AMIGA alive

AMIGA alive

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Games galore #2: Bullet hell! RESHOOT PROXIMA III, Hyperborea, and Inviyya previews

Another round of looking at 2019's Amiga game development scene.


RESHOOT PROXIMA III Devleaks


Richard "Spieleschreiber" Loewenstein and crew are blowing people's minds with outstanding shoot-em-up games, and the excitement never stops. PROXIMA III is the next episode in Richard's RESHOOT games series, and it's going to be another awesome one. He's released a couple of so-called "Devleaks" videos so far, giving a rough idea of what the end result might look and feel like. Again, as with RESHOOT and RESHOOT R, this will make your eyebrows raise. How PlayStation can you go on Amiga? Be amazed.

Here's Richard "Spieleschreiber" Loewenstein's latest RESHOOT PROXIMA III Devleaks video ("Xmas Update" 2019-12-22):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SPA9qrflf4


Now this is pretty impressive...!

But... might there be even more to it? In this next video, an earlier "Devleaks" clip, you can see that the game is running in "Amiga 1200 (Blizzard 1260)" emulation, using FS-UAE. Wait a second - are we going full 68060 here? Does this mean this game will go even further and compete with Vampire-levels of performance? With the presumed releases of TF1260 and WARP1260 ahead... is this going to be the killer application that will lead the Amiga into it's next m68k-generation?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RjYi0riWxE


Subscribe to Spieleschreiber's YouTube channel, and stay up to date!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgngG8lgg8yAz--hQxJ8puA

Support Amiga game development at Spieleschreiber's patreon page!

https://www.patreon.com/loewenstein



Hyperborea making progress


"Amiga DreamTeam" is working on "Hyperborea", promising the "world's first real Amiga 1200 Danmaku bullet hell classic vertically scrolling shmup game". Not so much is known about the planned game mechanics or level design, and there's no music or effects yet, but, wow, this is a lot of stuff moving around the screen! This very much looks like it's gonna be another envelope-pushing game, with, for example, fast, colorful graphics by using a cleverly designed engine allowing for lots of in-game colors on a low-color screen.

Check out "Hyperborea" latest work-in-progress video below, showing a little bit of menu-action, and a lot of bullets and stuff (2019-10-09):


 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRP3d7Zq8WA


Visit Amiga DreamTeam's facebook page, and show your support at:

https://www.facebook.com/AmigaDreamTeam/

Amiga DreamTeam has a YouTube channel - tune in at:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl64b9VZhe0zftJ9rERMksQ



Inviyya under development


Inviyya is a horizontal R-Type-type shooter for Amiga 500 (OCS) with 1MB RAM.

Doesn't that alone sound awesome?

A demo has been released over a year ago, but it looks like this classic-style action game is still under heavy development. The latest preview videos (on the game's facebook page, see links below) look increasingly polished, playability seems to be getting tweaked to perfection, and so on. And it has a damn catchy music track.

Here's the latest Inviyya video on YouTube (2019-11-02):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CpmVtoTPjo


Bleeding-edge updates and previews can be found on Inviyya's facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/Inviyya/

Support the author with a coffee or some beer at:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/tigerskunk

If you want to go really in-depth, you can also follow the Inviyya - Development Thread (Space Shooter) thread or the Inviyya - OCS Shoot Em Up thread on English Amiga Board.

* * *

Thanks for reading!

This was just a round of shoot-em-ups, but more great Amiga games were under development, or have been released in 2019, such titles as: Rygar AGA, Scourge of the Underkind, and Jump! - "Games galore #3", coming soon!

* * *

UPDATE 2020-01-04: 
The video for Hyperborea wrongly showed "Hyperborea wip #8" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0mdvi4TY00). This has been corrected to the current one: "Hyperborea wip #%10101" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRP3d7Zq8WA)

* * *

Additional sources:

RESHOOT PROXIMA III
http://www.indieretronews.com/2019/10/reshoot-proxima-iii-next-amiga-game.html

Inviyya
http://www.indieretronews.com/2019/08/inviyya-even-more-footage-for-this.html
https://www.vintageisthenewold.com/inviyya-amiga-shootem-up-demo-released/

Thursday, December 26, 2019

AmigaOS 3.2 underway

In case you've missed it (like I did): On Dec. 16th a lot of technical details about the upcoming AmigaOS 3.2 have been published.

After many websites have reported about the announcements made by the developers, and a preview screenshot has been released, now we get a lot of detail information about bug fixes and new features of release 3.2.

https://forum.amiga.org/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=74270.0;attach=1618;image

The above screenshot was published in September (see "Sources" below), and shows many of the new features: font sensitive GadTools GUI, shell command history (with tab completion), printer settings with arbitrary device(-name), system-window-wide "iconify"-gadget, to name just a few.

On Dec. 16th, user "4pLaY" made a series of forum posts on AmigaLife (see link below), publishing technical detail information obtained from AmigaOS developer Thomas Richter, about the various new features and the numerous bugfixes and improvements in AmigaOS 3.2. For example we learn that utility.library got a couple of new string handling functions, that the bootmenu ("Amiga Early Startup Control") got some new settings, GadTools DrawBevelBox() function can now draw another type of bevel-box design, and many, many more little or not-so-little changes. Very interesting read - for users, and maybe even more for developers, for the countless technical hints you get.

By the way, it is also rumoured that a new SDK (Software Development Kit) can be expected. (See "Sources" below for all the bits and rumours.)

Head over to AmigaLife website to get all the latest technical details:

https://www.amigalife.org/index.php?topic=165.0



Sources:
https://www.reddit.com/r/amiga/comments/cz70fu/amigaos_32_preview_details/
https://vintagecomputerssociety.blogspot.com/2019/09/preview-of-amigaos-32-has-been-announced.html
http://www.amiga-news.de/en/news/AN-2019-09-00004-EN.html 
https://www.amiga-classic.org/article.php?sid=15
https://forum.amiga.org/index.php?topic=74270.0
https://forum.amiga.org/index.php?topic=70692.0

Sunday, September 8, 2019

APECAT making progress

You might have seen our little article, asking for support for APECAT, the "Amiga Processor Expansion Card for Application Transfer" - we have good news!

In case you haven't heard about APECAT before: Stian Søreng is developing a homegrown expansion device for the Amiga 500 (MC68000 CPU slot - probably Amiga 2000, too) that is designed to be able to directly upload code to the Amiga's memory, and execute it on boot.

Pretty cool, isn't it?

Stian has just reported via facebook that he's making progress, his prior problems seem to have been solved. 

In a new article on his website (see link below) published on Aug. 31st, he describes he had to fix timing issues both in hard- and software, and has started working on revision 2 of the APECAT. 

He also created a short video showing his strikingly simple and simply amazing invention doing a little work! Here it is:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJHgCr-Vl1Q


Yeah, it IS pretty cool.
In fact it's awesome.
:-D

Visit Stian's website for more information:
http://jmp.no/blog/apecat-writing-to-ram-running-code


Sources:
https://www.facebook.com/amigaalive/posts/781513535557774?comment_id=890311298011330
http://jmp.no/blog/apecat-writing-to-ram-running-code

Sunday, August 11, 2019

A501 coin-cell battery modification

The name "VARTA" strikes fear into the hearts of Amiga 500 plus, and A501 memory expansion owners: VARTA rechargeable batteries have been built into these devices, and with growing age are prone to leak green acid, damaging the printed circuit boards and other components.

Original rechargeable battery from an A501 memory expansion
So it's an absolute requirement to remove that rechargeable battery, and clean the PCB from all acid that might have spilled out, if you want to keep your device intact. Most Amigans seem to use vinegar and alcohol for cleaning, sometimes using a tooth-brush to rub off any damaged material. If you don't catch the "infection" in time, traces or components might be damaged, requiring repairs.

But still it would be nice to have a working backup battery installed to your machine. Coin-cells, type CR2032, are a good replacement, they're widely available, and do not leak. But keep in mind that these aren't rechargeable - the Amiga provides recharge-current to it's batteries, so when replacing the original rechargeable one, we need to take care of that to avoid (additional) damage.

Removing the rechargeable VARTA battery shouldn't be a problem, you just need a soldering iron. Next is the cleaning - and if you're unlucky - repair job.

When you're done so far you can install you coin-cell. The original VARTA batteries are 3.6V. CR2032 coin-cells are 3V, that's within range for the clock chips used in Amiga 500 pluses and A501 memory expansions (mostly OKI M6242 chips).

With some googling I found Daniel Schneller's nice article on how to do the replacement. He's done what's required, and added a few details, mainly putting the new battery on a separate board to avoid stress to the original PCB when exchanging the coin-cell in the future - an idea I like very much. I basically did the same, but wanted to keep my A501 in "one-piece", so I decided to put the extra board onto the A501 itself. According to one CR2032 manufacturer's docs, a diode and a 200 ohms (minimum) resistor are required to keep the Amiga's recharge-current away from the new, non-rechargeable battery. I'm using a 220 ohms resistor, just for a little bit of extra-safety.

Here's a schematic of the new battery board:
Battery board schematic (click to enlarge)

Nothing spectacular - have a piece of drilled board ready, the components as shown in the schematic, add a coin-cell holder, wires, and pin headers, and basically all that's left is the soldering.

New coin-cell battery on a separate drilled board
To fix the new board to my A501 I added several layers of duct-tape to the bottom side for padding, and a small piece of extra-strong double sided sticky tape as a (hopefully) removable glue.

The extra board is held in place by double-sided sticky tape

I'm quite pleased with the result! It doesn't look totally amateurish, there's close to zero modification to the original PCB, the sticky tape should keep the new board properly in place - and if I should ever want to do so, I could probably revert the modification completely.

And best of all: it works. :-)

Thank you very much, Daniel Schneller, for sharing your know-how and experience!


Sources:
http://www.danielschneller.com/2018/02/amiga-500-restoration-a501-memory.html 
http://www.farnell.com/datasheets/1496885.pdf
http://thomas-rapp.homepage.t-online.de/index.html
http://thomas-rapp.homepage.t-online.de/download/RestartClock.lha

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Building the TerribleFire TF530 accelerator, part 6: Faster! Hotter!

With a little more experience and new information gained, there was something left to do...

Disclaimer: This is not an instruction. Use at your own risk. No responsibility taken for whatever you do. Safety first. Kids, dont try this at home. 

32MHz might not be too shabby, but then it's a weird number, and the TF530 is capable of more. It's been quite some time since I built my TF530. In the meantime Mr. Leary has released new firmware versions, improving the accelerator's compatibility with higher clock rates (among other things, probably). So the day had come to try a little tweaking.

First of all I had to test the latest firmware release. I fired up my laptop running Xilinx's CPLD programming software, connected the USB-cable to one, and TF530 5V power input to another USB port on the laptop. Surprise: The Amiga boots! It pulls enough power from the laptop's USB port to boot to Workbench! And of course the laptop (running Windows) complains about a USB device pulling way too much power! Ok, I'd better disconnect the power, remove the TF530 from the Amiga, reconnect, and try again...

Faster!


Without any changes to the TF530 I uploaded the latest software to the CPLDs. Hm, not bad! Worked flawlessly, and SysInfo shows a little speed increase of about... 3%! Not precisely earth-shattering, but a welcome improvement.

From ~5800 Dhrystones to ~6000 just by firmware update!

I had never thoroughly tested the memory chips, and the new firmware needed something to do, so I started Microbotic's excellent MBRTest-2 memory testing program, and ran a couple of tests. To my surprise there were no errors - my handling and soldering of the memory chips was fine from day zero!

No RAM errors, very good!
So far, so - very - good. I had seen some accelerator configurations where the 68030 had been overclocked by about 25%, and the FPU on my TF530 is a 40Mhz model anyway, so, yeah, why not try 40Mhz on the 33Mhz CPU?

33Mhz CPU and 40MHZ FPU - will they run fine at 40MHz?

Replacing the tiny SMD type 32Mhz oscillator with a 40Mhz one requires some fiddling if you don't have a heat-gun, but these oscillators seem to be quite tolerant to heat, and I managed to do it using a soldering-iron without any visible damage. After some cleaning it was time to switch the Amiga on, and see how she does...

~7500 Dhrystones!

Hotter!


Once again, to my surprise, this worked flawlessly! Wow, running at 40Mhz we get about 7500 Dhrystones in SysInfo! The 68030 is getting a bit hot - I'll be adding at least a small heatsink just to avoid unnecessary stress on the material.

TerribleFire 530 with CF card adaptor inside the "Amiga 530"

As a final touch to my "Amiga 530" I wanted to delete AmigaOS3.9 from the CF card, and reinstall OS3.1. With some little adjustments OS3.9 ran quite well on the machine, but it's still comparatively resource-hungry, and in some parts unnecessarily bloated, thus slow. Installation of OS3.1 - no surprise here - was quick and worked flawlessly, too. Another reset, and...

...the Amiga now boots to Workbench in about 9 seconds!

This is really good. I could try to get a 50Mhz CPU and install a 50Mhz oscillator - the 40Mhz FPU should be able to take that (the 33MHz CPU probably not so much...) - but for now I'm really perfectly satisfied with the performance. Firmware update, plus faster clock, plus operating system downgrade really make a difference. I'm assuming an added heat-sink will make the setup safe and stable in the long term.

Now will THIS be the last part of the series of articles about "Building the TerribleFire TF530 accelerator"? Who knows. Probably not! There's still so much to experiment with - we haven't even touched the SPI port yet!

Once again a huge Thank You! to Mr. Stephen Leary for developing and releasing this awesome accelerator!




Overview and back catalogue of the series:
http://amigaalive.blogspot.de/p/hardware-building-terribefire-tf530.html

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

retro GAMER special issue: AMIGA

"The Story of Commodore's second cult-computer": German printed magazine "retro GAMER" shows its love for the Amiga by releasing a special issue.

https://www.emedia.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/rgsh01_2019__cover_amiga_final_ea2.jpg

It's 196 pages strong, with more than 60 Amiga games reviews, and additional articles covering Amiga models, art on the Amiga, the public domain scene, the best Amiga 1200 games, and "outsider" games.


Being a special issue some of the articles have been published previously, but there are also many new articles, and the majority of pages has been reworked or newly created. New articles include reviews of Alien Breed, Another World, Dune 2, The Great Giana Sisters, The Secret of Monkey Island, Sensible Soccer, Stunt Car Racer, Wing Commander, Worms, and more.

Retro Gamer "Amiga" special issue costs 14.95EUR, and can be purchased at magazine stores, or online at Heise store.

Go to retro GAMER's website for more information:
https://www.emedia.de/magazin/retro-gamer-spezial-amiga-1-2019/

Monday, July 8, 2019

AmigaOS 3.1.4.1 update released

Hyperion Entertainment CVBA show their commitment to AmigaOS: Today an update for AmigaOS 3.1.4 has been released, fixing some bugs, and adding some new features.

http://www.hyperion-entertainment.com/images/stories/OS3.1.4/005.png

According to Hyperion's press release (see "Sources" below) this update aims to improve user experience and adds more workarounds to improve compatibility with existing software.

It's mainly a bugfix update to AmigaOS 3.1.4, but there are also a couple of new features:
  • Danish and swedish translations
  • Setpatch updated
  • Audio.device compatibility improved
  • HDToolBox improved (default blocksize for large harddrives)
  • CrossDOS compatibility improved
The complete list of bug fixes is considerably longer, Hyperion says the change log is more than 260KB in size. Changes include: updates to CDFileSystem, intution support, audio device, Format, FastFileSystem, HDToolBox, Shell, several AmigaDOS commands, DiskDoctor, and more.

Go to Hyperion's download area for registered customers, and get your free update to AmigaOS 3.1.4.1:
http://www.hyperion-entertainment.com/index.php/downloads?view=files&parent=39


Sources:
http://www.hyperion-entertainment.com/index.php/news/1-latest-news/280
http://amiga-news.de/de/news/AN-2019-07-00016-DE.html