RE: [stella] behold, i am become shiva, destroyer of kernals!

Subject: RE: [stella] behold, i am become shiva, destroyer of kernals!
From: KirkIsrael@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Date: 12 Mar 2004 13:44:33 -0000
> Been lurking for about 73 messages and have to say this list is the best!
> Kirk, it'd be nice to have a one-stop shop for all of my Stella development
> needs.  Honestly though, it's been a blast sifting through the materials
> scattered around the net, including your 2600 101 which got the ball rolling
> for me.  

Yeah, to be fair there are some pretty decent sites out there already...
I'm just seeing if I can stoke interest in an inclusive canonical group-
endorsed one, rather than just making my own.  

> Prior to this fling with Stella, I was doing quite a bit of Apple II
> "programming."  Mainly in Applesoft, but with some assembly.  Problem is,
> when I was a kid I wanted to learn assembly, but just didn't have the
> resources. 

Yeah, I remember failing to make headway w/ this one "teach yourself
on the C64" book.  I think I could never get past where it was teaching
counting in binary, using a hand for an example, of course "4" is flipping
you the finger...

Actually, I think Apple mighta been a much friendlier machine
to hack around on than the C=64, (despite the graphics memory)
sometimes I fear I lost in hacking what I gained in superior game-ing. 

> So trying my hand at it on the Apple today was tedious and only
> mildly rewarding due in part to the complexity of the machine (specifically,
> the peculiar mapping of graphics memory to the screen).  The Atari 2600, on
> the other hand, is a different story.  It offers unique challenges in a very
> finite amount of space (and time).  

Yeah...actually, once you have the boiler plate, some of doing stuff 
w/ the atari is "relatively easy"'s doing ENOUGH stuff during a 
kernal that's difficult. But sometimes I think about how clever the
design of the TIA is, to get so much done with so little.  (Slocum's 
insight that two characters in fixed positions at opposite ends of 
the screen (ala JoustPong) can be represented by a single carefully 
positioned and timed player graphic by using TIA's "double this 
graphic" register is a good example of that.)

> Anyway, just really wanted to say hi to everyone.  Sorry I haven't helped
> solve your problem, Kirk.  I don't have a real Atari 2600 yet, but I did try
> to (unsuccessfully) assemble your game code.  Probably using the wrong
> header.

Hmm...looking at - I prolly should
have put local mirrors of VCS.H and MACRO.H that I'm using, though I
do say "go get them from "

Are you making sure you invoke DASM with the -f3 argument?  That's 
a pretty common mistake, I made it back in the day.  (heh, which is 
probably why I put in italics "The -f3 is crucial--I learned that the 
hard way, and had to get help from the Stella list" in 2600 101.

> PS: Man, I love your Joust Pong title screen.  All the other ones seem to
> only take up the center 32 pixels or so.  

Yeah, the full screen non-reflected playfield can look pretty nice.
I'll talk about it if I get to "2600 102" (or...maybe that should be
"2600 110", which sounds like better binary...I don't know how most
colleges that use 101-style class naming continue numbering)

That kind of graphic is interesting, because you have the potential
for many scanlines of vertical resolution, but only 40 pixels of 
horizontal...basically, short-but-wide pixels. My first attempts at
a JoustPong screen ( )
kind of "forgot" that I could make the pixels short.  

I got the current screen by assembling what I wanted highrez, then
squishing it very thin but only a bit short, then pixel expanding
both back to fullsize...that was my guide for pixelpainting in my
javascript editor

I think the flat, fat pixels results in a very distinctive look,
inherently more stylized than typical low-rez. To be fair, 
Joe Grand's SCSIcide
got me thinking about how nice full screen playfield graphics could
look relative to higher-rez "multiple sprite" ones in the  center 
of the screen, ala Joust.  Actually, Joe Grand was an inspiration
in a few ways, seeing him at PhillyClassic 3.  

> The gameplay took some getting
> used to, but once I figured it out, it's a pretty good match between the CPU
> and player.  

I hope...with all these bugs, I haven't done quite the fine tuning
I'd like.  I do like how Pterry gets into the mix sometimes, bouncing
it around and adding a little element of complexity.

> Constructive criticism: Could the Y delta on your winged-paddle
> be set to zero when it hits the top of the screen instead of reflecting?  I
> think that'd make hitting the ball near the top of the screen easier.  Right
> now, I find myself resting at the bottom, waiting to flap once or twice to
> hit the ball, fearful of smacking the top of the screen. :)

> PPS: Other than that, great job!

"Other than that", pshaw ;-) ...I WANT people to worry about bouncing 
off the ceiling...that comes DIRECTLY from the Joust heritage of 
this game!  That's one of the tricky things in the original, 
and stops a trivial "hug the ceiling" strategy from dominating.

But thanks for the complement, and for giving me time to ramble 
on 'bout my baby.

"the day that you die will be like any other day, only shorter." --Beckett

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