Pinball Construction Set - Your Thoughts on the BudgeCo Title

Bill Loguidice's picture

I've been doing some work now on the Pinball Construction Set chapter for the book and would love to hear some of your thoughts on this "software toy" construction set. Bill Budge's title, first published through his own BudgeCo company in 1982, was of course later picked up and published by Electronic Arts (one of their earliest titles that helped put the company on the map), starting in 1983, for Apple II, Apple Macintosh, Atari 8-bit, Coleco Adam (this release is overlooked by nearly every online source, by the way), Commodore 64 and PC. While I'd love to hear about your experiences with Budge's title and titles like it, I'd also like to hear about even some of the more hardcore construction sets or mainstream development tools, like, for instance, Penguin's The Graphics Magician. Every thought and tangent is appreciated. Thanks!

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Mark Vergeer
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Calibrator, I'll let you

Calibrator,
I'll let you drewl a little as I do have the Metal Gear games. I also have quite a few game cartridges as well as a special FM-sound cartridge. ;-)

On those enhanced graphics modes on the c64 - it is true that they are only good for static pictures. A technique that did expand the c64's screen and was actually used in games was the removal of the c64 screen-borders and using sprites to display graphics inside the borders.

I think I might want to acquire an Atari 8bit machine, this whole thread has made me very curious after the hardware and the similarities with the c64 . Should I go for the good old 800XL or should I go for a later 8-bitter?

Oh and for those Atari Minded folk out there check out this website from Mr Atari (a fellow Dutchman)
http://mr-atari.com/
he does amazing things - software and hardware projects - for the atari 8bit range of home computers.



Editor / Pixelator - Armchair Arcade, Inc.
www.markvergeer.nl

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Calibrator
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Joined: 10/25/2006
Atari models
Mark Vergeer wrote:

Calibrator,
I'll let you drewl a little as I do have the Metal Gear games.

*Drooling* 8-)...

Quote:

I also have quite a few game cartridges as well as a special FM-sound cartridge. ;-)

Moonsound? I've heard some demos and they are great but I'm not quite in the Z80-age - I'll keep that for my future retro years!
The soon-to-be-released "VSU" with six (as in "6") graphics chips seems to be a bit more interesting, though ;-)

Quote:

I think I might want to acquire an Atari 8bit machine, this whole thread has made me very curious after the hardware and the similarities with the c64 . Should I go for the good old 800XL or should I go for a later 8-bitter?

800XL and expand it as you wish. Though it doesn't have 128KB RAM - like the 130XE - it can be expanded to a full MB (not for the feeble minded person). 128KB is very useful as the newer DOS variants load themselves into this memory and establish a Ramdisk there.
There are few programs that use more than 128KB, AFAIK, and no commercial games.
Sadly, the 130XE has a worse keyboard than the XL generation and all other machines are to be avoided, IMHO (either only 16KB RAM, less outputs etc.).

The only other machine I would consider is the original 800 - it can be expanded with modern cartridges to more than the standard 48KB RAM and its keyboard is also good. It has no external parallel port and relies on the serial I/O connector but this is usually no problem - there are even SD-card readers functioning as hard drive replacements now that can load disk images. Some people say it has the best video quality but I can't confirm this. The 800 is much more expensive, though, but it has one advantage: It gives the "original Atari feeling" and it has four joystick ports which all later models lack.

More:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_8-bit_family

take care,
Calibrator

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Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Atari 8-bits

Which Atari 8-bit to get is always the eternal debate and one that regular pops up on the aforementioned AtariAge forums. While it's impractical for most just from a space standpoint, I made sure to get at least one example from each category, though I do have multiples across the line: Atari 400, Atari 800, Atari 800XL, Atari XEGS and Atari 130XE (I obviously purposely avoided any of the 600 series systems, which have limited memory, though some like to expand the 600XL because of the small case size). Certainly the 1200XL looks the best and has the best keyboard, but has minor compatibility issues that require some workarounds or a BIOS replacement. The XEGS is interesting because you can use it without it's external keyboard as a game console, though it looks the worst and has a spongy keyboard (which can be replaced/upgraded like all the models). There are compatibility issues between the original 400/800 and later XL/XE systems, due to the latter's 64K expectation, though it's easier to make the XL/XE run the few incompatible 400/800 software items with either a translator cartridge or disk (something I made sure to purchase), than it is to get the 400/800 to the right BIOS and memory, particularly since the 800 typically maxes out at 48K using standard means.

With all that said, I too would recommend a 48K Atari 800 because of the aesthetic, build quality and compatibility. I would then choose either the 800XL, XEGS or 130XE (65XE would suffice, it's just as 64K version of the 128K 130XE) so you can run all 64K software. It sounds crazy to have two systems, but I think it's far less hassle for anyone but the truly dedicated to try to have it all with one system (meaning doing various BIOS/memory/internal upgrades). You'd obviously only need the system and the power supply, everything else can be shared freely between the two. Regardless, as was stated, the homebrew community in regards to hardware and solutions to use ROMs and whatever is probably the strongest of any community out there. It's really something else.



Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Rowdy Rob
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Joined: 09/04/2006
Appropriate Atari 8-bit?
Mark Vergeer wrote:

I think I might want to acquire an Atari 8bit machine, this whole thread has made me very curious after the hardware and the similarities with the c64 . Should I go for the good old 800XL or should I go for a later 8-bitter?

In my opinion, an 800XL would be a decent choice for a casual collector. It's all around a good bet, since it's small (a good point for collectors), has good compatibility, and is pretty much a good "base" platform to run just about everything. The 130XE is also good for the same reasons, but has more built-in RAM (which few, if any, games ever used). The extra memory of the 130XE was great for word processing, but I can't think of anything else I had that took advantage of the extra memory.

The Atari 800 would be good if you're going the "hardware hacker" route, since it has two cartridge ports, 4 joystick ports, and several slots for expansion memory.

I don't think you'll go wrong if you acquire an 800xl, or 130XE. You'll get the basic Atari experience with these machines with minimal fuss or compatibility issues, in my opinion, plus they're rather easy to acquire on Ebay.

To be honest, though, if you didn't grow up with an Atari, you're probably not going to be enthused enough to go the "hardware hacker" route, and thus the original 800 would probably not be suitable for your purposes unless you come across a decked-out system for cheap. Plus, it only came with 48k RAM standard (it actually came with 16k RAM standard when I bought it!!!). It did have the best keyboard, though (the 130XE hardware was cheaper and clunkier, but still acceptable). Just my opinions... I would like to get a 130xe system myself.

P.S. I had an Atari 800, 800xl, and 130xe in my 8-bit years.

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