Lining the drawer

Debunking Drawing the line (part 3)

It’s amazing really… the author has been working on this relatively simple “problem” for over a month now and is still struggling; your correspondent has previously written complete assembly language games in less time!

Now it’s time for the next part of this series exposing just how difficult it is to draw lines in Commodore BASIC V2 on the Commodore 64 graphics screen! I have actually drawn a line across the C64 screen, but it took me 29 years to solve the problem!

The lack of BASIC support for drawing to bitmap was common knowledge in the 1980s and yet the author arrogantly believes that it needs “exposing” by him now… anybody else would be embarrassed by taking nearly three decades to reach such a weak solution.

I’m writing this sentence a few hours after receiving my Commodore 128 from eBay, although I started this article a few days before that and didn’t finish it til weeks after receiving the C128. I have no way to SAVE any programs at time of writing, but a Commodore 1530 C2N cassette data recorder is on its way to me. My opponent TMR tried to claim this wouldn’t work, but the C128 manuals say otherwise.

Your correspondent rather clearly didn’t claim that previously; what was actually said was that the C128 was “meant to be used with a floppy drive and attempting to do so without one is severely hobbling it” and this does not equate to what the author is claiming was said.

After my success last time, I’ve started feeling that I could achieve anything. There’s this course http://www.c64scene.com/c64/?page_id=701 about BASIC V2 which doesn’t even cover hires graphics!

Because there is no need to cover graphics in an article aimed at absolute beginners; anybody stupid enough to be looking at graphics before understanding the basics of the language they’ll be working with to deal with them deserves everything they get in return.

My opponent TMR started programming on the less complicated Commodore VIC-20, which also has Commodore BASIC V2, but no hires graphics and limited sound. I also suspect he understands quadratic equations, whatever THEY are!

That first sentence is correct; when eleven years of age your correspondent started out on a VIC 20 in BASIC (the same BASIC as the C64) which shoots down the author’s belief that learning the C64 “requires previous knowledge of computing on other machines” because no, it didn’t and your correspondent is one of many people who went to these machines “cold”. If it’s possible to pick up the VIC that way then it’s equally possible with the C64.

The second sentence is wrong however; your correspondent may have learnt about quadratic equations at school (he currently can’t remember either way) but the relevant information is long forgotten now; your correspondent holds no qualifications in mathematics and, apart from picking snippets up as needed for specific programs, has no interest either.

I’m artistic and creative, but I hate maths. This means I approach this problem from a completely different angle to TMR and his mates!

Your correspondent isn’t pretentious enough to describe himself as “artistic and creative” (despite being a designer by trade and a journalist by accident) but some of his friends are indeed artists and creative types and the ones who also program wouldn’t use that as an excuse to cover up their own programming shortcomings. Approaching the problem “differently”[1] doesn’t mean anything positive in programming terms unless the solution is demonstrably better than existing ones, if it isn’t then there’s no point in pursuing it.

Apart from this I’m an ARTIST, not a MATHEMATICIAN!!!!

And yet the author still refuses to do what artists working on an 8-bit computer did and use an art package; those amazing Spectrum or Amstrad CPC loading screens weren’t produced with PLOT and DRAW commands, all those BBC Micro or MSX in-game graphics weren’t either and it’d be totally ridiculous to even try to render an image with that level of detail in such an inefficient way.

And this pretty much been your correspondent’s point for a while now; the author has been fixating on the whole line drawing thing for well over a year but in reality nobody used it after their earliest flailings around with BASIC. Regardless of dialect or platform, playing with the line drawing functions is pretty much a learning cul-de-sac because, whilst it might get a beginner an instant “hit” of gratification when those pretty patterns appear on screen, there’s only a finite number of useful programs which can be built around that limited knowledge.

[1] In all honesty, the author really isn’t approaching anything differently; he’s just trying to do something that others tried and wrote off as an option nearly three decades previously.

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