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If you find this interesting, I'd highly recommend "Racing the Beam" by Montfort and Bogost, which talks about Atari development from both a technical and a cultural perspective. It really goes into detail about some of the landmark games that introduced new techniques to push the platform to the edges of its capabilities (e.g. the scrolling and color-shifting "neutral zone" in Yar's Revenge was actually created by repurposing the game's machine code as opposed to being algorithmically generated)

The first thing to know about the crazy limitations of Atari 2600 development is this number: 128.

That's how much RAM there was. That's 128 bytes. The entire in-memory program state was one eighth of a kilobyte. Then imagine everything else was limited like this. It's hard to understand how challenging it was to get a coherent game out of this thing.

Someone who was really inspired by "Racing the Beam" to try 2600 programming recently was Xbox daddy Ed Fries. Here's him talking about what he made:


Yes, it's a loving rendition of Halo on the 2600 platform! You can even play it now online:


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