Re-living my boyhood dream :)

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Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2020 6:09 pm

Re-living my boyhood dream :)

Post by matibee » Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:40 am

Hi all,

I got my Atari800XL aged 13 and we were together for 12+ years.. the Amiga came and the Atari stayed, the PC came and the Amiga went but the Atari stayed... but eventually, the kids came and everything went 8-)

I've been a wanna-be game developer from day 1 and I did get as far as asm on the 800XL using the assembler editor cartridge. My only full asm game was a centipede clone but I did write a lot of DLI's and call-from-basic asm routines. One such was pixel plotting narrow (4-bit wide) characters onto a mode 8 graphics screen to simulate 80 column text. I had that published as an article in New Atari User as well as, in the next edition, a disk sector editor that made use of the display size. It's not too much to shout home about for lots of reasons; 1) it wasn't original. 80 Column text had been done before in the original Atari User (but this was entirely my own effort) 2) The magazine was circling the pan by those days (1992) and I think it would publish anything. 3) I'm pretty sure the asm would have been horrendous and if anyone wishes to convert it back to opcode, I'll gladly pay you not to! 4) The mag didn't pay for the submissions as promised. 5) The disk sector editor was credited to a staff writer!

(Gotta love the internet archive!) ... 3/mode/2up
(Gotta hate those darn staff writers! Even if I'm still mentioned in the screen shot and program listing.) ... 1/mode/2up

I had a 'five-liner' (a basic programming competition) published in the original UK Atari User (and won £25 which went towards an XC12 recorder!) as well as a couple of letters. I won't bore you with links.

I'm still a wanna-be game developer and I'm looking forward to doing some of those things I simply never had the knowledge/tools/skill/experience/resources to pull off back in the day. I've been lucky enough to re-collect some of my favourite computers (800XL + 1050 disk drive + 1010 recorder, Amiga 500+, Atari520stfm) and my goal is to create something of commercial quality on each system just to prove to myself that I can. I also have a big metroid-vania platform game underway with Godot engine but I fear I've created a monster there and frankly filling <64k with code and art is just so much more appealing right now.

I'm really enjoying doing pixel art on my iPad (with the Apple pencil) so a Commando style game looks on the cards for the Atari. I'll post WIP on discord so tell me if/when you get sick of it.

This app is amazing; ... 1404203859 and with its rudimentary cloud support I'm editing the very tilemap bitmap that's on my desktop PC in Tiled ( As I'm drawing (mode 7?) Atari graphics I just have to remember to double the horizontal pixel resolution as I draw. Finally, I drew inspiration from the four-colour palettes available here and incidentally, Pixel Studio talks directly to Lospec and will load palettes from the website by name!

I look forward to getting to know everyone around here and thank you Chibli for this amazing resource!

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Joined: Mon Apr 22, 2019 3:19 am

Re: Re-living my boyhood dream :)

Post by akuyou » Tue Feb 18, 2020 11:18 pm

Welcome to the forum! Thanks for signing up.

Great to hear from an Atari 800 user... it's embarassing to admit, but until I watched the 'Micro Live' series the BBC recently put online, I'd not really been aware they existed.

So you have the official assembly cartridge for the real hardware? How do you find it?... I mean what were it's strengths and weaknesses?

We never had such luxuries in my house!... :lol:
My first assembler was free on a CPC covertape - it worked for some simple screen tricks, but of course was limited compared to the 'MAXAM' one that everyone used.

Here's hoping you have fun with the Atari once again, and good luck writing games!

All the best,
Chibi Akuma(s) Comedy-Horror 8-bit Bullet Hell shooter! // 「チビ悪魔」可笑しいゴシックSTG ! // Work in Progress: ChibiAliens

Interested in CPU's :Z80,6502,68000,6809,ARM,8086,RISC-V
Learning: 65816,ARM,8086,6809

Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2020 6:09 pm

Re: Re-living my boyhood dream :)

Post by matibee » Wed Feb 19, 2020 1:48 pm

Hi Keith,

Thank you for the welcome and thank you for this amazing resource!

I do indeed have the assembler editor cartridge once again. The book is in front of me right now. It's in perfect condition and is just 39 years old! (Random internet picture...)

It was a lot cheaper in 1989 (when no-one cared anymore) than it was in 2019 off ebay :shock: but I'm happy to have found such a good quality boxed version. I think I paid about £40 which isn't a lot for such a piece of history that means a lot to me.

It's a pretty fine tool for single system development but it still requires RAM for editing and compilation (obviously) so I'd have to be clever with memory usage (and even data and library loading off disk) to develop a large game. It plays down it's own ability somewhat. To quote the manual; " not a professional software development system" & "..not well suited for development of large assembly language programs". A bit unambitious of them but I understand their point. Nevertheless, having a rock-solid-stable cartridge-based system is great -- there's no loading times each and every time you crash the machine and need to re-power it, which.. happened once or twice while I was learning :-D

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