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Old 08 September 2015, 16:28   #1
Adrian Browne
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Why or how did the Amiga Indie gaming scene die!

One supposes that game sales slowly dropped over time till they were negligible, but was this the case or did companies simply move on to new and more lucrative pastures.

I'm asking because the Sega Dreamcast still has a thriving commercial indie game scene after some 14 years.
Games sell in the region of 3- 5,000 copies I believe.
A figure quoted back in the day for amiga indie game sales was around 3 to 4,000. Chaos engine 2 sold 4,000 much to the bitmaps horror.

I get that the DC inspires a strong following, myself included. It was sega's last great machine and it did everything right and the games were awesome!!!

I guess the amiga survived till the turn of the millenium, considering commodore died in 94, though mainstream games were still incoming throughout 95 and 96.
Anyone got any interesting facts or stories from the Amiga indie scene?

Heck it springs to mind that someone should do an article about this period in the amigas history.
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Old 08 September 2015, 16:55   #2
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I believe because Amiga was very old. Dreamcast is 15 years old and Amiga is 30. Also Dreamcast has more power, easier to do stuff with c++ than on amiga. Also there was no profit in the Amiga market anymore. 5,000 copies at 20-30 euro each, are still serious money to be made.
And I think the Amiga market was dead by 96 and c64 by 92.
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Old 08 September 2015, 17:02   #3
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A market thrives if there are enough buyers and sellers.
*And* equally importantly if there is a very visible marketplace.

How many $ are people willing to pay for a good Amiga game these days?
I paid 9 for Sqrzx3 and much more for Tales Of Gorluth II (can't recall the exact number).

But both have "sold" less than 2 hundred units.
Either there are not enough buyers or the news did not reach them. Also they might have fled long ago seeing there were only very few good products on sale.
Possibly as well, they know but the lack of convenient store to buy from means they did not do it. I have read quite a few the threads where people complain about having to create an account.

It is clear to me that in order for an Amiga software market to thrive, both sellers and buyers must change their habits and adapt to modern distribution means. Fact is, the Amiga market competes with other modern ones, so it must adapt to modern realities. And I hate to say it but most Amiga vendors web sites look like they have been designed in th 90s.

Selling only to the old guard cannot work, and to reach new and young blood you need new and young tools. (And no, the AmiStore from AEON is not it.)
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Old 08 September 2015, 17:51   #4
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Maybe the post-Commodore history has a lot to do with the mood and overall situation. Amiga went through some unbelievable turbulences (Escom, Viscorp, Gateway 2000, ..etc) that just distracted and disgusted so many people, they just became nostalgic players, living from memories with no more interest to be creative and support the pathetic platform. I dont know, my opinion.
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Old 08 September 2015, 18:04   #5
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I wonder if some of it is the hardware market, which is still doing pretty good.
If you have $XX to spend on your hobby, and you can get a few games, or a new 128M RAM card, but not both...

Also, there is the quality issue...

Those Dreamcast games in general are amazing.. ;-)
There are fewer amazing Amiga releases.
I did go for Sqrxz3 myself, and I'm in for Tales of Gorluth.
But how many retail caliber games are released?

As for Sqrxz3, we also need to remember that it was available for free first. That probably put a dent in sales..

Also, there's the requirements issue. A Dreamcast game runs on a dreamcast..
An Amiga game might run on your Amiga, unless it requires a CD or an 030 or more RAM..

I do agree that it would be nice if there were some type of central "store" that people could use for these types of things..
It would make it easier to keep track of it..

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Old 08 September 2015, 21:10   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Predseda View Post
Maybe the post-Commodore history has a lot to do with the mood and overall situation. Amiga went through some unbelievable turbulences (Escom, Viscorp, Gateway 2000, ..etc) that just distracted and disgusted so many people, they just became nostalgic players, living from memories with no more interest to be creative and support the pathetic platform. I dont know, my opinion.
'Amiga went through some unbelievable turbulences (Escom, Viscorp, Gateway 2000, ..etc) that just distracted and disgusted so many people'

Yes this may be one viable reason. Games like nightlong and onescapee were indie games, as was warpigs etc; certainly we had a good run for a few years.
The dreamcast has immense staying power and will see games for many more years to come, I have no doubt.

There was indeed a lot of vultures picking at commodores carcass, money talks.
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Old 08 September 2015, 21:10   #7
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desiv: I believe it's called AmiStore. Not much of Classic games there though.

http://www.amistore.net/
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Old 08 September 2015, 22:29   #8
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Originally Posted by duga View Post
desiv: I believe it's called AmiStore. Not much of Classic games there though.

http://www.amistore.net/
Yup. I mentioned it in my post. From what I can gather this is an AEON initiative so there's no way in Hell that this is going to support old Amiga models or that it's going to be remotely practical.

The interest of the Amiga is the fact that it's retro. In my opinion an Amiga distribution platform can only work if it supports all models and kickstarts with a focus on "stock" machines. That's where the biggest installed base lies.

Addendum:
And newcomers likely will only be interested by the stock machines (with only the minimum "practical" extensions like HDD/CF, RAM and network) since they are the most historically and technically significant.
Post Commodore evolutions ahave a clear interest for existing Amiga owners willing to extend their machines's lives and features but they have no practical interest for newcomers who already have more powerful modern machines at their disposal.

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Old 09 September 2015, 00:40   #9
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The Dreamcast is one unified platform.. Amiga OTOH is spread very thin across a whole crapload of different configurations, resulting in very varying performance. And even the OS was branched off into 68k Classic, Morph OS, OS4 PPC, AROS etc..
So no wonder that any given config is going to have precious few followers.

Im really surprised to see / hear ppl only now getting some expansion for their 1200s.. I mean, if you haven't got that 030 or better by now.. The machine is 23 years old...

So if you were an indie developer, what would you target? Ok, lets go for 68k Classic OS. Next choice: Minimum CPU requirement? Minimum RAM? RTG only or AGA?

Whatever you choose you'll be faced with more than one dilemma..
And the kind of games we played on the Amiga in the late 80s, early 90s.. Those kind of ghames are mass produced for smartphones and given away for "free" (AdWare) ...
If you have a decent PC or Mac, you can use tools such as Unity and put together a decent game very quickly.
Amiga has -by modern standards- very little in the way of Dev -friendly tools that would make your life easy.. And even if they were, the results would probably not be very impressive.. because the most impressive stuff was always done in 68k asm. ;-)

A year or so ago, there was a campaign for the AmiDark engine (which I supported at the time) but the campaign failed, and it got me thinking... How come that there are so many ppl out there that still wanna pay 300-500 for 20 year old Blizzard cards, 100 for a single 060 chip, etc.. but when it comes to supporting software.. nope...
So its no wonder we end up with expensive retro rigs but never play anything other than the 20 year old stuff.

/eX
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Old 09 September 2015, 00:42   #10
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because everyone just started trying to port Doom instead of doing anything original that suited the Amiga's capabilities
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Old 09 September 2015, 02:31   #11
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because everyone just started trying to port Doom instead of doing anything original that suited the Amiga's capabilities
For me, these were actually very exciting times, because they really started to push the Amiga beyond what it was supposed to be capable of.
(Still remember how cool it was that a couple of days (?) after AB3d2TKG came out, Aki Laukkanen released a much better c2p that really improved the framerate. At that point I thought c2p was witchcraft ;-) )
Anyhoo...
There was a time when Amiga did what no other computer could. That was no longer true in the mid-90s so unless you had a fantastic, original idea, there was no way you were going to dazzle anyone with a game for the Amiga even if was pushing the system.
Now that they are retro they are cool again, but in the late 90s you could barely give an A500 away. No one wanted them... they just felt old and pathetic at that moment in time... so coding for it was not very rewarding Id imagine. Trying to do a serious game was utterly pointless..
Now that it has reached retro-status, it should be more interesting again.. but sll the impossible stuff seems to be happening on even older and crappier hardware (c64, 8-bit atari, etc..)
Maybe, when the c64 us truly exploited to the last obscure bug in the hardware, the old 68k Amigas will get more attention again.

Meanwhile, Im still hoping that now that we are at the dawn of FPGA 68k computing, the renewed platform will attract some old 68k asm gurus to see what can be done. (Ooh look, is that the Quake 3 source code? ... )
Also, games like Tower 57 could probably run on 200MHz 060 FPGA ;-)
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Old 09 September 2015, 02:58   #12
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A revival of an indie games scene on Amiga is certainly possible. We're seeing that in droves on the C64. Here's what is needed: ONE really shining example of what is possible, and a lot of good developer documentation and open source code for people to study.
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Old 09 September 2015, 06:50   #13
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Originally Posted by eXeler0 View Post
The Dreamcast is one unified platform.. Amiga OTOH is spread very thin across a whole crapload of different configurations, resulting in very varying performance. And even the OS was branched off into 68k Classic, Morph OS, OS4 PPC, AROS etc..
So no wonder that any given config is going to have precious few followers.
If you sort models by sales then there is much less fragmentation.
The original user base is mostly composed of A500 models followed by A1200 ones and this is likely to be reflected in the current user base. With these two models you are guaranteed to reach a very large fraction of the Amiga owners (not to mention that the A2000 is just an expandable A500). Of course, the passionate ones will tend to own more high end models but given the high second hand price of these it's reasonable to think that they represent a sliver of the total.

With two models to target remains the choice of the configuration to support. There too, looking at the requirements of softwares sold for these machines one gets a pretty good idea of what to support: 1MB chip for the A500 and likely stock for the A1200 (accelerators costed one genital and a leg at that time).

With this selected I'm fairly confident that one maximizes their potential public.
Once the market gets some traction and if/when programs start reaching the limits of the machines then it's always possible to up the requirements and require some Fast RAM. But anything more than that would lead to fragmentation again so it's probably a good idea to keep concentrated on barely expanded stock models. (1MB chip, storage and network.)

Quote:
So if you were an indie developer, what would you target? Ok, lets go for 68k Classic OS. Next choice: Minimum CPU requirement? Minimum RAM? RTG only or AGA?
I am a developer and following my above reasoning I am currently targeting the stock A500 + 1MB. In the future I would love to release two versions of each game I write: one O/ECS and one AGA but for now I'm concentrating on finishing the first one.

If I were to realize that a particular game would require Fast RAM to run efficiently I would probably try to bundle it with modern RAM expansions but frankly if that would ever happen this would be years in the future so this is not my concern at the moment.
Something I would be considering however would be to put the game on cartridges since these are fairly cheap to produce these days and this would work around the problem of aging floppy disks and drives. (As well as loading times which newcomers would find hard to tolerate.)

Quote:
Amiga has -by modern standards- very little in the way of Dev -friendly tools that would make your life easy.. And even if they were, the results would probably not be very impressive.. because the most impressive stuff was always done in 68k asm. ;-)
This can and (I think) will change. It's in the air.
Also Dungeon Master is 100% C code and SkidMarks is 90% Blitz Basic.

Assembly was the most used because of the inertia of coding practices of coders from the 8bit era where this was the only choice. It is possible to make a fast Amiga game with 90%C/10% assembly. And anyway 68k assembly is really not that hard and quite fun to use.

Quote:
A year or so ago, there was a campaign for the AmiDark engine (which I supported at the time) but the campaign failed, and it got me thinking... How come that there are so many ppl out there that still wanna pay 300-500 for 20 year old Blizzard cards, 100 for a single 060 chip, etc.. but when it comes to supporting software.. nope...
Why do people pirate software but do not steal games at the store? The cost of the physical product in stores is not even 1/10th of the sale price so this barely generates a loss for the vendor.
Because our monkey brains have evolved to give more value to the physical than the intangible. We build sophisticated arguments about a copy not generating a loss but the fact that more expensive console games sold more disproves this reasoning: when copy is impossible, even less wealthy people buy.
MegaDrive/Genesis owners were a much poorer demographics than Amiga owners, this console's games costed two to three times the price of an Amiga game, yet the same game sold 5 to 10 times more on the console than on the Amiga.

I had to literally train myself to not use cracked software for almost one year before it became natural to me to pay for software. Unless one has voluntarily opted to respect these intangible rights one will revert to our default nature which is to give less value to non physical property. That's how we are wired.

Also we tend to promise ourselves "I'm testing it and if I like it I'll buy it" but do not follow through afterward. (That's part of what is called the discounting effect in scientific terms: we always overestimate the amount of self control we are capable of in the future.)
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Old 09 September 2015, 07:36   #14
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I used cracked software on the C64 but when I upgraded to my A1200 I ditched the cracks. Since it wasn't compatible, it was easy to get out of the habit.

I think that what you said about Assembly code is correct. If only shared library code that encapsulated hardware banging was used, we would be in better shape. I'm starting a project just for that purpose.

I have owned MorphOS, AROS and OS4 systems. They can use a passthrough library that does the same as the other ones but the hardware banging has to be encapsulated.

Also, I have been using free tools because that's what is available. I have a bachelor's degree in computer science but am working as a janitor. I need to be paid.

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Old 09 September 2015, 09:59   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eXeler0 View Post
A year or so ago, there was a campaign for the AmiDark engine (which I supported at the time) but the campaign failed, and it got me thinking... How come that there are so many ppl out there that still wanna pay 300-500 for 20 year old Blizzard cards, 100 for a single 060 chip, etc.. but when it comes to supporting software.. nope...
The AmiDark campaign failed because the engine wasn't in a usable state.
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Old 09 September 2015, 11:50   #16
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You can't really compare the current Dreamcast scene with the late 90s Amiga scene, the world was a very different place then. There were no forums, no Kickstarter, no Facebook, and no affordable media duplication methods. It's pretty easy for a Dreamcast developer to let a small but willing audience know about their game. It wasn't really possible back then. If you look in later issues of Amiga Format there are indi developers advertising games, but a couple of low-circulation magazines wasn't enough to generate decent sales.

Indi games for the Amiga now are possible, like anything people just need to work out the economics. I imagine there are at least a couple of hundred active Amiga gamers willing to pay 20-30 for a decent new game, you just need to find a developer that is willing to make a game for that kind of money (circa 5 grand.)
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Old 09 September 2015, 13:06   #17
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It's an interesting question, with a lot of interesting responses - all of which can be construed as true.

But is the Indie game scene dying? We've seen games like Downfall come along, which, while free, still shows that there are coders out there willing to do something. And also Tales Of Gorluth II, which is using a pre-pay model to fund the work. Until this game is released it can be said that the Indie gaming scene still has some life.

I think that the point here is one that has already been mentioned - user base and associated sales play a part if we want good games. Very few coders will spend a year coding a game for a maximum of 3-4k return. Unless they can do it in their leisure time. And, again, it needs to be good enough to actually raise the cash.

ToG-II has a good sales model; create a view of expectation, get pre-orders, guarantee a sum of money, and then plan your development to fit a relevant timescale. Do this 3 times a year and you may (just) make some sort of living.

As for those who want to code for adoration and fame - we may be past those days, sadly. Those of us who move in Amiga (and other retro-gaming) circles will know the names, but there's not quite so many of us now as there was in the Amiga's heyday.

Personally, while there are still home brewers out there, there is still an indie scene. Aminet seems to get about 1 new upload a day, on average, so there is some degree of proof that Amigans are coding somewhere... Perhaps we just need to tempt them a little bit more
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Old 09 September 2015, 13:47   #18
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Is 68k asm still really important for dev? In the pc/console market the compilers are so good its extremely unlikely that you can write better asm than the compiler can generate.

I havnt had to use any asm since I wrote ttx for the gp2x and that was minimal!

Never done Amiga dev but tempted! However i sort of imagined a toolchain setup on pc to compile c for Amiga and uae for testing builds. No idea what is actually involved
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Old 09 September 2015, 13:54   #19
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i like asm for the flexibility, you can do anything the computer can do in asm... i know i could do all the same things in C but even if i trusted the compiler to produce optimal code, i'd be fighting against the abstraction to do some of the things i do...

to put it simply. C is missing a lot of the features of C++ that i got used to using, and they're such simple things that they're actually easier to do in asm than in C! Hence my desire to create a new language of my own.
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Old 09 September 2015, 14:01   #20
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if there was a capable game creator to produce games that play ball in this league (forget backbone)
[ Show youtube player ]
that the Amiga is surely capable of and support sales a minimum 4 to 5,000 copies 10 euros each there would be a viable market for sure, lots of people would produce games for the Amiga.

First you need a kickstarter to make a game creator that runs on a 040 Amiga, with lots of RAM, fund it, then you have a scene
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