Friday, July 27, 2012

Writing A Commodore 64 BASIC Program On A C64 Emulator: A Christmas Candle [UPDATED]

Going back to a retro computer system is interesting. Especially when you go back to develop software for it. That's exactly what I did. Using WinVice, a Commodore 64 Emulator that most people probably use to play those old C64 games that you can find on the Internet, and using BASIC, that old, somewhat easy to get into, interpreted and insanely slow programming language that was usually bundled with most 8-bit computers, I set about recreating a classic family Christmastime memory.

In the Beginning

Back in the early 1980s I created a flickering candle as a sort of demo/entertainment program to run during the Christmas Holiday. I wrote it in BASIC and I wrote it on my TRS-80 Color Computer. It took a couple days to figure out and write and I had to use a tape player as a storage device. Anybody who remembers those days remembers how time consuming and error prone that tended to be.  I was pretty proud of myself for accomplishing this and rightly so.

Now, I've decided to redo that program on the C64 emulator WinVice. Since I don't have that tape with the program on it anymore nor any sort of printout of the source code I'm having to reconstruct the program from memory and whatever skills I have as a retro computer programmer.

We'll see if I have the programming chops to pull this off.

Okay, so I finally finished this project and it feels good to do so. It didn't take me as long as I thought it would and I ran into fewer problems than I thought I would. I attribute that to having a plan (somewhat) and structuring my code (as much as possible in BASIC.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Quick Update

Due to the death of my grandfather last week (June 26th) and the subsequent funeral I've not really posted much. I am sorry for that.

I have a few topics I'd like to start posting about in the near future. One is programming. I was going to do a small series on 8-bit, game related, BASIC programming, specifically for the Commodore 64, but I ran into some problems with the emulator (WinVice) and the fact that it messed up my line numbers when I tried to do a very basic program. I guess my current paradigm of programming is a little different than the spaghetti method I used to use in the 80s. I may still do that once I get my real C64 out of storage and setup somewhere.

Another project I am looking at is learning Python. I've dabbled with it a little bit so I was thinking of developing a series of easy to implement games starting with a simple text adventure. This was how I used to learn new flavors of BASIC back in the 1980s. I figured with a few text base games under my belt I could move onto PyGames and then, eventually, Panda3D.