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Old 24 June 2020, 16:32   #1
Hewitson
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Bloody Xenon or It's sequel debate

Mod note: Some posts moved to a new thread, coming from the The Wall - Saucy XXX Amiga Breakout Secret! thread:
http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=102838
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roondar View Post
To each their own, I liked Xenon 1 a lot more than Phalanx myself.
Xenon has more impressive music and graphics. The problem is, it's unplayable.

In my opinion, Xenon and Xenon 2 have to be two of the most poorly designed shoot em ups of all time. They wouldn't have lasted two seconds in any arcade.

Phalanx, while far too easy, was very playable and plenty of fun could be had with it.

Last edited by lilalurl; 25 June 2020 at 00:06.
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Old 24 June 2020, 17:12   #2
T_hairy_bootson
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offtopic: You know there was actual xenon arcade machines running amiga 500 motherboards?

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During the late 1980s, Mastertronic started a venture to develop arcade games under the name Arcadia. The intent was that the hardware would be based around the chipset from Commodore's Amiga computers, and that the same game could run on both Arcadia hardware and home systems, reducing development cost.[5][6]

However, Arcadia was a failure;[5] according to Mastertronic's then-financial controller, Anthony Guter, the games were of poor quality and not suited to arcade-style play. Guter noted that while those within Mastertronic who played games were aware of the difference in style between arcade and home games, the directors in charge of the company were not.[6] According to Guter, Arcadia's failure nearly bankrupted the company.[6]
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Old 24 June 2020, 17:18   #3
Hewitson
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T_hairy_bootson View Post
offtopic: You know there was actual xenon arcade machines running amiga 500 motherboards?
I'm well aware of the Arcadia system, I didn't realise Xenon was available for it though. Probably the reason it was such an epic failure, if you'd actually paid money to play Xenon you would be very unimpressed to say the least!
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Old 24 June 2020, 17:43   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hewitson View Post
Xenon has more impressive music and graphics. The problem is, it's unplayable.
I accept you don't like it. Why can't you accept that I do? Claiming a game is unplayable in response to someone who has just said they like it is a really strange thing to do. Your opinion in no way trumps mine (or vice versa for that matter). Honestly, sometimes I get the feeling people disagreeing with you on what games they like is something you take as if it's personal attack or something. It's not, just different people enjoying different things. Life's too short to worry about this stuff. I should know, I did way too much of that for far too long

As it happen, I find Xenon to be perfectly playable. This does not mean or imply I think it's the best shoot em up ever, just that it's definitely playable and kinda fun. It however doesn't mean others have to feel the same way. That's how it works with opinions
Quote:
Phalanx, while far too easy, was very playable and plenty of fun could be had with it.
Well, I really disliked Phalanx. I found it to be a bad game which was not all that playable. Primarily because it was so damned boring. But this is just my opinion. If you like it, that is fine
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Old 24 June 2020, 22:09   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roondar View Post
I accept you don't like it. Why can't you accept that I do?
Simply because it's such a bad game. I'm sorry, but I just cannot believe that anyone could possibly like it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by roondar
Claiming a game is unplayable in response to someone who has just said they like it is a really strange thing to do.
Compared to the shooters Toaplan were making back then, it is completely unplayable garbage!

Quote:
Originally Posted by roondar
Your opinion in no way trumps mine (or vice versa for that matter).
I never suggested that it did. You are entitled to your opinion and I respect that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by roondar
Honestly, sometimes I get the feeling people disagreeing with you on what games they like is something you take as if it's personal attack or something. It's not, just different people enjoying different things. Life's too short to worry about this stuff. I should know, I did way too much of that for far too long
I probably do take these things a bit too personally at times. Autistic people aren't very good at understanding that people have different opinions and tastes. I can only apologise about that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by roondar
As it happen, I find Xenon to be perfectly playable. This does not mean or imply I think it's the best shoot em up ever, just that it's definitely playable and kinda fun. It however doesn't mean others have to feel the same way. That's how it works with opinions
Well, I really disliked Phalanx. I found it to be a bad game which was not all that playable. Primarily because it was so damned boring. But this is just my opinion. If you like it, that is fine
I think both games have aged pretty badly but the fact that a game might be a bit boring does not make it unplayable!
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Old 24 June 2020, 22:14   #6
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Hybris far better than the Xenon's,...FACT!

Last edited by ZEUSDAZ; 25 June 2020 at 16:29.
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Old 25 June 2020, 14:13   #7
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Originally Posted by Hewitson View Post
Simply because it's such a bad game. I'm sorry, but I just cannot believe that anyone could possibly like it.
That there is exactly the problem.

You've kind of elevated your opinions to "facts" of a sort. The simple truth is that it doesn't work that way. You might not believe that anyone could possibly like it, but that doesn't mean this notion is correct. It took me a long time to understand this myself, but life is better when you accept your opinions and feelings are just not that important to anyone but yourself.
Quote:
Compared to the shooters Toaplan were making back then, it is completely unplayable garbage!
By that standard, Phalanx doesn't hold up either. Comparing average games with some of the best ever made will do that. Doesn't mean those average games are unplayable garbage, just that you're holding them to far too high a standard.

To contrast: I (and many others) rather liked Star Wars: the Force Awakens. The fact that Schindler's List is a vastly superior film on just about every single level that "craps all over" SW:TFA doesn't change that. Nor does the existence of such a seminal work mean that therefore Star Wars was unwatchable crap.

---
Anyway, this will be my last post on this topic. I hope to not make the mistake of starting such an out of place discussion again any time soon, as I don't wish to derail threads and I basically ended up doing so. Besides that, it's a rather pointless subject - ultimately this thread is "talking" about the validity of different opinions and that simply doesn't lead to good things.

You have your opinion and I have mine, it's all fine

Last edited by roondar; 25 June 2020 at 14:26. Reason: Rewrote my post to add more nuance. The world ain't a set of binary options.
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Old 25 June 2020, 14:25   #8
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Originally Posted by roondar View Post
Trust me, life is better when you accept your opinions and feelings are just not that important to anyone but yourself.
Wise words - would you care to impart that little nugget of wisdom to the world of Twitter?
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Old 25 June 2020, 14:34   #9
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Originally Posted by robinsonb5 View Post
Wise words - would you care to impart that little nugget of wisdom to the world of Twitter?
Twitter - anti-social media
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Old 25 June 2020, 15:13   #10
roondar
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Wise words - would you care to impart that little nugget of wisdom to the world of Twitter?
Twitter scares me
So no
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Old 25 June 2020, 16:58   #11
Marcuz
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I love Xenon II.

I could play it up to the end of level 4, start of 5, with a TAC2 with no autofire.
By comparison, I could barely finish level 1 of Power X and Disposable Hero (and I like both of them) with a newer joystick and autofire; never finished level 2 in either.

Up to that point, the 15 years old that I was could accept that Xenon 2 was difficult, but thought that was great game design; level 5 was imho just too punishing. I thought that then, I stil do too now.
You had to plan your play through the game buying and selling stuff in the marketplace, and there was a lot of trial and error.
But it was extremely fun to play.

Oh, and by the way, it was the first game like that I ever played! It came with the Amiga 500 and Lotus Turbo Challenge one xmas, so, I was, and I am, not a fast player, I can't win arcades and shoot em ups.

On the downside, once you beat the game once (I never did without cheating) there is no incentive to play again, with the game ending abruptly and you loosing all your upgrades: that's a bad design choice. You could not get to try or see different configurations of your ships, you could only see one of the possible maxed out versions of it with the Super Nashwan Power, that's a pity.

But as game, beautiful visuals and well designed and defined themes and music, clever bosses, wrong paths, great playability, to me.

Xenon 1 never interested me much, tried it once or twice.

Last edited by Marcuz; 25 June 2020 at 17:08.
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Old 25 June 2020, 17:19   #12
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Like Marcuz above, I loved Xenon II. Great game, fantastic fun gameplay and some lovely little tweaks to the format. One of the all-time Amiga classics.

However, I also enjoyed Xenon. Not as much as Xenon II, but still loved it to bits.
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Old 25 June 2020, 19:32   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcuz View Post
On the downside, once you beat the game once (I never did without cheating) there is no incentive to play again, with the game ending abruptly and you loosing all your upgrades: that's a bad design choice. You could not get to try or see different configurations of your ships, you could only see one of the possible maxed out versions of it with the Super Nashwan Power, that's a pity.

Good thing there are trainers to let the player test those features out.
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Old 25 June 2020, 21:31   #14
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And Apiyda is better than all of them

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hewitson View Post

I think both games have aged pretty badly but the fact that a game might be a bit boring does not make it unplayable!
I mean if a game is boring to play then it is unplayable, because you wont want to play it , cause its boring. So it makes unplayable

Last edited by lilalurl; 25 June 2020 at 23:08.
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Old 25 June 2020, 23:41   #15
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I liked Xenon - I played it on the Atari ST though and I seem to recall it had some impressive stuff in there for the time (digitised speech and video).

I would not describe it as shit or unplayable.

Xenon 2 though is a different story, marketed to death and bigged up to the fucking eye balls, for the game I hate just about everything about it.

music,
graphics,
game play,
hate the font,
collision detection,
multi-hit enemies that no shooter should ever have,
scrolling,
refresh rate.... I could go on...

A stain on the Amiga catalogue of games in my opinion.




There is nothing worse in a shooter where enemies take an age to destroy, with the exception being end of level / mid level bosses.
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Old 26 June 2020, 00:33   #16
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Bitmap Brothers never learned how to make fast scrolling routines on the Amiga. Probably because they made their games on Atari ST first. But both Xenons had good graphics and good music. And Xenon II had a more complex weapon system. On the other hand we had also early games developed in 1988 specifically for the Amiga, like Hybris and Menace, which both had fast scrolling and also good graphics/music. They were simpler games, but played better.

So it seems that Amiga was a complex enough machine, that most teams didn't have the skill or resources to make both a complex game with a technically smooth implementation.
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Old 26 June 2020, 01:28   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgeezer View Post
There is nothing worse in a shooter where enemies take an age to destroy, with the exception being end of level / mid level bosses.
I tend to agree, though it can sometimes work if paired with well designed levels and weapons (as in, very rarely it can make a game much more tense in a good way). Usually though it's not done well.

On that topic, I've also never really liked the "invulnerable, but reacting to hits as if vulnerable" type of enemies you sometimes see. Quite infuriating when you shoot an enemy for the entire time it's on the screen only for it to not blow up and just keep flying off.
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So it seems that Amiga was a complex enough machine, that most teams didn't have the skill or resources to make both a complex game with a technically smooth implementation.
The big problem is that the easy way of doing scrolling on the Amiga normally takes too much memory, so you have to use more complicated methods. Not really a big deal for horizontal scrolling, but Copper based vertical scrolling can be a bit of pain to get right. The bigger deal, I think, is that not everyone knew of these methods back in the day. What seems logical to me now may not have been to those early coders.

In the case of the Bitmap Brothers and Xenon, however, I'm not convinced it was lack of programming ability (mainly because their later Amiga games were scrolling/running a lot better than their earlier efforts). It rather seems to me that they initially deliberately chose to keep their games relatively similar across their various platforms.
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Old 26 June 2020, 02:30   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roondar View Post
I tend to agree, though it can sometimes work if paired with well designed levels and weapons (as in, very rarely it can make a game much more tense in a good way). Usually though it's not done well.

On that topic, I've also never really liked the "invulnerable, but reacting to hits as if vulnerable" type of enemies you sometimes see. Quite infuriating when you shoot an enemy for the entire time it's on the screen only for it to not blow up and just keep flying off.

The big problem is that the easy way of doing scrolling on the Amiga normally takes too much memory, so you have to use more complicated methods. Not really a big deal for horizontal scrolling, but Copper based vertical scrolling can be a bit of pain to get right. The bigger deal, I think, is that not everyone knew of these methods back in the day. What seems logical to me now may not have been to those early coders.

In the case of the Bitmap Brothers and Xenon, however, I'm not convinced it was lack of programming ability (mainly because their later Amiga games were scrolling/running a lot better than their earlier efforts). It rather seems to me that they initially deliberately chose to keep their games relatively similar across their various platforms.
Well to be fair to the Bitmaps, they didn't program Xenon 2, The Assembly Line did.

And the way Xenon 2 was programmed is how a modern brute force PC would do it, i.e. redraw everything onscreen.
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Old 26 June 2020, 10:07   #19
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Oh certainly. Like I said, I'm not convinced programming ability was their problem.

The case of Xenon 2 is interesting to me (personally I never liked it and prefer Xenon 1, but I know quite few people who really liked it a lot back in the day). Technically what Xenon 2 does kind of makes at least a small amount of sense - the background layer they have would not have been an easy fit for a sprite based solution and using Dual Playfield would've arguably made the Amiga version look worse than the ST one. Redrawing everything fixes those problems. It's not even the only game to do so - Blood Money did something similar as the programmer said it was the only way to get the number of enemies he wanted on screen.

It should also be pointed out that many people at this stage simply didn't mind lower frame rates as much as we did/do. Most 8 bit home computers plus the PC/ST usually ran games at less than full frame rate, so people coming from that background were used to it. Consoles were not as popular yet and the 16 bit consoles weren't even out yet in Europe. So it was just less of a big deal at the time.

Now, there are many ways in which it could've been done more efficiently on the Amiga, so I'm not saying Xenon 2 is technically well done. For instance, you could use some level of hardware scrolling to lower the per frame cost of redrawing. Or you could use hardware sprites for the player or it's bullets. Etc. But the basic idea that redrawing the main buffer needs to happen for that background layer to work is not completely wrong.
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Old 26 June 2020, 10:31   #20
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My stance on these two games is, that that I don't really like both of them.

But from what I played, the first one plays just a lot better than the second one.

On the first one I understand what my mistake was when I died, and there was a challenge in it.

The second one was more like "watch the nice graphics, while you play this low frame rate horror and if you die, you don't really want to play it again except for showing off to people, since you did not even understand what happened".
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