Acorn's application note for games programmers
Mattijs van Delden's abandoned Pinball game
Writing software for Acorn computers is, in some respects, a lot easier than
writing for many other computers. There is an excellent version of BASIC
built in, and the Operating System provides support for lots of primitive
operations necessary in games, such as sprite plotting. Having a standard OS,
sound and video system means we aren't plagued with the compatibility issues
afflicting PC programmers - it is not necessary to test work on hundreds of
different video and sound cards (although Windows 95 went some
way to alleviating these problems). Writing code which works on all Acorn machines
is not too difficult, although with the advent of the Risc PC things have
become a little more complex if it is intended to provide more advanced
facilities for those with more powerful computers.
In the early days of home computers it was taken for granted that the best
published games would be written in 100% machine code. Early computers were
much slower and so this was often necessary to achieve a reasonable speed
of execution, but modern computers are far faster, and very often the speed
of assembly language is not required, except, possibly, for a few core pieces
of code which are either executed very often, or must execute very quickly.
It is quite feasible to write entire games in pure BASIC - and many people
have done so. For some games which are not speed-critical BASIC is perfectly
adequate, whilst for fast-moving games BASIC can be more limiting, although
a combination of assembly language and BASIC can be a good compromise. Many
recent games have been written mainly in C, a popular compiled language for
which a few different compilers are available, sometimes with core plotting
routines written in hand-optimised assembly language, although since C
compiles to produce machine-code this is often not necessary.
It doesn't take a genius to notice that many games rely on the same core
routines - mainly fast sprite-plotting routines, although some games
rely instead on speedy 3D algorithms. As a result there a few libraries of
such routines available, allowing programmers to avoid the drudgery of
writing their own, or enabling those not capable of writing them themselves
to take advantage of their speed.
Although not exactly a work of genius, aspiring games programmers might like
to have at least a cursory read of
application note for games programmers, which I've formatted in html.
Here's a couple of pages all about the development of Matthew (Mattijs) van Delden's abandoned Pinball game. The game may have been
abandoned but someone might still find this interesting.
You could also try connecting to the
Game Programming home page.
Alternatively try The Nexus, some games development pages at the Games Domain.
...this page last updated: 14/9/96...
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