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The Beginning


arwanderer

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My older brother gave me his Atari 2600 in 1996 when I was 8 years old, and it was my first gaming console.  A Sega Genesis soon followed and a couple years later, I got a PlayStation.  I still played my 2600 though, and within a few years, I had amassed quite a collection of games for it.  Anytime my mother and I would visit a flea market or Good Will store, I'd pick up a few cartridges for about $0.25 a piece!  I maintained a (mostly) casual interest in my Atari into adulthood.   Sometime in 2010, I saw the Tinkernut video and learned about bAtari Basic.  I installed the program and soon put together a demo that bore a striking resemblance to the one Tinkernut had made.  I didn't make much progress beyond that initial demo and eventually lost interest in programming although I still continued to collect Atari cartridges.

 

Fast forward to 2023 and I'm not much into gaming anymore, but my kids are playing Nintendo Switch and PS4.  They also like watching gameplay videos on YouTube and my son discovers a series of videos by 8bitsinthebasement about making Atari 2600 games and an old interest is rekindled.

 

I downloaded bAtari Basic again and resumed a 13-year-old project of mine.  Within a few weeks, I had thrown together various demos and completed a hack/clone of another game using someone else's program and filling it with my own "guts", replacing the sprites and playfields with ones I had created then changing the sounds, win, and game over screens, then finally adding a title screen.  While this was somewhat of a personal accomplishment and I learned quite a bit from this elaborate hack, I wasn't entirely satisfied and wanted to learn more and try something different.

 

I purchased the book "Programming Games for the Atari 2600" Programming Games for Atari 2600: Toledo Gutierrez, Oscar: 9781387809967: Amazon.com: Books and decided to give 6502 Assembly a shot despite all of the warnings out there about this language.  I installed Visual Code Studio with the Atari Dev Studio extension and started from the beginning with the simple example demos.  From the start, I had several issues and was discouraged.  I finally decided to reach out to the members of atariage forums and received help and advice immediately.  I've never really participated in forums, but instead have always been a "lurker".  I was surprised by the quick response and assistance without any condescendence whatsoever.  After correcting my mistakes, I finished the first demo, which was simply displaying a blue screen.  Later in the morning, I finished the second demo, displaying a split color screen, then the third, adding a ball.

 

Ball demo.jpg

Edited by arwanderer

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