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Eastern front, WAS IT based on a scrolling demo by Ed Logg


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Ed Logg being the person that gave us, Coin op Asteroids and Gauntlet amongst others


I was reading some text from a book by Eastern Front programmer Chris Crawford (called ‘Chris Crawford on Games Design’, I am guessing it’s a follow on from his earlier tome ‘the art of computer games design’)


In Chapter 18 (Ironically enough titled ‘Eastern front’), the first paragraph went like this


‘In August of 1980, I saw a wonderful bit of software (I believe it was written by Ed Logg) for the Atari Home Computer System (HCS) that set up a huge map and smoothly scrolled through it. The map was done with character graphics, but the HCS had the ability to change character sets, so it was not difficult to use graphic character sets to assemble a map or larger image. I realized that this opened up a world of possibilities for wargames. No longer would we need to squeeze the entire map onto a single 320x192 screen; now we could have huge maps. I sat down and wrote a routine that duplicated the functions of the original demo, then designed a custom character set for map use, and finally assembled a map using that custom character set. The result was astounding: a smooth-scrolling map that was four screens wide by four screens high.’


My Question is, is or was Eastern Front based on or built around this scrolling world demo originally coded by Ed Logg, Seeming as though The Scrolling map theme is/was the central plank or core of the eastern front game engine


Additionally, it would seem that the Atari version of 'legionaire' which was coded/programmed after Eastern Front used much of the eastern front game engine (even though the original version of legionaire was only coded for the CBM Pet)


According to the same book as referenced to above, Crawford had some software development contract with Avalon Hill (the famous boardgame company who'd just started getting into computer games publishing) going back to one of his first published games 'tanktics', apparently the game 'legionaire' was also part of this software development contract (according to said book)


If this is so and since the Atari version of Legionaire used some or most of the Eastern Front game engine, wasn't Crawford kind of getting himself into a spot of bother since he'd already had a software contract with Avalon Hill and yet he was using game code from an Atari published game on a competitors product (since eastern front was one of the very few APX products that managed to make it onto Atari's mainstream publishing label, which therefore infers/implies that the game code etc is partly Atari's property)

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Doubt it.


Doing a scrolling engine that allows moving over a map like that is something that could virtually be done in a lunch break, even in 1980.


In the context of Eastern Front as a game program, the scrolling/map display would rate as one of the least significant parts. The impressive aspect of the game is the fact he fit all the AI stuff sufficiently to run on a 16K machine.

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  • 10 months later...

I just ran into this while searching for references to my Eastern Front (1941) source code. I can answer the original questions. Yes, my code was inspired by Ed Logg's demo, but I don't believe I ever saw Ed's code; the code implementation was pretty obvious from the specs. There was no legal issue because on my employment contract I was required to specify any software that pre-existed my employment at Atari, and I listed both Tanktics and Legionnaire on that contract.


It's true that the scrolling map was not so difficult a task. However, at that time I was the world's first software evangelist, trying to get programmers to write for the Atari machines, and I really pushed them hard to use the scrolling feature, but it took a while before people started using it. The problem was that it had to be implemented in a Vertical Blank Interrupt, and many programmers at the time were just learning about interrupt programming. That's one reason why I released the source code for Eastern Front (1941). And in fact, we started to see more scrolling games about six months after we published the source code.

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Hi Chris


What a great pleasure to see you posting here!,and i would like to thank you for your cornerstone contribution to Atari 8 bit History for Eastern Front.

Eastern Front is my top strategy game in the conventional style and has never been topped by SSI or microprose in my view on many levels.


The programming is still the talking point for many forums and the AI with 16k is still hold its place as a benchmark for the A8.


Myself and no doubt several others are eager to know if the scenario editor and the level disk were ever released? (see here for the details http://atariage.com/...+eastern +front



(still playing EF in 2013)

Edited by Magic Knight
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O mi gawsh! THE Chris Crawford!


I remember those first articles in BYTE magazine about the internal workings of the Atari and being amazed that anyone could even conceive of putting all those graphics and sound features into a computer that cost less than $10,000.


Addition: Not to mention the AWESOME ACE videos....

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I always wanted Wizard for my VCS way back, but it never happened. I know it's d/l nowadays, but I prefer real carts with real boxes and instructions.


Still, Eastern Front (1941) and Balance of Power The 1990 Edition, which I own on A8 cart and ST disk, two of the most excellent games ever in gaming history (Followed by The Fools Errand by Cliff Johnson).





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Wow, Eastern Front was the very first bit of software I sold when I started with Maplin Electronics...


Never was any good at it but between you and Philip Price on here my monthly bonus was healthy so thank you both :)


Sold very well as did AR.

Edited by Mclaneinc
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