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Doggone It!

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Pretty vested in this one at this point. I've really only played 2600 as an Adult for about 4 years, but by God, I've tried to play and score on them all, lol(voted "Most Prolific" elsewhere three years running. Not likely this year, I been lazy.).

I'm almost certain this is my "favorite game" at this point, several Activision games are on that list, time trial stuff, Deathtrap is another I just happen to like a lot, but this game is just a ton of fun to play, is actually much more "strategy" than hand-eye fast twitch stuff, the ideas behind scoring high are quite complex, for their simplicity.


Can't find any problems/easy exploits, etc, it's just put together perfectly-I DO have strategy to score high, but it's based on using the mechanics of the game to the utmost, not "sucker tricks"(tho I...love to figure those out, when possible... :D ).


Armscar seems to be a pretty special Guy. Anyone on the list to receive the game is...well, Doggone Lucky.


There are scores posted here, pretty proud of mine(I think it's THE high score...)so I'll throw it in the conversation!

Catch me if you can!




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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

I have had an inquiry from someone on the "Oprah" distribution list to where things stand with Doggone It!.  Since there may be others also wondering, I thought I would give a quick update.  For those of you on the list that haven't provided a shipping address, please go ahead and do so.


The cartridges from AtariAge have been received.  I imagine to no one's surprise, they look great.





The manual layout/design is complete and is off to the printer.  The box design is in the first round of editing and will hopefully be complete in a coupe of days.  I still can't reveal too much, but I will go ahead and share the full manual/box cover design.





I would like to take this opportunity to give a couple of shout-outs.


The first is to anyone who puts together a complete game with a manual and box.  My graphic designer is doing all of the heavy lifting, but I have still found this process to be more overwhelming than I ever imagined.  It is definitely not as easy as some people make it look.  In the future, I think I will just stick to coding.  


The second shout-out goes to the Atari 2600 High Score Club.  Doggone It! was part of the Homebrew competition this year and they knocked it out of the park.  My all time best score on Doggone It! would have only been good for second place, and not too far from fourth place.  @Rogerpoco, I commend you for putting the high score to a place that I didn't think was possible, above 60k points, and you have done it twice.  It seems all of my attempts to catch you are fruitless.  Last night, I got to the place that usually stone walls me: round 6 (9 packages), level 3, last package.  I played this particular game on a real cartridge, which is still very surreal for me to see.  Just seems like yesterday I was trying to understand why you have to set the carry bit before doing subtraction.  Now, I can hold my finished game in physical form in my hand.  Very surreal.





OK, this update was a little longer than I originally intended.  I'll be in touch with everyone on the distribution list via PM when Doggone It! is ready to ship.  I am still thinking that will be early to mid-December.  I will try to ship the ones going internationally sooner.


I plan to have one more update post after the intended recipients get the game.  That will complete the journey and you will be able to meet some of the characters from the game.


Thanks to all.


- Armscar Coder



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1 hour ago, Armscar Coder said:

Now, I can hold my finished game in physical form in my hand.  Very surreal.

@Armscar CoderShout out to you for completing your game and making it available in physical cart format. I have multi-carts, but still prefer to pop an actual game cart into the old 2600. It just feels right to me.


Thanks to everyone involved.?

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There's really no way I could say enough to fully explain how much this game means to me, already.

So many things about it are fantastic, and that's before you really get into the gameplay.

At the end of the day, tho, it's the gameplay that makes it work, it's really an enjoyable game, and an experience I'll never forget!


To boot, Armscar is truly one of those people you talk to, and are immediately reminded that there are still "good people" floating around out there somewhere...



Thanks a lot, Man, this has been an unforgettable experience, I swear.

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3 hours ago, Prizrak said:

Plan on writing any more games in the future?

Once Doggone It! is complete, I'll probably be taking a little bit of a break.  The entire process has been emotionally draining, the actual code writing being less so.  That being said, I do have an idea for a new game.  I do some limited programming at work, but it is for industrial machines interfacing with PLCs, HMIs, drives, etc..  Programming for the Atari 2600 in Assembly language has challenged me to think differently when coding.  I want to further challenge myself to develop a scrolling shooter.  Don't worry, this one won't be based on any personal experiences.  It is only a concept at this point and will probably remain mostly a concept while my kids are still young.  My wife often reminds me that they are only little once.  So, will I develop games in the future?  Definitely.  Just don't look for anything anytime soon.  Discovering the AtariAge community has been one of the many positive outcomes of the hardships I have endured.  There is no walking away from that.



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8 hours ago, Armscar Coder said:

The cartridges from AtariAge have been received.  I imagine to no one's surprise, they look great.

The manual layout/design is complete and is off to the printer.  The box design is in the first round of editing and will hopefully be complete in a coupe of days.  I still can't reveal too much, but I will go ahead and share the full manual/box cover design.


The cartridges look incredible, great job by everyone involved, looking forward to seeing everything in person, what a great achievement!


Hopefully one day I'll be able to complete my own game and have it on cart too. ? 


- James

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  • 2 weeks later...

@Armscar Coder I am very grateful you completed this project and though you've probably hit many road blocks on the way, in the end you should be very proud.


I wish I had the capabilities and the talent to program my own Atari games.


Anyways....... I'm looking forward to receiving your game and giving it a try with my family during one of our gaming nights.

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So excited about this one. I promise, this game will be in my regular rotation the rest of my life, it's just that good-I've been "not playing", waiting(patiently!)for the real-deal cart to arrive, but I'm still over the Moon honored to be associated with this game at all, it's just a true Masterpiece.

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  • 1 month later...
20 minutes ago, sramirez2008 said:

Christmas has arrived early! Check your mailboxes. @Armscar Coderthank you for the game. @Rogerpocoyour are the king of this game. Your scores are doggone ridiculous, but in a good way.? I can’t crack 30k.


Thank You So Much!

Mine arrived as well, I'll try to post some pics tomorrow-

The game is good. Great. Probably my favorite, tho I am a bit biased.

The entire presentation is spot on perfect, the manual had me in tears several times, just such a special game, with such a special purpose!

I'll try to remember to attach a link of my gameplay here soon(I always tape), to show the "when" I use power ups and such(really the most important thing), I'm certainly down to help anyone trying to get better!!!


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@Armscar Coder I say this from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I've never owned a limited release type of game; but if this is what people get when they get them I'm beyond blown away. From opening the box and being greeted with a parcel on the inside, tied with string and a hand written note inside . Inside there's the game inside a protective plastic box and everything on the inside is amazing. Even love the number of my box in regards to it's limited release and your signature and date at the top. You make it feel like I own something truly special and wanted to say thank you.

Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

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My Doggone It! Atari journey is complete.


My name is Andrew, a.k.a. Armscar Coder, and I would like to tell you more of the story behind Doggone It!.  As most of the readers of this forum thread know, I made Doggone It! to thank and honor certain people who have helped me during my bout with cancer.  I make no apologies for being a little tight-lipped about some things until now.  I did not want to take the chance that the honorees would find out about the game before I could present it to them. I was finally able to do that earlier this week.


This past week has been release week for the physical copies of the game.  What has made it more special is that the physical release has coincided with a significant milestone in my cancer journey: two years of being in remission.  With the type of cancer I had, due to its aggressiveness, most recurrences occur in the first two years after treatment ends.  Statistically speaking, I went from a roughly 50-60% five-year survival rate to 90%.  For the first time since my diagnosis, the phrase “had cancer” is starting to feel genuinely more natural than “have cancer.”  


I do want to give a special thanks to two AtariAge members who have contributed to the physical release of Doggone It!.  To @bfstats for providing the box inserts.  Thank you so much for allowing me to press the easy button for part of the packaging process.  It may have just saved my sanity.  To @Nathan Strum for providing a full in-depth review of Doggone It!.  Thank you for fulfilling part of my homebrew development bucket list.  Your witty reviews in the AtariAge store definitely helped me get through some of the harder days during my post-treatment recovery.


I also want to call attention to my graphic designer, Herbie.  He is responsible for the design of the cartridge labels, manual, and game box.  Herbie happens to be my wife’s cousin and I went against the old adage of “don’t do business with friends or family.” Herbie put up with my many revisions, and the physical release of Doggone It! has been exponentially better thanks to his work.  In the near future, I plan to add files for the manual, Nathan Strum review, box cover front, and box cover back to the very first post of this thread for everyone to download.


I have had some individuals reach out to me inquiring about the costs of Doggone It! and offering to pay for part or all of their boxed copy.  Allowing me to provide these games for free is my personal pleasure and is what I set out to do, as a celebration of life.  I have been able to pick up a couple of odd jobs outside of work that helped pay for the publishing costs, allowing me to essentially break even.  If you are receiving a physical copy of Doggone It! and it puts a smile on your face when you open up the package, then the extra work was totally worth it.


Why “Armscar Coder?”  My second surgery was an eleven-hour affair that included removing the right half of my tongue, where the tumor originated.  What my surgeon referred to as “fatty tissue” was removed from my left arm and attached to my remaining tongue.  The picture below shows what my arm looked like a couple of days after the surgery when the bandage was finally removed.




This next picture is what my scar looks like today.  It has healed considerably, but it still gives me a little bit of street credibility.  I actually like my scar.  It is my literal battle scar. (Please excuse the plug for my favorite Atari 2600 Homebrew show.  I can’t help it that the shirt is comfortable.)




When I decided to make an Atari 2600 game, I did struggle for a while on what the game would be.  As I was beginning to crawl in learning Assembly, I brainstormed a few ideas (at that time my ignorance of what was possible was still bliss) but never had a home run idea.  Finally, I started to think of what connection I could establish between all of the intended honorees of the game.  I was finally able to establish dogs as a possible common theme.  I know several people have inquired if I was a delivery driver in a previous life.  No, I wasn’t.  The delivery driver idea was just a way that I could fluidly connect all of the dog elements together and still have a cohesive game.  So, that is when Hank was born.


Now, I would like to introduce you to the characters of the Doggone It!.



Hank is 100% fictitious.  I was never a delivery driver nor do I have any family or friends who are delivery drivers.  Nor do I know anyone named Hank! That name just seemed to work and it just so happened to be the name of my son’s favorite Thomas the Tank Engine train when he was little.  I have no personal preference for UPS, but my kernel only had time for a single color for the truck sprite and I thought the brown color better conveyed a delivery truck as UPS rather than white for FedEx, which may have been mistaken for an ambulance or something else.


Crazy Culvert Kitty

We do have a cat named Alice, but Crazy Culvert Kitty is also fictitious.  While my family and I lived out of state for my treatments, one of our neighbors helped take care of things around our house, including often checking on Alice.  She is a great neighbor and happens to love cats.  With a nod to her and that cats are somewhat of a natural enemy to dogs, it just worked well to have Crazy Culvert Kitty on Hank’s side while he’s trying to deliver packages.  I do like the color purple, but the flashing purple evolved to be the best color for distinguishing Crazy Culvert Kitty from the other game elements and to help identify power-ups.


Level 1

The first level is dedicated to our friends.  They used to live near us in Virginia, but several years back they moved to North Carolina.  My cancer care eventually led me to the University of North Carolina Cancer Hospital.  When it came time for my radiation and chemotherapy treatments, my family and I lived with our friends for seven weeks.  Even with best friends, hospitality can be worn out, but we never got the feeling that we weren’t welcome.  In addition to all of the material things they provided (like feeding and housing us) they were a lifeline to the emotional state of my wife and kids.  The do have a wooded yard as depicted in the game.


Oliver and Tinker

Oliver is the son of our friends and just so happens to be the best friend of my children.  Below is a picture of all of them with their dog Tinker, after I presented them with their copy of Doggone It!.  Tinker is much bigger when standing up.




In the game manual, there are a few inside jokes.  One in particular I wish to explain is the reference to unscented paper towels in the description for level 1.  The radiation I received to the head/neck area caused much inflammation to the linings in my throat and I was constantly spitting up mucous.  The way I described it to people was to imagine the biggest loogie you ever spat.  Now imagine doing that every minute while you were awake.  I would spit several times into a paper towel before throwing it away, and I was going through over a roll every day.  I could only tolerate the unscented, natural ones without being nauseated.  We ordered the largest box of these paper towels we could find.


Here is a picture of Oliver’s father playing Doggone It! for the first time with Tinker looking on.




Level 2

Level 2 is the cancer hospital.  Did anyone wonder why the background color for this level was this particular shade of blue?  Yes, it did add a nice splash of color and contrast to the other levels, but the real reason is that it is the closest I could get to Carolina blue, or the blue color used by the University of North Carolina.  I cannot say enough how wonderful the UNC hospital experience has been for us.  The layout of the level is a waiting room with chairs.


Dr. Hackman

Here is a picture of my surgeon, Dr. Hackman, after I presented him with his copy of the game.  This is the man who operated on me for eleven hours.  He is as down to earth as they get, yet mighty good at slicing and dicing.  His sprite represents him in scrubs.




Dr. Chera

Dr. Chera is my radiation oncologist.  He usually is wearing a white lab coat, hence his sprite design and reference in the manual.  He told us this past week that he had to stop wearing lab coats since the start of the pandemic.  His hair is floppy and sometimes wild, and I tried to capture that in his sprite.  Here is a picture of me with Dr. Chera after I presented Doggone It! to him.




Therapy Dogs

The therapy dogs are real, but I never saw one.  After my surgery, I recovered for seven days in the hospital.  Twice I was visited by a therapy dog, but both times I was in the bathroom.  Since going to the bathroom in my condition at that time was quite an ordeal, by the time I was done the therapy dog had left.  These missed opportunities granted me the freedom to make up the dog sprite and color.  I chose the color black to contrast the colors of Tinker on level 1 and the hot dogs on level 3.



The gong is real and is in the waiting room of the UNC radiation oncology department.  Here is a picture of me striking the gong after my last radiation treatment in September of 2018, which is the tradition for every radiation patient to do at UNC after their treatments are finished.  I was not feeling very well that day, so that is why I don’t appear to be celebratory.  Also, that is not me trying to start a new hair style trend.  The radiation that exited the back of my head caused hair loss there, but it grew back a few months later.





Level 3

I work as a manufacturing engineer at Modine Manufacturing in Buena Vista, Virginia.  We are an HVAC manufacturer, making a variety of products from small gas-fired unit heaters to large rooftop air conditioners.  Level 3 is the best representation of the factory floor I could do with playfield data in my kernel.  On this level, the objects in the plant are fork trucks and the green shapes are mechanical power presses.


Dwight and Hot Dogs

Dwight is the maintenance supervisor for our plant.  If you ever need someone to work on a piece of equipment, there is no one better, no one.  He is also just an all-around great guy.  The maintenance supervisor works well with the game story line, but I cannot think of anyone better than Dwight to represent the great company that I work for.


Most of the HVAC products we make are for commercial/industrial applications.  We do make a line of residential garage heaters referred to as Hot Dawgs.  To avoid any potential intellectual property issues, I decided to just go with hot dogs instead.  Part of my job is to maintain the sheet metal punching equipment that makes the parts for this type of heater, so I do have some attachment to the hot dogs.  The hot dog sprites include flames coming off of their backs.


Here is a picture of Dwight beside a Hot Dawg heater and the Hot Dawg logo.




Well, here I am end at the end of Doggone It!.  There were many days that I never thought I would make it this far.  As mentioned in a previous post, I will be taking a break for a while.  My family has given me unconditional support during the development of Doggone It! and they deserve a lot credit for its completion.  My wife has a creative endeavor of her own to pursue, and it’s time that I return the favor.  During this break I hope to actually get back to playing Atari 2600 games.  I have started playing Pitkat which is amazing.  It is intimidating to me that Pitkat is @MarcoJ’s first game.  I also want to check out this Zoo Keeper thing everyone keeps talking about.  All kidding aside, @johnnywc you do great work and though I never will reach your “Yoda” level of programming, it inspires a "Padawan" programmer like myself to reach a little higher.


One of the lasting side effects from my cancer treatments is a much-diminished taste of sugar.  I can’t taste ice cream at all.  The AtariAge community has added a sweetness to my first-time homebrew development experience that I will appreciate for a long time. Thanks to everyone for allowing me to share my game and story with you.


- Andrew

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^^^^^^ This is easily one of the most sincere HomeBrew developments I have ever come across. The entire story about the tragedy, perseverance, and triumph that surrounds this Homebrew is incredible.


Well done Andrew and thanks for giving back to the community. Just as you inspired me to do my small give-a-way, I'm sure you will be inspiring many others with your story.

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