mysite blog The IIGS Artwork of Dave Triplett <p>I was inspired to pursue a career in graphics thanks to various individuals; lucky for them as it means they get a good pat on the back some 20 odd years later as I can remember each of those that gave me so much inspiration.</p> <p>Back when I was using the IIGS as my sole digital outlet in the &lsquo;80s and &lsquo;90s, I dreamed of producing graphics for games, for which I did a lot of work for which nothing was ever released. Diamonds GS was an exception though (and can be found on the pre-installed <a href="">System 6 with shareware and freeware games 32 meg image</a>), but unfortunately the last of my graphics were not added to the final release. The problem was that I moved from one gaming idea or concept to another too quickly, already bored with working on one game concept before finishing it and then moving onto another. A blog for another time, I think, and possibly a long overdue apology to Ian Brumby who could have coded the games completely had I ever stuck to my guns with one idea!</p> <p>For me, there was more than a little hero worship for those already producing game and demo graphics on the IIGS. Firstly, there was Matt Crysdale, who single handedly was responsible for all the graphics in <a href="">Alien Mind</a>, <a href="">Great Western Shootout</a>&nbsp;and <a href="">Task Force</a>, not to mention having made contributions to the <a href="">Sword of Sodan demo</a>, <a href="">Gnarly Golf</a>&nbsp;and <a href="">Rastan</a>. There was Jason Rubin, who created the cartoon worlds of <a href="">Dream Zone</a>&nbsp;and <a href="">Keef the Thief</a>&nbsp;all by himself. Around the same time, the work of Ian Gooding burst onto the scene with <a href="">Zany Golf</a>&nbsp;and later, <a href="">The Immortal</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Alien Mind with graphics by Matt Crysdale" src="" alt="Alien Mind with graphics by Matt Crysdale" width="320" height="200" /><img title="Keef the Thief with graphics by Jason Rubin" src="" alt="Keef the Thief with graphics by Jason Rubin" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Another revered champion of the super high resolution mode was Olivier Bailly-Maitre of the <a href="">FTA</a>. This guy had a flare not only for great illustration but also user interface design, as seen in the Nucleus and Modulae demos, and <a href="">NoiseTracker</a>&nbsp;program especially, which drew together balance, ease of use, great colour palettes, functional but stylistic typography and easy to use navigation. Olivier could also hold his own when it came to the &lsquo;digital graffiti' found in the rest of FTA's demo catalogue.&nbsp;Chronologically,&nbsp;the last great IIGS artist to appear was Clue (Christopher Heck), the guy behind all the great visuals of <a href="">Ninja Force</a>, including their <a href="">Mega Demo</a>, <a href="">Wolfenstein 3D for the IIGS</a>, and the recently released&nbsp;<a title="Kaboom!" href="" target="_blank">Kaboom!</a>&nbsp;He even did a great of job skinning Ian Brumby's Finder alternative Instant Access v3.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Modulae with graphics by Olivier Bailly-Maitre" src="" alt="Modulae with graphics by Olivier Bailly-Maitre" width="320" height="200" /><img title="Modulae with graphics by Olivier Bailly-Maitre" src="" alt="Modulae with graphics by Olivier Bailly-Maitre" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And then there's Dave Triplett. Dave was an integral part of the duo that was <a href="">Pangea Software</a>. Coder Brian Greenstone had developed his first IIGS specific title as freeware, <a href="">Grackel</a>, and one of the very best action romps on the IIGS, <a href="">Xenocide</a>, before meeting Dave. Luckily, Dave was able to add some of his own flourishes to Xenocide just before its commercial release making it an even better game and then went on to work with Brian to produce <a href="">Copy Killers</a>, <a href="">Senseless Violence</a>, <a href="">Quadronome</a>, <a href="">Orbizone</a>&nbsp;and <a href="">Cosmocade</a>&nbsp;(featuring Journey to Calibus and Naxos) for the IIGS.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Modulae with graphics by Olivier Bailly-Maitre" src="" alt="Modulae with graphics by Olivier Bailly-Maitre" width="320" height="200" /><img title="Modulae with graphics by Olivier Bailly-Maitre" src="" alt="Modulae with graphics by Olivier Bailly-Maitre" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span>Dave got in touch with me a couple of years ago -&nbsp;he needed some help setting up his <a href="">MicroDrive</a>&nbsp;and in turn, getting back to using a IIGS again. It wasn't smooth sailing and unfortunately a power surge zapped the&nbsp;</span><a href="">MicroDrive</a><span>&nbsp;not long after I had mailed him a working compact flash card. But salvation arrived for Dave when the <a href=";c=projects/CFforAppleII/main.php">CFFA3000's third batch of cards</a>&nbsp;is available in September 2013.</span></p> <p>In the meantime, Dave was keen to recover some old graphics he was working on for a game that was never finished similar to the <a href="">Bard's Tale</a>, called Realms of Fantasy. I had a time convincing him that the rest of the Apple II community would love to see these never-before-seen graphics and eventually Dave relented and sent me his floppy backups and I was then able to get them onto my Mac Book Pro (courtesy of the <a href=";c=projects/CFforAppleII/main.php">CFFA3000</a>) and then back onto Dave so he could view and store them from his modern Mac.</p> <p>Additionally, Dave also had some graphics that were done purely for art's sake, one of which appeared in <a href="">A+ Magazine's</a>&nbsp;Speaking of Graphics Gallery in the April 1988 issue entitled &lsquo;The Coming of Ages'. I always get a thrill (I've had two so far) of actually receiving the original file for artwork that appeared in this regular column for A+. If anyone has any files of graphics that appeared in A+'s galleries, <a href="">let me know</a>.</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 579;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 579;"><img title="A+ Magazine Speaking of Graphics Gallery " src="" alt="A+ Magazine Speaking of Graphics Gallery " width="579" height="403" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I decided to ask Dave, as one of my personal graphic artists heroes, some questions:</p> <p>Alex Lee: How did your career path lead to working in computer graphics?</p> <p>Dave Triplett: I have been drawing and doing artwork for as long as I can remember. I was an art major in college, so it was inevitable that my work would progress to computers.&nbsp;As soon as I got my first computer, a Woz IIGS, I got <a href="">Paintworks Plus</a>&nbsp;and had more fun then I could have imagined! Soon after that I got <a href="">Deluxe Paint II</a>&nbsp;and I was in heaven! I began changing graphics in other games for fun. I also loved playing games in the arcades, on the IIGS and the Nintendo. It was just inevitable that I'd soon be making games.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 200;"><img title="Art by Dave" src="" alt="Art by Dave" width="200" height="200" /><img title="Art by Dave" src="" alt="Art by Dave" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>AL: How did you come to buying an Apple IIGS? Were using a previous model of Apple II before or did it appeal more than other computer models of the time?</p> <p>DT: When I was in college, a teacher suggested I get a word processor or a computer. I had never owned a computer before and my only other computer knowledge was playing games on a mainframe at a local Jnr. College when I was in grade&nbsp;school. I also played Zork and King's Quest quite a lot on someone else's Apple IIe. That was my only computer experience.</p> <p>AL: How did you first get in touch with Micro Revelations, publishers of Xenocide, and beginning work on the unfinished title 'Realms Of Fantasy' title?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img src="" alt="" width="320" height="200" /><img src="" alt="" width="320" height="200" /><img src="" alt="" width="320" height="200" /><span style="font-style: italic;"><img src="" alt="" width="320" height="200" /><img src="" alt="" width="320" height="200" /><img src="" alt="" width="320" height="200" /><br /></span></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><span style="font-style: italic;"><span style="font-style: normal;">DT: One of my graphics was put on the cover of A+ magazine and Micro Revelations saw it and called me. They said they were working on an RPG and wanted me to make monsters for them. I worked with them for a while. Then when I met Brian&nbsp;Greenstone, and the focus switched to his game. I was young and naive when I started working with Micro Revelations. I ended up losing a lot of time and money working with them; they were very dishonest and&nbsp;because of some embezzlement problems, the company quickly folded. I broke all ties with them, cut my losses and kept woking with Brian Greenstone.&nbsp;I regret ever having to work with Micro Revelations.&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p>AL: How did you meet Brian Greenstone and begin your wonderful partnership at Pangea Software? I remember there was a Pangea BBS - what was that like back in the day? Additionally, you were also an <a href="">AppleLink</a>&nbsp;member during the era of&nbsp;the IIGS weren't you?</p> <p><span>DT: I ran a BBS of my own called The Inner Sanctum &ndash; I was a part of Oggnet and The GS Express, but it was not a Pangea BBS (Ed - details of which can be found from the Senseless Violence main menu). Yes, I was an&nbsp;</span><a href="">AppleLink</a><span>&nbsp;member and I met Brian on&nbsp;</span><a href="">AppleLink</a><span>. He had Xenocide up and running under a different name and he was looking for a publisher.&nbsp;I was very impressed with his game, and I knew it could be a hit. He&nbsp;sent me his game editors and we began to work together.&nbsp;He was an amazing programmer and he worked very fast. We worked quite well together. It was really fun working with Brian on Xenocide as we polished and edited his game.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>AL: <a href="">Cosmocade</a>, the last IIGS release from Pangea, was originally to include 3 games according to its documentation. Apart from Journey to Calibus and Naxos, can you recall anything about the uncompleted third game? Did you start any&nbsp;graphics work on it?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image leftAlone" style="width: 320;"><img src="" alt="" width="320" height="200" /><img src="" alt="" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span>DT: I do not recall anything about the game we didn't finish.&nbsp;I just remember we were going to make 3 arcade games with an arcade type theme. I do not have&nbsp;</span><a href="">Cosmocade</a><span>. Let me get back to you on this. I don't remember the name of third game that we didn't finish.</span></p> <p>AL: Which of the IIGS Pangea releases is your favourite? Which game do you feel you had done your best work?</p> <p>DT: Mighty Mike/Power Pete is my favorite Pangea game, released for the PowerMac. But Xenocide was my favorite IIGS game.&nbsp;It was groundbreaking.&nbsp;Brian and I worked hard on that. Brian was an amazing programmer. Brian had the main part of the game all hammered out long before he ever met me, however. Let me see, I loved all our mini games. Senseless Violence 1 was very fun to play!&nbsp;Naxos and Orbizone were fun for me too. I really loved making those games with Brian - so&nbsp;much fun.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Promotional T-shirt for Xenocide" src="" alt="Promotional T-shirt for Xenocide" width="640" height="427" /><img title="Art by Dave" src="" alt="Art by Dave" width="320" height="200" /><img title="Art by Dave" src="" alt="Art by Dave" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>AL: Beyond the IIGS, you worked on Firefall Arcade and Power Pete (later to become <a href="">Mighty Mike</a>&nbsp;when re-released as shareware) for the classic Mac OS. The work was divided between you and another graphics artist - how did this new&nbsp;arrangement go? I remember I was very happy to come across Power Pete in the first year of using a PowerMac, with former IIGS developers now creating new and original gaming content for the Mac and I still have my boxed copy today.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image leftAlone" style="width: 320;"><img src="" alt="" width="320" height="240" /><img src="" alt="" width="320" height="240" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>DT: I'm glad you liked Power Pete. It was a masterpiece! The other artist I worked with was Scott Harper. He was very talented and lived about 30 minutes from me. Scott had heard that I was making games. He called me asking if I would look at his artwork and give him a job. We could not afford to pay me, let alone another artist. So I didn't look at his work for quite some&nbsp;time. Brian and I were just two guys woking from home. Scott was persistent, so I finally looked at his work. I was so impressed that I called Brian and told him we needed to figure out a way to hire him. Scott and I worked together quite well -&nbsp;he was really talented. We just took turns working on what ever inspired us at the time and everything just fell into place. One problem with our games was our publisher dropped the ball and didn't support it. The publisher also totally screwed up the cover artwork and green lighted it without letting us see the proofs. The cover art really hurt us.</p> <p>AL: More recently, you've had some scary brushes with cancer and survived. How have you coped with your illness?</p> <p>DT: I did indeed have some recent scares with cancer. After I found out I had cancer, I began to do research on alternative cures. I found a researcher in San Francisco curing cancer with substances called&nbsp;Cannabidiol/CBD and tetrahydrocannabino/THCl.&nbsp;This is what I used to treat my cancer.&nbsp;I made a small&nbsp;documentary&nbsp;about it. It has been seen by millions. The first version has been translated into many languages that can be seen <a href="">here</a>. You can find my updated video at&nbsp;<a href=""></a>. News on the subject can be found <a href="">here</a>.&nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="">American Cancer Society</a>&nbsp;has a web page that explains a lot about it.&nbsp;There is lots of information on my website.&nbsp;My website has just been put up and I will be adding much more information all the time. I've learned a lot about cancer and the cancer industry over that last few years. I now have a vegan diet and do all I can to keep life stress free. Almost all my symptoms have resided, and I feel better than I have in years. It's ironic that Brian and I used to ask people to donate to cancer charities. I no longer do that. I feel that the cancer charities are ignoring many cures that are already available. It's amazing what you will learn when you are faced with cancer. It has really opened my eyes. The treatment I used is quite controversial. But it's backed up by lots of research and plain science. Over the next few years you will hear more and more about CBD. It's an amazing breakthrough in how we can treat illnesses. [Ed - I certainly can't verify whether the findings in this research have genuinely seen results in treating cancer, so I ask all readers to make their own minds up after seeing Dave's evidence presented].</p> <p>So there you have it folks. I hope Dave gets his IIGS up to speed again and starts producing fabulous art with our favourite Apple platform again. Until then, enjoy some of Dave's graphics from way back when:</p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a href="">Download the Artwork of Dave Triplett</a>&nbsp;(5 meg 2image)</p> Fri, 16 Sep 2016 23:00:00 +0200 Take That Amiga! Or Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery <p>Many moons ago, I came across something on an Amiga website that could only make a petty, immature Apple IIGS user like me and about 10 other people on the planet smirk.</p> <p>You see, &lsquo;The Official Amiga Software Catalogue', a printed publication &lsquo;describing over 300 of the best Amiga software, hardware and accessories titles' actually reveals more about IIGS software on its cover than the Amiga - If you look closely, the iconic Amiga software Deluxe Paint II, apparently running on an Amiga 1000, graces its cover. If you look even more closely however, you'll see that it's actually the Apple IIGS version of <a href="">Deluxe Paint II</a>&nbsp;- the pull down menu style and use of the Shaston font, make that a stark contrast to the GUI look and feel of the Amiga.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 439;"><img title="The Official Amiga Software Catalogue" src="" alt="The Official Amiga Software Catalogue" width="439" height="679" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you need any further confirmation that it's the IIGS version, look no further than the <a href="">InCider magazine issue of October 1986</a>&nbsp;-&nbsp;the one with Woz introducing the IIGS...which includes exactly the same screen shot of Deluxe Paint II.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="image left" style="width: 401;"> <p class="image left" style="width: 401;"><img title="Check out the screen grab!" src="" alt="Check out the screen grab!" width="401" height="536" /></p> <br /></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This petty, immature IIGS user has enjoyed this pointless cheap shot at the Amiga. It's all in good fun of course -&nbsp;I have much respect for the Amiga as a platform. Let's be honest, its cost, 16-bit software library and abilities with not only displaying graphics but pushing them around screen effortlessly leaves a lot to be desired on the IIGS. Of course what the IIGS has going for it is better sound capabilities, an arguably better standard user interface and a bevy of legacy software from its 8-bit forebears.&nbsp;</p> <p>When I ever get enough space (ideally a man-cave) I'd like own some form of classic Amiga and hopefully some solid state method of playing around with its software library. Until then however, I'm making do by going back to one of my old pointless hobbies and converting graphics in the best way possible on the IIGS.</p> <p>The Amiga can display graphics with 32 colours from a palette of 4096 at resolution of 320 x 200 (and other resolutions as well). The IIGS can display 16 colours PER SCAN LINE from a palette of 4096 at 320 x 200 pixels. But just how well can using different palettes across different scan lines help convert 32 colour art to the IIGS?</p> <p>I thought I'd start with artwork from Jim Sachs, the artist who really made the Amiga and 4-bit graphics shine thanks to his art, including his work on Defender of the Crown. <a href="">The Amiga Graphics Archive</a>&nbsp;does a wonderful job showcasing Amiga graphics and their artists and I've used that as the source for obtaining classic Amiga art for conversion on the IIGS with <a href="">Super Convert 4</a>, <a href="">Prism</a>&nbsp;and <a href="">Convert 3200</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Jim Sachs Self Portrait" src="" alt="Jim Sachs Self Portrait" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I tried using just the 16 colour palettes evenly distributed down the SHR screen (for a maximum potential of 256 colours, bearing in mind that you're limited to 16 colours per palette) but it just didn't cut the mustard. So, 3200 colour mode it was. It's a little overkill to try to maintain the original 32 colour artwork, but it's worked almost flawlessly across all the images I converted and Jim Sachs artwork displays perfectly (in most cases).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Art Examples of Jim Sachs" src="" alt="Art Examples of Jim Sachs" width="640" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fortunately, unlike a lot of the <a href="">Pixel Joint</a>&nbsp;artwork I converted, each of the images I've included in this collection are all 320x200 (and no taller, requiring scrolling to see the rest of the image), so 3200 colour mode works well in this regard. Rather than use the otherwise excellent SHR View by Ron Mercer, it's best to view these Amiga images from Dream Voir, DreamWorld's slide show viewer, as it includes fade to black transitions for 3200 mode graphics (which no other slide viewer on the IIGS offers) as well as <a href="">Sound Smith</a>&nbsp;music accompaniment (if you feel that way inclined for background music). The fade transitions make it look like the IIGS is displaying the images with ease, but in reality, it's quietly breaking a sweat in the background, as it requires many additional cycles to keep all 200 palettes doing their thing across the image.</p> <p>To enjoy these new Amiga graphics on the IIGS, download the updated the Graphics &amp; Animation 32 meg volume:</p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a href="">Graphics &amp; Animation</a>&nbsp;(A collection of classic and new graphics slideshows and animation&nbsp;~18.6meg)</p> <p>Once mounted in <a href="">System 6</a>&nbsp;or <a href="">System 5.0.4</a>, open the &lsquo;Gfx.Viewers' folder at the top of the volume's window, and then &lsquo;DVoir' and launch the &lsquo;DreamVoir' application. It should be configured to run the slideshow of Amiga graphics already, if not go to 'File' &gt; 'Get Picture Directory...' and select the 'Amiga' folder.</p> <p>Jim Sachs artwork is joined by other notable artists&nbsp;Rick Parks, Herman Serrano, Henk VanDer Graaf, Garvan Corbett, Avril Harrison and others. Some images in the end didn't require the full 3200 conversion (in particular, the Barbarian intro graphics look great in 256 colour modes). Note that 3200 colour graphics will not display properly in the emulator Sweet 16, and your mileage may vary for KEGS/GSPort/ActiveGS as well. Real IIGS hardware is best to enjoy these graphics.</p> <p>A last comment: it surprised me to learn that the premiere screen saver for the IIGS, <a href="">Twilight II</a>, doesn't include a module for displaying a slideshow of images to prevent screen burn-in, although there is a module that will play <a href="">Paintworks</a>&nbsp;animations. Anyone up for the challange of creating a Twilight II module to enable a slide show as a screen saver? If you take a peek inside the&nbsp;<a href="">Graphics &amp; Animation</a>&nbsp;32meg volume and look inside 'Twilight.Mods', there's a file in there called 'tii.G2MF.jun14' which is an <a href="">AppleWorks GS</a>&nbsp;text document that outlines the specifics of the module format. Could this perhaps be coupled with the code DreamWorld very effeciently wrote for handling the opening and display of multiple graphic formats, which <a href="">Brutal Deluxe</a>&nbsp;used in their PicViewer Finder Extension?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sun, 25 Jan 2015 15:06:00 +0200 Time Out for Some 8-bit Fun, IIGS Style <p>Over the last couple of years I've been dabbling in a sideline - 8-bit stuff. Not so much to take the focus away from archiving stuff for the IIGS, but I've been keen to put together, as definitive as possible, a collection of single load / crunched games on a 32meg ProDOS volume that'll work not only for emulators and the CFFA3000, but also as a standard partition for use with the CFFA v1 or v2, MicroDrive, Focus or SCSI drive.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Using the Finder and DOS 3.3 Launcher" src="" alt="Using the Finder and DOS 3.3 Launcher" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I came across DOS 3.3 Launcher, a software based solution for running DOS 3.3 programs from GS/OS, originally created by fellow Australian John Maclean and then updated by another good Aussie fellow, Andrew Roughan. I loved the idea that you could load DOS 3.3 programs from GS/OS by simply double clicking on the binary files in the Finder - a nice integrated solution, and it also automatically sets the IIGS speed to &lsquo;Normal' and when you quit a game (by accessing the IIGS text based control panel and entering the DOS 3.3 Launcher CDA) it automatically goes back to &lsquo;Fast' speed when returning you to GS/OS. I've given the binary files a colour coding system from the System 6 Finder - green means no issues encountered, orange means there are some issues (those crunched games that use QuikPak GS compression don't seem to successfully return to the Finder when quitting from the DOS 3.3 Launcher CDA). And Yellow denotes games that are hacks of original games, tried turning into new games...I think. They're mostly badly designed pinball games!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Choplifter from System 6.0.1!" src="" alt="Choplifter from System 6.0.1!" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Choplifter from System 6.0.1!" src="" alt="Choplifter from System 6.0.1!" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Not only could you try this with single loader crunched binary files, but you could do it for whole disk images as well, for those games where there isn't a crunched file...but it comes down to how closely the disk routines are to DOS 3.3 that allow it to work with DOS 3.3 Launcher, and unfortunately, quite a lot of classic Apple II games branch too far away from the way DOS 3.3 works for DOS 3.3 Launcher to run from GS/OS or ProDOS 8. However, I've discovered quite a few games that work perfectly - Gremlins, Donkey Kong, Elite, Starglider, Jungle Hunt, etc.</p> <p>Anyways, I scoured many existing collections of single loader games (and unfortunately, lost track of which collections they were, but it does include the Definitive File Game Library), and assembled them in one volume.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 562;"><img title="FastBoot v3.4 in conjunction with DOS 3.3 Launcher" src="" alt="FastBoot v3.4 in conjunction with DOS 3.3 Launcher" width="562" height="384" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I also wanted this collection to be of use to 8-bit users as well. I stumbled upon a ProDOS 8 program launcher called FastBoot v3.4 by Ron Dippold, which opens ProDOS 8 programs, but also looks for DOS 3.3 Launcher in a folder and if it's present, will also load single loader or disk images through DOS 3.3 Launcher! Nifty! Booting the provided 32meg image (see below) this actually provides an incredibly quicker way of accessing each game as well, without having to wait to return to the Finder, which takes longer. FastBoot really is fast, and includes nifty keyboard shortcuts to quickly jump into directories, load executables and loading binary files. Alternatively, you can use the arrow keys to navigate around.</p> <p>But FastBoot itself has some limitations, in that you can only have 26 files in any one directory, so I broke down the list of single loader games this way. The DOS 3.3 Launcher executable also has to be present in each of those directories, but that's not too big a problem given we've got the space of a 32meg ProDOS partition.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img title="Hard Hat Mack (with infinite lives, damnit!)" src="" alt="Hard Hat Mack (with infinite lives, damnit!)" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Hard Hat Mack (with infinite lives, damnit!)" src="" alt="Hard Hat Mack (with infinite lives, damnit!)" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This collection's not perfect however - <span style="text-decoration: line-through;">Hard Hat Mack is missing</span> and there are probably a couple of other favourites not included as well - if you have single loaders of these, please test with DOS 3.3 Launcher first and if they work, send them on for me to include in this archive. In my quest to find a single loader of Hard Hat Mack that would work, I came across some patched games that allow you to cheat - allowing you infinite lives, it seems. That can be cool, but it's less of a challenge to each of those games.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Wavy navy (with infinite lives as well, unfortunately)" src="" alt="Wavy navy (with infinite lives as well, unfortunately)" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Wavy navy (with infinite lives as well, unfortunately)" src="" alt="Wavy navy (with infinite lives as well, unfortunately)" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I've also included, after more happy findings, a couple of helpful Classic Desk Accessories, to be accessed from the text based control panel by holding down the apple, control and escape keys. The first is called BW and it correctly changes Apple II hi-res graphics to monochrome on a IIGS. The IIGS has always done that for Double Hi-res graphics from the Display control panel, but it's never affected normal hi-res graphics. BW fixes that. Also, you might find it nice to have a quicker way of switching between Fast and Normal speed modes on the IIGS, thanks to speed switch - you can change the speed of your IIGS from the list of CDAs, rather than having to enter the control panel and then the speed option.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Swashbuckler!" src="" alt="Swashbuckler!" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On top of THAT, I've also copied across some ProDOS 8 games that seem to run fine from a hard drive (which don't require DOS 3.3 Launcher)...including a specially hacked version of Lode Runner, including Championship Edition with Level Editor...all from a 32 meg hard drive. I hope Doug Smith would have been pleased that his game was so loved that it was hacked to even run from GS/OS and a hard drive.</p> <p>If you've got single loader games that work with DOS 3.3 Launcher that aren't included in this collection, feel free to send them on. Additionally, if there are any full disk image based games you find that work with DOS 3.3 Launcher, send those on as well. To save you time, I've included a folder in &lsquo;DiskBasedGames' called &lsquo;Duds', for games I tried and for which didn't work through DOS 3.3 Launcher - you'll know not to bother to try those ones. And let me know if I've missed any ProDOS converted games as well.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Alien Typhoon" src="" alt="Alien Typhoon" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For both, it's preferable to <a href="">upload</a>&nbsp;the full 32 meg 8-bit Games 2image with your modifications and let me know what they are so I can integrate them into this &lsquo;official' archive. In the meantime however, enjoy this new archive:</p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a href="">8-bit Games</a>&nbsp;(A collection of oldschool Apple II games you can launch from GS/OS or boot from this 32 meg disk image ~14meg)</p> <p>1/6/2016 Update:&nbsp;I've added P8CDA to the 8-bit games image. This allows classic desk accessories (only works on a IIGS) to be used even when only booting ProDOS 8, so now the CDAs for turning hi-res graphics to black and white and the quick fast/normal speed change are available when booting this disk image. In addition to this, I've also included the recent ProDOS hacks that qkumba has done, including Conan, Karateka, Impossible Mission II, Lady Tut, Mr Do, Moon Patrol, Swashbuckler, to name but a few.</p> <p>8/10/2016 Update: I've included ProDOS 8 v2.4.1 by John Brooks on the 8-bit games volume. Thanks John for all your efforts into making this happen! Also, I've added more recent ProDOS hacks by qkumba, including my favourite 8-bit Apple II game, Airheart &ndash; complete with high score support! Other new additions also include&nbsp;Arkanoid, Crossfire, Repton, Sneakers, Agent USA, Paperboy, Robotron 2084, Beer Run, Defender, Dig Dug, Flip Out, Formula 1 Racer, Frogger.</p> <p>10/10/2016 Update: Fixed BC's Quest for Tires with a newer version. Included USO's ProDOS conversions for titles that qkumba hasn't done: Bill Budge's Trilogy of Games, Nibbler, Pick-a-Dilly Pair, Sabotage, Starblaster, Stargate, Succession, Suicide and Tubeway.</p> <p>12/10/2016: Added ProDOS conversions for Tomahawk and Donkey Kong by qkumba. Added Pipe Dream (8-bit), a new crack by T-Rex. Also added Hunt for Red October (8-bit) from an old archive supplied by Francois Michel back in 2002 that I forgot about!</p> <p>23/10/2016: Added ProDOS versions of Victory Road (Ikari Warriors 2) and Cannonball Blitz by qkumba. Also added a ProDOS conversion of Norad by Chris Bower. Nick Westgate and Javier Rivera pointed out that on 8-bit Apple IIs, booting the 32meg disk image displays a 'REQUIRES AN APPLE IIGS' message, then quits to the new Bitsy Bye program as part of ProDOS 2.4.1. That message is only describing that 8-bit Apple IIs can't load the P8CDA application, which enables CDAs to be loaded on a IIGS without booting ProDOS 16 or GS/OS. For 8-bit users, simply delete the P8CDA and the message will not display again. It should also correctly launch FastBoot, which is the program launcher that will open single binaries as well as ProDOS conversions of games.</p> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 08:18:00 +0200 New Adventures in BBSing <p>In the <a href="">Facebook Apple II enthusiasts' group</a>, a discussion led to a revelation when it comes to portraying the visual history of the Apple IIGS and its communication programs.</p> <p>Matt Owenby, aka &lsquo;The Red Flame', posted nostalgically about the IIGS specific colour ANSI terminal program he co-wrote back in the early 90s. I immediately responded, thanking him for such an awesome freeware program that finally got us IIGS users up to par in supporting colour ANSI that most BBSs were using back then, which until then, we had to make do with monochrome terminal emulation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="MegaTerm Title Screen" src="" alt="MegaTerm Title Screen" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>True, programs like <a href="">ANSITerm</a>&nbsp;and <a href="">Spectrum</a>&nbsp;came later to do a great job of displaying colour ANSI, but their focus was on better typography rather than colour, using the 640 super hi-res graphics mode and its limited colour palette, whereas MegaTerm used the 320 SHR mode, sacrificing font quality for better colour and to me, this looked better and didn't affect readability of the type at all. It ran from ProDOS 8, was written in assembly and ran super smooth - just the way I especially liked my IIGS software back then.</p> <p>Matt revealed that they had basically finished MegaTerm v2.0 back in the day, just lost motivation to distribute it more publically. <a href="">The source code exists on the Apple II mirrors site</a>, and <a href="">Antoine Viganu</a>&nbsp;quickly assembled it in <a href="">Merlin 16+</a>&nbsp;for us to enjoy.</p> <p>It was also revealed that part of their motivation for writing MegaTerm was for playing ANSI based games on various BBSes. Then he revealed a screen shot of MegaTerm logged into a game of Trade Wars 2002 and I asked how he was able to do that - MegaTerm didn't support TCP for telnetting to various BBSs you can access via the internet. I'd always lamented at how the BBS era had passed and how I could ever hope to visually capture that era via Apple IIGS software as part of the visual history of our sweet 16.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Trade Wars 2002 Title Screen" src="" alt="Trade Wars 2002 Title Screen" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Matt said it was simple - you use the KEGS emulator (or <a href="">GSPort</a>&nbsp;and possibly ActiveGS, which I haven't tested yet) and use the old ATDT commands. So, &lsquo;' in MegaTerm will take you to the Colorado Springs Central Net via telnet. Just like an old school BBS! How fantastic! KEGS is actually doing all the heavy lifting here, and much to my surprise, has been a feature for many years.</p> <p>Now I CAN produce a visual history of how IIGS communications programs worked and how each of them tried to overcome the IIGS video limitations when it came to rendering ANSI content thanks to KEGS and using different terminal apps to take screen grabs from.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Telnetting to a BBS with MegaTerm" src="" alt="Telnetting to a BBS with MegaTerm" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Coloradio Springs Central Net viewed with MegaTerm" src="" alt="Coloradio Springs Central Net viewed with MegaTerm" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;">To that end, I've assembled a collection of IIGS terminal applications (including MegaTerm v2.0) in a new 32 meg ProDOS volume. While it doesn't fit the full 32 meg (yet?) it's a fairly comprehensive collection, more so in the shareware/freeware department, as I've found many terminal programs I never knew about back in the day, as well as hopefully having the latest versions of each of them.</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;">&nbsp;</p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Communication Apps" href="" target="_blank">Communication Apps</a>&nbsp;(A collection of apps that you can telnet to BBSs on the net with KEGS/GSPort ~9.6meg)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Colorado Springs Central Net viewed with MegaTerm" src="" alt="Colorado Springs Central Net viewed with MegaTerm" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you get a kick out of using KEGS/GSPort with IIGS comms programs to telnet to them, feel free to take screen shots of your new adventures in BBSing, just as I plan to myself, and send them in - I'll consider any and all submissions for inclusion in the <a href="">coffee table book</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Colorado Springs Central Net viewed with MegaTerm" src="" alt="Colorado Springs Central Net viewed with MegaTerm" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If only the IIGS had supported in its hardware separate background and text colours per character of text, it wouldn't have been such a struggle for coders to come up with these unique solutions. But it's still those cute little flaws that keep a guy interested...and us interested in all these wonderful hacks years later.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sun, 28 Sep 2014 02:19:00 +0200 Russian Apple Museum or 'the eBay Black Hole to be Found in Moscow' <p>I was planning on writing a blog dedicated to all the retro computing museums I've visited in my travels across Europe at the end of my travels (which I still hope to do) but I hit a problem: one such museum was too good not to write about straight away. If you've ever lost an auction on eBay for Apple stuff, I think I found where it went!</p> <p>In my usual search across the interwebz to find interesting news regarding classic computers, I came across <a href="">an article</a>&nbsp;about a Russian Apple Museum based in Moscow. Interesting news in-itself, I thought, and then the photos came -&nbsp;this wasn't just a small quickly thrown together collection of yellowed Apple computers, this was an amazing chronological, clean, working and fully software installed demonstrative curated lot of Apple II, Macintosh and Newton computers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Red Cyrillice" src="" alt="Red Cyrillice" width="640" height="480" /></p> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We only had three days in Moscow before boarding the Trans-Siberian train to take in the experience of travelling by rail days at a time, making new travelling companions (hello Svetlana!) stopping off in Irkutsk and to see modern and traditional Mongolia, before arriving in Beijing some 2 weeks later. Three days in St Petersburg had proven not quite enough, and the same was true of Moscow, although we did see the crucial sights -&nbsp;Red Square, Lenin's Tomb (although obscured by the stage of a laser light show and renovations), St Basil's (outside and in), The Eternal Flame, The Kremlin (inside and out), The Cosmonauts Museum (outside only), the All Russian Exhibition Centre, Old Arbat Street, The Izmailovo Markets (buying lots of Soviet era badges) and impressive surrounding area (which just happened to be right next to our hotel, built for the 1980 Olympics). All the while I had wanted to see this Apple Museum and fortunately, we could find just enough time to fit it in.</p> <p>We arrived via the Metro -&nbsp;many (but not all) of the stations are incredible points of interest in themselves, showcasing the grandeur of Stalinism but also what hopefully boasted morale among the people during the second world war, or as it's known in Russia, the &lsquo;Great Patriotic War'. After walking the remaining distance, we arrived at an office block with a front desk and I figured if I just asked for the Apple Museum, the receptionist would know what I was after despite not asking in Russian. Sure enough, he told me how to get around the corner in Russian, but really his well rehearsed gesturing was all that was required.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="The Museum at large" src="" alt="The Museum at large" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Bronwen and I entered the museum with excitement (well, perhaps me more than her, despite her recent <a href="">&lsquo;conversion' to the Apple fold</a>), as the exhibition sprawled out in front of us in style. As we approached, I could see the curator, Andrey Antonov, at the very opposite side of the room. In my best Russian, I announced &lsquo;Priv&eacute;t' / Привет / Hi!. Andrey had probably already guessed by now that we weren't in fact locals and had maybe entertained the thought that we entered by mistake. But I knew we were somewhere special.</p> <p>We each paid 200 rubles for admission to Andrey and while he apologised for his English, as ever, it was always better than how we could communicate in the native language of the countries we visited. Andrey encouraged us to explore and &lsquo;touch!', which I love: this isn't a museum behind glass cabinets. Each and every machine on display is working and you can play with every one. I first started playing with an original 128k Mac, loaded with MacPaint from the floppy drive. I was impressed by the number of desk accessories that were also loaded and smiled when the 3.5" disk was accessed as I loaded the Note Pad DA. Andrey encouraged me to print as&nbsp;there was an ImageWriter I printer connected and ready to go. Rather than print the example image that another visitor had left, I decided I'd better move on to more unique pieces -&nbsp;I do own an original Macintosh myself back in Australia after-all, although I don't have any of the original bundled software to play with.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="image left" style="width: 530;"> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="A mint condition original Mac 128k!" src="" alt="A mint condition original Mac 128k!" width="640" height="480" /></p> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I scanned the collection, and noting that on the far wall there was a glass cabinet, I was curious by what I COULDN'T touch. Inside was a cornucopia of goodies -&nbsp;a pretty complete set of Newtons, including the eMate 300, a pair of Woz's Apple logo sunglasses, effigies of Steve Jobs and interesting Apple merchandise from the 80s, including pins, badges, stickers, earrings and mugs. Also within the same cabinet, a PowerCD and a Bandai Pippin and as I expressed my awe, Andrey simply pointed behind me, where another Pippin was set up connected to a TV with game controller waiting to be put through its paces.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="The cabinet of wonders!" src="" alt="The cabinet of wonders!" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Playing the Pippin!" src="" alt="Playing the Pippin!" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Wow! -&nbsp;I'd never seen one of these in the flesh before. I started playing a Power Rangers style beat-em-up side-scroller game. While I thought it played admirably for the low specs of the machine (a 66Mhz 601 PowerPC off the top of my head) at the same time, it wasn't the smooth, fast, tear-free scrolling console experience gamers should expect after the 16-bit SNES and Genesis/Mega Drive era and I could fully understand why the console never took off. Of course, it wasn't just about the games, as the Pippin billed itself as a device to access the internet, but Apple didn't seem to appreciate what really needed to be done with a console in order to make it competitive with the other systems of the time, chiefly the Playstation I. Like all other Apple computers, it didn't ship with any sprite enabled graphics, nor did it even have any 3D acceleration.</p> <p>From there, I poured over the impressive collection of PowerBooks -&nbsp;each loaded with different software to give a taster of what these machines could do. I was particularly happy to see the PowerBook 2400, the last sub-notebook Apple did before the MacBook Air, with teeny, tiny keys.</p> <p>Even by this early stage, Andrey could tell we were enjoying ourselves and gave us a specially made T-shirt as part of the museum each (you can seem them on display as I play with the Pippin in the above image). And his business card -&nbsp;nice!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="image left" style="width: 640;"> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="PowerBook Pile" src="" alt="PowerBook Pile" width="640" height="360" /></p> <br /></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Amongst some of the more modern Macs (PowerPC era) I spied the 20th Anniversary Mac. Never had the chance to take in this model. It was running Wolf 3D, programmed by IIGS veteran &lsquo;Burger' Becky Heineman.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="20th Anniversary Mac" src="" alt="20th Anniversary Mac" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Moving onto the second love of my life, the Apple IIGS. I told Andrey this was my favourite machine and that I had a site devoted to it. The display IIGS was running Karateka at the time, which is a great example of 8-bit software and looked great on the AppleColor RGB monitor, but I felt it could be running something more IIGS specific to better showcase its abilities. I noticed there was an Apple hard drive next to it, and asked Andrey if it worked. It did, at least after we popped open the case to see which slot the SCSI card was in, then making the appropriate slot designation within the IIGS control panel. It booted into System 6.0.1, but alas, that's all that was installed. I set the IIGS back to Karateka. Andrey also had a Woz edition IIGS hidden away, but unfortunately it was quite yellowed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Mmmmmm...nice and clean." src="" alt="Mmmmmm...nice and clean." width="640" height="480" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Andrey also brought out another particular prize -&nbsp;a black pizza box with an Apple logo dead to centre on the front. This was a prototype machine that has been guessed at as an &lsquo;Apple Broadcaster' -&nbsp;an early media centre to work with analogue TV, like the MacTV or the all-in-one Mac models that had TV Tuner cards built in, possibly enabling recording and editing all from a TV. Popping open the lid on that revealed memory, video RAM and a slot for...who knows what. Damn cool. Love these black models -&nbsp;reminds me of the abandoned Jonathan computer concept that was documented in the Apple Design Book.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Mystery Black Box" src="" alt="Mystery Black Box" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The other glass cabinet was devoted to Apple related books, manuals and boxed software. From &lsquo;out the back' Andrey also brought the first edition of MacWorld, accompanied by the first few issues that followed and a few more items of memorabilia, including the issue of Time Magazine that included the multi-page fold-out revealing the Macintosh in print for the first time.</p> <p>From there it got even better. Playing around with an Apple IIc+ for the first time (another model not available in Australia) I got Mario Brothers up and running with a game paddle. Next to that, a IIc running CAD Apple hooked up to an Apple Plotter -&nbsp;awesome output! Like a vector display, but in print! And next to that, another IIc with the coveted LCD monitor, enabling the IIc to be portable at a mere 5+kg!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Apple IIc+ &ndash;&nbsp;touched for the very first time" src="" alt="Apple IIc+ &ndash;&nbsp;touched for the very first time" width="640" height="480" />&nbsp;<img title="Apple's First LCD Monitor" src="" alt="Apple's First LCD Monitor" width="640" height="480" />&nbsp;<img title="Apple Plotter Output from a IIc" src="" alt="Apple Plotter Output from a IIc" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But the real joy came from an Apple IIe. Not just any old beige IIe, but one with a Gibson Light Pen installed. This baby was fun to play with. Hold the pen up to the monitor and space bar toggles when it draws. Awesome sauce. Behold my artistic genius!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Standback &ndash;&nbsp;artist at work!" src="" alt="Standback &ndash;&nbsp;artist at work!" width="640" height="480" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="And the result..." src="" alt="And the result..." width="640" height="480" /></p> <div class="image left" style="width: 640;"><br /></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Turning back the years even further, I spy yet even more hitherto untouched Apples -&nbsp;an Apple III, the Bell &amp; Howell &lsquo;Darth Vader' black Apple II+ and what was possibly an original Apple II, running none other than Visicalc, with the boxed package brought out by Andrey, coupled with an Apple Silentype printer.</p> <p>Boys with toys. It brought back memories of hanging out with friends after school and exchanging whatever you thought was the latest and greatest. Except this was the latest stuff from the 80s. Again, the Apple experience transgresses language barriers and geography. Andrey and I bonded, with but a handful of a sentences spoken between us. Luckily Bronwen was there to photograph the experience. I was having way to much fun to focus on good photography.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="With the man himself..." src="" alt="With the man himself..." width="640" height="480" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Whenever you're in Moscow (or because of it) visit the Apple Museum at 16 Pestovsky Per., bldg. 1, 2nd floor, m. Taganskaya (Пестовский переулок, д. 16, строение 2) on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 6pm.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu, 04 Oct 2012 12:49:00 +0200 Icon Mania! <p>My name's Alex...and I'm an icon-holic.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="image left" style="width: 290;"><img src="" alt="" width="290" height="180" /></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I never used to care about them much. In my futile quest to speed-up my original IIGS with <a href="">40 meg Vulcan hard drive</a>, <a href="">2.25meg of RAM</a>&nbsp;and <a href="">ZipGS</a>&nbsp;at 8Mhz, I actively deleted unattractive icons so the Finder would be that much zippier...if I even used the Finder at all, that is.</p> <p>I'm a big fan of Ian Brumby's Instant Access v3, which I find is a faster launcher as well as requiring less memory after all the system add-ons you'd need to enable you to view pictures, read text and play sound and music from the Finder. Instant Access has always been tucked away in the system folder of the <a href="">System 6.0.1 hard drive image with Shareware and Freeware games</a>. You can run IA from the Finder or use the &lsquo;Set Start' GUI based control panel to run Instant Access over the Finder when your IIGS boots. Another reason I'm biased towards IA3 is that I suggested it as an alternative program launcher to Ian after seeing&nbsp;<a href="">Directory Opus</a>&nbsp;on the Amiga way back around 1993. Ian had already thought about the idea himself and with two people coming to same conclusion independently, he decided to pursue it. If you go to the &lsquo;About' menu and hold down some modifier keys, you might find a title screen easter egg I created way back when...</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Instant Access" src="" alt="Instant Access" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But let's get back to the point: In these days of blazingly fast emulators and solid state storage on the Apple II, there's little sacrifice to speed and ways to minimise memory usage (more on that later) to make the IIGS desktop experience all the more vivid through the use of icons.</p> <h1>So how do icons work on the IIGS?</h1> <p>When the <a href="">first native IIGS Finder</a>&nbsp;surfaced in 1987 a folder could be seen on the root directory of the 3.5" disk it came on called &lsquo;Icons'. Around the same time, Apple released the Apple IIGS Icon Editor by Dan Olivier. It allowed users to edit or create their own icons right from the word go, although some aspects of the process could have been improved upon (and ultimately were with the shareware editors that superseded it).</p> <p>Icons would be saved with a specific filetype &lsquo;ICN' and each icon file could hold more than one icon. For each icon within the &lsquo;ICN' file, you need to specify how the icon would be applied to executables, files, folders, etc. This could be done simply by specifying a filename. You could restrict the icon appearing for one type of file or executable by specifying the filetype for which it is intended. So if it's a GS/OS application you're wanting to &lsquo;skin' with an icon, you'd specify its filename and &lsquo;S16' as its filetype. This would ensure, for example, that if your intended executable filename is called &lsquo;Rastan' that any document files that might also be called &lsquo;Rastan' would not have the same icon applied to them. You could also ensure that any document with a specified filetype would always be applied with a specific icon simply by entering &lsquo;*' as a wildcard for its filename. As an extension of the wildcard, you can also apply icons only to names with similar file naming conventions e.g. &lsquo;Crystal*' would apply an icon to any files with the prefix &lsquo;Crystal'.</p> <p>You would also need to specify the path of the application that would open when the file is double clicked from the Finder. Using the &lsquo;*' wildcard again, so a volume name of where the applications resides becomes irrelevant, you can then specify the application that will open files of specific filetypes, in this example, how it's specified that the &lsquo;BASIC.LAUNCHER' executable will always open any BASIC files. But this is an easy example, as &lsquo;BASIC.LAUNCHER' should always be on the root directory of a startup volume if it's included at all. You may need to specify the exact paths for applications to load from a double click on a specific type of icon which is a bit of a pain. However, there are utilities that can make this easier, such as Finder Binder FExt by Joe Wankerl which was made available only through GS+, by letting you choose how an &lsquo;unbound' icon can call the most appropriate application when that icon is double clicked and remember that choice.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img title="Apple Icon Editor" src="" alt="Apple Icon Editor" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Off the top of my head, I don't know how the Finder resolves conflicts between icon allocation and which applications are assigned to open them. For example, you may insert a 3.5" disk which has its own icon files and while the current icons will automatically change the next time to open an application and quit back to the Finder, the icons MAY change to the icons found on the 3.5" you inserted. Anyone know how the Finder chooses which icons are displayed over another?</p> <p>As another side-note, you can apply secondary or &lsquo;auxiliary' filetypes to executables and files, which can help distinguish which applications &lsquo;own' the same filetypes. This is only as good as the apps that support saving the auxiliary filetypes when any files are saved (for example, Apple preferred graphics format ($00C0) but using an auxillary filetype stamped to the file to differentiate between Platinum Paint and Dream Grafix, which both apps use the same format for). But I still don't know how the Finder prioritises between which applications have ownership over a certain filetype with the same primary and secondary filetype information.</p> <p>Anyway, remember that folder on the root directory called &lsquo;Icons'? All icons need to reside there for the IIGS Finder to know where to find them and then apply them as per the specifications given to each and every icon.</p> <p>Things got a little more complicated after the release of <a href="">System 5</a>&nbsp;in regards to icon creation, but this made it easier for the average user, as icon handling could now be done entirely behind the scenes and without specific paths to applications (which is a major pain if you move apps into other folders or change their filenames) or even fighting over which app got to load when the icon is double clicked within the Finder.</p> <p>With the inclusion of forked files, icons could be placed within the resource fork of a file or GS/OS executable, which would then be contained in a &lsquo;Desktop' file, sitting in the &lsquo;Icons' folder, which collects all such icons automatically after opening these applications for the first time. But, for the sake of backwards compatibility, even <a href="">System 6.0.1</a>&nbsp;supports the older style method of applying icons, which is a good thing given that the majority of commercial software was released in the early days of the IIGS and that their icons could keep working as GS/OS progressed.</p> <h1>Pretty as a Picture</h1> <p>So far I've only discussed the deployment of icons -&nbsp;not the creation of their artwork.</p> <p>Firstly, there are two icon sizes -&nbsp;large and small. Large icons are seen in the default window view within the Finder. Small icons are used in list views. I'll only be talking about the large view from here on out, as creating small icons for all these apps would double the workload required for what I'd like to do with IIGS icons...too much work!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Small and Large Icons" src="" alt="Small and Large Icons" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;">Although icons are intended for the IIGS Finder, which uses the super hi-res 640 x 200 video mode, all the icon editors I've played with including Dave Lyons' DIced, Steve Disbrow's ICE (only available through <a href="">GS+</a>) and Paul Elseth's IconEd v2b3 (does anyone have a newer beta version of this, or even a final v2?), treat the creation of icon artwork as if they were 320 x 200 resolution graphics. You can use tricks like using the two &lsquo;grey' colours (which in fact are narrow strips of black and white in 640 mode) to get sharper edges where black and white meet and contrast. This limitation of treating them like 320x200 mode graphics could be related to how icon masks are used; there may be other limitations I'm not aware of as well.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Example Icon Editing" src="" alt="Example Icon Editing" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;">However, you can still use <a href="">paint programs</a>&nbsp;that make better use of <a href="">640 x 200 mode graphics and its particular quirks</a>&nbsp;and import them into icon editors. But more on that later.</p> <p>One last important note to do with &lsquo;large' icons' artwork is their size. Unlike the classic Mac OS, for which its large icon size has always been locked to 32x32 pixels, IIGS icons can be as large as &lsquo;160 x 50' pixels. However, just because you CAN make icons that large, doesn't mean you should. An issue you'll quickly run into with really large icons is that they will begin to overlap onto other nearby icons on their grid. It's best to stick to the 16x16 default for IIGS icons and only use larger icons for executables, where you can layout the icon within its windowed folder (which is remembered in the invisible &lsquo;' files in each directory) so that it becomes obvious which icon to double click to start a program.</p> <h1>The Heart of the Mania</h1> <p>Without banging on any more as to the intricacies of how icons work on the IIGS, let's get to the core of my icon infatuation: creating icons for as many programs (mostly games) that never came with an icon.</p> <p>Why did so many IIGS programs never come with an icon? For many, it made perfect sense not to as they weren't functional from the IIGS Finder in the first place. Most IIGS games booted&nbsp;directly&nbsp;into the game from disk, completely skipping the Finder and the need to double click an icon. Furthermore, most of these games wouldn't run properly when attempted to be launched from the Finder even if you tried... at least until some smart individuals created patches so they would work. Since those patched versions, it is now possible to run them from the Finder, with or without an icon. But not only does it look more aesthetically pleasing to include an icon, it will also help identify which is the correct executable to double click (older games may have had multiple executable files that the program would refer to, but only one would launch properly).</p> <p>Given I've spent a long time (and the search is not yet over) trying to find as many GS/OS compatible and hard drive installable patches for IIGS games and apps, I finally decided they may as well look good at the same time.</p> <p>In my quest to better skin all these games, I turned to all the icons I've assembled for the <a href="">System Add-ons</a>&nbsp;volume to poach whatever icons have already been made by others for programs that never had an icon. And that yielded some good results -&nbsp;a nice helicopter icon for&nbsp;<a href="">Cavern Cobra</a>...a great periscope view for <a href="">Sub Battle Simulator</a>...a palm tree for <a href="">California Games</a>...a nice, but overly large grab of gameplay from <a href="">Warlock</a>, which I then cropped and resulted in a more succinct visual representation of the game.</p> <p>That's the trick with icons. They're ICONS. Not illustrations. Less is more! Many icons from the System-Add-ons collection are too large, detailed and unfortunately downright ugly in a lot of instances and I would never use out of desperation for a complete icon set. So I then started to strip down some of these illustrated icons, which bore more fruit -&nbsp;the silhouette of the <a href="">Hover Blade</a>&nbsp;craft proved a good icon when removed from its planetary background, for example.</p> <h1>Another Source for Good Icons</h1> <p>This then lead to me using in game screen shots for sources of icons -&nbsp;finding something the right size from the action that hopefully sums up the game nicely in a single, simple logo style image: a tank from <a href="">Firepower</a>; the darting crystal bonus from <a href="">Crystal Quest</a>; the magic fruit that would revive your father in <a href="">King's Quest IV</a>&nbsp;or the giant holographic alien head from <a href="">Space Quest I</a>. Effective icons if I do say so myself.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="From a DOS screenshot" src="" alt="From a DOS screenshot" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;">For some of these icons, I didn't even refer to the IIGS screen grabs I've been exhaustively collecting for the <a href="">coffee table book</a>. Knowing full well that the EGA colour palette bares more resemblance to the 640 x 200 mode default colour palette, I took DOS screen grabs of Fire Power and Neuromancer from <a href=""></a>, removed all the elements I didn't want to include in the icon in Photoshop before importing into the IIGS and converted those to 640 x 200 mode graphics using <a href="">Super Convert 4</a>. Once converted, you can then crop images to be as small as possible and then save as an &lsquo;ICN' file directly out of Super Convert 4. From there, I load the ICN into IconEd v2b3 (my preferred icon editor), create masks for the icons and properly allocate the filename and filetype for the icon. Dropping the resulting ICN file into the &lsquo;Icons' folder of the root directory of the volume in which the game sits, the icon then magically appears the next time the Finder is restarted.</p> <h1>IDIY (Icon Do It Yourself)</h1> <p>But then I had to go one step further. Creating icons from scratch. Using <a href="">Platinum Paint</a>&nbsp;(which I'd already used for editing of existing icons) I used its broad toolset to create the marble from <a href="">Marble Madness</a>&nbsp;and adding a similar motion effect as seen on the game's box. But my favourite is the icon I made for <a href="">Gauntlet</a>. Using the gargoyle head found on the character selection screen and arcade cabinet art, I was able to recreate it as faithfully and as small as possible. This is the result:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Gauntlet Icon from scratch" src="" alt="Gauntlet Icon from scratch" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;">Who'd have thought the icon could look better than the in-game graphics? :-)</p> <p>Last, but certainly not least, is combining all icon files (that I used to keep separately) into one file using copy and paste or drag and drop within IconEd. Why? Chiefly, because it saves disk space. A single icon file might be 1k big, but the actual data isn't that much. If you can squeeze all icons into a single file, the sum total of the actual data is saved to a single file and not the minimum file-size of all the separate icon files. I conserved 60k from the System 6.0.1 with Shareware and Freeware games image and while that doesn't sound like a lot, I could then fit another 2 to 3 simple games on it. Getting the most out of that 32 meg ProDOS volume limit is something I'm always keen to maintain.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="All Adventure Game Icons in one file" src="" alt="All Adventure Game Icons in one file" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;">Comparing the memory usage by going to 'About the Apple IIGS' from the Finder between the older System 6.0.1 image with the newer one with combined icons, it saves on memory too -&nbsp;looks like I saved 100k to be precise! And hopefully, it should also make the pauses when volumes mount on the desktop shorter as well, an issue I first mentioned in <a href="">my review of the CFFA 2 card</a>.</p> <h1>One last final note:</h1> <p>I still haven't managed to create icons for EVERY game. It's proving a mammoth task, and rather than not release anything until every game is accounted for with an icon (which might never happen), I've decided to release what I have so far. Currently that means we've got icons for EVERY action game (that needs one anyway, as <a href="">Alien Mind</a>&nbsp;and <a href="">GATE</a>&nbsp;will NEVER run from the Finder). We also now have icons for NEARLY every Adventure game, most icons for RPGs, quite a few for Simulations and Board Games, but really short on Sports and Unreleased games.</p> <p>So if you've held onto an amazing icon since the IIGS' halcyon days for that favourite game, <a href="">please pass it on</a>. Or maybe I've inspired you to create one from scratch? Check over all my updated 32 meg volumes for missing icons and I'd love to hear from you if you can fill in the gaps. While you're checking for missing icons, check for any missing hard drive installable games as well -&nbsp;we're still in need of a few... however, I've also got a trick up my sleeve for more hard drive installable versions, thanks to some text files that are on the recently reclassified <a href="">TABBS CD-ROM</a>&nbsp;(thanks Ewen!). Stay tuned for more.</p> <p>In the meantime, be sure to grab my updated 32 meg volumes:</p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="System 6.0.1 Hard Drive Image" href="">System 6.0.1 Hard Drive Image</a>&nbsp;(now with many more icons for its shareware and freeware games included)</p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Action Games" href="" target="_blank">Action Games</a></p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Adventure and Simulation Games" href="">Adventure and Simulation Games</a></p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Board Games and RPGs" href="">Board Games and RPGs</a></p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Sports and Unreleased Games" href="">Sports &amp; Unreleased Games</a></p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Audio and Utilities" href="">Utilities &amp; Aural Creative</a>&nbsp;(Where you can find icon editors under 'SW.Utilities/Icon.Editors')</p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Productivity and Graphics" href="">Productivity &amp; Visual Creative</a>&nbsp;</p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a href="">System Add-ons</a>&nbsp;(the source of many icons &ndash; check out 'Icon.Library')</p> <p>UPDATE! I've added a lot of new icons.&nbsp;While it's still not a complete collection, we've mostly got Sports covered now, most Unreleased Games covered and a couple more Sim games. As always, if you can&nbsp;<a href="">contribute</a>&nbsp;with some icons of your own, it would be much appreciated.</p> Tue, 11 Sep 2012 12:00:00 +0200 Professional Desktop Publishing and the Apple II <p>Growing up, I loved Apple II magazines <a href="">A+</a>, <a href="">InCider</a>, <a href="">Nibble</a>&nbsp;and <a href="">the Apple IIGS Buyers Guide</a>.</p> <p>They were all very well produced, intensely professional publications. They mirrored the high visual standard set by Apple with fantastic product photography, terrific typography and clever copy. I was excited to come across any new issue of the aforementioned magazines -&nbsp;they weren't always easy to come by in my relatively small hometown of Newcastle, Australia.</p> <p>In more recent years, now that I'm a practising graphic designer for both print and digital formats, I still marvel at these magazines; how on earth did they produce these elegant publications without the use of digital technology?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="image left" style="width: 170;"><img title="Proper Pup" src="" alt="Proper Pup" width="170" height="170" /></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Roger Goode, quite out of the blue, has answered some of these questions for me when he recently wrote into &lsquo;What is the Apple IIGS?'. Roger worked at IDG, the company that published <a href="">InCider</a>&nbsp;(and later,&nbsp;<a href="">InCider/A+</a>); I'll let him explain the rest:</p> <p>"I got my start in publishing by being hired on <a href="">AmigaWorld magazine</a>&nbsp;(also published by the group that did InCider). I was hired mostly to create graphics with the Amiga for the magazine. But that alone wouldn't justify my hire. So they also made me a designer. In both cases--using the computer to create graphics, and doing magazine design--I was a complete novice. My background was fine art (oil painting). But this company was an outlier of IDG, based in Massachusetts, and they hired a lot of people with marginal skills and just let 'em learn. It was a great environment."</p> <p>I'd visited <a href="">Roger's self promotion web site</a>&nbsp;and went immediately to his <a href="">portfolio</a>&nbsp;and his <a href="">resume</a>. When I came upon his summary of his time working on InCider, I was in awe. Roger had led them them from traditional paste-ups to the new digital age!</p> <p>For me, I'd never designed before the Mac, <a href="">Adobe</a>&nbsp;and <a href="">Quark</a>&nbsp;came along. So I asked Roger:&nbsp;how the hell did you layout magazines before that?</p> <p>"...I learned to do magazine design--old school--just a few years before the advent of desktop publishing. Basically the process was all paste-up and mechanical... Meaning that we had boards--pre-formatted paper sheets for a magazine spread--with pale blue grids on them.</p> <p>Then we would decide on the column count for an article and order the (final edited) copy from the typesetting department. They would send us paper galleys of the copy, set at the right width, and then we'd run it through a waxing machine which applied a thin coat of wax to the back of the paper.</p> <p>With X-acto knives and T-squares, we would then cut up the galleys, and combined with waxed photocopies of whatever artwork was going on the page, we'd carefully paste down the copy and art to layout the page. Sometimes edits would need to be made, or other adjustments, and we'd have to laboriously cut up the copy--sometimes line-by-line--and move it around to copyfit. If it got too badly sliced and diced, we'd order new galleys and re-paste it based on the last version we'd have on the board.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="captionImage left" style="width: 374;"><img title="The old school way." src="" alt="The old school way." width="374" height="428" /></p> <p class="caption" style="width: 374;">The old school way.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When everything was finally in place and approved, we'd send the finished board back to typesetting to generate new galleys in finished form in better "resolution" on better paper. All of this was in black and white, so finally we'd have to put a tracing-paper overlay on top of the board and mark that up with handwritten notes to indicate where there was color, and other printing notes. That is what would be sent to be transferred photographically to plates for printing. It's hard to imagine how laborious and time-consuming all that was in retrospect."</p> <p>Knowing full well myself that it takes some persuading just to change one from one digital workflow to another, never mind analogue to digital, how did the step up to a digital workflow go?</p> <p>"When the company was first considering moving to desktop publishing on a Mac, the decision was made that InCider would be the first magazine in the group to take the plunge. The Art Director at the time was going to be going on maternity leave, and was also nervous about having to learn to use the new technology. So they started searching for a new Art Director to be the guinea pig. Since I had already grown comfortable using a computer on the Amiga, and they weren't finding any takers among the established Art Directors, I got the job... sort of by default.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="captionImage left" style="width: 624;"> <p class="caption" style="width: 624;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="captionImage left" style="width: 624;"><img title="Spot the difference? From cut and paste to digital layout" src="" alt="Spot the difference? From cut and paste to digital layout" width="624" height="403" /></p> <p class="caption" style="width: 624;">Spot the difference? From cut and paste to digital layout</p> <p class="caption" style="width: 624;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="caption" style="width: 624;">It was an amazing opportunity. Both to be on the leading edge of a new publishing model, and to leap into the role of Art Director... Something that might have taken years for me to move up to otherwise. So I jumped in with both feet. For the next few months, I practically lived in my new office. One of the goals for the initial rollout of the new model was that it be undetectable... meaning that they didn't want anyone to see any difference between the last issue and the new desktop published one, at least not typographically. So all of the typesetting had to look the same.</p> <p class="caption" style="width: 624;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="caption" style="width: 624;"><img title="A layout from the Nov 89 issue &ndash;&nbsp;the last to use traditional layout techniques." src="" alt="A layout from the Nov 89 issue &ndash;&nbsp;the last to use traditional layout techniques." width="567" height="403" /></p> <p class="caption" style="width: 624;">A layout from the Nov 89 issue &ndash;&nbsp;the last to use traditional layout techniques.</p> <p class="caption" style="width: 624;">&nbsp;</p> </div> <p>I had one of the old typesetters in my office constantly--teaching me the ins and outs of setting and matching type. But it was all being done on this new platform, where the software (QuarkXPress) was relatively new and the options were much more limited than they are today. I'd have to say that it was a good thing that I didn't really know what I was getting myself into when I threw my hat in. The process was nightmarish at times and the deadline set by the company was coming up too fast.</p> <p>But we pulled it off in the end... I don't think anyone really noticed any changes in the printed copies--except for the note in the Editorial that issue. (I can't remember which issue that was now) After that, it continued to be a fairly steep learning curve, but the worst was over and all the rest was actually a lot of fun, learning new tricks and having so much more control of all the elements in the page design. The only sad part is that--over time--a lot of people started losing their jobs, as more and more disciplines started be concentrated into one job of Desktop Publisher. Typesetting, Production, Stat Room, all these different jobs started to fall by the wayside."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="captionImage left" style="width: 567;"><img title="A layout done with Quark Xpress, from InCider/A+ issue Dec 1990" src="" alt="A layout done with Quark Xpress, from InCider/A+ issue Dec 1990" width="567" height="403" /></p> <p class="caption" style="width: 567;">A layout done with Quark Xpress, from InCider/A+ issue Dec 1990</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And there you have it -&nbsp;a great account of how it was done in the old days and how quickly all the laborious elements of a job can be rid of almost well as the livelihood of working professionals practising traditional methods. We seem to be entering a similarly new phase with this now, with Apple having changed the nature of <a href="">buying music</a>&nbsp;(and to lesser extents movies and TV) and their <a href="">new push into education, textbooks and books in general</a>. It's sometimes hard keeping up.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sun, 22 Jan 2012 13:00:00 +0200 A Dream Comes True! IIGS Users Unite in Paris! <p>I loved the <a href="">1990 California Demo</a>&nbsp;by Mr Z and the FTA, which told the story of their visit to California -&nbsp;meeting the late Joe Kohn who had sung the praises of their work in many an article, as well as meeting the Apple II development team at Apple itself. <a href="">Digital Exodus' Xmas Demo of 1993</a>&nbsp;wove a similar tale, only this time it was the convergence of Apple II fans gathering for Apple Expo West 1993. Meeting some of the Apple II elite from France...over fine food and wine, lots of laughs, the occasional language hiccup, and some amazing generosity I can now weave my own tale of how simply having an interest in the Apple II means you automatically have friends all the over the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="California Demo 1990" src="" alt="California Demo 1990" width="320" height="200" />&nbsp;<img title="Digital Exodus Xmas Demo 1990" src="" alt="Digital Exodus Xmas Demo 1990" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Antoine had arranged as many Apple II fans as were available for my first night in Paris. With my partner Bronwen, Antoine picked us up from Hotel Andr&eacute; Gill right in the heart of Montmartre, taking in many of the glittering sights of Paris along the way -&nbsp; although we disappointed Antoine by telling him how we'd seen most of them three years ago or that we'd seen them that very afternoon, after a visit to the <a href="">Mus&eacute;e d'orsay</a>! Arriving at the restaurant <a href="">Mathusalem</a>, we sat down and started with Bordeaux wine (the region made famous not only for wines but also for being the birthplace of Antoine)!</p> <p>We were then joined by Jean-Pierre Lagrange, longtime Apple II fan, whiz and webmaster of <a href="">Hackzapple</a>&nbsp;and as we started to chat, it started a trend that made it clear that everyone's English was much better than my French...including Bronwen's! Fashionably late was Fran&ccedil;ois Michaud, who marked the occasion by providing all attendees of the dinner with a beautifully finished wooden Apple logo (see below). Une telle g&eacute;n&eacute;rosit&eacute;! Not only that, but drawing from his incredibly impressive collection, Fran&ccedil;ois also bestowed me with an amazing A1 sized print reproduction of an original Apple IIGS poster used to promote the machine in France shortly after its release.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="image left" style="width: 644;"> <p class="image left" style="width: 644;"><img title="Jean-Pierre, Fran&ccedil;ois, Bronwen and me at restaurant Mathusalem. Photo by Antoine" src="" alt="Jean-Pierre, Fran&ccedil;ois, Bronwen and me at restaurant Mathusalem. Photo by Antoine" width="644" height="483" /></p> <br /></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At this point, I have a confession to make: there are actually things I love more than the Apple II: chiefly, food. I was not disappointed by the French onion soup (which in France, is strangely simplified by calling it &lsquo;onion soup') and then the AAAAA chitterling sausage was a new contender for my favourite meat left-over ensemble (it's a strong contending crowd with some other hot runners being some incredible sausages I ate in Bremen, Germany and Scotland's national dish, Haggis). For dessert, I shared a caf&eacute; gourmond with Bron, just leaving the coffee all to her (I'm not a big coffee drinker).</p> <p>The conversation naturally drifted towards our Apple II collections and Fran&ccedil;ois is the <a href="">undeniable hoarding champion</a>&nbsp;at around 485 Apple computers in his possession. Not to mention his assortment of other Apple memorabilia, including retail point of sale displays, software, brochures, publications, you name it. Our discussion then lead to how each of our respective partners, knowing full well that my own partner was seated next to me, react to our compulsive stockpiling of vintage Apple hardware...let's just say that all of our better halves are incredibly patient with us! Speaking of which, Fran&ccedil;ois's daughter is currently conducting a psychological survey on addiction...but rather than study the addictive effects of drugs or alcohol, she's wanting responses from people addicting to collecting Apple hardware. Let&nbsp;<a href="">Fran&ccedil;ois</a>&nbsp;know if you'd be interested in partaking!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 644;"><img title="Jean-Pierre, Fran&ccedil;ois, Antoine, Me, Bronwen. Photo by the waiter!" src="" alt="Jean-Pierre, Fran&ccedil;ois, Antoine, Me, Bronwen. Photo by the waiter!" width="644" height="346" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Time was flying as we were having fun and so the evening came to an unfortunate end. Sleep was becoming a necessary addition to a very full day.</p> <p>For the following day, Antoine also had a near full itinerary booked. I was to meet him and Paul Lafonta, engineer, creator of many Apple II expansion cards, a real hacker since the early days of Apple, and also close friend to Jean Louis Gassee ;-) Meeting them by the Paris Metro at Alesia, Paul's laboratory was nearby and we went in to see it - it was an incredible monument to vintage Apple hardware...literally, almost a building sized sculpture made from the parts of Apple cases, filed away motherboards, stacked hard drives and lots of miscellaneous vintage computing bric-a-brac. Unfortunately, some of the collection had recently suffered water damage thanks to a leaking ceiling. I hope this fate doesn't await me when I return to Australia and my collection in storage.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 644;"><img title="The Metro" src="" alt="The Metro" width="644" height="362" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With Antoine as chauffeur, we took a pleasant drive out to his home near Versailles on a bright sunny day. In the light-filled living room we sat down and had tea while Antoine added another member to our party -&nbsp;Bill Martens of <a href="">Call A.P.P.L.E.</a>&nbsp;and <a href="">Virtual Apple</a>, live from Tokyo, Japan via FaceTime on the iPad 2. We talked about recent collaborations cataloging MECC software but it became too hard not to talk about how Bill was the spitting image of Santa Claus, complete with long beard. Any Japanese kid sitting on his knee would not hesitate to think this was the real Santa. But things had to keep rolling, so we had to bid adieu to Bill and make our way to lunch at Restaurant La villa.</p> <p>Antoine's longtime programming partner at <a href="">Brutal Deluxe</a>, Olivier Zardini, was to make an appearance for lunch, but bathroom renovation woes would unfortunately keep him away from our first meeting. However, Antoine informed me that Jean-Pierre Charpentier, better known as Babar St Cyr, would be making an appearance. Antoine knew I was happy about this, as my eyes lit up: I would meet the author of&nbsp;<a href="">Polysons</a>?!? Incredibl&eacute;! Although worrying about speaking in English, Babar needn't have been concerned as again, his English was a lot better than my French! I loved his story of how he met Steve Jobs and got his autograph: Visiting Paris for a NeXT presentation back in the early to mid 90s, Babar waited patiently for Jobs to appear after his presentation and pounced when the man finally appeared. Barbar handed Jobs a print of his NeXT browser new desk accessory for the IIGS and Steve said &lsquo;That's OK, just don't sell it' and then wrote his autograph on it and away he went.</p> <p>The late Apple CEO was very much on our minds that day, because Antoine was carrying with him a copy of Steve Jobs' biography. Antoine proclaimed, with just a little tongue-in-cheek, that it was the &lsquo;nouvelle bible!' and at various intervals during the day, he would tenderly place it on a table or chair, kneel in front of it and make the sign of the cross.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img title="Le Nouvelle Bible!" src="" alt="Le Nouvelle Bible!" width="232" height="355" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But back to more important things: lunch. A snifter of sangria made my palette sit up and take notice and for the Basque region inspired cuisine to follow. Not sure how large the choices on the menu would be and seeing they had a selection of tapas, I asked Antoine what the &lsquo;plats' / &lsquo;plages' were and he explained they were a selection of foods on a wooden board. Sounds like an English ploughman's so I ordered the seafood version. It was excellent. It included lovely large anchovies (not of the usual salty variety found on pizzas), a squid's ink calamari, seasoned prawns, a little salad and a salmon mousse accompanied with crusty bread.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 644;"><img title="Paul, Me, Barbar, Antoine." src="" alt="Paul, Me, Barbar, Antoine." width="644" height="322" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Our leisurely lunch continued to talk of past glories on the Apple II, technology and the ugly business side of it all. We made our way back to Antoine's for a full disclosure of his Apple II &lsquo;den'. Multiple IIGS machines adorn the available table spaces. It's always great seeing IIGS like this and these were made all the more exotic with peripherals I don't have, not to mention the French AZERTY keyboards. &nbsp;Antoine showed us some interesting snippets of System 6 source code (complete with interesting stories on the development of GS/OS included with the code itself, including how a single flag made the MS-DOS FST a read-only part of the system when it could have so easily been read and write!) &nbsp;I glanced through all the shelves of books and boxed software just like I might have done as a kid when I visited the local Apple Centre. I wish I'd taken a photo of it, but I did manage to take a photo of the shower in the bathroom next door:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 384;"><img title="Antoine's shower downstairs!" src="" alt="Antoine's shower downstairs!" width="384" height="512" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Clearly the sign of another addicted Apple II collector!</p> <p>Antoine gave me copies of all four volumes of the Apple II: Le Guide, which revealed some French IIGS software I'd never heard of before...damn, more software to find and archive! Really cool, comprehensive listings of IIGS and Apple II software and hardware, although with the added challenge of being in French.</p> <p>Seeing off Barbar, who technically was illegally parked in front of Antoine's driveway, we then only had time enough for me to show Antoine and Paul a nice selection of visuals I've amassed for the coffee table book as well as some layouts. Over the weekend questions were asked about my book: chiefly what exactly will it be about? It is still dedicated to the IIGS, as I've always <a href="">originally intended</a>, and I want it to be a complete visual history of the platform -&nbsp;something that IIGS fans can refer to for specific information and that the wider Apple fan community would enjoy to see learning about this unique Apple platform, rather than another resource dedicated to the Macintosh or iOS.</p> <p>Sadly, it was time to go. Antoine was able to give me a lift back to Concorde, where I caught up with Bronwen again and we explored the Christmas markets leading up to the Champs-&Eacute;lys&eacute;es, finding a bite to eat (Tartiflette and a brochette) along the way. The following day we checked out the flea markets and wandered around the magical city.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 644;"><img title="Paris at dusk, looking towards the Eiffel Tower" src="" alt="Paris at dusk, looking towards the Eiffel Tower" width="644" height="347" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Much thanks to everyone who came to lunch or dinner (or FaceTime) and extra special thanks to Antoine for organising these Apple II soirees. It's made me keen to catch up with those rare individuals in the UK who still covet Apple IIs, so lookout <a href="">Drew</a>&nbsp;and <a href="">Ewen</a>! ;-)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sun, 27 Nov 2011 15:30:00 +0200 For Home Brew Just Add Hops…Skips, Jumps, Blood, Sweat & Tears <p>This article has been written...</p> <p>a) to help anyone who's interested in Apple IIGS software development (from a complete non-expert)</p> <p>and</p> <p>b) to express my jealousy of how the gaming home brew scene on other abandoned platforms is thriving: <a href="">Space Harrier has been ported to the Atari XL</a>, and as I've been finalising this blog, the <a href="">Commodore 64 version of Prince of Persia</a>&nbsp;has just been released, made from disassembled code from the original Apple II version and much to the amazement and joy of Jordan Mechner himself! The Retroaction site <a href="">lists all the new productions</a>&nbsp;coming out for C64, ZX Spectrum and other platforms...and it's a lot.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="white-space: pre;"><img title="Homebrew Space Harrier for the Atari XL" src="" alt="Homebrew Space Harrier for the Atari XL" width="320" height="200" /><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span></span><span style="white-space: pre;"><img title="Homebrew version of Prince of Persia for the C64" src="" alt="Homebrew version of Prince of Persia for the C64" width="320" height="200" /></span></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 336;"><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Perhaps one reason the Apple II has been lagging in this category is that it's incorrectly assumed that everyone within the community already knows what programming languages are available, what toolbox calls can be made, and what visual and audio software can be used to enhance programs. Recently there have been expressions of interest from people new to the IIGS or those who haven't used the IIGS in such a long time, they can't remember all these steps to software development.</p> <p>Additionally, many developers seem to work in a bubble, with few people being aware of what others are working on. It's always great to receive an enjoyable surprise program, but this could lead to two individuals developing the same program or something similar; a doubling up of efforts that would likely result in one person's effort being made redundant.</p> <p>Moreover, if the bubble is expanded to other people, enhanced graphics could be employed, sound and music added, further testing done and documentation written in league with the programmer's efforts, hopefully freeing up more time for the programmer who would otherwise take on these peripheral duties themselves.</p> <p>I know that some people might remember '1WSW' (One World Software Wizards), and I'm really hesitant to even mention it all for fear of the IIGS faithful retreating back into the safety of their secluded individual development. But being included on a list of people, their skills and projects would be purely on a voluntary basis.</p> <p>For example, I volunteer my services for any IIGS development in the following ways:</p> <p>&bull; Graphic Design including planning graphical user interfaces, layout &amp; typography. I stress however that this doesn't include illustration, a skill for which I am well out of practise and don't have enough time for to produce work that I'd be happy with. I strongly recommend getting in touch with the artists at Pixel Joint for such work.<br />&bull; Graphics Conversion (ensuring best possible exploitation of the abilities of the IIGS to display graphics from other formats).<br />&bull;&nbsp;Beta testing software (albeit via Sweet 16 and KEGS)</p> <p>If you'd like to make yourself available to help in the development of IIGS software, <a href="">let me know</a>&nbsp;and in what capacity you're able to assist. I'll add you to this article.</p> <p>As for developing your own programs, here is a list of the most commonly used software available:</p> <h1>Programming</h1> <p><a href="">ORCA/M</a>&nbsp;- Still Sold &amp; Supported with complete documentation - Enables you to develop assembly language based programs. Optional tutorials are available for additional price.</p> <p><a href="">ORCA/C</a>&nbsp;- Still Sold &amp; Supported&nbsp;with complete documentation&nbsp;- Enables you develop in 'C'. Optional tutorials are available for additional price.</p> <p><a href="">ORCA/Pascal</a>&nbsp;- Still Sold &amp; Supported&nbsp;with complete documentation&nbsp;- Enables you to code in Pascal.</p> <p><a href="">Merlin 16+</a>&nbsp;- Abandonware - Enables you to code in assembly language.</p> <p><a title="Ninja Force Assembler" href="" target="_blank">Ninja Force Assembler</a>&nbsp;- Freeware - Enables you to code in assembly language.</p> <p><a href="">Complete Pascal</a>&nbsp;(previously TML Pascal) - Reclassified Freeware - Enables you to code in Pascal and make full use of toolbox calls.</p> <p><a href="">Splat!</a>&nbsp;- Reclassified Freeware - A debugger for use with Complete Pascal.</p> <p><a href="">MICOL Advanced Basic v5.0</a>&nbsp;- Reclassified Freeware - Extends Applesoft BASIC, exploiting the IIGS more fully.</p> <p><a href="">Iconix</a>&nbsp;&amp; <a href="">Sonix</a>&nbsp;- Reclassified Freeware - Extends Applesoft BASIC, exploiting the IIGS more fully, specifically in regards to graphics and sound.</p> <p><a href="">Call Box</a>&nbsp;- Reclassified Freeware - Extends Applesoft BASIC, by allowing you to use the IIGS toolbox.</p> <p><a href="">GSoft BASIC</a>&nbsp;- Recently Reclassified Freeware - Allows BASIC to take advantage of IIGS toolbox and other IIGS specific capabilities.</p> <p><a href="">Hyperstudio</a>&nbsp;&amp; <a href="">HyperCard</a>&nbsp;-&nbsp;adventure style games could be potentially made with either of these hypermedia editing programs.</p> <p><a href="">Foundation</a>&nbsp;&amp; <a href="">Genesys</a>&nbsp;- Reclassified Freeware - Resource editors to allow you to quickly create the content of pull down menus and program dialogues.</p> <p><a href="">Design Master</a>&nbsp;- Still Sold &amp; Supported - Resource editor to allow you to quickly create the content of pull down menus and program dialogues.</p> <p>Flaming Bird Disassembler - Freeware - Disassembles compiled assembly code for modification.</p> <h1>Programming Libraries</h1> <p><a href="">PegaSoft Draw Tools v3.1</a>&nbsp;- Shareware - a third party toolset to assist in the display of graphics and animation. Full docs included.</p> <p>MegaTracker Player v? - Freeware - incredibly optimised code resource for ORCA/M projects that enables SoundSmith sequence playback with only 1 - 3% CPU resources even for a stock standard IIGS.</p> <p>Tool 219 - Freeware - a system tool developed by the FTA to enable SoundSmith sequence playback.</p> <p>Tool 220 - Freeware - a system tool developed by the FTA to enable NoiseTracker sequence playback. This only includes MODs from the IIGS version of NoiseTracker, not the Amiga version of NoiseTracker.</p> <p>ShellPlay - freeware - a shell program to enable very high quality playback of Amiga MOD format music sequences.</p> <p><a href="">libsoundGS</a>&nbsp;- Created by Christopher Sheperd (no relation to Eric Sheperd), this sound library takes advantage of compact flash based storage and oversampling to playback music larger than can fit into a fully maxed out 8meg of RAM IIGS. Additionally, the library provides a means of adding other triggered sound effects to play in addition to the sampled music.</p> <p>Tool 35 &nbsp;- Apple - a system tool included with System 6 for MIDISynth sequence playback. MIDISynth sequence playback requires many more CPU cycles than SoundSmith and is not recommended for arcade games.</p> <p><a href="">Generic Tile Engine</a>&nbsp;- freeware - Still being developed, the GTE enables use of an incredibly quick blitter and tile based scrolling commonly found in arcade games.</p> <p><a href="">Virtual GS</a>&nbsp;&ndash; plenty of Pascal and GSoft BASIC examples to help bring you into the world of IIGS programming!</p> <p><a href="">Polymorph's A2 Projects</a>&nbsp;&ndash; Mike Stephens' Complete Pascal programs with source code included.</p> <p><a href="">Complete Pascal</a>&nbsp;for the Apple IIGS - Even more info on getting the most out of Pascal development on the IIGS.</p> <p><a href="">Golden Grail</a>&nbsp;&ndash; CD-ROM collection put together by Jim Maricondo includes lots of sample code (including the useful music tools listed above).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h1>Graphics Conversion</h1> <p><a href="">Convert3200</a>&nbsp;- Reclassified Freeware - a tool to convert GIF, BMP and IFF formats to the native SHR format of the IIGS in either 16, 256 or 3200 colours. Interface takes getting used to, but provides good and quick results, as well as batch conversions.</p> <p><a href="">Super Convert v4.0</a>&nbsp;- Abandonware - Converts more formats than any other IIGS program including JPG, GIF, PNG and offers a wide variety of how images are translated for the IIGS. Does the best job of converting artwork to the IIGS' 640 x 200 graphics mode commonly used in desktop applications.</p> <p><a href="">Prism</a>&nbsp;- Abandonware - Simple to use but includes useful options for conversion, Prism can convert images to the native Super HiRes (SHR) graphics with 16, 256 or 3200 colours.</p> <h1>Graphics Creation &amp; Editing</h1> <p><a href="">Platinum Paint</a>&nbsp;- Abandonware - Most fully featured 16 colour paint program for the IIGS.</p> <p><a href="">Dream Grafix</a>&nbsp;- Reclassified Freeware - includes best implementation of dealing with images greater than 16 colours.</p> <p><a href="">8/16 Paint</a>&nbsp;- Abandonware - Simple but fast and efficient tool for artwork. Also converts graphics between the different formats supported by the IIGS, including the older 8-bit hi-res and double hi-res graphic modes.</p> <p><a href="">Deluxe Paint II</a>&nbsp;- Abandonware - Classic powerful paint program.</p> <h1>Music Sequencing &amp; Conversion</h1> <p><a href="">SoundSmith</a>&nbsp;- Shareware - Tracker style sequencer program that allows compositions of up to 15 tracks with 64k of instrument data. Playback allows plenty of CPU cycles for other tasks.</p> <p>MODifier - Freeware - Converts older style Amiga MODs such as those created with ProTracker and NoiseTracker to SoundSmith format, also exporting instruments. Note that not all effects of MODs are supported by SoundSmith, for example, pitch bend, but conversion to SoundSmith format will ensure playback will require less CPU overhead.</p> <p><a href="">NoiseTracker</a>&nbsp;- Freeware - FTA developed sequencing program similar to SoundSmith, but breaks the 64k of instrument data barrier. Playback requires more CPU cycles however. NoiseTracker 2 became a desktop based program.</p> <p><a href="">MIDISurgeon v2.0</a>&nbsp;- Still Sold by Syndicomm as part of GS+ Magazine issue 7, 1 - MIDISurgeon will open standard MIDI files and convert them to IIGS native MIDISynth format. This opens up enormous potential for music on the IIGS.</p> <h1>Audio Editing &amp; Conversion</h1> <p>AudioZap - Reclassified Freeware - Possibly the most powerful audio editing program available for the IIGS. Enables you to open and convert many formats, record with the many different sound expansion cards available for the IIGS, waveform editing and adding effects, and even converting entire disks (not just ProDOS formatted disks either!) to a waveform to search for sound effects or instruments. The program can be found on the <a href="">Audio &amp; Utilities hard drive image</a>.</p> <p>I'll update this list whenever anybody makes a suggestion as to what to add.</p> <h1>Projects</h1> <p>This is a list of potential projects or projects already in started by others:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <table border="2" cellspacing="1" cellpadding="1" width="640"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <p>Project</p> </td> <td> <p>Aims</p> </td> <td> <p>Status</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p><a title="Magnetic Scrolls Interpreter" href="" target="_blank">Magnetic Scrolls Interpreter</a></p> </td> <td> <p>Create an interpreter from an existing <a href="">platform independent program</a>&nbsp;written in C that will allow play of any of the Magnetic Scrolls games including the Pawn, Guild of Thieves, Jinxter and make use of the standard IIGS GUI making toolbox calls for pull down menus, dialogues, text rendering, etc. Successful completion of IIGS port of the interpreter will enable 7 new text/graphic adventure games previously unavailable for the IIGS.</p> </td> <td> <p>All data for games acquired and Antoine Vignau and Olivier Zardini have reverse engineered the format of the graphics, but no further work done.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p><a title="Level 9 Interpreter" href="" target="_blank">Level 9 Interpreter</a></p> </td> <td> <p>Create an interpreter from an existing platform independent program written in C that will allow play of any of the Magnetic Scrolls games including Scapeghost and Lancelot and make use of the standard IIGS GUI making toolbox calls for pull down menus, dialogues, text rendering, etc. Successful completion of IIGS port of the interpreter will enable multiple new text/graphic adventure games previously unavailable for the IIGS.</p> </td> <td> <p>All data for games acquired, but no further work done.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p><a href="">Lucas Arts SCUMM</a>&nbsp;&amp;&nbsp;<a href="">Sierra SCI</a>&nbsp;Interpreters</p> </td> <td> <p>Using documentation gathered from the SCUMM VM project (which is NOT able to be ported to the IIGS as it's written in C++) to reverse engineer the SCUMM interpreter, write an interpreter in C or assembly specifically for the IIGS. Level of difficulty would be high. Music can be resequenced for the IIGS from the MIDI files found on <a href=""></a>.</p> </td> <td> <p>All data files from PC, Amiga and Atari ST versions collected. MIDI files collected and converted to IIGS native MIDI Synth format.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td> <p><a title="Snatcher" href="" target="_blank">Snatcher</a></p> </td> <td> <p>Using HyperCard as a development platform, recreate the Sega Mega CD version of Snatcher for the IIGS, removing some of the game audio, like speech.</p> </td> <td> <p>Initial work with Michael Shopsin to setup graphics conversion and display of 320 mode graphics within HyperCard.</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you're working on a IIGS game or application, and you'd like to lighten the load, let me know or write in the comments section below. A burden shared is a burden halved!</p> <p>If you've been following my blogs on 'What is the Apple IIGS?' you'll know I'm not a programmer. I know it's a big ask to anyone who can code on the IIGS, because of the time, effort and brainpower to make it happen. But I know I'm not the only one who'd like to play something new on our favourite Apple II.</p> Mon, 17 Oct 2011 22:30:00 +0200 System Extensions or 'Create Your Killer GS/OS Environment!' <p>Using system extensions is much like a juggling or balancing act - while there are many great ways to enhance GS/OS, you're limited by how much RAM you have, slowdowns, how well each extension gets along with each other and if they were specifically written for the version of the GS operating system you want to use.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="image left" style="width: 210;"><img title="System Folder" src="" alt="System Folder" width="210" height="165" /></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Back in the day, I 'only' had 2.25 meg of RAM in my ROM01 IIGS and I thought it was plenty. I played around with quite a few extensions, but ultimately, I liked a lean System 6, as it seemed more stable, saved precious drive space on my 40 meg Vulcan, and left enough memory to play the most demanding game and run the most resource intensive creative apps.</p> <p>Now of course, emulators make it much easier to play around with your ultimate personal System 6 install, as speed and drive space are many, many more times faster and capacious than back in the '80s and '90s. To enhance GS/OS, open your system folder and copy the individual relevant files from the System Add-ons volume into their respective folders according to what type of system extension they are. I'm aware that you can simply copy onto the 'System' folder from the root directory in System 6.0.1 and it will automatically move the file into its correct folder, however when done once, it doesn't seem to work again, and the System folder loses its icon and turns yellow. Is this a known bug or a conflict extension?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Loaded System 6.0.1" src="" alt="Loaded System 6.0.1" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Anyways, some observations I've made spending hours cataloguing and playing around with all these system add-ons in the hope of creating a definitive archive. It seems writing system extensions was just as perilous then as it is today: you could spend a lot of time developing an INIT, NDA, CDA, CDEV, etc. to extend GS/OS's capability just to have it made redundant when Apple decides to include it in the next version of the operating system. Although not included in this collection, SignatureGS is probably the best example of CDEVs that were made almost totally redundant in System 6, however they're still useful for System 5. DinkyLaunch by Richard Bennett allowed you to choose another launch program upon boot-up, which was superseded by the 'Set Start' CDEV in System 6.</p> <p>It's also made me realise that finding the right combination of system extensions greatly enhances the abilities of your IIGS - I've been surprised and delighted by a lot of NDAs, CDEVs (what the hell does CDEV stand for?!) and Finder Extras, having missed them the first time around back in the IIGS' heyday.</p> <p>Some of my favourites:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 389;"><strong><img title="Ninja Force's DeskPlay for MOD Playback" src="" alt="Ninja Force's DeskPlay for MOD Playback" width="389" height="296" /></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="Andr&eacute; Horstman's Hermes/ShadowWrite for text viewing &amp; editing" src="" alt="Andr&eacute; Horstman's Hermes/ShadowWrite for text viewing &amp; editing" width="385" height="348" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>NDAs: Rolf Braun's Sound It and Mega Box (which between them will play most common sound and music formats from within the Finder or any other program) and DeskMaker (for specifying an image for your desktop) Ninja Force's DeskPlay for MOD playback, Andr&eacute; Horstman's Hermes/Shadow Write for text reading and editing, Bret Victor's Mighty Units (for conversion) and Watcha Press? (for finding those accented characters).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Digital Exodus' DOCVu v2 for monitoring the Ensoniq's activity" src="" alt="Digital Exodus' DOCVu v2 for monitoring the Ensoniq's activity" width="320" height="200" />&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="FTA's ZIP CDA for controlling your ZIPGSX in style" src="" alt="FTA's ZIP CDA for controlling your ZIPGSX in style" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>CDAs: Nathan Mates' Game Hacker (for when I'm lazy playing games), Digital Exodus' DOCVu v2 and the FTA's Zip CDA (for controlling a ZipGSX in style).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 204;"><img title="Nathan Mates' KillDaWhoosh for a nice speed up" src="" alt="Nathan Mates' KillDaWhoosh for a nice speed up" width="204" height="148" />&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Nathan Mates' Flying Toasters Screen Saver conversion from After Dark" src="" alt="Nathan Mates' Flying Toasters Screen Saver conversion from After Dark" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>CDEVs: Nathan Mates' KillDaWhoosh (Kills the whoosh sounds and the animation for opening and closing windows - a real speed-up) and Small Extras (removing dividers between the list of Finder Extras and greatly saving space). Twilight II (the ultimate IIGS screen saver, which you'll find some new modules within this archive). I'd like AutoMenus v3 more if there was an option to allow a single and unsustained mouse click to pull down a menu rather than the menu opening as soon as you place the cursor over it! SuperClock is still my menu bar time keeper favourite.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 404;"><img title="Jupiter Systems Finder View - easy viewing images within the Finder" src="" alt="Jupiter Systems Finder View - easy viewing images within the Finder" width="404" height="260" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Finder Extras: Chris Vavruska's Finder Flipper (cycles between Windows with option-tab), Jupiter Systems' Finder View 3.0 (for opening nearly all graphics formats within the Finder).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 639;"><img title="Bret Victor's SlixTop (or Shadybar and Bender combined)" src="" alt="Bret Victor's SlixTop (or Shadybar and Bender combined)" width="639" height="263" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>INITs: Nathan Mates' GUPP (Fixes lingering bugs in System 6.0.1) Bret Victor's Shady Bar and Bender (beautifies the menu bar and adds a shadow - I don't like how SlixTop makes the Menu Bar disappear though), and SlixLaunch (does a good job of mimicking OS X when opening an app) Sheppy's Tsukue v2.0.1 (for removing the switch to the text screen for non-System 6 apps) Snakebyte's Quiet Disk (prevents GS/OS from searching the slow and loud 5.25" drives), II Not Disturb (makes that menu bar clock fly), Sys Icons (displays much more decorative small icons in file dialogues), IR (for loading all system extensions on the fly, although some require them to be in their proper System folder locations).</p> <p>What are your favourites and why? A few extensions have the same or similar abilities - why is one better over another? Add your thoughts to&nbsp;the comments field at the end of the article.</p> <p>As mentioned before, it can be frustrating getting all system extensions to work so here's a few tips to make things a little easier with your expectations of maintaining a stable GS/OS: any system add-on that has all UPPERCASE filenames is most likely to have been written pre-system 5 and MAY exhibit problems when running from System 5 or higher. CDEVs were introduced with System 5, so you can't use them with System 4 or lower. Likewise, Finder Extras can only be used with System 6. Some add-ons may have trouble working under emulation - one such culprit was WinFlate, otherwise useful to minimise windows, but seems to make the emulated GS/OS environment within Sweet 16 not respond to mouse clicks.</p> <p>Also, read the documentation included before installing anything. The docs will usually provide helpful tips, cautions and recommendations as to what version of GS/OS to use.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 562;"><img title="Bill Tudor's INITMaster Finder Extra to control all your extensions" src="" alt="Bill Tudor's INITMaster Finder Extra to control all your extensions" width="562" height="334" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You will likely run into extension conflicts at some point, which can happen when two or more extensions are trying to tap into the same resources of GS/OS, which will most likely result in the system failing during boot-up or weird behaviour and crashes afterwards. The most straight forward way of getting around this is holding down the shift key whilst rebooting, 'Get Info' on the troublesome extension (most likely the last one you installed) and click the 'Inactive' checkbox, then reboot normally. You can also use Bill Tudor's Finder Extra INITMaster to create different sets of extensions.</p> <p>This archive will be revised if submissions are made, especially in regards to version tracking. Where ever possible I've always included the very latest version of any system extension, in the hope that it offers the most features as well as bug and conflict fixes. Let me know if you can provide a newer version of anything found within this archive, or indeed sometimes suggesting running an older version of something is better (Taifun Boot is the one example: version 1.8 found on Ninja Force's site doesn't seem to work at all). If you know I'm missing any public domain and shareware INITs, NDAs, CDA, CDEVs, Finder Extras, Launchers, icons, icon editors, font utilities, please let me know and where possible provide a full archive including documentation.</p> <p>Much, MUCH thanks to all who came before me in collecting IIGS system tidbits - Jim Maricondo for the <a title="Golden Orchid/Grail archive" href="" target="_blank">Golden Orchid/Grail archive</a>, Brutal Deluxe for the <a href="">DeluxeWare CD-ROM</a>, the German AUGE newsletters, A2 Central Newsletters and anyone who had anything to do with the <a title="Ground and archives" href="" target="_blank">Ground and archives</a>... and thanks to Greg Wildman for keeping mirrors of them.</p> <p>Note that no <a title="GS+" href="" target="_blank">GS+</a>, SoftDisk GS or commercial system extensions have been included with this 32meg ProDOS image (there are MANY even more useful extensions amongst these collections). GS+ and Softdisk GS is still available for purchase at <a title="Syndicomm" href="" target="_blank">Syndicomm</a>. I have made an exception for Bret Victor's work however, as he freely distributes it via his <a title="Bret Victor's IIGS Software" href="" target="_blank">site</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a title="Download the most complete archive of System Add-ons for GS/OS" href=""><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;System Add-ons</a>&nbsp;(13 meg)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Some commercial system add-ons, such as <a title="Six Pack" href="" target="_blank">Six Pack</a>, <a title="Signature" href="" target="_blank">Signature</a> and <a title="Beagle Brothers Desk Accessories" href="">Beagle Brothers Desk Accessories</a>, have been reclassified freeware but haven't been included in this archive for distinction between free/shareware and commercial software. Many of Bill Tudor's works were originally shareware but then updated for Six Pack's commercial release. Other commercial software that is now 'abandonware' i.e. no-one has a current license to sell, such as <a title="DeskPak" href="" target="_blank">DeskPak</a>, <a title="The Manager" href="" target="_blank">The Manager</a>, <a title="TransProg III" href="" target="_blank">TransProg III</a> and <a title="Kangaroo" href="" target="_blank">Kangaroo</a>, can still be downloaded separately as part of the broader archive of 'What is the Apple IIGS?'</p> <p>Speaking of which, does anybody have version 1.5 of the Manager, Transprog III and Kangaroo in English? I'm thinking of resource editing the French versions to replace the French language for English if no-one has these archives. You can remain safely anonymous if you wish to <a title="You Can Help!" href="" target="_blank">contribute</a>.</p> <p>Oh, by the way, can anyone help with a very specific, useless and purely cosmetic INIT I *think* I remember using back in the mid 90s? I don't know if my memory's getting confused with the 'Aaron' extension for Mac OS 7.5 that would give your Mac the appearance of Mac OS 8 or not, but the extension I'm thinking of was create a spinning rectangle effect when opening and closing windows, instead of the usual un-spinning rectangle. Completely useless, but cool :-)</p> <p>UPDATE: Mitch Spector's sent in his system extension collection which I've merged with this online archive. Additions include:</p> <p>NDAs: Backgammon by Bill Tudor, QuickView by Dave Goetsch, Smiley Clock by ?, DeskTop Color v2 by Earl Gehr, Write it v2 update by CK Haun, freeware versions of Bill Tudor's CPU and Memory Use, Calculator by Tony Morton, Solitaire update to v1.0.6 by Bill Tudor.</p> <p>CDAs: SHRCapture CDA by ?, Setup Imagewriter II CDA v2 by Bill Ruff, BASIC Errors by John Link, Arkanoid II Ultra Cheat by Ian Schmidt.</p> <p>CDevs: Alert Sound by ?, INITMaster CDev (with full docs).</p> <p>INITS: OmniScreen by ?, Title Pic by George B. Zamrov.</p> <p>UPDATE 2: The archive now includes the Penworks NDA (for using a Kurta tablet), Brutal Deluxe PicViewer (lean, mean Finder Extra for viewing images in Finder, if only it would allow scrolling of images larger than 320x200!) and finally the recently re-released NiftySpell, which allows you to spell check in ANY desktop based program that runs under System 6.0.1. Ewen Wannop's done a great job updating this useful, but memory hungry, NDA. Check out Ewen's <a title="internet suite of desktop based apps" href="" target="_blank">internet suite of desktop based apps</a> for use with Marinetti v3.0b3 here.</p> <p>UPDATE 3: After browsing through the British GS Users Club disks that Antoine Vignau has tirelessly turned into disk images, I have added the following to the 32 meg System Addons archive:</p> <p>Tools: Tool 27 patch (Anyone know what this fixes?)</p> <p>CDAs:</p> <p>Calculator CDA by Terry Morris<br />STS Screen Saver CDA by Dale T Taylor<br />Screen Print by Jason Simmons<br />PlayCD b1 CDA by Aaron Pulver<br />Bye CDA by Terry Morris<br />Tearbar CDA by David Empson (now includes docs)</p> <p>Finder Extra</p> <p>Finder Flipper Finder Extra v1.0.1 by Chris Vavruska (Updated - hopefully fixes the bug that displays an error message every time you quit back to the Finder)</p> <p>CDevs</p> <p>Password v2.0 CDevs by Brian D Wells</p> <p>NDAs</p> <p>Scrap Master NDA by Dave Huang<br />Calendar NDA v1.2 by Greg Engelkemeir<br />JumboDesk v2.12 NDA by Jason Simmons (update from v 2.0)</p> <p>UPDATE 4</p> <p> <p>This is easily the biggest update to the System Add-ons 32 meg volume. Apart from the new additions listed below, some duplicates have been removed, others put into more suitable categories.</p> <p>Most notably, added software from&nbsp;<a href="">Aaron Pulver</a>&nbsp;&mdash; there's some very cool stuff here! Firstly, there's the NetTime CDev. This nifty control panel will enable you to sync to a time server (if you've got an Uthernet or LANCGS ethernet card and Marinetti installed), which helps allay the problem of incorrect time on your IIGS if your Battery RAM (BRAM) is dead (short of you having to manually update the time).</p> <p>Another gem is Aaron's Address Book NDA. This little beauty includes cellular/mobile phone and email fields, something no other address book NDA does on the IIGS.</p> <p>What's better still is that I recently got in touch with Aaron to ask for permission to include these system add-ons (along with Bisquit INIT, Freek NDA, Second Sight Toggle CDA) for Aaron was happy and also alluded that he's returning to IIGS programming to improve these system extras -&nbsp;hopefully to enable NetTime to be automatic on start-up (which in league with other BRAM system extensions, would negate the need for replacing your IIGS' BRAM!) and getting Address Book v1.0 final. Look forward to those updates!</p> <p>And there's lots of miscellaneous new additions:</p> <p><strong>Finder Extras (FExts)</strong></p> <p>v1.0.1 updates to Chris Vavruksa's Finder Extras: CD Remember (a cool utility that remembers open Finder windows from write protected volumes (like CDs) when you return to the Finder after checking out an app, as well as Finder Refresher (redraws Finder windows) and Work Sets (which allows you to record a bunch of folders to open in the Finder at once).</p> <p>rPacker Finder Extension by Brian D. Wells. An interesting Finder extension that saves drive space (and possibly load times) by deleting empty or placeholder resources. Back up your data (as the docs say) and give it a go -&nbsp;it might enhance the performance of System 6 on your IIGS. It doesn't seem to work with Sweet 16 however -&nbsp;using the same System 6 install I put rPacker on, it works fine with ActiveGS, but crashes the system on Sweet 16. When it works, I managed to save 62k of data running it through my System 6 install with shareware and freeware games. Not bad. Although I only scrounged 2.5k from the Action games volume.</p> <p>Also from Brian is Fix Finder Windows. It's a patch that apparently fixes the &lsquo;About', &lsquo;Help' and &lsquo;Preferences' windows and dialogue, although I can't fathom exactly what the problem is. I'll be trying this one time patch out regardless. Perhaps GUPP (the Grand Unified Patch by Nathan Mates) fixes the problem? It's included for completeness and is in the Patches folder.</p> <p>Teach Reader Finder Extra by Jupiter Systems/Chris Trimble has been updated to v1.01, including several bug fixes.</p> <p>Newer version (v2.0) of DiskOpen Finder Extra by Greg Betzel.</p> <p>rBundle Banger FExt by Clayburn W. Juniel III. In the spirit of improving resources, rBundle Banger helps sort which filetypes are linked to what application you want opening them.</p> <p><strong>NDAs:</strong></p> <p>AZERTY NDA by Huibert Aalbars -&nbsp;for AZERTY keyboards, obviously, but not sure if it's needed for System 5 and up.</p> <p>BRAM Detect NDA by ?, complete with source code.</p> <p>A time waster NDA -&nbsp;Bugs by ?</p> <p>RAMDisk Manager Demo NDA -&nbsp;only a demo, but purports to speed up RAM disk 3 times faster.</p> <p>Minehunt NDA game by Nathan Mates.</p> <p>Accessory Chooser by Alberto Paglino is yet another NDA to load other desk accessories.</p> <p><strong>CDAs</strong></p> <p>AE RAMKeeper CDA -&nbsp;should provide useful utilities for those with these cards.</p> <p>Switch Control Panel CDA by Tim Grams. Not sure what this does, but for use with the IIGS control panel and ProDOS 8 apps.</p> <p>Nexus by Tony Morales -&nbsp;adds commands to NiftyList.</p> <p>There's a CDA that unmounts Appleshare volumes. No docs included.</p> <p>BASIC Errors CDA by John Link</p> <p>CDA Term by Guy T Rice now includes all docs and source.</p> <p><strong>CDevs</strong></p> <p>TWGS Reporter by John Link, another CDEV that provides info on your TranswarpGS, which I haven't been able to test without access to a TWGS. It may only work with System 5.0.2 as well. Can't imagine it would hurt too much if you gave it a go with System 6.0.1.</p> <p>Font Editing:</p> <p>Newer version of Font Edit (v2.01) with docs. and Font Scan v0.5.</p> <p>Newer version of Font Doctor (now v1.0b11 over v1.0b9)</p> <p><strong>Patches</strong></p> <p>SF Fix -&nbsp;an init that fixes a bug specifically with System 5.0.4 and prefix #8 when returning from ProDOS 8 programs -&nbsp;never encountered this bug myself.</p> <p>Le Fix -&nbsp;an init that fixes potential crashes caused by programs that incorrectly setup the line edit toolset incorrectly, apparently TML Systems' demos are the main offender.</p> <p>Nicon patch by Jeff Dickson allows you to decide if startup icons for CDevs and Finder Extras appear at boot time. Useful for limiting the number of icons appearing when System 6 boots.</p> <p><strong>INITS</strong></p> <p>Ultra Blanker v2.06 by Robert S Claney is now included, but v2.0 is still included, as that still allows it to be run from System 5.0.4.</p> <p>OnHold INIT by James Stanford that replaces the usual wristwatch waiting cursor with a spinning beachball (which is actually the last thing I'd like see whilst emulating a IIGS under OS X!).</p> <p>Some new random Icons:</p> <p>SoundSmith<br />Mean 18<br />Music<br />Gazelle</p> <p><strong>And even a couple of new finds for shareware/freeware games:</strong></p> <p>Let it Ride Texas Hold-em Poker game by Thad T. Taylor (a bit rough around the edges, but enjoy)</p> <p>Battleship by Chad Faragher and Jim Gauld (I remember liking this back in the day, but it doesn't seem to let you quit!)</p> <p><span>These new additions are actually on the&nbsp;</span><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Sports and Unreleased Games" href="">Sports &amp; Unreleased Games</a>&nbsp;(~13.9 meg)<span>&nbsp;as there's no more space on the&nbsp;</span><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="System 6.0.1 Hard Drive Image" href="">System 6.0.1 Hard Drive Image</a>&nbsp;(~13.3meg)<span>&nbsp;volume!</span></p> <p><span>As always, Antoine Vignau is to thank for a lot of this stuff (especially from his recently re-released&nbsp;<a href="">DeluxeWare CD-ROM</a>). I hate that guy. He's the nicest guy and the most amazingly talented programmer and cracker you could ever hope to get encouragement and aid from! ;-)</span></p> <p><strong>Wishlist</strong></p> <p>Even after all this time and existing software, there are still some system extensions I'd like to see on the IIGS.</p> <p>1) AutoMenus, but configurable so you need a single click to pull down menus (currently, existing AutoMenus versions simply reveal the pull down menu if you mouse over them). With a click, this would mirror the convenience of Windows and OS X.</p> <p>2) I'd love to see a Finder Extra that simply added the ability to restart the IIGS, changing the boot scan slot to 5 or 6. This is a feature that was included in MouseDesk, as well as Instant Access, and it's a great way to quickly start up that DOSless demo or game without having to manually change settings in the control panel. Good for real 3.5" drives, emulated ones, or with the CFFA 3000!</p> <p>3) There's probably a third one, but now I can't remember it. Anyone else have any ideas as to what they'd like to see enhanced in System 6.0.1?</p> <p><strong>Missing:</strong></p> <p>Anyone got a copy of Fontasm v2.x in English?</p> </p> Tue, 22 Mar 2011 14:41:00 +0200 Game Interpreters Part IV: Snatcher <p>Unfortunately, it's that time where the 'what if' switch in my brain goes off again. On this occasion it's around the adventure game Snatcher, although this one's a different kettle of fish from my previous musings of bringing 'new' adventure games to the IIGS for some home-brew treatment.</p> <p>As I was backpacking throughout Europe in 2010, three months had passed before I realised I hadn't played any video games, let alone emulated an Apple IIGS in all that time. Of course, seeing the sights, tasting local cuisines and experiencing culture kept me busy almost all of the time, but the craving for staring at some sort of screen began to take hold. You need to take time out from having time out you know.</p> <p>I'm not entirely sure why, but I decided to check out '<a title="Kega Fusion" href="" target="_blank">Kega Fusion</a>', a combined Sega Master System, Genesis/MegaDrive, 32X and Mega CD emulator. This is how an emulator should be done on Mac OS X: easy to open ROMs and disk images (including cue and bin files), output screen shots, save states, and the smoothest scrolling I've ever seen on a Mac, thanks in part to much of the core of the emulator having been written in Intel assembly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Snatcher Title Adjusted for IIGS Resolution" src="" alt="Snatcher Title Adjusted for IIGS Resolution" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I decided to play Hideo Kojima's <a title="Snatcher" href="" target="_blank">Snatcher</a> for Sega CD, as it's the only version of Snatcher that's been officially translated into English, the MSX version having been <a title="fan translated" href="" target="_blank">fan translated</a> to both English and Portuguese.</p> <p>I had hoped to play the original <a title="PC-88 version" href="" target="_blank">PC-88 version</a>, with larger scene graphics and better music than the MSX version, however no-one has created an English translation. Anyway, the Sega CD version is probably the best version existing, taking everything from the Japanese PC Engine CD-ROM version and adding some of its own unique content and luckily escaping the unnecessary excesses that came with the Playstation and Sega Saturn versions.</p> <p>While the <a title="Sega Mega CD" href="" target="_blank">Sega Mega CD</a> wasn't a popular format and most of its games were panned, I was immediately impressed with its capabilities - long video cut scenes weren't simply pre-rendered video, playing back with some crappy codec that compromised image quality. Instead, these highly detailed cut scenes are beautiful pixel perfect animations that ran on the fly, thanks to some sort of scripting dictating the action, with excellent redbook audio and music accompanying. Using a IIGS back as a young teenager, this is where I hoped CD-based multimedia was heading.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Snatcher Opening Adjusted for IIGS Resolution" src="" alt="Snatcher Opening Adjusted for IIGS Resolution" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Back to Snatcher: In the year 2042 Earth's borders and power bases shift in accordance with 'The Catastrophe', a mysterious but cataclysmic bio-chemical event triggered in Russia some 40 years before had claimed half the population of the world. If that wasn't distressing enough, in recent years, the Snatcher menace slowly began to reveal itself. These enigmatic robots were infiltrating society by substituting people with themselves, murdering their hosts and taking their appearance. Little was known about them even after the JUNKER agency was founded to combat the threat.</p> <p>You are Gillian Seed, a man haunted with empty memories. This is also true of Gillian's wife, Jamie, and unable to reconcile without a shared past they decide to separate. Their mutual amnesia is no accident however and what Gillian does know is that they were found in suspended animation in the Russian wasteland. Now living in Neo Kobe, Japan, where Snatchers were first discovered Gillian instinctively joins the JUNKER agency in the hope of discovering his missing past.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img title="Snatcher Talking with Mika Adjusted for IIGS Resolution" src="" alt="Snatcher Talking with Mika Adjusted for IIGS Resolution" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I had heard good things about Snatcher and for once my expectations weren't dashed. The pixel art maintains a consistent anime style, illustrating scenes in high detail that set the right mood and provide visual clues to help you progress. Hand in hand with the visuals is the brilliant audio effects and even better music. Between these and the excellent well paced story, revealing just enough of the trail you follow to provide twists and revelations you never expect, you'll feel this is a real world with genuine moments of apprehension, tension, horror, laughter and even sympathy for characters you interact with in this skewed future.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img title="Snatcher Talking with Mika Adjusted for IIGS Resolution" src="" alt="Snatcher Talking with Mika Adjusted for IIGS Resolution" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Normally, anyone would simply enjoy this interactive tale, but I soon couldn't help myself from thinking - what a shame this wasn't released on the IIGS. The graphics, animation, interface, sound and music could all be done on the IIGS, with little modification. The Sega CD version includes a lot of audio in the guise of voice acting and I concede this could be done on the IIGS with a CD-ROM drive, however this would greatly limit the already incredibly small amount of people who'd likely play it today on a IIGS. The PC88 and MSX versions were all text based and that would work better for the IIGS - voice acting, though surprisingly good as it is in the English Sega translation, isn't necessary as the story can unfold just as well if read. The graphics convert incredibly well to the IIGS. In a way, so many scenes' colour is distributed into horizontal bands, which is perfect for the multiple colour palette ability of the IIGS. Animation could be handled with <a title="Pegasoft's Draw Tools" href="" target="_blank">Pegasoft's Draw Tools</a>, or Kenrick Mock's SAP, or possibly even the file size behemoths of Paintworks animations. The sound effects and music, usually short but incredibly effective compositions that loop, could playback at 22Khz or less as samples with the ACE toolset on without problem, although it might require a fair bit of RAM for the longer musical arrangements.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img title="IIGS Palette Allocation for Selection Screens" src="" alt="IIGS Palette Allocation for Selection Screens" width="640" height="300" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>At any rate, I have all the music and sound effects, hundreds of screen grabs comprising of the graphics from the game, but one trick to producing this on the IIGS is that an interpreter would need to be written from scratch. Snatcher's gameplay is nowhere near as complicated as a Sierra Creative Interpreter game - there is no text parser and no collision detection and bordering of areas where your character can and can't go within a scene. The way you interact in Snatcher is very simple - you predominately choose between the options presented in list form. These actions will lead to dialogue heavy conversations with characters, in depth analysis of crime scenes, new choices arising from exploring existing ones and occasionally there might be some text entry to solve a puzzle or make a video call. This could mean however that a IIGS interpreter could be written with easier, higher level languages like C or Pascal, as most heavy lifting could be left to the toolset.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="IIGS Palette Allocation for Text &amp; Dialogue Screens" src="" alt="IIGS Palette Allocation for Text &amp; Dialogue Screens" width="640" height="300" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The other real trick if Snatcher were produced on the IIGS is the game's content itself. Although the <a title="entire script" href="" target="_blank">entire script</a> of Snatcher has been extracted from the Sega CD version, it's not in a form that's easily used with an interpreter. Where do scenes begin and end? What defines the image that should be displayed or the music played for a scene? How should selectable options be listed and made distinctive from dialogue? How would inventory management or saved games work? Although the game is mostly linear, there are some variations that can occur if actions are done at different times. I've only played through the game once and I've read that I've missed a lot of video phone numbers and an extra scene in the shopping district with Jamie involving a potential Snatcher.</p> <p>Additionally, the spoken dialogue would need to be replaced with written dialogue. Using a program like <a title="Adobe Premiere Pro" href="" target="_blank">Adobe Premiere Pro</a>, which can automatically transcribe spoken words to written form used for subtitling, might make this process easier, rather than manually writing down the voice acting...there is a hell of a lot of it!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Snatcher Talking with Napolean Scene" src="" alt="Snatcher Talking with Napolean Scene" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Again, I have to reiterate that I'm not a programmer, but an 'interpreter' I'm most familiar with is a web browser. Using XML style tags, the game's content could be sorted and graphics and audio cues and interaction could be defined with examples like these:</p> <p>&lt;playsndXXX&gt; cue to play a sound that plays only once<br />&lt;playmusXX&gt; cue to play music that loops<br />&lt;red&gt; &lt;/red&gt; text will appear red<br />&lt;blue &lt;/blue&gt; text will appear blue<br />&lt;yellow&gt; &lt;/yellow&gt; text will appear yellow (white is the default colour for text)</p> <p>&lt;option1&gt; for the first listed available selection listed<br />&lt;option2&gt; for the second listed and so on...</p> <p>&lt;revealoptionX&gt; reveals another menu option previously hidden until another text is read.<br />&lt;pause=5&gt; pause text for drama/suspense, in seconds<br />&lt;looptext&gt; once last text of an option has been displayed, loop the answers back to the beginning again</p> <p>Perhaps using such tags, a IIGS interpreter could know what to do with it. The tags listed here are not exhaustive by any means and someone with more experience with structuring XML style tags would be greatly appreciated if Snatcher GS would ever be undertaken.</p> <p>For the meantime though, simply enjoy this slideshow I've prepared:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;Snatcher Slideshow</a>&nbsp;(332Kb)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I used <a title="Brutal Deluxe's Convert 3200" href="" target="_blank">Brutal Deluxe's Convert 3200</a>, as its batch convert did a marvellous job of converting all 48 images, which I had prepared in Photoshop to account for the change between the Sega Mega CD's resolution and the IIGS' 320x200 super hi-res graphics mode. I even enjoyed making the icon, which was made from a screen shot of the PC88 version, which uses a graphics resolution of 640 by 200 - perfect for the IIGS' usual desktop. Thanks <a title="Super Convert 4" href="" target="_blank">Super Convert 4</a>!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed, 02 Mar 2011 16:00:00 +0200 Game Interpreters Part III: SCI Adventure Games <p>This latest blog in a series devoted to game interpreters and their potential for the IIGS is all about SCI, also known as the 'Sierra Creative Interpreter'. The good news, while not specifically for the Apple II, is that <a title="SCUMMVM" href="" target="_blank">SCUMMVM</a> now supports <a title="SCI0 to SCI1.1" href="" target="_blank">SCI0 to SCI1.1</a> interpreter games.</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="Sierra Presents" src="" alt="Sierra Presents" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I've waited 21 years to play these games without a DOS prompt. Everything's going to get all wibbly wobbly as I take you back to the late '80s yet again to explain.</p> <p>Back in the <a title="September 1988 issue of A+" href="" target="_blank">September 1988 issue of A+</a>, I read about the latest CES trade show, which at the time was one of the biggest events devoted to new computer and video games. It was an exciting article, detailing a lot of upcoming releases for the IIGS. Given that I was currently relishing the then current crop of AGI based Sierra adventure games on the IIGS, of prime interest were that Sierra's latest adventure games, using their new SCI interpreter, were listed as a future release for the IIGS. As much as I loved the AGI based games, their graphics were a little archaic, even for the IIGS, so the next round of sequels for Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry and Police Quest, with enhanced resolution, sounded an awesome prospect.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Space Quest III" src="" alt="Space Quest III" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Our family placed an order for Space Quest III for the IIGS in 1989 directly with Sierra, so as soon as it was released it would be shipped immediately. Months passed and they eventually sent it...for MS-DOS.</p> <p>News was now getting out that Sierra had technically assessed the IIGS and found it too slow to port the SCI interpreter for it. I was less than happy. Rather than rush out and buy an MS-DOS machine (unthinkable) or an Amiga 1200 (as Sierra still released games for Commodore's flagship, and I briefly considered it) I continued using the IIGS as my primary computer until December 1994, without having played these new Sierra games.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Leisure Suit Larry II" src="" alt="Leisure Suit Larry II" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Until now. Leisure Suit Larry II: Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places, is pretty bad - a very silly story, barely any music, not particularly satisfying puzzles and average graphics, but LSL3 looks more promising. Space Quest III, was well worth the wait - great story, funny, great graphics and music. The SCI remake of the original King's Quest was satisfying and currently playing The Colonel's Bequest, is quite a different adventure and all the more enjoyable for it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Leisure Suit Larry II" src="" alt="Leisure Suit Larry II" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Playing the games through SCUMMVM is a joy - there's no need to use an emulator or muck around with a DOS prompt (although if you're on a Mac, <a title="Boxer" href="" target="_blank">Boxer</a> circumvents this for <a title="DOSBox" href="" target="_blank">DOSBox</a> beautifully). The games load instantly, require much less CPU being an interpreter than an emulator, and there are many graphics display options.</p> <p>Of course none of this isn't much good for the IIGS, except perhaps indirectly; a LOT of <a title="reverse engineering of SCI interpreter" href="" target="_blank">reverse engineering</a> went into this new version of SCUMMVM, research that started way back in the '90s with the earlier <a title="FreeSCI" href="" target="_blank">FreeSCI</a> interpreter and without any help from the original developers, unlike the SCUMM games. Maybe it could be of help to anyone who'd dare attempt getting a SCI interpreter up and running for the IIGS.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;"><img title="Leisure Suit Larry II" src="" alt="Leisure Suit Larry II" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Also, I'd like to not leave you, faithful readers, empty handed once again other than filling your head with all the fanciful stuff stuck in mine.</p> <p>If SCI or SCUMM games were ever to be done for the IIGS, the music would have to be in a format already native to the IIGS and so, using MIDISurgeon (available only from the <a title="last issue of GS+ magazine" href="" target="_blank">last issue of GS+ magazine</a>) I have converted a slew of these SCI games' MIDI based soundtracks, thanks to <a title="Quest Studios" href="" target="_blank">Quest Studios</a>, to the IIGS native MIDISynth format.</p> <p>Although I'm not the biggest fan of MIDISynth music (I think the resonance sounds too 'tinny' and its too taxing on the CPU) I'm sure you'll agree that after hearing this converted music in SynthLab or another player, you start to appreciate how the IIGS just missed out on the multimedia gaming craze of the '90s. It's a shame we never got to hear how Sierra might have intended for their music to sound on the IIGS for their newer games, because they did a fantastic job realising all music and sound effects for their previous IIGS productions.</p> <p>Additionally, all the original MIDI files are included, so if you'd like to design your own set of instruments and make your own patches using MIDISurgeon to set the perfect tone for the music, feel welcome...and welcome to share with the rest of the IIGS community! The converted music as it stands has no manual tweaking, mainly because I haven't a clue on how to do it. The music would benefit greatly with someone with a bit more knowledge of MIDI. You can play each sequence from the Finder after copying the MegaBox desk accessory to your system folder (included in below disk image).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Sierra Music + Others for the IIGS" href="">Sierra Music + Others for the IIGS</a>&nbsp;(7.6meg)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One last thing: Versions of Sweet 16 lower than v2.3 seem to choke on MIDISynth file playback and crash the virtual IIGS. Try using Sweet 16 v2.3 or higher, KEGS, GSPort or even Bernie ][ the Rescue instead.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon, 03 Jan 2011 02:01:00 +0200 The Perfect GS/OS Desktop Picture or How to Get the Most of the 640 x 200 Super Hi-res mode <p>Let's face facts: the 640 x 200 pixel super hi-res graphics mode is as Woz-like ingenious as it is frustrating.</p> <p>It was cleverly introduced to the inner workings of the IIGS to provide a higher resolution than 320 x 200, allowing more detail and screen real estate into applications that followed Apple's GUI guidelines with no additional overhead. According to the '<a href="">Apple IIGS Book</a>,' providing a resolution of 640 x 200 instead of 640 x 400 ensured that the accompanying RGB monitor available with the IIGS could be made cheaper instead of the more expensive monitors used by the Atari ST and Amiga; although Apple's solution ended up being more expensive than both those alternatives when shipped!</p> <p>Together with the limitation of only being able to use 6 colours in 640 mode (which HAVE to be dithered to 16) or 4 colours to maintain the original colours with the use of dithering, it meant the IIGS need only ship with 32k of VRAM in its VGC chip. The dithered colours almost appear completely flat thanks to the dot pitch of the Apple Color RGB monitor, which was better suited to displaying 320 x 200 pixels.</p> <p>But, this means compromise. Much like the original hi-res graphics mode of the very first Apple II, it allowed a higher resolution, but the price was a lack of control over how the colours could be used, which is dependent on what vertical column of pixels you're hoping to use for a specific colour.</p> <p>Essentially, what this means is if you're using the standard dithered colour palette in 640 mode is that you can't even use the original 6 colours in addition to the dithered 16 colour palette (the exception being the two colours sitting at the beginning and end of the palette, usually reserved for black and white) unless you intend to use 1 pixel width because the colour can only be used on alternating vertical columns of pixels: hence the mandatory dithering.&nbsp;Below is an image that shows both the original 6 colours dithered into the larger 16 colour palette:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While dithering does extend the number of colours available, they're not the best: hardly vibrant, they look either muddy or washed out. Of course, having more colours available can have many practical uses (labelling files with a colour in the Finder, for example) but doesn't always allow for the most aesthetically pleasing palette, but we're stuck with it.</p> <p>In the broader world of computing, desktop pictures are hot. You can easily recognise a Mac from a PC simply from the desktop picture...and Apple and Microsoft don't just choose any old picture, they're either beautiful photos or illustrations with amazing tonal and colour ranges that truly show off the capabilities of whatever display is hooked up to the computer or built-in to a mobile or tablet device, but at the same time, don't overpower what else is on screen, i.e. the operating system and applications.</p> <p>It's time the IIGS had some decent 640 x 200 standard colour palette mode graphics for its desktop, replacing the boring default periwinkle blue with the freeware desk accessory 'DeskMaker' by <a title="Rolf Braun" href="" target="_blank">Rolf Braun</a>.</p> <p>Pixel art takes a lot of dedication and patience, neither of which I can cultivate at this point in my life and so I first turned to the graphic stylings of my more newer retro computing interest, <a title="the PC88" href="" target="_blank">the PC88</a>. The PC88 also shares the same 640 x 200 resolution as the IIGS, however, the 8 colours it can display at once are not constricted to any vertical rows of pixels - colours can be used solid, or dithered (on alternating vertical columns of pixels AND horizontal rows).</p> <p>8 colours might not sound like a lot, but the Japanese are truly masters of the visual medium and know how to fully exploit design limitations without losing an image's impact. Turning to methods more commonly used in limited colour print runs, a lot of PC88 artists used very extended palettes using varying dithering combinations to create the illusion of more colours. The more spread out two colours are combined, the greater the likelihood that they too can be displayed on the IIGS without any modification.</p> <p>Results can vary as to how well some images convert, but the most important thing on the IIGS is using the right tool to bring these PC88 images across: <a title="Super Convert 4" href="">Super Convert 4</a>. While every other graphics conversion program for the IIGS treats the 640 mode like the 320 mode with the 640 mode palette, Super Convert truly respects all the pixels found in the original image and will convert them as best it can across the available 640 pixels across the highest horizontal resolution of the IIGS.</p> <p>And so I scoured many PC88 slideshows, paint programs and games via emulation (using <a title="Quasi88" href=";sl=ja&amp;tl=en&amp;" target="_blank">Quasi88</a>, which I had to compile myself on my PowerMac G5 and separately again for my Intel based MacBook Pro with some help from the <a title="Emulation MacScene forum" href="" target="_blank">Emulation MacScene forum</a>) taking screen shots of images with the best detail and composition. I was hoping to come across a lot of cool images of mecha from my favourite anime, <a title="Macross" href="" target="_blank">Macross</a>, but only found the one (from a paint program called Da Vinci). Here's the original PC88 image:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Conversion using Super Convert 4 yielded this first unfortunate result:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img src="" alt="" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, all is not lost. The image just happens to be using colours that aren't in the right vertical column of pixels in the 640 mode palette. <a title="Photoshop" href="" target="_blank">Photoshop</a> has become an invaluable tool as an intermediary when converting images to the IIGS and is especially useful in this case. To improve the conversion I simply select Minmay's face and microphone and shift them one pixel across to the left. It's true I'm losing a column worth of pixel detail, but this is negligible when you consider the new result:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img title="Good Minmay Image with GS/OS Desktop" src="" alt="Good Minmay Image with GS/OS Desktop" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I made similar changes to other images but in a lot of cases, I got lucky and the colours aligned to the vertical columns of the 640 mode palette. Here are some additional examples with which you can compete against OS X Leopard and Snow Leopard desktops with your IIGS (from the PC88 games&nbsp;Schwarzschild 1&nbsp;&amp; 2):</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img title="Schwarzschild 1 Image with GS/OS Desktop" src="" alt="Schwarzschild 1 Image with GS/OS Desktop" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img title="Schwarzschild 2 Image with GS/OS Desktop" src="" alt="Schwarzschild 2 Image with GS/OS Desktop" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="image left" style="width: 640;"><br /></div> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;">Two more of my favourite converted images:</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Anime Girl Image with GS/OS Desktop" src="" alt="Anime Girl Image with GS/OS Desktop" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;">&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Duel Image with GS/OS Desktop" src="" alt="Duel Image with GS/OS Desktop" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;">My other approach for converting existing imagery to great looking IIGS desktops was this: find pixel art with 2 to 4 colours. It's pointless trying to convert 32 colour images and expect them to look good in the 640 mode: don't even try.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I rummaged through <a title="Pixel Joint" href="" target="_blank">Pixel Joint</a> using a customised search specifying a listing of images as large or larger than 200 by 200 pixels and using less than 8 colours. There are many great images using these limitations, as quite often Pixel Joint will host competitions that truly test the metal of its artists by asking them to complete illustrations with restrictions on colour, theme and resolution.</p> <p>I may edit images in Photoshop slightly to improve the composition for the IIGS desktop (always leave more blank space on the right hand side of the screen to allow the disk icons to be seen easily) but here are some results:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Joe Pass Image with GS/OS Desktop" src="" alt="Joe Pass Image with GS/OS Desktop" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;">&nbsp;</p> <div class="image left" style="width: 640;"> <p class="image left" style="width: 640;"><img title="Random Image with GS/OS Desktop" src="" alt="Random Image with GS/OS Desktop" width="640" height="400" /></p> <br /></div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Ultimate Apple IIGS Desktops" href="">Ultimate Apple IIGS Desktops</a>&nbsp;(1meg)</p> <p> or not? I can't help feeling that the IIGS would have majorly benefitted from 64k of VRAM, allowing PC88 style 640 x 200 mode images and 32 colours per scanline 320 x 200 graphics akin to the Amiga, but I hope you like these images and that they bring that little something extra to your IIGS experience while you muck around doing more productive things with our sweet 16.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon, 20 Dec 2010 18:21:00 +0200 The Japanese Connection <p>I've always loved playing <a title="Thexder" href="" target="_blank">Thexder</a>, <a href="">Silpheed</a>&nbsp;and especially, <a href="">Ancient Land of Ys</a>&nbsp;on the Apple IIGS. But with equal enjoyment came equal fascination: where exactly did these games originate in Japan? Research to answer this question lead me on a wonderful retro computing journey of discovery that, quite to my surprise, came full circle and ended up back to the Apple II again.</p> <p>Being a child of the 80s, <a title="Thexder" href="" target="_blank">Thexder</a> was a no brainer given the transforming robots craze of the day. <a title="Silpheed" href="">Silpheed</a> was one of the few&nbsp;rare&nbsp;computer games with its intense bullet dodging and weapon power ups to rival arcade button mashing originals but surpass them with many more music compositions than normally included in an arcade game soundtrack.&nbsp;<a title="Ys" href="" target="_blank">Ys</a>' new style of real-time action role-playing combined with memorable and emotive music makes this triumvirate responsible for many hours of enjoyment.</p> <p>Fascination stemmed from Sierra and Kyodai's marketing, respectively, reassuring us that these imported titles from <a title="Game Arts" href=";prev=_t&amp;hl=en&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;layout=1&amp;eotf=1&amp;;sl=ja&amp;tl=en" target="_blank">Game Arts</a> and <a title="Falcom" href=";prev=_t&amp;hl=en&amp;ie=UTF-8&amp;layout=1&amp;eotf=1&amp;;sl=ja&amp;tl=en" target="_blank">Falcom</a> were major hits for the Japanese personal computer market. Evidently then, in the 80s the Japanese weren't using the same computers as western countries like the Apple II, Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST and IBM compatibles otherwise we'd have already been playing these games alongside our Japanese brethren in 1985, the original release date of Thexder. Nowhere on the game boxes or manuals did it reveal what platform these games originally came from.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img title="Sierra Catalogue from 1988, featuring Thexder and Silpheed" src="" alt="Sierra Catalogue from 1988, featuring Thexder and Silpheed" width="539" height="404" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You always want what you can't have and my interest in these games only heightened more when Sierra weened itself from the IIGS in 1989, but continued to convert Japanese games for MS-DOS. <a title="Sorcerian on Moby Games" href="" target="_blank">Sorcerian</a> was announced in <a title="Sierra's Autumn 1989 newsletter" href="" target="_blank">Sierra's Autumn 1989 newsletter</a>: I dearly would have loved to have played that during those timeless, carefree days back in high school after thoroughly relishing Falcom's other major RPG franchise, &lsquo;Ys'. Further envy followed with Sierra's next Game Arts import <a href="">Thexder 2: Codename Firehawk</a>. And only recently did I discover a hidden gem: <a title="Zeliard on Moby Games" href="" target="_blank">Zeliard</a>. It was the last Game Arts title Sierra translated, an action platformer with some mild RPG elements added for good measure. Upon discovering it I started something I thought I'd never do, just to try playing it:&nbsp;<a title="Boxer Front End for DOSBox Mac OS X" href="" target="_blank">emulate MS-DOS</a>. It was a cold day in hell that day I can assure you. Playing these games was good, but I was still intrigued about where they originally came from, or more specifically, what computers were they initially designed for in their own exotic market? How is it that when Ken Williams, president of Sierra, went to Japan on a trip to secure selling more of his titles to the Japanese market, that he ended up licensing Japanese games for western audiences? The answer is not only the creative talent that went into making these games, but also the unique hardware for which the games were developed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img title="Thexder 2: Codename Firehawk" src="" alt="Thexder 2: Codename Firehawk" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img title="Zeliard" src="" alt="Zeliard" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Japan developed its own personal computers out of necessity; early personal computers such as the Apple II, although much <a title="Apple II Manga" href="" target="_blank">respected</a> in Japan, had difficulty accommodating the many characters within the Hiragana and Katakana &lsquo;alphabets', not to mention the many hundreds more in Kanji. Not content with the language hacks applied to western computers, Japan started to develop their own systems to better accommodate the Japanese language and their own market, with personal computers being a way to increase productivity during the financial boom of the 80s.</p> <p>NEC was one of the first companies to release a Japanese personal computer, the&nbsp;<a title="PC-8001 Specs" href=";c=177" target="_blank">PC-8001</a>&nbsp;in 1979 and dominated the industry throughout the 80s. New hardware releases saw the&nbsp;<a title="PC-6001 Specs" href=";c=177" target="_blank">PC-6001</a>&nbsp;and the <a title="PC-8801 series" href="" target="_blank">PC-8801 series</a> in 1981 and in 1985, the PC-8801 Mk II SR, the platform upon which Thexder was born and is said to have had the most impact on the hardware's sales success; quite impressive and not to mention ironic, given that these computers were never specifically designed to be games machines. At last! I had found the answer at the heart of my curiousity! Competitors to NEC for the Japanese market were <a title="Sharp X1 Specs" href="" target="_blank">Sharp</a>,&nbsp;<a href=""><span style="text-decoration: none;">Fujitsu</span></a>&nbsp;and the many hardware manufacturers supporting the <a title="MSX Specs" href="" target="_blank">MSX standard</a>, which all sported similar specs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img title="Sierra Catalogue from 1988, featuring Thexder and Silpheed" src="" alt="Sierra Catalogue from 1988, featuring Thexder and Silpheed" width="400" height="565" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Something I'd always found interesting was that both Thexder and Silpheed on the IIGS used the 640 x 200 super hi-resolution graphics mode: unusual as it greatly limited the number of colours in the palette, which you usually want to maximise for visual impact. It turns out that the PC88 (for short) predominately uses a graphics resolution of 640 x 200, just like most IIGS applications that follow Apple's Human Interface Guidelines and the desktop metaphor. Unlike the IIGS however, 8 colours can be displayed from a palette of 512 colours, where the IIGS can really only display 4 true colours or 16 dithered colours (with black and white being &lsquo;true' and red, blue, green and yellow requiring to be dithered), although the&nbsp;palette can be chosen from 4096&nbsp;colours.</p> <p>Luckily however, the graphics of Thexder were designed for 4 colours (once the multi-coloured explosions were removed) and translated perfectly to the IIGS (but, like Devo, I like <a title="Devo's catchy 'Explosions'" href="" target="_blank">explosions too</a>). Silpheed's graphics had to compromise a little more on the IIGS in regards to colour, but this perhaps resulted in a more sensible and less gaudy colour palette than the PC88 original. But again, the IIGS version lacks something of the original: the rolling planetary graphics seen during battles in orbit.</p> <p class="image left" style="width: 320;">&nbsp;</p> <p><img title="Thexder for the IIGS (sans explosions)" src="" alt="Thexder for the IIGS (sans explosions)" width="320" height="200" />&nbsp;</p> <p><img title="Thexder for the PC88 (with explosions)" src="" alt="Thexder for the PC88 (with explosions)" width="320" height="200" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Graphics resolutions are just the start of more similarities to the IIGS. The PC-8801 Mk II SR and the models that came after it also shared an amazing sound and music capability, which quite possibly mobilised Ken Williams to strongly support sound cards for IBM compatibles in the late 80s, which in turn probably helped solidify the MS-DOS computer as the ideal machine for home use for most people in the 90s, along with VGA graphics and the sheer weight of safety in numbers... OK, so that's one point that doesn't work in the PC-88's favour!</p> <p>Keep in mind that the PC-8801 series are 8-bit computers as well, the Mk II SR model sporting nothing more than a 4Mhz <a title="Z80 Processor on Wikipedia" href="" target="_blank">Z80 processor</a>. Like a stock standard IIGS, this makes them relatively underpowered beasts, but clever programming saw through these limitations. Many PC88 games scroll by blocks/tiles rather than pixel by pixel. This may not have allowed for smooth 60 frames per second scrolling, but the PC88 instead created a different kind of &lsquo;rhythm' for scrolling action games. Some IIGS games could have benefited from this technique, but any future IIGS games will soon be able to rely on the <a title="GTE engine" href="" target="_blank">GTE engine</a> for smooth scrolling (another blog for another time!).</p> <p>Thinking beyond techniques that could have been used on the IIGS and dreaming, as I like to do, many games for the PC-8801 Mk II SR would have made terrific IIGS ports. Of course, translating from Japanese to English can be a costly and time consuming effort and companies like Sierra no doubt hedged their bets on the bigger market of MS-DOS to make their more comfortable returns.</p> <p>There are many Japanese websites showcasing the games of the platforms of NEC, Fujitsu and Sharp, but none better than the &lsquo;<a href=";hl=en&amp;js=y&amp;;sl=ja&amp;tl=en&amp;history_state0="><span style="text-decoration: none;">Retro PC Game Music Streaming Radio</span></a>' site. Primarily intended to be the online radio station for Japanese retro gamers, the site also includes many screen shots, recorded intro and completion movies as well as box scans. Keep an eye out for the <a title="extended ending to Silpheed" href=";hl=en&amp;js=y&amp;;sl=ja&amp;tl=en&amp;history_state0=" target="_blank">extended ending to Silpheed</a>&nbsp;or the entire <a title="Thexder 2 on the PC88" href=";sl=ja&amp;tl=en&amp;u=;prev=hp&amp;;usg=ALkJrhiKYdAPlpZgygHFL5XDk_e2LuDyvQ" target="_blank">intro scene cut</a> from the MS-DOS version of Thexder 2. Take enough time to check out titles you've never heard of, like <a title="Snatcher for the PC88" href=";sl=ja&amp;tl=en&amp;u=;prev=hp&amp;;usg=ALkJrhj3UwLpnhjC9T1WXtlarxhRBics6w" target="_blank">Snatcher</a>, a cyberpunk adventure from&nbsp;Metal Gear Solid creator&nbsp;Kojima Hideo, or the plethora of RPG titles. In these examples the narrative plays out beautifully by combining story telling techniques of manga, anime and cinema. Attention to detail is evident, not only in creating a sense of style but by making the most of the limited graphics hardware, RAM (64k) and disk space (340k 5.25" floppies).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img title="Snatcher" src="" alt="Snatcher" width="640" height="400" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Coming back to the similarities between the PC88 and the IIGS, every Apple II and PC-8801 series computer share a Microsoft derived version of BASIC in its ROM that's accessible as soon the machine starts up. But there's one last surprising revelation...</p> <p>Going even further back, before the release of the PC-8801 MK II SR I discovered <a title="PC-88 Games Database" href=";sl=ja&amp;tl=en&amp;u=;" target="_blank">something</a> particularly interesting. Many classic 8-bit Apple II games had been converted to the PC88, like those from Sierra (Time Zone, Sammy Lightfoot, Mystery House, the Wizard &amp; the Princess) Broderbund (Midnight Magic, Lode Runner, Choplifter, Karateka), Origin (Ultima Series), Sir-Tech (Wizardry Series) and SSI (Phantasie Series) amongst many others.</p> <p>It's these last RPG themed titles that are of particular importance - these are the games that inspired the works of Falcom and in turn, produced their works of Ys and Sorcerian. Also, one time&nbsp;small&nbsp;gaming companies Square and Enix, now Japanese gaming juggernaut <a title="Square Enix web site" href="" target="_blank">Square-Enix</a>, cut their teeth on the PC88 and were also influenced by the likes of Ultima and Wizardry. So if your kids or anyone else too young to appreciate the Apple II are engrossed in the latest Final Fantasy, just quietly let them know that Japanese RPGs owe a debt of thanks to the Apple II. Respect from those whippersnappers will surely follow and the circle of the Japanese connection with the Apple II will be complete.</p> Wed, 09 Dec 2009 22:10:00 +0200 I Love Pixel Art! <p>Quite simply, I love pixel art...truly, madly, deeply (4-bits of it to be precise).</p> <p>This love affair started playing arcade games from around 1985 to 1988 and at around the same time, our family procured an Apple IIGS. I loved the near photo-realistic style of the imagery and somehow, to my mind as an impressionable pre-adolescent, this new digital imagery stood as a proud symbol of how far homo sapiens had come with technology. I didn't think they existed for any other reason than to fill my head with wonder.&nbsp;</p> <p>Seeing these new graphics abilities became all-important and getting the most out of our IIGS involved buying up as many IIGS specific programs as fiscally possible. My first encounters involved&nbsp;<a href="" title="Paintworks Plus">Paintworks Plus</a>,&nbsp;<a href="" title="Tass Times in Tonetown">Tass Times in Tonetown</a>&nbsp;and my all time favourite, and probably the game I've put more hours into than any other over my lifetime,&nbsp;<a href="" title="The Bard's Tale">the Bard's Tale</a>. There are many tremendous examples of great pixel art into various IIGS games, but the Bard's Tale still holds up as one of the best.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="center" src="" alt="Paintworks Plus" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="320" height="200" align="null" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Strangely however, as technology leapfrogged itself I should have marvelled at its progress and awe at the increasing bit depths and higher resolutions of computer graphics. But a lot of the time, I cringed during the 1990s as a lot of games on the PC and Mac started to use poorly scanned traditional artwork, or worse still, 3D graphics that were either pre-rendered or real time.</p> <p>The aesthetic of 2D graphics always appealed far more to me, as it seemed to be closer to real art, only with less colours and a low resolution. The graphics can be executed in various different ways, allowing the artists to develop their own styles, something that can't always be said for 3D artwork - most of the time, it looks the same, attempting to create as realistic an environment as possible, but with such a limited number of polygons to simulate real life, these graphics now look laughable as the Playstation 3 and XBox 360 reign. No doubt in ten years time, the graphics of the PS3 and XBox 360 will be considered equally laughable.</p> <p>For me at least, pixel art will hold up forever. Usually the best examples of design are those that still manage to work well (if not better) due to the limitations and restrictions placed upon a piece. Pixel art adheres to the same principles. A great picture is a great picture; if a great picture is made with 16 colours with a resolution of 320 x 200 pixels, well, that's a REALLY great picture.</p> <p>I've also been pleasantly surprised that I'm not the only one who thinks this. I began a quest, which started after my very good friend Andrew sent me a link to Junior Senior's clip for &lsquo;<a href="" target="_blank" title="Move Your Feet">Move Your Feet</a>', a clip lavishly produced with low-res animation created on an Amiga with Deluxe Paint. The Amiga is to Andrew what the Apple IIGS is to me.</p> <p>My quest to find more contemporary pixel art became an obsession; fortunately I didn't have too far to look and found salvation at&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="Pixel Joint">Pixel Joint</a>.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank" title="Pixel Joint">Pixel Joint</a>&nbsp;is the world's cream of the crop when it comes to laying down artwork a pixel at a time. Artists from every corner of the globe are contributing works to weekly challenges set by their peers, as well as showing works in progress and mock-screen shots for games, as well as art for art's sake.</p> <p>Not long after enthusiastically pouring over these inspiring pieces of digital art did I think: I'd love to see that on the IIGS. That's what you can find here - 3 disks full of slideshows of artwork converted to the IIGS native Apple Preferred Super Hi-res format. Each piece is fully credited to each artist and their permission sought before including their work in this collection. Some works I would have loved to include didn't translate as well to the IIGS as the artist would have liked, so I removed them from the collection. If you explore&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="Pixel Joint">Pixel Joint</a>, you'll still find lots of great artwork which you can convert to display on your IIGS and judge for yourself as to whether you think they're still great images.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" alt="Pixel Joint Slideshow #1" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="320" height="200" align="null" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" alt="Pixel Joint Slideshow #2" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="320" height="200" align="null" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" alt="Pixel Joint Slideshow #3" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="320" height="200" align="null" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" alt="" />&nbsp;<a href="" title="Download Pixel Joint Slideshows">Download Pixel Art Slideshows for the IIGS (1.5 meg)</a></p><p>Each slideshow is self-booting and runs Ron Mercer's terrific&nbsp;shareware program&nbsp;SHRView. Most of the conversions were made with Ron's other fantastic program,&nbsp;<a href="" title="Prism">Prism</a>. I did some preparation in Photoshop first however, to crop certain images to better suit the resolution limitation of the IIGS. Apologies to my old friend Ian Brumby (author of&nbsp;<a href="" title="Super Convert v4.0">Super Convert v4.0</a>) and to Antoine and Olivier of&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="Brutal Deluxe">Brutal Deluxe</a>&nbsp;(creators of&nbsp;<a href="" title="Convert 3200">Convert 3200</a>) but I found Prism converts images very efficiently by way of a simple interface that also seemed to yield the best results. By the way, not a single piece of art has been converted to the 3200 colour mode, which I feel is too crippling to be of any practical use on the IIGS. Finally,&nbsp;<a href="" title="Universe Master">Universe Master</a>&nbsp;was used to alphabetically sort the files of the directory when played back by SHRView.</p> <p>I hope you'll feel as inspired as I have seeing all this art. Who said that 16 colours per scan line was never enough? And if you've got a IIGS project in mind that requires some graphics, whether it be as expansive as a platform game or a nice icon or &lsquo;About' dialogue box, get in touch with these artists at&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="Pixel Joint">Pixel Joint</a>. They'd love nothing more than the challenge of doing great art under the limitations of the make REALLY great art!</p> Sun, 07 Jun 2009 15:03:26 +0200 Game Interpreters Part II: An easier adventure to accomplish? <p>OK, so creating a runtime environment for&nbsp;<a href="" title="Lucas Arts Adventure Games...on the IIGS?">Lucas Arts adventure games for the IIGS</a>&nbsp;is no walk in the park. How about something that's hopefully easier, but still for the truly adventurous at heart?</p><p>The IIGS excels at text/graphic adventures:&nbsp;<a href="" title="Tass Times in Tonetown">Tass Times in Tonetown</a>,&nbsp;<a href="" title="Dream Zone">Dream Zone</a>&nbsp;and the ICOM series to name a few. We've also got an interpreter that can play all the&nbsp;<a href="" title="The Lost Treasures of Infocom">classic Infocom adventures</a>.</p><p>But remember the &lsquo;G' in Apple IIGS stands for &lsquo;Graphics'? And Infocom weren't the only game in town when it came to determining your fate with a text parser. Enter, perhaps,&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="Magnetic Scrolls Memorial">Magnetic Scrolls' text/graphic adventures</a>: The Pawn, The Guild of Thieves, Jinxter, Corruption, Fish, Myth and Wonderland.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="106" height="104" align="null" alt="" /><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="106" height="104" align="null" alt="" />&nbsp;<img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="106" height="104" align="null" alt="" /><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="106" height="104" align="null" alt="" /><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="106" height="104" align="null" alt="" />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="106" height="104" align="null" alt="" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Magnetic Scrolls was a U.K. based company in the 80s that released six well-regarded text/graphic adventures for the Atari ST, Amiga, Spectrum, MS-DOS and even some for the 8-bit Apple II (Myth is not included in the six, given that it was not a public release). And just like the Lucas Arts adventures, the fans still want the opportunity to relive these classics on platforms other than those listed above. So they've created an&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="Magnetic Interpreter">interpreter</a>, that's portable having been written in C. Also, while very convenient, though technically abandonware (which means nothing to protect your arse legally), all of the games are downloadable in complete packages for use with the &lsquo;Magnetic' interpreter - on the same page you download the interpreter!</p><p>The graphics in Magnetic Scrolls games became most detailed with the Atari ST version: a feat the IIGS can match given these are 4-bit graphics.</p><p>So things are looking good: a portable interpreter, requiring little processing horsepower to run, with graphics able to be displayed on the IIGS without conversion and the games are easily obtained (although I strongly encourage you to buy any version of these games on&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="eBay">eBay</a>&nbsp;to make it legal at your end). The IIGS, despite its limitations, can marry text and graphics with &eacute;lan...if anyone is willing to give the coding a shot to see it happen that is, as I can't program my way out of a brown paper bag.</p><p>For my part however, I've created some screen shot mock-ups, which should hopefully help the planning required to implement the Magnetic interpreter to the IIGS.</p><p>As a starting point, I decided to stick to the standard Apple user interface in 320 by 200 graphics mode. This should have the advantage that a) programmers can take advantage of the Toolbox to take care of text display and scrolling, pull down menus, open and save dialogue boxes, etc and b) in theory, you can continue using desk accessories and perhaps even use the Manager so you can switch back and forth between that all important spreadsheet and enjoying some time with Alice in Wonderland.</p><p>One aspect of Magnetic Scrolls games that I find bizarre is that the sizes of the graphics vary from scene to scene. This may have made it easier for the artist to complete all the graphics on time and fit them all on a floppy, but it also creates the problem of balancing a consistent interface and wasting valuable screen real estate.</p><p>Starting with Wonderland's opening graphic, which is the largest single image I've seen in a MS game yet (mind you, I haven't played through to the end of ANY of them) but I'm going to guess, foolishly, that the graphics don't get any bigger than this.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="320" height="200" align="null" alt="" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The landscape image above is 262 pixels wide by 148 pixels high on the 320 by 200 'canvas'. Positioning the image from the very top and centring from the horizontal axis allows just enough space for that much needed text with which players will interact with. Copying and pasting text from the Mac version of Magnetic into the Hermes text editor on the IIGS, I could simulate the appearance of text on the IIGS. I chose the font &lsquo;Swift', which you can find on the pre-installed&nbsp;<a href="" title="Hard Drive Image with System 6.0.1">System 6.0.1 hard drive image</a>, as a substitute for the default Shaston font. Swift is fantastic - it saves a good deal of horizontal space compared to Shaston, yet remains very easy to read. You can see it allows up to four lines of text and an additional line for the parser. Just enough so you won't always miss that opening line when entering a new scene, minimising the amount of times you'll need to scroll back to catch all the details of entering new rooms.&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="640" height="300" align="null" alt="" />&nbsp;</p><p>But that leaves no room for the standard menu bar above? Wrong! If we can use the same trick that Becky Heineman employed with the GS/OS versions of&nbsp;<a href="" title="The Bard's Tale">Bard's Tale I</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="" title="The Bard's Tale II">II</a>, as well as&nbsp;<a href="" title="Dragon Wars">Dragon Wars</a>, the menu bar appears over the top of the game's graphics only when the mouse cursor ventures to the top of the screen. If it's too difficult to code the menu bar in this way, it can sit over the image. A few rows of pixels won't really matter, as the real attention to detail is found in each game's text, not the graphics. Also, note where the allocation of colour palettes would be placed for display on a IIGS.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="320" height="200" align="null" alt="" /></p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="320" height="200" align="null" alt="" />&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Getting back to the graphic on display during the game - all other graphics will use the absolute centre point of the largest graphic (opening Wonderland image), and then use this as their centre point when being displayed. See the examples above that help illustrate the point.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="320" height="200" align="null" alt="" />&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>I've mocked up some samples of the pull down menus, with consideration given to clear communication and choosing appropriate keyboard shortcuts. In context, &lsquo;Adventure', as seen in &lsquo;Choose Adventure...', refers to the Magnetic Scrolls game currently being played, making a clear distinction between that and &lsquo;Open Saved Game...' which refers to restoring your last position in the adventure that you saved. &lsquo;Save Transcript' will save all the text so far displayed to a new text file, a common feature with interpreters and damn handy when making these types of screen shots!</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="320" height="200" align="null" alt="" /></p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="320" height="200" align="null" alt="" />&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>If it were feasible to support, it would be great to be able to select text that you enter into the parser. This would enable the player to copy and paste verbs or nouns that may require repetition to try your answers to puzzles. All Edit menu commands would of course use standardised keyboard shortcuts.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="320" height="200" align="null" alt="" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Not found in the OS X version of Magnetic at least, a 'Commands' menu would enter commonly used actions into the parser automatically, saving you the trouble of typing them. I've given keyboard shortcuts to moving in different directions of the compass point, inspired by the directions that can be given by the face of the clock (although you can't have a shortcut for command-12 to mean the same as north, so I've rounded it to 1). Last but not least, checking your inventory with command-i, might provide that inspiration you need to solve that puzzle.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="320" height="200" align="null" alt="" />&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Some Magnetic Scrolls games include hints that can provide additional puzzle-solving inspiration. I've quickly mocked up how it might look on the IIGS, based on the OS X version, but I don't know if this hierarchical system would work. It may perhaps with the 'Hierarchic' permanent initialisation file from Seven Hills Software, which is free.</p><p>Some additional points: Wonderland includes some basic frame based animation for some scenes. It also includes image scrolling. Again, I feel both are potentially capable to realise on the IIGS, as we're not talking 60 frames per second type animation.</p><p>So anyone willing to take the plunge programming this for the IIGS, a true adventurer? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="320" height="200" align="null" alt="" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>If all goes well, it might not end there for &lsquo;new' text/graphic adventures appearing on the IIGS.&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="Level 9 Adventure Games">Level 9</a>, another UK company respected for its text adventures, produced many games in the 80s, the mock-up above for the game 'Scapeghost', including those with graphics for the Atari ST. And just like Magnetic Scrolls games, a portable platform agnostic&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="Level 9 Interpreter">interpreter</a>&nbsp;has also been written for these Level 9 games...</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> Sun, 22 Feb 2009 23:35:57 +0200 Inspiration from a Higher Place <p>At 36886 feet, 868 kilometres per hour and over Indonesia to be precise.</p> <p>You see, stopping in Singapore on the way back from travelling through the U.K., France, Switzerland and Italy en-route back home to Australia, my girlfriend Bronwen discovered a very impressive book at a very impressive bookshop within the confines of the three terminals of the very impressive Changi airport: &lsquo;<a href="" target="_blank" title="Rogue Leaders on Amazon">Rogue Leaders&nbsp; - the Story of Lucas Arts</a>' by Rob Smith is a retro gaming coffee table book with all the dirt on each and every one of the usually great games to come out of this great gaming company.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" alt="Animated" title="Rogue Leaders" /> </p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Of course, the only Lucas Arts game to come out for the IIGS, or at least back as it was known in 1991, Lucas Film Games, was&nbsp;<a href="" title="Pipe Dream">Pipe Dream</a>. But I've sung the praises of Lucas Arts classic adventure games, which would be perfect gaming fodder for the IIGS (if only someone would&nbsp;<a href="" title="Game Interpreters: an Adventure in Themselves?">write an interpreter</a>&nbsp;for our favourite platform).</p><p>Not only that, but when I ditched the IIGS back in 1995 for a Power Macintosh 7100, and was happy to be able to play new games again (I was such a shallow creature!) Lucas Arts games were among the cream of the crop: Rebel Assault I and II, X-Wing, Full Throttle, the Dig, Dark Forces and so on. It's also a little known fact that the Mac versions were usually better than their PC originals, including graphics twice the resolution. It was a bit like the IIGS versions of Sierra's adventure games being the best and that the extra money we plonk down for our Apples was being justified. Fine and dandy until Apple's financial woes in 1996, and Lucas Arts decided to stop developing Mac conversions of their newer works, as the Mac was surely to die (I hear cheers from some and boo hisses from others) and not make them enough money.</p><p>But getting back to the BOOK: as I flip through the pages during my flight it becomes more apparent how nice a surprise it is: despite the turbulence! I subscribe to&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="Retro Gamer Magazine">Retro Gamer</a>&nbsp;magazine and regularly visit the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="SCUMMVM">SCUMMVM site</a>&nbsp;and there was no mention of this book being on its way. Given that it was printed in China, perhaps Singapore, being of closer proximity, received copies of the book first? The book even includes details of Lucas Arts latest game &lsquo;The Force Unleashed', which was just released in time for Christmas 2008.</p><p>It's exactly in the style of how I hope to accomplish my Apple IIGS coffee table book, mostly in its approach to design, however Rogue Leaders has access to a lot of working concept sketches and interviews with staff, which alas my book will not concentrate on. But it's inspired me somewhat, as the layouts I'd created so far, to be honest, were crap and I know it can be done better. I've been trying to avoid sub-standard presentation, as existing books devoted to the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="ZX Golden Years book">Spectrum</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="C64 Golden Years book">C64</a>&nbsp;respectively have...less than good looking layouts. We're Apple people! We expect good design and glossy pages! We love being lied to by our favourite fruit company!</p><p>Work continues on the &lsquo;What is the Apple IIGS?' coffee table book. Remember&nbsp;<a href="" title="You Can Help!">you can help</a>!&nbsp;</p> Mon, 02 Feb 2009 07:29:14 +0200 CFFA Card Review <p>I'll admit it: I'm no expert with hardware. While many Apple II faithful are handy with a soldering iron and can boast to have modified their TranswarpGS or ZipGSX beyond their default clock rate, I'm very cautious with anything that's green with gold teeth. Additionally, having never upgraded my Vulcan hard drive before moving onto a Power Mac, I've never used SCSI (similar to the CFFA in some respects) on the IIGS and with it, setting up and managing multiple 32meg ProDOS partitions.</p> <p>To that end, my review of&nbsp;<a title="CFFA Card homepage" href=";c=projects/CFforAppleII/main.php" target="_blank">Rich Dreher's CFFA card</a>&nbsp;will contain a step by step guide as to how I set it up on my ROM 01 IIGS with 4 meg of RAM and 8Mhz ZipGSX. My steps are the result of playing around with the card for quite a few hours in tandem with reading the accompanying CFFA manual. Hopefully, the solutions I found are going to be the same sort of issues other more non-technically minded people will encounter and hopefully encourage the curious to put down some hard earned cash into Flash based storage for the Apple II.</p> <p>Because it's fantastic!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img class="left" title="null" src="" alt="CFFA Card" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="273" height="156" align="null" />&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h1><span>1. H</span>ardware Install</h1> <p>Was a snap and didn't require anything more than fitting the card into one of the IIGS' spare slots.</p> <p>However, I originally installed the CFFA in slot 2; not so ideal if your IIGS battery RAM is dead, as getting the IIGS to see the CFFA requires you to access the control panel and switch Slot 2 to 'Your Card' every time I turned on the damn thing!</p> <p>Slot 7 was also free so I inserted the CFFA into that physical slot. Not requiring AppleTalk for the moment and the control panel setting for Slot 7's default being &lsquo;Your Card' results in the IIGS booting from the compact flash even when freshly turned on with all its BRAM parameters back to defaults, which includes scanning all slots to look for a disk to boot from.</p> <p>You can, of course, get your IIGS battery RAM replaced for both <a href=";products_id=45">ROM 01</a> and <a href=";products_id=46">ROM 03</a> machines and not worry about those issues, but will require some hardware know-how to fix for yourself.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h1><span>2. S</span>oftware Install<br /></h1> <p>Batch/Run 6 of the CFFA included a free 16 meg compact flash card preinstalled with ProDOS 8 and some important utilities for setting up your CFFA. These programs are also available on the accompanying CD-ROM, as well as&nbsp;<a title="Utilities for CFFA Card" href=";c=projects/CFforAppleII/downloads.php" target="_blank">online</a>. I copied these utilities from the 16meg card to a floppy disk containing System 5.0.4. Booting from this floppy, I can run the utilities from the 3.5" disk, enabling me to remove the 16 meg compact flash, replacing it with the 256 meg Compact Flash I had eagerly bought a month earlier&nbsp;for only $5 Australian.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h1><span>3. S</span>etting Up Partitions with the CFFA Utility Program<br /></h1> <p>The next step was to use the CFFA Utility program to specify how many partitions I wanted to use. With a 256 megabyte compact flash card, dividing 256 meg by 32 meg equals 8 partitions. ProDOS can only support volumes or partitions as large as 32 meg, so this process is necessary (unless you format the drive with HFS, which limits the compact flash card's contents accessibility to System 6 only).</p> <p>Originally, I didn't appreciate the process whereby you need to specify how many partitions you want to use and so I started using the CFFA using only the default four partitions (and wondered why only four appeared when I have a 256 meg compact flash!). After setting the partitions setting to 8, I powered off my IIGS and powered back up again, revealing the 8 partitions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h1><span>4. F</span>ormatting ProDOS Partitions<br /></h1> <p>Once you've specified how many partitions you intend to use, you then need to PROPERLY format them for use with ProDOS. And I don't just mean using the GS/OS Finder.</p> <p>The CFFA manual states that you should use Davex (a freeware program written by&nbsp;<a title="Dave Lyons homepage" href="" target="_blank">Dave Lyons</a>) to properly format your compact flash card's first two 'higher' partitions. Apparently the Apple System Utils has a bug that doesn't properly format any of the partitions after the second one of the compact flash card.</p> <p>Now, I know how to use a IIGS pretty well, but Davex didn't come to me naturally. I'm almost embarrassed to admit it, but it was probably only in 2003 that I learned you could type 'bye' in BASIC to return to GS/OS or ProDOS. Before that I used a hasty three-finger salute.</p> <p>In my defense however, I'd used a little command line stuff with UNIX, so how hard could Davex be? If you type '?' into the program, it displays a list of the commands available. But none of them seemed relevant to formatting a disk. I found the documentation for Davex&nbsp;<a title="DAVEX Documentation" href="" target="_blank">online</a>&nbsp;which pointed me in the right direction. Turns out the 'init' command (initialise) is an external one and doesn't appear when using the '?' command. The other command useful here: 'online', shows where these pre-allocated unformatted partitions are in terms of the device and drive number. By typing the command 'init .71 /CF1' you specify to initialise the first partition of the drive found in slot 7 and calling that partition 'CF1'. By typing the command 'init .72 /CF2', you do the same for the second partition.</p> <p>Now, booting off the System 5.04 floppy, the other partitions can be seen. Because I had tried formatting all partitions previously with System 5.0.4 instead of Davex, sure enough, one of the partitions (partition 4) would only format to 21 meg instead of 32 meg, which the CFFA documentation warned would happen if you formatted without Davex.</p> <p>Once you've correctly formatted the first two partitions with Davex, you can re-initialise any partitions with the wrong size with System 5.0.4 and they will then be 32 meg in capacity, except the last partition I had, which I'm assuming is because 256 divided by 8 equals 32 only in a perfect world, so I'm losing a little space somewhere as part of the formatting required (in the same way a 20 gig iPod will only actually be able to store 18.4 gig when formatted). But that doesn't bother me, because now I've got a solid-state hard drive with 245 megabytes available for the Apple IIGS.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h1><span>5. U</span>sing Cider Press<br /></h1> <p>Now that my partitions have been correctly created on the compact flash, I'm ready to copy across the data that I've set up in 32 meg partitions within 2image disk images on my PowerMac using Bernie ][ the Rescue.</p> <p>But to do so, I have to go out of my Mac comfort zone and use a PC. Andy McFadyn's&nbsp;<a title="Cider Press homepage" href="" target="_blank">Cider Press</a>&nbsp;is a wonderful utility that very quickly copies data to and from ProDOS partitions in Microsoft Windows. Not only is Cider Press free, its&nbsp;<a title="Cider Press source code" href="" target="_blank">source code</a>&nbsp;is now also available. However no one has taken up the challenge of porting it to Mac OS X.</p> <p>So getting my data to and from my primary Mac to my IIGS, I have to use the extra step of utilising my girlfriend's Dell laptop connected to a USB based compact flash card reader. Not so ideal, because if I want to then transfer data back from my IIGS to my Mac, I have to go through the PC again.</p> <p>This <a title="Animation demoing how to copy partitions to compact flash" href="" target="_blank">animated GIF</a> shows the same technique I used to copy the 2image partitions across to each of the partitions set up on the compact flash card.</p> <p>According to Rich on the CFFA forum, Dave Lyons is in the process of creating a&nbsp;<a title="Dave Lyons working on a Mac OS X Utility to transfer 2images to compact flash" href=";t=156&amp;p=524&amp;hilit=Dave+Lyons&amp;sid=28afcc388d2fc3370e50894add37c7f0#p524" target="_blank">utility</a>&nbsp;for Mac OS X that will allow copying of ProDOS partitions to and from a compact flash card on the Mac. Bring it on I say, but at the same time, a Mac OS X port of Cider Press wouldn't go astray either.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h1><span>6. E</span>njoying the CFFA Card<br /></h1> <p><img class="left" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="320" height="200" align="null" />&nbsp;</p> <p>Booting into System 6.0.1, with a fairly standard set of extensions (Sound Control panel and a few desk accessories) takes about 45 seconds to cold boot to the desktop. About 10 of those seconds are caused by the slight delay of each partition literally appearing on the desktop. I'm not sure why this is occurring, and unfortunately, this process repeats whenever you quit any program and return to the Finder.</p> <p>Just testing the loading times of games at random, Milestones 2000 v1.5 opens in 8 seconds. Duel Tris requires 10 seconds to arrive at its main menu. Arkanoid requires 19 seconds to reveal its animated Taito logo.</p> <p>It would help to have a comparison to truly show the meaning behind these times, but unfortunately my Vulcan drive has since expired. I think I can say however, that these loading times are much faster than my Vulcan ever was.</p> <p>In chatting with Mike Stephens during one of the Aussie Friday IRC sessions, he felt that the older v1.3 firmware, when used in conjunction with Dave Lyons GS/OS driver, yielded better speeds. While you can downgrade your CFFA card's firmware to v1.3, I'm happy with the convenience that firmware v2.0 offers, in that you don't need to set any jumper settings for the number of partitions you use. Additionally, you can specify which partition to boot from simply holding down the 'M' key upon reset of your IIGS.</p> <p>Rich Dreher has stated on the&nbsp;<a title="Dave Lyons working on an updated driver" href=";t=153&amp;p=525&amp;hilit=Dave+Lyons&amp;sid=28afcc388d2fc3370e50894add37c7f0#p525" target="_blank">forums</a>&nbsp;that Dave Lyons is working on an updated GS/OS driver to accommodate version 2.0 firmware of the CFFA, which may yield further speed improvements.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h1><span>S</span>peed Isn't Everything<br /></h1> <p>It's really nice to use a real IIGS again with a mass storage device. In the last ten years a lot of my IIGS experience has come from&nbsp;<a title="Bernie ][ the Rescue" href="" target="_blank">Bernie ][ the Rescue</a>, mainly because of its speed and quick access to the Apple IIGS software library via the use of disk images. Of course, Bernie isn't 100% compatible with every piece of IIGS software but going back to a real IIGS, with the speed limitations of 3.5" floppies and Vulcan hard drives, was never an entirely desirable prospect. The CFFA has changed that for me. While speed is great, convenience is king: being able to store 245meg versus the 40 meg on the Vulcan is a wonderful luxury. Additionally, the other advantage of the CFFA is that there are no moving parts - you're never likely to lose data due to physical defects in the media and it makes no noise whatsoever when the compact flash card is accessed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h1><span>W</span>ish List<br /></h1> <p>If ever version a v3.0 firmware was released what I'd like to see most is the CFFA card being used as a virtual 3.5" floppy drive which emulates the IWM. The idea occurred to me when details of the&nbsp;<a title="Blueflash project" href="" target="_blank">BlueFlash</a>&nbsp;project&nbsp;were revealed - the idea that you can store disk images on the compact flash card, which you would specify to use via some sort of user interface, for example a classic desk accessory, and then boot those images. This intended feature of the BlueFlash card is great for maintaining a way of playing all those 5.25" disk based games for which you simply can't copy to 32 meg ProDOS partitions on a compact flash card. If a future version of the CFFA (or another product) could do the same for 3.5" 2image archives, we can ensure that not only hard drive installable programs work, but programs that only work from floppy disk (of which there are many games, apps and educational programs that refuse to run from anything but a 3.5" disk) can continue to be run long after the physical media or drive mechanisms fail.</p> <p>Additionally, something I'd like to see in any compact flash card reader for the Apple II is the ability to insert the card through the hole on the back of the computer. At the moment, to insert a compact flash card means I have to unplug the monitor from the IIGS, remove it from its position atop the CPU, open the IIGS case, insert the card, then put everything back together again. Some will see this as nitpicking, but it is a bit of a pain.</p> <p>Mauro has put together a hack and shared his setup with photos on the CFFA <a href=";t=123&amp;start=0&amp;st=0&amp;sk=t&amp;sd=a&amp;sid=e94e58f7ea28a9ed5e5f1d60bee01a25">forum</a>. But I'd rather not have to file one of the holes at the back of the IIGS case to make this work.</p> <p>Alternatively you can get a one channel 40 pin IDE connector cable and have two compact flash cards connected concurrently, or at least just plug the card to the external cable for simpler access. I want to try this for myself at some point, but a lack of time and other projects for this site beckon.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h1><span>O</span>verall: Speed and Convenience...<br /></h1> <p>...make the CFFA card a real winner. But you still have to take the time to prepare those 32 meg ProDOS partitions to copy over to the compact flash card. This is a time consuming process, but I'm going to eliminate that part for you long suffering readers, by providing the 2images I used to get the CFFA up and running for myself.</p> <p>This includes the following 32 meg 2images,&nbsp;checked for integrity with the latest version of Prosel 16:</p> <p><img class="left" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="System 6.0.1 Install Image" href="" target="_blank">A System 6.0.1 install</a>, updated with GUPP v1.0.7, Tool 34 update from Brutal Deluxe and the HFS patch, with every System Tool and font required for almost every IIGS program and many shareware and freeware games - 13.3meg)</p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a href="">System Add-ons</a>&nbsp;(Customise GS/OS with the largest collection of system extensions ever accumulated - 12.5meg)</p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a href="">Fonts</a>&nbsp;(A huge collection of bitmap fonts and a large selection of TrueType fonts for use with Pointless as well - 15.1meg)</p> <p><img class="left" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="System Install with Taifun Boot Image" href="">The same System 6.0.1 install with every shareware and freeware game, but also loaded with Taifun Boot v1.7</a>, which will allow you to also boot into System 5.0.4, System 4, System 3.2 and ProDOS v2.0.3. Unfortunately, this will only work with ROM 01 IIGSs, as Taifun Boot will not work with ROM 03 machines. If you can get Taifun Boot to work on ROM 03 machines, let me know!</p> <p><img class="left" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Action Games" href="" target="_blank">Action Games</a>&nbsp;(17meg)</p> <p><img class="left" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Adventure and Simulation Games" href="">Adventure and Simulation Games</a>&nbsp;(20.2meg)</p> <p><img class="left" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Board Games and RPGs" href="">Board Games and RPGs</a>&nbsp;(15.8meg)</p> <p><img class="left" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Sports and Unreleased Games" href="">Sports &amp; Unreleased Games</a>&nbsp;(Includes even more shareware and freeware games, as well as game demos - 13.9 meg)</p> <p><img class="left" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Productivity and Graphics" href="">Productivity &amp; Visual Creative</a>&nbsp;(both commercial&nbsp;software, shareware and freeware - 14.3meg)</p> <p><img class="left" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Audio and Utilities" href="">Utilities &amp; Aural Creative</a>&nbsp;(both commercial &amp; shareware, featuring a tonne of SoundSmith tracks and a few of my favourite MODs - 15.2meg)</p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a href="">Hyper Studio</a>&nbsp;(pre-installed and including many, many different stacks - 14.5meg)</p> <p><img class="left" style="border: 0px initial initial;" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a href="">HyperCard IIGS</a>&nbsp;(pre-installed and also includes many example stacks - 13.3meg)</p> <p><img class="left" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Reading, Writing and Mathematics" href="">Reading, Writing and Mathematics</a>&nbsp;(Educational software - 15.1meg)</p> <p><img class="left" title="null" src="" alt="" hspace="null" vspace="null" width="15" height="15" align="null" />&nbsp;<a title="Science, Social Studies, Kids Creative, Computer Skills" href="" target="_blank">Science, Social Studies, Kids Creative, Computer Skills</a>&nbsp;(Educational software -&nbsp;14.4meg)</p> <p>Now these 32meg volumes aren't entirely complete when it comes to hard drive installable versions. If you come across a version of a game on these 2images that don't work or aren't included, and you already have a hard drive installable version, feel very free to&nbsp;<a title="You Can Help" href="">upload it</a>!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h1><span>F</span>eedback<br /></h1> <p>If I've done anything wrong or downright stupid in the way I've setup my CFFA, let me know via the comments available on this blog so we can all benefit from everyone's experience!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue, 02 Dec 2008 05:06:00 +0200 'AMay' Answers an Apple II Creative Mayday <p>Upon reflection, one of the many things I enjoyed about the IIGS back in 1987 as an impressionable 11 year old was not having one. That's right - the wait itself, although painful at the time, was made thrilling knowing this was the computer we were going to get after visiting the local Apple Centre and seeing various &lsquo;multimedia' examples of what the machine was capable of.</p><p>When I say multimedia, I don't mean the &lsquo;Demo Scene'. Although, of course, I wet my pants when I saw the FTA's Nucleus Demo in 1989 and subsequent FTA productions resulted in similarly soaked responses. Nor do I mean stacks made with Hyperstudio or Hypercard, which were also yet to come.</p><p>No, I mean early encounters with the IIGS Sales Demo, seeing&nbsp;<a href="" title="Paintworks Plus">Paintworks Plus</a>&nbsp;in use and then printing digitised imagery that was then proudly stuck to the wall behind the IIGS on display or&nbsp;<a href="" title="Music Contruction Set">Music Contruction Set</a>&nbsp;playing some tunes with those sexy matching Bose Roommate speakers.</p><p>And also:&nbsp;<a href="" title="Fantavision">Fantavision</a>. Even if I only saw screen grabs of this program in Broderbund catalogues, I was excited by this program's ability to create animation with graphics equal to what I was playing in arcades at the time.</p><p>It wouldn't be until 1992 that I got a copy of Fantavision (a very cheap teachers edition with 5 disk based copies of the program) and despite loving what the program was capable of, I didn't find the interface as intuitive as I wanted to creating animation myself.</p><p>Which is probably all the more reason I'm overjoyed by fellow Australian Wade Clarke's work as one- man music outfit &lsquo;<a href="" target="_blank" title="Aeriae website">Aeriae</a>'. Wade has created a four and a half minute animation predominantly created with the 8-bit Apple II version of Fantavision as a video clip to accompany his track &lsquo;AMay'. The clip deals with growing up, school, work and death and I relate to my own childhood more through the polygonal characters using the standard hi-res colour palette than most other music clips exploring similar themes. This is exactly the kind of epic work that actually lived up to my expectations, set by those early multimedia encounters, of what I hoped could be done with an Apple IIGS.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h1><object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase=",0,29,0" width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value=";hl=en&amp;fs=1" /><param name="quality" value="high" /><param name="menu" value="false" /><param name="wmode" value="transparent" /><embed src=";hl=en&amp;fs=1" wmode="transparent" quality="high" menu="false" pluginspage="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425" height="344"></embed></object><br /></h1><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The complexity of the clip must certainly be the largest and most complex animation ever seen in the 8-bit version of Fantavision and that's a feat in itself. The way it's been cut with&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="Final Cut Pro">Final Cut Pro</a>&nbsp;and synced to the music...I simply love it. I hope to see more of this kind of work, where creative professionals today turn back to the computers of their childhood to power their creative output. Wade's even included an&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="The making of AMay">overview</a>&nbsp;as to how he spent over four months creating the clip on his own.</p><p>Hopefully the buck won't stop with creative video based works either. With&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="Micro Music">chip tunes</a>&nbsp;becoming de rigor in electronic music circles, I'm hoping one day to hear the wave table synthesis of the Ensoniq sequenced on a IIGS and heard among the likes of the C64's distinctive SID chip as well as the Gameboy's idiosyncratic tones.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> Sun, 19 Oct 2008 11:35:18 +0200 Game Interpreters: an Adventure in Themselves? <p>What a bumper year it's been for IIGS hardware: The custom built&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="IIGS Portable">IIGS portable</a>, version 2.0 of the&nbsp;<a href=";c=projects/CFforAppleII/main.php" target="_blank" title="CFFA Card">CFFA card</a>&nbsp;(review coming soon!) and the updated&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="Focus Controller">Focus&nbsp;Controller</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="Sirius RAM">Sirius RAM</a>&nbsp;by Tony Diaz. It's certainly felt there's been a resurgence of interest for the IIGS in 2008.</p><p>By comparison however, new software is lacking. What I'm going to propose may sound preposterous, but I'm going to put it out there anyway, for the truly adventurous at heart.</p><p>Recently, I became aware of adventure game interpreters. Unlike emulators, which reverse engineer an entire computer platform allowing you to use, for example, Apple IIGS software on Mac OS X thanks to Sweet 16, game interpreters have reverse engineered the game engine, so that the data files of original games can be utilised just as they were originally utilised by their executable files for the platforms they were originally written (DOS, Amiga, Atari ST, etc).</p><p>The advantage of an interpreter is that you only need the processing, memory and display resources to play the game, not an entire system. The disadvantage is that you need to reverse engineer multiple interpreters to play the games.</p><p>But perhaps making a game interpreter for the IIGS makes the result of development kill 5 birds with one stone. Let me explain.</p><p>Successful game design not only requires the talents of programmers, artists, musicians, but also someone who designs the game itself - the story, goals, gameplay and so on. Given that all four types of people aren't exactly numerous nor have a lot of spare time on their hands for the IIGS these days, a team consisting solely of programmers to make an interpreter could be possibly be a better idea, and the skills of graphics, musicians and game designers are already utilised within the games that are suited for play on the IIGS.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;<img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" align="null" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><a href="" target="_blank" title="SCUMMVM Website">SCUMM VM</a>&nbsp;is the most popular open source game interpreter project, which allows play of Lucas Arts' back catalogue of adventure games that use the SCUMM engine (&quot;Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion&quot;) such as Loom and Monkey Island. SCUMM VM can play the original games from any platform: DOS, Amiga, Atari ST, etc) on modern computers running Windows, Linux or Mac OS X. All SCUMM VM needs are the data files associated with each game.</p><p>While SCUMM VM has been developed to be portable, there's no way we're going to get C++ code to compile on the IIGS. Even if we could, I'm sure the IIGS couldn't execute the program fast enough for an enjoyable experience anyway.</p><p>However, this is what I propose - SCUMM VM has a comprehensive&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="SCUMMVM Wiki">Wiki</a>&nbsp;that includes information on how&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="SCUMM Info">SCUMM</a>, the original game engine Lucas Arts created to aid development of their games, works from its scripting all the way to the compression algorithms used for graphic backgrounds and objects. The Wiki also includes an active developer forum and I'm sure they'd be quite interested in hearing about such an unusual project such as getting SCUMM games to work for the Apple IIGS.</p><p>If (and it's still a big if) with this help at hand, custom code could be specifically written for the IIGS. Most likely it would require assembly language for speed and memory efficiency, but if successful, the IIGS could recognise the data resources from a selection of those games and run them using a native SCUMM framework. So hopefully instead of porting ONE game to the IIGS, you will have ported FIVE games to the IIGS in one go.</p><p>If you haven't already shrugged off the idea, let's theorise about what would be the easiest approach to implement it.</p><p>The first choice might be to decide which SCUMM games the IIGS could handle, based on their graphics (after all, there's no point trying to get 'Full Throttle' working on the IIGS when it uses 256 colours and full screen animation!) The first five SCUMM games:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" align="null" /></p><p>'<a href="" target="_blank" title="SCUMMVM Wiki Info for Maniac Mansion">Maniac Mansion</a>'...</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" align="null" />&nbsp;</p><p>'<a href="" target="_blank" title="SCUMMVM Wiki Info for Zak McKraken">Zak McKraken and the Alien Mind Benders</a>'...</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" align="null" />&nbsp;</p><p>'<a href="" target="_blank" title="SCUMMVM Wiki Info for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade">Indiana Jones &amp; the Last Crusade</a>'...</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" align="null" /></p><p>'<a href="" target="_blank" title="SCUMMVM Wiki Info for Loom">Loom</a>'...</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" align="null" /></p><p>'<a href="" target="_blank" title="SCUMMVM Wiki Info for Monkey Island">The Secret of Monkey Island</a>'...</p><p>are feasible for play on the IIGS, based on their graphics. Additionally, the audio of any of those games could be handled by the IIGS without problems.</p><p>Secondly, which version (or versions) would be most appropriate to try to get working on the IIGS? For example, the DOS EGA, Amiga and Atari ST versions of the first four games all share exactly the same graphics resources, that is, 16 colour EGA graphics, which the IIGS can handle without breaking a sweat.</p><p>But which would be best suited in regards to audio for the IIGS? The Atari ST version has the weakest audio based on its limited hardware, but perhaps that would be the easiest to implement on the IIGS? The DOS versions utilise the early sound cards made by Creative Labs and Roland, which basically play MIDI data. Perhaps the music could be output from the IIGS using the SynthLab tool (Tool 35)? The DOS versions didn't include digitised sound effects either - sound effects were achieved by using the instruments built into the sound cards, which again could be potentially achieved on the IIGS the same way as the music.</p><p>The Amiga versions of these games used sampled instruments and four channel sound, again something the IIGS could handle, but possibly more difficult to implement than the DOS versions.</p><h1><span class="Apple-style-span">D</span>ilemma and Digression<br /></h1><p>With 'The Secret of Monkey Island' it gets trickier to decide. Because seeing EGA graphics on the IIGS breaks my heart (we all know the IIGS can do better!), this game presents a bit of a dilemma. The Atari ST and DOS EGA versions include EGA graphics that could easily be displayed on the IIGS. However, these graphics don't look as good as previous EGA SCUMM games, because for Monkey Island, Lucas Arts created the graphics with the Amiga in mind, utilising its ability to display 32 colours simultaneously from a palette of 4096 colours. The IIGS can also display 32 colours simultaneously, if they're not all on the same scan line.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" align="null" />&nbsp;</p><p>This image shows the EGA graphics of Monkey Island. Serviceable, but not as good as it could be.</p><p>I have made some graphic tests, having captured many screen shots of the Amiga version of Monkey Island from SCUMM VM and how these graphics may be best converted to the IIGS. Of course, the biggest trick is that the IIGS can only display 16 colours per scan line, so the graphics NEED to be converted specifically for use on the IIGS, using multiple colour palettes to display up to 32 colours.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" align="null" />&nbsp;</p><p>This is the original Amiga version of two screens, added together in Photoshop.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" align="null" />&nbsp;</p><p>This is a 16 colour version of the same scene, suitable for the IIGS.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" align="null" />&nbsp;</p><p>And this is a &lsquo;two palette' version of the same scene, where the image could be made from two 16 colour palettes on the IIGS.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Using Photoshop, I did a test where I edited two screens together (many SCUMM games use horizontal scrolling in individual scenes) from the Amiga version. Using the 'Export to Web' feature of Photoshop, I locked the colours used for the hero, Guybrush Threepwood when downscaling the palette to 16 colours. This is important, as just like traditional animation, you want to keep the colours of your characters consistent across the whole production. By locking those colours, when you convert the image from 32 colours (Although I've found that no more than 25 colours are ever used in the Amiga art) down to IIGS friendly 16 colours, Guybrush looks the same and it's the background colours which will change to try to best match what was present on the Amiga art. The results were actually quite good for this test, but it may vary for other scenes in the game.</p><p>Now, that's only using one colour palette. You could use 16 palettes, each using 16 colours on the IIGS, to try to improve what's already looking good for the IIGS. But the problem is this: If Guybrush (or any other character) moves vertically up or down the scene, the changing palette MAY change the character's appearance. However, the vertical positions of characters are limited, and additional colour palettes should only be used in areas where characters cannot roam (and if an extra palette won't create a noticeable 'banding' effect).</p><p>Now, I'd be more than happy to prepare the best possible IIGS graphics using Photoshop, saving to GIF, then converting them to a native IIGS picture format with multiple palettes using Super Convert, Convert 3200 or Prism, IF these graphics can be utilised. Because this method results in a IIGS specific graphic format, this will require more customised code in a IIGS SCUMM implementation, making it more difficult to realise.</p><p>What's easier, but more ugly, would simply be to use the graphics from the DOS EGA version.&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="SCUMMVM Wiki Info for Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis">Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis</a>&nbsp;is probably pushing the multipalette idea too much; the Amiga version's visuals didn't fare as well as Monkey Island, being downscaled to 32 colours from 256 colours.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img class="left" src="" title="null" hspace="null" vspace="null" align="null" />&nbsp;</p><p>Amiga Screenshot of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h1><span class="Apple-style-span">G</span>etting back to Reality...or at least, more feasible dreaming<br /></h1><p>One final decision that may make SCUMM IIGS easier - would it be better if only the DOS EGA version resources would be used? Or if only the Amiga or Atari ST resources? Because of the differences between the different versions (for sound and music, for example) it's likely that trying to implement different platform versions will require additional work. SCUMM VM doesn't allow mixing and matching of graphics and sound, e.g. the graphics from the DOS EGA version of Monkey Island with the sound of the Amiga version. This could, perhaps, be done for the IIGS given that SCUMM IIGS would need to be written from scratch, but would require more work.</p><p>So, to recap, some proposed project goals:</p><p>If SCUMM IIGS aimed to utilise resources from any version of existing SCUMM games, it would probably make the most sense to do so from the DOS EGA versions. This would include:</p><p>Maniac Mansion (DOS v2)<br />Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders<br />Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (EGA)<br />Loom (EGA)<br />The Secret of Monkey Island (EGA)</p><p>DOS EGA makes sense, because no graphics conversion is required - the IIGS is fully capable to display EGA graphics.</p><p>By utilising the DOS versions, you maximise the number of games that all use the same music output method, which may make development easier, with the SynthLab toolset of System 6.</p><p>The DOS versions are the most popular and there is more &lsquo;support' for them. For example, SCUMMVM cannot playback the music of the Amiga version of Monkey Island, but playback of music from the EGA version is no problem.</p><p>IIGS System Requirements:</p><p>Anyone who would love to relive the 80s and play new games on a real IIGS would likely have beefed up systems. So perhaps if we set these realistic IIGS system requirements:</p><p>System 6.01<br />2 to 4 meg of RAM<br />7Mhz with 8k cache with either TranswarpGS or ZipGSX<br />Hard Drive or Flash Card volume</p><p>Hopefully this strikes a balance&nbsp;between easier development (less optimisation to make it run acceptably on a stock 2.8Mhz IIGS) and available hardware.</p><h1><span class="Apple-style-span">A</span>nother Catch<br /></h1><p>There's no legal issue to reverse engineer the SCUMM engine (indeed, the SCUMMVM team has been helped by the original programmers at Lucas Arts to get to the level of quality it has now) however you will need to own a purchased version of each of the Lucas Arts games. Just like collecting Apple II software, you can find these older Lucas Arts games on eBay and other online stores.</p><p>This, however, also lends itself to an advantage - different language versions were sold (French and German), for which if you have the data files of, you can switch them for the English versions for play in those languages without any additional work, because it's already supported in SCUMM.</p><h1><span class="Apple-style-span">I</span>n Conclusion<br /></h1><p>So, a pipedream or a IIGS gaming project challenge for the truly adventurous? Let the discussion begin!</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> Mon, 15 Sep 2008 00:50:53 +0200