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PhilsComputerLab

Posted Wed May 11, 2016 1:38 am

Link to the video: https://youtu.be/9GrmaXeOTEA

The Amiga 500 is an awesome 16 bit home computer. In this video I will be reviewing and demonstrating the Amiga or minimig core for the Mist FPGA computer.

To setup the SD card we need the Amiga core and also version 1.3 of the kickstart ROM. You might also want to update the firmware.

Games are supported in the ADF format and loaded through the menu by pressing F12 or pressing the second button at the front of the unit.

I am using a Buffalo SNES USB gamepad, Logitech K400 wireless keyboard with touch-pad and an Asus 19" LCD monitor.

There is lots of game-play footage at the end of the video! Some captured directly, some recorded off a CRT monitor to show the lovely scanlines.

Here is a list of all the games featured at the end of the video:

Gods (14:51)
Lemmings (15:52)
Lotus (16:39)
Stunt Car Racer (17:39)
Monkey Island (18:39)
Chaos Engine (20:00)
Pinball Dreams (21:01)
R-Type (22:00)
Sensible Soccer (23:12)
Flashback (24:12)
Apidya (25:12)
Cannon Fodder (26:12)
Lotus 2 (27:12)
Magic Pockets (28:12)
SWIV (29:12)
Lotus III (30:12)
Xenon 2 (31:12)
Alien Breed (32:12)
Shogun (33:12)
Rick Dangerous (33:58)
Defender of The Crown (34:38)
Speedball 2 (35:39)
Another World (36:31)
Rainbow Island (37:56)
Elite (38:56)
It came from The Desert (45:59)
Katakis (40:56)
James Pond 2 (41:56)
Zool (42:56)
Shadow of the beast 2 intro (43:56)
Silkworm (44:59)

Enjoy this video!



♦Links to resources relevant to this video♦

Downloads as shown in the video: https://github.com/mist-devel/mist-board/wiki

Firmware: https://github.com/mist-devel/mist-bina ... r/firmware

My Mist comes from this shop: http://www.lotharek.pl/

What is the Mist FPGA: https://youtu.be/CVq_jzj_u8U

First time setup guide: https://youtu.be/-j5NgsOtkAM

Commodore 64 core review: https://youtu.be/6EDg5V8KYXg

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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
Website

Posted Wed May 11, 2016 11:41 am

Nice video review, Phil! Very much enjoyed the very impressive hardware showing off some bad ass Amiga games! (Aaaaand I subscribed.). Cheers! Hope to still see you around here now that your review is behind you.

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PhilsComputerLab

Posted Wed May 11, 2016 4:29 pm

Haha, sure will do :)

I'm still working on the Amiga 1200 AGA core review. Getting my head around installing Classic Work Bench and WHDload took me a while, but it's all working now. I don't have a fancy front-end, but it will do the job for the video.

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Shot97
Detroit, MI, USA
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Posted Thu May 12, 2016 2:10 pm

Very nice how to video. Always entertaining and well informative stuff from Phil, he is definitely someone worth checking out and subscribing to if you like what he has. Which I always have. Not too many hardware focused channels out there and he's always been a breath of fresh air.

I did notice you had American games displayed incorrectly in PAL mode in a widescreen format, I thought we taught you better than that ;) haha, I mean just about everyone screws that stuff up so it's not a knock at the video, just an observation. Games like Monkey Island, Defender of the Crown, and Shotgun came out looking widescreen when they were designed utilizing a full 4:3 monitor. Now, I noticed some other PAL games that would have been designed in widescreen ended up coming out in full screen in the video. I'm guessing this was the difference between direct monitor capture VS using a capture card? That a game like Defender of the Crown might have showed up on your monitor in 4:3 but because you did a direct capture that's why we got the widescreen? I could still tell based on the sluggishness of those games they were running in PAL mode instead of NTSC. While most Amiga games may have been made for PAL mode, once you take out budget titles there is indeed a wealth of NTSC games. It would be quite easy for me, growing up with the Amiga in America, to produce a video of must have Amiga games that are all supposed to be in NTSC. I felt saddened that the only mention of PAL/NTSC was a quick blurb saying most games are in PAL mode but you can mess around with it via this one setting. I'm thinking you didn't mess around with that setting too much... And thus a huge problem in the Amiga world remains from a person that has been exposed to information concerning the problem. And I'm not even thinking of you doing it wrong, I'm thinking of how I'm doing things wrong in that even the people I've spoken to about that stuff don't quite get it right.

I feel like your whole monitor setup might deserve more of a discussion in a video. I think for the most part you just have everything being displayed in 4:3 on your monitor. So to you Defender of the Crown may have "looked" right in full 4:3, but it didn't "play" right because I think you were still running it in PAL mode slower than it should be. If it had been in NTSC mode I feel it would outputed via your capture software differently as well. Monkey Island was most certainly running in PAL mode based on the speed of the music. But you also showed some European games incorrectly. Lotus was designed in 320x200 mode in Europe, which means it was supposed to look widescreen but you had it filling an entire 4:3 screen. A game like Rainbow Islands was designed in Europe in 320x200 but was most likely based off of NTSC artwork, meaning the best way to see that game would be filling an entire 4:3 monitor.

I mean I just feel the whole "you can tweak the NTSC/PAL settings" should have been hammered in a little more. Like "please do this for every single game you play until you see it how you think it best feels/looks." I feel whatever you did to make your monitor show those PAL games in full 4:3 should have been explained in more detail, because I think a lot of Europeans are going to wonder why some of those games are looking like that. I'm not necessarily sure if people got this Mist setup and hooked it to a CRT they would automatically get what you're seeing, and thus more time could have been spent on that aspect of things. Why you did that/how you did that.

It's not easy to get things right with the Amiga because of the various different modes/video standards/ports/etc. so I hope you don't misread this as me watching your video being pissed off the entire time. I thought it was very good video that explained information well to people on this option to play Amiga games, and it may even get some people who were never interested in the Amiga to look into it. Personally, having the real thing, I feel those menu systems are super clunky and a huge barrier to someone who has the hardware or even an emulator. It's the same reason why I don't have or ever want a floppy emulator for my actual machine, I'd never want to go through that terrible text menu and through a long list of .adf files to insert disk 2. Something you'd get used to no doubt, but not something I'd want unless my hardware died. It's still a step closer to the real deal than an emulator... Although that's if you hook it up to a CRT. If put on a modern display I wouldn't personally feel it's much different at all compared to emulation. Looking forward to the video looking at AGA stuff.

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PhilsComputerLab

Posted Thu May 12, 2016 4:15 pm

I tried Monkey Island in NTSC and I honestly didn't hear a difference in the music or faster game-play. Walking into the bar was just as sluggish. But this could be a Mist thing more than anything.

The video is produced at 50 Hz, so if you set your display driver to 50 Hz you will get that smooth scrolling. So I wanted to be consistent. In NTSC mode, the Mist does output in 60 Hz though.

I have a proper video about aspect ratios planned, but to do with the PC, it's a lot more clear cut on that platform, still most videos and screenshots are stretched.

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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
Website

Posted Thu May 12, 2016 4:27 pm

I can say from personal experience that getting the games set correctly from the get-go isn't exactly always easy to figure out, especially when you're first starting out. Added difficulty is if you look online for a visual reference, you'll be looking at something squashed nine times out of ten.

Most of the time you can sort of "read by braille" by looking at where a game was actually created. If it was a U.S. company that developed and published a game, it's meant to be played in NTSC mode and stretched to fit a 4:3 CRT rectangle. Absolutely. You'll get the visuals to display perfectly and it will run at the right speed. Knowing the game's origin is a huge help to solving the mystery. But, it's not always so cut-and-dry.

Case in point: Lemmings. Created and published in the UK. But I have a boxed copy that was manufactured for the US market. The back of the box says "Manufactured in the United Kingdom" but then on the spine there is a sticker that says "North America NTSC version". I hate to say it, but the labels on my Lemmings box are extremely rare. Most of the time you have do to a little research, or guess with your best assumption.

But then when you throw downloadable ADF files (with no labels or info) on top of emulation (zoinks!) it's no wonder this issue is so difficult to wrap our heads around, let alone the rest of the world.

In terms of a hardware demo, I think Phil's review is totally solid. As for a historical document for every game shown, I don't think that's what it intends to do. With some fiddling I'm sure the Mist can get most games to look and play correctly given the proper input. Hell, people with Amiga hardware often are left wondering how to launch these games sometimes.

Sometimes I feel like, if my disk has a sticker, NTSC. No sticker, PAL. and I just run with that - but that's not always right, either. Downloaded ADFs make it a total crapshoot sometimes with no references you can trust.

Note: I hope to help a little with this issue by adding an "Origin" field in the Games Library database. If you grab a game from, say, Germany, and this site says it is from Germany, chances are greater that the file you're about to load should be in PAL mode first. At least it ought to help some of the time.

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PhilsComputerLab

Posted Fri May 13, 2016 5:41 am

The focus of the videos was definitely to get people excited in the Amiga. Be it emulation, the real deal, or the Mist. So it was really mostly about getting that Amiga retro feeling across, the games and the SCANLINES :D

The AGA games so far are a bit of a let-down. I expected a bit more, I feel that the late Amiga 500 games are just as good.

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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
Website

Posted Fri May 13, 2016 8:09 am

Based on the YT comments, especially the latter ones, I'd say you succeeded!

I would generally agree with your AGA assessment. It doesn't really wow anyone when you see how far the 500 tech got pushed.

Other than some Doom clones, no one really "went for it" with AGA. It was all ports mainly and like Shot said by then the ports weren't anything special usually.

The one thing the AGA brought was slightly faster processing so you didn't have to wait as long - but most wouldn't notice the difference. Had they released AGA in, say, 1988 or 89 instead of the end of '92, who knows what might have been created?

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Shot97
Detroit, MI, USA
Website

Posted Fri May 13, 2016 3:35 pm

I feel like if the Amiga 500 was the best bang for your buck in the entire history of computing. Of course the C64 lasted much longer but it was never really "the best" as arcades had better graphics and when it was new the Atari computers had more colors. I believe the C64 was technically superior to Atari machines because it survived well into the 16 bit era with improved resolutions that that Atari 8-bits couldn't touch, but in its day nobody was designing games in that mode. By the time the 16-bits or even the NES rolled around the C64 never let go but it was obviously playing catch up no matter what great programmers could do with it.

Nothing compared to the Amiga when first introduced in 1985, similar graphics modes or sound would have cost you untold thousands upon thousands of dollars and not much software supported those devices on the PC. A simple PC with much worse graphics and PC speaker sound would have cost you way more than an Amiga. Have no doubt serious computer hobbyists were well aware of the Amiga in the USA. But with the A500 in 1987, you got something not everyone took advantage of, but at the very least you got the exact same thing with some minor slow down if it was a direct DOS port. You got that for much less money. To add on it there were indeed many Amiga original games or even ports from all sorts of machines that were made to be better on the Amiga.

One thing nobody talks about today is that yes, while computer hobbyists in the PC era would upgrade their equipment, most did not. How many people are willing to spend 5 grand on a PC and then another 2grand every couple years to keep that up to date? This is why PLENTY of DOS games well into the mid 90's supported not only EGA but CGA graphics. People love to say Wing Commander sold a ton of VGA machines, maybe, probably because people bought a 60 dollar game and couldn't play it when they got it home! You could play Wing Commander in EGA, looking terrible because it was a direct strip of the 256 color version, no love was put into it. But you could do that, and plenty of people were playing Wing Commander in DOS way slower than anyone on the Amiga played it. - Things that nobody considers. Most of the PCs I ever came across in my life had not seen a single upgrade. But of course plenty of people bought PCs from backgrounds unlikely to continue to buy software. Buy a PC to have Lotus123 for your work, nothing else... Buy a PC for your kids, you're not interested. That's probably the bulk of PC sales, the Amiga would have had only the hobbyist and creative markets, and no computer in America had the gaming market, none. Not then, not today, not ever. Consoles always had that market cornered. Which, in retrospect, is why we got so many good games! Made for a different market, if PCs (of all kinds including Amiga) sold as much as an NES say goodbye to all the intellectual classic computer games. That's why yours truly was never too impressed with the European Amiga games, where there was that console influence... Countless terrible games were made for the Amiga in Europe and I don't feel too bad about having fewer games from America, as long as the games that are there are of quality.

Buy an Amiga 500 brand new in 1987 with a nice monitor, extra disk drive, mouse and joystick for a grand a half and you could have gotten 10 years of utter enjoyment out of that machine. The late 80's and early 90's would have gotten you the best overall experience in most circumstances. From Phil's perspective of loving DOS first, it might be "strange" to see some of those games on an Amiga, but trust me, a good game is a good game, and even if it was a simple straight port, Amiga users had no shame with those DOS games. Maybe a little pissed or irritated no body took the time to make it way better, but as long as the game was good we got exactly what you got and we got plenty more with other games.

The PC "finally" catches up with VGA graphics... But in all honesty... Think of yourself as an artist using Deluxe Paint, 320x200 resolution... How many of those colors could you possible use? This is why when the ports took time the Amiga could still go toe to toe with VGA machines in terms of graphics. VGA offered a lot of modes too, there were 16 color VGA modes that were used quite a bit at first, but one man can only play around with so many colors back then. Maybe they could have used a gradient fill for the background sky, that's about as much as VGA was utilized even by VGA people. In the entire lifetime of the Amiga and DOS there were a lot of DOS ports to the Amiga where the Amiga bettered the DOS version in many ways, even in the VGA era... I'm still looking for the Amiga original game that was ported over to DOS that ever bettered it. Where it's so much more obvious how much better the DOS version is compared to the Amiga original. It never happened. Not one?

It had so many tricks up its sleeves. A game like The Fairy Tale Adventure had TWO resolutions on screen at the same time! 320x200 at 32 colors of 4096 for the birds eye view/action screen, while the bottom of the screen uses 640x200 at 16 colors for the menu. This is the same reason why a game like Lemmings has the actual gameplay screens looking pretty much the same on DOS/Amiga, but that menu system looks like utter GARBAGE in DOS. The Amiga had two resolutions on screen at once and DOS couldn't do that.

Plenty of tricks were used with Amiga games where many more colors could be shown. You could have your foreground as one layer/resolution and then have a background something different, you could have multiple levels in the background and end up with hundreds of colors.

The first time I remember giving a sigh when looking at the PC market was when my dad told me they wouldn't be releasing Wing Commander II for the Amiga. That was sad because Wing Commander was my favorite game. Favorite game, and I grew up with the Amiga version. But we hung on to the Amiga until 1995 when Windows95 came along. My dad was well aware of DOS, never impressed. We had Workbench in 1985, not the first but certainly a very useful icon based operating system. I've since grown to love DOS for it's commands.... It makes you feel "special" knowing nobody else can figure out that machine but you. But back in the day? Not a selling point, that's for sure. For us it was SVGA that killed the Amiga. 640x480 was the leap, that's where it was obvious. But it took 10 years to get fully to that point. And even beyond, in 1995 most people STILL were using a sound blaster of some sort, usualy the lesser sort. Still thought the Amiga sounded better in 1995! Give people options, they tend to go the cheapest route. With the Amiga you had one set of standards and it was beautiful.

Of course Amiga users could have also been a big problem to Commodores demise... Why upgrade your machine when things are just fine as is? Nothing too special coming out of the AGA world anyway.... My dad thought about going much bigger with the A4000 but, fuck... He was still pouring hour upon hour into Civilization and Railroad Tycoon at the time... And Amiga users did upgrade their machines, at least in America. Extra disk drives, extra RAM, I see harddrive add ons all over Amiga World, they must have sold! Get an all in one unit to plug into the side of your A500 and now you have 20mhz/8mb RAM/hard drive and you're set!

It makes me feel good that so much enjoyment was received by Amiga users using the base machine for so long a time. Best bang for your buck in terms of computers in my opinion. And, of course, on this very appropriately named forum, other than the C64 no other single computer type has the love Amiga users have for their machine. But it's deeper with us because the people whole love the C64 the most (lots of them) know that was the best selling computer of all time. There's respect in numbers... People that love the Amiga are in constant need of validation because we've been beaten up from so many fronts. By Commodore, by DOS users, by media who didn't care despite using the machine for their toasters, you name it... We knew what it was about but back in the day (search old newsgroups to verify) DOS users hammered Amiga users, you've got to justify your purchase... Amiga users even hammered other Amiga users for not upgrading... Then there was the Atari ST taking away market share because of Jack and his vendetta against Commodore. If that damn machine had not been around who knows what would have happened... If Apple had not convinced schools to spend way too much money on their POS machines who knows what could have happened... It all combines to bring a love unlike any other in terms of the computing world. Nobody loves their specific IBM clone... Even if you do, good luck finding someone else that does! I do love "my" DOS machine because I spent time building it. But that's my machine, yours might be better or worse, upon being face to face with your machine I'll probably think of reasons why mine is better, because it's mine... Just like countless people still convince themselves that Adlib offers some kind of special feeling, it's because their too cheap to buy an MT-32 and experience music in a good way. hahaha.... But that's just it, there's no mass love for any IBM clone ever built. And it's like someone who does all this crap to a car... You can spend thousands on your car but when you go to sell it nobody is going to want anything other than the original! If someone wants to put all this crap on a car they're going to want to do it themselves, not buy yours already done. Only you will love your car if you mess with it, it's the same with computers.

I could feel that love for the Amiga when I was a kid. Reading the magazines, seeing my dad talk about it, watching the faces of other kids when I'd show them it... Going to the Amiga store... I feel quite lucky for having been a part of all that back then and it's never gone away... It's why I was drawn back into the Amiga stuff in the late 90's... It's why they still sell a newer Amiga operating system... It's why every couple of years someone tries to make money through buying the Commodore brands and selling some POS new computer looking like a C64... That's love. And as much as I might want to kick some of my European friends for their tastes in Amiga games, I only want to hug them for their love of a computer I also love.





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