Defender (video Game) - Development - Hardware

Hardware

The game features amplified monaural sound and pixel graphics on a CRT monitor. A Motorola 6809 central processing unit handles the graphics and gameplay, while a Motorola 6800 microprocessor handles the audio. A pack of three AA batteries provide power to save the game's settings and high scores when the machine is unplugged from an electrical outlet. The cabinet artwork is stenciled on the wooden frame.

Development started by focusing on the game's hardware. The staff first debated what type of monitor to use: black and white or color. They reasoned that using advanced technology would better establish them as good designers and chose a color monitor. The developers estimated that the game would require 4 colors, but instead chose hardware that could display each pixel in 16 colors. At the time, the designers believed that was more than they would ever need for a game. The monitor's resolution is 320×256, an expansion from the then industry standard of 256×256. The staff believed that the wider screen provided a better aspect ratio and would improve the game's presentation. Video games at the time relied on hardware to animate graphics, but the developers decided to use software to handle animation and programmed the game in assembly language. The switch allowed them to display more on-screen objects at a lower cost.

The game's control scheme uses a two-way joystick and five buttons. Jarvis designed the controls to emulate both Space Invaders and Asteroids simultaneously. The player's left hand manipulates the joystick similar to Space Invaders and the right hand pushes buttons similar to Asteroids. The button functions also use a similar layout to Asteroids's, with the button to shoot projectiles and accelerate on the far right and left, respectively. Jarvis reasoned that players were accustomed to the control schemes of past games, and felt altering past designs would prove difficult for them.

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