Z*Magazine: 22-Aug-89 #171

From: Atari SIG (xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 10/02/93-03:10:58 PM Z

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


             |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

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

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

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

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

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".



           |1200XL VIDEO FIX|
            |by Bob Woolley|


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

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


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

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,

               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
              ATTN:Oasis BBS

To see OASIS BBS in action, you may
call either:

           Z Innovators XBN-II
   MAX Systems The Breakfast Club BBS

Both BBSs are 24 hours, 300/1200 baud

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
               MAX Systems


  |by Michael D. Bjorkman, S*P*A*C*E|

  An 8-Bit Undersea Warfare Simulation
    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

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

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

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

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.


     |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
Object--------------Find jewels and
                    shoot opponets.
Required equipment--any 8-bit Atari
                    computer with at
                    least 48K of

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

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.


             |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

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

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
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            Source: BDG793

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