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Old 12 September 2015, 18:05   #101
Mrs Beanbag
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did you look at the link Mr Crow posted?
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Old 12 September 2015, 18:19   #102
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did you look at the link Mr Crow posted?
Not yet but how is this relevant regarding Popt?
You didn't quote either him or myself so I assumed "the link" was referring to my link.
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Old 12 September 2015, 18:39   #103
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The problem with the accelerated-or-FPGA-boosted-Amiga software market is that it cannot grow past the group of hard core people who want to keep using their Amiga for everything. Very few newcomers will be interested in these because they already have modern computers which are hundreds of times faster and are simpler to use, maintain and find software for.

The stock kittens have much more historical significance, are more numerous and they are the flag bearers of the Amiga brand, if people want retro they will use these. Boosted kittens fragment the Amiga ecosystem without any advantage other than being interesting on a technical standpoint, it is fine but it cannot sustain game creators reliably alas in my opinion (and obviously everyone is entitled to differ ).
I agree with your analysis, we can even say the exact number of people who bought a Vampire accelerator.. and even if it grows in numbers over the next couple of years, we are probably still talkink about maybe three-four hundred users.
However, like Olaf said. I think, for any small dev team these days, cross platform is the key if you wanna see some $$. and for that 68k asm - projects arent the best solution. (Who would have guessed, right? :-)
But just think about all the other stuff that goes into game dev that isnt CPU/hardware specific.
I recently backed Tower 57, its gonna be released on a whole bunch of "small" platforms. If that was a single platform kickstarter I very much doubt they would have made it ..

Although creating great games that run optimally on low end Amigas may not be quite compatibile with the cross-platform idea, Im sure at least more than half if the work could (depending on type of game obviously) be reused for low end hardware. And then, only half of your time would be wasted :-) (kidding)
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Old 12 September 2015, 18:53   #104
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if there was a Vampire card for A1200 i would buy one in a heartbeat

@ReadOnlyCat i never mentioned Popt obviously there has been some confusion, i was talking about the insane "optimisations" various versions of VBCC/GCC make on 68k, according to the thread Samurai Crow posted, although i was also replying to your point about LINK/UNLK being unnecessary.

Last edited by Mrs Beanbag; 12 September 2015 at 19:01.
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Old 12 September 2015, 19:58   #105
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well there's me...
And me, although I don't really count because I never make anything
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Old 12 September 2015, 20:11   #106
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And me, although I don't really count because I never make anything
Then makes something!
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Old 12 September 2015, 21:32   #107
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About the link and ulnk instructions: they're not really useless, but very convenient to have, just like it's very convenient to have cmp instead of having to use sub and a scratch register.

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I could not even mention 5 (besides you). Outside the community nobody used asm anymore (except perhaps for specific tasks). And even if somebody would know asm, you need lots of experience with amiga hardware when directly using it. I do not think there are many left.
Actually you don't need to know anything about the other Amiga hardware to write machine language, and with the exception of CPU resources like caches etc., there's no need to use machine language to program the hardware, which is a really common misconception.

Last edited by Leffmann; 12 September 2015 at 21:37.
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Old 12 September 2015, 21:36   #108
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Hollywood is great, but when the games don't run on an 1 MB A500 it makes no sense, IMHO.
A 1MB A500 is the best target currently for a wide audience but it is challenging for a good game when not using assembler and banging the hardware which have steep learning curves and other disadvantages. Most active users have several MB of memory especially with UAE and FPGA hardware gaining in popularity. Even targeting a 68020 with 2MB of memory gets most active Amiga users. Unfortunately, targeting AGA loses many ECS owners unless RTG is also supported which isn't too difficult although sometimes slower and banging the hardware is out (IMO, the OS should be used when it is fast enough and capable enough).

Low spec games are great but I believe higher spec targets can be more easily created. I think this was some of Olaf's point. However, the Amiga slow motion revival is not to the spec Hollywood would need. Maybe some kinds of non-processor intensive games would be possible on targets other than UAE. Hollywood itself is compiled so improving compilers could help the situation but new more powerful 68k hardware than even the FPGA Arcade and Mist would be necessary and available at a reasonable price. The Natami link makes me sad as it was the right target and had so much promise.

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This is off topic territory but as an example many early compilers generated
[un]link
opcodes for each function call which is both useless and inefficient. The last versions of Lattice did not do it however if I recall correctly. I remember being anxious that it might generate these at the time after I bought it.
GCC has problems in most versions with generating LINK/UNLK even with stack frames off. Vbcc and SAS/C do not have this problem. The default in vbcc is to have stack frames off because it generates the most efficient code .

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Gcc did not have this problem however and when I worked a bit with a play version of quake ported by Samuel Devulder on my 1200 in the 90's I recall that the generated assembly code was not too bad. It could be improved obviously but it was far from horrible. Samuel's "popt" peephole optimizer (on Aminet) managed to squeeze a few more cycles out of it but not an enormous amount.
GCC 2.95.3 had a solid 68k backend but lacked a good peephole optimizing assembler for the 68k. Vbcc today has the world's best 68k peephole optimizing assembler but the backend is basic. A peephole optimizer (and instruction scheduler) is somewhat limited on the 68k because most instructions set the CC. Vbcc does many sophisticated high level optimizations too. There just isn't much motivation (beyond fixing bugs) to improve the 68k backend with the current state of the 68k and Amiga. Lack of motivation for a dying platform is the reason why many games are never started or abandoned. Is there any other way to solve this problem besides new 68k Amiga hardware?
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Old 12 September 2015, 21:45   #109
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About the link and ulnk instructions: they're not really useless, but very convenient to have, just like it's very convenient to have cmp instead of having to use sub and a scratch register.
Not useless, but not really necessary either, for most function calls. One can even implement exceptions without it.

And i don't just mean "without the instruction". i mean without building a linked list of stack frames on the stack at all.
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Old 12 September 2015, 21:59   #110
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If you're debugging on machine level and have no stack-frames, and the stack is just one big blur of values, how would you unwind the call-stack correctly to determine what functions or subroutines have been called and in what order?
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Old 12 September 2015, 22:01   #111
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ok i suppose that is a case for using it in debug code, but it could also be done with metadata (same as how zero-cost exceptions work).

tbh i've never used a debugger on the Amiga.
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Old 13 September 2015, 12:43   #112
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A 1MB A500 is the best target currently for a wide audience but it is challenging for a good game when not using assembler and banging the hardware which have steep learning curves and other disadvantages. Most active users have several MB of memory especially with UAE and FPGA hardware gaining in popularity. Even targeting a 68020 with 2MB of memory gets most active Amiga users. Unfortunately, targeting AGA loses many ECS owners unless RTG is also supported which isn't too difficult although sometimes slower and banging the hardware is out (IMO, the OS should be used when it is fast enough and capable enough).

Low spec games are great but I believe higher spec targets can be more easily created. I think this was some of Olaf's point. However, the Amiga slow motion revival is not to the spec Hollywood would need. Maybe some kinds of non-processor intensive games would be possible on targets other than UAE. Hollywood itself is compiled so improving compilers could help the situation but new more powerful 68k hardware than even the FPGA Arcade and Mist would be necessary and available at a reasonable price. The Natami link makes me sad as it was the right target and had so much promise.



GCC has problems in most versions with generating LINK/UNLK even with stack frames off. Vbcc and SAS/C do not have this problem. The default in vbcc is to have stack frames off because it generates the most efficient code .



GCC 2.95.3 had a solid 68k backend but lacked a good peephole optimizing assembler for the 68k. Vbcc today has the world's best 68k peephole optimizing assembler but the backend is basic. A peephole optimizer (and instruction scheduler) is somewhat limited on the 68k because most instructions set the CC. Vbcc does many sophisticated high level optimizations too. There just isn't much motivation (beyond fixing bugs) to improve the 68k backend with the current state of the 68k and Amiga. Lack of motivation for a dying platform is the reason why many games are never started or abandoned. Is there any other way to solve this problem besides new 68k Amiga hardware?
what I mean is todays "Amiga" are Smartphones so most still active game developers from amiga time are today developing for smartphones. It is "mission impossible" to try to persuade them to develop specific for Amiga, expecially for low-spec hardware like A500. There are reasons why games on such a hardware mostly turn off the OS and directly bang the hardware (often in asm), but for that you need lots of experience. The old devs are really slowly getting old and not interested anymore, the younger devs lack the experience and interest to learn the amiga hardware. One resource for game developers was the demo scene that is not much left anymore, others were students when developing for amiga in spare time. I doubt that many students today even have ever heared of amiga. So in my view if we want developers that become interested to support amiga again we have to offer easy-to-use cross-platform developer tools that support also commercial platforms. One example is Antiryad, another one Hollywood (both commercial). Possible would also be to port opensource cross-platform 3D engines and similar. It is unrealistic to hope for exclusive amiga games that also run on low-spec hardware like A500, time has moved on and even in the golden times there were only few of them like some jump-and-run.
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Old 13 September 2015, 13:05   #113
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Possible would also be to port opensource cross-platform 3D engines and similar. It is unrealistic to hope for exclusive amiga games that also run on low-spec hardware like A500, time has moved on and even in the golden times there were only few of them like some jump-and-run.
Forget 3D engines, there is no point except for enthusiasts to prove that they can do it... sort of... if you want to play that sort of game you can just use a PC.

Funny, for years all i had was an A500+ and plenty of games would run on that. If it doesn't run on "retro" hardware then in what sense is it "retro game"? People are still making games for Atari 2600 fgs...
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Old 13 September 2015, 13:11   #114
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Forget 3D engines, there is no point except for enthusiasts to prove that they can do it... sort of... if you want to play that sort of game you can just use a PC.

Funny, for years all i had was an A500+ and plenty of games would run on that. If it doesn't run on "retro" hardware then in what sense is it "retro game"? People are still making games for Atari 2600 fgs...
I had contact to a number of former amiga game developers. I do not think that any of them would be interested to develop exclusive for amiga.
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Old 13 September 2015, 13:13   #115
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I had contact to a number of former amiga game developers. I do not think that any of them would be interested to develop exclusive for amiga.
yes, i can well imagine that, they developed for Amiga at the time because it was the "in thing", now it's a totally different market.
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Old 13 September 2015, 13:22   #116
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yes, i can well imagine that, they developed for Amiga at the time because it was the "in thing", now it's a totally different market.
I appreciate that there are developers like you that do it for altruism and for fun without earning money. The question is, what do we want to have. Are we satisfied with people doing it for fun in spare time or do we want to get more commercial-level developments. I am not against first but I also would like to have second. And for second we need tools that also support commercial platforms. Of course there will be no new commercial games for A500. That is what I am convinced of.
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Old 13 September 2015, 13:27   #117
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personally i target A1200, but yeah, it's a lot of effort to make an Amiga game, for very little money. it's not a great business model. better development tools would help, having to write everything from scratch in Asm is a bit of a pain. Alex keeps mooting the idea of converting Mr Beanbag to mobile platforms, at least we already have the assets for it but the game engine will have to be redone. The main thing i worry about is the change of behaviour resulting from different screen refresh rates. The original is obviously hard-coded for 50Hz.
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Old 13 September 2015, 13:39   #118
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personally i target A1200, but yeah, it's a lot of effort to make an Amiga game, for very little money. it's not a great business model. better development tools would help, having to write everything from scratch in Asm is a bit of a pain. Alex keeps mooting the idea of converting Mr Beanbag to mobile platforms, at least we already have the assets for it but the game engine will have to be redone. The main thing i worry about is the change of behaviour resulting from different screen refresh rates. The original is obviously hard-coded for 50Hz.
my idea for Hollywood is because it already supports different platforms and is very flexible but of course you could also think of other options. My idea was (of course not implemented) to integrate assets/ressources developed using modern software already available on the big platforms. That would be much easier than developing everything on amiga. Then you only need to implement the routines to use those. To show the idea... in case of a 3D game you develop the map and 3D objects using modern software and import the generated assets in amiga-software using specific routines. That could be Hollywood but could be everything else. What do you think of it?
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Old 13 September 2015, 13:45   #119
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i've got no objection to development tools for Amiga that run on PC. i'd like there also to be good tools that run on Amiga as well, but in particular we need a good programming language/compiler.
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Old 13 September 2015, 13:49   #120
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i've got no objection to development tools for Amiga that run on PC. i'd like there also to be good tools that run on Amiga as well, but in particular we need a good programming language/compiler.
there are good level-editors for 2D games that are partly freeware/opensource, partly commercial. I think using such tools would make development easier and it would make it easier to create teams with members that are not amiga-user. The same for tools to develop (animated) objects/sprites (not searched there yet).
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