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Making Games for the Atari 2600 Paperback – December 22, 2016
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If you are a programmer and curious to write 2600 games, or just understand how they're written, this is the goto book.
Lots of detail and code, and the web-site associated to the book is excellent for mocking up ideas and testing the code in the book. I'm now writing a game for the VCS and the book is a vital reference.
I can't stress enough that people took years to get some of the programming tricks on the VCS worked out, and lots of it is here in this book.
Through the early chapters, the author gently leads you into 6502 programming fundamentals. This books does an excellent job in not only teaching the reader how to write code, but to take command of a feature-rich assembler with marcro's and labels. After the introduction, you're immediately lead into the hardware of the Atari VCS. THIS is where the book REALLY shines. The author does an excellent job illustrating programming principles in a simple, readable way that can be reasonably understood by someone with little to no programming experience.
This is where MANY technical writings (especially in machine code / assembly language programming) fail miserably. As you learn about the 6502's load/store instructions, bit-wise logic, conditional loops and the various addressing modes you will quickly understand these concepts as you: Draw a sprite on the screen, change the background color, manipulate the playfield registers and how to use the processor to keep track of CPU cycles/color clocks for time sensitive operations. Rather then spending 2 hours explaining to someone how indirect Y addressing works with the 6502, I can show someone a few paragraphs in a chapter in this book and they will IMMEDIATELY understand how it works and why. Trust me, I've already done it!
Each chapter becomes a building block, step by step. I doubt many people will feel overwhelmed by the book providing that you take it slow, one chapter at a time. The trick is to get "good" at the exercise in one chapter before moving to the next. While this book isn't a complete bible for the Atari VCS, it's an excellent complimentary piece to the Stella Programmer's Handbook. I do feel that some of the more important aspects of VCS programming were a bit rushed and not as thoroughly fleshed out as they should have been for clarity. But it still reads well.
To anyone who is interested in learning how to program the Atari VCS or any 6502 based console/computer, I highly recommend this book as it translates the technical jargon of the 6502/VCS into an easily understood and smooth read. This is something that you won't hardly find in the 6502 "Bibles" by Rodney Zaks and Lance Laventhal.
Most recent customer reviews
Beware bugs in the sample code, though, which could possibly trip up newbies.Read more
I'm only up to chapter 6 at the moment but so far Steven Hugg has been very informative and, best of...Read more