Re: [stella] What's the status of Star Fire, Robot City, and Incoming!

Subject: Re: [stella] What's the status of Star Fire, Robot City, and Incoming!
From: Glenn Saunders <mos6507@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 15 Feb 2003 10:23:23 -0800
At 11:05 AM 2/15/2003 -0500, you wrote:
There has been a lot of activity in the 2600 homebrew arena lately and I
would hate to see these vanish. Have you seen the AtariAge in
development page lately? There are now 22 known titles being worked on
for the 2600.

That's got to be a record since the homebrew scene first started up. The previous hotspot was back in 1997 and then around the time Gunfight and Thrust were in development. Hopefully all the titles listed really ARE in active development

I have to say that I'm glad to see Glenn pick Death Derby back up. I'm
really interested in seeing that completed too.

I wish the circumstances in which I now find myself having more time on my hands were different. But it's important to make the best out of a bad situation.

I hope to be able to submit a new work-in-progress within a week or so that is a LOT closer to a playable demo than was ever possible before Thomas wrote the kernel. I'm making incremental progress each day.

A word of advice to programmers... Tackle one subroutine at a time. When you reach each milestone, no matter how insignificant, be proud of yourself, and don't be ashamed to put it aside until tomorrow. To be able to add _any_ feature to a 2600 game in progress without breaking your kernel or running out of resources is a cause for pride for any fledgling VCS coder. It also pays to ruminate over the tiny details overnight. Maybe you'll come back the next day and rewrite it to use less ROM or fewer cycles. Don't feel the need to rush. As long as you work on it consistently, like a regimen, it's going to come together. Since I come from a rapid development dayjob, the temptation is to try to make huge leaps of progress in marathon all-nighters. It's good therapy for me to pace myself out and not expect such instant gratification. I think this approach is closer to the XP (Extreme Programming) approach. I don't think this works for all types of projects but I think it is ideal for the 2600 because it emphasizes testing above all else. The most important thing is to know WHY something doesn't work as planned. It's a lot easier to deduce the root cause when you are making only the smallest alterations to the code at a time before testing.

In my case I'm learning how to debug 6502 at the same time (using PCAtari, which actually runs on my system) and it REALLY PAYS to sit there and single-step through your code side by side with a DASM source listing and watching the registers change. I know a lot of developers try to debug in their head and use trial and error methods. Only the very earliest 2600 coders had to do that. There is nothing more wasteful of time than trial and error coding, trying to guess where the bugs are.

I just wish Cyberstella finally had its interactive debugger. I'd love to be able to load a BIN and load its matching DASM source listing into an emulator and be able to step debug over my code and see all my labels and comments in the actual debugger.

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