Task: Tips for Speeding up Atari BASIC Programs
Time: 15-30 mins
Atari BASIC is notoriously slow which is why many game developers worked with assembly language to do anything serious. However, if you want to develop in BASIC there are a number of tips to help your code run faster and with better memory management. Some of these tips are covered in a nice piece by Greg Vozzo from the June 1990 issue of Antic magazine.
Navigate to the piece in Antic and read the tips!
There are a number of good suggestions here. For example, avoiding IF-THEN statements can buy you some cycles. Also, putting speed intensive or frequently called routines at the beginning of the BASIC listing can help speed things up since BASIC has to look through all the lines to find the destination of a GOTO. I know from programming my own games in BASIC that these tips can make a huge difference, especially for the pieces of code in your main game loop. Of course, calling as many routines from assembly code as you can greatly speeds up a BASIC program. A good skill to have.