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Old 23 October 2018, 23:33   #61
DrBong
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Originally Posted by Daedalus View Post
Yep. The Atari 8-bit line also had named chips, so there's a good possibility it was a tradition carried on by Jay Miner and the other designers. It still sort of happens up to this day, but with less custom chip usage and more leveraging of off-the-shelf technology, it's not as visible, and the names aren't as anthropomorphic, instead tending towards marketability. For example, AMD's GPUs (Polaris, Ellesmere, Fiji...) and Intel CPUs (Broadwell, Ivy Bridge, Skylake...)

I'd like more of the "normal" names to come back - I'd like knowing that my phone has a chip in it called Bob But the sort of development team you're talking about don't really exist these days, sadly.
An Aussie internet service provider (iiNet) here a few years ago named their flagship modem/VOIP unit "BOB" (they had two generations - the BOB1 and BOB2 modems ). From a pure marketing POV, it was a stroke of genius as it had instant appeal for much of the general public. On the commercials they were promoted by a very down-to-earth Irish lad with a good SOH and matter-of-fact charm. Over a 3-4 year period, they gave away loads as part of long-term contracts and sold a lot outright to customers not wanting to commit to such contracts.

Anyway, the BOB modems are no longer with us.....but the humorous Irish lad is still the company mascot on the TV commercials (despite being gobbled up by a ruthless parent company) If only more tech companies were so in-tune with their potential customers!
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Old 23 October 2018, 23:41   #62
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I for one, could not have had an early career in animation, without the AGA chipset. I started on a non-AGA machine, doing deluxepaint animations for television at 720x480, using only 16 colors. So the A4000D, the A4000T, and A1200 for me, were revolutionary. (Someone please send me a free, spare Blizzard 1260, so that I can continue my work, will you?) :-D

Having that additional palette gave me an entire world of color I wouldn't have otherwise had. And Amiga was the only thing that could load minutes of animation at that resolution into RAM, and play it back full screen, at 30 frames per second.

Any talk of AGA not being in the "spirit of the Amiga" is nonsense to me, anyway.
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Old 23 October 2018, 23:56   #63
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AGA Demos? Well, here's a list of the most popular demos here, although most of them will need a 68040 or more to run. If you click on each page in the list and then look at the attached YouTube video, you can get a good idea of what AGA is capable of.
After I got my A1200 in mid-nineties, I was in a shop nearby and purchased a CD with AGA demos and a lot of it was for unexpanded A1200. Dunno if they were better than A500 demos though. I didn't have many demos with my A500 because at the time I thought having a disk with a demo is a pure waste of a potential game disk. (You know considering pocket money in the eighties and the disk prices back then.)
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Old 24 October 2018, 09:41   #64
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Old 24 October 2018, 10:12   #65
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I got the A1200 almost as soon as it was released im Sweden.. I remeber being unhappy with the crappy CPU and lack o ffastmem.. but soon after I gota a Blizzard 1220 with 28MHz 020, 4MB RAM and even FPU I think. After that I loved it!
Anyhoo, I never thought much about AGA from the beginning. Not knowing all the limitatuins of the upgraded chipset design I was thrilled to be able to use 256 colors in Dpaint AGA, and renderings in Imagine 3d would look great in HAM8.
Sound-samples sounded good at 22 khz or higher even at 8 bit, so that didnt bother me too much.
Of course, once Doom and clones started flooding the PC gaming market it became obvious AGA wasnt ideal for the task and certainly not future proof considering how fast things were moving om the PC side..
Up until Commodores demise we were all hoping AAA would come soon and kick some PC ass.. Weell, the rest is history...
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Old 24 October 2018, 17:14   #66
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I didn't have many demos with my A500 because at the time I thought having a disk with a demo is a pure waste of a potential game disk.
I consider Demos to be the Amiga's raison d'etre, and games as an afterthought. I think Demos show off the Amiga 1000x more than games ever could, that's why I always prioritised them.
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Old 24 October 2018, 17:55   #67
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I've owned every non-AGA Amiga since 1986 at one point or another (yes even owned 3000UX and still own 3000T). When AGA came out, I remember *not* getting that "gotta have this" feeling. It also felt like the "new" computers went down in build quality and design (IMO A3000 looks more stylish than an A4000). Looking back, I guess that means AGA was a fail... I also remember being so disappointed the PC had Doom and the Amiga had no response.

A600s and A1200s are only desirable now because of what the aftermarket did twenty years later. That wasn't foresight on C='s part. It was the ingenuity and enthusiasm of the amiga community.
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Old 24 October 2018, 18:11   #68
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Yeah, as I read this thread and think about the original question..

AGA is great, and I love my 1200...

But in my mind, the spirit of the Amiga was a huge step forward.

With AGA, I think of it as a nice bump. Not the "spirit of the Amiga" to me.

Of course, that all depends on what one considers the Amiga's spirit. ;-)
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Old 24 October 2018, 21:28   #69
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At that point, I'm not sure if Commodore did even know what the Amiga was capable of, not to mention the AGA chipset.
Of course not. They only knew what it was designed to do.

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I remember they were saying that the compatibilities issues between the A1200 and old ECS games were due to the developpers tricking the old chipset and misusing it (and this is why they didn't released an AGA hardware reference manual.
Yes, and it was the right decision.

When there was only one chipset you could safely trick it into doing things it wasn't designed to do. But that becomes a problem for enhancing the design, because to maintain compatibility you have to carry over poorly understood 'features' that weren't originally designed in.

And it wasn't just the chipset. Even before AGA many games broke on faster CPUs, newer Kickstarts, extra RAM or even just an external disk drive - all because developers didn't follow the rules. And what did the users do? They blamed Commodore for the incompatibilities, rather than appreciating the improvements. Every new machine that Commodore brought out was met with howls of protest from users who discovered it wouldn't run all the games in their collection. What were they to do?

Commodore tried to stay compatible with OCS as best they could, but they couldn't keep doing that forever. If you look at the PC world you can see where they had to go. Compatibility is maintained by software drivers, and chipset manufacturers don't reveal the inner workings of their hardware because developers are supposed to go through the documented interfaces. It couldn't have worked any other way, and if Commodore had survived it would have been the same for 'next-generation' Amigas.

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To avoid trickery from the devs wich is funny (or a pity) because all the magic we saw on the amiga hardware was thanks to these trickery.
Some of the magic sure, but most of it can still be done while following the rules. The Amiga wasn't going to survive in the marketplace on pirate game intros and titles that didn't work on half the machines. Sensible developers realized this and took Commodore's guidelines on board.

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And later, the community of Amiga users then shows with WHD Load that there wasn't any compatibility issues at all.
And how is WHD Load able to provide that compatibility? Because Commodore put a lot of effort into maintaining compatibility between chipsets. But try to WHD Load an AGA game on (say) an A3000 with RTG and you will understand why they didn't want developers banging on undocumented 'features' of the AGA chipset.

People today think compatibility is no big deal, but back then we didn't have ridiculously powerful PCs that can emulate an entire Amiga in software. It was a huge issue for PCs too, which they solved with Windows device drivers. No developer today would even think of banging the hardware directly.
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Old 24 October 2018, 22:59   #70
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I think AGA captured the spirit of Amiga, but like others have said, it should have come out in 1991. The leap wasn't big enough over OCS/ECS and the older design became a bottleneck
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Old 24 October 2018, 23:32   #71
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I think AGA captured the spirit of Amiga, but like others have said, it should have come out in 1991. The leap wasn't big enough over OCS/ECS and the older design became a bottleneck
'91 is an interesting date. The 3000 was released in June 1990.
So, what if the 3000 would have come out a bit later in 90, early 91, but with AGA... ;-) That would have been in the spirit of the Amiga..
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Old 25 October 2018, 10:06   #72
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My view of the spirit of the Amiga is that of a small group of creatives/engineers coming together to create something that was years ahead of its time and as a result went on to dominate the market. By contrast AGA was too little too late.
Basically this.

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It does at least seem to indicate getting AA/AGA out when they did for Christmas 1992 was no small feat, regardless of whether it was up to par or not - which it wasn't, the A1200 was needed in Q3 1990 really IMO.
And this.
I remember at that time, that the PC was getting ahead in german game magazine reviews, and the Amiga was losing its edge.

Suddenly there were PC games that you were craving that the Amiga didn't get (or only much later).

If the 1200 would have been released in 1990, even at a higher price point, I guess that the Amiga would have been around a much longer time.

Back then the prevalent feeling was, that the Amiga was finished and commodore had nothing new and revolutionary to sell to those customers who were eagerly waiting for that to happen.

And those customers found that by buying IBM PCs with a VGA and Soundblaster card and where happy being able to play Wing Commander I&II, Ultima 6, Gunship2000, and lots of other stuff.

I remember seeing a 600 and a 1200 in a shop windows back then, and thinking "what, there are finally new Amigas? Who wants to buy that stuff now that we have those PCs?".

Commodore had lost me as a customer in 1991. With AGA around in 1990, that wouldn't have happened, I am sure.

Last edited by Steril707; 25 October 2018 at 10:30.
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Old 25 October 2018, 11:11   #73
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Ok, I need to get something of my chest here... I've seen quite a few people argue that AGA should've been released in 1990 (or 1991). And I just don't agree this was a viable idea.

Sorry if the rest of this post is a bit rant-ish, but here goes

From the perspective of Commodore, 1990 would've been a really rather strange release date for the AGA chipset. Consider that OCS Amiga's were pretty much having their best sales results in that very period and that the sales curve seemed to be trending up instead of down (Amiga sales year-on-year had been going up every year and showed no signs of stopping)

Without the benefit of hindsight, why exactly would Commodore have chosen to replace their Amiga chipset & line-up with what would be (for 1990) expensive new designs during a time of record sales, when all signs pointed to steadily increasing sales for the existing designs?

Sure, we all know now that Amiga sales dropped like a brick during 1992, but Commodore didn't know this was going to happen (especially given that 1991 was the best year the Amiga ever had sales wise, AFAIK).

You could argue that Commodore should've seen the better PC's/consoles coming and do something about it. But, they actually kinda did see a need to improve the Amiga (I seem to remember reading about AAA somewhere in 1989/1990?) - it's just they got the amount of time they had left to get it done wrong and thus didn't invest in it enough.

And when things did go wrong (which happened straight after the best year the Amiga had), they got AGA out really rather quickly all things considered: Amiga sales started tanking in 1992 and AGA was out the same year to try and reverse the trend. The quick turnaround also explains a lot of the stopgap measures in the chipset.

I know it's more fashionable to tell ourselves that Commodore was one giant screw up after another, but IMHO that is in large part due to us being able to see were things ended up after the fact.

In short: I'm just not convinced that Commodore could've/should've predicted the market collapsing in 1992, given how sales were going up all the time right up to that time.


---
As for AGA vs OCS, yeah - it's not the best upgrade possible but it did have a few nice things. The 64 pixel wide sprites are underrated and 16/16 colour Dual Playfield was quite nice. The higher fetch modes were also nice, but largely offset by a higher need for chip ram bandwitdh.

Oh and no, the A500 would not be able to handle most AGA only games without scaling them back (in some cases quite severely) - even if it had 2MB of chipram. I'll admit this is mainly due to the better Dual Playfield mode being used extensively in AGA games and the extra bandwidth allowing for 64 colour games without real compromises, but still - neither of these two things can really be done on an A500.

As an example: Lionheart vs Flink shows immediately what I mean, Flink is a much nicer looking game that doesn't suffer from the A500 'Copper enhanced Dual Playfield' look. Flink also 'effortlessly' throws about much bigger and more sprites than games like Lionheart ever manage.

This is not dig at Lionheart by the way, it's just that people seem somehow blind to the (admittedly few) AGA games that do show how AGA is an advantage.
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Old 25 October 2018, 12:08   #74
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You speak as if Commodore tried to reverse what was happening to them, when in fact the result of all their awful decisions from late 1991 onwards caused their own downfall, not the market collapsing.


Had they not even bothered with the AA and kept cost reducing the A500, maybe a A500 in a A1200 case instead of the A600 and launched at £299 with a 7 button joypad instead of £399 with what the A600 did, with the aim to hit the £199 for xmas 93 to gain traction in budget computer market imo the million sales the year before would have continued, games fueled the Amiga sales in latter years more than anything, it would give enough funds for more to work on and push for hermes to come out in late 94.

Sorry going off topic.
The market did collapse though, and this (IMHO) had far more to do with competition from the PC & 16 bit consoles than anything else. Commodore was not perfect, but they did want to be successful. They obviously did try - and failed.

Note they are not alone here: all most all of the 'home computer companies' were in dire straights around 1992 and most of them did not survive.

This is not a coincidence - in 1992 the market for low end gaming was cornered by the 16 bit consoles (which were objectively better suited for games than any of the home computers, Amiga included) and the market for mid/high end gaming (as well as applications) had pretty much fully shifted to the PC at that point.

I don't buy into the "better or cheaper Amiga would've saved Commodore" idea. By 1992, it was already too late for the home computer (meaning consumer oriented non-DOS/Windows machines) market - all of these companies were in trouble or had already folded. By taking this look outside of the Amiga market (I feel) we can see that the time for Amiga's and machines like it was well, pretty much over. Cheaper A500's would not have fixed it and better hardware would not have either.

As a result, I just don't buy into the "it's all Commodore's managements fault" line any more. It's more complicated than that and I'm personally not convinced that even a well managed and financially healthy Commodore would've survived all that much longer - if they had kept their focus on the Amiga. Perhaps if they had moved away from the platform they might have found a new market. But not with the Amiga.

IMHO PC's basically won the 'computer wars' back in the mid to late 1980's when their market share skyrocketed to outright market dominance (look it up, between 1983 and 1989 the PC grew from below 10% to over 70% of the total computer market and it only went up further from there). Everything after that point was just non-PC platforms delaying the inevitable.

Ironically, I say all of this with the benefit of hindsight. At the time I thought that the Amiga would rule the world. Ahh, what could've been

Appologies, this is indeed off-topic.

Last edited by roondar; 25 October 2018 at 12:22. Reason: Edit: corrected the marketshare figures
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Old 25 October 2018, 15:52   #75
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Wow you left during the peak of the Amiga scene why!? Who cared if the expensive PC had more technically impressive games you had to pay to get them, same as then as it is today, its like saying im leaving Sega as a customer cause the Neogeo is more capable, i dont get the mentality here.
I left because the games I wanted to play were not released on the system I owned.

It was the same before when I switched from the C64 to the Amiga in late 1987.

I didn't know any "Amiga scene" except all the friends I had who were fellow owners of an A500 in the years 88 to 91. And from those, 1990 was still kind of a happy time on the Amiga, but in late 1991 with Wing Commander II and Gunship 2000 dropping the migration to the PC started. And that went fast.

I guess it's the same with every new hardware. First off you have the "tech" people, who want the newest hardware.
But these people are also usually in the know of where the trend goes.

The mass of people who buy a hardware a couple of years after release at Walmart for a bargain price may have pushed the final volume of Amiga hardware sold.

But at that point of time Commodore had already lost its "we have the best graphics hardware" shine to VGA in the mind of the tech inclined people who owned Amigas before that.

I think, had those guys like me been seeing (or heard anything about) an Amiga with new capabilities in 1990, I had start saving money and get that instead.

But you are right, it's hindsight.

What's not hindsight though, is, that Commodore needed SEVEN years to get a new half assed generation of Amiga hardware out.

And that's definitely a joke, seeing that the C64 was around for three years until the Amiga was shown.
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Old 25 October 2018, 15:59   #76
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Yep. The spirit of the Amiga is the off-loading of CPU workload onto hardware DMA, and the OS features such as dedicated screens and multitasking.

An OS evolves with CPU improvements and adapts to graphics cards and peripherals. This is normal.

AGA and 3.1 continues this tradition. And basically any and all later improvements (except maybe where you have to hack the OS to make it support them) are in the spirit of AmigaOS.
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Old 25 October 2018, 16:25   #77
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What's not hindsight though, is, that Commodore needed SEVEN years to get a new half assed generation of Amiga hardware out.

And that's definitely a joke, seeing that the C64 was around for three years until the Amiga was shown.
Yeah, it is fairly painful it took them so long and I sorely wish they had in fact done more and much faster (for instance, the fabled Ranger chipset would've been a good idea).

But even here I'd point out a factor in how companies tend to make decisions - the Amiga was just not that successful for the first two years (arguably up to three years as even the A500 took a little while to start flying of the shelves).

And then the rather difficult question becomes: how much money to invest in upgrading a platform that's only started making money around 1988? For a 1990 upgrade the realistic answer would've had to be "quite a bit and right now". I kinda understand why that didn't happen.

I'll grant you that Commodore did take their sweet time and that this indeed turned out to be a catastrophic mistake, but from a product management perspective it doesn't feel that strange to only start thinking upgrades & investments after a product turns out to be a real success.

After all, would you invest heavily in upgrading a product line that doesn't sell all that well and is consistently being outsold by a competitor that offered a cheaper, less capable machine (which was the reality in 1988 & 1989)?

People here underestimate how much Commodore depended on the C64 even up to the early 1990's (not because they didn't try to move forward, they stopped/restarted C64 production several times). I've even seen an article that argued the real reason Commodore eventually went bankrupt was that the C64 market finally collapsed and that this was more of a blow than the Amiga troubles they had.

Anyway, enough about this - I've made my opinion clear and will start being on-topic again.
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Old 25 October 2018, 16:55   #78
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From the perspective of Commodore, 1990 would've been a really rather strange release date for the AGA chipset. Consider that OCS Amiga's were pretty much having their best sales results in that very period and that the sales curve seemed to be trending up instead of down (Amiga sales year-on-year had been going up every year and showed no signs of stopping)
Yep, and that is exactly the problem.
Commodore decided to ride out the great sales, and wait for the rest of the competition to catch up.
If you do that in the tech business, you've already lost. By the time you decide you "need" to do something (sales are dropping, now we should upgrade), it's too late.
Commodore isn't the only company to have gotten that one wrong.
Now, that isn't always a death knell. If you have great marketing, you can sometimes ride that out... Commodore didn't have great marketing.
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Old 25 October 2018, 17:12   #79
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@desiv:

Yes, and similarly Commodore waiting 5 years to upgrade AmigaOS to version 2 didn't help matters either. :-(
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Old 25 October 2018, 20:24   #80
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Commodore was still stuck in the "fork-lift upgrade" mentality where you tossed out everything and started on something new and incompatible each time around. Why invest in something you would kill off anyway?

On the other hand the pc market had gazillions of box pushers and card makers who slapped their own moniker on something OEM and were desperate for new and exiting stuff that could make them stand out - they weren't trying to kill the Amiga(/Atari/Mac/Acorn etc) they were firing at each other and the non-pc small potato got caught in the crossfire.
By the time C= mgmt realized they couldn't hope to come up with something all new in the PC space they had two smoking barrels and very airy footwear.

That C= was able to limp along to the extent it did is largely thanks to engineering who did plenty of civil disobedience - they nearly sound like a Norwegian company... (except there would probably have been a full revolt and mgmt heads hanging from the rafters with such amounts of idiocy ).
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