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Future Plans (Spring 2016)

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 10:00 am
by intric8
This week has seen a lot of updates on Amiga Love (I need to decide if it's two words, "AmigaLove" or one, "AmigaLove" at some point and stick with it!).

We've seen the new Games Library launch with alphabetical filtering, spots for newly added games and spots for trending games (games that are getting a bit more views that others). We've also launched <3 "Likes" on posts and comments. And we've now got a more dedicated Search experience - search the forum or games, which will continue to be improved over time.

As a result, very little new content has been created in the past week. Sorry about that. But don't worry - new games are in the pipeline. In the next two weeks we will be adding:
  • Sim City
  • Conquests of Camelot
  • Syndicate
  • Wings
  • Indiana Jones/Atlantis
among others. I want to get some more Cinemaware action going soon! (After Wings) :)

And, some new deeper forum topics - AmigaLove style - are in the works as well from a conceptual standpoint.

Also, plans are already in the works for more site upgrades for later this Spring. A sneak peek into the new site features include:
  • The ability to "Subscribe" to a Games page to be notified if it has received new comments (probably via Email notification at this time - an enhanced notification system would be REALLY nice... maybe some day, we'll see.) This will be more important for Game page authors, but I'll likely open it up to everyone on an opt-in basis. The problem some folks have now is they get to the site and immediately know the new forum posts. But they have very little clue what activity has occurred in the Games section. Could also create a user option to send out email notification to users who subscribe any time a new game is added (this would have to be a manual push since games are added in stages).
  • Redesign of User Profiles
  • Add Link to view a user's comments
  • User "karma": comment likes, post likes
  • Create “Report" mechanism for naughty comments, spammers, etc.
  • Create an actual legit Home Page.
  • Right now the homepage is the landing page for the forum. I’m thinking of making a home page with recent posts, recent games, site intro, Games Search, and other fun stuff (random game - maybe, community poll, member spotlight, etc.). The Forum would become a site section, just like games - not the entry door. Also I want to include cool site statistics overall somewhere - total games, posts, comments, users, etc. This would also help mobile users who never use the “menu” button to learn there is a games section currently.
  • New Games Library filter to “Browse All" games without the need to click on each letter in the alphabet. A more casual browsing experience is what we're after.
That's probably it for the foreseeable future. Once these pieces are in place, and a bit more content is added, some keys to the site might be handed out to interested parties that want to contribute to the Games Library (It's a lot of work! But it is also a lot of fun.).

If you have any ideas or requests, let me know. This is going to be the final major feature push for a while, other than normal little upgrades here and there. After this final phase of site upgrades, ideally we can just focus on what's important - the content and the discussions.


Re: Future Plans (Spring 2016)

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 9:21 pm
by Shot97
When showing off SimCity, keep in mind there were two very different versions on the Amiga. A 512k version, the original, and quite sadly, pretty much the only version you see shown online these days... The 512k version lacks quite a bit on the polish and only has 16 colors. Then there is a 1mb 64 color EHB game. I should really write up a whole article on that game, considering it seems many forum people refuse to believe it's 64 colors. Being as I can take screenshots via software on my actual Amiga, I have proof it's a 64 color game. Other forums can get quite nasty about those little details, and of course I love quieting those voices. :D

Expect a full written review on Defender of the Crown by next week, dedicated to Jim Sachs, art director for the game.

Re: Future Plans (Spring 2016)

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 9:35 pm
by intric8
You're exactly right, Shot. I have the boxed version. And, I think most don't realize that when you bought the game back in '89 both disks came in the box! The 512 (16 color) version, and the 1MB (64 color) version.

Tonight I played the 1MB version.

The cool part about the 1MB version, though, is when you boot from the disk - regardless of your workbench version - it boots you into the gorgeous blue/orange OS they should have probably kept but were probably under pressure to look "more professional".

Anyhoo, the version I'm putting in the library for now is the 1MB version. I should be posting some shots tonight as a matter of fact. I decided to go CRT since I have this one in mint condition. :) I have several others in the library that I used emulation for, but will replace at some point as the CRT just looks so much better. It's just a lot more and takes more time.

As far as proof is concerned, I have all of the original paperwork, and the paperwork clearly states the differences between the two versions - again, both which came in the original box! Pretty cool, really. I've not seen any other game provide this (yet). Maybe I should post a pic of the info from Maxis for you somewhere. That'll pretty much stop any debate right there, right? 8-)

Re: Future Plans (Spring 2016)

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 10:23 pm
by intric8
@shot out of curiosity, what is your process for taking screenshots of CRTs without capturing so many scan line distortions? I don't mind them at full-size, but when browsers try to scale them down in different sizes they can look pretty obnoxious at times.

Re: Future Plans (Spring 2016)

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 11:12 pm
by Shot97
Now that you mention it I do kind of remember my dad playing SimCity while at the same time there being another disk that said SimCity nearby. I no longer have my original SimCity disks unfortunately. I guess that's just another slap in the face to the great many out there who consider themselves know it alls yet pretty much just pirated all the software. Same reason why nobody ever mentions World Circuit/F1GP not having real drivers names in game but using the real names in the manual... They never read the manual!

My recollection of the SimCity manual was that it was pretty garbage, especially compared to how Maxis would later do their games. I'll never forget Sim Ant's massive manual where half of it was just ant knowledge that in no way helped you with the game.

Does the documentation indeed mention 64 colors? I hope you'll take a picture of anything that mentions that! I looked at a forum once and this one guy was talking about the two versions, mentioning the 64 colors and a whole bunch of people yelled at him saying there's no way it was more than 32. He pointed to my video! haha! You can't beat actual Amiga software screenshots for that stuff, as it captures the original palette perfectly. But I remember people always yelling at anyone who claimed it was 64 colors and I was so glad my screenshot program worked with that and loaded up the full 64 color pallet!

As for my CRT pics, the lack of scanlines is because I'm using a late 90's CRT on the Amiga. Normally the Amiga will not handle those newer monitors because it won't go above 15khz. I use a scandoubler which ups the khz so the newer monitors can handle it. I only did this because my original Commodore monitor didn't work when i got it out of storage. Sadily, I threw it away without looking up how I might fix it... I'm pretty sure I could have looking back.

This setup has benefits and downsides. Sometimes I look at your screenshots and I REALLY miss that old Commodore monitor. Other times I love crystal clear my monitor is, while still retaining that CRT charm. Scanlines/interlace have their uses and help in terms of the experience but it shouldn't be forgotten that CRTs were actively fighting against those things at the time, trying to reduce/eliminate them.

But that's why my CRT pics look a little extra "clean" as it were, much of that stuff is greatly reduced or eliminated all together. I can go into interlace mode with no interlace! It's pretty cool to behold a word processor showing that extra information on screen without bugging your eyes out.

But yeah, sometimes I love my setup, sometimes I long for yours. Until I happen to come across another Commodore monitor I'll just make believe I have the best of both worlds. A real CRT with oh so many of its charms - Without some of that nasty stuff nobody really liked back in the day. Unfortunately, because of the different setups, I don't think there's much you can do to duplicate that look, nor can I duplicate yours.

Re: Future Plans (Spring 2016)

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 11:25 pm
by Shot97
I'm also a big fan of Workbench's original blue look. I don't think you can really duplicate that look on 2.0 and above. Even if they have the same colors, I've always seen a big difference in how a 1.0-1.3 ROM vs a 2.0-3.1 ROM showed the original versions of Workbench. I love the blue, and the only reason I don't use it is because I really did long for better looking icons, especially since I spend a lot of time in Workbench. I hacked in Magic WB on my machine so I could get 8 colors, but the default MagicWB palette uses those grey's Workbench went to later on. I really don't "hate" that look, as I remember some games coming with it back in the day. A-Train booted into workbench with those later greys and I kind of liked the differences. Some other games would change things up even more, I remember one with a green background. I think Marble Madness had a black one.

But in terms of nostalgia I loved that blue...and honestly.... They chose those colors for a very good reason, which they've talked about. Those were the best colors for your eyes that would work on both a monitor and a television. They thought long and hard about those colors and they made the right choice. Going grey later on was a bad nod to that soulless black and white Macintosh.

Re: Future Plans (Spring 2016)

Posted: Sat May 21, 2016 8:14 am
by intric8
I posted a pic of the manual that discusses the colors. It's literally the first paragraph of page 1.

And to be clear my screen looks amazing in practice - it's just when I take pics that I see a lot of garbage the human eye can't see because the camera's refresh rate is so different than then monitor. And it's most noticeable when the browser tries to scale things for users - you see a lot of swirly lines (looks ok at original size).

I'm going to experiment with my Canon DSLR next time and use a different shutter speed where I capture a few frames at once. That, in theory, should make the banding/etc mostly go away. (e.g. a shutter speed like 1/10 second)

Re: Future Plans (Spring 2016)

Posted: Sat May 21, 2016 1:03 pm
by intric8
Working on Syndicate today I used the DSLR with manual controls for the shutter speed and ISO. I got much better results. So, I'll probably go back at some point and redo some of the previous work now that I know how to get the settings fairly close. The key is a combination between the overall brightness of the screen, and motion. For really solid-white bright games you're going to get the banding just about no matter what (me, anyway). But for everything else you can get it to look pretty solid.

Re: Future Plans (Spring 2016)

Posted: Sat May 21, 2016 3:01 pm
by intric8
Posted the Syndicate pics today using the DSLR. Massive difference! There are still improvements to be made, for sure, and this takes a LOT more time to process. But for some games it'll be worth it. (e.g. Cinemaware, Lucas - not much motion but lots of eye candy.) If the games are fast-paced, ultimately the emulator will be a bit easier to capture, I think.