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Old 07 January 2020, 14:07   #41
coder76
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The A500 was good of course when it was released, but certain arcade games were beyond its capabilities already from the start. Like SEGAs superscaler boards used in many games, like Outrun, Hang-On, Space Harrier, these were released in 1985-86. Not even an AGA machine+68060 comes close to the bitmap scaling performance of this board.

But it should be remembered that for home computers at that time, the software library was more important than raw performance. C64 still sold well in 1990, despite it was heavily outperformed by just about every popular home computer at that time. And that's just because it had a large games library and was well established.

Poor arcade conversions were another problem on the A500. If the OCS hardware with sprites/blitter/HW horizontal scrolling/dualplayfield were not used properly or not at all, the games became very slow, like on Atari ST.
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Old 07 January 2020, 14:47   #42
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I'd agree the A500 would've done better if Commodore had provided better support for developers or had some sort of control over what commercial games could and could not be released on the platform.

On the other hand, in terms of writing a game getting the graphics & sound working properly is almost always a small part. The Amiga hardware for sure is more tricky to get to work than the Mega Drive, but it's not the most complicated thing in the world to get a smooth scrolling screen or create a good bob routine. This can be seen by many developers here on EAB doing just that in fairly short order and then failing to get a game complete.

Just to be clear and prevent an old discussion from starting all over: it is more complicated than the consoles though, for sure. All I'm saying is that it's a relatively small part of making a game and that it's not quite as complicated as some make it out to be.

As for Arcade systems. Yeah, they were generally far more powerful than the A1000 or A500 on release. But that doesn't mean you couldn't get quite good ports out of even a base A500. If you ask me, the real problem had more to do with the way (some/most) EU/US publishers dealt with these systems - minimal money and time spend to get games out of the door and accepting anything at Atari ST level as "good enough".

(not to dis the Atari ST, I do like that machine. It's just that many games could've been a lot better on the Amiga even by something as simple as just adding a Blitter routine to draw bobs rather than keeping the soft-blitting routines from the ST version)

I guess I'm saying that I'm nearly 100% certain the majority of Arcade ports could've been better. Certainly the older ones.

As is, the A500 is a very nice machine that does a great deal more than just (action) games. Judging it purely on games is surely not giving credit where it's due
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Old 07 January 2020, 15:02   #43
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On the other hand, in terms of writing a game getting the graphics & sound working properly is almost always a small part.
That's true.
I had a working scroller routine and some BOBs in it running in a month, but then there is...

* creating lots of tools for conversion of level data into tile data
* code a hi score list
* collission maps and collission detection for enemies and shots.
* load stuff dynamically from disk
* level switching logic and setup
* intro screens, hiscore screens, inbetween level screens, game over screens, continue screens, info screens, whatever.
* dynamic enemy spawning logic
* maybe a different end boss logic
* coding behaviours for each of your enemies
* etc etc etc

When you have a scroller going on and a few BOBs shooting, you have basically done less than 5% of the game.

Quote:
minimal money and time spend to get games out of the door and accepting anything at Atari ST level as "good enough".
I think, many people just wanted to see those shiny new palettes back then, coming from the muddy brown colours of the C64 or Spectrum.
We just didn't care about frame rates that much at first, because that problem didn't exist on the C64.
We just wondered why the games played so bad. Stuff like Psygnosis Barbarian and Obliterator, which looked amazing but played like poo with single digit frame rates.

I remember, that I often asked myself why not all games on the Amiga looked as good as Defender of the Crown or Marble Madness...
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Old 07 January 2020, 15:14   #44
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the Megadrive was crazy easy to code for. No tricks needed to do anything, just hit a few memory addresses and you have 8 way scrolling with dual playfield + sprites.
If only it was THAT easy
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Old 07 January 2020, 15:15   #45
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Nobody was expecting Megadrive or SNES to match arcades games when they were released. That's strange to expect the older Amiga to do it.

(I've just realized that there is a 6 year gap between the Amiga and the SNES, or 4 years between the A500 and the nintendo console. while there is only a three year gap between the SNES and the Playstation.... Yet absolutely no one thinks that comparing games on the SNES and the Playstation would be a good idea and no one destroy the very poor capacities of the SNES in comparison of the PlayStation).

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Old 07 January 2020, 15:31   #46
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I guess it's because people generally clump all the 16 bit systems into a single 'generation', even though this means having a generation that is ten years in size (1985-1995). This is generally not done for the 3D systems, with both the 'PSX gen', 'PS2 gen' and 'XBOX 360 gen' only lasting about five years each until the next gen was there.

It's probably because the 1985 16 bit games look 'similar enough' to the 1994 16 bit games (certainly if you include 1985 arcade games vs 1994 console games), while PSX and PS2 games look radically different.

Personally, I feel that you can't really seriously compare the A500/A1000 to the SNES (or even the Mega Drive) and expect the same outcomes. There's several years between these machines so the older ones are bound to underperform.
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Old 07 January 2020, 15:56   #47
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Well I don't mind people making comparison, but it would be fair to remind sometimes that the Amiga was released many years before the MD or the SNES.
So the very fact that it can still compete with them, and sometimes outperform them for some games (Worms for exemple is way better on the Amiga, not only for the playability but even technically) is for me a clear demonstration of how advanced this system was at the time it was released (just imagine that Turrican 3 is often compared to Mega Turrican yet not only the game was designed at first with the Megadrive hardware in mind but it was also ported to the Amiga so that it could even run on low end 512kb models)

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Old 07 January 2020, 16:29   #48
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Oh, compare what you like. Just be honest about what it is you're comparing and why it is logical some hardware will perform worse. If you do this instead of calling the older system "trash" comparing against some newfangled console I have zero problems
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Old 07 January 2020, 16:38   #49
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Personally, I feel that you can't really seriously compare the A500/A1000 to the SNES (or even the Mega Drive) and expect the same outcomes. There's several years between these machines so the older ones are bound to underperform.
I agree with this.

However, given that the A500 is another couple of years down the line from the A1000, I feel that C= possibly missed an opportunity to spice up the meatball, a touch.

Using a 68HC000 part at 14mhz might not have pushed up the price of the BOM by much more than a dollar or three and would have very worthwhile. If we could have had a blitter running the same speed, that would have been fantastic.

It seems to me that none of that would be much of a leap in design terms, it just the same parts, but faster. And, if adding some faster RAM chips to go along with it meant I had to save up for another month, let's say, back in 1989 to buy my first A500. I wouldn't have minded too much.

B
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Old 07 January 2020, 17:28   #50
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I agree with this.

However, given that the A500 is another couple of years down the line from the A1000, I feel that C= possibly missed an opportunity to spice up the meatball, a touch.
Oh, certainly. Like I said, a faster/better A500 would've been nice. Thing is, I just don't think Commodore felt like spending yet more money on a system that hadn't made any yet.
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Using a 68HC000 part at 14mhz might not have pushed up the price of the BOM by much more than a dollar or three and would have very worthwhile. If we could have had a blitter running the same speed, that would have been fantastic.

It seems to me that none of that would be much of a leap in design terms, it just the same parts, but faster. And, if adding some faster RAM chips to go along with it meant I had to save up for another month, let's say, back in 1989 to buy my first A500. I wouldn't have minded too much.
B
Adding a 68000@14MHz without other changes would not have changed real world performance of the system much due to the memory speed/bus. You'd have to add fast memory that could handle the higher clock speed as well to note a difference. Similarly, making the Blitter faster would also mean a requirement of adding faster memory/bus. Which may or may not have meant changing other parts of the motherboard. I'm certainly not a hardware guru, but as far as I have understood this, these kind of changes are generally much more involved than you'd think.

Honestly, I can't say if that would've been hard to do or not. I still think that Commodore was trying to get the system as cheap as possible and were not actually looking for improving the specs. Like I said, in my opinion price was a key factor in the A500's success. And even at it's much lower price than the A1000, it was still outsold by the slightly cheaper Atari ST for years.

I don't agree with all that much of what Commodore did back then, but IMHO the A500 was the right product at the right price (and even mostly at the right time).
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Old 07 January 2020, 18:40   #51
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Adding a 68000@14MHz without other changes would not have changed real world performance of the system much due to the memory speed/bus. You'd have to add fast memory that could handle the higher clock speed as well to note a difference. Similarly, making the Blitter faster would also mean a requirement of adding faster memory/bus. Which may or may not have meant changing other parts of the motherboard. I'm certainly not a hardware guru, but as far as I have understood this, these kind of changes are generally much more involved than you'd think.
I agree that faster parts for Chip RAM would be needed, and I'm reasonably sure they would have been available in 1987. I've no idea, though, how much a company like C= would get them for in the volume they'd need. Again, as long as the increase in price over the older slow stuff wasn't too salty, it'd be worth it for the performance gain.

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I still think that Commodore was trying to get the system as cheap as possible and were not actually looking for improving the specs.
Oh, for sure. But, as they were already committed to a redesign anyway, I propose that this would be the best time to do it. Giving them a substantially more capable A500 with perhaps a small increase in RRP. If I had to pay an extra £50 or so for my Batman Pack as a result, it would have been worth it.

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Old 07 January 2020, 19:02   #52
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But the A500 was really really competitive, specs wise, in 1987.

Like it was said, the problem was that no real redesign release happened until 1992 with the AGA machines.
Which was much too late by then with the onslaught of VGA games on the pc happening.
I, like everybody else, was mesmerized by those much more colourful looking games that started appearing in 1990 for the PC-AT machines.

It was like "next Gen" had arrived, and the Amiga owners, which were used to have the state of the art machine until then, were left out.
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Old 07 January 2020, 19:02   #53
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The A500 did improve some specs over the A1000. 512kb chipram instead of 256 and another kickstart. It wasn't just a reboxed A1000.
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Old 07 January 2020, 19:16   #54
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Best machine ever...
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Old 07 January 2020, 19:28   #55
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How good was it? It was bloody marvellous.
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Old 07 January 2020, 23:56   #56
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I agree that faster parts for Chip RAM would be needed, and I'm reasonably sure they would have been available in 1987. I've no idea, though, how much a company like C= would get them for in the volume they'd need. Again, as long as the increase in price over the older slow stuff wasn't too salty, it'd be worth it for the performance gain.

Oh, for sure. But, as they were already committed to a redesign anyway, I propose that this would be the best time to do it. Giving them a substantially more capable A500 with perhaps a small increase in RRP. If I had to pay an extra £50 or so for my Batman Pack as a result, it would have been worth it.

B
I understand your position, but I respectfully disagree. I feel the A500 was at the edge of what was an acceptable price*, making it more expensive would to me mean having it do worse in the market. Even if it mildly improved.

You have to remember, the A500 was already clearly more capable than the competition around it. Yet, it's cheaper, less capable main competitor handily outsold it. And even though I have a soft spot for the Atari ST (it was the first 16 bit computer I regularly used as my dad got one), I do believe this higher success rate was mainly due to the lower price.

Anyway, I think we both said what we wanted on this point. Still love my A500 and wouldn't part with it for love nor money. I'm so happy I managed to get it fixed up again a few years ago. Nothing quite like playing some of the classics on the real machine

*) it was for me at any rate - it already took me over a year to get the money and that was only because my parents decided to gift me about 15% of the total price out of the blue. This because they felt I had done well in saving up so much and so diligently (I basically bought nothing at all for over a year to keep saving up). Had it been 10% more expensive I seriously might not actually have bothered starting to save up.
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Old 08 January 2020, 03:46   #57
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Let's not forget it gave birth to The Chaos Engine!!!
And what about Hybris?! You could put that beauty in an arcade machine and you wouldn't think it was a home computer shmup,...WHATTA GAME!!!
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Old 08 January 2020, 11:22   #58
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You have to remember, the A500 was already clearly more capable than the competition around it. Yet, it's cheaper, less capable main competitor handily outsold it.
And even though I have a soft spot for the Atari ST (it was the first 16 bit computer I regularly used as my dad got one), I do believe this higher success rate was mainly due to the lower price.
I think people tend to forget these days, that action games were not that important anymore as they were on the C64 when the Amiga and Atari ST arrived.

People were thrilled with stuff like flight simulations (Gunship, Falcon, etc), Graphics Adventures (The Pawn, Guild of Thieves), space games (Elite, Starglider I&II), strategy games and RPGs (Bards Tale, Dungeon Master and Ultima). Or stuff like Carrier Command.

All of these games looked and played the same on the ST, if not even better there since the CPU had more grunt..

And early on, even some of the action games like Goldrunner or International Karate 1 looked quite impressive on the ST compared to what we were used on the C64.

So you could get all of that "Next Gen" type of fun for a much lower price than the Amiga.
The Amiga was my dream machine back then, but even I considered getting an ST, it just felt like it had most of the experiences I wanted at that time anyway. For a much better price.
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Old 08 January 2020, 12:58   #59
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I agree with you that those type of games did a lot better on the 16 bit computers, but I'm not so sure they were the truly big sellers. Or that they are what attracted people to the Atari/Amiga. Obviously, I can only speak for myself and I was attracted to screenshots of games like Turrican on the Amiga and games like Menace, which looked like nothing my C64 could do.

Ironically I ended up playing many more of the slower paced games on the Amiga and loving them (many of them not even Amiga exclusived - I poured hours into Civilization, Eye of the Beholder and other SSI stuff), but it was the flashy games that originally attracted me. I still remember the in-store demo that ran on the A500 set up there (which was some scene demo featuring little "stick figures" made out of those "3D look" balls everyone loved so much back then). That got me more interested for sure.

On the other hand, screenshots for Atari ST games often looked very close to the Amiga. Partly due to the poor quality of most screenshots and partly due to many games being straight ports, but I get how people might think "these things are the same, why pay more?".

I am happy I chose to go for the Amiga in the end, I had so much fun. Even just doodling in DPaint III (I loved EHB mode for some reason) or mucking about in AMOS or Octamed (even though I couldn't compose a song if I had to to save my life). Ah, those were the days
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Old 08 January 2020, 13:22   #60
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I agree with you that those type of games did a lot better on the 16 bit computers, but I'm not so sure they were the truly big sellers. Or that they are what attracted people to the Atari/Amiga.
I think in Germany they were. Our gaming magazines, especially the most popular one called "Powerplay" was heavily biased towards these kind of slower playing games (RPGs, Adventures,Sims, etc) , and so were we.
Which led to the exodus to more colourful but less "actionish" PC games after Commodore had not improved on the Amigas hardware after the A500.
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