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As title says,I've never done it before(but would like to give it a go).My question is,"What system should a person start programming for someone that hasn't programmed an Atari system before"?And what materials would I need to study to learn how to program an Atari game?Thanks for your time!Any help is MUCH appreciated!Apologies if this question has been asked before.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I personally think assembly language ("machine language") isn't that hard.


Try watching this youtube series put on by John Dale (Oldskoolcoder): https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLiOlLd4dhIDC6RN6t0cCCQwBlusnHm8nt


This series of videos tells you basically everything you need to know about the fundamentals of assembly language.


A lot of programming skills are portable across languages, so if you'd like to have an interactive experience of learning how to code, try the Python language lessons on Code Academy (www.codecademy.com) I personally think Python is very similar to BASIC, so a lot of the skills you'd learn about variables, functions, subroutines etc would all be portable across to batari BASIC.


Here are a couple of good books from the Atari Archives on 6502 assembly language. The 6502 is the CPU of the Atari 2600:


Machine Language for Beginners: http://atariarchives.org/mlb/

The Second Book of Machine Language: http://atariarchives.org/2bml/


I am a huge advocate of open source free software, so I recommend always releasing your source code. Read others' source code as often as you can to learn new techniques.


What got me really started in programming for the Atari 2600 was Andrew Davie and Kirk Israel's tutorials:

Andrew's Tutorial: https://atariage.com/forums/topic/33233-sorted-table-of-contents/
Kirk's Tutorial: https://atariage.com/2600/programming/2600_101/

These are two really accessible tutorials for learning machine language for the 2600. Also check out SpiceWare's CollectMini tutorials. If you have trouble finding them, let me know.


I'm a beginner programmer as well, but if you have any questions about where to start and what to do, you can DM me, or I'll keep checking this thread : )

Personally my first step in a new technique is to copy! Copy other's ideas and learn how to progressively tweak and improve them!

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Right now,Atari-wise,only the 2600.Although in the future,I plan on getting more systems.


Very cool you want to program the Atari 2600! :)


The racing the beam architecture is flexible but unusual and poses obstacles for Assembly development, a good option for beginning programming in Assembly is to call the BASIC runtime from your Assembly program to abstract the hardware.


bAtari BASIC is a great choice for rapid development and there are two other BASIC's you may also like, Atari Flashback BASIC and SuperCharger BASIC (linked in my signature). The IDE is easy to use and already present on your system:



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Assembly language will let you get more out of the machine. The 6507 in the 2600 is just a 6502 in reduced packaging (it's missing a few features, such as 8K of addressing instead of 64K, and no IRQ support) so you can use most any 6502 reference materials to get started. I recommend working your way through the Easy 6502 tutorial to see if assembly language is something you'd be interested in. The code is compiled and run in your web browser, so you get to see the results right away. The first example is this:


After you click Assemble then Run you'll see this, where the 3 colored dots appear in the black display area:


If you add a brief bit of code:

lda #$0f
sta $242

Then Assemble and Run again you'll get a 4th colored dot:


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