SourceEditor and Character Editor complete

Time for a quick update on the development environment.

The Main code editor is almost complete (I think). I have written it from scratch, using a canvas, to allow me total control over it.
It has full syntax highlighting that is changeable, dependent on the assembler being used and code folding. I still have to implement the source navigation and search facilities.
The project manager is also in place and 80% functional. As I work on other parts of the project that impact on it, I will make the changes then.

Picture 1

The basic character set editor is now finished. At present, it only saves to binary format, so the character set can be directly included in the source, but I may also add an export facility to create source code.

Picture 2

The preferences window is being created as I do each area of the main program, therefore, I have done the Code Editor and Character Editor sections only, so far.

Picture 4
Picture 5

ACDS Continued...

I have been cracking on with the development environment (Horace seems to have taken a slight back seat while I do this).
So far, I have a character set editor built, the project manager and half the source editor.
I have decided to concentrate on on assemblers for now (sorry C coders), but version 2 may include C compiler facilities.
I am also not limiting it to any particular assemblers, although it will ship with default settings for ATASM, MADS and XASM. Other assemblers can easily be added to it.
One thing I didn’t mention in the original post about this project is that it will be available for both Windows and OS X. I’ve using Real Studio to develop it, which is a great cross platform development system.
Anyway, here is a pic of the startup screen for you:

ACDS startup screen

Atari Computer Development System (ACDS)

As I am developing Atari software now, I have been on the look out for the best tools to help me. So far, the best I have found is Eclipse with the WUDSN plug-in. This makes coding assembly for either the MADS or ATASM assemblers a dream. For user-defined graphics, I have been using EnvisionPC (which I recompiled for Mac), which has also saved me a lot of time.
However, looking for decent tools, I came across something for Spectrum developers that would be ideal for Atari developers. There is an integrated system for the Spectrum called Tommy Gun. This incorporates graphics tools, code editor, assembler and screen editor all in one. Such a thing would be a dream for any developer, regardless of the system being developed for.
So (you guessed it), I am looking at creating something similar for Atari development. As far as I can tell, it would have to have the following:
  • Code editor - This would definitely have to be for assembly (allowing for MASDS, ATASM, CA65 and XASM syntax’s), but possibly also C and maybe Effectus and Atalan. For those last two, I would need to either research the syntax thoroughly, or contact the authors directly.
  • Font/UDG editor - This is a must in my opinion. Most games use some form of custom graphics or text, so the ability to design them within the development environment would be fantastic. The resultant fonts would also have to be exportable into a number of formats, including (but not limited to), various assemblers, C, Effectus, Action!, Atalan, Quick, Forth, TurboBasic and good old Atari BASIC. Also, an option to save the fonts directly as binary would be marvellous.
  • Sprite editor - The Atari is well known for its sprites, or Player/Missile Graphics (PMGs), and again, these are used in most games that are compiled into machine code. Even some BASIC games use PMGs with machine language routines. Again, these would need to be exported in the formats listed above, as well as binary.
  • Screen designer - Nothing as advanced as Graph2Font, but it would be useful to have a screen designer that allowed the creation of screen images in ALL of the Ataris ANTIC modes, maybe even combined ANTIC modes. These could then be used for loading screens or possible game screens for faster transitions. Right now, I am not too sure about graphics formats on the Atari, so I figure the best way would be to save these as binary and if required, a linked custom display list.
  • Sound/Music editor - T this would have to be the last stage of the project. As I have no idea about accepted formats of sound or music with the Atari 8-bits yet, I will need to research these. I may leave these out altogether, depending on what I find.
So, anyway, that is my plans for I am currently calling the Atari Computer Development System, but I’m sure I can come up with a better name before the project is finished.

Hungry Horace has begun

For my first Atari 8-bit project in many years, and my first assembly project ever, I have decided to remake a ZX spectrum classic, Hungry Horace.
Cassette Inlay
Hungry Horace was originally written by William Tang for Beam Software/Melbourne House in 1982. It was quickly followed by two sequels and Horace himself became a kind of mascot for the Spectrum in the early years.
The game is a Pac-Man inspired game, but as the title character, it is your goal to eat the flowers in the park, whilst avoiding the grumpy park wardens. Fortunately, you can make the wardens panic for a short time by ringing a bell. This then allows you to kick them out of the park temporarily.
More information about Hungry Horace can be found on the World of Spectrum site.
Why am I remaking a game? And why this game?
Loading Screen
Well, I decided to do a remake first so that I didn’t have to come up with the game ideas, layout, etc. Also the graphics were already designed, so it would be a simple case of converting them to the Atari resolutions. This freed me up to concentrate on the actual coding of the game. Rather than disassembling the original and then converting the code from Z80 assembler to 6502, I am writing this from scratch, trying my best to get the game mechanics to work in a similar fashion to the original.
As to why this game. That is simply because it is a fairly simple game: It fit into a 16K Spectrum, it only has four levels, limited graphics and hardly any sound in the original. Plus, it is a game I played way back in the early eighties and I am very familiar with it.
My plans for the remake are to make it more colourful and hopefully have some decent sounds and music. It’s not an overly ambitious project, and I’m hoping it doesn’t take too long to complete.
If things work out as well as I am hoping, I may also create Atari versions of the two official sequels: Horace Goes Skiing and Horace And The Spiders.