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Homebrew - Chalk & Duster

Glenn Main

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Chalk & Duster


Welcome to Chalk & Duster, that most recent entrant into the rapidly increasing genre of chalk and duster games for your Atari 2600.

You are a piece of Light Chalk attempting to re-shade a board of drawings - these continuously faded by Duster, a remorseless adversary who will stop at nothing, except maybe, a disappointing code bug I’ve yet to discover. Anyway, get hit and you’ll lose a piece (that’s the adversarial part). Lose three pieces and it’s curtains. Chalkless curtains.


Duster also wins any game by moving left-to-right across gray-most drawings. You’ll know these kind as they don’t exhibit any banding. To figure how close Duster is to winning, note the frame which progressively fills on the front panel (diagram below).

The other way Light Chalk can lose is becoming worn down. After becoming short you’ll wear down again - to nothing.


Control the Light Chalk via Joystick using Up, Down, Left (when on the Board) & Button.


Living on the Ledge
Located directly below the Board is a Ledge (yes I’m going to keep with this capitalizing thing) comprised of two lanes which you zoom along, left-to-right. Light Chalk is opposed by Dark Chalk. You knew this was coming. But did you know it’s actually a game of Chicken? Dark has one move up its sleeve - choose when to swap lanes once per screen pass. Now, do you hold your lane or do you swerve? Light Chalk can swap over and over, bouncing between lanes. And it is bouncy as releasing Down on the joystick springs the chalk back up. Being hit by Dark smudges away your Light delaying you somewhat, whilst making screen passes (wrapping a screen) 'unhit' successively brightens your shade. After many passes though your chalk shortens regardless of shade. As a short piece of chalk you’re fractions away from losing the piece altogether.


When you’ve had enough of the ledge, hit or hold-down joystick button to fling onto the board. If you’re the hitting-button kind of player, time it so that your chalk is beneath the Engagement Line when on the Ledge. Otherwise just hold until Chalk makes it to this area and it will automatically relocate you.


Engagement Line
On the Board is the Engagement Line which is either amber or green. Amber signifies your chalk is not the brightest. You may still go ahead and use Chalk but know that you won’t get any points. Why use it at all then? It may save a drawing from becoming too gray thereby denying Duster its progress; your Chalk’s shade directly relates how a drawing row will re-shade. Or you may want to race across the Chalk Flecks below the drawings to re-lengthen your chalk. Chalk Flecks are situated along the lowest row and are shade-controlled by the row immediately above it, meaning that for Chalk Flecks to re-lengthen your chalk this immediate row above must be full brightness. Similarly, Duster cannot gain advantage by rubbing along the Chalk Flecks but can still wipe out your chalk. And it can, of course, fade the flecks via the controlling row. Remorseless, I’m telling you.


If the Engagement Line is green this signifies all is well with your brightness and you may proceed to the drawings above to potentially score. Scoring is located top-left of the screen, which is also the current Level. On the top-right of screen is the Vertical Gasser Group indicating how many chalk pieces remain. They progressively fill whenever you score. Once full you are proceeding to the next level, like it or not.


Golden Line
Situated above the Engagement Line is the Golden Line. This is a score doubling bonus declaring which row should be brightened. As expected, the bonus is only applied when you’ve scored, meaning a Golden Line is no advantage to any re-shading other than brightest; rely the Engagement Line to help you out with this. The Golden Line moves in accordance with your screen passes along the Ledge. Note how and when it moves.


Drawings from top row down :

  • 2015 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6
  • 1981 Trabant two-stroke 
  • 1977 Toyota Land Cruiser BJ 40
  • 2011 Mitsubishi Fuso Fighter 9 Tonne


Observations ...

  • Light Chalk, as brightest, can choose to go across the same row each time collecting points even if that row is already fully bright (hey if it works for you why not?). 
  • Sacrificial Chalk : You are rewarded due points on a row even if the Duster gets you mid-draw. 
  • As levels progress :
    • Duster becomes more efficient.
    • Duster quickens (from levels : 4, 8, 16 & 32 - all the lovely numbers you’d expect).
    • Board color alternates.
    • Chalk auto re-lengthened.
  • Game Over is declared through a Good Game, ‘GG’, located in the Game State panel. Reset to start a new game




**Update : 2020.11.09 : Eased playability (NTSC release only) -> chalk lasts longer & duster gives you a bit of a chance with its wipes not counting at the start of each level. Release of the NTSC Cart binary as below which aligns a richer contrast of color. Labels also shown.



Cart label



Cart end label




Stella original release



NTSC cart release

Chakdust - NTSC Cart.bin



**Update : 2021.12.29 : Simulation 

For funs, I created a 3d of the cart, card packaging, and converted the game’s binary to hex. These were written through ‘721’ metadata schema into a .json, referencing ipfs links, since curl-deposited assets to bit hashes via provident gateways (speedy connectors). This included the bin actual, manual and image(s) using MIME-types for requests, aligning expectant behaviour for browsers / web platforms.


Virtualising a Linux distro within Windows I spun up a Node then minted tokens using a CLI and my unix-like scripts. The ‘wallet’ was seeded with [an] UTXO.


In some moments I’d impressed the game into the Cardano blockchain, ostensibly as NFT, but with functional aspects. It was put into the marketplace via 3rd party smart contract.


The hex dump is a gauche instantiation of purist intent; Having the game within the actual token mint data was the appealing aspect. I’II look at Haskell next to consider a more nuanced integration and modals for interpreting the old to the new, i.e., a dApp.


Although trivial in scope, my implementation here, it’s possible to foresee vintage entertainment integrate fintech and decentralised networks as the world progresses further into Simulation.





Edited by Glenn Main
Simulation update
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11 hours ago, Prizrak said:

Going to take me some time to get used to the game, very different. I do appreciate the well written instructions. I've added them and the binary to the PlusCart for those interested.

Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk


Thank you for the add also, Prizrak.

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ZeroPage Homebrew will be checking out Chalk & Duster on tomorrow's (Fri Oct 16) stream LIVE on Twitch at 12PM PT | 3PM ET | 7PM GMT! Hope everyone can watch!








Edited by ZeroPage Homebrew
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