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    I am starting a Facebook Page for The Atari Portfolio which will be Closed,and I need 3 admins that really know their stuff around The Atari Portfolio........... Russ Campbell (Mr Portfolio)

     

    Yes I wrote the article , What Good Is An Atari Portfolio way back in the old days.

     

  1. Thirteenth (13th) Leader BBS
    June 8, 2018pjones1063

     

    Telnet: 13leader.net:8023 SSH: ipnot.click:8022 Software: Mystic Connection: Telnet Nodes: 24
    Location: Vineland, ON, Canada
    13th Leader is a reboot of an 8-bit Atari 800 XL BBS from back in the late 1980’s! Originally hosted out of Hamilton Ontario Canada! Back in the 80’s we ran on 8-bit “Home Grown” BBS software on 2 x 5.24 floppy drives. Still hosted in Southern Ontario but now on an Ubuntu LXD container running Mystic BBS. New users are always welcome!

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    A reboot of a ATARI BBS?!! Nice!!

    Some good starting message activity. Actually enjoyed that because there is a lot of conversations about the Atari 8-bit there and other talk. Check it out! Hard Core BBS
    June 5, 2018scottnlou75

     

    Telnet: hardcore.synchro.net Connection: Telnet Nodes: 7
    Location: Louisville, KY, USA
    Free speech for all. The place on the Internet to come if you have an opinion about something, and without worrying about being Zucked or censored by The Zuck (Mark Zuckerberg).

    Sub-boards of Local Posts

     

    * [1] Sysop Notices 1
    [2] General 0
    [3] Debate 0
    [4] Entertainment 0
    [5] Freedom of Speech 2

     

    Which, Quit, or [1]:

    So I sent a message. It is nice when you have the control keys and live editing. I had this in Wildcat mode so maybe that had something to do with it.

    There were two messages in the freedom of speech area, so I checked them out. And I've decided going forward, especially from this visit, that what is said on a BBS needs to stay there. But saying that for a new BBS they had messages, and so we'll see how this goes.

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    Sounds promising. I like the idea of old BBS craziness! Love the name. The telnet address defaults to port 23... I bet that gets a lot of hits from Chinese spammers.

    So this was a C=64 C-Net BBS. My favorite BBS software of all time since that was what I used on the Unknown BBS back in the 80s.
    So from there to Amiga 3000 and then to a Winserver. The future is a "old school with a touch of today." Sounds good.

    250 games with 6 discs of PD software for downloading. Nice!

    Local message base had four messages on it. First message May 29th. Tried to reply but I guess I need to be validated. Fine.

    Looks like this sysop has alternate set ups going...

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    Four new BBSs down, 16 more to go.

  2. The way I've selected Africa by Toto was by searching the Greatest Hits of 1982. The number of views on Youtube for the song Africa released in September 1982 is very high, but the song isn't present in the Greatest Hits of 1982, but in the one in 1983, which surprised me.

    Anyway, the list of Greatest Hits included the obvious "Survivor - Eye of the Tiger", but also a whole bunch of songs that could have been interesting to Coleco-fy.

     

    I'm curious what could be your picks of 1982 Hits. I've set a poll but couldn't include all songs in it.

     

    Since I don't think I can compose any song with the ColecoVision sound chip, I'm asking you to pick several of your favorites in the poll.

  3. Yea its been since September of 2017 since I actually did anything, but I was re-arranging my shelf of stuff the other day and said "hey you do not have any projects that are paying you money for a couple weeks, put down the brand new (to me) coco 3 and work on the Atari!"

    In my last update I cut a gigantic hole in the front of my case to accommodate the LCD that goes with the integrated SIO2SD, since then I have trimmed it out, added a acrylic front and replaced the 65XE name badge. The badge I had was actually in pretty good shape, I did not want to cut it in half, so I gave it to a buddy who needed one. I ordered a silver and black plastic replacement off of eBay, and it looks good, but my only complaint would be the material is a bit too thick so it stands a tiny bit proud of the case, though not that big of a deal.

    With the LCD fitted into place its now time to figure out where the SIO2SD buttons will live, which is when I noticed the LCD screen crashes directly into the keyboard. The only sensible choice at this point is to cut a notch in the keyboard! I took the keyboard apart figured out where I needed to cut and how far I could cut before I would need to cut the Mylar circuit sheet, I did not want to cut that so if I ever have to replace it, it would be a drop in without a problem.

    Now that the keyboard is able to fit back into the case, I can go about deciding where to place the buttons. I am leaning to a row above the function keys, as that seems like the most logical place without accidently hitting buttons while using the keyboard. I had considered going down one of the sides of the keyboard (and yea I would have clearance, I checked) but in fake typing I hit the cut tape of buttons off the keyboard pretty quickly ... not that they would be standing a full quarter inch off the top of the case, but its something to think about

    I also obtained a ultimate cart in a trade deal, I printed a new case matching my blue black and grey color scheme (remember the power LED is now blue, the LCD is black text on a blue background, and the buttons are blue), but our beater i3 printer at work is leaving some funky artifacts in the starting layers. That sucks but I am not bothered to fiddle with it too much since I already spent time printing a cart shell at work heh

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    eventually I need to give a strong dose of retrobrite to those keycaps, but not today



  4. Remember, i was looking a tutorial about Atari 2600 programming.... my idea in that moment the same that now.

    YAY!! AYE!! WANNA KNOW HOW TO PROGRAMME A VCS PYJAMARAMA!!!

    i was a little less anxious than now, lol, and i think i was reading :




    Session 21: Sprites
    Started by Andrew Davie, Aug 20 2003 7:59 PM




    so... IS POSSIBLE TO READ A TABLE GRAPHICS?! WOW!!
    when i read the excercises on Session 21 i wasn't able to do them all, but.... that table thing..... wtf is a table?!! read a table?


    :-o :-o :-o :-o :-o :-o :-o :-o :-o



    then i remember my hunger of code, just to see what is all this about, graphics....sound!! BUT HOW?!! (we are always on the run)

    then, i read code... and code and code, being a newbie is something stresant and sometimes even confusing.

    and may be--- that afternoon i found a table related to a playfield, then a playfield editor, so i think i found THE TABLE WORD.

    That was enough to lead me at google and search again about graphics.

    there it was, the SKIPDRAW thing!! jesus!! was too much for my newbie brain so in a matter of days i did at GOOGLE a new search .



    SKIPDRAW site:atariage.com



    SKIPDRAW couldn't use or understand it so i did it work my way, a bad and erroneous version of skipdraw, but it did work lol ...... the important thing was that I had learned my rainbow (from davie's tutorial) and my first graphic.

    funny to remember. pure anxiety

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    I have a question for those of you who code homebrews: What is your opinion on the Harmony Cartridge? I found out about it yesterday(3/18/18) and took interest in getting one so I could play Princess Rescue and DK VCS along with other Homebrews using the Binaries acquired from the website, but, I want to support the homebrew scene by purchasing physical Homebrew games from the AA store. My question(s) for you guys is: what is your Opinion on Harmony? Would it be better to purchase the physical games when possible or save money and just get Harmony?

  5. blog-0769929001519451676.jpg

    These games are the start of my Atari 2600 game collection. They were picked up from my local games store, I will be getting more from then in the near future and i will be updating this blog accordingly. The goal of this blog is to update my process in completing the Atari 2600 library.

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    MEMORIES LIMITED TO 640KB - IBM WRITING ASSISTANT

    Sometime around 1985, I got my first personal computer, an IBM PCjr. Sure, sure, laugh... the Junior was and continues to be the brunt of many a joke.

    But I learned a LOT on that PCjr. It's not really an exaggeration to say that it launched my career. I learned to program in BASIC and Turbo Pascal on the Junior. I learned a little about Assembly Language. I was introduced to the early online world of BBSes using its slow - even for the time - 300 baud modem. I played lots of games on it. And, I wrote papers for school on it.

    Our PCjr came with a copy a word processor called IBM Writing Assistant. While I had used a computer before we the Junior, I'm almost positive that I had my first experience with a word processor on that Junior, and it was Writing Assistant.

    Honestly, Writing Assistant was a pretty good, if basic, word processor. It had all the features I needed at the time: a nice WYSIWYG text mode interface that allows you to lay out text on the screen pretty much the way it will print out on paper, easy intuitive keys to move around the text, on-screen help, spell checker, the ability to mark text as bold and underlined, basic cut and paste operations, headers and footers.

    It was good enough that I don't think I ever even considered switching to another word processor the entire time I used the PCjr. I think I stuck with it right until I switched to Windows 3.

    I was dedicated to Writing Assistant to a fault. In fact, after I had been using Writing Assistant at home for many years, they "introduced" us to word processing at school. They taught us to use a program called "PFS: Write" on the Apple //'s. The first time I saw PFS: Write I blurted out, "They ripped off IBM Writing Assistant!" Of course, much later, I would come to find out that it was much the other way. "IBM Writing Assistant" was in fact an OEM rebranded version of PFS: Write, which had started out in the MS-DOS world.

    Eventually, I did move on from Writing Assistant. Sometimes by force. In college, we had to use Enable. I had a job that forced me to use WordPerfect. That Windows word processor I mentioned earlier was WordStar Legacy. Eventually, like everyone else, I settled into Microsoft Word.

    Recently, in a fit of nostalgia, I wondered if IBM Writing Assistant was as good as I remembered it. I still have the manuals, and the original 5.25" disks. And thanks to the wonders of DOSBox, it is now running on my modern computer. In fact, I wrote this little article using it. And the truth is, it's not that bad. For all the years of "advancement", the truth is, if you just want to write a short paper on something, it still works really well. Maybe I'll actually continue to do some writing with it. And thanks to its "print to file" feature I'll be able to import the text into
    whatever I want.

    How about you? Do you have any old programs that still hold up many years later despite being "obsolete"?

  6. walker7
    Latest Entry

    This is how the data is stored in files on this type of computer.

    NOTE: This is a work in progress. I will be updating this post as I think of stuff to put on here.

    Bytes $20-$7F represent the standard ASCII character set. Character $7F represents the cursor symbol.

    Bytes $00-$1F are control codes.
    $00 - ROM Section Header
    $01 - Palette
    $02 - Graphics
    $03 - Mappings
    $04 -
    $05 -
    $06 -
    $07 -
    $08 - Set Tab Width
    $09 - Tab
    $0A - Line Feed
    $0B - Comment Tab
    $0C -
    $0D - Carriage Return (same as $0A)
    $0E -
    $0F -
    $10 -
    $11 -
    $12 -
    $13 -
    $14 -
    $15 -
    $16 -
    $17 -
    $18 -
    $19 -
    $1A -
    $1B -
    $1C -
    $1D - Change Label Line Color
    $1E - Change Label Line Toggle
    $1F - Toggle Show/Hide Labels

    Characters $80-$FF are more control codes.


    When the file is saved, it is compressed using LZSS.

  7. Just met Gerry Conway, the man who co-wrote Atari's original Swordquest series for DC and creator of the Punisher. I asked him about working on the unreleased Air World comic and he told me they never got far beyond a basic plot sadly and couldn't recall how the story would have ended. He did tell me about the process of writing a comic based on games though. He was invited to Atari's Sunnyvale HQ several times to test play and even take home many games for the VCS in order to get a feel for the direction and tone the comic should take. He even told me the story of how he was a tester for Tempest.

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    I've been watching videos of upcoming game releases on various platforms and I've noticed that sometimes developers get in a rut and we see far too many of the same types of games and not a lot of innovation. I guess what bothers me most is hearing of some new game coming out and then finding out it fits the following template:

    1. Amazing full-color RastaConverter title screen. Probably a bigger executable than the game itself.
    2. Amazing title screen music.
    3. Pressing Start dumps you into some ho-hum puzzle game or some other simple concept that doesn't live up to the extravagant intro.

    I realize we have tools to make impressive images and music now, but they make a simple game look worse by setting the standard too high. What I really want to see on the A8 is innovation. Either bring something to the A8 library that's been missing or come up with an experience no one's seen before.

    I look at what's going on in the (admittedly larger) C64 community and it's pretty incredible what people are attempting there. People are writing impressive game engines for the Spectrum too even though they know they'll always look kinda mangy in the end. Of course, they can do stuff we can't do and we can do stuff they can't do so let's find more of those things. Then we can slap 70 color title screens on them.

    And oh yeah, why do I find SID music to be so irritating after a while? Somehow I find myself suffering from sawtooth overload after just a few minutes.

  8. Hawk's Blog

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    I recently purchased a couple of UAV kits from Bryan, so I thought I'd document my installations.

    http://atariage.com/forums/gallery/album/2096-uav-installation/

    Initially I found it difficult to find installation information, but I soon realised that it was in all the forums, it just wasn't all in the same place.

    The installation of the UAV mod in the XEGS was extremely easy. The most difficult part was deciding how I wanted to implement the mod, and my decision changed a few times and still is not yet complete.

    I usually want to keep my machines in mint condition, unless something about them indicates that its not really worth it...maybe a broken case, repaired electronics, or I have more than one machine of a particular type in my collection. In this case, the machine I chose to mod had already been repaired by me.

    http://atariage.com/forums/topic/258432-xegs-repair/?hl=%2Bhawk+%2Bxegs

    I had originally planned to remove the 4050 chip when I installed the UAV but realised that if I did that I would lose the RF output. I don't use the RF output if I can help it but I wasn't sure whether I wanted to totally remove it. From the monitor photos you'll see that I went to the trouble of replacing the original LCD driver board with a TV tuner LCD controller board. https://www.ebay.com/itm/LCD-controller-board-Kit-diy-VGA-HDMI-USB-TV-for-LCD-LED-Display-Monitor-Panel/152446068465?hash=item237e7e66f1:g:PlsAAOSwdGFYxLsS that allowed me to use RF in for some of my older machines including my 400.

    I ended up soldering the socket that came with the UAV kit directly onto the pins of the 4050 chip and then plugging in the daughter board. It almost worked first time, however I hadn't realised that I had to provide a colour input signal to the daughter board. I removed the centre pin of the composite out socket from the motherboard and wired the UAV output directly to that. I also included the extra ground wire. I didn't have any small shielded cables so I used regular hookup wire.

    You'll see from the photos in the album that there was not a great difference in the compisite signal before and after the mod. To be honest, the image was pretty good to start with. However, the S-video output made a big difference. I'd forgotten that my LCD monitor couldn't handle S-video, so I had to test it out on a CRT TV. I had yet to take photos of the S-video. I am also deciding how to fit the S-video socket on the rear of the XEGS. The socket I was able to buy locally is not the one that I'd prefer so I'm putting off installing that for a little bit longer.

    I'll update again after I've completed that mod...then it will be on to the 400.

    The 400 will be delayed until I can receive an Audio mod card from Bryan so that I can also get sound after bypassing the RF.

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    Has anyone experienced Gliches in the Zaxxon HomeBrew ? At least once every session my screen freezes or goes haywire. I also find it impossible to defeat the robot ... even with a dozen direct hits .... any feedback ?

  9. Recommended board: Plug-In (if 4050 soldered in)

    The 5200 may either have soldered or socketed 4050. This will affect the procedure somewhat so we'll start with instructions for a soldered in 4050:

    Position the main PCB with the cartridge slot toward the back.

    Soldered-in 4050:

    1. Solder the 16-pin socket on top of the 4050. It is only necessary to solder pins 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 11. Soldering pin 16 is probably a good idea as well just to secure all corners of the socket. With a reasonably small iron tip, you should be able to work between the 4050 and the Antic chip behind it.
    2. Connect a wire to the front pad of R17. This is the rightmost 1K resistor in front of the 4050. This will be the Color In wire.
    3. Make sure the jumpers are configured for the 5200 and install the UAV in the socket with the green terminal toward the back.
    4. Connect the Color-In wire to terminal 1 (the terminal closest to the right back corner). Make sure the wire is clamped in securely.
    5. Attach your video cables to the UAV. The remaining terminals (2-6) are Ground, Chroma, Luma, Composite, and a 2nd Ground.

    Socketed 4050:
    I am currently revising this section as the 4050 is necessary to retain the reset hardware and the jumper method isn't reliable enough.

    Removing the 4050 to plug in the UAV will disable the RF video. If this isn't a problem, then follow these steps:

    1. Remove the 4050.
    2. Connect a wire to the front pad of R17. This is the rightmost 1K resistor in front of the 4050. This will be the Color In wire.
    3. Make sure the jumpers are configured for the 5200 and install the UAV in the socket with the green terminal toward the back.
    4. Connect the Color-In wire to terminal 1 (the terminal closest to the right back corner). Make sure the wire is clamped in securely.
    5. Solder a jumper across the back pads of R2 and R3 (only do this if the 4050 is removed!)
    6. Attach your video cables to the UAV. The remaining terminals (2-6) are Ground, Chroma, Luma, Composite, and a 2nd Ground.

    If you wish to retain RF video, then you'll need to keep the 4050. However, soldering a socket on top of the 4050 will raise the UAV up too high to replace the shielding which is necessary for decent RF performance. For this reason, it is preferable to get a Kit and build the UAV according to This post and then follow the instructions above (skipping step 5).

    Installing an Audio Companion board:


    1. Locate C37 and solder the Audio Companion board across its leads with ground (G) toward the front. Apply the soldering iron to both the capacitor lead and the large pads at the bottom of the board while applying solder until they flow together. This will provide power and hold the AC in place.
    2. Solder a wire from input iA (the first pad at the top from the back) to the back pad of R50 (1K). This resistor is just inside the shield area in front of where the AC is now installed.
    3. Connect the audio out wire to the last pad on the Audio Companion marked out. If you're using a coaxial wire, you can connect ground to the back pad of the capacitor in front of C37 (C51) or any other nearby grounded spot like the exposed shield strip.

    Carefully check your work against the pictures before powering the system. Route cables carefully out of the shielding during reassembly.

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    I stumbled across this video presentation about reverse engineering the MOS 6502, and of course I had to watch it. Quite an interesting watch!



    I always wondered about the LAX/SAX instructions, and why there aren't similar illegal opcodes for other register combinations. Turns out that the opcode's lower bits define which register is to be worked with, %00 for Y, %10 for A, and %01 for X. %11 is not intended to be used, but when it is used, it causes both A and X to be affected, explaining why we don't an opcode for, say, LAY.

    As stated in the video, visual6502.org has a lot of information about the 6502 line of processors, and many others, as well. The ultra-high-resolution images of the chip are there, and my nerd wants to print them up and frame them on a wall.

    I'm not really a hardware guy, more of a software guy, but for some reason I love learning how computers work (or trying to). I guess that's why I prefer the low-level programming languages. Assembly is about as low as you can get without getting into machine code, and it's a lot of fun for something like the Atari 2600. It brings you closer to the machine, and although it doesn't let you see the physical chip layout, it gives you an idea of how it must theoretically work.
    I would love to try programming for the other old 6502 systems like the NES after I have a 2600 game or two complete, but anything other than that is better suited to a higher-level language. C++ is my favorite language for programming, although Python is nice for simple tasks that you just want to write quickly without worrying about code efficiency.
  10. Going somewhat off piste here, but as it's nearly Christmas, I thought - just this once - I'd post something non-Atari related - Lord Fortescue's Christmas Episode. Bobbety's lost Arabella's present, so he calls on his old chum, Bunty Norris, for help!

    I hope you like it. Normal Atari-related service will resume after the twelfth night:-)


  11. This is the second installment in computer food coloring. This time, it's the MSX palette. It's also used on the ColecoVision, and the TI 99/4A. Therefore, it could be called the TI palette. It consists of 15 colors and a transparent color.


    Color 0 is Transparent.
    Black: 8 parts Black
    Medium Green: 9 parts Green
    Light Green: 5 parts Green
    Dark Blue: 7 parts Blue, 5 parts Neon Blue, 5 parts Neon Purple
    Light Blue: 2 parts Neon Blue, 2 parts Neon Purple
    Dark Red: 30 parts Red, 1 part Blue, 1 part Green
    Cyan: 3 parts Neon Blue
    Medium Red: 13 parts Red
    Light Red: 5 parts Red
    Dark Yellow: 8 parts Yellow, 3 parts Red, 2 parts Green
    Light Yellow: 3 parts Yellow
    Dark Green: 24 parts Green, 1 part Blue
    Magenta: 7 parts Neon Purple, 2 parts Green
    Gray: 2 parts Black
    White: None

    The transparent color was achieved by using plain water. The medium used was Sargent Art Art-Time white tempera paint, which is opaque.


    And here's how it turned out:
    gallery_42566_2047_351480.jpg


    That certainly looks cool! It's pretty accurate.

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    You are picking through my trash again I see. tsk tsk.

  12. Looking to Sell my collection of Atari 2600 games & boxes. A good mix of standard games with a mix of a few rare & in demand titles. . Wife said time to let them go. I need to determine which boxes have cartridges, believe most if not all are available with the game. If interested I will confirm which cartridges if any are missing from the box once I go through the entire collection and open the boxes.



    My Atari 2600 Collection 72 Games 3D Tic Tack Toe $8.00 Adventure $15.00 Air Sea Battle $8.00 Amidar $9.00 Backgammon $25.00 Barnstorming $12.50 Basketball $8.00 Bezerk $9.95 Boxing $12.00 Breakout $10.00 Bridge $10.00 Bugs $11.95 Burger Time $9.00 Canyon Bomber $10.00 Checkers $26.00 Circus Atari $4.25 Combat $9.50 Combat $9.50 Communist Mutants $20.00 Crackpots $24.99 Crypts of Choas $40.00 Decathalon $15.00 Defender $7.50 Demons to Diamonds $27.00 Dragster $25.50 E.T. $23.50 Fantastic Voyage $10.00 Fireball $10.00 Fishing Derby $12.00 Football $1.00 Freeway $12.50 Frogger $15.00 Frostbite $39.99 Golf $3.86 Gopher $10.49 Grand Prix $10.00 Home Run $5.00 Ice Hockey $7.50 Indy 500 $15.00 Infiltrate $60.00 Jungle Hunt $9.99 Kaboom $12.00 Ketstone Kapers $10.50 Megamania $24.01 Missle Command $8.00 Night Driver $9.00 Oink $8.00 Phoenix $14.00 Pitfall $20.00 Popeye $18.00 Raiders of the Lost Ark $11.50 Reactor $10.00 Real Sports Volleyball $9.00 Robot Tank $7.95 Shark Attack $10.00 Skiing $14.00 Sky Diver $1.25 Sky Jinks $8.00 Sneek n Peek $6.00 Space Cavern $9.00 Space Invaders $9.00 Spider Man $35.00 Star Wars (Empire Strikes Back) $15.25 Suicide Mission $19.00 Superman $17.00 Surround $30.00 Sword Quest (Earth World) $20.00 Tennis $13.00 Threshold $26.00 Vanguard $9.00 Video Olympics $20.00 Warlords $10.00

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    Link to my blog via Blogger.com

     

    My Video Game History

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    After spending many hours, days and weeks the Atari Benelux Archive is online now. Here you can read about the history of Atari in the Benelux countries (Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) and find many documents like manuals, newsletters, magazines, pictures and much more.

     

    Go to atarimuseum.nl to see gigabytes of stuff ;-)

     

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    I believe the saying that happiness is not always having what you want, but it is wanting what you have. With the Fall season taking hold, I find myself getting back into a nostalgic frame of mind. While I find it is not productive to live in the past, I find that some of the best memories actually help me appreciate what I have more. As I tossed the draw of nostalgia around in my head, I began to wonder if kids today will have the same opportunities. We live in the age of the microwave. We want things when we want them, and that is usually now. I guess one can argue that it has always been that way, but I it is truly a lot more attainable in today's age. Sometimes it makes me wonder if kids of today are missing out. Although I do not prefer them, the rough times in my life have been some of my best opportunities for growth. I am not going to go that deep. I am just talking about video games here, but I find it an interesting parallel, how many of times of want have become some of my most cherished memories.

     

    When I was writing this the first time (I accidentally tabbed out and pressed backspace.. gone), "I'll Wait", by Van Halen started playing in my headphones. In my mind, I was thrust back into the late 80's. I was inside the arcade/corner shop, which many would stop by, on the way to our Junior High School. As much as I didn't care for cigarette smoke, it was a small price to pay, because games were 2 credits for a quarter! in fact, I met my longest friend there. We used to play Mario Bros. Sometimes we would play as a team; other times, we would play competitively. We still talk about those times to this day.

     

    I was very fortunate to have my Atari 5200, because the Mario Bros version was better than other conversions of the time. In many ways, it even outshines the NES version in animation and competitive nuances. We would sit and play that game all night at times. As much fun as it was, it was still a treat to play the arcade version. Of course we wished we could have our own arcade machine, but that just wasn't realistic at the time. Those are some great memories. Who would have thought that wishing for arcade perfect (or even better than we had) would be just as great of a memory?

     

    Pac-Man is probably the game that changed my life. Just as there are memories of actually enjoying the 2600 Pac-Man, I have just as many fond memories drooling over the Sear's catalog, because the Atari 400/800 computers had a version with the same maze layout. The sounds were closer than I ever imagined a home version could be. When the 5200 was released, I was finally able to obtain that version. It was even better than the computer version, because the high score racked up during gameplay, and it had the intermission cut scenes. I was so enamored with it. However, I still longed for that crunchy "whacka", when I dropped a quarter into the actual arcade machine. It wasn't the same.

     

    Donkey Kong was another favorite. I had a friend with a ColecoVision. While I was very hung up on that version, it was very lacking. The graphics were very sharp, but it had very few on screen enemies, it was slow, and it was very glitchy. It was still fun. It was like an alternate. I couldn't afford to also own a ColecoVision, and I personally thought the 5200 conversions were more detail oriented. One day, I noticed Donkey Kong in an Atari Computer brochure. Could this be? The 5200 and A8s (Atari 8-bit computers) were just different arrangements of the same hardware. The version I saw had the missing "crazy barrels", "Springers", and the Conveyor level. I later found out that Atari had the computer rights, but they could not produce the video game system version. Now I had to pine after an Atari A8 if I wanted the best Donkey Kong home version. I can't count how much time I spent re-reading that catalog and looking at that still picture. It came to life in my imagination. One of the major retail catalogs later got another screen shot. It just all added to the image in my mind.

     

    Just when the 5200 was getting some unique games, such as Pengo and Space Dungeon, Atari announced the 7800. I was a little disappointed, because I felt the 5200 was just starting to see its potential. I had two articles on the 7800. The first was announcing the new system. It touted virtually unlimited sprites, with virtually unlimited colors. The pictures were crude drawing, as screenshots were not common back in the day. I wasn't sure how the game would actually look. I assumed they would be higher resolution, since the current A8/5200 fell a little short on detail at times. The extra colors sounded nice. I assumed the sound would be just as good, if not better. it was also backward compatible with the Atari 2600, which didn't seem like such a big deal in this generation. I was thankful that there would be a module to allow my 5200 to play 7800 games. I was hopeful that my deluxe 5200 TrakBall would be compatible.

     

    The second article I had stated that Atari had dropped the 7800. It was a sad article, stating what could have been. At that point, I figured I would never know what incredible capabilities this Atari system possessed. Even though, I can't even count the number of times I re-read those articles. I still fondly look back on how great I dreamed it would be. I still have the tattered magazines. When I look at them, I feel that same excitement, even though the actual system is in my current basement. I've seen how badly the 7800 missed the mark of my imagination, and I still enjoy the memory of wanting one.

     

    Around 1985/1986, Mom and Dad said I could get a new video game system. It was a gift for some achievement in school. I heard the 7800 was finally released. I was anxious to get to see how amazing this Maria chip is. I would finally get to see the system that would blow away my beloved 5200. They took me to Children's Palace. There were no systems in stock. I looked at the back of the game boxes. The games didn't really look much better than my 5200 versions. Ms Pac-Man looked almost the same. There weren't many games, and I began to wonder if it was as good as I had heard. They did have the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in stock. I took a look, and I saw graphics that were arcade realistic. Super Mario Bros looked incredible, and I couldn't tell the difference from the version at the local arcade. The pictures of my favorite classics, Donkey Kong and Mario Bros, looked spot on too. I took a chance and grabbed an NES. Man, did I dodge a bullet!

     

    I got the NES home, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing and hearing. The graphics were arcade perfect. The sound was incredible. It was unlike anything I ever thought would play on my television. I couldn't wait to get Donkey Kong and Mario Bros. I didn't see a 7800 in person until about a year later. The sprites were multi color, but the resolution was low, the colors were washed out, and the game play was choppy. I was so disappointed. Worse than any of that was the sound. Unlike some, I can't enjoy a game fully without sound. With the 7800, it's hard for me to enjoy the games because of the sound. I already had an almost arcade mirror of Galaga for my NES. Here was a 7800 version that looked like a colorful 2600 version. It sounded like it too. Apparently, Maria takes up so much processing time, it's hard for the system to draw smooth curves. Similar issues were seen in Mario Bros, where Mario leaps off the ground, ending in a crude arch.

     

    In fairness to the 7800, I have seen some redeeming homebrews. Although the 320 mode is limited, it exists. One of my favorite redeeming games is Donkey Kong Pokey. Even with the lower resolution, it would have blown me away back in the day and justified the 7800 as a successor to the A8. My point here is that I own a 7800 now, and I think I sometimes enjoy the memory of WANTING a 7800 more than I do the system itself. I think I enjoy homebrews, because they kind validate the expectations of my fond memories. As for the NES, I was blown away by Super Mario Bros, Ghost & Goblins, and Galaga. However, I was not impressed with Donkey Kong, Mario Bros, Pac-Man, or even DK Jr. While they looked better than previous versions, but they lacked the charm and challenge of the arcade counterparts. Pac-Man didn't fit in the maze, the whacka was off, and it was sluggish. Donkey Kong was missing game elements, a whole level, and it was too easy. As much as I felt the NES could have handled a perfect conversion, I am kind of thankful that I still had something to want.

     

    The 16-bit generation changed it up a little. I actually started to get into fighters. I wasn't a big fan of the 16-bit era. Sonic was fun. The only thing I cared about was that they could handle almost arcade-perfect versions of SF2, MK, MK2, SF2 Turbo, etc... This was a very fun period, because arcades were still chugging along. I have played games online with friends. It's fun, but it's not like meeting strangers at the arcade fun. It was great to be able to go to the arcade with a few close friends. They were in your corner, you played, and you went home with your close friends. At home, you practiced with your close friends. The home versions were not arcade perfect, but they were great. There's a great memory to still having that superior version to look forward to. I have great memories of wishing I had the arcade version at home.

     

    When PS1 came out, I saw the writing on the wall. Ridge Racer, Tekken, and Namco Classics were all about as close to the arcade as I could tell. Memory restrictions were an obstacle for games like MK3, as were loading times, but they were still pretty good. I think this was the crossing point. After this, games at home were pretty much arcade quality. The arcade was dying.

     

    Fast forward to today. I caught myself in a nostalgic mood. I now own about every system I have ever owned or wanted. Every system has some sort of SD card to play ROMs, except the 7800, for which I made my own EPROM carts. I can play most games on my PC, phone, PSP, GP2X, etc., via emulation. I even bought a few of my favorite arcade cabinets. When it comes to video games, there's not much that I badly want, but yet I still felt something was missing. That didn't make sense to me. One day, I realized that I think I enjoy wanting as much as having. Some of my fondest memories are wanting. They were looking at still magazine pictures and imagining what it would be like to have all of those games at my disposal. It was using my imagination to dream about the day that I would have arcade quality games at home. Back then, it was only reserved for the elite, like Rick Shroeder. Could some of my fondest memories be of reading video game magazines and "wishbooks"? I think they might be. That explains why it's sometimes fun to just turn the arcade machines on and watch the attract mode. It's almost as fun to think back to the times I wished I had a quarter, as it is to actually play the game. Is that why I enjoy classic game shows so much? One of my friends once made a point that classic game shows don't really change; if you've seen one, you've seen them all. Aside from the fact that "classic" is relative and does change, there's something great about going back and remembering what it was like to WANT those childhood gems. Sometimes, it's seeing something in person that we only saw in a magazine.

     

    I then got to wondering if today's generation is missing out. Sure, they want the latest video game, but they are going to have that game when it's released. They do not have to use their imagination to make it fit the arcade counterpart. They don't have to worry about making their quarter last. There's nothing to lose. Maybe that's why I still prefer retro games. I downloaded Rayman3 the other day. The first part of the game was flying through a 3D environment. I needed to steer my character into the gems. It really felt like a lame combination of Pole Position and Pac-Man. It was lame, because there was no challenge. If I missed, I looped back through. if I am going to collect dots on a screen, I am fine doing that on my Pac-Man machine. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the modern games, even though they are just putting lipstick on a combination of our childhood pigs. It's just that I prefer the real thing!

     

    Strangely, my XBoxOne gets more Mortal Kombat X play than anything else. lol.

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    jacobus
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    This is a project I started (in BASIC) way back in the early 80’s and put aside for many years. I recently found the original code, and after having a good laugh decided it would be an excellent project to re-write in Quick.
    The concept is simple – you’re an 18th century farmer dropped onto a forty acre/field grant of land and you have 50 years to try to survive and if possible thrive. In the process of surviving you will have the opportunity to develop the land, raise crops and animals, build the necessary infrastructure, weather disasters, and if you’re both lucky and smart - build some wealth.
    This game is intended to be a simulation and thereby has some relation to reality. It is not intended to be easy or even fair. Farming is a difficult proposition nowadays and a few hundred years ago it was too often an extremely labour intensive path to starvation. The game tries to mimic some of those former realities and provide a challenging experience.
    Warning - it will take a long time to play. Currently each year takes approximately 30 minutes of real time – so for a successful game you’re looking at an investment of 25 hours or more. I only recently sped things up from the 1 hour real time to 1 year of game time ratio I had set, so things could have been a lot worse! During each year of game time, there will be moments of frantic activity where you try to do many tasks in a short amount of time – such as planting and harvesting. Other times you’ll be sitting around watching things slowly develop and hoping you’ll be able to harvest enough crops before winter.
    The land will need to be closely managed – swamps drained, wells dug, fields fertilized, wood lots cut and replanted, barns and silos built, animal stocks fed, and disasters managed.
    The gameplay will consist of a graphical representation of the farm, along with an extensive menuing system to direct your actions. Crops will grow as the seasons cycle and their readiness to harvest will be clearly visible. Natural disasters such as hail, wind storms, fire, politicians, and plague will strike without warning. Winter comes and destroys any unharvested crops and tests the farmers ability to lay way sufficient food.


    The Environments
    Four types of environments are available in the game. Each have unique characteristics which should be considered carefully before developing.

    Forests
    With 25 per game, Forests account for more than half of the land area. Forests contain valuable wood and although they can be easily ploughed under and planted, forests grow slowly and are vital building products.

    Grasslands
    Grasslands are the obvious first choice for development. They can be easily ploughed under and planted. Grasslands are somewhat limited, and you will find only 10 of them in a game.

    Swamps
    Four swamps inhabit the landscape in your game. Each of them will need to be drained before they can be utilized. In order to drain a swamp, you will need to build a very expensive Windmill.

    Deserts
    A single desert exists in your game at the beginning. Deserts are fields with no water and zero fertility. In order to develop a desert you will need to dig a well and spend time spreading fertilizer. Be warned, any field that is over used and dry out and become a desert as well.


    Soil types affect how well crops develop and the risk of damage to your equipment. Soil types are:
    Swamp Too wet, you must build a windmill to drain
    Rocky Dangerous to plough – you may break your plough
    Clay Poor growing
    Sandy Poor growing
    Rich Better growing conditions
    Loam Best growing conditions
    Desert Nothing grows, must be fertilized and have a well dug
    Along with soil types, each field has a state that affects what can be done with it. These states are:
    Fallow Untouched, ready for work
    Ploughed Initial ploughing has been done, field can be planted but will not produce well
    Harrowed Field has been harrowed (must be ploughed first). Optimum condition for growing
    Planted Field has a crop planted
    Weeded Field has been weeded – improves growing conditions
    Harvest Field has been harvested, will return to fallow over the winter

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    I guess this is as official as things can get: I have completed my moved from New York City to Tucson Arizona, career and family. It was a lengthy process as I moved early February this year but life things got in the way, there is a broken leg involved due to an accident but all things resolved my relocation is done.

    My 8 bit micros are finally setup and running now, two permanent desks: Tandy CoCo 1 and CoCo 3, and a wild-desk / workbench where now I have a TRS-80 Model 4 being retrofitted into a 4D category. Said workbench will also serve to setup my other 8 bits: Commodore (VIC-20, 64, 128 and Plus/4), Apple (IIc and IIe+), other CoCos, TI/99-4As, Ataris (400, 800, STfm), Sinclairs (ZX81, QL) and others.

    Have to say the computers are enjoying the warmer dryer weather - I am the one longing for NYC. I was raised in the Nogales border (Arizona and Sonora México) so the SouthWest is familiar territory. Went to the Big Apple on a job as Broadcast Engineer and there I earned my keep over 13 years, looking forward to something less hectic as a work schedule in the Old Pueblo, at least until my kid graduates from college.

    Wherever I go the 8 bits will follow :)

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    okay, so this is my first blog. I am exploring penn and tellers smoke and mirrors. strange game

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