After that first programming experience, I saved enough money to buy a used Commodore c64, and continued learning more about the BASIC programming language by checking books out of the library, and purchasing magazines that featured program code that readers could type in, then save to floppy disk or cassette tape. I unfortunately did not own either for my c64, so my time writing code was spent for one time use, but I had so much fun creating games, and typing in program code from the magazines, that I did not care. I was enjoying the process of creating.
After a few years, I saved enough money to buy a very early style laptop PC that was on sale at RadioShack. I asked my dad to take me to the local store, which was a common place for he and I to visit together, and when we arrived, he asked if I was sure I would use the new computer. Just then, the store manager completely changed my mind by showing me a brand new Color Computer 1, 2, and 3, as well as a box of game cartridges, cassette tapes, a cassette tape player, and joysticks. The computers, games, and peripherals he presented to me had far more value than a single laptop computer, so I walked out with every last piece of CoCo products they had in stock for the same price as the laptop I had originally intended on purchasing.
The enjoyment of creating games, and playing with using the joystick as a mouse of sorts, within programs that I wrote was amazing to me. Then there was the day that I found program code for the game Kaboom in a magazine, and after typing the incredibly crazy amount of line of code, the game played perfectly with the joystick, and this time, I was able to save my game to cassette tape. I was able to share the cassette tape with friends to play on their color computer. This was the start of creating my own games to save on cassette tape, and share with others. Though I was young, and the games were very basic, the enjoyment of creating games that I could share with others was very cool to me. These early computers created an incredibly creative environment for hobbyists and gamer's, as the programming language was built in, and by simply saving to cassette or floppy, it was easy to share your creations with others.
Through the years, as gaming moved more and more to consoles, and the environment was a closed system, the joy of creating simply to share with others became over time a lost enjoyment. Development for many gaming systems over the years was meant mostly for larger development companies, though in recent years, development has been open to more indie game developers, but nothing like the early days of computing and gaming that I experienced as a kid.
Lately there has been more information being released about the upcoming release of the Atari VCS, along with social media posts sharing more about the plan that Atari has for the new console. One of their top announcements lately is the open platform of the console.
"A developer should never have to compete with the platform holder, the public should decide which game they want to buy and that is only possible on an open and neutral platform. Prepare to unlock your imagination. #AtariVCS"
As they have been announcing, Atari is planning an open and neutral platform, meant to unlock the creativity in anyone willing to develop on the unit. With no special development hardware required, and an SDK easily available, the enjoyment of coding for anyone that once was a major part of gaming, could be resurrected by Atari's next console release in early 2020.
"Since game consoles and various set top boxes have existed, people have wanted to play with them, modify them, write code for them. This has traditionally been met with an iron first from the platform owners. Not anymore. #AtariVCS"
The open system that Atari has been promising could be a refreshing ode to the past when gaming, computing, and coding were a creative journey. Games like Minecraft, Roblox, etc. have brought an element of creating to gaming, but this remains on the game level. The Atari VCS promises this creative exploration on a system level, not just within a particular game. This is exciting to our team at Atari Edge, because this could lead to creative minds of all ages developing amazing games, and we cannot wait to see what great games we can cover and bring to our readers. The days of magazines providing program code to type in and learn from, beginning the creative journeys of enjoyment have for years been a thing of the past, but the fun of old could be resurrected by the Atari VCS.