Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category

Top 10 Atari ST indie games.

February 4, 2011

By ChrisTOS

The Atari ST had it’s large share of shareware, freeware and PD games. They were generally found in the PD pages of Atari ST magazines and were collectively known as public domain. Nowadays we call those indie games (from independent) and I prefer that term since it’s broader than all the other terms combined and pretty much explains them. One term to bind them…

So before I start the list, let’s set some ground rules. First of all the list didn’t come from any collective effort. It’s not even comprehensive since only a small fraction of the Indie  games available have been played by the authors of lowres.  Also the games included are the ones that appeal more to the author, which sadly means that you will not find any RPG’s.

So let’s start the countdown.

10. Sinister Developments Centipede. Centipede is a well known game from the arcades that made it to the ST thanks to the efforts of Sinister Developments. There is not much to say about the game other than that it’s nicely drawn, super smooth and with nice sound effects. Unfortunately there is a small logic flaw in the game that might spoil the fun but I had to know it was there to spot it. Still Sinister have given us some great arcade conversions and they are worth a place in the list. Even if it is the last.

9. Holocaust. Holocaust is a 2d vertical scrolling shoot’ em up game.  It features many levels, smooth scrolling, good looking graphics, nice music or samples as well as animations  and a little of voice narrative -with the use of a speech.tos the st speech trademark- to promote the story. Did I mention everything runs in 1 VBL?  The enemy waves don’t shoot at you, which is a good thing, but issues such as the high level of difficulty and the total lack of information such as  shield, score etc award it only the 9th place.  Still the game outshines most commercial efforts and is very polished for an indie game.

8.  Entombed. A Rick Dangerous clone. You are an Egyptian trapped in an Egyptian tomb and you need to escape. So pick up your bow and arrows and keys, avoid the pikes and the fires and the waters, solve the insiduous puzzles enjoy the beautiful graphics and the simplistic sound effects and whatever you do don’t forget to have someone call you after a few hours of gameplay to get you back to reality. There are five tombs, one worse than the one before.

7.  Frantick. In 1993 Atari released it’s ill fated Atari jaguar console. The best game for it was Tempest 2000 but the ST version of Tempest is better left in the bad memories of those who bought it. So why this introduction? Is Frantick a Tempest clone? No, not quite but I bet it was inspired from that. You see the gameplay is similar… only in 2d. The enemy waves come to you from up and down and are strikingly similar to those in Tempest. There are power ups, bombs and bonus stages, great samples and the music fits the frantick gameplay. Though it doesn’t induce Jeff Minter’s epileptical seizures, Dave Munsie comes close with one of the best arcade shooters on the ST. With 4 game modes and 50 waves there’s a lot of gameplay time.

6.  Grandad 2 – In search of Sandwitches. Grandad 2 is a beautiful graphic adventure. You are an old person who lost his sandwiches and is trying to find them. The humour is excellent, the main character is the stereotype of the grumpy smelly old man, the puzzles are interesting and the graphics are beautiful.. but using the joystick to control an adventure game kind of feels wrong. There is very little sound in the game but the game is one of  the best written adventures made for the ST. The game was well worth the shareware fee Mr Ian Scott demanded.

We are almost ready to move to the top 5.  Now things get difficult 😀

5. Crapman. Pacman has been one of the most remade games in the history of videogaming. It’s never been done so well in the Atari 16/32 platform at least. Crapman was part of the Synergy mega demo and it inherits all the achievements of the demoscene. Smooth 8-directional  scrolling, constant framerate and great level design make this excellent dot eating game.

4. Cybernetix: What happens when Defender meets Asteroids? A very smooth game (but with some drops in the framerate when a lot of sprites appear), beautiful graphics and lovely sound effects. Quite a few types of enemies, a lot of sectors to clear and a more than reasonable 5 quid asked by Mr Paul Andrews and Mr Rodney Smith.  The game is fast paced and of excellent quality. Plus you don’t lose your power ups when you lose a life. How cool is that?

3. Superfly: All games by Reservoir Gods deserve a place in the top 10, but this one is probably the most addictive one of them all. Simplistic graphics, beautiful music, great looking sprites and more modes to play in this one button avoid em up then you can count, make for an amazing gaming experience. Go save Kylie from Dr Evil, from water to air to space and open all the secrets.

2. Starball, a pinball game where you have to shoot monsters and ships using the ball.  It’s a game that combines the usual gameplay of a pinball game with forcefields, space stations and minigames. If you ever wanted to know how it is to play space invaders and arkanoid with pinball rackets then this is the game for you. Starball will run on all ataris and will make use of the extra hardware. Beautiful graphics and sounds, fast action and lots of hours will be spent on it. Only complaint is the ball physics. It feels like Newton’s first, second and third laws don’t work the same way in starball’s universe.

1. Llamatron: Once upon a time there was in the arcades a game called Robotron. Jeff Minter prefers Llamas so you get to go on a shooting rampage with your friendly neighborhood llama. So pick up the powerups and beasties, kill everything else, finish all the levels and get your epilepsy medicines. The game can be played with one or two joysticks just like the original Robotron. Llamatron was probably the most succesful shareware game ever released for the ST. Jeff Minter has said he received thousands of letters, and while not all the people payed the shareware fee a significant portion did. 5 pounds well spent.

Llamatron

A random level from llamatron

So, this is our list. What’s yours? Please send us your comments and your favourite indie ST games.

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Kolmik (Deluxe Edition) review.

February 4, 2011

Kolmik is the new Atari ST game from Paradize and as you would have guessed it’s another puzzle game which this time has the player create columns and lines of same colour tiles (depending on game mode).

Presentation: The presentation of the game is quite good actually with a lovely Paradize logo displayed and a nice mod being played at the beginning, while the game logo is one of the nicest I’ve seen. The game options screen is very informative and it includes the game type selection, the game rules while the setup screen allows you to select between music and sound effects on/off and the difficulty level.

Kolmik Options screen

The Kolmik options screen

Graphics: The game graphics are very reminiscent of the graphics used in the Paradize previous offering Znax with the usual for the group predominance of purrple. They work very well and are easy on the eye and after all this is a puzzle game. The colours do fit very well.

Sound: This is really the strongest part of the game with some lovely tunes from DMA-Sc. There are separate tunes for each game mode, for almost every screen and game mode and though music is in the ear of the beholder I like all of them very much. The sound effects are minimalistic but they do complement the game very well.

Classic Kolmik screen

The classic Kolmik screen.

Gameplay: There are two game modes, classic kolmik and square frenzy. In the classic mode you get 3 rows of 12 tiles each and you need to drag them left or right so as to make columns of the same colour. You have a limited amount of moves and for each column completed you get an extra move. In the square frenzy mode you have a square of 8×8 tiles and you need to complete one row or column of the same colour. Again you have a limited number of moves which get renewed once you complete a row or column. The game is controlled with the mouse and three methods are used, a drag and drop method where you drag and drop a line left or right, the use of arrows left or right of the tile area and the keypad. Square frenzy only supports drag and drop. I personally prefer using the arrows but the drag and drop method isn’t that bad. It’s not that good either.

My biggest complaint though is that it’s not really addictive. While you get used to the controls I find little point in the game. I can’t really point my finger at one thing I find dull in Kolmik, perhaps it’s its slow nature or the fact that I’ve matched colours on tiles so many other times before but it really didn’t do it for me. I am sure though that others will love it and disagree with me right here in the comment section.

Grades:

Graphics: 3.5/5

Sound: 4.5/5

Gameplay: 2.5/5

A forgotton classic reviewed: Dugger for Atari ST

May 15, 2010

On April the 3rd in 2010 we started to play a new title in the ST Offline Tournament [1]. The game is called Dugger [2] and as I have never seen or played that one before, I decided to write a little review.

Dugger was a rather early release for the Atari ST, the title screen states 1988. A German team did all the work and the game features some classic Madmax chipmusic on the YM2149 which probably was already used in Demos as well.

After booting the game shows a rastered intro screen and then a cute animated intro screen. Press the gaudy button on your joystick to enter the game.

Dugger title screen (Atari ST)

Dugger title screen (Atari ST)

Gameplay follows  the 1982 vintage arcade game Dig-Dug closely. The player controls a little stoneage creature and leads him in the underground. Here the task is to destroy the baddies which move in seperated caves. For the difference to other games this is done using an airpump. Hold the firebutton down to pump the baddies full of air and let them blow up afterwards.

Level 1 of Dugger (Atari ST)

Level 1 of Dugger (Atari ST)

This sounds easy at first but the baddies start to chase the player through the walls and some even spit fire on you. One can try to quash them by letting rocks drop on them but it’s not easy. The last baddie left will attempt to escape to the surface so the palyer has to chase them for extra points.

My conclusion is simple, great graphics and music for 1988 standards, a proven and nice gameplay – if you like Dig-Dug, you will love Dugger too. Giving this title a try should be worth it!


Links:

  1. STOT season 3 round 14: Dugger
  2. Dugger on Atarimania

In offline competitions we need more goals instead of rules, but some rules are necessary

May 15, 2010

At the moment we have some discussions in the STOT [1] which are interesting for all kind of offline tournaments I think.

When we played Lethal Xccess, one of the technical best shooters on the Atari ST, we had the question if it’s allowed to cheat by typing a code to get autofire. This question was heavily discusses, but the question consist of two questions that have to be discussed standalone.

Is it allowed to cheat in a offline competition?
The answer could only be “No”. Cause it’s a competition, and therefor the scores has to be comparable. So one question  is answered and one is left.
No! Another question would be: “Why people like to cheat”. so we keep this question for later.

Is it allowed to use autofire?
At the beginning of the discussing I had the opinion, that autofire is only another way to cheat, but during the discussion I changed my opinion. That’s what discussions are good for.
Depending on the joystick you use, some games could really hurt your fingers or your hand, so using autofire, if the joystick offers it, is not cheating but a convenience. So this question could be answered: Yes autofire is allowed.

When I talked with Cyclone, the artist and level designer of Lethal Xcess, he said, that the autofire cheat let the game be much easier, cause this high frequency of shooting is not possible if you shoot manually. I also like to add, that the game has some autofire weapons, so that collecting a autofire extra is part of the level design.

Why people like to cheat?
To answer the question, let’s rewrite the question to: “Why people are motivated to participate in a retro offline competition?”.

Why people are motivated to participate in a retro offline competition?
From my experiences with the “Abbuc Bundesliga” (Atari 8 Bit offline competition), various Atari Age HSC’s, the STOT and some party competitions I discovered these motivations:

a) people who like to have a challenge. It’s a challenge trying to come as far as possible in the game or even do a play through.
b) people who like competition. It’s a challenge to win or even to pass by some other players
c) people liked the game that is played in the past a lot. So they are motivated to play it again, and then post one or sometimes more scores.
d) people like to enjoy some minutes playing on their ST.

The gaming industry like to categorize gamers into “hardcore gamers” and “casual gamers”. I don’t like these words, cause they were invented when I played my Atari already for 10 years or longer.
So I would like to categorize motivations a) and b) as “Challengers”, while motivation c) and d) could be called “Fans”.

Now I like to ask the following questions: “Are these enough motivations to keep an offline competition alive?

Are these enough motivations to keep a offline competition alive?
a) b) I would count myself into this category and so I say “yes”.
c) these kind of people are hard to motivate to join a competition regular, its great when they do, but as we all know, time is a valuable good, things happen in Real Life could be more important.
d) the way we did the competition so far is really not that motivating for these kind of people.
They always end at the lower places in the table, and in the end the table is what’s left of a round, so I could understand, that after a while they loose the motivation to participate.

So we need new motivations, cause a gaming competition need both groups of players Challengers and Fans.

What new motivations  could  we add?
1) Difficulty bonus
Some games offers the functionality to choose the difficulty of the game. So far, we had to look for a challenging difficulty, so in Super Cars 2 for example we chose “medium”. In  the future, we could set some bonus at the beginning. If you play difficulty “medium”, you get double score and if you play “hard” you get tripple score.

2) Medals of Honor
So far you get the Atari Gaming Activist Medal for participating 24 times (A season has 24 rounds). We also have the Atari Gaming Master medal. You get this medal for earning
192 points (If you would win all rounds you could earn 192 points a season).
Now after 3 years we only give away 3 times the Atari Gaming Master and 7 times the Atari Gaming Activist. So my suggestion will be to do some these changes:

  • Participate 10 times to earn a Atari Gaming Activist medal
  • Earn 100 points to become a Atari Gaming Master

3) Solved a level medal
Another motivation could be to set some more game specific goals at the beginning of a round. The easiest would be to say, that for each level a player solve he earns a “Solve a level in the STOT” medal.
If a game has really easy levels like for example Bubble+ the goals would be to solve 5 levels or something like that.  It’s also possible to give a ways the medal in “Gold”,”Silver”, “Bronze” depending on the chosen difficulty (easy, advanced,hard – if available of course)

What else?
I thought about new tables like A “Fans” table and a “Callengers” table, but I don’t think we really need this, same with a own table for the earned “Solved a level in the STOT” medals, cause this would look more or less the same as the existing one.

Publishing scores and medals to the rest of the world is a nice thing. If you play with a Xbox 360 or a PS3 today, you could post your successes to Facebook and maybe also somewhere else.
I like to have something like that as well. Technically it’s more or less already existing. We have a blog for the STOT. When somebody post a score together with a picture, the organizers are able to recognize that the given goals are fulfilled and they could do a new post to announce the giveaway of the medal(s). This post will be automatically posted to a Facebook page, and
there a player could share them with his friends.

My Conclusion

  • Entering cheats in offline competitions is not allowed cause the scores aren’t comparable
  • Using autofire is allowed, you only need a joystick that offers that functionality
  • We need new motivations for Callengers and Fans.
  • Difficulty is a chance for more motivation, but has to be mentioned in the post
  • Medals should be archived earlier
  • Medals for solved levels would be a nice addition
  • We don’t need more tables
  • It’s possible to post awards to Facebook

I would be glad, if all people who like playing ST Games use this article to discuss the conclusions and of course they are welcome in the STOT or any other offline competition

Christos’ views on the subject:
One thing our readers should know is that ThorN and I have  different opinions about how STOT should advance. It is with that synthesis of views that we made STOT what it is now (and we feel it’s very good too 😉 ).

There are two goals in STOT:

  • to promote Atari ST gaming
  • and more importantly to have fun with our old machines.

I am in total agreement with ThorN that we need to make STOT more fun for all types of players and that we should be more generous with our awards. A game can provide all sorts of challenges and we should take advantage of them. So expect lots more surprises :).

However I don’t think that allowing people to choose their own difficulty setting is a very good move. Though it has its merits and it will allow people to enjoy more of the game it effectively creates a premier league and a second division if you excuse the football analogy. Also we introduce a mathematic formula to count points and if that’s simple enough as it should be it creates problems. What if “Normal” isn’t twice as hard as “Easy” but only by a small margin? What if easy is too easy making the game boring? Should we then change the formula to suit each game and doesn’t that make things overly complex?

We are looking forward to your input in the comments section below. Maybe you can give us an idea we haven’t thought.. 🙂


Links:
1. STOT at atari-forum.com

Twitter, the realtime article replacement

May 15, 2010

I use a lot of so called web 2.0 social networks like Facebook. But so far I did not understand the necessity of Twitter. Now that changed. I use twitter as a realtime article replacement.

During the pre organization of the Hessian Kick Off Champs I thought about how can we save the feelings right after the end of a match best. First I got in mind, that on a demoparty we would build up a realtime article. So in my case I would have build up a Atari 1040STE and a SC1224 monitor, and load something like 1st Word, so that everybody could write his feelings down.

This is not a bad idea at all, and it’s real retro spirit. But we don’t have such a perfect setup at each tournament, so I was looking for a setup that is available everywhere.

Realtime tweets

No finally I found a usage for Twitter! If you compare Twitter and a realtime article, they have much in common from the technical and usability point of view:

  • Short messages
  • A date
  • You must enter the name in front of a post, to let more than one person use the twitter channel.

But most imoartant, both ways share the some goal: Share the thoughts of a moment to the public.

If there would be no interest in sharing the thoughts to the public, an IRC Channel would be the better solution.

So when the tournament started, I build up a laptop, setup a Kick Off fixture, a Bundesliga live page to keep track of the real world happenings and a Twitter client. I invited everybody to use it and then we start the tournament. Here are the results:

Hessian Champs 2010 realtime tweets

Finale !! 9:01 AM Apr 10th (Frank)

Das 3-3 gegen Pushi war geil. das 3 Tor kurz vor Schluss war verdient. Der anschließende Lob von Pushi war nicht schlecht aber nicht drin. 8:43 AM Apr 10th (Thorsten)

Das 2-1 gegen Jan war nicht schön aber nötig. Jan ist eine Harte Nuss heute für mich. Erstmal nen Äppler, und dann gegen Pushi 8:17 AM Apr10th (Thorsten)

Der BvB kommt jetzt. 6:34 AM Apr 10th (Carsten)

Beim Spiel gegen Horst ging es um nichts mehr, daher war die Luft etwas raus, hauptsache 2-0 gewonnen 6:18 AM Apr 10th via web (Thorsten)

Nach dem 3-2 gegen Frank viel mir nichts mehr ein, sehr Schade. Der eine Dreher der nicht drinnen war, hat das Spiel entschieden 4:45 AM Apr 10th (Thorsten)

Hessisan Kick Off Champs near to begin. We are already 7 People, 1-2 more to come. 3:00 AM Apr 10th (Thorsten)

What lessons did I learned? Well some.

  • It’s necessary to put the name in front of the tweet.
  • Even that I started with english, at a tournament where only german players participate, it’s no question, of course we tweet in german
  • Even that I told myself before to tweet after each game, I missed some 🙂
  • The othere players were shy in the beginning but then some of them trying out the new medium.

It would be nice, if other Kick Off players from all over the world could also tweet. I found out, that Twitter itself does not support this feature, but there are plenty of other services around.

Realtime tweets 2.0

I created a Kick Off 2 twitter group at the Tweetworks service. Now next tournament other Kick Off 2 friends who joined these group could also twitter his thoughts on the results (that the real players have to twitter of course).

This will looks like:

Next game was better 🙂 scored the 2-1 with the end of half 1 and in half two finaly everything works. 9-2 in the end.
ThorNpw 14 minutes ago in Kick Off 2

Yust started the training for the Austrian Champs. First game: 4-2 against the computer. I have to get used to Yes|Yes|Yes.
ThorNpw 33 minutes ago in Kick Off 2

The advantage is to have the author in the tweet. During a Tournament, when more than one person uses a twitter account, of course they still have to put their name in front, but if there are different players, each could use their own twitter account. Of course the tournament laptop need maybe a bigger screen to show all their clients, but we will see.

Times changes. It’s not important to do always thee same stuff, but to reach the same goal. So get all the stuff that’s necessary for a realtime system with you is not necessary any more, cause with a twitter client and mobile phones that have browsers, everybody could use twitter as a realtime article replacement.

The future of the patches

December 28, 2009

Maybe the most important breakthrough in atari gaming in the past years was the invention of the ULS by d-bug. Thanks to this technology, Atari gamer are able to play old ST classics on a Falcon direct from the hard disk.
This year d-bug announced on their webpage [1], that they will stop patching games, so I like to do this interview with GGN of d-bug to ask him some questions about what could we expect in the future.

LR: Could you please introduce yourself

GGN: George Nakos, originating and living in Greece, 32 years old (I think :P), coder (and rarely crap artist) of the groups KÜA software productions, D-Bug and Paradize. I hang around at #atariscne a lot, tormenting people with my crap humor and sometimes I even help.

LR: As a lot of our readers aren’t familiar with the Falcon, could you please explain in some words, what you do to patch a game.

GGN: Well, that’s a pretty big subject on its own and would take a couple of articles on its own to answer fully ;). I’ll keep it short, simple and non technical though: Most ST games are only meant to run from a floppy, so we have used lots of techniques (including ULS) which basically change the disk routines so that they load from hard drive instead. This is not limited to the Falcon only (indeed the first ULS version was for STs). Falcon fixing includes changing 68000 code that doesn’t work on 68030, and generally running the game, see if it works or not, fix any apparent or possible crashes, and release.

LR: What is the current status of the d-bug activities concerning Falcon patches?

GGN: Well, we aren’t exactly busting a nut fixing stuff. We mostly do it at our leisure time. A couple years ago it was almost our only Atari activity. Now we just patch something if we get bored or would like to see it running on Falcon. This years December-full-of-releases came into being just because Cyrano Jones patched 5 games in a couple of hours, and then the next day I did the same, then we added some other stuff we had lying around, et voila!

LR: What could we expect in the future?

GGN: Being lax doesn’t mean we don’t have ideas 🙂

Recently we had an idea that (we hope) will spark some new interest in ST gaming. If all goes well, we’ll announce it in January 1st!

Otherwise, there are always things we can do to improve ULS. Don’t know if there’ll ever be a v4 of it though, again it depends on our moods.

LR: On the Amiga the WHD Load system exist for years, and it looks like there is still a lot of activity, is this project comparable to your patches?

GGN: Yes, it is comparable. Cyrano Jones told me that it originated from a Showaddywaddy quote on irc which was something along the lines of: “I wish we could switch off TOS!”. At that moment a small light bulb appeared on top of CJ’s head, and soon “TOSOff” (renamed to Universal Loading System for marketing reasons :P) was created. Of course it was influenced by WHDLoad, but it shares 0% code with it. Actually, with ULSv3 we have even one-upped them by introducing save states on the games (similar to emulator save states).

LR: How could people participate in the project?

GGN: ULSv3 is open source, so people simply need to download it, read the online documentation on our website and start patching! All they need is some 68000 knowledge, a copy of the compendium and the hardware address listing really.

LR: What are your personal 3 favorite games on the ST?

GGN: Very very very very very very very tough question! Interphase is surely one of them, a brilliant mix of 3D and real time strategy. Wings of death, no comments really. Turrican 2, again no comments. And since I just put a trainer on this interview, I’m free to give you 3 more :P. Another World, Prince of Persia and Vroom!

LR: Many thanks GGN for this interview, will be interesting of what kind your January Announcement will be.

Links


1. d-bug website

The beast and the bird under load

December 28, 2009

After picked up MugUK, Gaztee and Link in Cologne, around 12 o’clock we arrived at the well known Pub where the event took place like the years before.

This year right after you entered, you feel that there were a lot more people present then in the years before. Having 16/32 [1] filling up the hall with his stuff always let a event looks bigger, and because atarishop.nl [2] (Jar Jar & Mr. Atari) were present once again on the other side, this year seems to be the biggest e-jagfest [3] since years.

the event

After some welcome to everybody I bought another Lynx with Checkered Flag from Jar Jar, to be sure that I have enough working machines for the competition later on. The prices for a Lynx are double the price of a Jaguar, interesting.

Soon in the UK “Currywurst”

Cause I knew from the years before the kitchen would close soon, I managed to get something to eat. The pub have the normal Schnitzel stuff on the menu, and I felt no hunger later on. My friends from the UK were on the “Currywurst” trip this year and were also satisfied they told me with the one the got in the pub. Later they were at the local supermarket and bought some ingredients to do their own Currywurst. Keep my fingers cross they get the proper sausages in the UK as well.

The mother of all racing battles

Now it was time to start the first competition: Checkered Flag on the Lynx [4]. The CF compo at the e-jagfest is one of the most traditional or maybe the most traditional ATARI gaming contest, and because the level of the participants is really high, it’s a great challenge to gain some fame in this competition. Because I failed last year in the half final. I was satisfied to reach the final once again. I even manage to win the qualification lap in the final, but in the race I crashed into Gaztee and next into on of the others, so in the end only the 4th place was possible. In the last round more or less nobody crashed, which shows the high level of the competition, because the course we always choose for the final is not easy. Even that Gaztee was very motivated this year, he once again managed to score 2nd (3 times in a row when he participated). Last year champion Mr. Atari used the chance and passed by 4 cars, and finally won the tournament once again. Chris was a fast driver and gain the 3rd place.

UBI Soft has been the main sponsor

This year BMX the organizer was able to get UBI Soft as the main sponsor of the competitions. And because UBI Soft gave us a lot of stuff, we were able to give prizes to all 6 players in the final. Many thanks to Ubi Soft for their support. Beside Limited boxes of “Anno 1701” and older versions of “Anno 1503” the best 3 players also won a cup. The competition took a long time and it was nearly 17’30 already.

New stuff

One reason for being a little bit late was as I said before, the large number of visitors this year. In the CF compo we had 24 participants, and the other reason were the presentations. But because the presentations are one of the most important events at the e-jagfest, it was ok, that it took so long.

Mathias Domin [5] once again showed the Impulse conversion for the Jaguar. The name now changed to Impulse X because of all the enhancements. I had the feeling, that there were not so many changes to the year before, but maybe I’m wrong.

Impluse X presentation

Simon Quernhorst [6] showed his latest Atari 2600 release kalled: Kite. It’s the first ever kite simulation on the 2600. Simon said, that he once worked for on of the largest kite shops in the world, and there he got the idea. The game really looked great. Like all his releases there is a limited number of cartridges and the game could be downloaded as well. Atariage could also do a cartridge, if the limited edition is sold out.

Kite presentation

Starcat [7] participates in a new project called “The Jaguar Owl Project”. It’s a engine for action adventures, and the 3D routines both for voxels and for textures looking very promising. While Mathias did his presentation in German, Starcat spoke English which was better for our guests from the Netherlands and the Uk. Starcat showed for the first time in public in the routines and graphics of the “inner world”, which means the stuff you see when you are inside a house for example. We keep our fingers crossed, that this project will lead to a release and continue to keep an eye on further alpha and beta releases.

Last but not least a member of the famous eclipse [8] team showed some first impressions of a upcoming Lynx game where you have to move tiles while the graphics are from the Iron Soldier universe. A ambitious project that will be a highlight when it’s finish I could imagine. Also some screenshots of never released Iron Soldier versions for the PS2 were shown. Once again it was shown, that there is activity in the atari games development scenes.

8 Players together play one game, that’s Atari spirit

Next I started the Grenzüberschreitungs competition [9]. This year my falcon looked really like put out of the trash, so some people were in fear, it would not work, but it did, and we managed to have a funny tournament. For the first time since we do competitions on the e-jagfest finally we had a female winner. Sarah managed to win and I scored 2nd (like last year, maybe the Gaztee syndrome) 3rd was Stefan who reached the final because of some lucky circumstances (Jar Jar and Mr. Atari had to get something to eat).Each player in the final also won some “Anno 1701 & Anno 1503” Stuff. UBI Soft gave us some Art books and some chili flowers (hope I will hear how they work) and some T-Shirts.

Grenzüberschreitung results

The infamous Club Drive appeared

Even that it was already after 8 o’clock there were still about 15 people present and we did a last tournament: Club Drive on the Jaguar [10]. We played the mode where you have to chase a ball. Because most of us were watching, it was like a popular sport game. We had some very close matches. Starcat for example was already 9-7 in the back when he manages to beat Link 10-9 and also in the final BMX managed to beat CDi even that CDi had a “match ball”. Great sport I could only repeat and the competition also proved once more, that Club Drive is much better than some people say. Finally CDi won the tournament, BMX scored 2nd and Starcat scored 3rd. It was the first Cup for Starcat so he was happy, like all the others who watch the games. As for the competitions before, UBI Soft sponsored some games and merchandise stuff for all the people in the finals.

The Club Drive competition

Doing some war at the end

Happy and satisfied it was too much harmony in the world, so after the tournaments we sat together and played Dogfight on a Mega STE. This is a nice PD game where you are a fighter pilot and have to shoot the opponent. The nice thing on the game is the possibility to play with 4 players if you have a parallel port joystick adapter. I will test this configuration as soon as possible. A good possibility to test the adapter I once got from GGN. Dogfight was coded by Steve Camber, the same guy who still do a amazing job in patching Kick Off 2 on the Amiga again and again. I met him at the Kick Off WC in Austria, and he was really happy to hear that we had fun with his game.

Then it was time to go and we packed our stuff together and said good bye.

Links


1. 16/32 website
2. atarishop.nl website
3. e-jagfest website
4. Results of the European Checkered Flag Championship
5. Matthias Domin’s website
6. Simon Quernhorst’s website
7. Starcat’s blog
8. Elipse Design website
9. Results of the European Grenzüberschreitung Championship
10. Results of the European Club Drive Championship

An old trick re-used?

December 28, 2009

Cunning copyright catches crooks according to the BBC?  This has been done before as we reveal how!

This excerpt was taken from the BBC Website dated the 13.9.09.

“Video games developer Eidos have come up with a novel way of catching users playing pirated copies of their game.

Players using illegal copies of Batman: Arkham Asylum have found that essential control functions in the game have been disabled, rendering it unplayable.

Players attempting to use the glide function within the game will find it disabled in pirated versions, resulting in the Batman character coming to an untimely end.

The protection system came to light when a user complained on the Eidos support forum saying:

“When I…jump from one platform to another, Batman tries to open his wings again and again instead of gliding.”

An Eidos community manager replied, saying the user had encountered “a hook” in the copy protection system, designed to “catch out people who try and download cracked versions of the game for free”.

“It’s not a bug in the game’s code, it’s a bug in your moral code,” he added.”

Now let’s look past the triumphalist boasting, as I think we’ve been here before.

Back in 1993, a well-known figure on the Atari scene has a copy of ‘Oids’ by FTL Software and decides to crack it for (hem!) educational purposes (actually to render it Falcon 030 compatible.) I won’t name this person as he is now established in the ‘industry’. However, what was supposed to be a quick ten minute job to strip out the disk protection took most of the afternoon. This was once I had discovered by playing it that the initial attempt had only succeeded in removing a false layer of protection and some critical game features were disabled. It turned out that FTL had put in a much deeper and hard to root out second layer which directly affected the gameplay (if the first protection was removed? I’m hazy on the details.) This is quite a cunning ploy for a game written in 1985 or thereabouts.

Then as now, the protection system coders were relying on the tendency of crackers not to playtest their end result too intensively. It would need someone with prior experience of the gameplay from an untainted disk to point out that something was badly wrong. In the case of Oids, the rescued prisoners would not mill about once they were freed, but stood still on the spot, passively waiting to be fried by your landing thrusters. Also the alien bases were not generating enemies properly. I think there are still some ‘cracked’ versions out there that are incompletely de-protected and only work in this partial fashion?

Putting in dummy protection and nobbling the gameplay will work to some extent, as cracking a game using that system will involve more effort and slow down the crackers. They will need to check more intensively that what they have done works. However it isn’t going to take anyone with half a brain too long to work out what is up and it’s more or less business as usual, once the initial surprise element has been overcome.

So, Eidos, how does it feel to revisit a technique used a quarter of a century ago?

Any thoughts on this?

CiH
for Low Res Mag – 16/9/09

That is STOT ( ST Offline Tournament)

August 30, 2009

This article was written some time ago, and was intended to be published in the Alive diskmag.

STOT – SEASON 1 REVIEW AND PROSPECTS IN THE 21ST CENTURY

In this review article the author will examine the patterns displayed during the first season of the somewhat popular ST Offline Tournament gaming contest and will attempt to predict the future behaviour of the system while providing ideas and thoughts on future improvements.

1. Introduction.

The ST Offline Tournament [1] is based on similar contests that are being held on and for other systems such as the ATARI 2600 [2] and the ATARI 8-bit computer systems [3]. It is a contest in tournament form, where Atari ST(e) gamers can compete with others on their favourite game and thus get a measure of who is better at a particular game. One could say that it was born during a discussion in the Atari ST channel, #atariscne on IRCnet when the two STOT organisers discussed the concept and agreed that those contests can provide a lot of fun. The STOT organisers, namely ChrisTOS and ThorN, have since then laid out the terms of the contest, the point awarding system and the game selection scheme. The contest was decided to be held in the site http://www.atari-forum.com [4] due to the large number of Atari ST gamers that are present in this forum. During the contest, sh3-rg created a logo that has been first unveiled in STOTRO by ChrisTOS [5].

The STOT logo

The STOT logo by sh3-rg as used in STOTRO

2. The ST Offline Tournament process.

As described in the rules, the ST Offline Tournament is generally held in the following manner:

  1. The contest is bi-weekly. The selected game is being played for two weeks.
  2. In the second week of the contest, a game for the next round is selected
  3. The points are awarded after the contest is closed in the following scheme: 8 points for the player with the highest score, 6 for the second and 4, 3, 2, 1 for the players that score less.
  4. Newly released games take precedent in the tournament. From the above it should be clear that only games that provide a scoring system can be selected for the tournament.

3. To be discussed

There can be made little connection between the games played and the amount of players, with the exceptions of very bad games (f.e. Enchanted land) and games not suited for STOT (f.e. Sudokuniverse) that all displayed a negative impact. No positive relationship could be found.
Graph 1
Another factor that might have contributed to the falling participants trend may be the constant high level performance of Xerus. However the hete dans actie known to have been performed by at least one of the three people who managed to defeat Xerus may be a factor that should be taken into account when examining the aforementioned suggestion. Examining the trends found in other offline tournaments [2,3] one can see similar patterns.
Another observation that can be made is that the polls attracted much more attention than the amount of players in the contests. This could be attributed to Atari community’ s desire for the right to expression without actually deciding to exercise that right by acting upon it, or to sheer boredom.

4. Conclusions and Prospects

The Atari ST game database consists of more than 4000 games. It is reasonable to assume that at least 2500 of them are suitable for the needs of STOT. With 24 rounds per season a simple calculation shows that there are enough games for at least 100y. Therefore the only two reasons that the author can see for an end to STOT – excluding major catastrophies or death- are the lack of interest by the organisers or by the players. The death of the Atari ST and the slow decline of the community are the key elements in the lack of interest, together with an equally negative to STOT thing called “real life”. However, as demonstrated by this paper, STOT has become a known name in the Atari world and the ST gaming experience is still strong in many atarians. With people working on new games and with authors finding nice the fact that people play the games, the future of STOT seems NOT gloomy, though one would have a hard time to call it bright. Still website is up [1].


Links

  1. STOT web site
  2. Atariage VCS HSC
  3. Atariage ATARI 8 Bit HSC.
  4. STOT on Atari-forum
  5. STOTRO on Pouet

Offline Gaming

August 30, 2009

Informations, news, results from various offline tournaments

ST Offline Tournament (STOT)

The ATARI ST offline competition [1], hosted at the http://www.ATARI-Forum.com [2] forum.

The STOT logo

Simon Phipps did a drawing exclusive for the STOT!

During the Switchblade competition, Simon Sunnyboy found Simon Phipps web page in the net, and he got in touch with him via email to tell him that there is a competition of one of his games on the ATARI ST.

Simon answered and he propose to do a drawing for the winner. In the end he also did the drawing for all the 5 participants. Many many thanks to Simon Phipps for this outstanding support of the Offline gaming community.

Photobucket

Season #2 is over. A short look back.

Xerus was a class of its own again, congratulation to him [3].

Beside the fun to play, there were some special competitions to remember:

  • For the first time we did a competition with a B/W game (Bolo). There is no other platform that brought us such many great B/W games then the Atari ST. It was time to honer all these games.
  • We managed to do a competition (Nebulus) with another System. Interesting to see, that our try to get in touch with a Amiga competition does not work, but it did with a Amstrad one. Thanks to our friends from the CPC scene.
  • We got feedback from one of the authors of a game (Switchblade). Again many many thanks to Simon Phipps. He liked that we still love his games, and his support motivated us a lot, that’s who it should be.
  • We also did some competitions to honor special people: Sinister Development (ST Asteroids), Dave Munsie (Frantick). These people created something that gave us so much joy in the past, now it’s great to give them something back.
  • There was again one new game (rOx). So the authors were able to get real feedback from people that really play their games.

Best new game of the season

This year we only had one candidate, so there was no poll like last year. But even there was no competition, rOx deserves the title: Best game of the year

rOx
rOx

Best game of the season #2

Thanks to Greyfox for the graphics

Abbuc Bundesliga

The “ABBUC Bundesliga” is a highscore contest for Atari-8Bit-Computers. In June we ended the sixth season. One season comprise 10 days, 1 day per month (september to june). The winner of day 10 was Lucky in the game Mr. Do with 83100 points. Over-all winner of the whole season was Dietrich.

Abbuc Bundesliga

Finale table of season #6

Place Score Name
1 139 DIETRICH
2 123 YELLOW MAN
3 94 BUNSEN
4 92 WIZARD
4 92 LUCKY
6 88 BERND
7 57 FLORIAND
8 56 KAISERSOFT
9 54 HARDWAREDOC
10 49 CASH
11 46 SLEEPY
12 35 SKRIEGEL
13 26 TIGERDUCK
14 25 TRON04
15 20 DL7UKK
16 19 ROCKFORD
17 17 TROLL
18 15 THOMAS
19 11 THE GREAT LOSER
20 8 SDX
21 8 CHARLIECHAPLIN
22 6 U0679
23 5 KING KONG XL
24 4 EDA70
25 4 ANKE
26 1 DEBORA KOCH

Rhein-Main Kick Offer (RMKO)

The RMKO [4] is part of the Kick Off Assosiation (KOA) [5], a community that organize Kick Off 2 tournaments and keep the spirit alive.

  • 1.Wiesbaden town championship (1. Wiesbadener Stadtmeisterschaft)

Due to the in and out of the participants, in the end there were 3 tournaments. The main one was won by Frank F., the new champion of Wiesbaden. There was some close matches for the title between him and Volker B. Thorsten B. was lost in the midfield nomansland, while there were also close matches between Andreas Kl. and Jan K. Andreas Kl. showed a strong performance and managed to end at place 4.

Frank F. the new town champion

  • July tournament

The July meeting was once again a tournament. (If there are four players, a meeting counts as an official tournament. If we are less than four people, we call it a training.) Thanks to Cornelius who came to Wiesbaden for the first time. Frank F. won all games as expected. Cornelius H. won the important games against Thorsten B. who was not able to win a game he was 4-1 ahead. Thorsten therefore archieved his highest victory ever: 11-0 against Jan K. Jan himself scored 7 goales, but was not able to gain a points, we keep our fingers cross that he will be more lucky next time.

PhotobucketFrank F. vs. Oliver St.

tabelle

Burgenschlacht Competition

At the HomeCon III party [6]  I managed a “Burgenschlacht” competition on a Phillips G7400. 14 people participated and there were some close matches in the finals and in the half finals. What is a retro event without a open retro competition? Here are the results [7].

I play Burgenschlacht

I play Burgenschlacht

The winners

The winners


Links

  1. ST Offline Tournament
  2. ATARI-Forum
  3. STOT Season #2 final table
  4. German Kick Off 2 forum
  5. The Kick Off Gathering, home of the Kick Off Assosiation
  6. HomeCon
  7. Burgenschlacht competition results