[stella] Difficulty Switches vs. Tap

Subject: [stella] Difficulty Switches vs. Tap
From: Glenn Saunders <cybpunks2@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 04 Nov 2001 18:31:53 -0800
At 05:52 PM 11/4/2001 -0800, you wrote:
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

End-users always do what programmers think they have no reason to do. And I'm not sure you are right about not having a reason to tap. Read onward...

original hardware, and people get used to stuff like this very quickly.

Playtesting may back up or disprove that notion.

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

It's different in a game because the accelerator is on/off, not analog. I tap up all the time in River Raid, for instance. Try playing Indy 500. In order to maintain a constant speed other than maximum you HAVE to tap.

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.

It would have to be an optional play mode, where the default is the difficulty switches so there wouldn't be an emulator issue. If you play by the PC then the keyboard is right there.

Like I said in the FAQ, it should be possible to play the game without ever needing the reverse gear to begin with. If both players agree not to utilize it, they are equally handicapped in not being able to immediatelly stop on a dime to back up. You should still be able to finish off the pedestrians by letting go of the accelerator and quickly turning the knob 180'. I'm just including reverse in order to be faithful to the coinop game. The reverse gear was really only there in Death Race because of Destruction Derby, where you are supposed to hit the other cars while driving in reverse to avoid damage to the engine.

I would not support the extra buttons hack unless someone came forward to volunteer to work with me to build these on demand or in a sizeable batch for end-users, maybe packing it in with the game. I don't enjoy soldering projects anymore than the next guy.

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

Sure, especially if you drop it into my most recent build and code in the initial movement routines for me as well ;) That would really save me some development time.

think that sticking to the original hardware would make it much more

I'm not convinced against it, but maybe people also shouldn't be so dead set against using the difficulty switches too. If people can use the color/b&w for Starmaster during the game, I don't see how different it is here.

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..

I agree it's not as convenient as it could be, especially for 7800 users where the difficulty switches are hard to access quickly. It's just that too many games were ruined by awkward workarounds to a lack of buttons. Defender is a perfect example. Moving offscreen to the top and bottom is just plain goofy... On the other hand, Stargate is hard to play without some way to secure the 2nd joystick. Everything involves tradeoffs.

Also, I don't think the idea of a joystick mode is completely un-doable.

Maybe so, but when you set yourself upon making a game, you usually have some convictions about the way you'd like it to be. Having it be driving-controller-only is one of my convictions. I know that's going to alienate some players, but I'm not making it primarily as a commercial venture. I'm making it to be as good as I can make it, and I know that the Joystick mode will suck and I'd rather not allow anyone to play it under what I perceive to be a poor control scheme. Even the scheme you laid out seems awkward and slow to repsond to user-input. In River Raid, it makes sense that there is a lag when you are swooping from left to right, but you need the ability to quickly change direction in a driving game.

As I said in the FAQ, the game isn't going to have fancy graphics. The only thing it's going to have going for it is smooth control.

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