Tuesday, January 31, 2012

RetroChallenge Wrap-Up

The end of the RetroChallenge Winter Warmup is here.  It's time for an alpha test release of Fahrfall!

Last Minute Details

Astute observers of my videos might note that the "FAHRFALL" on the title screen has been changing a bit.  I wanted something not only that would reflect the relative sizes and speeds of each scroll from the background of the game but also that would be readable and that would look reasonably good.  After a lot of tweaking, I think that what I have now is looking just about right.

Another little detail for the alpha release is that I have added an "ALPHA TEST 1" label to the title screen.  This should clarify which version is running if there are any issues reported with the binary.  Also, it clarifies that this is not the final version of Fahrfall.

Alpha Test Release

I wasn't sure about how to release Fahrfall.  I fully expect to release the source code at some point.  However, I haven't yet gone to the trouble of adding all the proper license info and such to the source tree.  For that matter, I haven't even decided on a proper license for the source.  I'm not at all sure that the average CoCoNut is prepared to deal with having obligations under the GPL! :-)

Anyway, for now I figure that anyone interested in Fahrfall mostly just wants to play it.  Frankly, playing Fahrfall and commenting on it is the best way for anyone to help me right now.  So, I decided to just do a binary release along with a license to allow anyone to (re-)distribute it.

Fahrfall alpha test #1 LOADM binary: fahrfall.bin
BASIC loader for Fahrfall: fahrfall.bas
Disk image containing the above: fahrfall.dsk
Legal information regarding all of the above: LICENSE.TXT

SHA1 checksum values for all of the above: SHA1SUM
Detached GPG signature for SHA1SUM: SHA1SUM.sig

Don't be too freaked-out by the license file!  I am just allergic to releasing software without some sort of license attached.  This license just gives you the right to distribute the Fahrfall binary in case you want to pass it around.  I lifted it from the license file that a number of hardware vendors use to distribute their firmware for use with Linux.  If you somehow feel it is too restrictive, then feel free to contact me so we can work something out!

The disk image contains a BASIC loader for the machine language binary.  So you should only need the following command to run the game:


I tested the above on a CoCo2 using DriveWire 4.  All seems well for that setup.  If you are using an emulator, well, then YMMV.

I have done a lot of development using the "-quickload" option to the MESS emulator.  So, you can imagine my surprise when Fahrfall crashed in MESS when loading from a disk image!  I am prepared to believe that Fahrfall is doing something wrong, but I don't have time to figure that out right now.  Given that Fahrfall is running fine on real hardware, figuring-out what might be wrong with MESS isn't my highest priority.

Another emulator that is popular with CoCoNuts is VCC.  I tested Fahrfall with VCC and while the colors seemed wrong (i.e. too dark), Fahrfall seemed to work alright.  Of course VCC claims to emulate a CoCo3 -- so Fahrfall should not have run at all!!  Well, whatever...as I said, YMMV...

Add some comments below if you have trouble using the binaries!  Also, feel free to comment below or to contact me off-line if you find bugs with Fahrfall or if you have serious suggestions for how to improve the game.

So, RetroChallenge has been fun!  I had intended to work on Fahrfall as an exhibit for CoCoFEST! anyway.  But the opportunity to be part of a little competition was motivating.  If nothing else, the deadline helped me to keep some focus.  Now I just have to catch-up with my DVR, etc... :-)

One problem with having a retro-computing hobby is that so few people seem to grok what it is all about.  So, it is rewarding to have an outlet to reach a few other people with the same kind of wierd interests as me.  It was even more rewarding to find that my silly little blog on Fahrfall was interesting enough to gather over 1200 page views from around the world in less than a month's time!  Who is the wierdo now?  Hmmm? ;-)

Fahrve Marches On!

Anyway, no one should read this as the end.  Fahrfall isn't done yet!  I might slow-down a bit on the blog posts, but there is still some progress to be made.  Plus, I have to get Fahrfall ready to exhibit at Maker Faire NC and CoCoFEST!  I recently got a Pelican Case for my CoCo stuff, so I might expand to some other vintage computing events as well -- feel free to suggest some venues! :-)

The Fahrfall updates will continue for a while yet to come.  As always, please continue to watch this space!


  1. Oh, forgot to mention that Fahrfall needs a joystick plugged into the left joystick port. If you are using an emulator, you'll need to check how to emulate that (numeric keypad for MESS, at least the one here).

  2. Great stuff! Thanks for taking part - I always find Retrochallenge a great way to focus effort for a month, hopefully with an appreciating audience.

    Regards, Urbancamo

  3. Fahrfall is already looking like a polished and playable game. I only have a CoCo3 so I'm sad to see your comment that it probably won't run on it. :(

    Well done - what a great achievement for a month's work.

    -- lizardb0y

    1. It looks like there are some POKEs to make the CoCo3 _almost_ display things correctly -- the score won't look right but the basic graphics should be OK. I'll try to experiment with that and make something available for the CoCo3 before too long.

      Thanks for the nice comments!

  4. Hi John.

    Congratulations on the Alpha release of Fahrfall. I have enjoyed following your progress during the 2012 Winter Warmup RetroChallenge!

    Your hard work was an inspiration to me, and I'm sure many other RetroChallengers.

    Andrew Hazelden

    1. Thanks for the nice words, Andrew! Your IRIX Soccer game looks good too!

  5. How can I play it on my PC (Athlon 2200+, Windows XP)?
    I do not know what kind of emulator can use...

    1. Please see the links for MESS and VCC in the text -- have fun!

  6. Hello fellow weirdo! Just for fun I started to learn assembly for my old Sharp PC-1360 pocket computer. I just started to turn my attention to the coco (I had a coco 3) and much to my surprise there are people still tinkering. Here's to being a weirdo!

    1. Welcome, Lee...I hope you are enjoying some retro goodness!

      It is always nice to know that there are other folks that are the same kind of crazy as you... :-)