Saturday, April 02, 2022


When nerds play...

I'm not big on social media, as you know, but one of the reasons I remain on the cesspool that is Twitter is to follow people like Jonathan Thomas. Yep, that same dodgy fella who developed Pole Position for the Atari STe and then dared to update Lotus Turbo II in ways I never thought possible. Okay, I guess he's not a bad lad...

Anyhow, his tweets are often fascinating because he pokes within the depths of ST games. It's here that weird techniques are discovered or he experiments with probable improvements. He also playtests enhancing performance by utilising the Atari STe hardware. All this coding talk is way over my head but intriguing nonetheless.

So, onto his latest 'project', a horizontally-scrolling shooter for the Atari STe not too dissimilar to Menace, R-Type, etc. Although it's early days, Jon is using the hardware scrolling with the sprites/particle effects handled by the Blitter. There's no DMA sound but I cannot complain as he was generous in sending me an early beta lol

I asked Jon for his thoughts and ideas for what might eventually be a new Atari STe game. Although he replied having no concrete plans for a full game, he did hint toward several extremely promising goals:

A title screen (we will need a name for this!)
16x16 sprites for a selection of individual enemies
Each sprite will use 10-15 predefined attack moves
A couple of (2-3 minute) stages with increasing difficulty
A "game completion" screen
Multiple DMA sound effects
Chipmusic hopefully by (fingers crossed) Dma_Sc

Having "played" this beta, I must say it's impressive along with the prospect of what's already been achieved in a short time. I really liked the feel of the joystick controls and collision detection is spot-on. Border rasters indicate the remaining CPU time for future development opportunities so demonstrate great potential. Yes, I'm excited!

If like me, you love hearing what other people are doing with their Atari STs then take a look at Jon's Twitter stream. It's amock with weird programming gizmos (that I shall never understand) as he enjoys dismantling many Atari ST games. I can only imagine the dorky fun Jon has with his Atari STe and I hope that continues.

Update: Jon has started a source repository for those interested in helping out.

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