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Old 20 May 2015, 02:47   #101
TenLeftFingers
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So to put a proactive spin on this, if time and resources (developers skilled at low-level amiga development as well as non-code contributions) are the main deterministic problems, would a way to centralise these developments so contributors can get involved more easily help?

I'm not a big gamer and I'd rather see developments in other areas such as desktop software and more demos/music. But, it seems that the actual amiga devs on this thread agree that a lone programmer may not typically complete a game project if their standards are high and that collaboration is needed.

Personally, I've never heard of many of the games being developed and I'm hanging out here and on Google Plus or the IRC. I don't think I can learn a new syntax - even Java didn't come to me easily. But I would love to get involved in the aforementioned level-design, graphics and sound.

If frameworks are costly in terms of 'cycles' then maybe a testing framework or some way for beta testers to help give poignant feedback to devs to save them time pouring through code? Maybe running betas with debug logging? I don't know. I just think that in the years of using linux I think that collaboration, participation and tooling (not necessarily open source) is what makes projects live or die.
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Old 20 May 2015, 05:16   #102
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Originally Posted by TenLeftFingers View Post
So to put a proactive spin on this, if time and resources (developers skilled at low-level amiga development as well as non-code contributions) are the main deterministic problems, would a way to centralise these developments so contributors can get involved more easily help?
I say efforts are already centralised on this forum to a sufficient degree and that the problem isn't lack of centralisation, it's lack on time and interest.

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Originally Posted by TenLeftFingers View Post
Personally, I've never heard of many of the games being developed and I'm hanging out here and on Google Plus or the IRC. I don't think I can learn a new syntax - even Java didn't come to me easily. But I would love to get involved in the aforementioned level-design, graphics and sound.
Do you have any skill in any of these three things? Let's say you had an interest in getting involved in level design and no previous experience, you could get the graphics for a game and put them together into mocked up levels. Let's say you had an interest in graphics, you could make graphics and put them into mocked up levels and encourage a programmer to get on board - I imagine this would be quite popular. I know Uncle Tom recently did something very similar to this, and I download the graphics with an eye to putting them to use and I'd be very surprised if I was the only person. If you had any interest in getting involved in sound effect making, you could make packs of game sound effects for people to pick up and use. Etc. There are lots of opportunities.

A potential problem to consider is that if programmers with the time and interest to work on things for the Amiga are rare, then when they do find time and interest, they need to be working on something which keeps them motivated. As much as collaborators can help keep an effort alive, they can also help kill it quickly, or can keep in it a painful limbo of bickering and fighting over whose ideas are used.

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If frameworks are costly in terms of 'cycles' then maybe a testing framework or some way for beta testers to help give poignant feedback to devs to save them time pouring through code? Maybe running betas with debug logging? I don't know. I just think that in the years of using linux I think that collaboration, participation and tooling (not necessarily open source) is what makes projects live or die.
Linux is a incredibly large scoped product, with an identifiable purpose, which is used every day by millions and millions of people even if they do not know it. One person makes the final calls, from the top of the pyramid. And a number of the people who contribute at the top level are paid to by commercial companies with an interest in getting changes that benefit them into it.

The internet is littered with projects that started off with lots of developers, and these are projects where the end result is on a mainstream platform, and if you read the forums you see that the involvement of too many people who felt they had a say and endless discussion of whether some approach or other should be taken, contributes to loss of interest and enthusiasm by the few actually doing the work.
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Old 20 May 2015, 08:34   #103
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What about organizing a game creation competition to push the Amiga homebrew scene? www.RGCD.co.uk made some compos for the c64, and some really great games have been made in the previous years...

Any volunteers?
Great idea, go make it happen!
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Old 20 May 2015, 13:19   #104
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Great idea, go make it happen!
I am still thinking about a game competition, but Raislin77t might be right that the number of partecipants is probably not that high.

Proof me wrong, are there game designers out there who would be interested in joining a game competition?
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Old 20 May 2015, 13:27   #105
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Do you have any skill in any of these three things? Let's say you had an interest in getting involved in level design and no previous experience, you could get the graphics for a game and put them together into mocked up levels. Let's say you had an interest in graphics, you could make graphics and put them into mocked up levels and encourage a programmer to get on board - I imagine this would be quite popular. I know Uncle Tom recently did something very similar to this, and I download the graphics with an eye to putting them to use and I'd be very surprised if I was the only person. If you had any interest in getting involved in sound effect making, you could make packs of game sound effects for people to pick up and use. Etc. There are lots of opportunities.
Well, I'm a musician (keyboard, guitar, vocals). And I'm into graphic design (posters, business cards, but I wouldn't necessarily do a company logo - I either use a camera or buy stock). I also used to make Choose your own Adventure type books and board games as a kid with custom cards, characters and special dice so level design is a love of mine wrt board games anyway.

I think part of the problem, reflecting on what you're saying, is that classic development doesn't cater to separating out coding and testing, for example. So all the pressure is on the developer?

Quote:
A potential problem to consider is that if programmers with the time and interest to work on things for the Amiga are rare, then when they do find time and interest, they need to be working on something which keeps them motivated. As much as collaborators can help keep an effort alive, they can also help kill it quickly, or can keep in it a painful limbo of bickering and fighting over whose ideas are used.


Linux is a incredibly large scoped product, with an identifiable purpose, which is used every day by millions and millions of people even if they do not know it. One person makes the final calls, from the top of the pyramid. And a number of the people who contribute at the top level are paid to by commercial companies with an interest in getting changes that benefit them into it.

The internet is littered with projects that started off with lots of developers, and these are projects where the end result is on a mainstream platform, and if you read the forums you see that the involvement of too many people who felt they had a say and endless discussion of whether some approach or other should be taken, contributes to loss of interest and enthusiasm by the few actually doing the work.
Yes, we are in agreement. When I said 'collaboration' and 'participation', in no way did I mean complaining or bickering. A project needs a leader. For example, for the Ubuntu Touch project I report bugs and 'wishlist' items. Sometimes they're accepted and sometimes rejected. I try to make my contributions valuable and complete so that if the devs like what they see they have all the logs, scenarious and mockups necessary.

When I say 'linux', I'm talking about the entire stack so projects like audio players, calendar apps, screen recorders - those kinds of communities. It's easy to submit icons / graphics / audio to those guys if you want because launchpad.net or github is the same across all projects. So because I've contributed to PicSaw a few years ago (a kids game that turns pictures into a kids jigsaw on Ubuntu), I can help out on other projects too - test builds / run in debug mode etc.
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Old 20 May 2015, 14:10   #106
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And there might be more Amiga programmers out there if people actually bothered to start learning, as it's really not that hard. But it's of course easier to post on forums complaining about the lack of programmers
Saying that it's really not that hard is completely subjective. Unless of course, you can code.

Coding does require a certain aptitude and mental discipline that others may not have. Although I completely agree with you on the trying part, after all you never know until you try (speaking from experience).
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Old 20 May 2015, 18:30   #107
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There are quite a lot talented coders here. Even more graphicians and musicians. The main problem really is the limited time besides job and family. Also the motivation and enthusiasm is lower at our age, than when we were teenagers.

You also have to find the right people, when working together on a project. You can never be sure that nobody will leave the project, when working with them just over the internet. I had the advantage to work with my brother on Solid Gold. He had no chance to get away from it...

My advice is to keep your projects small. Future games may grow automatically when reusing parts of the previous game engine, and with your increasing experience.

Announcing a new game early or posting details about it can be contra productive. People may demotivate you or start having too high expectations. This is unnecessary pressure.

I have finished Sqrxz3 for A500 in December. A very nice (fast, difficult) game using an enhanced Solid Gold engine. It is still unreleased because we would like to do a boxed version, which takes a lot of time to find the best options. There is progress now and I hope it will happen the next weeks.
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Old 20 May 2015, 18:45   #108
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I think in reality, it is easier (and more fun?) to be creative the more limitations you have.
Agree. This blog post is a good essay on that line of thinking.

http://www.dinofarmgames.com/a-pixel...ces-pixel-art/
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Old 20 May 2015, 18:58   #109
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I have finished Sqrxz3 for A500 in December. A very nice (fast, difficult) game using an enhanced Solid Gold engine. It is still unreleased because we would like to do a boxed version, which takes a lot of time to find the best options. There is progress now and I hope it will happen the next weeks.
That's bloody great news!
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Old 20 May 2015, 19:22   #110
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Announcing a new game early or posting details about it can be contra productive. People may demotivate you or start having too high expectations. This is unnecessary pressure.
This is excellent advice.
Nowadays it seems that the age we live in pushes us to do this kinda thing. You immediately want to go out and scream to the 7 winds that you have something coming up and post it everywhere. This is really counter productive as phx says.

Nobody needs to see progress really, and you really don't want to create expectations or false assumptions. Software changes a lot as it comes along , some times radically, and no one really has to know of these changes.

When I was developing PT-1210 with Ian i would get bombarded with queries about it whenever I posted a demo video of the pre-release versions. In retrospect, I would not d this again, because it was super annoying. Thankfully, I didn't really care about this and I put no extra pressure on me because people online were pushing the issue. But that's hard to do some times. Best to avoid putting pre-release hype on the internet at all.
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Old 20 May 2015, 22:08   #111
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@Akira: +1000, though sometimes going public is an absolute necessity, especially whem hunting for new members or need the extra help.
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Old 20 May 2015, 23:08   #112
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@Akira: +1000, though sometimes going public is an absolute necessity, especially whem hunting for new members or need the extra help.
Yeah, I don't mean it's best to be in complete secrecy, but to leak as little as possible details about your work in progress, works best.

Think back of the times when the Amiga was in its heyday and magazines showed WIPs of games in progress that never happened, or that changed a lot. Response was always negative.
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Old 21 May 2015, 00:23   #113
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In the past experienced something like the following when I talked to people which wanted to do graphics or music/sound for a project:

person x : "hey, I really would like to make some graphics"
me: "ok, I can give you 16 colors, the first one being white ($fff) I need 16x16 blocks nicely arranged in an IFF..."
person x: "see, I can draw it in <paintprogram x> in 16,8 million colors and give it to you as a bmp"
me: "no, sorry, that doesn't work, you really have to use an indexed format.."
person x: "indexed format? With my program I can take any single color I want, I'll give it to you as 1028x1024x24 okay?..."
me: "no, Amiga graphics hardware works different and dithering gfx looks awful..."
[senseless discussion follows]

The same happened to me for music where I had people wanting to deliver their music in mp3 and such.

This is not meant as an offense to anyone, but what I want to tell is: there are not so many people out there able to draw nice 2d graphics in an indexed format with a reduced number of colors. The same is true when it comes to music. Since I aim for the classic A500 + 512MB fastmem, the MOD can't be 400kb in size, since that wouldn't left enough chipmem for bitmaps.
So, in result I gave up years ago searching for painters and musicians. I better do my own sound and graphics. Usually that leads to dead-born projects lying around on my harddrive.
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Old 21 May 2015, 01:07   #114
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Some nice knowledge transfer going on in C64 land. Id attend an Amiga version of this.
http://64bites.com/
In fact, if its done well enough I could even attend that one.
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Old 21 May 2015, 01:35   #115
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@Apollo and @TenLeftFingers

Probably a mixed approach with podcasts and also a compendium where people can find informations and tutorials on how to work and develop on and for Amiga could help; i did stumble on some videos learning on doing pretty small assembler tricks like reading mouse, rasterbars, etc, plus labritcho amiblitz tutorials, sites and similar stuff that could be catalogued and collected in a sorta di retrodev wiki - probably there are several of them unbeknowst to us too, though; if there is a well defined place to refer from - like in example here on EAB (that for me is already THE referral site for retrodeveloping) or a new related site - that would be good

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Old 21 May 2015, 06:11   #116
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A bit of my perspective also:
So, why is the homebrew scene on the Amiga not as impressive?

To answer this, first, one needs to define what it really needs to make an impressive Amiga game:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT View Post
It simply takes more effort on Amiga. Amiga was the first machine where single bedroom coders doing an entire game were the rarity and not the norm.
That's right. That means that you would probably need a team first. But is the need for a team really the problem here? As far as I know, the community has already many experienced and eager to help gfx and music guys. And I've yet to see a game project failing to take off or finish because it's lacking on those departments. So it all boils down to coders and how determined -or dedicated- one can be to complete a game (whether impressive or not).

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Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT View Post
You want to do a platformer? Fine, then you have to compete with the efforts of Factor 5 20+ years ago.
You want to do a shoot em up? Fine, then you have the likes of Cope-Com who did stellar work in 1988!!
You want to do an adventure game? Fine..... take your best shot at Core Design and their Enchantia engine, or Lucasarts and their plethora of SCUMM games.
Agreed. So you need not only a dedicated crew, but an experienced one too.
This obviously applies to coder, gfx and music guys alike but -again- the supply of experienced and talented gfx/music people here -imho- is more than enough compared to the demand (and this is a global phenomenon, not only restricted to the amiga world btw). So the question to ask (that I obviously don't know) is how many experienced amiga coders -that are actively interested in game making- are out there in our community? (a lot might one say, but still...)
A call to arms for new programmers is -indeed- useful (or will be in the long run -god permits) but fails to answer "why is the homebrew scene on the Amiga not as impressive"...

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Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT View Post
Its not that people can't compete with the likes of Factor 5 et al, its simply a case of they took nearly a year to do Turrican on Amiga as their FULL TIME JOB........ and you want to do something that competes in less time before people get bored and leave the project????
Yes, it's also about the time needed to complete such a project. But this -inevitably- leads us back to my first point: Determination and dedication. If you're experienced you can have a rough estimation on what it takes, while if you're rookie (or working on virgin ground) you'd better add the extra time needed for learning and troubleshooting. In both cases it's the premise of completing and releasing a game that SHOULD be the prime motivation here (given the fact that you're willing to invest the needed time to reach your goal).

With the above thoughts in mind let's do a reality check on the scene and see what games are worked on, or released in the past few years till recently and why the answer falls short on the initial question about homebrew scene not being impressive:

- 1-1 conversions: this takes a large pie in the amiga game making world. Just from a quick look here on EAB, one can see that many game projects being worked on (and often finished thanx to the dedicated coders) belong to this category. Nothing to complain for here and a big thumbs up for the work and everyone involved from my part.
But as much as I respect and encourage those efforts, unfortunately -and by default- doing a 1-1 conversion is a safe bet on a proven concept (with all the design and creative work already done by the original game designers) that adds little or no new content to the scene other than proof that it can be done on amiga. Impressive? Perhaps, but only if seen from a strictly technical point of view.

- Remakes/sequels/conversions with new or original content: There's plenty of room for originality and a fresh experience to the end player here. This is pretty much the case with the Castlevania remake. It's an easier and safer path to take (compared to developing a completely new game concept from scratch) but we've yet to see such an undertaking done successfully on amiga.

- Mods/using existing game engines: Part from the recent Gloom conversions there's little going on regarding mods. It's too bad, really, cause there is some true potential that can be harnessed here and developed into fresh and new games. Generally speaking, using existing engines to retrofit a new -or similar concept is a practical solution that could (theoretically) save much time you would otherwise spend to re-invent the wheel (granted the code is available or -at least- easily reverse engineered). Unfortunately no amiga project has taken this path yet with success (anyways, none that I know of).

All the above categories are about recycling existing resources, either those are game concepts, engines or actual content (f.e. maps design, gfx, music and various other game features). But what about new, original games?

- Backbone and other similar amiga game making tools: In the absence of real (or experienced) programmers willing to help new projects with fresh code, the rest of the amiga world, that is dying to contribute or get involved with game making is left with little choice. Backbone, though decent in making simple games, is buggy, completely limited and comes with a terrible output performance. Very difficult to compete with Factor 5 under those conditions...
Currently Backbone takes the main bulk of the total releases in the amiga homebrew scene (when it comes to original games that is).

- Single person projects: From time to time, small projects pop up that are created or currently developed -mainly- by one person alone. Still it takes real talent (and quadruple the time) to get right all coding, gfx, music and game design (granted you have absolutely no help at all). By default, single person projects are small in scope and have a good probability to get released (having to deal with yourself only helps too). The rest of the releases in the scene come from this category.

- Team projects: This seems -unfortunately- NOT to be the norm in our days... It's not that game teams are not formed or engage into development currently. The big problem lies with them actually getting to release something and reach final product stage (often even demo stage). So what usually happens with those teams is that they either break up and cancel the project, continue development in a different platform or even stall production indefinitely.
The reasons behind those outcomes are many: lack of determination, boredom, real life getting in the way, technical problems, game's scope getting out of hand, disagreements with other members or simply a change in priorities. Whatever the case is and however you see it, the thing is that over the past years extremely few team projects have actually managed to create a complete and original game.

- Game concepts begging for support: Every now and then, several game concepts are brought into the public's attention (obviously I'm talking about serious proposals here). Usually the person (or team) asking for support has something to show in return (like a bit of code, demo, proof of concept , a worked out game design plan or even gfx). In most cases those projects fail to attract the necessary help and the posts are soon forgotten and obscured by the passing of time. There are literary dozens of such cases that come in mind...

My final thoughts on the issue:
It may strike many like I'm trying to play the blame game here (darn those evil coders!).
And the truth is that what I mention above is meant to be a bit provocative (well, I hope not too much and certainly not for all the wrong reasons).
Of course seeing the post from @Apollo above, one can understand that this coin has 2 sides (after all).
So perhaps the real failure (or inability) in the community is to get those different parties together (as I believe, it is not far from truth to speculate that there ARE enough talented, determined or eager to help experts in the scene).

Hopefully there are a couple of things we can do to improve this situation and I think EAB can help in this direction:
1) There are dozens of new WIP games that are lurking around in various threads all around EAB. It would help a lot if all those were moved to Game Factory.
2) A sticky thread or database of people that are willing to work and contribute in game making, their field of expertise or current status would be UBER useful.
3) Same with game projects that are looking to recruit members.
4) Going crowd funding for an amiga game may sound like a terrible idea but it has some potential. The question in our homebrew scene is fund what and who. It would actually make sense if experts that are willing to lend their services for a price stepped forward. But the first problem here is finding those.
5) Cammy's sticky thread about “amiga game making resources” is a first step towards the right direction. This could be largely expanded to contain not only links to other websites but also tools , examples and various other info regarding amiga game making.

Last edited by Tsak; 22 May 2015 at 01:32.
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Old 21 May 2015, 08:16   #117
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I kind of stated my view on this (i.e. reason is lack of documentation and tools) but honestly, as a kid who was amazed by the things he saw on an Amiga in the 90s I would more than happily code for it as an enthusiast in 2015.. If only I knew what tools to use and where to go for the knowledgebase.

When you start coding for a platform, one of the first things you do is imitate what has already been done.. The C64 is easy like that. Language, tools, examples - it's all out there. Amiga.. Not really; it's almost as if everyone who once coded something impressive for it would rather be smug about it than go online and post the code and explain.

It's strange.
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Old 21 May 2015, 10:19   #118
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It is surprising that machines as Spectrum 48k and Amstrad CPC with a z80 at 3 mhz and some KB of memory have a decent game making tool but the Amiga does not. That explains why the Spectrum has so many new games every month.

http://www.randomkak.blogspot.co.uk/...tutorials.html
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Old 21 May 2015, 11:08   #119
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@Apollo and @TenLeftFingers

Probably a mixed approach with podcasts and also a compendium where people can find informations and tutorials on how to work and develop on and for Amiga could help; i did stumble on some videos learning on doing pretty small assembler tricks like reading mouse, rasterbars, etc, plus labritcho amiblitz tutorials, sites and similar stuff that could be catalogued and collected in a sorta di retrodev wiki - probably there are several of them unbeknowst to us too, though; if there is a well defined place to refer from - like in example here on EAB (that for me is already THE referral site for retrodeveloping) or a new related site - that would be good
Definitely, a centralised place for development (maybe seperated into games and workbench apps).

Quote:
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I kind of stated my view on this (i.e. reason is lack of documentation and tools) but honestly, as a kid who was amazed by the things he saw on an Amiga in the 90s I would more than happily code for it as an enthusiast in 2015.. If only I knew what tools to use and where to go for the knowledgebase.

When you start coding for a platform, one of the first things you do is imitate what has already been done.. The C64 is easy like that. Language, tools, examples - it's all out there. Amiga.. Not really; it's almost as if everyone who once coded something impressive for it would rather be smug about it than go online and post the code and explain.

It's strange.
I definitely think that it's clear that we are short on developers. I think rather than try to squeeze them harder or look for more 'commitment' or 'determination' we could ask for a mentoring role instead and attract developers to the scene that way.

I'm out of touch, but I think we would need a show-piece to have that kind of draw. And I don't mean just a game. I mean a community.
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Old 21 May 2015, 11:23   #120
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Originally Posted by appiah4 View Post
[...]
When you start coding for a platform, one of the first things you do is imitate what has already been done.. The C64 is easy like that. Language, tools, examples - it's all out there. Amiga.. Not really; it's almost as if everyone who once coded something impressive for it would rather be smug about it than go online and post the code and explain.
[...]
I have a different view: sources of information about assembler, hardware and how to do certain effects (f.e. demo coding) have been much worse back in the day ('87 till 90s). Nowadays you have the internet: books like the HRM are online, you have tutorials like the one from Photon here if you are a complete newbie, you have pre-build toolchains for coding _and_ you have this (and other) boards populated with experienced, nice coders to ask. Things are much, much, better now.

No offense to the C64 fans, but, the Amiga is a bit more complex on the hardware side, f.e. cpu vs. co-processors. Thats in my opinion one reason why its just not that easy. On the other side I believe that there much more C64 enthusiasts left compared to the Amiga scene. C64 was _the_ first home-computer for a certain generation and the Amiga was probably only the second computer for these people.

Last edited by Apollo; 21 May 2015 at 11:29. Reason: fixed typo's
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