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Fire Ballooon WIP


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Fire Balloon is a genuine Atari 400 Game written in 1981 that you've never seen, because I wrote it and never shared it with the world.  I have two original games that I did in the day - Berlin Wall and Fire Balloon.


The source is long gone, but my son and I are recreating the original Fire Balloon.   I have a terrible track record with these projects.  But because of that I'm going to take an approach I haven't done in the past, which is to have a minimum set of goals and stretch goals.


For example, Frake the Snake was complete 100% except for the levels.  If I had a minimum goal of the simple level/hand crafted levels - then I would've completed the base goal, and only failed to do the stretch goals.

I'd rather have this project end with success than incomplete, so I'm going to attempt this, to see what happens!


 My current status is my son and I have coded the game on PC, and I'm going to begin the ASM port to Atari 800XL starting now!  I've gotten Altirra running under Wine64 on the Mac, I will soon be getting cc65 setup, and my text editor/compiler launcher going.


I really enjoy being part of the Atari community and making posts - so it'll be more posting than coding.  But if you can tolerate my excessive posting - I will keep you both updated on the status and (crossing my fingers) produce the game!


Screenshots are not mockups, they are actually from the PC version of the game - intended to have an 8-bit retro look, of course.  And: just to be clear the original version wasn't insipred by Where's Waldo or even Rampage, that is more of the recreation look, rather than the original.  The original game was inspired by missile command and space invaders, but the pacing is more like kaboom.







Edited by Dmitry
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  • 4 weeks later...

So below, is the first screenshot of the Atari version.  The man is a player - not complete yet, of course, I need to add his hands and water bucket.


So far work has mostly been about making choices related to the development environment.

I am using KickC and Assembler, basically in-line KickAssembler.


I chose KickC, because CC65 wouldn't compile right on my Raspberry Pi - mostly compiled but had a weird memory error.  Frankly I don't want to make this about my knowledge of Raspberry Pi.   KickC installed without issue.


On top of that I'm now doing a lot of development on my MacBook Air M1.  Unfortunately, I got a lemon, and I'm going to the Apple store to replace it on Monday. The machine constantly reboots.


Learning KickC has slowed things down at the start, but will eventually speed things up quite nicely.  I am keeping it organized, and I will easily be able to support 20 levels, although the PC version only has 10 so far.  I've got the tile loader - and already two levels on the A8 version.

I have the main character 1 Player so far.   It's going to use a second player for the bucket and balloon.  There will be a lot of player and missile re-use in the game....so never mind all that, I'll discuss the strategy as more progress occurs.


OK, I will try to limit updates...so next one will be after the man can fire the water balloons and put out a fire....frankly at some point I expect it to go 'fast', because the logic is already in the pc game, but we'll see if that ever holds true...so far it's been slooooow developing.

Edited by Dmitry
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Ah, I'm going to over update, cause I'm a chatterbox.  So, I got to using FujiNet this weekend, it is an awesome device.  Took me forever to set it up, unfortunately.   Then I got the Player/Missile graphics setup for Fire Balloon, and got the joystick working.


But, that wasn't as easy as it should've been, because my Atari800 emulator (Atari800MacX) wasn't registering the joystick or even the keyboard joystick on my M1 Mac, and for a while I just thought it was my code - for like 2 hours a while.  LOL...anyway, turns out you can launch a "Rosetta Terminal" and even though brew doesn't support ARM yet, run brew anyway. So I installed the regular Atari800 emulator, and it works just fine.....


I am going with a 5 player setup, with sprite multiplexing. I will have up to four fires per window row, each two color, one coming from the not yet shown background color and as part of tile animation and the other from a player.  And the dude will be able to launch four balloons at once.  Which is a single sprite being sliced and diced by the DLI - we'll see how it goes.....

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am inspired by watching Linus Tech Tips, Flash Jazz Cat, and Retrograming news to do a blog type progress report.


It's way harder than they make it look.


But basically this is my discussing my compiler environment and trials coding a DLI.  I just find it super interesting, especially in the Commodore scene all the reports on WIP.

It's of "practice" quality, but anyway....enough intro, here it is.



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I decided to move this post here.


A person was talking about Fixit Felix Jr, and I just love the look of that game.


The super big boss concept.


Here is my theory, the Atari can do vertical and horizontal scrolling on only a portion of the screen, by construction a DLI with an LMS on every scan line.


In that way you can put in a mega boss, and have it jumping around the screen.  Not only that, because of the line by line color swaps, you can even put a gradient on it, imho, that would be hard for many 8-bit machines to match.


In this mockup a super big UFO would be trying to throw a beam on our hero (a beam would be a great use of a player since, it can span the height of the screen too).


Well this mockup is amateurish, but hopefully anyway demonstrates the idea




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This is *not* a major update, I just get some kind of joy out of small things.


But the sprite multiplexing is done.  Player0 is all the balloons on the screen.  The other players are also multiplexed, e.g. Player 2 is the grey bucket on the bottom, but also part of the green building color.


And I'm going to show a little discipline and not implement the big bosses until the game is otherwise complete - I think.




Also this is some compact code right:




haha, I'm just being a clown.  I like the c environment I hide everything, and that means it's now organized :)



Edited by Dmitry
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In order to stop making this thread longer and longer, I will just update this particular post and not create new ones for status updates.

I tend to do a status update every few days, so it would get rather long.  I'm writing a game for fun - and finishing the game is a big part of the fun.
However, also just talking is part of the fun.



/* The latest status post                           */



/* Status posted on 12/21/2020 */

Working on fire animations.

Decided to target 130XE as the machine, and a disk (atr) will load it into the machine.

Switching to Mac/65 for development of game logic, as mentioned the C environment is so cool! But I'm a noob, I gotta see what's going on man! that means assembler, somehow that unlocks the mysteries slightly faster.

all artwork will be done on the Mac, custom mac based tool will create screen data for writing to the atr.



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I will continue to do updates to the end of the thread based on the feedback.


This week's update - Covid has impacted development now.  I have 3 children.   1 son in college, 1 daughter living on her own, working.  and 1 minor child who still lives with me.


anyway my son and daughter came over for Christmas, including my daughter's boyfriend, but he wasn't feeling well.  He went home, but later got a test - he has Covid!  And he was here feeling sick with a fever!  Nooooooooo.....  So, now we are all quarantined for 14 days.  I hope we aren't infected, but it's not hard to imagine that we are.


Anyway - on the development of the game, the hand coded assembly is making things plod along a little bit, but the development path now feels very much like the PC version, I would be shocked if there is any show stopper.    I reworked the fire graphics, I think they look better now.  Fires are placed using tables for each level, in other words the engine is coming together, it should have some playable elements after collision detected is added.

Having a blast, other than covid, of course....

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oh thanks everyone!




I should give an update on the COVID.  After getting exposed on Christmas day, we all got tested and came back negative.

Nobody has gotten a fever or exhibited symptoms.  I've very surprised...we were all exposed big time, but somehow didn't get it.


I was not expecting this result, but at this point, it has been over a week, so, yes, on occasion I'm told it can take 14 days to exhibit, but anyway, so far so good...optimistic at this point.

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"Based on a true story"


I only have collisions turned on for balloon one.  The reason for the corruption earlier was I was using the same memory area twice, doh!


So, VBXE is working fine now, as far as I'm concerned.  Now, I just need to really try hard to avoid the temptation to stop working on this and and start a text editor project instead.


The reason I find it tempting, is I have the source code to a good 40 column text editor.  I have VBXE text working.  In my mind, it seems logical that I could potentially port another text editor to 80 column.  Why would I do that - because it would support ATASCII character font.  When you are writing up documentation about Atari basic programming, source code listing will necessarily include atascii characters since ML strings were common back in the day.  But I don't know maybe there is already an 80-col solution for that?  I just don't happen to know of one, but I haven't really gotten a feel for all the choices, as yet.

Edited by Dmitry
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  • 1 year later...

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