Simulating the VIC-II

Saturday 28 April 2012 at 10:03 pm.

So let me share a bit about myself. While other kids my age grew up in the console generation, with the NES, Gameboy, SNES, and Genesis all being significant consoles in the market during the first ten years of my life, I didn't grow up that way so much. While I had friends with NES and Gameboy that I could play sometimes, we didn't have it in my own household. Instead, we had a MS-DOS computer with a 386 processor (which the successor for came out in 1989), and the Commodore 64. In fact I had my own Commodore 64 for a while, having been given one of my own for Christmas when I was 4, and lasting unitl I was somewhere around 8 or 9 before it finally gave up the ghost. Those I can directly attribute to why I am today as a programmer and game developer. That's what I grew up with. 

I also grew up with arcade games, which were also on the way out in the US at that time. Between the waning pizza/arcade resturaunts, remaining arcade units in grocery stores, and machines at hotels and campgrounds, I played old arcade games, and have fond memories of many. And it's always been an ambition of mine to actually own an arcade unit of some sort, leading into wanting to make a classic arcade machine like that gone era. And although the minigame market has developed as phone apps that bring a resurgance in a way of the old arcade type of games but I just don't have the kind of mind to come up with a game of the sort, building a physical machine with an original game is still something I want to do.

So let me move to a more recent time. A couple of years ago I got a credit from SparkFun, and picked up a Netduino. When I got that the urge to build an arcade machine really surged again, but the Gameduino - which is basically it as far as video output of the kind needed for game output goes as far as Arduino shields go - reportedly works badly with the Netduino because of a strange slowdown in SPI transfer between them. So I had forgotten it for a while, but something brought it to mind again recently. Then a conversation on Twitter brought up my programming history and I started thinking about the Commodore 64 again, and I got a new idea - using the VIC-II for the video for the project, whenever I get around to bulding it.

So that's how this came about. To facilitate the development of the project I decided to make a simulator for the VIC-II. I have a physical copy still of the Commodore 64 Programmers Reference Guide, so taking that to get the exact specifications for the chip that's how I began writing it. I put it together as an XNA texture, but I have something else I want to use it for now as well so I'm going port it elsewhere. It doesn't exactly do it all according to spec now, but it's still a work in progress and I'll update it as I add more to it. But here it is, available for anyone to use as they wish, as I'm licensing my work on it under the WTFPL. 

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Title: Simulating the VIC-II
Date posted: 28 04 12 - 22:03
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