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Old 20 December 2018, 02:23   #1
trydowave
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Is the Amiga hard to program?

is the amiga hard to program for or something? been watching clips of the crap fest strider II by tiertex. the amiga version is choppy with tiny sprites and the game gear version is the complete opposite. being its the same company how comes it so hard for them to make an amiga game with decent scrolling?

This is the case for a lot of amiga games, especially arcade ports. After u see the likes of Turrican you wonder why the amiga never had a great version of say strider?
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Old 20 December 2018, 05:02   #2
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I don't know about the Game Gear version of Strider. But they did Strider 1 on the Master System and its awful too... and Strider 2 is crap on any system I've played.

Thing is Tiertex didn't bother to code properly to Amiga at all, I believe up until World Cup 94. All their games were just direct Atari ST ports with zero use of Amiga hardware. So its not about the Amiga being easy or hard to code, it's just that Tiertex just made a lazy job.

Look at how UN Squadron runs like shit on Amiga. The VERY SAME coder made Darkman, Parasol Stars and Lethal Weapon. Darkman is not exactly pinnacle of gaming, but it runs smooth as butter, and the other 2 are awesome games (which are also very well coded). UN Squadron is a crapfest, but he coded that under Tiertex... so it's basically Tiertex screwing up things.
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Old 20 December 2018, 12:05   #3
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I reckon it's not a case of being difficult, just different. You need to approach the code in a unique way to get the best out of the Amiga hardware, but big publishing houses frequently developed for the lowest common denominator and put a minimum of effort into conversions to other platforms. As Shatterhand points out, this will be less to do with actual developer talent or ability, and more to do with the project constraints from the publisher, who instead of giving a conversion decent time would give the developer a very tight deadline for the work, sometimes a matter of days or weeks.

The same goes for the artwork. Conversions could be tailored to the Amiga's palette, copper and sprite capabilities, but frequently weren't, and don't look as good as they could as a result. It's entirely possible that the same base sprites were used for both versions, making the sprites look much smaller on the Amiga's higher resolution.
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Old 20 December 2018, 13:40   #4
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thanks for the responses. just makes me a little sad thinking what could have been accomplished on the miggy given the proper time, budget and talent.
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Old 20 December 2018, 13:58   #5
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thanks for the responses. just makes me a little sad thinking what could have been accomplished on the miggy given the proper time, budget and talent.
You can have a proper idea of that by looking at games that were taylored for the Amiga (and remains Amiga exclusive) :
Lionheart, Shadow Fighter, Mr Nutz (OK, there's an unreleased inferior MD version...), Kid Chaos, Ruff'n'Tumble, Brian the Lion... I'd also put Elfmania on that list. This game isn't great to play but the technical side is astonishing.
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Old 20 December 2018, 14:51   #6
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I've been learning about the Amiga hardware for the last couple of years, and coded a couple of games for it (But on Blitz Basic, not ASM ) .

One thing I find interesting about coding for the Amiga is that you have many different ways to approach the same thing. Do you go for 16 colors? 32 colors? Do you use the Dual Playfield mode? What are you going to use the HW Sprites?

And you have to plan ahead. I am pretty sure as you get more experienced, you know better how to tackle certain things.

What I believe could be a little hard is how to get the most of the Blitter. I am really surprised how slow the Blitter is, and it's amazing what some coders could pull it off with it, and then see some people discussing it with so much precision.

But even without being a blitter wizard, you still can do a lot of stuff pretty well.
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Old 20 December 2018, 15:15   #7
Steril707
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Ports are generally not that easy to do on the Amiga, since the Blitter usually doesn't allow for too many moving objects on screen, and most of the games of the mid to late eighties used parallax, something the Amiga is bad at.

You can do dual playfield, but when the palette is not carefully planned and tailored to the games design (beast, also lionhearts dual playfield stages), having only 7 colours to work with in the foreground is usually looking like ass.

Nothing of that doesn't remotely explain, why a lot of Amiga games looked and played as bad as they did, though..

Rolling Thunder has 7 FPS or something like that? I can't even imagine what takes that long time in the game to update that small part of the screen.
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Old 20 December 2018, 15:44   #8
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That's the first time I read that the Amiga is bad at parallax.
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Old 20 December 2018, 15:47   #9
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It always depends on how ports are handled. You could always shaft the Parallax scroll, yet look at stuff like Silkworm.

But there's no reason for Rolling Thunder to not at least PLAY like the arcade game. I would never expect a 1:1 port of arcade games back at that time (And then we have Pang ), but there's no reason for Rolling Thunder to be so abysmal. It's awful even for an Atari ST game.

But really, Single 4 bitplanes playfield + Hardware Sprites + Blitter Scrolling. Add some copper effects if you want. That's all you'd need to get lots of late 80s/early 90s arcade games at least playable on the machine. They would never look and sound like the arcade games, but you could get at least the playability right.


Stuff like Rolling Thunder, Bionic Commando, Ninja Spirit, Double Dragon, Ghouls 'n' Ghosts, Strider.... they just had to be coded using the Amiga capabilities by people who had the proper resources/time to do it.
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Old 20 December 2018, 17:37   #10
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Still "bad at parallax" the Amiga ? I'm not sure that many computers of the mid-eighties could handle so easily multiple layer of scrolling in hardware. And the dual playfield isn't the only way to achieve parallax scrolling on the Amiga.
Just remember that Shadow of the Beast was praised for his multiple layered parallaxes at the time it was released, something that wasn't very common at that time on home systems.

Last edited by sokolovic; 20 December 2018 at 17:44.
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Old 20 December 2018, 19:04   #11
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Still "bad at parallax" the Amiga ?
Depends on what you expect.

Quote:
I'm not sure that many computers of the mid-eighties could handle so easily multiple layer of scrolling in hardware.
Right. In the computer segment the Amiga was outstanding with two independant playfields. But this was more common on arcade machine or consoles, which even had more possibilities (more layers, more sprites, etc.).

Quote:
And the dual playfield isn't the only way to achieve parallax scrolling on the Amiga.
Also true, but this requires you to sacrifice sprites and/or cpu power. But if you ask me, that's still better than having 7 colors for each layer. So I never used double-playfield in my games.

Quote:
Just remember that Shadow of the Beast was praised for his multiple layered parallaxes at the time it was released, something that wasn't very common at that time on home systems.
The multiple layers in Shadow of the Beast were not stacked, moving partly transparent, on top of each other. You simple had multiple regions in a single layer, which were scrolled with a different speed. And some sprites for a top-layer effect.
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Old 20 December 2018, 20:10   #12
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...I am really surprised how slow the Blitter is...
Slow! Its a lot faster than using the 68000!
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Old 20 December 2018, 20:18   #13
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Depends on what you expect.

Right. In the computer segment the Amiga was outstanding with two independant playfields. But this was more common on arcade machine or consoles, which even had more possibilities (more layers, more sprites, etc.).
Putting aside the OCS A1000, the Amiga 500 was released on 1987. I don't know any home console that had the same capacities at that time.
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Old 20 December 2018, 20:20   #14
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What I believe could be a little hard is how to get the most of the Blitter. I am really surprised how slow the Blitter is
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Slow! Its a lot faster than using the 68000!
The Blitter is quite efficient at what it does actually. Most of the costs of the logic operations (masking, shifting, computing minterms) are hidden because they happen between memory accesses. The real problem is that chipmem is so terribly slow.
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Old 20 December 2018, 21:20   #15
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While the Amiga indeed had the Dual Playfield at a moment no home system had something similar (I remember reading a lot about "Dual Playfield" back at the time on Amiga literature/magazines and I had no idea of what the heck that was), I am always very surprised on how many C64 games actually do have Parallax scroll.

But then.. you have Shadow Dancer on the C64 with Parallax scroll... and on Amiga it does not. And I'd still prefer the Amiga version any day I really don't think Parallax is the main issue here.
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Old 20 December 2018, 22:02   #16
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"Is the Amiga hard to program?"
No, you can get something running on it pretty quickly with little effort.

"Is the Amiga hard to program well?"
Yes, I think so. There are lots of ways to achieve a result and some are better than others. It's very much a distributed system (68000, blitter, copper, whatever it is that does the sprites...) and understanding that, and using them to the best effect, is tricky.
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Old 20 December 2018, 22:49   #17
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Believe me... compared to coding an Atari ST the Amiga is a dream.

Is the Amiga hard to program? I wouldn't say so, but then it depends what you're trying to do.
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Old 20 December 2018, 22:53   #18
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The Blitter is quite efficient at what it does actually. Most of the costs of the logic operations (masking, shifting, computing minterms) are hidden because they happen between memory accesses. The real problem is that chipmem is so terribly slow.
Amiga OCS Chipmemory speed was actually rather fast when it was first released in 1985. Later systems did -obviously- do a lot better than this, but the base chipmemory speed was very respectable for when the system came out. I mean, you could go and compare it to say a Sega Megadrive or SNES, but that doesn't feel fair - those systems are several years newer and both relied heavily on a technology (VRAM) that was effectively unavailable when the Amiga was designed*.

(a small note, my point about comparing it to newer systems is not aimed at you, but it felt relevant to point out as people often do compare the Amiga to newer systems)

IMHO, the real problem is that the Amiga used a bitplane based display and relied on using the Blitter to draw objects (in part - Sprites are indeed available but they're rather limited for general use), where just about all other game oriented systems relied instead on hardware sprites and a tile based screen system. These are a much better fit for gaming as the overhead of using hardware sprites is much lower and tile based graphics means that the overhead of changing background graphics is also much lower.

*) I know that VRAM was available in 1980, but it was ludicrously expensive until the later half of the decade and even then it was still not exactly cheap (which is partly why the 16 bit consoles have such a small amount of it). As a bit of trivia, VRAM is also what made the X68000 and the PC-Engine so good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by E-Penguin View Post
"Is the Amiga hard to program well?"
Yes, I think so. There are lots of ways to achieve a result and some are better than others. It's very much a distributed system (68000, blitter, copper, whatever it is that does the sprites...) and understanding that, and using them to the best effect, is tricky.
I agree with this completely.

Last edited by roondar; 20 December 2018 at 23:07. Reason: Cut out a part, I do need learn how to make my posts a tad smaller ;)
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Old 20 December 2018, 23:23   #19
Bruce Abbott
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the amiga version is choppy with tiny sprites and the game gear version is the complete opposite.
But the Sega Game Gear only had a 3.2" 160 × 144 pixel screen, so everything was tiny.
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Old 21 December 2018, 10:36   #20
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(a small note, my point about comparing it to newer systems is not aimed at you, but it felt relevant to point out as people often do compare the Amiga to newer systems)
Exactly. This is maybe the counterpoint of being such an advanced system. People often compare stock Amiga to the Megadrive released 3 years later in Japan, the SNES released 6 years later also in Japan and even to high end 486DX266 PCs.

I remember a discussion saying that Wing Commander was ugly and jerky on the Amiga compared to the PC version, without paying attention of the cost differences between the PC and the Amiga, even in 1992.

One other thing with these comparision is that no one have problem to compare the Amiga with high end PCs with extra RAM, big CPUS, soundcard, Super VGA etc... but when you add an accelerated board on the Amiga it is considered like cheating because the only Amiga specs admitted is the basic A500 (the only thing admitted is the +512kb RAM extension), or the basic A1200 for AGA games.

However, the A3000 and the A4000/40 where stock Amigas but this is not even considered in 3D games comparison or in 2D games that benefits of fastest CPU like Theme Park, Settlers, UFO, etc...

Last edited by sokolovic; 21 December 2018 at 10:47.
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