Making an Atari game – Day 1

I really didn’t know how difficult this would be. I thought this would be a quick and easy little side project but man was I wrong. The Atari 2600 is a very challenging system to code for. You wouldn’t think so but there is so much to learn. You really need to know the ins and outs of the hardware in order to write the code for it. It’s a very quirky system to say the least.

Day1 Progress shot
First thing I got the Atari to display with the Stella Emulator

That being said I think it was quite a productive first night of learning. I’ve been reading, coding, rereading what I just read, recoding what I just wrote, deleting, starting over, and finally within the last 2 hours of this 12 hour codespree I feel like I am getting the hang of it… Knock on wood.

I’m hoping to create a dungeon crawling, kind of a very lite Zelda type game. So far I have figure out how to create the first room, load it with walls. I’ve created variables that I can change on and off to create a door on each of the walls, if I want an opening in that direction or not. I’ll be able to use those variables later if I have enough space to create a map of the dungeon.

Walls with four doors
Four doors with variables

I also got some half-decent collision detection on my little smiley face player character. Might have to do some more tinkering there though to get it perfect. I had trouble with him getting kind of stuck along the side walls but kinda came up with a quick and dirty fix. However he still gets stuck on the middle obstical/wall things a little bit. It’s not easy. There isn’t a lot of space to work with on this old ancient legendary system.

Learning all of this gives me a lot more respect for the guys back in the 70s and 80s who single handedly developed for this system, in assembly! And managed to push the system to crazy heights beyond what it was really made for.