is a leading force behind modern-day development for the Atari 7800! His prowess
has produced several newly programmed 7800 titles
in addition to resurrecting
three long lost titles.
us a bit about yourself. What do you do in the real world?
I am a senior programmer for a software company that caters to the Fast
Moving Consumer Goods division (Bakeries, Dairies, beverage, etc.) I also
handle their network duties, and their PC hardware.
Why do you love classic games so much? Any other hobbies or are you all
in for gaming only?
RD> I am also a musician
and song writer. I even had an album out on the independent site cdbaby.com
for a while until I took it down.
do you love classic games so much? Any other hobbies or are you all in
for gaming only?
I was brought up on games and electronics. I was 9 in 1978 when I got my first
2600, and even before that we had the Odyssey when it first came out
in 72. It was all around me: my oldest brother ended up getting the Intellivision,
and then the Vectrex. My sister had the Intellivision II with the 2600 adapter.
My best friend had an Odyssey2. This is what made me go into computer programming
as a career. In that field, I started out with a TI99/4A, then moved on to the
Apple IIc when it first came out, and then PCs and UNIX mainframes, when I started
my current job in 89.
is your background concerning classic computers?
Many of us have or continue
to use them, but you repair and service them. How did you learn such a skill?
My father had an Electronics Repair shop in Bellmore, N.Y. until he
passed away in 94. Back in the day, he purchased a bunch of 2600s and Intellivisions
from a liquidator and my job was to test them and make sure they work. He never
did end up selling all of them so I had a few hanging around. I performed operations
on some of them, building joysticks and whatnot from parts I used to scavenge
from a bootleg arcade game factory around the corner from where I lived.
also always had a fascination of taking things apart to see how they work (most
likely something I inherited from my father), so I learned how to fix quite a
few things that way. Most of the work I do currently is for desktop PCs and laptops
(replacing screens, building, etc.).
have programmed many homebrew projects, but all of them for the Atari 7800 Pro
System. Is it because youre a Pro player?
no in all honestly I hardly have time to *play* anything! I actually started
out doing one hack for the 2600, trying to make Pac-Man Plus out
of A Better Pac-Man by Rob Kudla. I then moved on to
the 5200, taking the Pac-Man partially documented source code (hi
Bryan!) and successfully turning that into Hangly-Man and Pac-Man
Plus. I then went *back* to the 2600 to hack Stargate down
into Defender Arcade and then started on the 7800, mostly
because of two reasons: 1) nobody else was doing it at the time, and
was the only console that had no Pac-Man port. I ended
up learning how to program that unit better than the other two, so I just kept
going with it.
heavily modified the original Asteroids for the Atari 7800.
is so Deluxe about Asteroids Deluxe?
with all of my ports, I tried to get as close as possible to the arcade version
of Asteroids Deluxe which I have always preferred over
the regular Asteroids. To answer your question, the shields
and the killer satellite are what makes this game deluxe.
Also the increased difficulty. Because in the arcade game, the UFOs are much more
accurate than regular Asteroids, I had to do the same here.
Duel is also an extensive hack of the Atari 7800 Asteroids
How did you approach altering the code of one game into another
entirely different game?
always look at how I could do the differences within the confines of the code
thats already there.
Then I add to it, hoping that I dont overrun
the screen refresh with each piece of code I add. ;)
iterations of your games are very true to the arcade counterparts.
the tethered ships option did not make it into Space Duel. Was this
due to the alteration being too extreme?
wont lie; I was not exactly sure how to accomplish this feat. But the main
reason was slow-down. At the moment, when there are many object on the screen,
you will see a noticeable slow-down in the action. I figured if this was already
happening without the tethered ship option (which is math and/or table lookup
intensive), it would be un-playable if I tried to put it in.
Pac-Man Collection features eight Pac-Man variations,
including Ultra Pac-Man.
Who generated the six new mazes used
in Ultra Pac-Man?
were taken directly from Champ Games PC port of Ms. Champ-Em!
Pac-Man Collection recognizes the impossible to find High
Why did you choose to allow such functionality
knowing that it may never be used?
Mainly because it was also supported in the Cuttle Cart II.
because the code was already there from the Ms. Pac-Man
source code, which was a starting point.
us about the Atari 7800 titles Sirius, Plutos, and
Rampart, and how were you involved with their eventual release.
I started working on the 7800, Ive been in contact with Curt Vendel of Atari
Museum, who also has a soft spot for this console. He happened to find those three
games in MADMAC compiled format (not quite assembler, but convertible fairly easily).
He asked me if I could figure out how to get them to work. I got close on my own,
taking the recently acquired version of Missing In Action
because that was similar in size (144K) and that game was also in with the other
three. I eventually found out that two of the games (Plutos and
Sirius) needed 16K of RAM and was then able to get Plutos
to work for a few seconds but it kept crashing. Sirius I kind of
got working but with garbled graphics because I had a few banks in the wrong order.
then knew I needed to get some other people involved that knew more about the
hardware end of the 7800. So, I asked Mitch and Eckhard to help as well as Allan
(these are all names from the AtariAge message board). Eckhard and Mitch found
out that in Plutos case, it was writing to ROM locations and
expecting to see a different result (thats why it was crashing).
Quick background: The development card for the 7800 console was *all* RAM, so
you could get away with this temporarily if you needed to
Until it needed
to get burned to cart. Eckhard and Mitch took it from there and got all of the
games working, lucky for us. J
you kidding - Thank You!