Entombed - Atari 2600 game

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Entombed - Atari 2600 game

Post by fredghostmaster » Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:15 pm

This is an interesting BBC article about an old 2600 game, Entombed.

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/2019 ... video-game

Basically, no one has been able to work out how the game generates the maze.

The game was written in 1982 and the maze algorithm was designed by someone who was stoned at the time and couldn't remember how it worked the next day.

Now no one can figure how it works, even though it does!

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Re: Entombed - Atari 2600 game

Post by Matt_B » Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:15 pm

It's somewhat misleading to say that nobody understands how the game makes the maze. The code itself is fairly simple, using a look-up table to generate the next line from the existing maze, and anyone with a reasonable understanding of 6502 assembler could tell you how it works.

Indeed, for anyone who's interested, there's a very detailed discussion of just that here:


It's the precise reasons why it was done that way that have been lost to the mists of time. Still, it's not like it offered a unique solution to the problem, and indeed the game still relies on the use of the make-break item to deal with the dead ends that the algorithm sometimes comes up with. Most likely, they were just in a bit of a rush to get the game finished and went with the first solution that worked well enough.

As someone who's worked in software development for a while, this is more common than you might think. Lots of programs get written to tight deadlines and it's quite common for programmers to go with code that's good enough to do the job rather than optimal for it or easy to understand. This is particularly a problem when you're brought into work on something where the original developers have moved on, and you're charged with the task of extending the code to perform new functions. Still, that's part of the reason why the money's good for the people prepared to take those jobs on.

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