Re: [stella] The future of Stella (i.e. debugger needed)

Subject: Re: [stella] The future of Stella (i.e. debugger needed)
From: Stephen Anthony <stephena@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 09:47:45 -0230
On May 18, 2004 12:27 am, Glenn Saunders wrote:
> At 02:50 PM 5/17/2004, you wrote:
> >PS: If I could get the &*&$# sound problems fixed in Stella, this is
> > the type of stuff I really want to work on; filtering modes and
> > in-game GUI's.  But the default, no-frills, pixel-perfect mode will
> > always be available.
> Given that this is Stellalist and we are all presumably interested in
> programming games for the 2600, if you are planning to do any further
> work on Stella in the future, I can not urge you enough to please,
> please, add a debugger to it.  The hooks are there, it just needs a
> GUI (hopefully with the ability to load DASM list files into it so
> you can see all the labels).

I absolutely agree.  My whole reason for wanting to add a GUI in the 
first place was (a) to allow event remappings (which is already done) 
and (b) to add debugger support.  I even have preliminary debugger code 
here (patches against version 1.1, but still usable).

My reason for concentrating on sound at this time is that the system is 
broken.  Now, while most people on the Stella list are programmers and 
want to see a debugger, I can guarantee that most ordinary people won't 
know what what a debugger is.  But they *WILL* know that right now, 
Stella sounds like crap, and that's the only thing they'll judge it on.  
That's why sound is a priority right now.

> If we had that I think it REALLY would lower the barrier of entry for
> a lot of us who are getting bogged down by time-consuming trial and
> error, and we'd see far more 2600 games get finished.

I agree.  The problem is we need more (active) developers.  I'm the only 
person working on it these days, and since work has gotten busier, I 
have even less time available.

> If all these systems (several of them obscure and with few if any
> homebrewers) can have debuggers, certainly one of the modern 2600
> emulators (Stella and Z26) can have one so we don't have to struggle
> so much anymore.

Yes, I know, the main problem is developer support and time.  I'd *LOVE* 
if someone would come along and *JUST FIX* the damn sound code.  I 
really hate sound programming, but I can't move forward until it's 

I have some very good ideas on the debugger.  I plan to have an expanded 
window onscreen showing all stuff *while the emulation is running*.  
So, for example, if the normal window was 640x480, when entering 
debugger mode the window would be resized to 1280x480, and the whole 
right side of the window could show registers, etc while the emulation 
was still running in the left.

Of course, one could pause and advance frame-by-frame, and still see the 
changes on the right.  I even plan to add a 'game genie' of sorts like 
is in DCStella, where certain memory locations can be 'locked', so you 
wouldn't lose lives, etc.

Really, every change I've made over the past year (pause, event 
remapping with EventHandler and state-machine, integrated GUI, etc.) 
has been for eventually adding debugger support.

I just need the time to get past certain (seemly insurmountable 
problems) and do it.

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