AMIGA alive

AMIGA alive

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Amistore in Germany has closed it's doors

We've just taken notice that German Amiga online shop Amistore.de has become a victim of the Corona virus pandemic.

Finding out today is especially sad as Amistore.de is currently still listed on Hyperion Entertainment's website as a vendor of AmigaOS, and just yesterday the latest release of AmigaOS3 for classic Amigas was made available to customers. Also this week in Germany a lot of restrictions introduced to fight the Corona virus have been lifted.

Amistore.de's website currently says (rough translation):

"

Dear customers,

due to numerous legal changes, we've decided to discontinue sales through this shop. You may contact us at any time via media-net-point.de.
We still have a lot of Amiga parts in stock.
We ask for your understanding.

Your Amistore.de team

"

amistore.de as of 2021-05-15

Looking at the history of the website at...

https://web.archive.org/web/20200513043211/http://www.amistore.de/

...we find this message from probably March 2020 (rough translation):

"

Dear customers,

due to the current situation regarding the Coronavirus we close our shop as of now until April 4th 2020 for the time being.
Also we have to take care for our employees.

Open orders will still be processed!

We ask for your understanding.

Your Amistore.de Team

"

About two months later, it seems to have been replaced with the one that currently can be seen there. The Corona virus certainly leaves it's marks all over the world.

Best wishes and good luck to Amistore.de team, hope to see them around (again)!

AmigaOS 3.2 released!

There wasn't too much noise surrounding the follow-up to AmigaOS3.1.4, but the patience has paid off, and now they're breaking the silence: It's been less than 24 hours since the completion and release of AmigaOS 3.2 has been announced via facebook, and Hyperion's website!

Great news for AmigaOS users: The next updated version of official classic AmigaOS has been released. Here's a quick rundown of some of the changes and new features:

  • ReAction GUI toolkit is included, with lots of bugfixes, and classes backported from AmigaOS4
  • "DAControl" and trackfile.device provide near-perfect ADF handling and integration. Amiga disk files can be created, formatted, erased, ejected, etc. and mounted via double-click on Workbench icon.
  • New help system and reference manual included
  • Improved AIFF, GIF, JPG, WAV, PNG, BMP, CDXL and ANIM datatypes, and new datatypes for icons (.info files) and ACBM images. AmigaGuide datatype can now display inline images, picture.datatype is much faster, sound.datatype supports up to 32 bit resolution, text datatype adds search functionality.
  • Workbench updates: title bar with date, CPU and tasks information, windows resizable from any border, windows can be iconified, window contents can be sorted increasing/decreasing, wheel mouse support
  • a partition mounter, and "find" utility
  • shell TAB autocompletion, configurable
  • a "history" command
  • updates to Early Startup Menu, including optional step-by-step execution of Startup-sequence

...and many more! This is really just a short excerpt from the official announcement. (Of course a new iconset is included, too.) See link below for full list.

AmigaOS3.2 is available on CD-ROM, containing ADFs for emulator use, a ready-to-run AmigaOS environment that can be copied to your harddisk, all Amiga models' disks and kickstart ROM images (oh, wow), and printable labels.


Congratulations to the developers!

Go to Hyperion's website for more details, and AmigaOS3.2 vendors:

https://www.hyperion-entertainment.com/index.php/news/1-latest-news/290-amigaos-42-for-all-classic-amigas-released-and-available

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Games galore #18: Metal Gear, Imperium Terranum 2, Space Pilot of Death, "The nameless platformer", Turbo Sprint AGA finished

Two exciting remakes, two freeware games, and "The nameless platformer". Amiga game developers are busy, and especially many ports and remakes are an impressive display of the technical know-how present in the community - the results often surpass the originals in quality.

Metal Gear 

At the end of January 2021 a port of MSX classic "Metal Gear" to the Amiga was announced by coder "hOffman". "Metal Gear" was a milestone, and is a classic in it's own right, as it started the stealth-and-survival genre in computer gaming. In this type of games it's not just kill-em-all, but more importantly stealth tactics and strategy.

The game is still under development, but nearing completion, and already looks and sounds very good. The graphics are pretty much a pixel perfect recreation of the MSX original. According to the author, it runs at full framerate on the Amiga (even where the original would slow down due to lots of on-screen action), and special care is taken to reproduce and possibly enhance the original soundtrack and sound effects.

"Metal Gear" requires an Amiga 500 with 1MB or higher.

You can watch a work-in-progress video on Hofman's YouTube channel:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gh4-fNfhQlQ

This is going to be another quality remake of a classic game - lookin' forward to the release of "Metal Gear" on Amiga!

Additional sources:
http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=105620
http://amiga-news.de/en/news/AN-2021-02-00002-EN.html
http://www.indieretronews.com/2021/01/hot-news-msx-classic-metal-gear-is.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_Gear_(video_game)


"Imperium Terranum 2" updated

In January 2021 news popped up about turn-based freeware space strategy game "Imperium Terranum 2" by Virtual World Productions. The game has been available on AmiNet since (at least) 2001, but has obviously been resurrected recently.

Coder Rene "fook42" F. is converting the Pascal source code from the AmiNet game version into C code, and adding some improvements. Currently, his new version has no new gameplay features etc., but you can now freely set the game's screenmodes.

This is pretty cool, as it opens up a path for future updates, and portability (maybe AROS?).

Note that if you want to play the new C based version, you need to copy it over the installed previous (AmiNet / Virtual Worlds) version - see GitHub link below for files and instructions.

Go to Virtual World's website to find out more about the original game...
https://www.virtualworlds.de/IT/

...or download it from AmiNet:
http://aminet.net/package/game/strat/IT2000

You can get the latest updated version from GitHub:
https://github.com/fook42/ImperiumTerranum2/releases


Additional sources:
http://amiga-news.de/en/news/AN-2021-01-00048-EN.html



Space Pilot of Death

"Space Pilot of Death" - doesn't that sound awesome? Now if a title like that doesn't catch your attention, I don't know what will. 

In Jan. 2021 this game by Marten "goldmomo" Wobst was uploaded to AmiNet, as a result of the author reviving his Amiga, and assembler programming skills, after a break of more than 20 years. It's looks similar to Asteroids, but it's a dodge-and-survive, not a shoot-em-up, that runs on any Amiga with 512KB RAM and able to display a 50Hz PAL or NTSC screen. It can be played with joystick or keyboard. (Note: there seems to be a mistake in the readme file: Space key is not needed.)

It's quite a simple game, but it's also quite well done! The title music gets you into the right mood, terrifying red alert messages pump up your adrenaline level, huge asteroids are approaching, and lots of them - pretty much everything about it feels just right. Yes, this isn't Elite or Wing Commander, we are aware of that. But it's a good looking, well done, quick little release with addictive qualities, for kids and casual gamers, we are aware of that, too. The author also has given hints he might be improving the game further. And, heck, it's... "Space Pilot Of Death"! So what are you waiting for?

Watch a video of "Space Pilot Of Death" on Per-Ola Eriksson's YouTube channel:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-lSF_QYzFQ

Go to AmiNet to download "Space Pilot of Death":
http://aminet.net/package/game/actio/spod

Additional sources:
http://amiga-news.de/en/news/AN-2021-01-00056-EN.html

 

"The nameless platformer" (demo)

"The nameless platformer" is a port of a ZX Spectrum game called "Black and White" - but currently the Amiga version lacks an official name, so we'll just call it "The nameless platformer".

It's a three level demo created using the Scorpion engine, in which you control a little wizard on a single-screen playfield, collecting lots of valuable items. This game is obviously still under development, as you can see in the video below there are a couple of glitches, the title screen looks like it will be changed, maybe sound effects will be added, and so on. But it looks promising with it's cute wizard and overall visual style, some music playing along (I think I've heard the tune before...?), and what appears to be quick and fluid playability.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tzrf6CJqoeQ

The demo was first shown at the end of Jan. 2021, so far there seem to be no news, but can certainly be expected in the near future.

Additional sources:
http://amiga-news.de/en/news/AN-2021-02-00001-EN.html
http://www.indieretronews.com/2021/01/a-new-amiga-demo-of-upcoming-amiga.html
https://spectrumcomputing.co.uk/entry/35121/ZX-Spectrum/Black_and_White


Turbo Sprint AGA finished (Super Sprint)

Another update to "Super Sprint AGA": It now goes by the name of "Turbo Sprint" - and you can actually play it, it's finished! Since we last reported about the game, development has made lots of progress, in Feb. 2021 a playable 5-minute demo has been released, and on April 28th author Graeme Cowie announced the finished game on facebook and YouTube.

After a year of development "Turbo Sprint" now really feels like a complete game, with lots of stuff going on visually, everything moving around and interacting reasonably, sound effects that create proper atmosphere, yeah, you almost start smelling burning rubber. Up to four players, hires graphics, 8 tracks, car upgrades, ...you name it - and it runs from Workbench. Very good, congratulations!

The game requires an AGA Amiga to run, and will be commercially released as digital download very soon, with a glossy boxed edition following.

You can watch "Turbo Sprint AGA" promotion video on Graeme Cowie's YouTube channel:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9f68MLldx0

Go to the game's website for more details, and game purchase:
https://mcgeezer.itch.io/

Additional sources:
https://www.facebook.com/supersprintdrs
http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=101722
http://www.indieretronews.com/2021/02/turbo-sprint-arcade-quality-port-of.html

 

* * *

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for "Games galore #19"!


* * *

Support Amiga game development! Buy a game!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

AMIGA alive software: xiffview 0.2 - IFF ILBM picture viewer for Linux/X

Our third software release is out. It's xiffview v0.2, an X-windows app for Linux. Xiffview displays IFF ILBM pictures as created with DeluxePaint, PersonalPaint, and many other programs on the Amiga, in a window on your Linux X desktop.

Just a straightforward little image viewer program that was created to simplify the cross-compiling Amiga software developer's daily work. It supports simple palette based (2 to 256 colors) images only - no HAM, no animations, EHB might give weird results - and it's been tested only a little so far, so don't panic if some of your pictures don't look perfect on xiffview. It requires a true-color X screen to run on, is freeware, and the sourcecode is included.

See Readme-file included for more information.

You can download it from AmiNet:
http://aminet.net/package/misc/unix/xiffview

xiffview displaying an IFF ILBM picture on an X screen


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Games galore #17: Wilcza Buda, Tinyus, Creeping Me Out: Hex Night, Crazy Columns, Putter commercially released

Demo group aBYSs strikes again with another arcade classic remake, Putter gets a physical release, we have an interesting point-and-click adventure from Poland, a beautiful action-adventure platformer, and an addictive arcade puzzler.

Wilcza Buda

"Wilcza Buda" looks homegrown, and very ambitious at the same time. It's a point-and-click adventure by mc Studio from Poland. The game can be played in Polish and English, runs on any Amiga with Kickstart 1.2 or better, and 1MB ChipRAM plus 1.5MB. There's also a HAM6 graphics version that requires a harddisc, Workbench 2.0, and 2MB of ChipRAM.

The storyline roughly goes like this: Move around and meet people, to find your beloved grandma - but beware, you will encounter characters from another world, the forces of darkness...!

Sounds scary, and the game opens with an equally scary title screen. Tasteful, moody - scary? - music plays as you point-and-click yourself through the game, listening to grandpa's stories of times long gone, of soldiers, of werewolves...

"Wilcza Buda" is a very interesting project that seems like a bit of a mixture of Mist and Darkseed. Also it's one of the very few games that utilizes HAM mode. If you like dark adventures, or you're a horror geek, this is definitely one you should check out.

Here's a video of the HAM6 demo version from great YouTube channel Saberman:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVX-qiYLuwQ 

Go to the game's website (you can switch to English language) to download "Wilcza Buda" demo:
http://www.wilczabuda.pl

Additional sources:
http://www.indieretronews.com/2021/02/wilcza-buda-interactive-amiga-adventure.html


Tinyus (Gradius remake)

After the awesome "TinyInvaders", "TinyGalaga", and "TinyBobble", this year demo group aBYSs brings us "Tinyus", a remake of 1986 arcade shoot-em-up classic "Gradius"!

To some, "Gradius" has always been the pinnacle of shoot-em-ups, the one that was just too good to be true on homecomputers. The C64 version called "Nemesis" played really good, but had to omit elements of the original arcade machine. There was never a port for the Amiga - until now.

In February 2021 a beta version of "Tinyus" was released to the public - and just like the previous aBYSs releases it's awesome. This is how "Gradius" should look on the Amiga. It doesn't get much more arcade than this - near-perfect graphics, tons of moving objects on screen, and a well done attempt at reproducing the multichannel soundtrack from the original hardware.

The game requires an OCS Amiga with 512KB ChipRAM and 512KB SlowRAM or better, some acceleration / Amiga 1200 is recommended for fluid 50fps performance. At the time of this writing development is still ongoing (beta testing), a final version is likely to be released in the near future.


The latest testing version seems to be 0.2 - if you want to try it, click here to download from aBYSs' website:
http://abyss-online.de/eab/aYs_Tinyus_Beta0.2.adf

(this is a beta version, might be outdated)

Additional sources:
http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=105695
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gradius_(video_game)
http://www.indieretronews.com/2021/02/tinyus-arcade-quality-amiga-ocs-port-of.html


Creeping Me Out: Hex Night

...by Michael "Mixel" Dawes is an action-adventure platformer currently under development, built using Eric "earok" Hogan's Scorpion engine.

The game features characters and locations from Michael's comic series "Creeping Me Out", which you can admire at https://www.creepingmeout.com. (The author explicitly states that no knowledge gained from the comics is required to complete the computer game.)

You control a character called Francis (check out the comic series if you'd like to know more about him) on his search for his friends.

The game is in early development stage, but it already looks gorgeous. Visually, it has lots of elements reminiscent of The Addams Family or The Munsters, as well as 1950s science-fiction in Technicolor, and it's just beautifully drawn and animated. We can already see some interesting little game mechanics, like little bugs that try to attack and stick to Francis. Also there are ladders, scrolls with hidden meanings, things to punch, things that crawl, things that drop, ... lots of things! There will probably be even more things to discover, as the author states he has a strong element of exploration in mind.

The game is planned to require harddisc and/or CD drive. A demo is said to be released soon.

Here's the latest work-in-progress video from Michael's YouTube channel "Mixel's Lab" (2021-03-05):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GxLe6wbrjw

Go to the game's website to find out more:
http://mixelmagic.com/cmo-hex-night-amiga/


And don't forget to buy one of Mixel's comic books:
https://artithmeric.com/author/mfdawes/

Additional sources:
https://twitter.com/MFDawes/
https://www.lemonamiga.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=17454
http://www.indieretronews.com/2021/03/creeping-me-out-hex-night-upcoming.html

 

Crazy Columns ("pre-version")

This is an arcade puzzle game similar to Tetris, and even more similar to 1990 SEGA game "Columns". 

You drop pieces in a playfield like in Tetris, and the pieces' tiles must color-match previously dropped pieces in order to remove them from the playfield. One, or two players on separate playfields simultaneously, control their pieces with keyboard or joystick, accompanied by some decent music tracks. There are multiple different playing modes and background graphics, and you can add your own background images. It runs on any Amiga with 512KB RAM.

"Crazy Columns" has a great soundtrack, looks colorful, but clear and polished, is easy to learn and play, yet challenging and addictive - certainly a must-have for friends of Tetris, Klax, Bust-A-Move/Puzzle Bobble, and the likes, as well as for any casual gamer.

You can watch a video of current "pre-version" 0.98 of "Crazy Columns" on Saberman's YouTube channel:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk0aBMqxzMs

Click here to go the game's website and download the latest version:
https://www.crazy-columns.hoffer-industries.com

Additional sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columns_(video_game)
http://www.amiga-news.de/en/news/AN-2021-01-00036-EN.html
http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=105559
http://www.indieretronews.com/2021/01/crazy-columns-columns-game-makes-its.html

 

"Putter" goes commercial, boxed release

It hasn't been a long time since we reported about "Putter" demo by Jacek "czorny" Nockowski, and we already have an update: Putter has just been released as a commercial, boxed edition with floppy disk and CD.


The game runs on AGA Amiga, and a little bit of acceleration (e.g. overclocked 020) is recommended for optimal performance.

You can buy "Putter" from allegro.pl:
https://allegro.pl/oferta/gra-putter-box-dyskietka-cd-2021-smart-10579173312


Additional sources:
http://www.indieretronews.com/2021/04/putter-charming-little-arcade.html
http://amiga-news.de/en/news/AN-2021-04-00024-EN.html 

* * *

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for "Games galore #18"!


* * *

Support Amiga game development! Buy a game!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Games galore #16: Putter, Heart of Darkness, Super-Go-Down-The-Hole, Space Invaders, Inca Man

When I last said it'd become hard to keep up with Amiga gaming news, it was a little bit tongue-in-cheek. By now it has become genuinely - and enjoyably - hard, with projects and announcements popping up more frequently than the average "Games galore" hobbyist writer is able to update his articles.

Putter (demo)

From the author that created "Chicken Coop" comes another good looking game that involves a frog, and what appears to be soccer plus golfing. 

Built using the RedPill engine, in this game developer "Czorny" lets you control the aforementioned frog in order to kick a soccer ball around the playfield into a hole - kind-of like golfing, only with a vertical jump-and-run playfield with bonus items, obstacles and enemies. 

The word "enemies" is a bit of a stretch here - everything looks really adorable, you'll encounter cute fish and a bird, with minimalistic but very funny and fitting sounds (applause!). This should be well suited for the smaller ones in the family, while still being good fun for grown ups.

Watch "Putter - demo" video (2020-12-10):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ae-Q5MFcdgk

For more information check out the forum thread:
https://www.ppa.pl/rodzynki/putter-wersja-demonstracyjna.html

Additional sources:
http://amiga-news.de/en/news/AN-2020-12-00024-EN.html
https://www.ppa.pl/rodzynki/chicken-coop.html
http://www.indieretronews.com/2020/12/putter-charming-little-arcade.html

Heart of Darkness

If you're an 68000 plus OCS purist, then this is not your favourite game. But if you're into heating up your 68040, or the likes (fast WinUAE counts, too), you're gonna want this.

While the Amiga purist scene is exploding with new releases, fueled even further by modern game construction kits like Scorpion and RedPill engine, it's become comparably silent on the next-generation-Amiga side of things, so high-spec game releases are a welcome sign.

"Heart Of Darkness" is a huge 90s era game ported to the Amiga, that requires some horsepower, and the original PC/Playstation game files (full game, or demo). It's a side-view adventure type game similar to "Another World", but has far more advanced graphics and sound, and truckloads of both. 

You control character Andy on his search for his dog Whiskey through the various places of "Heart Of Darkness", avoiding evil shadows, solving puzzles, wild animals, and other obstacles.

Cinematic movie sequences...

In terms of gameplay, "Heart Of Darkness" is a well known concept, but visually it's certainly another world (...pun...), it's been a long time since such highly elaborate graphics were seen in an Amiga game. The 3D rendered characters don't look scary, but actually likeable, the 3D animators did a great job, and the game characters and backgrounds are just beautifully detailed and animated, along with some handdrawn cartoon effects thrown in. It's a cinematic experience that comes pretty close to playing a part in your own animated feature film.

Great job by the original deverlopers, as well as the Amiga porters. If you have lots of harddisc space, and a fast Amiga (or Vampire or WinUAE), "Heart Of Darkness" is a must-have.

...and high quality animations

Click here to download "Heart of Darkness":
http://netsurf.baderman.net/HeartofDarkness.lha

NOTE: requires original game files (from PC installed full game or demo, copy entire folder to Amiga), and powerful CPU. see sources below for more information.

Additional sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_of_Darkness_(video_game)
https://www.myabandonware.com/game/heart-of-darkness-a4h (PC version download)
https://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=84905 (Amiga version forum thread / instructions)
http://www.indieretronews.com/2020/11/heart-of-darkness-on-amiga-high-end.html


Super-Go-Down-The-Hole

Eric "earok" Hogan has released another game created using his Scorpion engine, called "Super-Go-Down-The-Hole", which is a remake of a PC title by Sergio Cornaga. 

Jump, climb, slide, push, run - the game mechanics are a little bit more sophisticated than your average platformer, and you have to "Super-Go-Down-The-Hole" a hole, which means a cave, figuring out the best ways to avoid obstacles and enemies.

Graphics are simple, but nice and effective, as are the sound effects, with a pretty accurate recreation of the original PC game's music playing along (which probably was played by a MIDI soundcard on the PC). The game requires an Amiga 500 with 512KB ChipRAM and 512KB SlowRAM or better.

Note that "Super-Go-Down-The-Hole" was released beta status - by the time you're reading this there's probably an updated version available, see "Additional sources" below (e.g. EAB thread).

Watch a video of "Super-Go-Down-The-Hole" (2020-12-23):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaKxyqgFw7U

You can download "Super-Go-Down-The-Hole" from earok's website:
http://earok.net/games/sgdth/sgdth.adf

Additional sources:
http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=105116 (game download adf / lha / iso)

https://sergiocornaga.tumblr.com/post/7416495044/you-have-to-go-down-the-hole-2009

http://amiga-news.de/de/news/AN-2020-12-00078-DE.html


Space Invaders

This title sounds familiar, doesn't it? Around December 2020 this new recreation of arcade super classic "Space Invaders" popped up. It's written in BlitzBasic, and the developer's goal is to recreate the original arcade cabinet experience on the Amiga as good as possible.

Meanwhile a couple of updates were made to the game, including "emulation" of the arcade screen overlay that kind-of adds more colors to the game screen.

Well, it's a classic, everybody likes "Space Invaders", and this is a near-perfect implementation. Certainly another entry in the growing list of great new arcade game remakes for the Amiga, created by true enthusiasts, filling the gaps when there wasn't a port before, or surpassing previous efforts.

You can watch a video of "Space Invaders" on Saberman's awesome YouTube channel:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnKjzKhbqj4

Check the EAB link below for latest updates, and download links:
http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=105132

Additional sources:
http://amiga-news.de/en/news/AN-2021-01-00074-EN.html
http://www.indieretronews.com/2020/12/space-invaders-amiga-arcade-homebrew.html

Inca Man

And here is yet another good looking platformer game, from Dec. 2020, created by Amiten team from Spain.

The "Inca Man" has to collect diamonds in the numerous single-screen levels of the game, while avoiding enemies and collecting bonus items. When all diamonds in a level have been collected, a little door opens through which the neat looking player sprite can escape to the next level.

Inca Man title screen - you should see it moving

This has quite a BoulderDash-esque appeal, and indeed not only the diamonds, also the pacing is reminiscent of the classic. In other words: "Inca Man" plays great. But of course it's a different game - a side-view jump-and-collect platformer, with it's own really nice visual style. It looks fine, and has a really fitting soundtrack with epic title theme, and driving arcade-style in-game music plus soundeffects. A password system helps you save your game progress, and there are two two-player modes: cooperative and versus. 

"Inca Man" requires an Amiga with 1MB RAM to run. The game is nearing completion, and should be available soon.

Watch "Inca Man" presentation video on Amiten TV's YouTube channel:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4U-TYImj0I

If you want to know more, visit Amiten's facebook pages and their website:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/clubamiten
https://www.facebook.com/Amibroadcaster/
https://www.amiten.es/

Additional sources:
https://www.amigafrance.com/forums/topic/incaman/
http://amiga-news.de/de/news/AN-2021-01-00015-DE.html

* * *

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for "Games galore #17"!


* * *

Support Amiga game development! Buy a game!

Sunday, April 18, 2021

AADevLog #0 - IEEE and STL 3D file format

This is the first in a loose series of developer logs about projects I'm working on, from little experimental or example code, to more complex ideas. On my quest to create some proper Amiga software - a game! - I have encountered, and will encounter, lots of challenges. 

After a steep learning curve and endless hours of failure, finally there is some usable success - yay! ;-) Over the years I've started many ambitious projects, but all of these turned out to be quite a mess. I realized I needed more basic knowledge and better testing of individual code sections, along with improving my concepts of software architecture. So basically while learning more details about how to use C and AmigaOS, my main task was to scale down my ideas and get stuff to work together properly, so I don't end up with countless individual functions each doing only half-way what's required - in other words: a mess.

Ok, long story short, with "a little bit" (cough) of prior training, I'll just share some of my experience, starting with something I created recently, over a couple of days:

First version of "stl_info" for Linux and AmigaOS

It's called "stl_info", prints out information about an STL 3D file (binary format, as exported by e.g. Blender), and works on Linux and AmigaOS. For Linux, gcc is used for compilation, for Amiga it's vbcc (on Linux, cross-compiling). Currently the number format printed out is a bit weird (for debugging) - just think of the comma as a ".", and omit the "0." (zero integer part of float fraction).

Nothing too spectacular, but maybe a first step towards 3d printing on the Amiga? Anyway, apart from reading some header bytes from the STL file, then some 32bit numbers, etc. there were two slightly more interesting things about developing the program: 

First, long numbers and the endianness thing. To make sure number storage would be identical on both my 64-bit Linux computer and the Amiga I've created a header file called "amigatypes.h" that defines e.g. ULONG as 32 bits like on the Amiga, WORD as 16 bits, etc. Still the byte order is incompatible: my Linux computer is an Intel x86, so it looks at it's bytes least-significant-first, called little-endian, or Intel-byte-order. The Amiga is a Motorola M68000, and looks at it's bytes the other way round, most-significant-first, called big-endian, or Motorola-byte-order. I tried to get around this somehow, but I ended up adding some separate code that swaps bytes around (see picture: bytereverse.c), and is activated in source code by a compiler define "AMIGA". 

And then, IEEE754 numbers. In an STL binary file, Vertex coordinates are stored in IEEE754 floating point number format. (LSB first, part of the file format definition.) If you want to use this number format on AmigaOS as a float datatype, you'll probably be fine with the conversion function "SPFieee()" provided by mathtrans.library, but I wanted to be able to decode IEEE numbers to some custom format, something fixed-point, maybe for a future... game! IEEE numbers are made of three sections of bits: sign, exponent, and mantissa. I won't go into detail here, you can look it up (see links below) if you like. It looks a bit complicated on first sight, but once you work yourself through the individual steps of decoding, you realize: the exponent is just the bit-shift of the mantissa. It looks complicated when expressed as decimal-based math, but is pretty obvious in binary, and probably creates a useable fixed-point fraction. That's nice. Yes, there are more bits involved, you have to do a little bit of fiddling, but the exponent-bit-shift is really neat, feels super binary. (Well, it is.) :-)

If you're interested in IEEE754 here are some links:

https://www.h-schmidt.net/FloatConverter/IEEE754.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_754


So far for the first AADevLog - c u next time!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

How Amiga is a NEC Multisync LCD1970VX monitor?

Whenever a LCD monitor comes around, it's worth testing if it's suitable for Amiga use. According to sources, this one partially supports Amiga screenmodes - I gave it a try, or two.

Let's quickly run down the features of the monitor. This is the "partial support" information gathered from famous website 15khz.wikidot.com: 'No practical evidence. I kindly ask author to provide more information. Support is considered "Partial" for now. "Full" can be after test.'

Here's what the device looks like on the outside, and some specifications:

The NEC Multisync LCD1970VX has a nice front panel with four buttons and mini-joystick (sorry, bad picture)
The stand has room for cable routing, can be rotated, and is height adjustable (spring supported). Display can be tilted. Cable installation and position adjustment is smooth and easy - great stand!
Mains switch and input, and type label

DVI and VGA video connectors - an adapter for Amiga RGB video output is required

It's a 19 inch display, picture aspect is 5:4, and here's a 1280x1024 pixel screen from a Linux laptop:

Linux laptop VGA output, 1280x1024 pixel display mode

How does it perform with the Amiga?

For testing we're using an Amiga 1200, Commodore RGB to VGA adapter (DSUB23 to DSUB15), and VGA cable (DSUB15 to DSUB15), which is connected to the monitor's VGA input. On boot, the Amiga's Workbench is set to "PAL:High Res" 640x256 pixels, default overscan / screen size. For now, we won't change monitor settings manually, and let the monitor do all sensing and adjustments.

There's a picture!
Well, not bad! A (halfway) modern LCD monitor displaying some Amiga-native screenmode is a rare sight. There seems to be something a little off about the pixel clock or phase or something, the screen has slight vertical stripes. Also fonts look a little distorted, maybe due to scaling. Setting some background color, it becomes visible that Workbench screen size doesn't fit display size:
For "PAL:High Res" screenmode, the monitor chooses 640x240 pixel display mode

Ok, let's go through some more screenmodes - "PAL:High Res Laced" next. It shows up quite like the previous mode, but interlace flickering is strong. This might be acceptable for some games, but it quickly gives you nausea when using Workbench and fonts, and is probably completely useless for graphics work with DeluxePaint or the likes. 

"PAL:High Res Laced" screenmode - interlace flicker
"PAL:Low Res" and "PAL:Low Res Laced" screenmodes work as expected: same Workbench area visible, same screen position, same monitor display mode, just pixels double wide.

Same results with "PAL:Super-High Res" and "PAL:Super-High Res Laced", just pixels half as wide, here's what it looks like:

"PAL:Super-High Res" screenmode
"PAL:Super-High Res Laced" screenmode - interlace flicker

We go a little bit more into PC and VGA territory with "MULTISCAN:Productivity" screenmode, with "VGAonly" put into "Devs:Monitors". The monitor almost gets it right, with just a few lines missing at the bottom.

"MULTISCAN:Productivity" screenmode

Most other screenmodes are displayed quite similarly. "NTSC" screens are fully visible (no missing lines at the bottom) and there's very little vertical striping, but position is off. "EURO:72Hz Productivity Laced" looks pretty good: interlace flickering seems to be far less noticeable here. Without "VGAonly", display of the respective screenmodes is a bit off, and in case of "DBLPAL" the monitor complains about frequency range and tries to auto-adjust. Overall, sometimes a message would pop up notifying about the monitor's native resolution - indicating that the signal received isn't perfectly within limits.

"NTSC:High Res" screenmode - fully visible, but not centered

"EURO:72Hz Productivity Laced" screenmode - less interlace flickering compared to other interlaced modes

Some screenmodes are not working at all:

  • "EURO:36Hz" non-interlaced: no picture, frequency out of range
  • "A2024" modes: picture corrupted

"A2024" screenmodes - umh, nope...

So far, so good. So the monitor works when connected to the Amiga, but "out-of-the-box" pretty much none of the screenmodes are displayed flawlessly.

But then... surprise!

Surprisingly, when switching back to "PAL:High Res" from some interlaced screenmode, the entire Workbench area is now properly visible, both horizontally and vertically.

"PAL:High Res" screenmode - now with 800x300 pixel display mode!

I couldn't figure out what precisely causes the change in display mode. There seems to be some sort of limit, which if exceeded causes the monitor to adjust itself differently. Is it the interlacing of some other modes, or some specific higher vertical resolution?

"PAL:Super-High Res Laced" screenmode, 800x300 pixel display mode

Manual tweaking - better results

Until now there was no manual interference with the monitor settings involved. Certainly better results can be achieved with some tweaking. Using the monitors menu button and mini-joystick, the picture's vertical position, horizontal position, and horizontal size can be adjusted. (And colors etc.)

This is the best result I could achieve with "PAL:High Res" screenmode - vertical size adjustment would be nice:

"Best possible" in "PAL:High Res": display resolution switch trick, horizontal size, horizontal position, and vertical position adjusted

"Best possible" in "PAL:High Res", detail from the same screen as above: due to horizontal stretching the vertical stripes become less noticeable, but uneven pixel scaling becomes more visible
(Moire effect caused by photo camera, not display)
And here's a big Workbench using "EURO:72Hz Productivity Laced", which misses only two or three lines of pixels at the bottom:

"Best possible" in "EURO:72Hz Productivity Laced": horizontal size, horizontal position, and vertical position adjusted

The NEC LCD1970VX seems to remember size/position settings, but these apply to all display resolutions, so the picture will probably be off again when switching screenmode.

So is it usable?

Yes and no. It really depends on how you use your Amiga. Amiga-native screen modes' picture quality is average to acceptable. Of course the monitor displays true VGA modes from a PC or Amiga graphics card perfectly. ("MULTISCAN:Productivity" with "VGAonly" and size/position adjustment). The main issue is the switching of monitor display resolutions - depending on what you want to do, this might give you an oddly positioned picture, maybe bad flickering, and spoil the fun. Imagine if you're a gamer, and need to change Workbench screen resolution a couple of times before "PAL:High Res Laced" becomes fully visible, ready to display your game's title screen. Certainly not a desirable setup.

But one can imagine two scenarios where this monitor might be quite welcome:

One is, if you're a Workbench-only Amiga user. You can choose and save some "MULTISCAN:Productivity" screenmode, or "EUR:72Hz Productivity Laced" as shown above, adjust monitor settings, and have a very usable picture on boot and for working. Even better if you have a graphics card with a pass-through connector, this monitor will at least display something when you occasionally need to show some Amiga-native screen.

The other is "lab" work - experimentation, multiple, and different computers. This is where this monitor could be really helpful, as it obviously accepts quite a wide range of signals, and has VGA and DVI inputs. It might also save some serious space on your desk. Unfortunately, composite video / SCART / S-VHS inputs are missing - with these, it would really be versatile.

Additional sources:
http://15khz.wikidot.com
https://www.cnet.com/products/nec-multisync-lcd1970vx/specs/

Thursday, February 11, 2021

AMIGA A1100 - new, awesome Amiga 1000 mainboard!

Awesome news from the hardware scene: After numerous FPGA Amiga implementations, re-imagined Amiga 500 and 1200 mainboards, all sorts of new accelerator designs, and so on, the Amiga 1000 gets a major overhaul with "AMIGA A1100".

Miguel "Estrayk" Fides from Spain has just published information about his "A1100" mainboard, which is designed to fit a Amiga 1000 case. Using modern components along with some original ones, this new mainboard looks quite different from the original Amiga 1000 PCB - and it has a lot of impressive new features:

  • CPU Motorola 68020@14Mhz (PGA)
  • OCS/ECS chipset (original Paula / Agnus / Denise required)
  • 2MB ChipRAM
  • 64MB FastRAM
  • 2.5'' IDE controller
  • support for single and dual Kickstart ROMs (three sockets total)
  • built-in flickerfixer and scandoubler with RGB, cinch and VGA connectors
  • A1000 (86pin) and A1200 (150pin) expansion connectors
  • A1200 clockport
  • ATX power supply connector

According to SysInfo the A1100 is easily twice as fast as a stock Amiga 1200.

It looks as if currently there's no distribution or anything planned, but that doesn't mean it won't happen, the developer is evaluating possible options.

Here's a video showing the A1100 in action (2021-02-10):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cP2rrnZsDm8

Very nice, certainly a great piece of Amiga hardware to keep an eye on!

Sources:
http://www.retrowiki.es/viewtopic.php?t=200036585
http://amiga-news.de/de/news/AN-2021-02-00016-DE.html
https://www.amigafuture.de/app.php/newsportal/?ulg=de&news_id=38632


 

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Games galore #15: Luca Carminati games pack, Mutation Gold Compilation & Cyberpunks 2, Looty v2, Blask

In this issue we take a look at a very mixed set of titles: two compilations of arcade games, a little bit of a top-view shooter, a platformer, a first person shooter, and as a bonus the full free release of a strategy classic.
 

Amiga games pack by LC-Games

 
Luca "LC-Games" Carminati has released a set of games he has developed between 1995 and 1998 as an "Amiga games pack" - for free. Cool!

The games are: Croins (an Asteroids clone), Hyper Viper, Kangy, Marietto, and arcade sports game Slalom Speciale.

Hyper Viper, snake type game in a maze

Some of the games have previously been released as shareware titles. Now you can download the ADFs from LC-Games' itch.io page, and enjoy all full versions.

Kangy, a platformer

Arcade gaming with neat graphics and sound, and you get the full package, check this out: "Croins" is a well made Asteroids clone with pounding techno music on the title screen, "Hyper Viper" a snake-type game with a funny looking green worm and less pounding but equally enjoyable music, "Kangy" a platformer with cute looking animals and palm trees, "Marietto" is quite a unique blend of several classic game styles and can get pretty hectic, and finally "Slalom Speciale" is an unobtrusive skiing game.

Marietto - Pang meets Galaga meets Fury of the Furries

All included games are decent titles, no technical spectacle here, but pretty straightforward, and very Amiga-ish, arcade gaming. Very nice - Molto grazie, Luca!

Read more, and download "Amiga games pack" from LC-Games' website page:
https://lowcarb.itch.io/amiga-games-pack

Additional sources:
http://amiga-news.de/de/news/AN-2020-11-00060-DE.html
http://www.indieretronews.com/2020/11/an-amiga-games-pack-released-by-luca.html

 

Mutation Gold Compilation & Cyberpunks 2

 
Support for the Amiga CD32 is always rare, and very much appreciated. Mutation Software has re-released it's "Mutation Gold Compilation" for Amiga CD32, a collection of five games. All games have received some fixes and updates, including adaptions to CD32 joypad.

The individual games are: Doodlebug, Cyberpunks, Tin Toy, Tommy Gun and Castle Kingdoms.

Doodlebug, included in the "Mutation Gold Compilation"

The current (minimum) price for the "Gold Compilation" is $13.49 - but note that for just a few bucks more you can make a bargain and buy the "CD32 Games Bundle" which includes the "Gold Compilation" plus "Wiz - Quest for the Magic Lantern" (CD32 version).

Go to Mutation Software's "Gold Compilation" website page for more information and purchase:
https://softamuse.itch.io/mgc-cd32

Mutation Software has also announced a new game: "Cyberpunks 2" for AGA Amigas, a sequel to top down shooter "Cyberpunks" from 1993 (for OCS/ECS Amigas). "Cyberpunks 2" is said to be for 1 or 2 players, have new levels and new gameplay, and a tentative release date in late 2021.

1993 game "Cyberpunks", sequel announced

Read more about Mutation Software's releases at:
https://mutationsoftware.uk

Additional sources:
http://amiga-news.de/en/news/AN-2020-11-00044-EN.html
http://www.indieretronews.com/2020/11/mutation-gold-compilation-and.html
http://hol.abime.net/6231 ("Gold Compilation" original 1998 release)

 

Looty v2

"Looty v2" for all Amigas with 1MB ChipRAM is an updated version of 1993 public domain title "Looty", inspired by ZX Spectrum game "Booty".

It certainly still requires a little bit of polish, but it's quite fast paced, plays smoothly, and: it has a level editor! A platformer with a level editor - that sounds like hours and hours of creating challenging courses. The author has expressed interest in improving the game further, and he'd like a graphics artist to join in. Maybe this is your chance?

Here you can watch a video of "Looty v2" (2020-11-19):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3sBHOZ5F_Q

Read more, and purchase (you can name your own price!) the game at:
https://mixelsoftware.itch.io/looty-v2

Additional sources:
http://www.indieretronews.com/2020/11/looty-v2-amiga-game-inspired-by-classic.html
http://amiga-news.de/de/news/AN-2020-12-00001-DE.html
https://www.amigafuture.de/app.php/newsportal/?ulg=de&news_id=38424

http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=104728


Blask, early first person shooter demo

Doom never stops. After "Dread" here's another 2020 low-spec Amiga first person shooter, called "Blask". Actually this project seems to have been around for quite a while, mostly under the name of "Alien Enemy: Dangerous", with occasional tech demos popping up - this one is the latest.

Not too much to show here, but this already looks quite enjoyable. Written in AMOS, it has what appears to be pretty smooth 3D graphics, proper graphics and color palette, and this simple, but quite convincing light source effect.

Certainly a welcome addition to the set of first-person shooters available for the Amiga, make sure you stay up to date on this one.

You can watch the latest tech demo of "Blask" on YouTube (2020-11-09):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIZMbPKN4o4

You can download the demo here:
https://chomikuj.pl/marowu/blaskscr,7450164853.adf

Additional sources:
https://www.ppa.pl/forum/programowanie/36707/alien-enemy-dangerous/14#m702587
http://amiga-news.de/de/news/AN-2020-11-00021-DE.html
http://www.indieretronews.com/2020/11/blask-first-person-shooter-amiga-tech.html

* * *
 

...and again some bonus gaming news:

Archon and Archon 2 full versions for free

In November 2020 printmag "Amiga Future" continued their efforts of releasing full Amiga software titles for free with the addition of two highly regarded classics: "action-chess"-type games "Archon" and "Archon 2"!

"Archon" from 1985 (Amiga release)

"Archon" (Greek for "ruler") by Electronic Arts was first released for Atari 8-bit computers in 1983, received rave reviews, and was ported to many other platforms, including Amiga. It's a fast-paced mixture of chess-type strategy, and realtime combat action sequences deciding the outcome of individual attacks.

"Archon" combat section
"Archon 2: Adept" from 1984 was the first sequel, released for Amiga in 1988. In later years, more sequels would follow: "Archon Ultra" for MS-DOS in 1994, "Archon: Evolution" around 2007 using some of the original 8-bit code, "Archon" remakes for mobile devices, "Archon Classic" in 2010 available on Steam, and there seems to be another new version in development since 2017.

"Archon 2: Adept" from 1988 (Amiga release)

The games' disk files are available in ADF, IPF (Archon and Archon 2) and WHD (Archon 2 only) format, plus a manual in PDF.

Go to Amiga Future magazine's website to download "Archon" and "Archon 2":
https://www.amigafuture.de/app.php/dlext/search?search_keywords=archon


Additional sources:
https://www.amigafuture.de/app.php/newsportal/?ulg=de&news_id=38388
http://www.amiga-news.de/en/news/AN-2020-11-00040-EN.html
https://www.facebook.com/playArchon/
https://archive.org/details/ArchonEvolution
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archon_Ultra


* * *

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for "Games galore #16"!


* * *

Support Amiga game development! Buy a game!

Friday, February 5, 2021

The Kickstart switcher from hell

or: How not to build an electronic device

Learning from this little case study might save the beginner some hours of mistakes and wasted experimentation. A Kickstart switcher for an Amiga 500/600/2000 computer is not a complex device, so for many aspiring hardware developers it's one of the first projects to try. I was one of these.

A couple of years ago, my intention was just to build something usable for the Amiga, and not waste a lot of time on research and obtaining material. A Kickstart switcher quickly came to mind, and it looked as if - with some extra manual work - my initially very limited set of tools and components would be sufficent to get the job done. All I used for the Kickstart switcher is: some drilled circuit board, 2x DIP IC sockets, wire, single-row pin headers, 2x jumpers, and a resistor. I think I got the schematics from AmiNet.

Cutting a lot of short pieces of wire, and using tweezers to put them into place didn't scare me - here's what I came up with:

Well, it's undeniably a Kickstart switcher.

Let's start with the positive aspect:

It cost very little, and any electronic components dealer probably has the required components in stock at any time.

But that's really about it - and this is where the "hell" part comes in:

Using a single sided drilled circuit board doesn't make planning exceptionally easy. A Kickstart switcher requires a lot of signals to be passed from one IC to the next, which using plastic-coated wires requires an unusual amount of space on the circuit board. 

I figured out I had to do the routing on both sides of the board, and have lots of wires cross lines of IC pins and solder pads. Also there would be a certain order required which part to solder before adding the next one.

I was ambitious and wanted to build a compact, small board.

Which turned out to be... interesting.

I started having doubts about my design when pulling the wires under the first IC socket, and soldering them to the second one. This was extremely tedious: the wires are a little too stiff for such short lengths, and needed to be soldered almost underneath the second IC socket. So there was very little room to work here, with stubborn hot wires and hot solder slipping around. I frequently touched plastic parts or wire insulation with the solder iron, leaving ugly markings.

After the doubts came the hate. 

When I accidentally dropped some solder on one of the inner wires I had already done, and wanted to remove the excessive solder, the wire came loose. I quickly realized this was near impossible to fix without either damaging plastic parts, or touching solder nearby, which would make one of the other wires come loose. My morale was sinking, but I went on, and after some serious fiddling I managed to fix and finish the solder work. 

Or so I had thought...

This looks quite tidy. But it's the devil's work.  

Then I checked with a multimeter for shorts. Everything looked flawless from visual inspection, but then... BEEP! What? I really wasn't expecting this. You'd probably expect a short to happen with solderpads next to each other, but I had accidentally touched opposite sides of IC pin rows, and the multimeter had beeped... ?!

It took me a little while to find out what was going on. 

And I hated myself even more.

With all the space saving considerations, all the wires were now in-line with all solder points. I had been soldering the bottom side wires to the board first. So what was happening was: When I soldered wires from the top side of the board, the hot metal wire would stick through the drilled board, and melt the insulation of the bottom side wire below it, creating a short.

Great. Quality design.

Well, eventually I finished the damn thing, and tested it.

Today, I still don't know if it works properly, and I don't want to. It might have fried the 2.04 ROM chip you can see in the first picture - it creates a red bootscreen on the Amiga.

It was a little, interesting journey, but I'm through with this Kickstart switcher.

Now it sits here on my desk, as a grim & funny reminder of how not to build an electronic device, especially not a prototype. 

It all comes down to basically one important lesson learned: Leave some space! If you build such a thing, always add a couple of extra millimetres here and there as working space, for corrections, unexpected wire, or just to simplify visual inspection. Being a little generous with space might save you a lot of time, and from getting unusable results.

"Kickstart switcher from hell"