Archive for the ‘Low Res Issue #1’ Category

Editorial

August 30, 2009

Maybe some of our readers will ask themselves the question: “Why the hell these guys do another magazine?”.

The answer? Not that easy I would say. SSB got the idea to do a magazine based on a blog on our way to the Outline party this year. The idea was born in a discussion about what should we do after there will be no Alive diskmag (http://alive.atari.org) any more.

We think that there is enough going on in the retro scene that should be mentioned from an atarian point of view. Also we should look over the edge of our SM124 monitor and write about other stuff that is not Atari related at the first view. Because we know, that everything that is digital is in a relationship to Atari. (We simply believe, that Atari computers are the hubs of the world. 🙂

So basically if something has a connection to Atari computers and systems, it is suited to get dealt with in the magazine.

Also the blog engine offers us the possibility to have a much deeper communication with the readers. Simply leave a comment under each article if you like, that is pretty easy we think and we will appreciate your feedback a lot.

So we hope that you like our little magazine, and if there will be some kind of feedback, we hopefully could realize some of our further ideas.

We will welcome any new authors and articles. Just contact us and we will find a way to make it happen.

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News

August 30, 2009

Jagware release “Do the Same” for the Atari Jaguar

You could download the game [1] as an CD image. I played the game at the Atari Connexion in France this year. The aim of the game is to move tiles to get a picture presented before the level starts. The problem of course is the time you got to solve the problem. The game is very well presented. It has an intuitive menu system and a motivating game play. Even that you think you know these kinds of games, you always want one more.

Retro Calendar

Hessi, one of the organizer of the HomeCon and the web master of the event also created a Google calendar [2]. It is possible to get rights to add retro orientated events to this calendar. So everybody who wants to do so, please give me a mail, or contact Hessi. So far beside the events from the Forum64 forum, there are Kick Off tournaments in Germany and Atari parties. A good start I think.

Hatari version 1.3.0 has been released

This new release [3] brings you now basically working DSP 56k emulation, lots of ST shifter emulation improvements, an improved debugger and many other nice features and bug fixes.

Links

  1. Do the Same
  2. Retro Calendar
  3. Hatari

In the press

August 30, 2009

Some informations from other publications, worth to spread around.

Lotek 64 [1]
Beside the great articles in this great Fanzine, I saw an interesting article [2] about a project called KEEP. They got a lot of euros from the European Union to create a platform to be able to save old digital data (like games, games and … games 🙂 from being lost. Interesting.

What was of interest some 20 years ago. An not very objective view of some old computer magazines

ST Computer #3/89 (Germany) [3]

One topic is the question which Basic to use on the ST. Yes, at that time, when we were bored fighting the amigians and always have to answer the question, if the ST could scroll or not, it was pure fun, to fight in the small group of atarians, which Basic was better. Omikron or GFA a question that will always be part of the Atari spirit I think.

Another article covers Revolver. This application let you divide the ST in 8 parts, and each of them could work separately, if it’s loaded. The question behind these kind of programmes was: “Do I really need multitasking” or “What the hell is multitasking”. Well in the end, even today, I never heard a lot about using multitasking on the ST. Even under mint, when it was finally available, it was to slow compared to the PC standing next to the ST on the desktop already.

Also covered in the mag, was an article about a Sinclair QL Emulator. Yes we loved this machine, it was one of the few machines that was even more unsuccessful than the machines Atari produced after the ST. But to be honest today, I say, that the QL is a very sexy machine, but I never heard much about the OS or programmes for it.

ST Format #2 (UK) [4]

On the cover there was a demo of Blood Money. An all time great, and we enjoyed playing this game in the STOT #2/7.

In the magazine there is a interview with Sam Tramiel who wants to fight Nintendo. A funny guy our Sam 🙂

In the games section the important releases were:

  • Blood Money
  • Kick Off 2 !! Yes really it is 20 years ago the best footie game every was released
  • Quarz. We should play Quarz in a STOT. I’m sure it’s one of the forgotten gems.

ASM #9/89 (Germany)

In the readers letter section, it was interesting to read, that already in 89 people discuss if games should be political correct or not. When I see advertisements for ego shooter and war games today, I see that this discussion was not successful in the last 20 years.

The most important reviews were:

  • Silkworm:

A great shooter at that time. We played the game in STOT #1/13

  • Forgotten Worlds:

The games failed in one of the pools for the best capcom game. I bought the game back in the days, and was satisfied with it, even that I would say today, nothing special.

  • Stormlord (Hewson)

Can’t remember this one, the graphics looks nice, have to give it a try.

  • Rick Dangerous

This review is legendary. The tester does not like the game at all, and while worldwide people got crazy playing the game, in the ASM it butchered. Also the sequel got bad grades, but we all played the game.

  • Super Scramble Simulator

I always wanted to play the game. Also have to give it a try.

  • RVF Honda

A great bike racing game. Still a very playable game with a very good AI.

  • Kult

I never understand the game, but I know that it is a good one. Maybe I find somebody who explains it to me.

Top Ten ST:

  1. Populous
  2. Ballistix
  3. Dragon Ninja

Links

  1. Lotek 64
  2. Article about Keep
  3. ST Computer archive
  4. ST Format archive

Upcoming parties

August 30, 2009

Some dates and infos about upcoming parties

JagFest UK [1]

This years event will be running from the 18th – 20th of September at the Chiltern hotel in Luton, England.

Features & Exclusives for JFUK ‘ 09:

* Exclusive 1st showing of Donkey Kong for the Atari Jaguar.
* 16/32 Systems will be in attendance if you need to pick up that piece of hardware or software you really want.
* Demo of the latest build of Atari Owls Jaguar game.
* Demo of prototype Playstation controller to Atari Jaguar interface
* Famous Worms tournament on the Atari Jaguar

e-jagfest [2]

This year the e-jagfest will take place in November it looks like. Again there will be the traditional Checkered Flag Championship and another Jaguar Championship. Also there will be the chance to play many of the new games released in the last time. The location will be once again in Kaarst / Germany.

OFAM [3]

At the 4th of September the OFAM – “Ober-Fraenkisches ATARI Meeting” will take place. The event will be in Muenchberg / Germany. Various ATARI systems will be present. And people are friendly even if you come without a Atari.

Xzentrix [4]

This multi platform party is already cult. It will take place at the 11th of September. Relax at the lake of Starnberg and enjoy talking with a lot of crazy people about their crazy machines. This time the 3rd Bavarian Kick Off Open will take place. Also a small flee market will take place.


Links

  1. JagFestUK
  2. e-jagfest
  3. Ober-Fränkisches Atari Meeting
  4. Xzentrix

Free Jaguar Project. An interview with Overlord.

August 30, 2009

The Atari Jaguar scene. It’s all about politics.

If you are an Atari ST user, or even worse an ST scener that decides to join the Jaguar community, you are in for a surprise. At least I was and I can start by telling you that it wasn’t a pleasant one.

I got my first Jaguar this year at Outline as a gift and to cut a long story short, I became involved in the Jaguar scene. But that for someone going there with the ST mentality (or Amiga, or Dreamcast, or Mega Drive, or Atari 2600, or insert the name of your favourite dead console or computer here) means a constant flamewar.

Just visit the Jaguar section of Atari Age. You’ll find that there are different rules there than there are for any other system. And this was determined by need not by choice.

These are the rules of the Jaguar community:

  1. You are not allowed to talk about ROMS, emulators, multicarts etc because even talking about these things means you are a pirate.
  2. You are not allowed to develop for the console unless you have signed a statement of submission to the “renowned” developers.
  3. Any new development must conform to the legal and moral standards set by said developers. Other standards simply do not apply.
  4. The law of double standards. Actions we brand immoral for other people are OK for us.

Why do those rules apply though?

The Jaguar community mentality may be summarised to a MMORPG behavioural pattern. There are two things of value. One is the experience points that can be collected by attacking users on forums and by simple post
count. The other are the quests for items to add to your collection. With that in mind and at irregular
intervals, ebay auctions are being held for such rare items. Respect is gained by the amount of such items
one possesses. And needless to say that if you pay $800 for such a prize you do not want it devalued. .

This is all however about to change. The Free Jaguar Project (fjp)[1] is a web forum that promises to offer a paradigm shift for the jaguar community. So I had a discussion with the site admin that hopefully will shed some light to what is actually going on.

ChrisTOS: Hello Overlord

Overlord: Hello ChrisTOS!

ChrisTOS: I appreciate that you agreed to give this interview for the Low Res Mag.

Overlord: Not a problem! I look forward to reading it.

ChrisTOS: I guess you read my introduction to this interview. What did you think?

Overlord: I would have to agree with your introduction. The Jaguar scene for far too long has kept with the closed mentality of a commercially viable system. Many of the developers have kept with the closed source and no free ROM policy as if any games they would release would really be affected by people able to play the ROMs for free. Thus, the Jaguar scene has not been able to evolve into what is now experienced by every other classic game system.

ChrisTOS: So I guess this is where the free jaguar project comes into the equation.

Overlord: Exactly. I was tired of sitting on the sidelines watching people new to the Jaguar as well as potential developers being shouted down if they brought any ideas to the table that did not “conform” with what a vocal minority agreed with.

ChrisTOS: Is it a minority though? Like I wrote I am new to it and I haven’t followed it very closely for as many years as you have but reading the atariage backlog and to some extend the js2 one (before they closed it down) I cannot really tell.

Overlord: It really is a minority. Most people who play or collect for the Jaguar do not care to participate in what end up becoming the political discussions of the scene. While there are a good many people who do fit in with that vocal minority, if you take a close look, you will see it all comes down to being a group of no more than 15 to 20 people who have to try to force their viewpoints on everyone else.

Overlord: And even at that, at most there are a handful who really hold any kind of power over other’s opinions on these matters.

ChrisTOS: I see. I must tell you that this behaviour is putting off many potential developers, at least people on the ST who want to participate in the jaguar community. How does fjp plan to change that?

Overlord: We are providing a save haven of sorts for people who wish to discuss topics about the Jaguar that are currently a taboo on AtariAge or JS2. By giving an open place to discuss these matters, we hope that people who are either new to the Jaguar or were driven away from the scene years ago will find that not all members of the community have to engage in constant flame wars with each other.

Overlord: On the other hand, we also do wish to respect the current “closed” developers by not allowing discussions of pirating their games. I think it is a good compromise that should help in uniting the community.

ChrisTOS: A paradigm shift then. I must agree with you if you are an author of a game you have every right to close it, sell it or shelve it. In my experience with the ST I’ve seen that the availability of really old software and of good emulators gave it new life. I know amiga users who started liking the ST and amiga sceners that started coding for it.

ChrisTOS: So why isn’t there a good emulator for the jaguar?

Overlord: I agree with that statement. The ST scene has seen a very big revival due to old games becoming more available and easier to run as well as the excellent emulators. STeem in particular is a wonderful emulator that makes most other system owners jealous. 🙂

Overlord: As for why there is not good Jaguar emulator, that is difficult to answer. There have been a number of attempts over the years to create a Jaguar emulator, but each one so far has appeared to fail before coming anywhere close to 99 or 100%. The Jaguar is a hard system to emulate due to its multi-processor configuration, but there has also been resistance by the aforementioned “vocal minority” in the creation of a good emulator.

ChrisTOS: Well hopefully fjp will help there. I see you have an emulation sub forum which is something new to the jag scene. I can’t even begin to tell you how much steem has benefited ST development.

ChrisTOS: And I see that a large number of developers have joined your forum. I guess they are not afraid of the piracy? 😀

Overlord: I think the fjp should help. I have heard no small number of developers who have stated that emulation has been a godsend to developing due to the ease of being able to test builds without having to go through hacks to get their code over to the target platform.

Overlord: I would say they are not. 🙂 Most of the developers who are on fjp right now are those who are writing their games for the pure love of it. The ones who have released games so far have released them for free and are not concerned at all with “piracy”. After all, how can you “pirate” a free product?

ChrisTOS: Or they might have also read and understood your mission statement 😀

Overlord: Yes, I would hope so. I know many of the other developers have read it, but not all of them seem to understand it. Which is most unfortunate, because they have then attempted to “blacklist” any members who join our forum. A simple understanding of our mission statement would lead one to realize that our goals are not at all incompatible with theirs.

ChrisTOS: I must say, I really liked that text. It surprised me though that you actually had to type it. But reading the reaction, it was obvious why you had to.

Overlord: I wish there was no need to have to do so. However, if the Free Jaguar Project is able to achieve its goals, then there will no longer be such a need for it. Which I think is what most of us want to see.

ChrisTOS: I am going to speak of my personal story.

ChrisTOS: I went from my Atari 130xe to the Falcon in 1995. A few years later The jaguar was being sold for a very small price in Greece when shops were stock dumping. I always regretted not getting one. But then I got into the Atari ST user community and then into the ST scene.

ChrisTOS: But when I looked at the jaguar one, I quickly left. So when I was offered the jaguar at outline my initial reaction was thank you but no.

ChrisTOS: Have you ever heard of similar stories?

Overlord: Oh yes, you are not alone. I have known many people who were scared away from the Jaguar simply due to the community. I have met many a person who owns and actively plays their Jaguar systems, but refuse to participate in the community due to how closed off and destructive it is.

Overlord: In fact, there have been times where I have taken an extended hiatus from it because they simply made the Jaguar not fun for me anymore.

ChrisTOS: That’s the point isn’t it? Fun! Is fjp fun for you?

Overlord: It has been an enormous amount of fun for me so far. Just thinking of creating it many months ago is what helped to bring me back into the Jaguar community. So far there have been no flame wars at all on there. Everyone who is on there has been civil and already are participating in discussions that have gone nowhere on other forums.

ChrisTOS: It helps if the flamewars about fjp happen on other forums doesn’t it? 😀

Overlord: Yes it does! I could not believe the size of the fjp thread on JS2 before they closed the site off to outsiders. I even tried creating an account on there in order to give them my own reasons for the website and to correct a few misconceptions, but I did not have the right permissions to do so. What is also funny is that the fjp thread on AA has not evolved into a flame war either. I think that goes to show where much of the negativity in the

ChrisTOS: I imagine that that sentence would be completed with “…community is”

Overlord: the last sentence was “I think that goes to show where much of the negativity in the community lies…”

Overlord: I should make my responses shorter

ChrisTOS: close enough 😀

ChrisTOS: It’s really hard for me not to turn the discussion towards what I’ve seen from the jaguar community. I must tell you that it didn’t bother me so much until I saw people at Outline that weren’t even atari sceners come talking to me about the skunkboard and the jag.

ChrisTOS: I saw a potential there that was hindered by such stances. And being an Atari fan I didn’t like it.

ChrisTOS: I mean, if you are a fan of a retro system, don’t you want to open it up to as many people as possible? How does closing the doors help you?

Overlord: I understand what you mean. I don’t like it either, which is why I am trying to change the community for the better. The vicious wars that are constantly ongoing in the Jaguar community have just never existed for the ST or 8bits.

Overlord: I have seen posts on non-Atari boards where people express interest in the Jaguar but then have to mention how negative the community is towards its own. Closing your doors will only help to kill off what’s left of the Jaguar.

ChrisTOS: Exactly, even the A8 vs C64 thread on AA that went on for 300 pages didn’t have that. And in  the end I am sure that creative people on both platforms will try to be creative on both systems due to that thread.

ChrisTOS: And because they’ll have the tools and the information to do so.

Overlord: Yes, I agree. Due to those discussions the Atari 8bit scene has seen C64 sceners try their hand with the Atari. Having that openness can only be beneficial.

ChrisTOS: It’s like the old Atari NDA’s still apply, even if you find the knowledge on your own

ChrisTOS: This is what I like about fjp. It promotes the sharing of information. And that is great.

Overlord: It is funny that you mention that. The Atari Jaguar is the only classic game system that has ever been officially opened up to developers. It is shameful that those same developers who are benefitting from that have to try to close it off to others.

Overlord: Sharing and openness has helped in bringing the Jaguar games from Jagware. We have already seen several excellent titles from them, in particular Do The Same. I do not think that would have been possible several years ago without a dedicated group who were willing to share their knowledge and tools.

Overlord: I hope that the fjp can take what they have done and bring it over to the rest of the Jaguar community.

ChrisTOS: Do the same is a great game indeed. But if you ask me, what is needed most is a way to load the game to your jag. Something that is cheap, easy and not crippled.

ChrisTOS: But to create such a thing you need to go back to the sharing of information.

Overlord: Yes, it has sorely been needed. I cannot wait for the JagCF for this very reason. Of course, the same vocal minority managed to flame the Jagware team due to piracy concerns. Yet the Skunkboard was embraced by them but still allows for ROMs to be played from it. Only a small handful of games will not be playable from it. It is a shame that these people have to have such a double standard.

ChrisTOS: I am not being objective in this interview and I guess I am being very harsh but I do feel a certain anger. I don’t like seeing potential being wasted because of those patterns. I apologise for that.

ChrisTOS: And I also apologise for the length of this discussion and for tiring you.

ChrisTOS: So tell me about the future for the fjp.

Overlord: No apology needed. It is hard to be objective when you come across something that offends your sensibility. And I am more than happy to discuss this with you, as it feels good to talk about it after all of these years of basically having to hide how I felt about things.

Overlord: As for the future of the website, we do have a number of plans. We will soon be opening a Downloads section that will contain a treasure trove of date and information for the Jaguar. Curt Vendel of Atarimuseum.com was gracious enough to open up his Jaguar archive to us, so we will feature a number of items from there.

ChrisTOS: That’s great 🙂

Overlord: We are also hoping to become a prime download location for homebrew developers who wish to release their games for free. Reboot have already agreed to make Project One available for download on fjp, and we hope that this will just be the beginning!

ChrisTOS: I must say you started off great. I really like the forum so far and I wish you the best of luck for the future. And as they say luck favours the bold and to start something like that in the current environment is bold.

Overlord: Thank you very much, I am glad you are enjoying the forum! I have heard nothing but positive feedback from everyone who has participated on there so far, and I hope that will continue into the distant future.

ChrisTOS: Thank you for this discussion. I have thoroughly enjoyed it 🙂

Overlord: Thank you as well, I have enjoyed it too!

Speaking with Overlord, I cannot but acknowledge his dedication to the Jaguar. So I urge anyone who is remotely interested in the Atari Jaguar to visit the Free Jaguar Project site. I know that I fail miserably at being objective, this article is opinionated and harsh and if it were for something else than a scene web mag I would have probably been fired for submitting it. But this is a scene mag following the tradition of the disk mags of the past, just on a new format.

So, my opinion stands. I didn’t like what I saw in the Jaguar scene. I didn’t like the ad hominem attacks against any individual that dares to have a different opinion and I hope that fjp will lead the way towards a more open community.


Links

  1. Free Jaguar Project

Using joypads on the Atari ST

August 30, 2009

The modern gamer is used to joypads in one form or another. The impact of 3rd generation video game consoles like the NES or the Sega Master System is tremendous. More importantly many younger gamers don’t even remember the classical joystick with switches. We oldtimers prefer them but regardless if you ask a seasoned gamer or an occasional gamer. If this person is not already used to oldschool joysticks, most of them dislike classic joysticks and will ask you for a joypad of some sort for playing on your ST.

Playing on the PC with an emulator makes the situation very easy. Just buy a suitable gamepad with USB connector, plug it in and any emulator worth to be used for gaming will allow you to use it. Starting from 7€ up to any price imaginable, you can find plenty of suitable joypads in your preferred computer hardware store.

But how about using joypads if you want to enjoy the games on the real hardware? How to connect joypads to the ST instead of the classic joystick?

The first solution is to get an old Sega gamepad for the Sega Master System. Those simply work by plugging into the ST’s joystick ports.

From Atari themselves there are at least 2 gamepads available which are suitable for use with the ST.

Atari Jaguar Powerpad Controller

Atari Jaguar Powerpad Controller

The first solution is the Jaguar powerpad. If you have an Atari STE or a Falcon 030, you can plug them into the extended joystick ports and they will work. However this solution has a drawback. Any software or game which wants to use them this way has to provide a special code to read the new ports. If the game does not support the STE extended joystick ports with Jagpads you are out of luck. This also applies if your ST simply does not have the Extended Joystick Ports, like the Mega STE or any STFM.

To make use of the Jaguar powerpad on any ST and with any ST game with joystick support one has to find a way to connect the jagpad to the ordinary joystick port. However neither plugs do fit nor are the joysticks of the same electrical construction. Luckily it is relatively easy to achieve a proper signal mapping. Take note that all fire buttons will act as the same fire button. It is impossible to map them to other functions.

Schematic for Jagpad to Atari ST adaptor

Schematic for Jagpad to Atari ST adaptor

The Atari Extended Joystick Port FAQ  [1] includes a entirely passive circuit which allows to connect the jagpad to a standard joystick port. Building this adaptor will give you the benefit to use the Jaguar powerpad on all computer systems with the DB9 connector.

World of Atari at [2] seems to have professional Jagpad adaptors for sale as well.

The second solution from Atari is the CX78 Joypad. This special joypad was marketed in Europe together with the ill-fated 7800 console but it basically works with the Atari ST as well. However it has a drawback. The pin usage on the CX78 joypad is slightly different to take care of the 2 separate firebuttons of the 7800. These signals confuse the IKBD, a small microcontroller in the Atari ST which processes all keyboard and joystick input. As soon as you plug a CX78 into an Atari ST, the machine will show strange behaviour on keyboard input. For some games, esp. selfbooting ones which do not require keyboard interaction, this is ok but for others, like the notorious Automation menus, you might end up to be unable to launch your game with the CX78 plugged in.

Atari CX78 joypad

Atari CX78 joypad

This problem could be solved by building an adaptor which will leave the non-standard signals unconnected from the ST, e.q. just routing GND, the 4 directions and the combined (or one) fire buttons to the ST.

A professional solution for connecting a joypad is also available. The JeST device allows to connect Playstation joypads to the ST and other old computer systems with the DB9 joystick standard. However I didn’t receive mine yet so I can’t comment on its special features yet. A future article will deal with the JeST. In the meantime, you can find out more at [3] or alternatively at Atari-Forum.com

This device should be handy for all gamers who also have a Playstation at home which gets as much use as the Atari ST.

A neat trick is to take a non functional old joystick and a working USB joypad. Even if the USB part is defective, the mein push buttons of the pad are likely to be intact. Just solder some cables from the USB pad internals to the appropriate contacts on the ST joystick. If done properly, it should simply work as intended, bypassing the buttons of the old joystick and using the buttons from the gamepad instead.

As a last resort you can build your own because any joystick or joypad. On the ST this is simply a set of 5 switches which ground the control lines for the four directions or the fire button if pressed.

Also I’ve seen hacked MSX joypads rewired to work with an Atari 800XL so basically this should be possible to do for the Atari ST aswell.

Be creative – there are many ways to connect a joypad instead of a classic joystick!


Links

  1. The Atari Enhanced Joystick Ports FAQ
  2. World of Atari
  3. Logicsays

GFABASIC Forum – a report

August 30, 2009

Since 1986 the programming language GFABASIC has a strong reputation on the Atari ST and its compatibles. This dialect of the BASIC programming language with many elements of structured and procedural programming still has many advantages over other programming languages on the Atari ST.

The GFABASIC Editor on the Atari ST

The GFA-BASIC Editor on the Atari ST

On the Atari ST GFABASIC makes access to its operating system and hardware comparatively easy. For the novice programmer its integrated development environment and the interpreter allow an easy introduction into programming. A lot of debugging help is available and most errors result in clean error messages and a clean exit from the buggy code instead of machine crash with bombs on screen.
A compiler has been available as well which allows to translate the finished program into Motorola 68000 machine code and to release the software standalone.
In short, anyone who wants to start coding on the Atari ST, even in 2009, should take a look at GFABASIC. Even professionals can make use of it to create tools, subroutines or for calculating tabulated data to be used in software written in machine code.

Both novice and seasoned coders need advice, help, documentation and exchange of information and discussions with fellow programmers. In the past there have been no dedicated forums for GFABASIC. Some small scale projects were founded but didn’t have an impact. Isolated attempts of such forums at dialup BBSs died with their host systems and more or less have been forgotten.

More generic forums on the web like http://www.Atari-forum.com [1] tried to cover GFABASIC as a separate subtopic. But naturally a forum which deals with all aspects of the Atari ST and its compatibles is likely not to care for all specialities of a specialized topic such as GFA-BASIC.

GFABASIC forum banner

GFA-BASIC forum banner

A couple of French GFABASIC enthusiasts, including Tomchi/NoExtra of r0x fame, decided to change this and open a forum on the World Wide Web with the purpose to care only for GFABASIC. The forum is located at [2] and worth a visit.

The GFABASIC forum

The GFA-BASIC forum

Upon login you can change the basic layout of the forum to English language if desired. Being a French website, the default is French of course.

Any modern web browser with cookie support should allow you to use the forum. For better readability proper support of CSS is of course of help. But even the available web browsers on the Atari ST (e.q. CAB or Highwire) should allow you to visit and navigate the forum.

The forum itself is divided into several subcategories. Programming GEM compatible applications is a special subtopic as well as games and demo coding. Even the small sub community of users of GFABASIC on the PC is treated well here.

Most sections of the forum are in French language but there is an international sub forum where all topics can be discussed in English as well. Basically all questions in regard with the programming language GFABASIC are treated and cared for. Don’t hesitate. Just ask for help or provide help in the form of the knowledge you gained for yourself. Even a 5 line PROCEDURE or a tricky one line statement can be of use to others.

Even in the French section, trying to ask for help is well worth the effort. The active people are helpful and willing to help, even if the language barrier imposes a problem. It shouldn’t be one, at least not in such a friendly and tight sub community.

Many interesting topics in GFABASIC are available in the form of articles. Those were written in the early 90s and most of them are in French. Naturally the forum should be a place to translate them, allowing a wider public to read and benefit from them. Even if you are not a 100% technical person who can understand everything, helping to translate such articles would be of use to all others. Don’t just consume information, help to make more information available and accessible.

Using a forum like this one is a key resource to share knowledge. A few years back I started to write a small tutorial on using GFABASIC. Although the original web page disappeared from the net, I added the tutorial into the international section of the GFABASIC forum. It stays accessible in this way – and it even is easy to extend. Do the same, share your knowledge to the benefit of others!

All in all the GFABASIC forum is a large resource of help. It’s existence will not only allow GFABASIC to stay active as a used programming language but it also enables more coders to produce new software for the Atari ST line of computers. Let it be utilities, applications, games or demos, every piece of new software helps to keep the Atari ST alive.

Did you code Atari today? If not, you might want to learn it. With GFABASIC, it is very easy and the forum will give you plenty of help and examples to learn from.


Links

  1. www.ATARI-Forum.com
  2. GFABasic forum
  3. GFABASIC at Wikipedia

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

Switchblade – a classic game reviewed

August 30, 2009

Switchblade [1] is a game that I always liked although it never found a way into my collection back then. This game is a classic because it adds some different concepts while staying a playable platform game. Released in 1989 the game still offers a lot of fun.

Basically Switchblade is a platform action game for Atari ST and other platforms. The player guides the hero called Hiro through a vast underground city on the search of parts for a large sword. Climbing over platforms, crates and ladders Hiro is looking for parts of the sword. Baddies try to keep him from fulfilling his task and he can fight them. In the beginning the player only has his bare hands to fight with but additional weapons can be collected in the progress of the game.

Switchblade on the Atari ST

Switchblade on the Atari ST

The game map is vast and you will soon find yourself drawing a map for your usage. Hidden rooms and passages wait for your discovery and this applies for the whole game map. Although the game does not scroll, you can only see parts of the map that you have visited sofar. If there is a ladder leading down to an unknown area, you cannot see this particular area until you climb down the ladder. However any area that has been visited before stays visible for the player.This adds a nice aspect to the game which makes it different from the ordinary platformer.

Controls are a bit laggy and greasy. The game is definitly not a jumper liker Super Mario and the player has to think about strategies to progress. Brute force will only lead to loss of energy and loss of your precious lives. Even if the controls feel stiff at the start, the game is very predictable in its movements and with only a few couple of tries, control of Hiro feels ok and manageable.

The soundtrack is by Ben Daglish and very moody. However it can get boring and repetitive. So I recommend turning it off and playing with soundeffects instead.

As the game has been developed in the 1987-1988 time frame, it has no support for STE hardware features. regardless of this, the game runs well on the STE and with a proper patch, on Falcon and TT too.

Let’s have a look at the game in comparison to its ports to other platforms beside the Atari ST. As the Commodore Amiga version is more or less identical, it is left out of the comparison. We will focus on the known 8 bit platforms instead.

Gameplay wise there  are not many differences. Controls are laggy and  greasy in the same way on the Commodore C64, Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum. So judging by playing with your joystick, it is hard to detect the platform you are playing on. On the other hand, this indicates the playability of all versions is about the same.

Enemy and trap patterns are identical and the same applies to the main game map.

Most differences can be found on the ingame graphics and the performance of the game engine.

For comparison there are screenshots taken at the same location in the game.

Switchblade on the Amstrad CPC - reference location

Switchblade on the Amstrad CPC – reference location

On the Amstrad CPC the game runs in MODE 1. Instead of a lot of big blocky colourful pixels in MODE 0, you get a pretty good resolution at the cost of less colours. It is not a show stopper as raster interrupts are used to cleverly colourize the status bars. The music is pretty the same as on the Atari ST and the player feels directly at home. Sound effects are slightly different if music is turned off.

Switchblade on the ZX Spectrum - reference location

Switchblade on the ZX Spectrum – reference location

The ZX Spectrum is pretty himself, rather monochromatic and not very colourful. At this slight expense graphics feel smooth and playable. Only at a screen flip, a slight delay is noticeable. On a+3  with AY soundchip, there is a slightly different sound track in comparison to the ST or CPC. This is quite puzzling as the soundchip is more or less the same as in the Amstrad CPC or the Atari ST.

Switchblade on the Commodore 64 - reference location

Switchblade on the Commodore 64 – reference location

Switchblade on the Commodore 64 is rather blocky and the dull choice of colours makes the C64 Version the ugliest of the reviewed game versions. The game also stops noticeably at a screen flip which makes some jumps awkward and difficult. On the other hand, the soundtrack of the C64 version is very good and an enjoyable port of the original YM soundtrack.

All in all, a  very nice and enjoyable game, even 20 years after its first release. I can recommend playing this game!


Links

  1. Switchblade at Atari Legend
  2. Homepage of Simon Phipps – coder and designer of Switchblade
  3. Game map – from World Of Spectrum

It rOx!

August 15, 2009

After the release of “r0x”, we played the game in the STOT #2/21. We all liked the game, so we asked Tomchi the coder, to give us an interview.

r0x

rOx

LowRes: Could you please introduce yourself.

tomchi: Nicolas FLANDIN, french , optician and born in 1975. I own an STE since 1989 and try to contribute with my very limited skills to the Atari scene since 2007.

LowRes: When did you got the idea, what were your inspirations?

tomchi: Heavy Stylus had the idea and the gfx, i just proposed him to code the game :)

LowRes: How long did it take to do the game?

tomchi: As for the code, we started late december and we can say that it was released in june that’s about 7 months.

LowRes: Was it hard to find a team of graphicians and musicians?

tomchi: Original gfx were ripped from deluxe galaga by Heavy Stylus and I had some unfinished chiptune, so we had everything at the beginning. Then Templeton gave us these really cool gfx after a chat with him and DMA-SC made the game main tune at Outline, so all in all we can say that it was easy and that ST sceners are really cool and motivated if you have a project that is not vapour ware ;)

LowRes: How did you communicate?

tomchi: Mostly mails and MSN.

LowRes: What tools and machines do you used to code the game?

tomchi: ATARI STE 4 Mos, PC and gfa :P

LowRes: Did you drop some ideas during the development?

tomchi: Indeed, we wanted it to be a full game with levels and so on, I wanted to code a shop ala xenon 2 where you could buy speed, lives and so on, but then that was to much for the gameplay of r0x.

LowRes: Are there some hidden parts in the game, and could you give some hints to unlock them?

tomchi: Just grind the rocks to make an insane score and rank … erm .. 3 rd IIRC ;)

LowRes: Are you happy with the feedback?

tomchi: Yes, people at outline liked it, at least more than the other games as it ranked 1st :P Some blogs also have a complete review of the game, thx ThorN for r0xing a STOT round too :) As far as a few people enjoyed playing this game, that’s cool :)

LowRes: What are your next plans?

tomchi: I made a Jagpad only version of r0x … I like to release it in two weeks.grtx

Many thanks for this interview.

Here are two of the Blogs that reviewed the game:

StickHeads review
Matty’s review

Also r0x won the title “Best game of the year (season)”, given by the STOT players

Here some comments of the STOT Players

SSB:

  • I really like the soundtrack of this game!
  • Most of the time I end up with loss of 2 lives before I get 10000 points 😕

ThorN:

  • I like the graphics, the sound is superb and the intro is really great. I look forward to test the 2 player mode.

Good game

Good game

StickHead:

  • I can see this getting very addictive! I concur, lovely game with superb graphics and music.

Xerus:

  • Also watched your video but, but … shame on me, I didn’t know we could scrape points close to the meteors – bloody hell, and you still got 1.5 million?! It would be interesting to see what you can get now… (StickHead)