[stella] How I learned to stop worrying..

Subject: [stella] How I learned to stop worrying..
From: Andrew Towers <mariofrog@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 04 Mar 2003 22:52:07 +1100

Andrew, could you introduce yourself to the list a bit?

Sure :) I did post a self-introduction back in July 2002 (http://www.biglist.com/lists/stella/archives/200207/msg00225.html)

Further to that - I started with computers on the BBC Micro in
high school. Mostly BASIC back then, but a little 6502 as well;
this gave me a head start on the 6502 front :)

In college/university I moved on to ARM (Archimedes) assembly
language, learned Pascal, C++, C, a bit of Java, touched on
Scheme, ML, Prolog, and also picked up a bit of csh scripting,
Perl, Javascript, and a few others.

I based my thesis around an interpreted language called Icon
(which features 'goal-directed' expression evaluation in
which expressions can fail, or generate one or more values on
demand, and backtracking is used to "seek" a result) and wrote
my own bytecode interpreter for a similar language.

Most 3rd generation languages start to look the same after all
of that ;) I'm interested in language design, CPU design
(although my physics/electronics knowledge lets me down a bit
on this front), and writing optimal assemly language for old
console systems with very stringent limitations ;)

I enjoy programming for the VCS because (a) I can design the
whole game, program it, draw the graphics, create the sound
effects and maybe even write the music, all by myself - with
the support of the Stella mailing list of course. And (b) no-
one in their right mind would ever even consider trying to
make a *game* for this hardware! It's completely impossible
unless you understand something of how processors work, how
TVs work, and how to get a lot out of a little (a very
specialised skill that seems to be sadly lacking in today's
bloated software).

I was drawn to the VCS (like a moth to a flame) when Andrew
Davie happend to "mention" the hardware capabilities of the
VCS, and what people actually do with those meagre resources.
I find that I do my best (and most enjoyable) work under
extremely tight constraints such as those presented by the
VCS :)

So here I am. I worked on "the castle game" for a couple of
months back in July 2002 while I was learning about the VCS
hardware, then I moved on to other things for a few months.
I recently "rediscovered" the project and I've put a lot of
work into it over the last month or two to bring it to its
current state.

About me - I live in Tasmania, Australia. I'm about 25, I
split my time between making 3D games, doing contract work
and writing Atari 2600 games ;)

We've seen such an influx of new development of late that it's valuable to know whether the barrier to entry to 2600 programming is hitting an all-time-low (with all the online resources now available to help us) or whether some other factor is at play.

The online resources are extremely helpful in getting started, especially the stella archives and its members' pages. I also think the community is an important factor - it's fun to make these sorts of games for the challenge they present, but it's doubly rewarding to have an audience that appreciates the end result :)

- M.

ps. the "M" is for Mario, which is a nickname most of my friends
call me. It also differentiates me from Andrew Davie ;)

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