How I learned to love fuzzy displays and chunky pixels...
Greetings Armchair Arcade readers, time for Part #2 of The Retro Repair Adventures. Back in Part #1 I gave you a rose-colored introduction to my own VIC-20 machine, and showed a smattering of the various bits and bobs of VIC gaming history which I've managed to hold onto for 30+ years now.
This time, keep your propeller-beanies and geek-goggles screwed on tight, and warm up your soldering irons, because we're diving in for a close encounter with the VIC-20 hardware. For those of you who've ever wondered what electronic magic powered the first computer model to sell more than one million units, read on for a peek inside the machine, it's design, and the nitty-gritty details of repairing a 30+ year-old computer.
How to do "The Shatner Rub"...
Hello my fellow Armchair Arcadians! It's good to be back. Didn't mean to be gone so long again, but hey, Life happens. This time, I'm putting on my "Engineer Hat" (with the mandatory pocket-protector), and taking you on a Retro-Repair Adventure. In this first installment, we'll be delving into my own computing, programming, and gaming past. I'll take it easy to begin with, by giving you a close look at my very own, very beloved, and very much malfunctioning Commodore VIC-20. (We'll get to the nitty-gritty details of the electronics repair in my next posting.)
I'm back this week with a new interview series with Graeme Devine, the coding wizard best known for The 7th Guest and The 11th Hour. However, Graeme also did important work for id and goes back much earlier, developing some very impressive games for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, and PC Jr./Tandy 1000. In this segment, we chat about his early days on those systems, wrapping up with his games Silver Surfer and Spot for the NES. Lots of good stuff here, particularly for fans of the UK's game development scene of the 80s.
|Hello everyone, welcome to my second article on learning the fine art of programming. In my last article I listed a goodly number of possible options for learning to program with BASIC. Some were old, some were new, some are decidedly cool, and some were ridiculous. Some were (and are) extremely good development tools--capable of being used to create commercial quality software. There are also many other options which I left out of the mix.
Previously, I covered the highlights of what each one offered, and provided enough links for you to do some more research on your own. (You did go out and research some of those, didn't you?? I mean, if you're serious about wanting to program, then a little effort into research and experimentation can't be a huge hurdle. If it IS, you really need to re-think your future career.)
In my last article, I wrote at length about my experience making Retro-ZAP! on my near-ancient TRS-80 Model III computer. As I described, the experience was a fun and interesting one. It provided a mix of both high- and low-points, all of which were fun to write about. What I did not expect however, was the level of attention that would be generated by a Space Invaders knockoff, written in interpreted BASIC.
Hey again! Time for Part 2 of my little foray into retro-system game programming. This time around, I'm going to jabber on a bit about the process I went through while actually experimenting and coding "The Idea". To bring this "Retro Masterpiece" of slow-poke BASIC code to life took me a grand total of about 18-20 hours; and that includes the time I spent mucking around trying to get the &*#%$-ing cassette port working, plus writing the various bits of test code. (Hah! Take that 3D-Realms!)
Ian Bogost recently pointed me towards an upcoming project called Stencyl, which looks a wonderful tool for anyone like me more interested in game design than programming. It uses some technology from Scratch, but is focused on browser-based Flash games. They also promise to have plenty of free assets available for non-artists and musicians. It looks like a brilliant idea, and one I could use myself as well as with students. I applied for the public beta.
I can't seem to find any information about their pricing structure and what rights you'll have over games you submit to Stencyl, though I haven't dug deeply into the website yet.
I just saw this amazing video on Kotaku called "Making Metagun." It shows you exactly what went into making an entire game from scratch. Here's a link to the finished game, which is playable in a browser. As far as I can tell, it was built using Java and Eclipse.
Some fun news for Commodore 64 fans and enthusiasts--the latest beta for the Commodore 64 .prg generator, C64PrgGen, is now available for download! This nifty utility gives you a handy Commodore 64 program development utility for Windows. Put simply, you can type (or copy and paste) in your Commodore 64 BASIC or machine code into C64PrgGen and it will both assemble and run your code with a single click. C64PrgGen automatically generates a .prg file, which can run directly in your favorite Commodore 64 emulator or on the real hardware using the typical methods for transferring and running "ROM" files. Neat stuff and well worth checking out.