex, just a bit bigger. 

Spaghetti coding is often necessary on the 2600, so I wouldn't count that as a criteria if it is done for good reason. 

Coding style (comments, names etc.) might be a good criteria, but unfortunately we don't have much original source code. I know the Solaris code a little bit. It's very hard to understand for me, and there are very cryptic labelnames used (maybe because of the available editor or assembler). But the result is a masterpiece.

Have fun!
Thomas Jentzsch         | *** Every bit is sacred ! ***
tjentzsch at web dot de |

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