A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

[Let's Play] Party Like its 1987! Let's Experience the Atari Computer! Part Something: Some Atari Books and Other Retro Goodness. (Also Retro Computing Why Bother Post!)

Every now and then I get new Atari 8 bit goodies and sometimes other goodies.  Let's show them, and have STORYTIME!
(As always click for bigger.  You know the drill!)
For around 20 bucks shipped I got these lovely retro games for PCs.  Mostly Windows 9x era or a DOS title in Thunderscape's case.  Heavy Gear goes into my Hobby Games Gone Electronic niche, and Quake Mission Pack 1 goes into my Id Games niche.  While I need a TON of HGGE, for Id I am getting closer and closer to having them all.  4 more Mission Packs for Quake 1-3, Quake 4, Quake Wars, Rage, Heretic, and Hexen 2 and I should be pretty much complete unless I want every Raven Software game made with Id engines.  (Though the Wolfenstein games fit this.  Wouldn't mind Blake Stone either.  Luckily I already have Shadowcaster which is also an Origin joint.)

Suprisingly enough Heavy Gear generally seems to RUN in Windows 7!!  I have Compatibility Mode on Windows 95 and it goes.  The in case manual is little more than key commands and installation instructions though.  And because I have a Glide Wrapper to handle 3DFX Voodoo 3D, I can run it in that mode.   Sadly the out of game menus are all graphically glitchy and nigh unviewable in some cases even when I switch to 16 bit color or try 256 color modes.  (I have Administrator to Run settings on but for Windows 7 you basically HAVE TO.  And some programs run best in the C: drive directory as a folder whilst others would be happiest in Program Files or Program Files (X86).  If your programs run oddly try putting it in one of these other locations!)

Also being a Win 95 era game the glory of WASD controls isn't there so you have to go through a VERY tedious remapping system in game.  Also there doesn't seem to be any other resolution modes but 640 by 480.  Oh well.  It can go chill on the Win 98 SE rig.  It doesn't care that I have a mouse wheel or two extra mouse buttons either which for this game would be VERY useful.  Might as well go back to the older rig for this one!

But it works so I am a happy *Camper* and it will do.  I would prefer having the full manual but it was super cheap and I already have the cluebook.

The Quake Mission Pack on the other hand works fine.  It installed nicely in Dosbox for Dos Quaking, and with a little bit of Shortcut modifiying:
(As seen at:  http://www.dosgamers.com/ .  I tend to make things like cheatsheets or quickie pages for things using Snipping Tool.  It is very useful.  Screencaptures made easy!  Reorganized maps for RPGs!  Things that won't let you copy a picture!  Easy peasy!)

I'm in the start of the second third of the game right now and overall I like this mission pack over the original Quake solo campaign.  It is a bit more challenging without being ridiculous, and adds in new monsters like this Gremlin dude who will nick your stuff or do things to dudes you already killed like this elite Knight.  Also a pair of energy weapons which are pretty fun and an alternate Grenade Launcher that shoots sticky bombs that explode after like 20 seconds or so unless an enemy gets close then BOOM.  Lots of fun level designs in this pack.  Sadly this trimester took away all my stuff as Quake is wont to do so I have to regain it all.

And even using a new item which summons a random monster to fight for me doesn't help against the big guys.  The summoned dog died quickly then I joined the poor murderpooch.

I haven't installed Thunderscape yet but its a party RPG SSI tried to get going as a franchise after they lost the D&D license.  It.. did not exactly light the world on fire.  The game looks cool though.  I could have gotten it off of GOG.com for about a third of the six whole US Dollars I paid for it, but I am a big boy who can manage to use Dosbox or an actual DOS rig.  And I like having real manuals and disks because I am stupid.
But now on to STORYTIME!
Meet the two most helpful members of the DINORINES!  They are Blades and Heatwave.  They each cost 4 dollars which is less than a proper Iced Latte.  I couldn't say no to them joining my collection of Dinorines!  

I got this faded but reasonably priced Compute!'s First Book of Atari Graphics for like MSRP shipped.  It is an old book but I do wish to learn how to program sometime and having another nicely priced book for my Atari 8 bit collection is always welcome.  (When I can afford it.)

The book is about 250 pages long and has helpful charts like this one showing the various graphics modes available to the Atari 8 bit line and what they do and how much RAM it eats.

Some practice and educational programs to type in to learn as you read which is a great way to make words in a book stick into your brain meats.  I generally read and forget a lot unless things reinforce it or refresh my memory.  If I don't, it falls out of my memories, much like poor Heatwave's head in this picture.

It also has an in depth section on the GTIA chip which is like the main graphics chip most of the Atari 8 bit line had outside of the earliest releases of the 400/800 machines.  Read some of the text in these pages if you would like and learn how the Atari owns the Apple IIs and even gives the mighty Commodore 64 a run for it's money!  (The original chip, the CTIA has a few less graphics modes and only 128 color choices.)

Heatwave is excited that we can see if my Atari 800 is a later revision with the GTIA chip.  So much so that his dino nose is hiding a GOTO statement.

Some of the many wonderful Compute! books you could buy back in the early 80s.  On this list I would like the First Book of Robots and Computers, Mapping the Atari, and Machine Language for Beginners.

Blades and Heatwave are happy to show my hardcopy Atari books and reference guides!  They are so happy they go to talk to the rest of the Dinorines about it so we can all learn Atari programming together and maybe make a list of books to pick up and to keep our eyes opened for!

(As opposed to just getting PDFs from Atarimania.  Again I am stupid and like owning physical copies.)

Sadly the bigger Dinorines just don't care.  Slug and Scorn are more interested in spending money on marijuana, hard liquor, and hookers.

(They are also awaiting their other teammates who aren't out in stores yet.  They are however sober enough to have read spoilers for the movie they barely feature in and know that would be an even worse waste of money than buying old computer games and books.  Or toy robots who turn into dinosaurs.

As to the other books I kind of am on the hunt for?

Atari 130XE Machine Language for the Absolute Beginner

Atari for the Beginning Beginner

Compute!'s Atari Collection - Volume 1 and Volume 2

Compute!'s Second Book of Atari Graphics

Compute!'s First Book of Atari Games

How to Program Your Atari in 6502 Machine Language

Mapping the Atari - Revised Edition

The Second Book of Machine Language

Writing Strategy Games on Your Atari

Now these aren't all the books I would like plus of course I would love to have original manuals for all my games and devices but time, money, space, and availability are all major considerations.

But.. take the time with your old hardware and LEARN IT.  Don't just play games or continually tinker with the hardware because you have some odd idealized idea of how it should operate.  

Get to know your machine.  Don't hoard stuff for it.  Expand and ENJOY IT as much as possible.  Plus books are awesome and everyone should read more real books.

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I like to play nerd games! I am a nerd! Join our nerd ways at https://www.facebook.com/groups/112040385527428/