Re: [stella] Death Derby page ROCKS

Subject: Re: [stella] Death Derby page ROCKS
From: "Roger Williams" <mer02@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 4 Nov 2001 17:52:59 -0800
----- Original Message -----
From: Glenn Saunders <cybpunks2@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <stella@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, November 04, 2001 3:15 PM
Subject: Re: [stella] Death Derby page ROCKS

> At 03:39 PM 11/4/2001 -0800, you wrote:
> >One suggestion:  For the shifter, instead of using the difficulty
> >switches for the shifter, I'd use a "tap" signal on the accelerator
> If it were only possible to go into reverse when the car is in neutral, a
> tap method might be safe.  But it might still be confusing with people
> accidentally going into reverse.

I don't think this would be a big problem.  If the controls are intertial
then there's little reason to _ever_ quick-tap the controller, and with
the algorithm I suggested you only get a direction change if you
quick-tap and then tap again.  With the annunciator you get immediate
feedback, go "oops," and undo the operation.  While it's true this
would require some tuning and it's a PITA to implement the state
machine, I think there are strong advantages to sticking with the
original hardware, and people get used to stuff like this very quickly.

> With the difficulty switches you could
> throw it into reverse at any time, and then you could have some cool tire
> burning sound effects.  Reverse always accessible acts as a brake
> also.  Taking your finger off the accelerator may not allow the car to
> down fast enough to execute quick direction changes.

You could do the at-any-time with the tap method too.  Think about
it, how often do you "tap" your car's accelerator for 1/6 second when
driving?  The tap isn't sustained enough to have a real effect, so you
could "tap" into reverse even when going full speed forward
(SCREEEEEEEEECCCCCHHHHH).  I admit it would be quite
different if the game were like Combat where motion is Aristotelian,
but I think it would work for Death Derby.

> There will definitely
> be a lot of fine-tuning, matching the speed and intelligence of the
> to the performance characterstics of the cars.

Ain't all games like that?  Oh, if you bother with play instead of
moviemaking I guess they are.

> >You could also have an annunciator in the score area to indicate
> >that the transmission is in reverse.  I think this would be quite
> >playable without requiring the console to be in arm's reach.
> The cool thing is, there are two unused bits with the driving controllers.
> You could hook up two separate buttons to it.  That might break
> compatibility with Indy500, but if I am just reading the rightmost 2 bits,
> then no problem for new games.

The problem with this, of course, is how many people will break out
a soldering iron and bother to do the mod?  Furthermore it would
have to be specifically supported by emulators.

(And I say this as someone who regularly does the soldering iron
thing;  Once I find a couple of extra consoles, my burglar alarm
controller is getting replaced.)

If you don't believe the tap method would be playable, would you
consider letting me write the code so you could play-test it?  I really
think that sticking to the original hardware would make it much more
viable.  My own 2600 is sitting atop my stereo about 15 ft from
where I sit to play it, thanks to extension cables and a 25-inch TV
As you are proposing it I might play Death Derby on my PC, but
it wouldn't be worth my while to put it on a cart..

Also, I don't think the idea of a joystick mode is completely un-doable.
Yes, joystick ports ruin some games -- I can't imagine doing Tempest
that way -- but Death Race isn't as dependent on high-speed precision
rotation as some games using similar controllers were.  I think it would
be worth coding up a test once the game infrastructure is in place.
I would see joystick control as being inertial, like the accelerator, so
you'd get that "whipping around" sensation.  This would mimic the
reality of the steering wheel controllers, which (unlike the Atari driving
controllers) have intertia and resist sudden changes in delta theta.

--Roger Williams

Archives (includes files) at
Unsub & more at

Current Thread