Z*Magazine: 22-Aug-89 #171From: Atari SIG (xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 10/02/93-03:10:58 PM Z
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From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG) Subject: Z*Magazine: 22-Aug-89 #171 Date: Sat Oct 2 15:10:58 1993 | ROVAC ZMAGAZINE | | Issue #171 | | August 22, 1989 | |Copyright 1989, RII| |This week in ZMagazine| New User Group Coordinator John Nagy ACTION!?--MAC/65? or... Ed Bachman 1200XL Video Fix Bob Woolley Press Release Software Review: Gato Michael D. Bjorkman Software Review: Desert Falcon Dave Bambaloff Software Review: Winter Challenge Rich Link |NEW USER GROUP COORDINATOR| |by John Nagy| Reprinted from ST-ZMagazine #34 ST*ZMag received word late this week that Atari has hired a new User Group Coordinator to replace Chris Roberts. After interviews with a number of candidates, Atari chose BOB BRODIE, president of the Atari Computer Owners of Orange County, California. ST*ZMAG and Z*Net readers know Bob's writing well, as he has been a contributer and associate staff member of our publications for some time. He most recently co-authored the introductory article on Chris Roberts, his predecessor in the position. Bob is well known to Southern California user groups, as he has been instrumental in a number of shows and projects there. He took a week off work at his own expense in order to coordinate Atari's appearance at the hugely successful NAMM show last winter. He also worked a lot at the Anaheim World of Atari show. Bob worked for BRINKS in a number of capacities, including developing a number of internal projects, that generally occupied 60 or more hours effort every week. The much-touted "overwork" that Atari expects from its employees should be a snap next to what Bob has accustomed himself to. While Atari President Sam Tramiel had asked for someone with a specific marketing background for the position, when Bob Brodie's name was brought up as a candidate, it seems a number of Atari officials piped up. We heard that Frank Foster in particular was backing Bob after witnessing his work at the NAMM shows. In the end, hands-on experience and user group know-how were the deciding factors that won the position for Bob over the other candidates. Bob's level-headed approach to problem solving and communicating have already impressed the Atari brass. He will work for Augie Ligori but be supervised in most matters by Sig Hartmann. Starting Monday at 1 PM Pacific time, Bob will be available for user-group contact at (408) 745- 2052. He will be moving his wife and children up from their Orange County home sometime in the next few months, and will commute on weekends til then. While his club will be sorry to lose him as President, and we at the ZMAGs will miss him as a regular staff member, Bob will undoubtedly remain active in a user group in the Sunnyvale area, and will continue to write articles for use in user group newsletters and online magazine, although with a different perspective. We congratulate Bob Brodie on getting the User Group Coordinator position at Atari. We are confident that THIS TIME, Atari chose someone who has been highly reccommended by users, publishers, and Atari executives alike. We predict that satisfaction all around will keep Bob in Atari for a long time. Unfortunatly, we have not been able to contact Bob to confirm this story, but hope to by next week. |ACTION!?--MAC/65? OR...| Where do I go from BASIC? |by Ed Bachman| Are you wondering why you're using BASIC (since most of your program is USR routines)? Is there something your just itching to do that can't be done in "good ol' BASIC"? In either case you're most likely considering another programming language. The purpose of this article is to discuss the ins and outs of (what I consider to be) the two best choices in a programming language for the Atari 8-bit: ACTION! and MAC/65. While I can in NO way make a choice for you, OR even do these two fine products justice, I will attempt to point out the strengths and weaknesses of each. YOU decide which is best for you. Using ACTION! ACTION!, currently distributed by ICD,Inc., is a high level, compiled language (BASIC being a high level interpeted language). ACTION! (like machine language) will add an extra step to your program development, the compile. However, the improved performance is worth the effort. First the good points... The most attractive feature of ACTION! is that it's a high level language. Ideas/functions can be easily expressed in just a few instructions. While at the same time ACTION! maintains a close tie to the machine level. Which is important in order to get the best performance from your computer. Data can be manipulated an a wide variety of ways, and it also supports complex math functions as well as logic level operations. This means you can handle numbers pretty much the way you did in BASIC with some "bitwise" operations that were previously unavailable in BASIC. A compiled ACTION! program will run up to 100 times faster than a BASIC program. ACTION! programs, using a "runtime library" can also be run without an action cartrige. When using ACTION!, you must learn to "structure" your programs. ACTION! has no "GOTO" instruction. You must "think thru" your program and arrange it so it can be accomplished in subroutines. The subroutine and the TurboBASIC/BASIC XE "procedure" call are very similar to the way one programs in ACTION!. It is also very easy to read an ACTION! program (once you understand the language). A far cry from jumping thru 100's of "GOTO's" in a BASIC program. On the down side... Being a high level language, you need either an ACTION! cartridge to run an ACTION! program or use a "runtime library" which you include in your program. This runtime library comes at extra cost (also from ICD). The runtime library also increases the final size of your program. There are many options available to the user during a compile, unfortunately many of them are very poorly documented. Further, as your programs increase in size, you will need to make "adjustments" in the ACTION! environment in order to handle more variable names and increased program size. While on the topic of size, after a point you MUST compile from disk, since ACTION! holds the compiled program resident in memory. Also the upper practical limit of an ACTION! program is approximately 20K of compiled code. Beyond that, you must make even more "adjustments" to both your program and the ACTION! environment. And finally, only now are reasonable tutorials becoming more easily available. Using the MAC/65 I know this should be "machine language". However, I feel if you decide to go the M/L route, get a MAC/65 since there is no better assembler/debugger for the Atari 8-bit. MAC/65 is also sold by ICD, Inc. Machine language is a "low level" language with each instruction being an actual operation performed by the 6502 processor (one simple BASIC instruction may contain hundreds of these "low level" instructions) The good points... Machine language (M/L from here on in) is also a compiled language. It is even faster than ACTION! and another advantage is it's relatively small size. If there is something specific you desire the Atari to do, there's no better way to do it than in the computers native tongue. Using M/L allows you access to ANY level of the Atari (places where BASIC, and sometimes ACTION!, won't work). Further, the 6502 (your Atari's processor) has one of the easiest (in my opinion) to understand instruction sets of any processor. There is no limit to the final size of your program, and unlike ACTION!, it can be tailored to exactly meet a very specific function. By using the MACRO feature of the MAC/65, it is also possible to create a "pseudo high level" environment--defining a series of M/L instructions to a label, which then can be used like a high level command. An M/L program can be used by anyone, with or without cartriges. Further, there are fewer operating restrictions on an M/L program than a compiled ACTION! program (with runtime library). This is a rather detailed topic but in short, there are simply some instances where you must either re-boot or re-set after running a compiled ACTION! program (particularly if using a cartrige other than an ACTION! cart). Summed up, if you want your computer to "jump thru the hoop", then M/L is the way to make it do exactly what you want. The other side of the coin... M/L, being a low level language, often requires dozens of instructions to accomplish even a simple operation. M/L source is also more difficult to read (since each programmer may choose to perform a task in a differing manner). Since M/L operates at the "system level" it is a bit more difficult to debug, and it's much easier to get an undesired result, since a typo often looks fine to the compiler. M/L therefore adds yet another step to program development, the "debug" process (this is true with ALL program development--just more necessary with M/L). The MAC/65 also has a few drawbacks of its own. The most notable--not being able to compile from a SpartaDOS formatted disk. Further, there is only addition/subtraction and bitwise logic available to the M/L programmer--no high level math operations are supported. You must write the routine to do so (you could also use the floating point routines in the Atari ROM.). In closing... How shall I tie this all together? Perhaps with a few recommendations. If you're looking for more power and speed but are not willing to skimp on mathmatic and string features, or perhaps you're thinking of "graduating" to a more powerful language than BASIC, then perhaps ACTION! would be better suited to your needs. If, however, you desire to get into system level functions, or need the ultimate in speed or the smallest size, then you would have no recourse but to choose M/L (I've used both over the last few years and have found a need for BOTH so I'm obviously no help!) I hope some of these observations can be of assistance in making an informed choice for your "next language". Ed. |1200XL VIDEO FIX| |by Bob Woolley| 8/20/89 Got a 1200XL with bad video? With a few simple changes under the hood, you can get rid of that tearing, fuzzy screen and add separate CHROMA operation. Unlike the movies, the sequel to the CLRPIC modification is much "better" than the original. If you were disappointed that the CLRPIC mod did not allow for a COMPOSITE output, or felt intimidated by the lengthy list of changes in the original upgrade, then you are at the right place. This version only requires you to remove 10 components and add 4 wires and 4 components! IT IS STILL A GOOD IDEA TO HAVE SOME ELECTRONICS SOLDERING SKILLS. Also, these changes were developed empirically, which means I just diddled with the values until they worked. The output is very good--better than an 800XL and, depending on your preference for overdriven characters, better than a 130XE or 800 in separate CHROMA or COMPOSITE video. On with the changes. As in the original CLRPIC article, I will list the existing component in the left column and what to put in it's place in the right column. A "--" indicates that nothing is to be connected and "wire" calls for a jumper, shorting out the part. REMOVE: REPLACE WITH: C115 10uf wire C60 100pf -- R187 1meg 2.2K L15 820uh wire R188 750 680 CR19 1N4148 -- C119 3.9pf -- C62 10pf wire R24 180 47 R23 180 47 Add a wire from R44 (either side) to pin 5 of J2. That's all!! Works fine on a number of monitors that I have. Now, get to it, Puff! Bob Woolley CompuServe (75126,3446) |PRESS RELEASE| August 19, 1989 From Z Innovators and MAX Systems On August 17, 1989 an agreement was reached between Z Innovators, the owners and authors of the powerful 100% machine language bulletin board system OASIS, and MAX Systems, publishers of software for the Atari and Commodore 8-bit computers. MAX Systems will now be the exclusive marketing agent for the OASIS BBS, thus allowing Z Innovators to concentrate on improving an already fine program without the need to deal with the details of order processing and advertising. This will allow for more efficient order processing and more time for the developement of external modules for OASIS BBS. OASIS BBS is a 100% machine language program that allows the BBS SysOp to start off with a small hardware investment of two floppy disk drives and a "stock" Atari 8-bit computer, but still have the ability to move up to a large scale system of 100+ Megabytes of hard disk storage as the SysOp's needs and budget call for. OASIS has been available for several years, first being release by the original authors/owners (Renner, Walden, and Newman of ARC fame) and later as a product of Z Innovators. Since taking over the OASIS project, Z Innovators has brought the program through several versions, each more powerful than the last, and has been the leaders in many areas of Atari 8-bit BBS programs, such as File Mail. The most recent version of OASIS, 4.6A, includes the new Multi-Board Environment, or MBEs, that allow the Atari SysOp for the first time to have as many as ten totally separate bulletin boards online at one time. Couple the MBE power with OASIS's ability to send VT52, ANSI, ATASCII, and Commodore Color Graphics, and the SysOp has the perfect BBS for supporting many different computers. The first major project that Z Innovators and MAX Systems will be undertaking as a team is a complete re-write of the OASIS documentation into a comprehensive manual that will guide the new SysOp and "Old Pro" alike through the set up and operation of the OASIS BBS. This project is expected to take several weeks to complete, however, OASIS BBS will continue to ship to new customers in the meantime. Any new OASIS SysOps who order OASIS BBS before the new manual is completed will receive the manual as soon as it is completed. When the new OASIS SysOp purchases the OASIS BBS package, he gets much more than just a few disks. He also gets the support of both Z Innovators and MAX Systems. Z Innovators operates a support BBS in the Boston MA area and MAX Systems operates a BBS in the Sacramento CA area. Both Z Innovators and MAX Systems are also available on the GEnie network. The purchase price of the OASIS BBS package includes access to the Private Oasis Software Library and Bulletin Board areas of GEnie; access to the Private Oasis SysOp area of the Z Innovators BBS which will give them the ability to download any future upgrades to the BBS; and access to The Breakfast Club BBS run by MAX Systems. Both of the BBSs above are PC Pursuitable and GEnie is a local call for most cities, although there are the normal GEnie connect charges. To order OASIS BBS, send your check or money order for $55.00 payable to MAX Systems to: MAX Systems Suite 6-216 4005 Manzanita Ave. Carmichael, CA 95608 ATTN:Oasis BBS To see OASIS BBS in action, you may call either: Z Innovators XBN-II (617)380-7886 or MAX Systems The Breakfast Club BBS (916)331-4722 Both BBSs are 24 hours, 300/1200 baud ASCII/ATASCII/ANSI/VT52/CCG. On the GEnie Network, you may reach Z Innovators for technical questions in the Atari 8-bit RoundTable or at GE-Mail address <Z.INNOVATORS> or you may reach MAX Systems for sales questions in the Atari 8-bit RoundTable or at GE-Mail address <MARTY.A>. The power of tomorrow is here today in the OASIS BBS by Z Innovators, presented by MAX Systems. Z Innovators and MAX Systems |SOFTWARE REVIEW: GATO| |by Michael D. Bjorkman, S*P*A*C*E| An 8-Bit Undersea Warfare Simulation Game! Cartridge from Atari Corporation $34.95 retail GATO is a game of undersea warfare loosely based on American submarine combat during World War II. Though GATO is not a rigorous simulation of World War II submarine warfare, it is a fine game and one which will give many hours of enjoyment. With the purchase comes one game cartridge and a 16 page manual. GATO requires a 48K computer--it will not play on a 16K or a 32K machine. The game also requires use of the keyboard and a joystick. For those who have a disk drive, GATO will record the total tonnage sunk on disk; the U.S. Navy equivalent to the arcade game vanity screen. The similarity to arcade games doesn't end with the vanity screen. GATO actually has more in common with STAR RAIDERS than it does with EASTERN FRONT. One must not run out of air and fuel (re: energy in STAR RAIDERS). One must return to the submarine tender to replenish fuel and torpedoes (re: star base to replenish energy). One has a map divided into sections with which to identify the location of the enemy (re: galactic chart). One can use Rapid Submarine Deployment to move from one sector to another (re: hyperwarp in STAR RAIDERS). The similarity to STAR RAIDERS should not be pushed too far though. GATO occurs in a "real" place; there are places to go, people to see, and things to do. Whereas the STAR RAIDERS universe follows more basic rules: blast Zylons until the clock runs out. GATO has a total of 10 scenarios to play: picking up a downed pilot, resupplying a spotter, 4 different convoys to attack, 2 scenarios with PTs, and 2 scenarios involving lone supply ships. My favorite scenario is the unescorted convoy. My least favorite is attacking the PTs at anchor. It's too easy to run aground and the PTs are too fast on taking up the chase. For the tourist, GATO has places to see. There are a total of 12 islands, and not all of them are patrolled by the Japanese. The islands have colorful names like "Main Island" or "Island in Quadrant 18". All are drawn with pseudo vector graphics, thus making it impossible for the Japanese to sneak up on you from behind an island. The shoals around islands are marked on the quadrant map. However, the markings on the map only apply when the sub is at the surface. When submerged, the sub will run aground further out from the island. This feature of the quadrant maps is not described in the printed documentation, it is only mentioned during the on screen demonstration. Finally, there are two people to meet in GATO: the downed pilot and the spotter. The downed pilot has managed to swim to shore and is on the eastern side of the island in sector 14. The second fellow to meet is the spotter on the island in sector 18. Don't expect any fancy animated graphics when you meet up with these guys. In each case, once you've run across the individual, a simple message is written to the screen telling you the mission is completed. Mercifully, unlike some games which only have one level of difficulty, i.e. hard, GATO has 9 levels of difficulty. At the lowest level of difficulty it is easy to torpedo ships and avoid getting sunk, while at the higher levels it is more challenging. Several changes have been made to the historical Gato class submarine to increase the playability of the game. A typical torpedo run in GATO takes anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Historically, it took tens of minutes to hours. To sink a ship in GATO all you have to do is get close, line the target up in the center of the screen and fire. Historically, two measurements of the position of the target were necessary to establish the target's heading and speed so that the computation for the torpedo's heading could be made. Once the computation was made then the torpedo could be fired. I think the changes made by the game designers have served to increase the playability of the game, so I have no qualm recommending GATO to arcade game players. The graphics are not state of the art as pointed out by the reviewer in the SEP/OCT '88 Atari Explorer. However, I have found some of the prettiest games for the Atari to be some of the most unplayable (e.g. KORONIS RIFT). Therefore I do not rank graphics high on my list of criteria for judging games. Unlike the reviewer in the October 1988 issue of CURRENT NOTES, I found the Captain's Log save to disk function to operate as described in the manual. The first step was to format a disk with DOS 2.5 and use the "H" option to write DOS and DUP to the disk. Before booting up the game disk drive number one was turned on, the DOS 2.5 formatted disk with DOS on it was inserted into the disk drive, and the disk drive door closed. When the game was first booted a file named CAPTAINS.LOG was written to the disk. This DOS file contains the list of ships sunk, and when initially written to the disk showed no ships sunk. Note that if you are sunk, then the Captain's log will be erased. Hence before embarking on a new mission it is advisable to backup the CAPTAINS.LOG file. Furthermore, if the option "5. RESET CAPTAIN'S LOG" is used in the main menu, then not only will the Captain's log in memory be erased, but so will your captain's log on disk. |SOFTWARE REVIEW: DESERT FALCON| |by Dave Bambaloff, S*P*A*C*E| Reprinted from Puget Sound Atari News Rating Scale (1-10 stars possible) Ease of use: ***** Challenge: ******* Graphics: ** Documentation: **** Overall Rating: ** From----------------Atari Corporation Format--------------Cartridge Object--------------Find jewels and shoot opponets. Price---------------$19.95 Required equipment--any 8-bit Atari computer with at least 48K of memory. This is Desert Falcon! You're flying a great bird and picking up ancient Egyptian pharaohs' treasures. There are other mythical beasts such as blazing firepots and desert birds that are guarding the jewels you seek. Find hieroglyphics hidden in the desert sands and you'll gain powers that will make you invincibile, slow down or speed up time, double your fire power, and a few others. These are dependent upon the order you pick up certain hieroglyphics which are really just lying about the desert floor. Your great bird flys above the hot desert sand, and to pick up any item you must land. Watch out for sand crawlers. Now that your great bird is on the ground, he flops about to get somewhere. Take off again by pulling back on your joystick. When you've done enough looting you come to the howling sphinx that shoots back. Blast it between the eyes and the bonus round begins. This is where you pick up as many jewels as you can in a certain time frame. That's about it for this lame game. The graphics are 2600 vintage and play is difficult. Save your money or better yet, I'll sell you my copy. |SOFTWARE REVIEW: WINTER CHALLENGE| |by Rich Link| Atari Exchange of Louisville Just when you thought that there were no more new titles to be found for the 8-bit Atari market, along comes Thunder Mountain with a game which many have been asking for... Winter Challenge-- World Class Competition This is a collection of events from the Winter Olympics, along the same lines as Epyx Summer and Winter Games series. This package contains five Olympic events: Downhill, Ski Jumping, Biathlon (cross country skiing and shooting), Giant Slalom, and 2-man Bobsled. Each event pits you against the clock, and up to six players can compete at one time. Games may be played one at a time, in different combinations, or all in succession. Gold metals are tallied after each event to determine an overall winner. The game comes on two disks and occupies four full sides. A minor quibble here--the game has copy protection on the first side, making backups difficult. And the protection will not allow the use of high speed operation on modified drives. I've not tested it on an XF551 drive which runs at a slightly faster speed than the standard 1050 Atari drive. Playing Winter Challenge is an enjoyable experience. The games are well designed with excellent graphics. Scrolling backgrounds and interesting details abound thoughout the game. Game play is generally consistent, although the difficulty varies with each event. Starting with the downhill racing, you are pitted against an ever narrowing obstacle course of trees and occasional logs. Joystick movements control the speed and direction of the skier as you drift from side to side and jump the obstacles. One interesting touch is the "goggle view" in the lower right hand corner. This is a needed addition as there are times when the skier's body blocks your view of impending doom! This event was my weakest, as I struggled to reach the bottom. It took a second look to realize that each event can be replayed, something I missed in the instructions. The Ski Jump is a excellent looking event. As the jumper makes his way from to the starting line, you see a beautiful view of the slide with TV cameras and a full perspective. A tap of the joystick and you're off! Again, the stick is moved up/down and left/right to align the skis. Total points are awarded for both distance and style. A botched landing results in a frustrated skier pounding the snow! A total of 3 jumps completes the event. The Biathlon is a combination of events. The key here is developing a rhythm during the skiing portion, and smoothness in shooting. Points are given for speed and accuracy, with a heavy penalty for each missed target. Again, the graphics are outstanding, with bridges, streams and mountains. The Slalom is a 3 heat event racing downhill through a series of flags. Movement left and right is VERY quick, and more often than not, you will find yourself plastered against the fence! This one takes some work to master, but it is possible to complete the run. A slightly slower joystick response might improve the "feel" of the event, but it would probably make for a slightly harder game as well. The final event is my favorite. The bobsled run is a 3 to 4 minute run down a winding tunnel of snow. Here, the scrolling mountains and sky in the background, along with the trees streaking by make for an excellent looking game. A slight tap on the button applys the brakes, keeping you from being thrown up to the top of the wall with a resulting crash. The key here is concentration and quick reflexes. With a total of 3 runs, all of the players have adequate time to get the feel of the course. Winning can often be a matter of a second or less. So there you have it. Thunder Mountain has produced a winner with Winter Challenge, combining a good balance of playablity and stunning 8-bit graphics. In comparison to Epyx's Summer and Winter Games, it more than holds it's own in both looks and feel. | Rovac Industries, Incorporated | | P.O. Box 59, Middlesex, NJ 08846 | | (201) 968-8148 | |Copyright 1989 All Rights Reserved| Reprint permission is granted providing ZMagazine and the original author is credited. CompuServe: 71777,2140 GEnie: ZMAGAZINE Source: BDG793 ZMagazine Headquarters BBSes: Centurion BBS--(618)451-0165 Chaos BBS--(517)371-1106 Shadow Haven--(916)962-2566 Stairway to Heaven--(216)784-0574
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