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Atari 2600 “Myst” Demake

Atari 2600 “Myst” Demake

2023-06-23 11:58:34

Atari 2600 “Myst” Demake

How a lot of MYST are you able to run on a 4k 16k Atari 2600 cartridge?


I used to be performing some Atari programming and thought I might check out Myst.
It is nowhere close to a whole sport, for that try my
Apple II demake version

Present Standing

The aim is to finish sufficient to do a speedrun (you may beat authentic
Myst in a short time solely visiting a tiny a part of the sport in case you already
know all of the solutions). I will add a couple of of the puzzles to make it
a “actual” sport.

Presently you may stroll round an honest quantity of Myst island.
You may flip the marker switches.
You may have a look at the brother’s books.
You may go to D’ni and lose the sport (white web page is not applied but).

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Here is a video of the gameplay for model 1.2:

Technical Notes

A little bit of a writeup might be learn here

A little bit of rambling on the graphics capabilities:

The sport engine makes use of ZX02 compression for every scene.
Every scene’s graphcis are restricted (on account of varied {hardware} limitations)
to 256 compressed bytes, which implies I typically have
to simplify the graphics to suit. Every scene has an uneven playfield.
Graphics are 40×48 to simplify issues a bit. Every line might be two colours,
foreground and background. We repair the background to a single coloration.
The foreground coloration can change every 4-line block. I take advantage of sprite1 as an
8-block broad supply of extra coloration, so one additional coloration per line
however solely in an 8-block broad column of the display.
You additionally get an elective one-block broad vertical line
(missile0) which is similar coloration because the pointer. The engine
permits the right-side of the display to alternate background coloration
every-other-line although it is unclear if that is helpful or not.

When uncompressed the graphics are 448 bytes
that are quickly saved within the 2k RAM provided by the E7 cartridge
(by default a 2600 solely has 128 bytes of RAM).


Observe: these had been captured with the Stella emulator.

If you wish to see screenshots from the unique 4k proof of idea
you could find them here

System Necessities


Disk Photos


The way to Play

  • One of the best ways in fact is on an precise Atari 2600
  • You may obtain the photographs above and run in an emulator like Stella or MAME
  • You may in principle play it in

    on Javatari
    (word, till just lately there was a bug in Javatari’s
    E7 cartridge emulation. I’ve contributed a repair however unsure how
    lengthy it’ll take to get merged)
  • Lastly it’s also possible to
    probably play in your browser on the web archive.


  • Q. Why?

    A. As a result of

  • Q. The graphics look fairly dangerous.

    A. It takes quite a lot of work to make good graphics. Every scene
    is kind of a procedurally generated demo.
    By default you solely have a 20-bit (sure, bit) framebuffer,
    and you may solely draw one line a time, with solely two
    colours in it. Something greater than that’s somebody
    being actually actually intelligent in 6502 meeting language.

  • Q. Are you going to do the entire sport?.

    A. No. Regardless that you may get fancy bank-switch cartridges
    today I want to work throughout the limitations of
    the time. Additionally to do the total sport requires at the very least
    800 scenes, which might be roughly 200k, which might
    be each a fairly hefty cartridge in addition to lots
    of graphics to attract.

  • Q. How did you discover ways to make Atari 2600 video games in
    lower than a month?

    A. Loads of expertise I’ve from my Apple II interest immediately switch.
    6502 meeting, 6502 size-coding, 40×48 lo-res block graphics,
    beam-racing demos. Doing beam racing is definitely a lot
    simpler on the 2600 than on the Apple II as a result of WSYNC

  • Q. How do you make the graphics?

    A. I run the unique sport beneath SCUMMVM. I take a screenshot
    and cargo it into GIMP. I crop it, elevate the brighness
    a bit, then dimension to 40×48.
    I then remap to the Atari 2600 palette (no dithering).
    I increase to 80×48 for enhancing. I then draw over by hand.
    The largest problem is selecting what coloration to be the
    background coloration. It is usually black or darkish gray.
    When executed I manually cut up issues up into two pictures,
    background and overlay. I then have instruments that convert
    these PNG recordsdata into information that may be loaded into the
    meeting language of the sport.

Improvement Notes

22 June 2023 — Launch v1.8

It is Mysterium time once more so engaged on issues once more. Added two new
areas. Additionally tracked down the bug in E7 cartridge dealing with in
Javatari that was making issues crash. It wasn’t correctly turning off RAM
once we swap ROM again in. I’ve contributed a repair upstream, we’ll see
if it will get mounted.

23 December 2022 — Launch v1.7

Lastly had a while to work on issues once more. Lastly bought glitch-free
(multi-frame) decompression to work, at the very least on Stella.
So can possibly now work on options once more.

1 October 2022

Work has stalled a bit, partly as a result of the semester has began, however
additionally on account of being caught on some advanced code. Curently the graphics
are compressed, and decompressing them takes 3 or so frames. Whereas this
seems high quality on the stella emulator, in case you go 3 frames with out SYNCing the
show you may get annoying glitches on actual {hardware} (or at the very least you
do on the NTSC seize playing cards I’ve). So I have been engaged on having
the decompression occur in components with correct sync occurring and it is
proving to be a bit troublesome.

31 August 2022— Launch v1.6

Spent quite a lot of time monitoring down some points with my E7 financial institution switching.
Ought to work on mame and concord cart once more.

30 August 2022— Launch v1.5

You may transfer round D’ni now and bug Atrus. Attempting to determine how a lot
room I will must implement some puzzles.

28 August 2022— Launch v1.4

Acquired sidetracked on a side project.

Anyway you may make it to D’ni now, though not one of the puzzles
or pages are attached correctly.

16 August 2022— Launch v1.3

Now you can attain all 8 marker switches.

12 August 2022— Launch v1.2

Now you may get to (and activate)
three of the marker switches, plus you may examine
the crimson/blue books within the library. This concerned making the book-drawing
code generic which was a little bit of a ache.

I might estimate the cartridge is about half full now.

See Also

10 August 2022

Now as much as 18 completely different areas you may go to. Want to begin including again
the code that allows you to seize objects.

5 August 2022— Launch v1.1

Everybody desires to see extra ranges, so I am studying tips on how to use an E7-style
financial institution swap cartridge (16k ROM / 2k RAM). I am hoping I can put an honest
quantity of Myst island on it. The kernel/engine I’ve takes 448 bytes
for every display, however I’m utilizing ZX02 compression to suit much more in
(although it is tough decompressing to the RAM). The compressed information
has to slot in 256 bytes per stage, which might be tough for advanced ranges.

I’ve bought the 4k model roughly transferred over (although I needed to
simplify a few of the ranges) and you may very barely stroll about now.
It ought to be extra as I discover time so as to add new ranges.

29 July 2022— Launch v1.0

Powered by way of and did a 1.0 launch. As all the time there are most likely
extra necessary issues I ought to be engaged on, but it surely’s laborious to
not work on issues till I get at the very least one launch out the door.

A lot of the work was including animation to the cleft and e-book scenes,
optimizing dimension down, making an attempt to approximate the linking noise,
and work on the arrival display. Not solely proud of how
the arrival display turned out however was working low on ROM so
some compromises had been made.

28 July 2022

Completed the clock scene. Redid quite a lot of the design as I’ve
realized extra about how the VCS works. Additionally put collectively the rocket
graphics. Attempting to have a 2-scanline kernel if potential however maintain
rolling over to 4-scanline as I run out of cycles.

27 July 2022

Acquired the linking e-book in respectable form. Really feel like I have been decently
intelligent with it.

26 July 2022

Engaged on the star cleft. Wasted quite a lot of time making an attempt to make good
trying stars, actually ought to lookup how video games like Solaris do it.
Was making an attempt to have an HMOVE of seven after which skipping 8 scanlines
so issues had been comparatively prime, however did not actually work out that properly.

24 July 2022

Acquired secret accumulate roughly completed so again to engaged on Myst.
It was too bold a undertaking to begin with, issues are going a bit
simpler now that I’ve realized some issues.

Other Demakes

Other VMW Software Demos

Other Atari Projects

Back to the VMW Software Productions Page

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