One of the aspects that I like about my abstract and amorphous endeavors on the Apple II platform is the opportunity to research topics and get a better understanding about the machine. To those ends I have been heavily investigating Assembly Language on the Apple II platform, a topic I had dabbled in long ago. Now, I wanted to take an honest look at what it was going to take to code a program idea that I have. I want to fully describe the program, a program of such ridiculousness, that it’s only purpose would be to teach one how to code assembly. I won’t give details though, because I want to see if I can do it, no matter how long the project may take, and I want to see how much of details I can solve on my own.
So I have been looking at where to start. I reviewed Applesoft. I must admit that I have not been using this language at all. I pulled a physical high-school text book on Applesoft from my library . This was my textbook and I have to admit I didn’t open it often. By the time the system had made me enroll in an actual Applesoft class, I was well versed. Cracking it open this time though I had a surprise for myself: 4 pages of notes regarding a incredibly convoluted RPG character generation program for a RPG game I was inventing on my own. Among the randomly generated characteristics, six of the archetypes included, I also included astrological signs, stats for Lust, Greed, Selfishness, Leadership, Faith, Piety, Mana and a way of setting a social class of Nobility, Warrior, Landowner, Clergy, Freeman, Unfree, and Slaves. This game, if I remember correctly, would have been very historically based. It was very interesting for me. All this, and I had yet to hear of a Renaissance Festival, the SCA, or even Medieval Times. I will post the notes soon as I get some time to scan them.
After reviewing my time travelling notes, I reviewed some Applesoft and decided that that would be enough and I didn’t think I needed a six week immersion of program writing to get me back in the swing of things. Although I might revisit this, because I really like the concept of Structured Applesoft and had begun along those ideals but did not make enough progress to speak of. Everything looked familiar to me, although I am sure that glossing over it like that I am giving myself much more credit than would be evident of someone were to issue me a spontaneous Applesoft Challenge. So, I moved on to looking at setting up a hard drive image that was strictly for assembly. I chose Merlin as my editor, mostly because I had used it in the past and I admire Glen Bredon’s software prowess and sensibilities.
I spent a good amount of time reviewing the Merlin manual and entering the sample entries, and getting a feel for the open apple functional commands, that I had to look up because I was looking at an old revision. Er- Older revision. I took my time, and it seemed logical enough.
The next place I investigated was the book Assembly Lines by Robert Wagner. This is a excellently written book, recommended to me, via a textfile on a floppy disk from my youth by none other than Krakowicz himself. I began reading this book and taking notes.
After some time, I took a break and started looking around for other assembly books that might augment the experience. I eventually ended up at Nibble. Some few years ago I purchased the entire Nibble Magazine back catalog in OCR searchable pdf. The collections came on 2 DVD, sent by the mighty Mike Harvey. I have to say that this is a treasured possession of mine when I have to research some information. These 12 years of documentation set a place in time for events in the Apple II continuum. Prices. New offerings and and ideas. And as a former reader, it acts as a framework on which I can hand my memories.
I searched through he books section and selected a few choice editions including The Beginners Guide to Assembly. I ordered them late Friday evening. By Monday afternoon the DVD was in my mailbox. I wrote Mike and thanked him. He wrote back. All around great experience!
I am somewhere in my beginning phases of learning this language and trying to be conscience of concepts I can use to give form to my ideas. This week is a full schedule for me and I am not getting as much time as I want with the books. I think I get a little reprieve tomorrow night and maybe I can make serious in roads in my self-learning.