Archive for the ‘Websites’ Category

YM heaven in the net

May 15, 2010

A new ambitious project was released in the web some weeks ago called Atari Music Network (AMN). We would like to talk with Donovan Logan about the past the present and the future of it.

LR: Could you please introduce yourself?

DL: Gladly! But first, I’d like to thank you for this interview opportunity and your interest in the Atari Music Network. This is my first public interview, so I’m very honored.

My name is Donovan Logan. I lived in Toronto, Canada for nearly all 30 years of my life until recently when I immigrated to the USA to get married. Now I live in the beautiful mountain town of Asheville, NC. It’s definitely been a culture shock – especially since the Asheville Craigslist hasn’t had a single Atari listed since I arrived last year! 😉

LR: What was you first Atari and when do you get in in touch with music on the Atari?

DL: I studied piano/keyboard from the age of four straight through to University. I fell in love with the Atari in grade 7 when my school invested in an entire Atari 1040 ST MIDI studio for $4000. All had at that time was a Tandy TRS-80 and my classroom’s C64 which I brought home on weekends to compose an arpeggiated, three-channel chiptune and light-show on using Basic. The thought of owning a real, genuine Atari seemed impossible; I literally waited years to save enough money from odd-jobs to buy a smokey-yellow Atari 1040 STFM when I was 16 in 1996. Now, I own three modded Atari Falcons that read SD and CF cards and connect to a 22″ flat screen and mint condition Roland and Yamaha analog synths! It’s my dream come true! To read my full-length, extremely humorous and somewhat perverted Atari story, visit this link: [2]. You can also write your own nostalgic Atari story there too!

LR: How would you describe the AMN in a few words?

DL: The Atari Music Network (AMN) promotes and celebrates Atari MIDI and chiptune music with forums, how-to articles, news, & a growing collection of nefarious software. Although AMN focuses on Atari, it warmly welcomes Amiga, C64, ZX & NES musicians to share their music! There’s no platform rivalry here – we’re all one big, geeky, vintage family!

LR: What is the greatest feature of the AMN?

DL: In the beginning of April 2010, the Atari Music Network released AMN Live!, an incredible new feature which has completely revolutionized the site. AMN Live! is a free, professional music publishing tool designed to help chiptune and MIDI musicians promote their music to a targeted, global audience. It is the only chiptune and MIDI music sharing service that includes in-depth SEO and social bookmarking tools so search engines can easily index our musician’s profiles and albums as individual landing pages. AMN also pays out of pocket for Facebook and Google ads to drive traffic to this area of the site; therefore, if you really want your music to get noticed, you’ll want to spend some time writing a clean, professional bio as well as some informative album reviews.

LR: How could somebody could participate?

DL: All you have to do is register once to get access to both AMN Live! and the AMN forums.

LR: How long did it took to establish the site?

DL: This is a loaded question! First of all, this is the first website I’ve ever built. When I started back in June of 2009, I knew absolutely nothing about HTML or Joomla. In fact, I didn’t even know how to buy an internet domain! Since I was a new immigrant to the USA, I wasn’t allowed to work so I had a lot of spare time on my hands. Originally, I wanted to launch the site it in October, but someone hacked into my files and deleted everything. Can you believe I never backed up anything either? It was so devastating and I almost gave up. But after several nights of drinking Heineken and receiving encouragement from several Atari friends and my wife, I started all over again. The site was finally launched on midnight, Jan 1, 2010. And you wouldn’t believe what happened next! A few minutes after the launch, my hard drive crashed and I couldn’t access my site for days!

Over time, I have become quite proficient tweaking CSS, HTML, and mySQL files. The site has changed so much since January and I’ve got many unfinished projects to finish on the site. I can safely predict it will take another year to call it “complete” and “running on its own”. Unfortunately, since June 2009, I haven’t had time to even touch my Atari studio. It’s been a huge sacrifice building this site; there’s always modules to upgrade, bugs to fix, SEO enhancements to make, advertising to pay for…the list is endless. In fact, I’m running both a Joomla and PHPBB3 forum side by side and this dual platform system requires double the constant upgrading and monitoring. Right now, there’s a lot of people waiting on me to upload articles they sent back in March! I can barely keep up! Although I’ll admit, since I’m a graphic designer by trade, I spend too much time perfecting my front page graphics! ;-p

LR: Do you think that there is something most Atari musicians have in common?

DL: I don’t like to over generalize, but I can share some observations I’ve made over the years. Atari musicians come in two flavors: MIDI synth enthusiasts and Chiptuners. MIDI musicians tend to be in their 40s-50s, and are incredible Atari hardware experts. They always seem to have an answer for even the most obscure questions. Typically, these are the guys that never sold their Ataris since they bought them new, or if they did, they came back to it years later after realizing Mac and PC were no where near as stable, efficient, or fun to to sequence MIDI music on.

Chip musicians seem to span all generations and platforms. There plenty of older MIDI-chiptune crossover musicians and ex-demo gurus too. Perhaps the most exciting and promising thing I can tell you is that there are thousands of youths in their teens and 20s who are way too young to even know what Atari is – yet they are embracing and popularizing the 8-bit music genre like never before! For example, I recently encountered a few hundred of them from Indonesia though Facebook. The 8-bit scene is massive over there and I constantly get thank you emails and letters of support from them – incredible!

LR: Do you meet other Atarians in real life from time to time?

DL: Not in the Appalachian mountains! But there are still hundreds of Atarians back home in Toronto buying & selling Ataris on Craigslist all the time. One of the Atari Music Network’s goals is to create a global ‘network’ of Atarians to exist as one, large community.

LR: What are your plans for the future of the AMN?

DL: There are actually several planned stages of growth for AMN. First and foremost, I plan to produce an e-commercial for YouTube to attract and invite more chiptune and vintage MIDI synth musicians. I also have over 1GB of Atari software I need to upload which is a long boring, task – but one I’m sure all Atarians will love and appreciate. More importantly, within a couple years, I am planning on hosting international chiptune/MIDI festivals, similar to Blipfest, in the USA and perhaps globally. But right now, I’m focussed on making sure AMN is running smoothly with more content, software, and members.

LR: When I had a look at the link section, I didn’t see anything related to games and gaming, why?

DL: That link page is massive, isn’t it? My web analytics also show that it’s the most popular page on the site! It took countless weeks to build that page and I am nowhere near finished. I’m now looking for volenteers to continue adding and building it. The categories extend way beyond Atari music and so far it has potential to be the largest, most up-to-date Atari link page of all time. If anyone would like to help continue building it, please contact me at atarimusicnet@yahoo.com. I’d love to have a game section as well as sections for our C64 and Amiga friends.

LR: What are your 3 favorite Atari made tracks?

DL: I can’t say. Ask me again in one year after AMN attracts hundreds more talented Atari musicians – I want to sample thousands of new, innovative tracks before I form an opinion on what I like most. Maybe someone reading this article can blow me away with their musical talent! Hope to see you at http://www.AtariMusic.net/

LR: Thanks a lot that you found some time to do the interview Donovan, and good luck with your project.


Links:

  1. Atari Music Network
  2. Donovan’s Atari story

The future of ST web collections: Atarimania

December 28, 2009

Since years ATARIMANIA[1] is a well known source for all Atari 8 Bit fans. Now since some time, it extend it’s collections to also cover the ST computers. Not long ago, there was a relaunch of the site. So it was a good opportunity to have some words with one of the main responsible for the ST part of the site: Marakatti.

The new design

The new game screen

LR: Please introduce yourself.
Marakatti: My name is Marko, I live in southern part of Finland (the promised land of C64, Amiga and Windows) with my wife, 2 kids, 2 dogs and lots of Atari-machines and software. I’ve been active ST user since 1990 and own Atari machines from 2600 to Jaguar and from 400 to Falcon030. In the earlier days I was a gfx-man of Alien Nation and Depression crews. I also used to collect computers and videogames from 1997 to 2005 or something and have total of 135 machines and around 1500 original software titles for different systems.

LR: What is your function in Atarimania ?
Marakatti: My main job is to build the ST / TT / Falcon030 database (games, utils, demos), make Pasti-images from the originals we get or own, do a lot of scanning (disks, box, magazines, and whatever are related to ST software) and the most important part, to add the stuff our contributors send for us.
As every member of Atarimania I also participate to design, bug hunting and suggesting new features for the website and the special program we use to update the Atarimania. I try to work at least 1-2 hours every day for the site so you could say that there’s every day something new to see. I think 11 hours a day is my current record ;)

LR: How did you start participating in Atarimania?
Marakatti: In April 2008 things were very silent at the Guardians of the PaST. Team had lost the coder, founders needed to take a break for their hard work and the database engine wasn’t working 100%. It was a bit of uncertainty what comes next and when. So I was looking for a another project to keep the flame burning while the Guardians was on hold.
I noticed a site called Atarimania which was listed on RetroGamer magazine. It looked cool and I saw that the ST database wasn’t yet published. So I sent mail to the team, told a bit about myself and asked if I can help building the ST section. I got accepted to enter Atarimania. Later I worked for the both sites but as things got more and more silent on the Guardians side so I chose to concentrate my energy for Atarimania which is now my main Atari-project.

LR: What are the highlights of the relaunch of Atarimania? When did the relaunch was planed, and how long did it took?
Marakatti: It was amazing how fast our coder did the whole site from scratch concerning he has a fulltime job. I think the first concepts were done in late January. The new design really took off in May or so and we already had a new version running in early September. We’re still fixing bugs, cleaning the site and adjusting some minor things. This is pretty much done and we can concentrate to build the ST database again which still needs very much work to be equal to other areas of Atarimania.

About highlights I think the best thing is “My Atarimania”. It’s a totally new concept in Atari world where you can keep easy list of your Atari software online no matter where you are. It has already been very popular feature amongst the game collectors.
Generally speaking the whole site is now much faster and easier to navigate thanks to the fact that it’s fully recoded with Webdev instead of PHP. This also allows easier and more flexible expansion for future features.
We tried to make it more user friendly experience for our visitors and also have the latest web technology under the hood for the future.

LR: How many people are involved in Atarimania and how are they organized?
Marakatti: At the moment we have 10 active members from France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and Finland.
Six members are working on 8bit Atari-machines and four for ST / TT / Falcon030. It’s a funny coincidence that most of the ST team are from Scandinavia.

LR: Are there dependencies between the different systems, or are systems like the VCS and ST independent in Atarimania?
Marakatti: The ST section is most independent from the others. With an exception of our coder, we don’t do maintenance work for 8bit systems. Atarimania has originally been built around 8-bit machines so it’s natural that the founders work for console and 8-bit computers.
In fact 8 and 16+bit machines don’t share that much similarities apart from Atari name and the case design of XE. So both require special kind of expertise and most importantly years of experience. I have to admit I don’t even have enough knowledge to use 8-bit Atari computers properly apart from loading some games or watching the absolutely fantastic demos this “babyamiga” has to offer. These guys are best for the job so ST section can concentrate doing our own thing. Having said that I will ofcourse be here to help if things like scanning or taking screenshots is needed.

LR: Why is there an own forum with topics like “programming”, why not reuse “Atari-Forum” or “Atari Age” or whatever?
Marakatti: I think our forum main purpose is to allow interaction between visitors and Atarimania. The other areas like utils and demos are also expanding so it’s natural to have our own little forum for that. It is true that Atari-Forum and Atari Age are the most active places for community. We don’t try to compete against them.

LR: What number of games do you expect to be listed in AM in the end?
Marakatti: For single ST/TT/Falcon titles we try to reach the magical 5000 games limit. I still think there might be some PD or personal archives to be explored. But it will take a lot of time to go this far as we now need to concentrate to fill up the gaps in the current database.
For the total number when you count different releases like budget-versions and country specific releases + the utils and demos for that, no one can’t even imagine the total number! I think we are going to see well over 10000 entries in couple of years.

LR: Is there a chance, that the Atarimania project will die (the ST part) as Guardians of the PaST died?
Marakatti: First of all I think it’s too early to say if the Guardians have died or not. It had a habit of having big breaks, and then suddenly something moves a bit again. As I spent hundreds of hours working for that project I still have a soft spot for the site in my heart and would be sad to see it vanished completely.

I’m sure that Atarimania will survive as long as we have a coder to supports us and there’s nothing dramatically in our families lives. We spent our childhood with different Atari systems, we love to play with our machines now when we are adults and we want to preserve the good old days for the future generations when we’re gone. Three very important things that keeps us together.

LR: The strange thing on GotpST was, that it was only interested in “Commercial” games, what’s the opinion on PD and Shareware games on AM?
Marakatti: It was this way because Guardians goal is to preserve everything including complete game boxes. It was something that most people didn’t realize.

In Atarimania our ultimate goal is to save every software title released no matter under what license, where or who published them. As far as the commercial stuff goes we prefer to use Pasti-images for protected games to have as fresh copy as possible, that’s why we decided not to use any cracks. We have nothing against crackers though, without them the ST history wouldn’t be complete and no one could enjoy as large software base as we can today.
But the thing is that there are already mighty CD or DVD compilations available from DBug, our newest member Marcer and from many other people in the past. But no one hasn’t succeeded making the ultimate Atari ST / TT / Falcon030 software archive yet with as unmodified software as possible. So PD, demo and shareware stuff is most welcome, it would be a real loss to miss such classics like, let’s say Llamatron.

LR: I saw on a C64 Forum, that they have videos of each level of a game, do you think that will come as a future feature in AM as well?
Marakatti: Very tempting idea. It would be possible with the games that have trainers or by hiring Xerus to play everything for us :D

Couple of ST videos are already uploaded with much more to come. Time will tell if we manage to go this far. I have to admit I really enjoy watching the Amiga speed runs from YouTube and would love to see such thing on Atarimania someday.

LR: What are the next steps in the project?
Marakatti: Main priority on ST is now to take screenshots for the current entries and to make as much Pasti dumps available as possible. In total we have well over 1000 boxed originals waiting to be pastified and/or scanned + the new contributions we get every week.
We will also do our best to find lots of previews, reviews, work in progress etc. documents to be added as well as videos and otherwise unreleased material not found from other Atari websites.
I’m also a huge fan of Falcon030 so thanks to the already very good Falcon emulation on Hatari we are finally able to build decent Falcon database as well. I think we also start soon working on Jaguar section when we have figured out how to get decent screenshots.

LR: What are your dream features of Atarimania?
Marakatti: In the future when the database is ready I would like to see Guardians style things in Atarimania like the expanded background information of games, ability to play ST-game music files, wider selection of screenshots etc..
It would be great to be able to play ST games directly from the website like on VCS section. Also the idea of having rotating 3D software boxes sounds very cool to me.

But my ultimate dream is that I would like to see the members of Guardians of the PaST, Atari Legend, Atarimania and other ST sites to work together for one big project that would challenge the big sites like Hall of Light on Amiga or World of Spectrum instead of trying to do things on our own. ST scene is just too small for that.
Just look at the VCS and 8bit databases. They are real flagships of Atarimania. It just shows what is possible when you have motivation and dedication to give your best shot and get people to support the project. We have the technology and motivation so it can be done on ST as well. So far the support has been great but there’s always space for more stuff and people.

LR: What are your favorite ST games?
Marakatti: I’m a big fan of racing games on any platform, so almost anything from that genre goes. I think the best ones on ST are games from Magnetic Fields (Lotus and Super Cars series), Vroom, Microprose GP, Toyota Celica GT Rally and Stunt Car Racer. From other than racing games I enjoy very much playing Kick Off and all the classics like Gauntlet II, Ikari Warriors, Xenon, Arkanoid II, Fighter Bomber, Llamatron and Obsession just to name a few. I bet there are still dozens of great games I’ve never even played. That’s what makes ST gaming so fascinating :)

LR: Many thanks for this great interview, and our best wishes for the future of the project

Links


1. Atarimania website

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

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