Important Information for users who want calculator games in text format

It has come to my attention that a fair number of visitors to this site are looking for games in a format they can easily type in to their calculators. I have even received some rather hostile e-mail on this subject. This site does not supply such programs, for good reasons. All major calculator sites do the same. The few sites which do supply games in text format are providing only games with much lower performance than those here or elsewhere.

It is important to realize there are (oversimplifying things a bit) two kinds of programs that run on the calculator: "TI-Basic" (the built-in language) and machine code (often called "asm" or "assembly"). TI-Basic is the language described in the manual which you normally type in, and gets its name from its resemblance to the various varieties of Basic that exist on computers. While this language can do some things, it is too slow for high-performance games due to being interpreted, using slow floating point calculations for all numbers, and accessing variables through a variable table that must be searched at each access. For this reason, such games are instead written in assembly language and/or C, and run on the calculator as machine code.

The only programs that can be easily typed in by hand are those written in this basic language. I do not supply any such programs on this site, though many other sites do supply them. Even if a game is written in basic, it is not necessary to have the "text" version of it to type it in; you can view the program as text by opening it with TI's Graph-Link software. You can use this software (available for free on TI's site) even if you do not have a Graph-Link.

For programs written in machine code, typing them in is much harder, since machine code doesn't even resemble anything meaningful to people. If you wanted to enter these programs, you would normally do so by typing the hexadecimal code for each byte of the program. Unfortunately, this would require you to enter several thousand hexadecimal digits for a small game, and tens of thousands for large games. I doubt that very many users would be patient enough to do this, and even fewer would be able to do it with no mistakes.

If you really want to try that, however, beware that it may be even harder than suggested above, depending on which calculator you have. For the TI-82, TI-85, and TI-92, you must receive a special backup file to run your own machine code at all. Most machine code programs on the TI-83 and TI-83 Plus, along with many on the TI-89 and TI-92 Plus, require additional programs to be installed before you can run them. If you still want to try, there is a program called "Exec Maker" that will convert a "nostub" (non-kernel-requiring) program into a string you can type in for the TI-89 or TI-92 Plus. If the program is a "ppg" exepacked program) you will have to decompress the "ppg" file and type in only the converted version of that. For the TI-86/TI-83/TI-83 Plus, just view the machine code in a hex editor and type that in, with the standard assembly code header at the top of the program followed by the machine code, and run it with the normal command to start an assembly program (it is probably best to view the machine code in the assembler's output, but if you only have the final executable as a calculator file, documents on the calculator file formats should tell you where in the file the data starts.

Some people say they want the "source code" of a game when asking for a version they can type in. The source code of a machine code program, in C or assembly, would not be useful if you typed it in since the calculator doesn't come with a C compiler or assembler. Not to mention that the source code of an assembly language program is much larger than the machine code, and in many cases is larger than the entire memory capacity of the calculator it runs on. To run any machine code program, it is the machine code executable, not the source code, which you must transfer to the calculator.

As you should be able to guess from the above, the best way to transfer files to the calculator would be to get a Graph-Link. If you can find someone else who already has the file on a calculator, then you can receive it through the calculator-to-calculator link, so it is only necessary for one person in your area to have a Graph-Link, and then programs can be sent to all other users in the area between calculators. For more general information on calculator programs, refer to My FAQ.