o1i's Planet AROS

July 30, 2014

o1i

WinUAE on AROS !!!

Did I mention, that I started porting WinUAE to AROS long time ago? I did not think, it was so long ago, but time seems to fly. After more than 2 years I wanted to give it a quick try again..

And see, what has happened:



This is a native AROS WinUAE 2.3.1 build, so quite dated of course, but much more up to date than e-uae ..but it should not bee too difficult, to merge newer versions.

Why it did not work 2 years ago? I have no idea. I always thought, that the gfx copy routines simply did not work and invested a lot of time, debugging them. The only thing, I did differently now: I tried kick 1.2 ..

Man, I should have tried that years ago..

I think, it uses SDL to display the graphics, but my mind is not the youngest anymore, who knows, what I did back then ;).


Nevertheless, I will go on vacation tomorrow, so no coding for the next three weeks, but I will have a silent smile on my face, lying at the beach ;).

PS: Of course it is not usable at the moment. It is not stable either. You most likely can't even press a mouse button. But it can boot the RSI MegaDemo from floppy with Kickstart 1.2.

by noreply@blogger.com (o1i) at July 30, 2014 08:53 AM

July 28, 2014

E-UAE PPC JIT

PPCJITBETA04b (Hundreds and XThousands)

There is something new each day, I haven't done this before: a Fast Follow to the previous beta release.

Let me sprinkle the life of the suffering Amiga X1000 owners, here is a


After I had done some investigation, it turned out that MickJT was right for a long time. We don't need unique changes for Amiga X1000 (for the P.A. Semi PA6T processor), because it is similar to the already supported G5 (PowerPC 970) processor.

So, I have decided that we must not delay the beta for Amiga X1000 any longer. This new build is exactly the same Beta #4 release feature-wise; which was done for the other platforms already. Except that it is compiled for AmigaOS4 with the same minor changes which increase the performance on G5 significantly.

Since the code base is the same I kept the same beta version tag with a postfix. For the first and the last time... Úttörő becsület szavamra! :)

Caveat emptor

This build is not fully optimized for PA6T processor, since there is no support for that processor target in the AmigaOS4 SDK yet. It is still running much better than the previous generic builds.
Hopefully the PA6T support will be resolved sooner or later in the SDK and then I will add any necessary changes to the E-UAE build too.

In the meanwhile the binary for this build target will be added to the upcoming releases.

Credz

Actually, the credit goes to the following good people:
  • Tobias Netzel - who implemented the G5 support and helped MickJT with advices;
  • MickJT - who was experimenting with the build for a long time already and pushed me to do this release;
  • Sven Ottemann & Sebastian Bauer - who helped me with the documentation for PA6T;
  • Tommysammy - who was kindly doing the testing.
Thanks guys!

Feedback

This was a blindfolded build again: I have no access to an Amiga X1000, so I couldn't test the build by myself.

I would like to invite all Amiga X1000 owner to give me some feedback regarding the performance or any issues what turns up with this special build.

You can find my email address at the end of the README file.

by noreply@blogger.com (Álmos Rajnai) at July 28, 2014 08:13 AM

July 24, 2014

Icaros Desktop

Hotkeys may be hotter than I thought

write 'em all, and you'll be fine! Since my work on "Icaros Settings" (the applet that inherits old preferences scripts like "services" and "AmiBridge") is almost finished, I turned my attention back on another side of user experience: the GUI. Magellan is now in a good shape, with toolbars and menus including the most common options users are expected to... well... use, but now that they are

by Paolo Besser (noreply@blogger.com) at July 24, 2014 03:39 PM

July 20, 2014

E-UAE PPC JIT

PPCJITBETA04 (FourFOurfOurfoUR!)


Four is a nice, round number. Power of 2, not too many, not too less. You know, four is referring to many good things, like: the Fantastic Four, 4th of July, AmigaOS4, The Magnificent Four... Err.. Maybe not that, scratch that last one.

Therefore, without further ado, here is Beta #4:


I had an irresistible urge to RickRoll you guys with the link, but that video has been blocked recently on YouTube in many countries, so maybe next time.

Tickets please

I had my sweet time with a very weird bug related to Quake, which is not resolved yet and probably related to the failure to implement the soft cache flushing. These two tickets are pushed back to Beta #5 for now. Previously I had no intention to do one more beta release before the first Release Candidate, but as it seems I need one more round of testing period.

I had to shuffle around some tickets while I was rethinking the upcoming Release Candidate. You know, changing priorities, agile development, whatnot. What is listed in the milestones now is the plan, although it is not set in (mile)stone... Heheh... (Huh, that was a really lame pun. You should do better than that!)

The idea is: I am going to fix every issue which is known and give you guys some time to test before the final release (candidate).

SAM440

After a few rounds of pushing and pulling some SAM440/Flex related codes hopefully we have sorted out all the various problems related to those machines. If you were still experiencing issues then please let me know.

G5 again

Thanks to Tobias Netzel, the flag extraction on G5 is fixed, this will resolve a number of problems with various programs.

The compiling for G5 is still not resolved for MorphOS, no G5-optimized binary again, sorry guys. If you could tell me how can I (easily) compile the files for G5 on my iBook then I give it a go, I promise.

What's next

As you can see: Beta #5 is coming, there are already a handful things lined up for it.

Please do test Beta #4 and please do report bugs you have found. It is important to sort out as many problems as I could. It is equally important to help me reproducing the bug. So, please read the instructions. Thanks a bunch!

Best Boys

I would like to give a big thanks to Luigi Burdo. He helped me with a great deal of things, reported lots of bugs and he is so enthusiastic that he inspired me to keep walking on the road. Thanks a lot, Luigi! Keep up the good spirit!

And, of course, my dearest sidekicks, who just couldn't stay away from the project:
MickJT and Tobias Netzel. Cheers!

Also would like to thank the helps, bug reports and overall support to:
Samir Hawamdeh, Kicko, Chris Handley, Allan Ullmann.

by noreply@blogger.com (Álmos Rajnai) at July 20, 2014 08:36 AM

July 16, 2014

Icaros Desktop

My first attempt at learning LUA

Our new, enhanced "Services" application. Every journey begins with a little step and, well, I believe I just made one of those little steps. When I was younger than today (much younger, I was actually a child) I could find on the shelves a lot of magazines full of BASIC programs for Commodore's and other 8-bit computers that users were expected to type back on the keyboard, save on tape and

by Paolo Besser (noreply@blogger.com) at July 16, 2014 05:57 PM

July 11, 2014

Binarydoodles

The powder Diaries -1 – The seeds are sown

I tried at least three times to write memories about this game; it was our mother lode project and writing about it in a satisfying way is a good deal of text and so is not easy. This is the first part, talking about the beginnings and how the idea came out.

the Beginning: QUAZAR, Nike and M-Type

In 1988 had occasion to met with Max,another amiga user. We were exchanging games and tools; one day he showed me a demo made by some schoolmates. Was a simple demo with a starfield and a scroller plus a ripped module but was kinda exciting for me. Since I got my amiga 500 I was intrigued by the crackers intros and, having finally the opportunity to know one of those groups – albeit tiny- was a good chance. so i started to cooperate with them.

Around the same time, i got in touch with Nicola Valentini – nicknamed Nike – that liked to swap software and was trying to learn assembly for coding; i later found out he was in the same classroom with Filippo and Max: how small world, isn’t’it? However, he was coding small intros for which i helped do the graphic and the music; it went with the nickname “Nike” but haven’t found its stuff anywhere

Filippo and Thomas lived in a suburb of Fano, called Centinarola; Especially Thomas used to live in top of a hill in the middle of marche landscape, and we were used on Fridays to reach the place and sit upstairs in the old kitchen – where he had its own lab – to do code experiments and decide what to do next.

and after a couple of simple demo, one came out that was a bit unconventional: using balls we made an animation of a figure; using the joystick we were able to move balls around and to create animation frames. So in the spring of 1990, the internally called “Pupo” Demo came out, and was a mild success.

Quazar Anniversary Demo a.k.a Pupo (1990) from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

I knew Marco Maltese since the eighties; we were both spectrum users and both were  building our games in Basic on the ZX spectrum and compiling it; actually he taught me some trick like using IN ports to read keys or joystick, or to use the IS compiler rather than the FP to have dramatical increase in speed – with the sacrifice of tihngs like DIM and other advanced instructions, though.

When Amiga started to be sold in the 500 model he was working in a local computer store in Senigallia, actually he was also dating the daughter of the store owner, but this is secondary: in its position he was exposed to a good deal of hardware and software and had occasion to test the 500 beforehand. I started to get some software such as Deluxe Paint or other utilities even BEFORE to buy my own 500, because once i saw it i falled in love with it; was able to buy my Amiga 500 in summer of 1988 and started to meddle with dpaint.

Both me and mMaltese were r-type fans and estimators, snd that was obvious: r-type came out in 1987 and set a new standard for horizontal shoot’em ups both in the graphics and in the gameplay, providing,with its beam cannon, an elegant solution to the power-up syndrome.

We begun to plan to build a worthy evolution of the game, hoping to squeeze the amiga machine with 32 color graphics – if not 64 with Half Brite – and HUGE enemy sprites. However,our knowledge of the new hardware and a proper workflow for the capabilities of the machine was unknown to us: surely the Amiga Basic would not be able to handle the mass of graphics we had in mind, and at the time AMOS was still just an hypothesis,not even vaporware. At the end our designs were mostly brainstorming and a way to improve our skills in a more powerful environment than the Spectrum and C-64 one. I was composing music on the sonix program first, then SoundFX and at the end Noisetracker – a Soundtracker clone; and he was designing ships on dpaint, but everything was kinda hanging waiting to have the way to develop. Our knowledge of BASIC was not going to cut it this time for our expectations – that included as said big bobs, maybe even lot of parallax scroll.

The project was called M-Type (a pun between R-type and the initials of Maltese), and i remember its idea was to have multiple ships with multiple way of firing; in some way this predated the idea of powder but also of the future evolutions of the R-type franchising, especially R-Type Final – that came out in 2003.

That is the problem when you live in the future: everybody else that follow your tracks – consciously or less – ends up looking like a copycat.

February 1990

At the time I was an art student; well not exactly: being sent to repeat my fourth year in Art school twice, despite my efforts and overnight work  this in italy means you are done with high school, and not in a good way. so went to study in a private institute to get my five year degree (called “maturity degree” in italy) and in the meanwhile was continuing to work on some graphics for the M-type project; my ideas were mostly on paper about semi-organic ships (imagine metal ships with blood vessels protruding from it.

Tomas and Filippo were trying to make some games to increase their skills in assembly coding; Tomas was working on a side volleyball game a la “Power spikes“, and we had the idea to use non-human characters for it; i recovered a funny hairy character i designed for an old BASIC spectrum game and made it the main player;  the provvisional name was “alien volley”.

Then one day me and nicola were talking about the recent r-type conversion – made by Factor 5 – and how we were thinking we can do it better. Was intention of nicola to learn to program in assembly, and a video game seemed to be the right project. Keep in mind that at the time there was a shortage of good horizontal shooters on the Amiga: the best so far was R-type, and then Blood Money – despite being technically good – was very difficult; plus Menace was too easy.

That spring Nicola went to a trip in Budapest with the school for five days; however, i think he got struck by a lighting or something like that, because when he came back home started to write a tool to compose maps, that we called MED – acronym for Map Editor; was a pretty simple tool that allowed to choose a group of tiles from a page and to copy it in the scrollable area, ten blocks at the time. Blocks were 16×16 pixel and 16 color depth. He also started the base code for Powder, at the time with only the ship shooting in the scrolling landscape.

And so I started to design the first map of the game: city. At the beginning the inspiration for city came to me from blade runner and the several cyberpunk stuff trending in that moment, so that the round building and the grey stones one survived all the way to the final game,albeit modified and improved. Same for the monorail tracks around; the only thing that did not survived was an olive color in the palette (thought because one of my first enemies was a flying version of my first car), replaced by the light brown.

NIKE'EM-UP ELEMS1Some early sprites that I made for the player ship when i started to work with Nicola – also see the test for the factory ship at night on the top

At the time was nicola itself to convert the IFF graphics in raw format (RAW format under Amiga mean that the bitplanes are saved one after the other uncompressed), then in the future we found some external tool for that, maybe prepared from demoscene coders.

One day Nicola shown up at Thomas since was asking help on how to fix the code for the game, that was kinda behaving poorly;  Filippo and Tomas decided to help Nicola and at the end all of them decided to join together in building the game. There have been some moments I wish was able to capture, like when Tomas found a weird routine in Nicola Code and commented aside “How the f***k is possible to wait for the blitter this way?”.

I also prepared the first music for the game; i found the guitar chords in a demo that was using wireframe graphics for text and meters (forgot the name) [EDIT: was Vicious circle from The Vector Analizer intro of Prophets] and loved it; at least for one year this music was on our ears while trying to test stuff. We were thinking at a way to make the music react with the game so there are at least two or three situations sketched up.

Music – Powder city soundtrack v1 – 1990 (Unreleased) from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

Since we were still planning stuff, Nicola wanted more variety on the graphics and thought my ship was not too fancy; so i thought Maltese was the right guy and so did let him know about our project. The other liked its graphics and so at the end he was in too.

So far was able to work on the game just sporadically since was also busy with my final exams, but after the half of June, finally relieved of the taks, was able to get more involved on it.


by simonebernacchia at July 11, 2014 08:00 PM

July 05, 2014

Binarydoodles

The Powder Diaries – appendix – Archeological Digs

Not enough developed to be a full chapter, here i introduce a better insight on the 1991 demo.

The 1991 demo was called “M1 Prototype” on the title screen. Due to the disk error i mentioned on chapted 2, Maltese decided to redo the title screen at its own liking. The demo is using a homebrew trackloader and is known to not work on machines with os older than 2.0.

I found the disk at home when i went to Italy last may and made a DMS of it;  later last week i installed WinUAE in my laptop and tried to make it run, with little hopes being that disk already picky on my old A500 and never worked on my 1200.

Meddling a bit with settings i made it work finally!

loading_screen

The Prototype Demo loading screen

powder_demo_credits

And the spash screen once loaded

So in this demo we have the first half of the later scrapped Sea Level and a first version of the City level. There are some playability differences with the final version such as the fact that is possible to collect energy pods to restore the ship energy (very little) and that the credit system is using thousands of units, like 500 credits for a change.

Sea has a pretty nice palette and shows the skills of  Marco Maltese at its finest as much as in Clouds; the enemy placement and strategy is interesting too.

sea_laser

A screenshot from Sea

Even the already known City level is different from the final one: first of all the sea flyby part is longer, then there is traffic roaming the city – as private vehicles and trucks – and some police roadblocks; plus the end of level boss is not a robot like in the final version – rather is another big helicopter. Also there were some kinda funny behaviour, liks some kamikaze Rail-A falling down the rails.

Download and Use

The demo is available as zipped DMS (DiskMasher) file; to use it in Amiga you need to unpack it using the DMS tool to create a physical disk; to use it in WinUAE or other emulators or even Minimig i guess you just transfer the .dms in the card and that’s it – don’t know about further settings.

For WinUAE i found out the settings in the following picture work for me:

winuae_settings

I used A600 basic, with the slider compatibility set to Best Compatibility.

The demo can be downloaded from Aminet at this link.

Still in Aminet, is also the 1997 demo previewed in Amiga Format;  it contains the final version of  City and City Boss. This other one can be installed on Hard disk and can instead be downloaded at this link.


by simonebernacchia at July 05, 2014 12:26 AM

June 18, 2014

Icaros Desktop

A different approach to file managing

I've been working for months, in my spare time, on DirectoryOpus 5 integration in Icaros Desktop. It's a great file manager, which allows every kind of operation on files. But the best part of Dopus 5 (or Magellan as we prefer to call it) is workbench replacement mode. In many aspects it might look old age: it uses Intuition and not MUI or Zune, it lacks grid-bounded icon ordering (Wanderer

by Paolo Besser (noreply@blogger.com) at June 18, 2014 12:17 AM

June 15, 2014

Binarydoodles

The Powder Diaries – 8 – Verkosoft to the rescue!

Verkosoft to the rescue!

It is the fall of 1997 and, for most of us, Amiga and powder are things of the past. Still Nicola and Thomas liked to tweak with the Eneditor in order to make the levels a bit tougher  - actually A LOT tougher, and sometimes taking enemies out of the original context – but i did not touch its work files since long time.

Then, all of the sudden, Filippo calls us. Thanks to the city demo We found a publisher, they say; at this point revenue and fame were no more a priority: as long as the game finally could be published everything was good.

And since we wanted to make it come out fast, we had to cut a LOT. No more space level and boss, no more factory boss, no more ruins boss, no more intro pictures – beside the Game Over and the End Game ones.
Since I did sever contact with Maltese sone times earlier , had to provide some of the missing assets like more decorations in the final level and the end graphic. Actually, I had to prepare the package box graphic and had to re-create the logo in vector graphics using freehand. The 3d image in the game package was done by me using lightwave 5 on my 1200 and rendered at 150 dpi, with extra touches in photoshop for the laser ray and little extras; I am mainly a 2d person while Maltese was the one with most experience on 3d, but this one imo came out decent enough. Some extra touch with Photoshop enhanced things better.

At the time of the final rush, however, was  providing my services as contractor to an advertising and web agency in Fano, so my exposure time was reduced. For the game testing and enemy placement remember Nicola Filippo and Thomas took the lead: due to that, they started to tweak the game difficulty to match their own skills and in some cases to misplace or change enemies destination -such as, in example, the big Fuel tank in Factory that was supposed to have an engine in front and instead became a fat ship to destroy; that also increased the difficulty level to pretty hard.

Powder_-_Box_scan_n°1
The final package of Powder, as shown in Hall of Light: more “real looking” than my pristine hi-res Jpeg :P

The package wrap was put together in Freehand and the only text we had from the company was the payoff in the back of the box. There was also space for any copyrights and disclaimers that i left available for the publishers – that however did not noticed, thats why those two lines with the filler text “all copyrights goes here” in italian language appears in the bottom of the wrap.

The irony was that, during the nineties, i was looking at the game boxes of export Megadrive games with a deep envy for the plastic box and the colorful detailed artwork, while at the end, with time and budget contraints we ended up with a pretty crappy anonymous cardboard box too.

Published, at last!

And so in 1998 Powder came out under the Verkosoft brand, Epic Marketing in the UK.

The cuts, the difficulty problems and the age at the end shown its effect, so much that Amiga Format killed it with a 23%; other magazines were more forgiving, however is sure that when Powder came out the Amiga scene was no longer the good shooter starving market that we embraced in 1990, rather the inflaction-ridden mediocre shooter wasteland of 1998.

033

The Unforgiving review of Powder on Amiga Format

Other magazines were not that hard with it, if i remember clearly, but AF review indeed marked the kiss of death for our beloved project.

The Aftermath

In summer 2005, just a couple of months prior of my departure for the States, all former members of five stars met again in a restaurant in Fano,for what we called the “Powder Dinner” – at the end the earnings in the already meager end-of-nineties agonizing Amiga market were so tight that we were barely able to pay a dinner for it. Also was my last time I seen Maltese in person, with its first czech blond wife.

NOJALTRI

There we are: the Five Stars VG studio in 2005!
From the top left: Simone Bernacchia , Nicola Valentini, Filippo Carletti;
bottom: Thomas Paoloni, Marco Maltese – sorry for the bad quality of the scan.

I met the programmers again this year, in occasion of my trip to Italy; Maltese – now living in Sicily, was not present but was nice to see each other after long time! So they also had occasion to meet my wife and had a pleasant time; the main reason however was to get a leftover copy of Powder from Carletti to deliver at the president of SCCAN here in southern california, that was looking for it after i told him about my experience in doing graphics and music for the game.

Some Satisfactions, at last!

In 2009 Amiworx published a donationware CD called “Amiga Meets Piano” where, among the other popular Amiga game tracks the main theme of Powder -to my great surprise -is also featured, albeit incomplete, but this means somebody considered it good enough to be performed, and for me that is a big compliment!

In 2012 the Amiga Longplays channel featured a Powder longplay; found mostly favourable comments, especially about the soundtrack;

also on LemonAmiga the rating of 4.2 is pretty decent; plus the user the user frikilokooo Wrote:

In my opinion one of the three funniest Amiga shmups,its best feature is the addiction and its gameplay is different of the others shmups,highly recommended.The game is very underrated maybe because it came too late to the market.The graphics are unbalanced,some graphics are very good and others graphics are average,maybe by the fact that one of the two graphicians of the game is much better than the other one.The game has the best ingame music of any Amiga shmup(the best outgame music is for ProjectX though).Only a couple of glitches:no autofire,no two players mode and very unbalanced weapon system that ends using homing missiles at the end because the other weapons are worse,becoming very monotonous always the same weapon.

In 2011 I started to meditate on write down my memories on this experience, but lacked the time to do so: it was supposed to be just an episode on my blog (still in ilcannocchiale.it at the time); then a discussion about Amiga vs c64 and games design and working appeared on the forum nonsoloamiga.com, had occasion ot talk about my experience with Powder and the interest generated gave me the spark to start to write about Powder in a more expanded way.

I already started to put my songs in the AMP site and as videos on Vimeo, and the Diaries are giving me the occasion to work harder in showcasing most of my work that in my opinion need some exposure.

I would have also liked to recover the sources and try to make some kind of  “director’s cut” or maybe some other game based on the same engine; however, when i tested the work disks in my 1200 most of the floppies were giving me read error; i gave them to a friend of mine that has a catweasel-like device in the hope to recover something.

I asked Maltese about some material to show here, but he said he lost it all, since he moved several times during the last fifteen years; plus stated in a chat that he is not that affectionated to those past events and forgot most of the things happened then; however, if he or the other members of the team decides to add more particulars they can get in touch with me.

Gathering the Memories

Honestly,  most of the material i had it with me the whole time, since i tried to show it on some demo CD that i made when looking for work in Italy and abroad after got laid off by my employer in 2003, but so far never received any feedback on it;

At the end the real triggers that pushed me to publish the powder diaries were two: The nonsoloamiga discussion helped me gather in my mind most of the technical data, but the real one is likely more ego-related; having all my tests, work files, animations, unused musics rotting on the floppys in boxes on the basement at home and in some demo CD-ROMs and folders in my laptop here on the states; i treasured this material for years even in cases holding it to show on interviews due to the fact that was a project in progress; then, when the game finally was out, all the material due to technology advancement became outdated, but i always hoped that if i shown all my stuff and attempts probably the consideration of people towards me could have shifted to a different level: at the time, at least until i started to win contests, had the perception that people thought was wasting my time: even a here withheld Five Stars team member thought the same of my animations, then awards proved i was right.

So as this day, i considered Powder history however worthy to be told also as part of my youth dream and work for hopes on a better future, despite its little to no influence in the Amiga market.

At the end, were those diaries just an ego trip? Very likely, but am glad to have done my work on it and don’t regret any minute spent!

Want to get the advantage of the last rows of text to thank all the people I worked with and those who in some ways supported me either logistically or morally or that, with their mere existence, gave me ideas and reasons to go on.

Music – Powder Final Credits (1997) from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

 


by simonebernacchia at June 15, 2014 10:51 PM

June 08, 2014

Binarydoodles

The Powder Diaries – 7 – The long dark tea time of the soul

All’alba Vinceroooooooh

After my partial defeat with the Delusion! the videoclip, was particularly bitter on the shortsightness of the music business – something many others had to deal with in future as we know, but that did not discourage me to continue my career: at the time i already started another project – that was able to continue to work thanks to the purchase of a side 2 megabytes RAM expansion.

The animation “N.O.L.W. – The Night Of the Living Wrecks” was presented at Pixel Art Expo in Rome and placed second; with the money i was able to buy a second hand Amiga 1200 that replaced my 500; then came, in Easter Weekend, as usual, the Bit.Movie. I remember was there in the awarding ceremony and they already assigned the third and second prize; assigning the first they started talking about “how the author re-interpreted a cult movie and give it a new meaning “, pretty convinced it was a slow boring animation I seen in the same contest to win so, when instead they announced my name was pretty surprised.

N.O.L.W. – La notte dei rottami viventi – the night of the living wrecks from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

 

The prize also gave me way to expand further my machine, so I bought a hard disk (half gig, at the time pretty big), a Viper 030/42 mhz + FPU (later found out was a EC030 so no MMU drivers for me) and 16 megabytes, later brought to 32 and also a Microvitec monitor – meant that the times to draw animation on TV were over for me.

The long dark tea time of the soul

At some point money for studies ran out and I found myself working as ad spreader – those people who put junk mail in your mailboxes: was one of them, and did that job for little more than one year while looking for a job in my field.

That also lead me to take a country funded course in office automation so that I would have been able to work in a office. Thanks to shapeshifter, was able to do my homework on my Amiga on Word and Excel and, when had the time, was studying on my own how to do DTP and graphic design, trying to recover my high school know-how and a more traditional track; the fact that was working on Amiga rather than on P C or Mac (despite Mac emulation) was not helpful either: DTP people were almost exclusively a Mac shop and also pretty proud of it: for them my emulated mac was some kind of travesty.

Was working together occasionally with Maltese in doing soundtracks for commercials and some of its – if i can call it this way – failed experiments too; was also teaching myself HTML using some booklets bought in a local bookstore; at the time things were much simpler than now and having a Netscape install and a text editor was enough.

Music – Deimos (v3.2) – 1994 from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

One of the themes for a never-finished project of Maltese – since there were no memory constraints those musics were more rich in audio samples and effects

As musician also worked with the main organizer of Pixel Art Expo in doing the soundtrack for its animation – made on imagine PC and VLab Motion – for Imagina, called DevilBalls; even if at the end was not qualified to participate i still consider it an interesting experience, with him sending me the tape of the animation and me creating the music and adapting it to the flow; normally in traditional animation the music comes first and animation adapts to its flows but CGI made the roles get reversed in this case.

Music – DevilBalls (1997) from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

Together with the same guy and an italian-british AMOS programmer i also worked on the static and animations for a soccer manager game;  the animations were supposed to be sprite driven (for more situations to show) and inspired by the then new isometric Fifa Soccer on the Megadrive to save memory, but ultimately we decided for small pre-rendered animations in a stadio-like megascreen; i also made a music for it that at the end was not used.

GIOCATORE-3_CLIP-16C Euro_League_Manager_2

Above: one of the work files, and below the final display how it looked for the soccer manager game.

Serious troubles and lockups between my accelerator and the surf squirrel i bought as second hand forced me for a pretty intensive (and money rewarding) gig to buy – for the huge (for me) amount of Five Millions of Italian lire of the time – a Power Mac Performa 6400; this however opened the door to a more steady flow of work for websites and multimedia work (mainly presentations, video animations and web sites) using Macromedia Director and the – then new Futuresplash Animator, in future known as Flash; for 3d i was still using Amiga though due to the fact that my performa was not powerful enough to work with Lightwave at a reasonable speed; so at the end had a mixed work environment, exchanging data in a rather painful slow way via serial connection and Term program.

I also had occasion to set up an exhibitions with other people living in the close city of Ostra, where we showed our works in paintings and in a slide show with pictures and animations made using Scala. It was called in italian language “Onde di luce e immagini photogeniche” – a pun using Lightwave, Imagine and Photogenics names; beside that i also held a small personal exhibition in Senigallia called “Scarabocchi Binari” – in english Binary Doodles, so now you know where the name of this blog came from.

The Fading of the Five Stars

For events not connected to Powder, however, me and Maltese had a bad discussion about a gig we were doing together and for a long while we hardly talked to each other.

Job roles, family changes (Tomas got married and had kids in example) and conflicting schedules brought Five stars to a de-facto split, not to mention Quazar disappearance.

For a better city Soundtrack and more bling – literally

Around 1995 had Thomas and Nicola complaining since a while that they were so tired of the City soundtrack that I provided them in 1990 that needed to turn off the volume when doing testing, I did try to create alternate tracks to no avail for a while, when i was not busy with other stuff: at least three different tracks were made before choosing the final one;

The alternate tracks can be found in the Powder Musics Album of my Vimeo profile once will have time to upload them.

the one with the guitar riff won – it also shows that Powder has a rock soul maybe?

Music – Powder City Level Soundtrack Definitive (1996) from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

One of the songs rejected was instead used for the City boss.

Music – Powder City Boss soundtrack – 1996 from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

Nicola and Filippo thought that the city level was too flat and unappealing so asked me to add some animations, including the pulse of the crane lights and the glass glare in the buildings;  i also reworked some of the posters to have a more polished look. One of the rejected one was my tribute to the OAV Genmu Senki Leda, which I tried to portray in a hypothetical sequel promotional ad.

 

GO$CITY.MANIFESTO

The Rejected Genmu Senki Leda II Poster in the original workfile – using the same City 16 color palette and my now well-known justaxposition technique

Habemus Logo!

Even for the logo there has been progress: after the first phase, where i was looking for a more Psygnosis-style shape, a clearer font came out that seemed satisfying and also look good if filled. Several tests were done with different filling material, with a crater field as main candidate – also to recall the dust itself; filling on Amiga never been a problem thanks to Deluxe Paint Stencil feature.

LOGO.FOND3

The final font face, with the initial crater filling

Also another characteristic i wanted to add was an electric spark going through the logo: not a new idea, i did that in the past for a test Quazar logo, but now skills gave me more accuracy; i tried two blue tones,one on the navy blue the other on cobalt blue, that resulted more convincing For the inner pattern at the end we decided for a clod of dust, obtained with a furious and merciless application of the smear filter to the crater landscape and a change of palette. The logo and the initial screen graphics is at 32 colors.


LOGO.PROVA4A

The logo almost final, just with the electric spark in navy blue shades rather than cobalt blue 

The Final level, how you never heard it…

The actual incarnation of the final level has been mostly cobbled up in the latest month prior publishing, and is also using a music that was meant for the now lost Clouds mega-saucer Boss Fight, but it was meant differently, even this with an approach phase and then with the Boss fight following; at least the boss is the same, with a human size figure growing to a giant robot, Megaborg style  (that strangely has a deja-vu feeling…), but was not meant to come out from the destroyed ship, rather to wait for us and then transform, with a crescendo and then the fight.

Music – Powder – Final Theme – 1991 (Unreleased) from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

The Approach theme

powder final boss 0004 from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

The final Boss fight theme

…and how you heard it

I had to finish the graphic for the final level at the end: we were unable to get in touch with Maltese and so had to cobble up the background graphics and the map. For the music at the end was decided to use the music meant for the discarded Clouds boss – made by me with samples of an electric guitar played by a friend of my brother as experiment and then loved by Maltese at the time.

Music – Powder – Clouds stage boss (1993) from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

Pity that the replay routine messes it up a bit compared on how was supposed to play, but still makes the level pretty intense!


by simonebernacchia at June 08, 2014 05:41 PM

June 07, 2014

Binarydoodles

The Powder Diaries – 2 – a Summer of Coding

A summer of Powder

The summer of 1990 has been one of the most intense times since; me thomas filippo and nicola were busy in working with powder and also trying to go to the same college. Marco was more adamant in getting in the game industry straight away and was trying to focus deeply in the game. So its work was in a more advanced state.

At the time powder was being written using the Seka Assembler, but later developers found the Asm-One assembler to be more performant and switched.

Taking advantage of its parents busy schedule, me, Maltese and sometime Tomas were using Maltese living room and bedrooms as development studio. We planned powder to have ten levels, five of which with Maltese graphics and five with mine. My levels were supposed to be (according to our internal naming): city,factory,ruins,forest and space while Maltese levels would be: sea, starships graveyard,clouds, Maze and final. Maltese also took in its hands the player ships design – for coherency and also because was better able to design the tilt of the ships.

Maltese started to sketch ships for the game and, for test purposes, adapted one of the main ships he designed for M-type to the Powder palette; Tomas andNicola loved it and started to fantasize about power ups; we were looking for a way to avoid the Power Up syndrome too,and recently we had occasion to see a Toaplan coin-op called Hellfire, where the player ship was able to switch fire positions, and thought we could have different way of fire available at once. At the beginning we had only the normal shoot and the laser, then we expanded to include homing missiles, the orientable cannon and the armored bomber. Another coin-op we took inspiration and in exchange we had parallel ideas to was Air Buster, even though rhytm and play actionwere at the end different.

SBE and SPE

The game has started using a 16 full color palette; it was the convinction of Nicola and mine that the actual use of dual playfield (three bitplanes for foreground, three bitplanes for background) was too chastising for a nice arcade-like graphic style, so we decided to reduce the frame rate at 25 fps and keeping the palette full 16 color. This would have allowed big sprites moving at a decent rate. However the code review of Tomas and Filippo shown that lot of raster time was lost and that keeping all elements at 16 colors was going to waster raster time and memory,. so they came out with an idea; it was possible to enable or disable less bitplanes using some selected palettes; they called the system SBE/SPE (Single Bitplane Enabled / Single Palette Enabled); that gave us graphic artist a way to create sprites with less colors but with interesting schemas. Then the use of those palettes were enabled by flags in the enemy editor.

space_enemyship

This work file from Space shows all 2/4 and 8 palettes available.

Looking for a title

Well it was hard to find an appropriate name for yet another shoot’em up: most of the names were pretentious and bold looking: Thunderforce, Herzog Zwei, Cardiaxx, Io, R-Type, Salamander, etc. I suggested Powder both for the assonance to the gunpowder and also for the skill of our ship to reduce enemies to dust (in italian the name “polvere” can be used for powder, dust and occasionally ashes).

I was trying to create something that was unseen on amiga – at least at the time – like a multiplexor(?) robot made with all pieces where you can destroy the shell first then you have to destroy the internal machinery; it was supposed to be placed as city boss but at the end it had to be scrapped due to memory constraints and for the bad look of the rotated pieces.

The game graphics also got reworked. The first level to be reworked was Forest, suppsedly set in a redwood forest; palette got adjusted to a milder shade and the background tiles reworked based on some encyclopedia and magazine photos. For the ruins level I remember took inspiration from my art school books and tried to reproduce several architectonic features and monuments; plus the sky was much more in the purple tone, since the idea was we were liberating an alien world.

Factory, instead, was inspired from my night outskirts around Ancona, especially by the oil refinery, its compicated towering and piping structure and the way was glowing at night, together with the glowing lightnings over the Adriatic sea on rainstorms; all reminded me strongly of Blade Runner (guess you realized am a strong aficionado of this movie,huh?) and inner piping of structures like the Atmospheric processor in Aliens. It was sharing the original city palette at beginning.

A very important thing that hoped could distunguish powder – at least aesthetically – was the idea that every level got a different light sourcing and every object – including the player ship -would be affected by it; that meant more work but also a more immersive feeling.

Fall 1990

It was september, time for university entry tests. It was our intention to work together and,if possible, to stay together. With the exception of Maltese, more determined to work straight out, me and the programmers underwent entry tests in Cesena and Bologna respectively.

Tests were pretty hard for my background and, beside Tomas attempt to decode the barcode close to quiz answers by hand, nothing else particular comes to my mind. however at the end, the team suffered a split. Nicola was admitted in Cesena , Filippo in Bologna and finally me and Tomas went to pursue Electronic Engineering in Ancona, or “Tyrell Corporation”, as i called it inside my mind.

Ancona

So in the fall and winter of 1990 my course of study in Ancona College started. The Engineering faculty is located in a place called Monte d’Ago – on the top of one of the hills surrounding Ancona; to reach it i was,from the Ancona train station, required to cross the street, reach the bus stop, take the overcrowded bus to the cemetery below, then go uphill on the slope for another 400/500 feet with no sidewalk to the entrance of the main movie-theater-like classroom located in “quota 145″ (no names for floors, just the elevation in meters). Do everything in reverse to go home, not mentioning train problems, bus problems,etc. so when possible i tried to go there with the car, but then finding a parking was sometimes next to impossible, since was not the only one.

However, was there listening to the teachers talking about disciplines that were at a WAY higher level that me, an art school student graduated from a side institute, were able to handle properly, but i was trying. I found myself trying to follow and copy almost painstakingly the most of the stuff that teachers were writing (badly) in the whiteboard; beside that, the work on Powder still continued, albeit slowly, on the evenings at home or in some of my notebooks, with sketches for enemies and maps and trying to create animations, that was a bit hard since the Dpaint version I was using was still at 3 – that means no onion skin, just a lot of back and forth on frames to make sure the animation was right.

Some reworking had been made to the factory level: after one discussion with thomas that said that the level and concept “looked like sh*t” i was so upset that modified the palette and reviewed all of the graphics already done working all night for it! Fctory was at the core of my idea of different light sources – together with space – and i really did not wanted that scrapped out!

 
FAC2.1
TOSAVE15

A workfile of Factory – there are three screens full of blocks like this!
In the top left a couple blocks remaining from the old version above,
that was having a much more contrasted lighting

Even soundtracks were progressing, albeit slowly. Was around this time that i created the soundtrack for space, the one for factory and had to rework the boss track that I did for city, making it the main level track, due to the fact that programmers got fed of it and that they thought the boss track was more suitable for the level action.

Music – Powder City Level soundtrack v2 – 1990/91 (Unreleased) from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

Had also my first event-driven soundtrack done: the one for the space level; our first idea was to have at least two point of interaction: one with the energy less than 50% and the other one with less than 10%.  It was also meant like this due to the fact that at beginning we expected the player to have only one life.

Music – Powder Space soundtrack v1 – 1990 (Unreleased) from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

 


by simonebernacchia at June 07, 2014 01:12 AM

June 06, 2014

Binarydoodles

The Powder Diaries – 6 – Commodore is dead – Long Live Commodore!

I’ll fix it tonight, Raila

One day we were having one of our meetings about what to do for powder; this time looked like was Tomas itself the one behind with the schedule. So Filippo and Nicola teased him about when he was going to finish some part of the game and he was invariably answering “I’ll fix it tonight”: that become a bit of a gag for a while, also added to unrelated stuff. Tomas has been more on the playful side rather than Filppo, that usually has a more serious – almost germanic – look  even if got its own share of sarcasm; however, talking about Tomas cannot avoid to remember how he used to call the dog of Maltese Raila (was called Karen, by the way and was a mix cocker) – Rail-A is one of the first enemies of City – the orange rail vehicle with the turret on; instead, Rail- B is the grey one and Rail-C is the vehicle that takes off. The wagons for Rail-A are called Rail-D.

REAL arcade sound effects – literally

In begin of 1993 Thomas started to meddle with sound routines inspired by the seven voice routines used in Turrican and Apydia; since most of Amiga games at the time were using mostly the same sample bank for sounds, i wanted something a bit different so one day i went to the local arcade in Marotta with my stereo and started recording arcade sounds; was lucky to be there in a moment there was no people so i recorder the sound effects of the demos of three-four arcade machines including the then pretty new Konami Shooter Xexex. Don’t ask me how a hardcore shooter like Xexex came in a small town arcade, dunno.

Xexex

The stage start sound of  Xexex became then the transformation sound of the M1. For the voice announcing weapon names, was provided by Sara, the sister of Thomas.

Commodore is Dead: Long Live Commodore!

Spring 1994;  Parking lot of the then called Joyland (now Auchan) in Fano. A Saturday Morning.

I remember i did just bought the latest Commodore Gazette and Amiga Magazine computer mags and was sitting in my car reading it, enjoying especially the articles and tutorials about Lightwave 3D. Then i seen the article about Commodore asset liquidation.

Was like being struck by a lightning: all of the sudden all plans for my future seemed to shatter and my know-how apparently doomed to fall in obsolescence shortly;  not only: was since long time planning to invest on a more powerful Amiga or in an AGA machine and, knowing th eeffect of the supply  and demand law, might have brought prices of the remaining available machines to raise.

Had been hard to digest.

At the moment i also hoped for Powder to be finished soon so that at least we would have seen some return.

And, to add insult to injury, the Amiga Club in pesaro was one of those targeted by a sting from the local IRS police force due to changes in the italian software piracy law; since me and the other Powder devs were not active members they did not come at our door knocking and seizing all our Amigas, but for a while i had a strong stomach ache.

The Multimedia carreer takes off

In the meanwhile, i was trying to pursue my other childhood dream: do animated shorts. The presence of the Bit.Movie and of a prize in money was a good motivator, but nothing beats the being able to do the work you dreamed of when you were a kid! In the last two years, as already told, me and Maltese participated to the 2d and 3d real-time contests with our animations; plus i did the soundtrack for several Maltese 3d animations, like Virtual Battle:

Virtual Battle – 1993 from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

i also had occasion to do music for the opening of a local TV show and for a couple of local commercials made by Maltese with mixed techniques – one of them was also presented in Pixel Art Expo in 1995.

After my Powder animation, i got some confidence and so tried to do a full short too; to save memory I worked with an eight color palette; the story I told was called “Mobile Suit Danko” (Danko was my nickname as Graphic Artist for Quazar, while my musician nick was J.M.D. that means Jovanotti MUST Die) – with a reinterpretation of Gundam Zaku as more cartoonized figures; a friend with Hard Disk helped me assemble it from the eight disk of anim files i prepared at home, and sent it to Bit.movie the same year as virtual battle: placed eighth beside problems with the MOD player both in my animation and Maltese one (that at the end sounded better).

Mobile Suit Danko from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

Beside that, the existence of the lighttable tool on Dpaint allowed me to experiment and started to use cel-animation;  my first work to use that was a video clip cover of a popular Vasco Rossi song at the time - called Delusa – in its Disco remix; inspired by the lyrics (talking about the girls of a then popular TV show full of girls) and the work of an artist called Cavezzali, that used to portrait naive women as geeses  (well that is the italian equivalent to the Blonde stereotype), i made my own version of the videoclip, assembled synced and recorded on U-matic tape and sent it to the contest; expecting at least to place in the first three positions (and the contest involved prizes in money, so i was hoping to get at least an AGA machine with that cash).

Delusion! the videoclip from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

Problem was, to use the song i needed a waiver from the recording company. So i got in touch with them to get one but the manager, Mr.MoneyMaker, said that was not going to do any exception and should request for a permit with the standard fare, that was like $5,000. Considered that the first prize of the contest was just not even $1,000 i decided to re-record the animation with a soundtrack made by me using protracker. It placed tenth if i remember.

However better times were in sight.

At the Bit.movie i also had occasion to befriend some of the volunteers that were providing access to the Amigas in showcase –  some also involved in the Rimini Amiga Club – and also professionals that were using Amiga for broadcast and computer graphics work; that later included contacts with other programmer including some MatrixSoft coders that made several sports games at the time.

The Bosses that weren’t

The idea of having a separate sublevel for each boss seemed to me a good one; that meant more room for creativity and for boss graphics.

Pity that at the end, those boss levels were scrapped for time constraints: in my opinion they would have added more appeal and athmosphere to the final game.

The graphic palette between the main level and the boss level was the same, same for the player ships, keeping continuity; just the boss level was usually no more than ten screens long and with one screen only of graphic blocks.

FACTORYBOSS.BG

The factory boss sublevel was supposed to have the ship enter in a giant elevator; a huge door close behind, a counter showing the elevator going down (unrealistic, I know, but pretty coreographic) then the ship go further in a huge underground hangar, crossed occasionally by electric lightning until the ship
is surrounded from a huge assembly crane.

powder_factory_boss_mockup

A composite of the Factory boss

The music I create for that was quite dark and syncopate: by chance i ended using the same samples as for the Factory theme.

Music – Powder – Factory Boss Music -1992 (unreleased) from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

The ruins boss was supposed to start with a tunnel in the temple while mines are sitting on the top; at some point the mines explodes and the ceiling is falling down: so the ship needs to avoid debris.After a while the ship reach a junkyard, where the real boss resides. The boss is a mole-like robot tower structure.

RUINSBOSS.BG

Blocks to compose the Ruins Boss level

RUINS ALTERNBOSS.DEMO

An animation test of the tower-like mole coming out

And this was the music: to remember that the boss music as intended is made of an introductory part – while reaching the final fight – and the the boss loop; there were two exception: one is city level and the other one was clouds.

Music: Powder – Ruins Boss level (1993) [unreleased] from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

Finally, the boss sub-level in space involved a long tunnel where several armored ships need to be destroyed and a spheric core protected by two lasers and an energy shield.

SPACEBOSS.DEMOPIC

MASTERCLIPPER SPACEBOSS1

The music for the space boss came out almost techno-style, fit the environment and put in the mood; am pretty satisfied of this one.

Music – Powder – space Boss level (1993) [unreleased] from simone bernacchia on Vimeo.

Foreground Sprites

Even if they were implemented as early as 1991, the most of the foreground sprites (those elements that go in parallax in front of the ships) were mostly designed now. We were using it, possibly sparingly not to clutter too much the field of view and were sometimes made of one or two 32 X any-height three colors sprite. The most notable example of those are in the city, especially the huge dish, but also several trees in ruins;  also many of enemy bullets were sprites with their own three colors palette. Together with the lower score panel the display of those brings the contrmporary colors on screen to around 50.

RUINS.FG-SPRITES2B NEWCITYFGSPRITES2.1

FACTORYFGSPRITES2 FACTORYFGSPRITES1B SPACEFGSPRITES2 SPACEFGSPRITES1

 

Some of the sprites work files for City, Ruins and unused for Factory and Space – the katakana in the last picture was a joke in italian (done while being bored) about how Nicola would have said that sprite “Got Balls”

 


by simonebernacchia at June 06, 2014 09:32 PM

June 05, 2014

Binarydoodles

The Powder Diaries – Service Announcement

Last month have been in my home country for three weeks, where i also dug more into my disks to retrieve more powder data and files. Pity that, due to the lack of broadband, was unable to update my blog, but now that am back am slowly filling the gap and should be able to publish the final parts of my diaries soon.


by simonebernacchia at June 05, 2014 08:16 PM

May 30, 2014

E-UAE PPC JIT

Here is your Captain speaking

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to have a word with you about bug reporting...

Please do not report E-UAE JIT compiling related bugs to:
  • a forum at your favorite portal (because they are going to give you advices, unless it is a cooking portal, but they won't fix it anyway);
  • your "friends" on Facebook as a status post (because your hot ex-classmate doesn't care, not to mention that she put you to the acquaintances list for a long time and I am prettty sure she won't fix it anyway);
  • Runinuae author (because although Chris is a good guy, almost certainly he won't fix it anyway - hey Chris!);
  • your fellow Amiga-enthusiasts at the Club (because they might listen to your theory on what is the root cause of the bug, but they won't fix it anyway);
  • your neighbor's cat (because the poor thing doesn't want to hear anything about "fixing", I guarantee).
Why? Quite simple: if you try to report bugs anywhere else than my mailbox there is zero guarantee that your bug report ever lands on my computer.

You know, there is some chance that I wake up one day and realize:

Ah, some Amiga-fan while playing Superfrog on level 6 encountered a graphical glitch which is caused by a mis-used flag dependency in the JIT compiler optimization, so I must fix it. I need coffee!

Yes, there is some chance, very-very-very low chance. (As opposed to there is high chance that I wake up one day and realize: Hrrgrhh... I need coffee!)

Golden Rule

If you want to get the bug fixed then report it to me, preferably by e-mail.

Or you can create a ticket at the projects SourceForge page.

(If you really-really must then you can use the contact box on this blog at the right to the post.)

One more tiny thing

Please do your due-diligence before reporting, if I might ask you to.

What would I like to ask from you is summarized in the README file (yea, like anybody would read a README file). Here is a link to the current version on SourceForge code repository.

You can also find my e-mail address at the end of that file.

Thank you for your attention! Now go back sipping your cocktail, the dinner will be served at 6pm. Wearing Boing Ball pin is mandatory.

by noreply@blogger.com (Álmos Rajnai) at May 30, 2014 04:26 AM

May 28, 2014

AROS-Exec

BOUNTY for AmiDARK Engine source code release.

A bounty is setup concerning the AmiDARK Engine.

Here are the details concerning this bounty :

Description
This project aims to collect sufficient funds (at least 2000 Euro) to release the source code of the AmiDARK Engine (Current 2D build 0.9 with partial 3D support, AmigaOS4 & MorphOS) for free use under the MPL licence, the Mozilla Public Licence.

May 28, 2014 02:45 PM