Sunday, March 5, 2017

Atari 2600 Homebrewing 2 New Ongoing Features Coming Soon!

So, I'm trying really hard to get back into the Atari 2600 Homebrewing community.  I was on the ground floor 15 years ago when the modern era of VCS homebrewing was just getting going.  There were maybe 4-6 homebrew games coming out per year and only those who were really in love with coding for the old girl were behind that output.  Now, things have dramatically changed.  I've been on the fringiest fringe of the Atari 2600 community for a long time now, taking a hiatus to get married, have a kid, change careers and be otherwise pretty cash poor.  During that time, the 2600 homebrewing scene has exploded.  Advances in programming like the sometimes controversial batariBasic platform which allows novice programmers access to advanced tools to create some really sharp games, and hardware advances like the AtariVox and Harmony cart have accelerated the Atari 2600 into the Internet Age.

I sometimes feel like I am a piece of 40 year old hardware that is struggling to keep up with the rapidly changing times.  I may never fully understand the functionality of some of these advances, and many of them will go right over my head, BUT there is one thing I still know how to do, and that's play video games.  So as I work my way back into the 2600 Homebrewing universe,  I'm coming at it the only way I know how: as a gamer.

As a part of this effort, I'm going to create two new features here on Electric Frankfurter that will hopefully help keep me on track and keep the ol' blog updated with new content on a more regular basis.  The first project is an ongoing development tracker which will be my attempt to stay abreast of any and all homebrew games in development for the Atari 2600.  This is going to be tricky in the current climate with so many developers out there working on both the original assembly programming platform and the new batariBasic platform and who knows what else.  It used to be that 90% of Atari homebrewing was concentrated in the community; a community in which I still participate and strongly recommend as one of the best places to hang out on the internet.  I will be using Atariage and a couple of other outlets as my primary source for the goings-on in the homebrew world.  However, I would love any heads up from you, the humble reader, if you are aware of an active project that I have missed.  I want to keep this project tracker as a way of knowing for myself what is coming up as well as perhaps provide a valuable resource to the homebrewing community.  It is my intention to update the tracker weekly at a minimum and more often if there is more activity.

The second project is a spotlight feature that will showcase a Homebrew of the Month.  I was fortunate enough to free up a little scratch in my budget with which I plan to purchase a new homebrew game every month, play it to exhaustion, and then report on it here.  My goal is to increase awareness of the homebrew community and specific games that I am playing.  I may also choose to feature some of the incredible games from my already respectable homebrew library (see pic above for a glimpse at that library).  There are so many incredible games out there for the Atari 2600, I want as many people playing them and supporting the community as possible.  In some instances I will also provide more in-depth game play guides, maps, strategies, etc.  This will be much like the old, much revered, Closer Look feature from the early days of EF, but with the focus on new "old" games that you shouldn't miss.

So with any luck, I'm going to try to rev up the engine and give EF its vigor back by indulging in an aspect of my video game hobby that has long been under-enjoyed.  Come along with me, check out some cool games for the most classic video game system ever, and join in the conversation.  It'll be fun.

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