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How to develop for the VCS


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You just need to use the VCS PC-mode running a Linux distribution, to test your own programs on the VCS.

Atari recommend Ubuntu (which is NOT what AtariOS is based off - Apertis) but it's a Debian distribution
with good consumer and gaming support. You can develop on another computer, or on the VCS, and you
just need to test the performance on the actual VCS - but the VCS specs are far beyond normal games.

All the development tools listed in this forum work on the VCS, under either Linux (or some only Windows).
Most of the games to-date are either written using Unity, GameMaker, or native code using the SDL libraries.
Only the information about the VCS controllers is special, but there is sample code out there for using them,
and ultimately they're just USB controllers, and every controller out there has a unique code, to be supported.

You can build your games and then test them on the VCS, or for people without a VCS, test on a similar system.
(I bought an HP Elite-Pro laptop, a few months ago, for homebrew development, specifically because the specs
were just a little lower than then VCS, and the system, 2nd-hand, was not much more expensive than a VCS.)

To test the game, you just need to copy it over to the VCS, (if built on another platform), or just click "run", if
it's built in a game-development tool directly on the VCS. That way, you can test the performance, no problem.
Using Linux, you can transfer the game (if you need to) with ftp, sftp, scp, on a USB stick, or download it even.

Once you have a game suitable to submit to Atari, you could submit it to them, sign up free as a developer,
and sign an NDA and do whatever else you may need to, just the same as with MS, Sony, Nintendo, etc. etc..

To run the game from the Atari VCS Dashboard, it would have to be made into a package for the VCS Store.
(Developers have a special dev-code version of the AtariOS - that's described in a video by Jani Pettinen too,
but that's totally not needed to develop a game for the VCS because of PC-Mode. It's just the last test stage.)

Atari have said they intend to add a "homebrew" option to allow people to upload and run their own games too,
and also that they intend to offer development tools directly on the system. I don't know anything about that.

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This video shows Jani's setup.
He develops with Unity on a Mac, builds a binary (from the Mac) for a Linux system (the VCS).
He then copies the game over to the VCS, and launches the game, remotely.

He could also have copied the game over to the VCS running Ubuntu, and test it that way...
(but people would have said it's fake).
That means he could also have tested the game on a different computer, during the dev work,
but of course he has a VCS with the developer version AtariOS, so why would he do that, ha?

(N.B. The AtariOS does not run unnecessary services - so a game runs better than in Ubuntu.
This means, if the game you write works well with Ubuntu, it should work even better on VCS.)

He also made an earlier video - which some people said was fake, and it was running on the Mac etc.,
because they did not understand anything about software development. It's not a unique way to work.

For comparison:
If you are a Jaguar fan, you might have had the BJL ("Beyond Jaggy Lines") ROM for your Jaguar. It
was a Jaguar compatible O/S essentially, which allowed a hobby developer to copy over a homebrew
game to the Jaguar, from a PC. The development was done in DOS, Linux, or Windows, on the PC.
It's the same procedure. Once the game was finished, it could be put on a Jaguar cartridge for use
with any normal Jaguar. It's also how the original (expensive) Atari "Alpine" developer kit worked. ?

The VCS has the unique advantage that development can even be done ON the console, via PC-Mode.

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9 minutes ago, zzip said:

I've coded a few games in SDL that I've considered porting to Atari OS.   Main issue is they are mouse & keyboard controlled and I'll have to work in joystick control first I guess.

Indeed, agreed totally, the first thing is to support any controller, in the game.
Most of the development tools and sample libraries support an Xbox or PS3 controller simply.

Tweaking the controller support to recognise and function with the VCS controllers can be last!
There's a thread here about a great example and sample code about the VCS controllers, here.


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