Star Castle for Atari VCS

D. Scott Williamson's "impossible" adaptation

In the fifth chapter of Racing the Beam, Nick and I discuss Howard Scott Warshaw’s popular Atari game Yars’ Revenge. The game is often called Atari’s most successful original game for the Atari 2600, but in fact it was originally meant to be an adaptation of Star Castle, a then-popular vector-graphics game by Cinematronics. But, because of the very different… read more

Atari VCS Programming in TextMate

An easier way to make Atari games on your Mac

Download the TextMate Atari VCS Support Installer (Mac OS X 10.5+, 60k) Several years ago I was really getting heavily into Atari VCS programming—for teaching, for art, and for research on Racing the Beam. VCS programming is notoriously hard at first, but like anything once you get the hang of it, it feels natural. What never felt natural, however, was… read more

An Atari Travels

My VCS Goes to GDC

As you may remember, I brought my Atari out to GDC for the Independent Game Festival. It’s been having an unusual time indeed during its travels, and I believe it hasn’t seen this much excitement in some 33 years. Here are some highlights: In the Delta SkyClub Stowed under the seat in front of me At the baggage carousel In… read more

Panic for Atari

Broken dreams and cool boxes

Panic Software, who makes Mac utilities like Transmit (an FTP client) and Unison (a USENET client), has created a set of hypothetical boxes and watercolor box art, as if their apps had been made for the Atari 2600. You can buy them online. They are insanely awesome.

Atari Reborn (Again)

New in-browser emulators for classic Atari games

Atari has been through a lot as a company. Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney founded it in 1972. They sold it to Warner Communication in 1976. Ray Kassar ran it through the crash of 1983, after which he was forced out due to accusations of insider trading. Warner split Atari into Atari Games (arcade) and Atari Consumer Electronics (hardware). The… read more

Atari Hacks and Demakes

My Spring 2010 seminar

Some of you might be interested in this, the course description for my Spring 2010 graduate seminar/studio course, LCC 8823 Special Topics in Game Design and Analysis: The Atari Video Computer System: Hacks and Demakes In this intensive seminar, we will explore every aspect of the Atari VCS (2600), the most important early home videogame console. Based on a critical-technical… read more

Atari VCS Programming in Xcode, Revisited

I’ve finally updated my Xcode Tools for Atari VCS Development, such that syntax coloring works in Xcode 3.1. Apple keeps changing the specifications for it, so every version I have to figure out how it works again and retool. This is just a pointer post for those of you who keep track of such things.

Learning from Atari 2600

Coverage of my GDC Talk

Lots to catch up on as I return to the real world from Spring Break and GDC. In the meantime, you can read Dan Terdiman’s coverage of my last GDC talk, Learning from the Atari 2600, over on Additionally, finally got Racing the Beam back in stock!

How Atari 2600’s Crazy Hardware Changed Game Design

Wired's Chris Kohler on Racing the Beam

Chris Kohler, author of Power Up and games writer at Wired penned a nice piece on Racing the Beam for Wired’s Game|Life blog. One of the ideas we discuss in the book that Kohler picks up on is the fact that the Atari was manufactured and supported until 1992, albeit in increasingly smaller numbers. Today it’s almost impossible to imagine… read more

Venture Brothers Does Atari

Two Digital Video Discs

Speaking of the Atari VCS, Georgia Tech colleague David Terraso pointed out to me that the cover art for the third season DVD release of The Venture Bros. is styled after an original Atari game box. (Venture Bros. is one of the animated shows in Adult Swim on Cartoon Network.) The results are impressively styled indeed: I like how the… read more