"The only other problem is that sometimes not even rose-tinted nostalgia-specs can prevent the games of yesteryear being, well, just a little bit rubbish. Except F/A 18 Interceptor."
Looking glumly at that hunk of retrocomputing-esque plastic you got for Christmas? Realised that the keys on that mini Commodore 64 were just there for decoration? Fear not, for classic Commodore botherers, Cloanto, have just the thing. Lovers of retro kit, lacking the desk space to set up their prized '80s memorabilia, or the …
Many, many hours spent playing this on my A500 (with 1meg upgrade) when I was about 10. I was fascinated with the cardboard code wheel that was needed to start the game. I could never complete the fourth mission though, even when I shot everything down and landed on the Russian sub carrier.
Under the bridge, vertical climb with afterburners, power off, drop backwards into horizontal flight, roll upright, power on - and see how close you could cut it.
Or ab takeoff, go over vertical, power down, roll upright, power on.
Ah, the memories.
And Skidmarks was fun.
I used to have around 200 demo disks. I actually met the guys behind SAE.
Arnor Protext and Lattice C... Ah, the good old days.
" I actually met the guys behind SAE."
I once got sent out to fix a PC, needed a new motherboard. I did a double take on the address. Team 17!!!
What I remember most about the visit was the live size "cowboy/western" style cacti around the room built from hot-glued coke cans :-)
I have a distant memory, that as a child my father took me to a block of offices just behind Central Library, Manchester, that were full of computers of all kinds. I learned later that this had been the first headquarters of Ocean Software (now defunct). Oh how I wish I could remember that visit more clearly.
"I could never complete the fourth mission though"
I think you were supposed to sink the sub. Being able to re-arm by landing on it was a bug, h, and it was the sixth mission ;)
There's an interesting interview with Bob Dinnerman (the author of the game) available here. A quote:
Me: What exactly is required to complete the last mission with the enemy aircraft carrier? Nobody who has ever done it knows exactly what they did.
Bob: Ah yes, the 'infamous' last mission of F/A-18 Interceptor... As far as what I believe I did, the destruction of all enemy aircraft plus the enemy sub and a successful return to base should do it. I must note though, that the enemy carrier sub never actually blows up even if it's deemed destroyed! However I'm admittedly a bit remiss on exactly what constitutes the carrier sub having been destroyed, that is, perhaps the minimum number of cannon or missile hits on it, etc. I apologize for my brain lapse on this detail from 15 years ago! Another detail that I'm curious to know is if after one elects to and successfully lands on the carrier sub and gets rearmed/refueled, can he/she resume the mission and blast away at the carrier some more?! Some day I should find and dig up the code, go through it and verify what conditions are required to complete that mission. Again, my humble apologies. A footnote: Maybe the elusiveness to being able to complete this mission (though unintentional) has contributed to the game's lure??
Pro tip: it was ported to DOS as Jetfighter, and Jetfighter 2 is a direct enhancement. As in, it could be the same game but for the addition of 256-colour VGA graphics. It works well in DOSBOX if you don't turn the emulated speed up too high (that makes the floor flicker terribly, for some reason), but alas doesn't seem to be available through GoG or elsewhere.
Splitting the product into two editions like that - a 1.3 and 3.x kickstart version.
I would have thought it better to sell one product for a low, impulse purchase price especially since they're competing against free. After all it's not hard to download ROMs or workbench disks, or dists like Amiga In A Box which simplify setting up WinUAE.
Looks like classic Menu pricing to me. If you can sell only at £30, you can't get any of the cash from people with a tenner spare.
This way, they get access to more customers, with an upgrade option for people who go in cheap for whatever reason who later decide to go with the shinier option.
"Looks like classic Menu pricing to me. If you can sell only at £30, you can't get any of the cash from people with a tenner spare."
Yes, it's probably the licensing cost for the ROMS. As other have mentioned, it's not hard to find the ROMS for "free" out on the 'net, but a lot of people want things to "just work".
"Looks like classic Menu pricing to me. If you can sell only at £30, you can't get any of the cash from people with a tenner spare."
As a customer (insert standard disclaimer) who went with the cheaper option because I was only looking to play a load of old games, I suspect they split the options based on likely customer demand for games versus A500 and games and the full range of Amiga support
There may also be a licensing cost, but I don't have any details.
The copper chip was, and remains, an impressive piece of kit. I was watching some terrible films over Xmas, but some direct to video productions from the 90s (with impressive headline stars I must say, such as Christopher Lee, Patrick Macnee and Denholm Elliott) had me jumping with glee as the titles were clearly done using an Amiga plus genlock. That budget set up produced a really characteristic look.
It would be a great disappointment to you...
At its absolute fastest, The 68000 operates at around 1 instruction per four clock cycles - that's the minimum time to transfer any data from RAM to CPU in a 68000 system*. So, just shy of 2 million instructions per second, flat out (i.e., no memory access except instruction-fetch), although about half of instructions require an additional bus cycle (=4 clock cycles) to fetch an operand or store a result, so let's say 1.5 million operations per second as a theoretical maximum for useful code. Let's double that to account for Blitter access (although in reality, the Amiga's odd RAM architecture meant you could never hit that maximum - you'd always need to shunt stuff from "regular" RAM into the "chip" RAM that the co-processors and video system could access)
(Incidentally, if you're interested in where the Amiga's Copper co-processor sprang from, you should read up on the Atari 800's video hardware: they had the same designer, and the same concepts are in there too.)
The latest Core i7 CPU, clocked at 4-ish GHz, is 500 times faster than that 68000 (ignore for now that that the actual average speed of the part is lower than 4 GHz), so multiplying up our 68000 efficiency, we'd expect 750 million instructions per second, or maybe 1.0~1.5 billion operations if we count the Amiga's co-processors no?
In fact, the Core i7 8700k runs at about 35 billion instructions per second: nearly ten instructions per clock-cycle, compared to the 68000's peak 0.25 instructions per clock cycle. That's thanks to using multiple cores, multi-level caches, and about four decades worth of pipeline optimisation that often results in instructions executing in "zero" cycles (i.e., the pipeline has the result ready before the instruction is due to be executed).
On the other hand, the 68000's simplicity meant that a single, reasonably competent engineer could design a full bus-decoder and glue logic package for a 68000 in a couple of weeks, and the lack of caches and deep pipelines made the 68000 a very predictable part in terms of timing: essential for real-time applications - this is why the family had such a long second career as an embedded controller (as the Motorola/Freescale/NXP 683xx).
* This relatively long bus cycle is what allowed systems like Atari ST to run video out of the RAM with no bus penalty: if you're careful to isolate the 68000's address signals from the bus when they're not needed by your RAM, you'll free up enough bus time to slip in a second RAM fetch in each 4-cycle bus period without interfering with the 68000's access.
Well, both iOS and Windows Phone do/did what you want: the UI refresh and event collection processes are run at higher priority than the rest of the system. Windows Phone's API also encouraged the use of asynchronous programming, which allowed the system to be exceptionally responsive even on low-end hardware. Plus, like AmigaOS, both of these are platforms where you're not running more than a handful of user applications at once. However, both iOS and Windows Phone exposed an opposite problem: the UI refresh and animations can keep working even when the app itself has stopped listening (I wish I could say that this phenomenon is only seen by developers while debugging their code...)
"Windows" and "Linux" really aren't single things. The responsiveness of your application on these systems depends largely on what framework or API you're using: UWP on Windows encourages developers to write asynchronous code that responds quickly to user interaction so you get the same fluidity as its late Phone cousin, but WPF and Win32 do not. On Linux, of the toolkits I've used in anger, Qt apps respond better than GTK+ ones, and Linux has the added overhead of using X11 messaging for events.
MacOS is an odd case - it keeps some of iOS's smoothness, but also some of iOS's annoying feeling of powerlessness: cocoa apps alway feel like you're using safety scissors. It seems responsive, in that it doesn't stutter, but there's a very, very slight delay that provokes the feeling that the controls you're using are somehow not directly attached to the application functions - it's hard to describe, but to me the Carbon framework always felt "snappier".
In any case, my memories of Amiga differ to yours: on the A500 I owned, I found it sluggish with frequent stutters when running more than one application. I tried to keep those situations to a bare minimum, as Commodore's decision to try do pre-emptive multitasking on a CPU without hardware memory management made working on Amiga an exercise in saving your work very, very often. For games, though, it was incredible.
The OS made the simultaneous I/O possible which is way then went with pre-emptive multitasking to be able to service interrupts. You could talk to everything, all at the same time, and it didn't grind to a halt. On everything else if you did something crazy like read the disc then you probably couldn't talk to the rest of the hardware until you'd finished.
The CPU didn't have MMU but apart from that the implementation was sound (remember the 030 came out as late as 1987, two years after the Amiga's release). I guess nobody complained about lack of memory management on other computers of the time because you couldn't even properly multitask on those.
Then Commodore International were just happy to coast on the initial success. R&D never made it into end products. ECS and AGA were late and AAA never appeared but even around the time of Commodore UK folding (the last part of Commodore to survive), Exec, Intuition, and so on were still practically indistinguishable from magic when compared to Windows 3.1 and Mac's horrid APIs.
I guess Linux is the closest thing there is at the moment to the Amiga's OS, which was UNIX inspired after all (although an earlier, less bloated, UNIX). I suppose BeOS would have been a little closer to the spirit of the Amiga but I never got to play with that.
But still don't know how contemporary OSes have turned into gigabyte-sized things and are hardly more functional while running on CPUs which are orders of magnitude more powerful.
The issue with the 68000 was not that it lacked an MMU, but that it couldn't reliably restore the CPU state after a bus error (i.e., a bad memory access), so even if the system bus-decode logic implemented hardware memory protection, the CPU couldn't do the recovery from such an error. This was actually a bug in the CPU design, which was fixed in the 68010 in 1982. When Amiga was being finalised, the 68010 was readily available, and was at more or less the same price: 68010 was a very small revision to the 68000, and was pin-compatible and code-compatible except for one single instruction (MOVE SR,<...>) that was made unavailable to User-mode code.
The reason why the Amiga didn't use 68010 is clearer when you look at the development of the computer: Amiga was developed as a games console*, with Atari as the intended customer. Because of this, there was no OS developed in tandem with the project - and even if there had been, it would have been single-tasking. When Atari collapsed in 1984, and the Amiga contract passed from Atari to Commodore, the priority changed: consoles were believed to be dead and buried, and Commodore wanted something to compete with the Apple Macintosh. Commodore's internal effort at a 68000-based launcher, filesystem and CLI ("a DOS", basically) ran behind schedule, so they licensed the British Tripos product and ported it to the simple kernel they'd already got working ("Exec"). Tripos is where 'df0:' and its friends come from in AmigaDOS.
Neither Exec nor the Tripos kernel were Unix-based. VMS and CP/M seem to be major influences on Tripos, and Commodore's Exec was a tiny, clean-sheet scheduler and interrupt handler - and a somewhat odd one, as it ran in 68000's user, not supervisor, mode.
Anyway, there's an interesting comparison of AmigaDOS and Tripos here, plus the manuals for both OSes: https://www.pagetable.com/?p=193
I didn't say UNIX based but UNIX inspired, the guy who did Exec himself said so in the Bedrooms to Billions Amiga Years documentary (well worth watching). When the bottom dropped out of the videogame market in the US and they decided they wanted to repurpose it as a computer, they of course decided they wanted to do a proper computer and as they'd previously seen a highly expensive UNIX system they decided that they would do the same at a cheaper price point.
Thanks for the other info. Not going for an 010 if it was so compatible does seem like a mistake, perhaps there was some slight incompatibility with the custom hardware or OS or they had so little time to release they didn't want to chance it without testing thoroughly.
Apollo's first workstation worked around the 68000 limitation by running two processors, with the second one slightly behind the first, and swapping between them on a page fault - the second one didn't have to recover its state, because the MMU had already done its work when the first one hit the fault.
@Kristian Walsh; "the Atari 800's video hardware: they had the same designer, and the same concepts are in there too"
Indeed. The Amiga was far more the spiritual heir to the Atari 800 than the Atari ST was. As you note, it had a number of the same designers, shared many architectural similarities (#) and shared the same approach of incorporating several custom-designed chips and being state-of-the-art when it came out.
Whereas the Atari ST- based more around off-the-shelf components- was a product of the "Power without the price" approach of Jack Tramiel, who had bought out the original Atari's computer business in 1984, but had a very different philosophy- probably more akin to that of Commodore which he had recently left. (Not to mention he got rid of most of the existing Atari Inc. engineers and developers and replaced them with his own people anyway).
(#) In much the same way that the Atari 800 in turn shared similarities its predecessor, the VCS/2600 console, but was far more advanced than it.
"...where the Amiga's Copper co-processor sprang from, you should read up on the Atari 800's video hardware: they had the same designer, and the same concepts are in there too..."
The "incestuestnous" of commodore/atari systems, designers and concepts is rather interesting reading. Affter going through the history you're left with the impression that it really should have been the Commodore ST and the Atari Amiga
The Amiga was so powerful because of all it's custom chips, which dealt with graphics, sound, I/O etc. The CPU was only a small part of what made the system great.
And if you meet someone in the their late 30's/early 40's who's named their daughters Agnes, Paula, and Denise, you can take a pretty good guess at what computer they had as a kid ;)
Poor Agnus, she had a terrible time. Success went straight to her waistline... which lead to some very choice nicknames. It is not will known but she did eventually she became a Lady but alas not even that could stop her being replaced by Alice! So at the very least you could perhaps get her name right?
On a slightly different matter I do not believe there is anyone on the planet who is geeky enough to name thier potential offspring after the Amiga Chipset trilogy that has also been able to convince a person of the opposite sex to play hide the sausage with them even once (let alone 3 times)
WinUAE is already pre-configured for various Amiga machines and it is constantly updated with new features and bug fixes by the author Toni Wilen. Also if you wish to experience a different Amiga with those add-ons you drooled over back in the day, then it's just a couple of clicks with the mouse and you're good to go. Any extra ROMs needed are easily found via your favourite search engine or from Aminet. Plus the author is quite approachable with any problems you have or you can post your problems with the software at the EAB Amiga forum.
FWIW I've tried the Cloanto version before and I deemed it to be a poor implementation of such an iconic family of computers. I see nothing in this new version that will change my mind.
As Cloanto are one of the companies to hold some of the Amiga IP they should perhaps look at releasing some hardware based Amiga running UAE that more just plug and play like the NES mini, Playstation classic etc.
Raspberry PI style hardware is cheap and capable of running Amiga emulation well enough to not require a PC these days, so with a nice official Amiga branded case and a good software front end I think they could be on to a winner for those less technically minded who just want to play retro games.
I recently fired up my actual Amiga hardware and played Another World which still stands up both graphically and gameplay for a game that is approaching 30 years old. One thing that is noticeable of old game compared to new is that retro games tend to have the difficulty level much higher than modern games. Perhaps this is because games were not a big so they needed to make the game harder to make it last longer and worth the money, or the more cynical might say that modern games are made easier so the player completes them quicker and is therefore more likely to go and spend more money on other games.
I think a large chunk of it is that early games (especially during the Amiga's shareware boom, when one-man-shops were almost the norm) were playtested primarily by the developers themselves, and their sheer familiarity with their own project lead to the difficulty creeping up.
This created a market full of difficult games, convincing everyone else that the market wanted games to be hard - and as a small child at the time, I was happy to invest hours and hours into becoming good at them.
Then in the late 90s devs starting saying things like "I want players to see the end of this game", and larger studios began to seek wider audiences (including older gamers with less free time), so they slowly dropped the difficulty down or more commonly introduced variable difficulties so that the players could choose their poison.
I think my favourite example of that was the original X-Com game, where a bug silently reset the game difficulty to easy on first save. A bug that was discovered by a fan porting the game over a _decade_ later, by which point the famously super-hard sequel "Terror From the Deep" had already been made based on feedback that the original was "too easy".
"some of the Amiga IP they should perhaps look at releasing some hardware based Amiga running UAE"
From what I can tell, the rights to anything associated with Commodore are a complete clusterfuck.
They've been split up, bought out by different parties then sold on, and sublicensed to various parties over almost twenty-five years such that it's virtually impossible to know who owns what.
For example, did you know that the (now defunct) company that made the "PC in a Commodore 64 case", sold an "Amiga Mini" which was essentially a standard x86 PC in a Mac Mini-style case, or that they sold HTPC cases known as the "Amiga 1000" and others named after classic models that had nothing to do with them?
At the *same* time that the (current) Amiga Inc. were selling/licensing AmigaOS and the "official" Amiga hardware that ran it. (Although it should be noted that present-day "Amiga" hardware has little in common with the classic hardware, aren't directly- barebones- compatible with it or classic games, and are really an excuse to make money off the OS by requiring that it run on hardware that's hugely overpriced and underpowered compared to present-day PCs).
My trusty Miggy still sits on my desk with its accompanying multiscan CRT (Commodore, of course). Much more enjoyable than firing up an emulator on the modern black box that resides at the other end of the desk.
Oh, and there's also a C64 tucked on there too.
Well, it's UAE underneath - you'd expect it to be spot-on.
I remember (vaguely - it was between 10 and 15 years ago, I think) one of the then-owners (or perhaps not since there's been so much dispute) made a formal decree that UAE was "officially" an Amiga, and software could not be described as Amiga-compatible unless it ran correctly on it.
So, it turns out that your emulated Amiga isn't an emulated Amiga - it's a real Amiga.
(Still something nice about using original hardware, though - cracking out Virtua Fighter on a 32X, for example, is much better than using NeoGenesis.)
I was playing a lot of old games over Christmas using WinUAE on an old ThinkPad with HDMI I salvaged connected to my TV and a cheap Trust joypad and one of those little handheld keyboard/trackpad contraptions. Mainly CD32 games as it doesn’t require fiddling with the settings to swap the floppy images. There are lots of compilation CDs out there that let you boot WinUAE from the iso image and then select the games with no swapping also lots of old abandonware cover CDs. What strikes me is how some of the early A500 games look better than the more recent AGA games because they better used the colour palette available to them and put more work into the graphics. A great example is Xenon 2 Megablast the limited palette seems to improve the look and feel of the game. Other ones I was playing were Fire and Ice which felt very Christmassy, Apidiya, Alien Breed 2, Project X and one of my old favorites Moonstone which still seems to crash randomly like it used to on my A500. :)
I own a copy of Amiga Forever and all the Roms and games plus a bunch I have acquired over the years. I still like using it ever so often. I even have Pee Cee game versions of Superfrog and Repton. Wasted many happy hours playing games on an A500 then a A1200 with 80Mb hard drive and 8 Mb of Ram. That was hacked to boot to a 1.3 rom for old games (both were actually). Now I can play flac files and run games at the same time on my PC. Happy times on the Amiga. My ex wife called it toy town computing and insisted we get a PC in 1996. Upgraded to another wife in USA in 1999. Much Happier.
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