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Lucasfilm Atari Programming using LISP and UNIX

Steve Mynott

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Following the recent podcast I notice




"This paper describes the development of the two video games ‘‘BALLBLAZER’’TM and ‘‘Rescue on Fractalus!’’TM and the ways in which UNIX software aided and influenced their design"


"Lisp was chosen for the cross assembler because it only took two weeks to implement a cross assembler that allowed both assembler macro definitions and arbitrary Lisp expressions to be included in the assembly task"


Looks like Portable Standard Lisp (PSL) on a VAX.


Fascinating stuff. I wonder if the source for any of these tools exists?

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Some more browsing finds




This is the cross assembler which replaced the LISP one called Macross. The source is on github.


" It was used on every 6502 (Atari 400/800, Commodore 64, and Apple II) game that we produced at Lucasfilm Games, from 1984 up until those machines ceased to be relevant to the games market ... Macross was my first job assignment at Lucasfilm. They urgently wanted to replace the existing assembler they had been using. That one was written in Lisp — you wrote 6502 code in S-expressions, which looked amazingly weird. It was awesomely powerful, because you could use all of Lisp for a macro language, but it was also awesomely slow. It took about 45 minutes on our VAX 750 to assemble a 16K ROM cartridge game, mainly because doing this took 2 megabytes of RAM but the machine only had 512 kilobytes, so it page swapped horribly. My mission was to create a more conventional looking (and performing) assembler without sacrificing much of the macro programming power they had gotten addicted to, hence Macross." -- Chip Morningstar



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