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Gopher2600

Gopher2600 is an emulator for the Atari 2600 written in the Go language. The accuracy of the emulation is very high and the 6507, TIA and RIOT chips appear to operate without bugs. Certainly, there are no known outstanding issues with any of the emulated chips.

It compare favourably with Stella except for speed and final project polish.

The key features of the emulator:

The graphical debugger is still in development but the current features include:

  • CPU and Video stepping
  • Breakpoints, traps, watches on various CPU, TIA, RIOT targets
  • Interactive rewinding
  • Specialist windows for specific cartridge types (eg. supercharger tape)
  • Script recording and playback
  • Line terminal interface for harder to reach parts of the emulation
  • Regression Database

Example Screenshots

The following screenshots were taken in playmode with CRT effects enabled.

pitfall he-man
krull ladybug
thrust man goes down
soul of the beast chiphead
egypt genesis draconian
galagon turbo
zookeeper moviecart

Games shown: Pitfall; He-Man; Krull; Ladybug; Thrust; Man Goes Down; Soul of the Beast; Chiphead; Egypt 2600BC by Genesis Project; Draconian; Galagon; Turbo; Zookeeper; Movie Cart.

Scope of the project

Gopher2600 was started as for fun and educational purposes, as way of learning more about the Atari 2600 and also about the Go programming language.

The original intent was to create a tool for static analysis of a 6507 program to help in the creation of Atari 2600 games. I soon realised however that I would need to emulate more of the 2600 and not just the CPU for this to be useful.

Because of its origins, any flaws or limitations in the design should be borne in mind while the project is still in development. I am open to any suggestions on how to improve the project.

Performance

The development machine for Gopher2600 was an i3-3225 with 16GB of RAM. Host operating system throughout the development has been a Linux system (4.x series).

In playmode I can get a sustained frame rate of 60fps capped - good enough for NTSC. This includes emulation of the ARM7 chip if required.

In debug mode, I can get around 35fps.

To get a performance rating for your installation you can run the following:

> gopher2600 performance -display -fpscap=false

Which gives the maximum frame rate with the display. Omit the -display option for an absolute value.

Memory usage is currently around 40MB of system memory in playmode and around 120MB in debug mode. This can vary on the ROM used however. It shouldn't ever be a problem on modern hardware.

A statsview is also available. See the section below on the Statistics Viewer for details.

Improving Performance

There are very few options available to improve performance of the emulator.

One thing you can do is to compile the project with at least version 1.17 of the Go compiler.

Turning CRT effects off will likely have no effect.

For ROMs that use the ARM chip, setting the ARM to immediate mode will eliminate cycle counting and hence give a modest performance boost.

Compilation

The project has most recently been tested with Go v1.17.

The project uses the Go module system and dependencies will be resolved automatically. Do note however, that you will also require the SDL development kit installed on the system. For users of UNIX like systems, installation from your package manager is the easiest option (for MacOS use the homebrew package manager https://formulae.brew.sh/formula/sdl2)

Compile with GNU Make

> make release

During development, programmers may find it more useful to use the go command directly

> go run gopher2600.go

Minimum requirements

Gopher2600 makes use of SDL2. The SDL2 go binding used by the project requires a minimum SDL2 version of 2.0.10.

Platforms

Gopher2600 is known to run on several platforms. It is known to work best however on Linux based systems, on which it is being developed.

Cross-Compilation

Native compilation of a Windows executable has not yet been tried. But cross-compilation does work via the Makefile:

> make cross_windows

Or for a statically linked binary:

> make cross_windows_static

This has been tested on a Linux system with mingw installed.

Basic usage

Once compiled run the executable with the help flag:

> gopher2600 -help

This will list the available sub-modes. Use the -help flag to get information about a sub-mode. For example:

> gopher2600 debug -help

To run a cartridge, you don't need to specify a sub-mode. For example:

> gopher2600 roms/Pitfall.bin

Although if want to pass flags to the run mode you'll need to specify it.

> gopher2600 run -help

Hand Controllers

Stick, paddle and keypad inputs are supported. Currently, only stick and paddles for the left player are available but keypad input is available for both players.

Stick

The stick is the most common control method for Atari 2600 games. The stick can be operated with the DPad or left thumbstick of a gamepad or by the cursor keys on your computer's keyboard. Fire button is the keyboards space bar or any of the gamepad's face buttons.

Paddle

The paddle can be controlled with the mouse or gamepad.

In the case of the mouse, the mouse must be captured.

Neither of these input methods is a perfect replacement for a real paddle however and which device is used depends on the game. For some games, the triggers will suffice but other games will perform better when using the mouse.

Nightdriver is an example of a game that plays well with the triggers, whereas Circus Tricks is better played with the mouse.

Keypad

Keypad input for both players is supported.

Left Hand Player Right Hand Player
1 2 3 4 5 6
q w e r t y
a s d f g h
z x c v b n

Auto-Detection

Gopher2600 supports auto-detection of input devices. In general, this is done by 'waggling' the control a few times in order to wake up the device.

On startup, the stick is assumed to be the controller of choice.

In the case of keypad controllers, it's possible for the emulation to detect for certainty that a keypad controller is required. It is therefore not possible to switch to or from keypad control manually because there is no need.

Gamepad

For convenience the joystick and paddle can be controlled through a gamepad. For the joystick, use the left thumbstick or the DPad. Any of the face buttons will act as the joystick's fire button.

To control the paddle use the left and right analogue triggers. Note that you will need to 'waggle' the triggers a couple of times for the emulator to detect that you want to switch to the paddle.

The console's reset switch can be triggered with the gamepad's start button.

Mouse Capture

When using the mouse for paddle control, the mouse must first be 'captured'. You will know when the mouse is captured because the mouse pointer will no longer be visible.

In playmode, the mouse is most conveniently caputred by pressing the right mouse button. To release the mouse from capture press the right mouse button. The Scroll Lock key will also toggle mouse capture.

In the debugger, there is a Capture Mouse button in the Control window. Or you can use the Scroll Lock key.

Panel

The VCS panel is controlled through the function keys of the keyboard.

  • F1 Panel Select
  • F2 Panel Reset
  • F3 Colour Toggle
  • F4 Player 0 Pro Toggle
  • F5 Player 1 Pro Toggle

In playmode, the additional keys are available:

  • F7 Show FPS Indicator (also shows TV specification information)
  • F10 Show Preferences Window
  • F11 Toggle Fullscreen
  • F12 Save Screenshot

In addition, the following keys behave the same in both playmode and the debugger.

  • ESC Quit
  • Scroll Lock Toggle mouse capture (F14 on some keyboards)
  • Pause Pause/Resume emulation (F15 on some keyboard)

Debugger

To run the debugger use the DEBUG submode

> gopher2600 debug roms/Pitfall.bin

gopher2600 debugging GUI

Because the debugger is still in development, full documentation is not yet available. But briefly, the features we can see in this screeshot are:

The menu-bar across the top of the screen shows the Debugger, VCS and in this instance a Cartridge menu

  • From Debugger menu you can open the preferences windows the terminal and others.
  • The VCS menu contains options to open windows that relate to the VCS itself.
    • Many of them are already open but other, less frequently required windows are also available
  • The Cartridge menu appears when the loaded cartridge type has additional features. For example:
    • Cartridge memory and or registers
    • In this case, this is the menu for the Supercharger format.
  • At the very right of the menu bar we can see the file path for the loaded cartridge

Below the menu-bar are the debugging windows. In this screenshot we can see:

  • The TV Screen. This shows the television output from the VCS.
    • The screen is 'interactive' and will show information about the pixel underneath the cursor
    • Clicking the screen will move the VCS emulation to the point where the VCS is outputting that pixel. This is part of the rewind system.
    • Also available are a variety of overlays. Click the overlay button (labelled no overlay in the screenshot and select which overlay you want.
  • The Audio window shows the waveform of the recent sound output.
  • The Control window allow you to Run/Halt, Step and also rewind through the emulation.
    • The toggle to right of the Step button will put the emulation into video-cycle mode. This will allow you to step by a single color-clock at a time, rather than a single CPU instruction.
    • The < buttons will step back by eith a CPU instruction, a scanline or an entire frame. Stepping back by video-cycle is not currently supported.
  • The Timer window shows the current state of the RIOT Timer.
  • The CPU window shows the current state of the 6507.
  • The Disassembly window shows the disassembled ROM.
    • If a 'DASM' generated symbol file is available then that will be used.
    • If a symbols file isn't available then the standard symbols will be used. This includes symbols for special cartridge areas that might exists. For example, a hotspot address for switching banks will be indicated with BANK1, BANK2, etc. instead of the address.
    • Add or remove a PC Breakpoint by clicking on the address.
  • The RAM window shows the contents of the VCS RAM. Cartidge RAM if available will be show in the Cartridge RAM window. Not shown but available through the cartridge menu when appropriate.
    • The highlighted bytes indicate those bytes that have changed since the emulation last halted.
  • The TIA window details the six graphical parts of the VCS's graphics chip.
    • The state of the TIA can be changed manually but note that the changes will not be retained when the emulation next updates that part of the TIA.

Note that much of the information presented in the windows is editable. For example, the contents of the CPU's PC register can be edited via the window. As in all areas of this project, the user is encouraged to experiment.

A (old) video of the debugger in action can be found here.

Debugger Terminal

As an alternative to GUI interaction the debugger can also be controlled through a terminal. This is available through the terminal window. The rest of this section describes the operation of the terminal in detail.

Help is available with the HELP command. Help on a specific topic is available by specifying a keyword. The list below shows the currently defined keywords. The rest of the section will give a brief run down of debugger features.

[ $f000 SEI ] >> help
    AUDIO         BALL        BREAK    CARTRIDGE        CLEAR   CONTROLLER
      CPU       DISASM      DISPLAY         DROP         GREP         HALT
     HELP       INSERT       KEYPAD         LAST         LINT         LIST
      LOG       MEMMAP     MEMUSAGE      MISSILE       ONHALT       ONSTEP
  ONTRACE        PANEL        PATCH         PEEK       PLAYER    PLAYFIELD
  PLUSROM         POKE        PREFS      QUANTUM         QUIT          RAM
    RESET       REWIND         RIOT          RUN       SCRIPT         STEP
    STICK       SYMBOL          TIA        TRACE         TRAP           TV
    WATCH

The debugger allows tab-completion in most situations. For example, pressing W followed by the Tab key on your keyboard, will autocomplete the WATCH command. This works for command arguments too. It does not currently work for filenames, or symbols. Given a choice of completions, the Tab key will cycle through the available options.

Addresses can be specified by decimal or hexadecimal. Hexadecimal addresses can be written 0x80 or $80. The debugger will echo addresses in the first format. Addresses can also be specified by symbol if one is available. The debugger understands the canonical symbol names used in VCS development. For example, WATCH NUSIZ0 will halt execution whenever address 0x04 (or any of its mirrors) is written to.

Watches are one of the three facilities that will halt execution of the emulator. The other two are TRAP and BREAK. Both of these commands will halt execution when a "target" changes or meets some condition. An example of a target is the Programmer Counter or the Scanline value. See HELP BREAK and HELP TRAP for more information.

Whenever the emulation does halt, the ONHALT command will run. For example, a previous call to ONHALT CPU will cause the CPU command to run whenever the emulation stops. Similarly, the ONSTEP command applies whenever the emulation is stepped forward. By default, the LAST command is run on every step.

The debugger can step forward either, one CPU instruction at a time, or by one video cycle at a time. We can change this mode with the QUANTUM command. We can also conveniently use the STEP command, for example STEP CLOCK, performing the quantum change and stepping forward in one go. The STEP command can also be to step forward one scanline or one frame. It can also be used to STEP backwards, although in some cases the REWIND command might be more convenient.

Scripts can be recorded and played back with the SCRIPT command. All commands are available when in script recording mode, except RUN and further SCRIPT RECORD command. Playing back a script while recording a new script is possible.

Rewinding

Gopher2600 allows emulation state to be rewound to an earlier frame, scanline or colour-clock. Rewinding by frame is best done through the Control window of the debugger.

control window

Rewinding to a scanline/colour-clock is done by clicking the left mouse button on the debug screen, at the position required. This will change the state of the emulation accordingly. This can be done with any frame in the rewind history without damaging the rewind history.

The rewind history will be cropped and continue from the current point whenever the emulation is run or stepped.

The number of rewind states stored can be set via the preferences window (or through the terminal). In addition the snapshot frequency can also be altered. The frequency defines how many frames must pass before another snapshot is taken. This affects the number of frames that can be stored. For example, if number of states is 100 and frequency is 1 then one-hundred frames can be stored in the rewind history. On the other hand, if the number of states is 100 and frequency is 5 then five-hundred frames can be stored.

The rewind frequency does not affect the granularity of the rewind history. This means that you can rewind to any frame in the rewind history even if no no explicit snapshot has been taken.

The downside of large frequencies is that input events (from a joystick for example) may be lost if they occurred between snapshots. Future versions of Gopher2600 will correct this.

Rewind is also not currently available in playmode. Again, future version of Gopher2600 will allow this.

Video quantum is also not fully supported. While the rewind system will work when in video-stepping mode you can not currently interactively alter the screen position to the level of an individual colour-clock. Left-clicking on the screen, as described above, will 'quantise' to the next CPU instruction. Future versions of Gopher2600 will correct this.

TIA Revisions

tia preferences tab

Gopher2600 supports common revisions in the TIA chip and can be changed through the prefrences window.

In playmode the preferences window can by opened by pressing F10. Select the TIA Revisions tab:

A summary of the known TIA revisions / bugs can be found at on Atari Compendium. Not all revisions / bugs are supported by Gopher2600 but the common ones are.


CRT Effects

crt preferences tab

Gopher2600 tries to emulate the visual effect of a CRT television. This is by no means complete and is an area of active development.

In playmode the preferences window can by opened by pressing F10. Select the CRT tab:

In the debugger the preferences window can be opened from the Debugger menu and a preview can be seen in the TV Screen by pressing the CRT Preview checkbox.

The effects can be turned off completely with the Pixel Perfect option. In this mode, there is still the option to specify pixel fade. This is roughly equivalent to the phosphor effect.


Screenshots

Gopher2600 offers three methods for creating a screenshot. Ideally, the emulation will select the best method to use but this is currently not possible (although this is an ongoing area of research).

The most basic method is the 'single frame' method. Press F12 without any modifiers and a single image is saved to the working directory (or working folder for Windows users).

The 'double frame' method is useful for kernels that use a two-frame flicker kernel. In this method two consecutive frames are blended together to create a single image. This method is selected by pressing either shift key at the same time as the F12 key.

The 'triple frame' method meanwhile, the image is created by belnding three consecutive frames together. This is useful for the far rarer three-frame flicker kernel. This method is selected by pressing either ctrl key at the same time as the F12 key.

In the case of both the double and triple frame methods, multiple 'exposures' are made and saved (currently five). This is because it is not possible to guarantee the generation of a good image from a single exposure in all circumstances. From the exposures that are made the user can select the best image; and if absolutely necessary, make a composite image.

Screenshot filenames will include whether the CRT effects were enabled, the name of the ROM file (without extension), the date/time (to make the filename unique) and the screenshot method (along with frame exposure).

Some examples:

  • crt_Keystone_20210522_190921.jpg
  • crt_CDFJChess_20210522_191008_triple_3.jpg
  • pix_zookeeper_20200308_demo2_NTSC_20210522_190245_double_1.jpg

The dimensions of the image will be the same as the displayed screen (without any window padding).

Configuration Directory

Gopher2600 will look for certain files in a configuration directory. The location of this directory depends on whether the executable is a release executable (built with "make release") or a development executable (made with "make build"). For development executables the configuration directory is named .gopher2600 and is located in the current working directory.

For release executables, the directory is placed in the user's configuration directory, the location of which is dependent on the host OS. On modern Linux systems, the location is .config/gopher2600.

For MacOS the directory for release executables is ~/Library/Application Support/gopher2600

For Windows, a gopher2600 will be placed somewhere in the user's %AppData% folder, either in the Local or Roaming sub-folder.

In all instances, the directory, sub-directory and files will be created automatically as required.

Supercharger ROMs

Gopher2600 can load supercharger tapes from MP3 and WAV file, in addition to supercharger BIN files.

Multiload "tapes" are supported although care should be taken in how multiload files are created.

In the case of BIN files a straight concatenation of individual files should work, resulting in a file that is a multiple of 8448 bytes.

For MP3 and WAV files however, the waveform should be concatenated, not the individual MP3/WAV files themselves. A command line tool like SoX can be used for this.

Supercharger BIOS

Supercharger eulation relies on the presence of the real Supercharger BIOSt. The file must be named one of the following:

  • Supercharger BIOS.bin
  • Supercharger.BIOS.bin
  • Supercharger_BIOS.bin

The file can be placed in the current working directory or in the same directory as the Supercharger file being loaded. Alternatively, it can be placed in the emulator's configuration directory.

SaveKey

Gopher2600 has basic support for the SaveKey peripheral. This will be expanded on in the future.

For now, the presence of the peripheral must be specified with the -savekey arugment. This is only available in play and debug mode. The simplest invocation to load a ROM with the SaveKey peripheral:

> gopher2600 -savekey roms/mgd.bin

Note that the SaveKey will always be inserted in the second player port.

Data saved to the SaveKey will be saved in the configuration directory to the binary file named simply, savekey.

PlusROM

plusrom cartridges ask for a username

The Atari2600 Pluscart is a third-party peripheral that gives the Atari2600 internet connectivity. Gopher2600 will automatically determine when a PlusROM enabled ROM is loaded.

The very first time you load a PlusROM cartridge you will be asked for a username. This username along with the automatically generated ID, will be used to identify you on the PlusROM server (different ROMs can have different servers.)

You can change your username through the debugger, either through the PlusROM preferences window or through the terminal with the PLUSROM command.

PlusROM cartridges are rewindable but cannot be rewound backwards past a network event 'boundary'. This to prevent the resending of already sent network data.

ARM7TDMI Emulation

Gopher2600 emulates the ARM7TDMI CPU that is found in the Harmony cartridge. The presence of this CPU allows for highly flexible coprocessing.

Although the Harmony itself executes in both ARM and Thumb modes, Gopher2600 currently only emulates Thumb mode. It has been decided that ARM mode emulation is not required - better to reimplement the ARM driver in the emulator's host language (Go) - but it may be added in the future.

ARM Preferences

ARM preferences tab

The characteristics of the ARM processor can be changed via the preferences window.

In playmode the preferences window can by opened by pressing F10. Select the ARM tab:

Immediate ARM Execution instructs the emulation to execute the Thumb program instantaneously without any cycle counting. For performance reasons, you may want to have this selected but for development work you should leave it disabled.

If immediate mode is disabled then the Default MAM State can be selected. This is best kept set to the default, Driver. This means that the emulated drivers for the ARM using cartridge type set the MAM appropriately. If required, this can be changed to Disabled, Partial or Full.

The Abort on Illegal Memory Access option controls what happens when the custom Thumb program tries to read or write to memory that doesn't exist. If the option is on then the Thumb program will exit early and the 6502 program (ie. normal console operation) will continue.

Note that if the memory access is an instruction fetch the program will always exit early regardless of this option's setting - there's nothing meaningful that can be done if the PC value is out of range.

Details of illegal memory accesses are always written to the log, regardless of the Abort on Illegal Memory Access option.

ARM Disassembly

ARM7 last execution
window

The Gopher2600 debugger provides a last execution window when an ARM using cartridge is loaded. This window shows the disassembly of the most recent execution of the ARM program. It is available via the ARM7TDMI menu which will appear in the menubar if the coprocessor is present.

The Goto button wil rewind the emulation to the point where the ARM program last executed.

The Save CSV button meanwhile will write a copy of the disassembly to a file in the working directory. The file will be a semi-colon separated CSV file (not commas in this instance).

Note that when the ARM emulation is run in immediate mode, the cycles column will not contain any meaningful information.

Estimation of ARM Execution Time (Cycle Counting)

ARM7 execution duration overlay

For ARM development the ARM7TDMI overlay is provided. This overlay will be empty if the Immediate ARM Execution option is enabled but normally it will indicate the period the ARM program is running and the 6507 program is stalled.

Also note that for best results the cropping option (see screenshot) should be disabled.

This view is useful during development to make sure you ARM program isn't running for too long.


Movie Cart

Movie Cart is a new cartridge type specifically aimed at playing full length movies on the Atari VCS. The reference code and circuit board information can be found on Github: https://github.com/lodefmode/moviecart.

Gopher2600 allows Movie Cart files to be played just like any other ROM. Files must have the '.mvc' file extension and can only be streamed from the a local filing system. Streaming over HTTP will be supported in the future.

Recording Gameplay

Gopher2600 can record all user input and playback for future viewing. This is a very efficient way of recording gameplay and results in far smaller files than a video recording. It also has other uses, not least for the recording of complex tests for the regression database.

To record a gameplay session, use the record flag. Note that we have to specify the run mode for the flag to be recognised:

> gopher2600 run -record roms/Pitfall.bin

This will result in a recording file in your current working directory, with a name something like:

> recording_Pitfall_20200201_093658

To playback a recording, simply specify the recording file instead of a ROM file:

> gopher2600 recording_Pitfall_20200201_093658

Regression Database

Adding

To help with the development process a regression testing system was added. This will prove useful during further development. To quickly add a ROM to the database:

> gopher2600 regress add roms/Pitfall.bin

By default, this adds a "video digest" of the first 10 frames of the named ROM. We can alter the number of frames, and also other parameters with regress add mode flags. For example, to run for 100 frames instead of 10:

> gopher2600 regress add -frames 100 roms/Pitfall.bin

The database also supports the adding of playback files. When the test is run, the playback file is run as normal and success measured. To add a playback to the test data, simply specify the playback file instead of a rom:

> gopher2600 regress add recording_Pitfall_20200201_093658

Consult the output of gopher2600 regress add -help for other options.

Listing

To listing all previously add tests use the "list" sub-mode:

> gopher2600 regress list
> 000 [video] player_switching [AUTO] frames=10  [NUSIZ]
> 001 [video] NUSIZTest [AUTO] frames=10  [NUSIZ]
> 002 [video] testSize2Copies_A [AUTO] frames=10  [NUSIZ]
> 003 [video] testSize2Copies_B [AUTO] frames=10  [NUSIZ]
> 004 [video] player8 [AUTO] frames=10  [NUSIZ]
> 005 [video] player16 [AUTO] frames=10  [NUSIZ]
> 006 [video] player32 [AUTO] frames=10  [NUSIZ]
> 007 [video] barber [AUTO] frames=10  [NUSIZ]
> 008 [video] test1.bas [AUTO] frames=10  [TIMER]
> 009 [video] test2.bas [AUTO] frames=10  [TIMER]
> 010 [video] test3.bas [AUTO] frames=10  [TIMER]
> 011 [video] test4.bas [AUTO] frames=10  [TIMER]
> Total: 12

Running

To run all tests, use the run sub-mode:

> gopher2600 regress run

To run specific tests, list the test numbers (as seen in the list command result) on the command line. For example:

> gopher2600 regress run 1 3 5

An interrupt signal (ctrl-c) will skip the current test. Two interrupt signals within a quarter of a second will stop the regression run completely.

Deleting

Delete tests with the delete sub-mode. For example:

> gopher2600 regress delete 3

ROM Setup

The setup system is currently available only to those willing to edit the "database" system by hand. The database is called setupDB and is located in the project's configuration directory. The format of the database is described in the setup package. Here is the direct link to the source level documentation: https://godoc.org/github.com/JetSetIlly/Gopher2600/setup

This area of the emulation will be expanded upon in the future.

Supported Cartridge Formats

Gopher2600 currently supports the following formats:

  • Atari 2k/4k/16/32k
  • all of the above with the superchip
  • CBS (FA)
  • Tigervision (3F)
  • Parker Bros (E0)
  • M-Network (E7)
  • DPC
  • Superbank

In also supports the Supercharger format in both the .bin format and is also able to load from an MP3 recording of the supercharger tape.

Modern formats supported:

  • 3E
  • 3E+
  • DF
  • DPC+
  • CDF (including CDFJ and CDFJ+)

The last two formats often make use of the ARM7TDMI coprocessor as found in the Harmony cartridge and are fully supported by Gopher2600.

Missing Formats:

  • X07. This was only ever used as far as I know, with Stella's Stocking which has never been released (ROM dumped).

Statistics Viewer

Playmode and debug mode can both be launched with a statistics viewer available locally on your machine localhost:12600/debug/statsview.

> gopher2600 -statsview <rom>

> gopher2600 debug -statsview <rom>

The screen below shows an example of the featured statistics. In this instance, this is the debugger running a 4k Atari cartridge (specifically, Pitfall).

stats server example charts (for the debugger)

For people who really want to dig deep into the running program, localhost:12600/debug/pprof/ gives more raw, but still useful information.

Note that this feature requires you run a suitably compiled executable. The easiest way to do this is to use the Makefile.

> make release_statsview

Gopher2600 Tools

See the https://github.com/JetSetIlly/Gopher2600-Utils/ repository for examples of tools that use Gopher2600.

Resources used

The Stella project (https://stella-emu.github.io/) was used as a reference for video output. In the absence of VCS hardware (which I don't have) Stella was the only option I had for checking video accuracy.

No reference to the Stella source was made at all except for the following:

  • During the development of the CDF cartridge formats. These recent formats don't seem to be documented anywhere accept in the Stella source.

  • The audio sub-system to convince myself that I was going about the problem correctly. Primarily however, Gopher2600's audio implementation references Ron Fries' original TIASound.c file.

  • ParkerBros fingerprint taken from Stella. I can't remember why I did this but a comment in the fingerprint.go file says I did.

Many notes and clues from the AtariAge message boards. Most significantly the following threads proved very useful indeed:

  • "Cosmic Ark Star Field Revisited"
  • "Properly model NUSIZ during player decode and draw"
  • "Requesting help in improving TIA emulation in Stella"
  • "3F Bankswitching"

And from and old mailing list:

These mailing lists and forums have supplied me with many useful test ROMs. I will package these up and distribute them sometime in the future (assuming I can get the required permissions).

Extensive references have been made to Andrew Towers' "Atari 2600 TIA Hardware Notes v1.0"

Cartridge format information was found in Kevin Horton's "Cart Information v6.0" file (sometimes named bankswitch_sizes.txt)

The "Stella Programmer's Guide" by Steve Wright is of course a key document, used frequently throughout development.

Audio mixing was improved by the information found in the document, "TIA Sounding Off In The Digital Domain", by Chris Brenner.

https://atariage.com/forums/topic/249865-tia-sounding-off-in-the-digital-domain/

The 6507 information was taken from Leventhal's "6502 Assembly Language Programming" and the text file "64doc.txt" v1.0, by John West and Marko Makela.

US Patent Number 4,644,495 was referenced for the implementation of the DPC cartridge format (the format used in Pitfall 2)

DPC+ format implemented according to notes provided by Spiceware https://atariage.com/forums/topic/163495-harmony-dpc-programming and

https://atariage.com/forums/blogs/entry/11811-dpcarm-part-6-dpc-cartridge-layout/

DPC+ARM information on Spiceware's blog

https://atariage.com/forums/blogs/entry/11712-dpc-arm-development/?tab=comments#comment-27116

The "Mostly Inclusive Atari 2600 Mapper / Selected Hardware Document" (dated 03/04/12) by Kevin Horton

Supercharger information from the Kevin Horton document above and also the sctech.txt document

Reference for the ARM7TDMI-S, as used in the Harmony cartridge formats:

https://developer.arm.com/documentation/ddi0234/b

For detail about the Thumb instruction set the following document was preferred. Mnemonics used in the ARM disassembly are from this document:

http://bear.ces.cwru.edu/eecs_382/ARM7-TDMI-manual-pt1.pdf

Further information from the ARM Architecture Reference Manual:

http://www.ecs.csun.edu/~smirzaei/docs/ece425/arm7tdmi_instruction_set_reference.pdf

https://www.cs.miami.edu/home/burt/learning/Csc521.141/Documents/arm_arm.pdf

Specific information about UXP ARM7TDMI-S

https://www.nxp.com/docs/en/user-guide/UM10161.pdf

Further Help

In addition to this readme, more information can be found with the command line -help system. Many modes and sub-modes will accept operational flags. Specifying the -help flag will print a brief summary of available options.

Help on debugger commands is available with the HELP command at the debugger command line.

More information is available in the Go source files and can be viewed with the Go documentation system. With godoc installed:

> GOMOD=$(pwd) godoc -http=localhost:1234 -index >/dev/null &

Alternatively, the most current version of the docs available on github can be viewed at https://godoc.org/github.com/JetSetIlly/Gopher2600

Finally, development and maintenance documentation is beginning to be stored in its own Github repository: https://github.com/JetSetIlly/Gopher2600-Dev-Docs

Self Reflection

There are some design decisions that would perhaps be made differently if I had known where the program was going. For instance, because the project was a way of learning a new programming language I chose to implement my own "database" to store regression test information. A more natural choice would be to use SQlite but actually the current solution works quite well.

A couple of packages may well be useful in other projects. The prefs package is quite versatile. With a bit of work it could be generalised and put to use in other projects. I think though, this package is a natural candidate to be rewritten with type parameters. Not yet available in Go but scheduled for release in 2022.

I would also replace the commandline package. It works quite nicely but as you would expect from a home-baked solution there are limitations to the parser. It should be rewritten with flex & yacc.

Other Software / Libraries

The following projects are used in the Gopher2600 project:

Statsview provided by:

For testing instrumentation:

Some ideas for the fragment shader taken from: