Cracking Entombed the Atari game.

Archaea

[H]F Junkie
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That’s a fun read, thanks.

I would think the publisher would have the source code archived somewhere?
 

Absalom

Gawd
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That’s a fun read, thanks.

I would think the publisher would have the source code archived somewhere?
Well the lookup table or whatever that was used to generate the map still wouldn't be coherent from looking at the code itself. It would just be an array of data. There would need to be comments or documentation explaining how the table was derived. Back in those days, I suspect that practice was rarely used or non-existent.

So then it begs the question, was this a stroke of genius/luck fueled by a late night drug-induced adventure? Was it simply a mathematical sequence? Did aliens decide to sneak the theory of everything into human works?

You can draw a similar comparison to Deep Learning today. An A.I. is trained and it is able to spit out an optimal algorithm that would have taken human's years to arrive at. Now get rid of the A.I. and any documentation as to the origins of the algorithm. Bury it for years. Later someone examines this amazing algorithm and starts asking the question how did mankind come up with such an amazing piece of work? Enter conspiracy theories...
 

toast0

Gawd
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Jan 26, 2010
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That’s a fun read, thanks.

I would think the publisher would have the source code archived somewhere?
For any Atari 2600 game? It's very unlikely. For this specific game, it was developed while the company was owned by Quaker Oats, and was closed a year after release. They probably destroyed everything.
 

PhaseNoise

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For any Atari 2600 game? It's very unlikely. For this specific game, it was developed while the company was owned by Quaker Oats, and was closed a year after release. They probably destroyed everything.
And, source code for ASM is generally not super helpful in general. You can obtain that via disassembly. Yes, you miss the comments, but those were as rare as hen's teeth anyway.
 

DejaWiz

Oracle of Unfortunate Truths
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Pretty sweet, especially given the era and limitations/constraints that had to be worked within.
 
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Nytegard

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Stuff like this always interests me, due to how the programmers got something working with such limitations. You look at these games, and they were usually written in less space than an empty modern day program which just links the runtime library. Efficiency is an artform that has been lost, because no one really cares about it anymore.
 

PhaseNoise

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May 11, 2005
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Stuff like this always interests me, due to how the programmers got something working with such limitations. You look at these games, and they were usually written in less space than an empty modern day program which just links the runtime library. Efficiency is an artform that has been lost, because no one really cares about it anymore.
4k addressable memory space total, and the kicker - 128 bytes of RAM. Yes, it required black magic to do anything! Stuff like this is neat, as is a rather expansive game (for the time) like Indiana Jones. Cool tricks every step of the way.

As for efficiency, it's honestly not lost and unknown but instead it is not funded by those signing the checks usually. They unflinchingly pick the option which means something to the market a little faster, to pathological levels. They are often graded on the time of development, but often not graded on performance at all.
 
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sfsuphysics

I don't get it
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Jan 14, 2007
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Stuff like this always interests me, due to how the programmers got something working with such limitations. You look at these games, and they were usually written in less space than an empty modern day program which just links the runtime library. Efficiency is an artform that has been lost, because no one really cares about it anymore.
Well the reason for that was efficiency translated to dollars, because you had physical memory chips you put into a game and there was some upper limit to how many of said memory chips you could use. Once removable media came about then you really didn't need to do all those tricks and what not, and to be honest why would you? Throw another floppy disk in the box, 650MB of space on that CD, all it takes is your ISP data cap space, etc... work on making the games good not on making them efficient. Try not to let nostalgia blind you to how great old games were, because most of the games on the Atari 2600 were not good at all (and yes I played quite a few back in the day, i.e. not on an emulator)
 
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You never would just 'throw in' another floppy as that really impacted your profit margins (as there was an upper limit considered viable for games sales) without first trying something else. The other trade off was disk flipping; you had to keep common items on the disk in the drive so you weren't always jumping back to disk 1. There was an old interview with Ken Williams of Sierra On-line fame where he got into the nitty-gritty of this when KQ4 or 5 came out and they started splitting boxes between the graphics capabilities (PC EGA/CGA or 286/VGA) in addition to the platform splits. CD-ROMs really rescued the industry as it simplified production.
 
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