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08/12/2013: Newly Archived Hardware & Drivers

As part of my archiving efforts amongst Tony Diaz's collection, I also came across some interesting hardware:

At last, I found not one but two Thunderware Lightning Scanners – I'd never seen them in the flesh before and they seem much rarer than Quickie scanners if eBay has been any judge over the years. So now we have complete scans of the Lightning Scanner itself, the interface card, the software drivers and the manual (which Antoine has been able to supply previously).

I also scanned in my own Quickie interface card, so the real hardware boffins out there can compare the difference between the makes of card for these hand-held scanners.

We've got quite a few new drivers for hardware cards too:

The VisionaryGS archive now contains a plethora of utility software with multiple versions to use with these cards to digitise video in.

For the Sonic Blaster, I've disk imaged v1.1 of the software to play, capture and edit audio with this Applied Engeineering card (the one I had back in the day!). I don't know what the .1 updates adds features or fixes, but it's nice to have both v1.0 and v1.1 in the archive now.

For the LANCeGS, we've got the complete drivers and utility disk. Handy if you're lucky to come across one of these rare ethernet cards for the IIGS.

We've also got a bunch of RAM card specific diagnostics and utlities programs, for the RAM-GS, the Cirtech Plus RAM, and the Orange Micro RAMPak. I don't know whether these utilities are mandatory for diagnostics of these specific cards (not having them to test), as other RAM checking programs are available, but they're here all the same. Some of these disk images include utilities other than just diagnostics, so if you have some of these rarer RAM cards, then they might just allow you to do that bit more with them.

Last but not least, I've also included the 640x400 graphics mode test with the Apple Video Overlay Card software. Apparently it includes a slideshow of images at the 640x400 graphics mode the VOC was capable of – have fun playing with it you lucky VOC owners!

If you'd like to download all these new drivers in one hit, simply download the Hardware 32meg ProDOS volume (also available from the home page at the bottom).

In other news, Brutal Deluxe have included new compression LZ4 algorithm in their Cross Tools Development Project, with some terrific results on how well LZ4 decompresses super fast on the IIGS, but offering very nicely compressed file sizes at the same time. The trick is most of the work is done at the compression stage of the process, which is fast anyway given that it occurs on the Windows side of things. 

Also, be sure to grab the latest update to Sweet 16, version 3.0.2 – it fixes the nasty crashing bug that almost always happened when you quit the emulator in OS X.

20/11/2013: Educational Software Updates Via California

Welcome to the first of some fairly hefty content updates - this edition focusing on Educational software.

In September I made a trip to California to take up Tony Diaz's offer from the End of Year Open Apple Podcast Wrap Up from 2011 - to help sort his collection.

And that we did...finding a multitude of things not previously archived:

Reading Magic - Flodd the Bad Guy. I always enjoyed Reading Magic Jack and the Beanstalk, and was very happy to come across Flodd the Bad Guy, the other title in this series, released for the IIGS...officially too, as I found an original disk, because apart from that, there's been next to no information that it was ever released for the IIGS.

AstronomerGS - not a commercial program, but a 7 disk shareware epic that requires some files be on the boot volume, so you're best left to install this yourselves than for me to include on one of the 32meg volumes found on the home page.

Base Ten Blocks Demo - nothing much more than a random curio, the Base10 Demo seems to be an educational proof of concept with multiple games attached. This demo only includes one working module. I don't know if the developer, Mike Gralish, ever got this concept any further.

Alas, I didn't find anything more that was IIGS specific. Such is the way with educational software - as I've said before it is definitely the hardest category to archive, unfortunately, because I don't think it was ever ‘cool' to crack and collect. It's ironic given the major reason the Apple II was still around as late as it was due to the education sector. But there's a little more IIGS goodness coming – more on that later.

But, that leaves a lot more content for my other educational priority - 8-bit Apple II software on 3.5" disk. Here are the new inclusions:

Word Attack Plus! Spanish (I've been wanting to get my hands on educational warez for learning other languages. Comes with a scan of the box too! Thanks to Antoine for removing the protection!)

Electric Crayon (the archive held a good collection of pictures for kids to colour in before, but it's now even bigger (possibly even complete) and is still on a single 3.5" disk - only for IIGS users though, sadly)

Story Starters Social Studies (another in the series by Pelican Software for youngsters to create scenes to themes)

Cross Country USA (a game that'll teach U.S. geography)

Sensible Spelling

Sensible Grammar

Report Card

Monsters & Make Believe... now in Spanish, as well as English!

Stickybear Town Builder (who needs SimCity GS?), and other Optimum Resource / Weekly Reader Software non-Stickybear titles: Map Skills, Punctuation Rules, Sentence FunSpelling Rules.

As usual, however, I've discovered there are still more releases in this series to make it complete in regards to disk images: Reading Comprehension, Math Word ProblemsVocabulary Development (for which we've now got box scans at least) and Car Builder. Incidentally, I didn't know Stickybear software was still being made and sold. Did you?

Which also leads onto a couple more rare titles on 3.5" that would be worth having: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego? are available on 3.5" disk in their 8-bit form, as seen in later Broderbund catalogues.

Now, back to the IIGS specific stuff. I did find another copy of Inner Body Works at Tony's - imaged it, hoping this copy would work, but alas, another dud. Or was it? Although I thought I had already tested it on a real IIGS, turns out the program simply refuses to run either under Sweet 16, Bernie ][ the Rescue or KEGS/ActiveGS/GSPort, citing a ProDOS error occurred; perhaps that wasn't the only problem. The program would also hang entering either the tour or game segments, even though the second disk was already mounted. Oddly, I found, that if you actually don't have the 2nd disk mounted, a dialogue will appear asking you to insert it, after which, the game seems to work. Following the hard drive install options that Club 96 includes on disk, after doing that, it works from a hard drive. At least the Junior Edition does. But the only difference I've found between Junior and Senior editions is that the silhouette graphic of the body you're exploring the innards of changes. No big deal.

So, we do have a working copy of Inner Body Works now, preinstalled on the ‘Science, Social Studies, Kids Creative, Computer Skills' 32 meg volume, as well as individual disk images.

Also, I recently found to my chagrin that Math Blaster Plus! IIGS wouldn't work from its 32 meg image (Reading, Writing and Mathematics) I went back to the hard drive installer program on the original disk and tried crashed every time you tried to install to a volume other than the boot - how annoying. So I temporarily copied over a System folder to the Reading, Writing and Mathematics volume, booted from that, and ran the installer again. It worked...for the most part. You can now launch and play the game but when you go to quit, the IIGS crashes with a weird memory trash error...even though if you play it from the 3.5" floppy, it doesn't do this. Sigh. The things I do to try to make things nicer from larger ProDOS volumes for you people...

Also as part of my own collection, Reading and Me (8-bit), the 8-bit version on 3.5" disk – Antoine's cracked that one too :-)

Well, that about wraps it up for the time being. I'll be making more updates available in the hardware, games and applications field after my time in California, so stay tuned.

02/08/2013: More OzKFest Goodies

Here are some more post OzKFest goodies: Andrew Roughan suggested I include third party toolsets on the System Add-ons volume (originally featured in my ‘System Extensions...' blog). I assembled all I could find, including Andrew's own Crypto toolset (tool number 129), as well as Geoff Weiss's HashTool (128), as well as the SoundSmith and NoiseTracker tools (219 and 220 respectively), along with Clay's Music Tool (which will enable playback of Music Studio, SoundSmith and SynthLab) as well as some tools to render animation, including Pegasoft's DrawTools (Tool 98) and Parik Rao's FastAnim tool. Now also includes Ewen Wannop's HTML Tool and Tim Meekins' ZPack tools, which I previously missed but Andrew took into account.

Collecting these toolsets has meant finding some space on the System Add-ons 32 meg volume, so I've moved the Font Utilities and Icon Editors folders onto the Audio & Utilities volume, in the ‘SW.Utils' folder. That's now meant there's not enough space on the Audio & Utilities volume, so I've moved some folders from that to a completely new volume called Graphics and Animation. This volume now has all the graphic viewers (including those for the Second Sight card) to view images and animation, as well as the extra modules to screen savers Twilight II and Phantasm. The new images also includes loads of classic super hi-res graphics and animation, as well as the 3 Pixel Joint slideshows in one mega slideshow.

I would have liked to have converted all the imagery to the Apple Preferred format which offers decent compression and maximum compatibility across viewers and paint programs, although I was tiring of having to manually re-save from other formats...does anyone know if there's any way to batch convert on the IIGS? Brutal Deluxe's ‘Convert to DG' utiility (included) converts Dream Grafix format in batches, but is it possible to convert existing imagery to Apple Preferred automatically?

In short, download the 2 revised 32 meg volumes (System Add-ons and Audio & Utilities) as well as the new Graphics and Animation 32 meg volume so you're up to date with what's been available before and getting access to some new content.

Going through the disks i've got on loan from Willie Yeo, I've come across specific software for the Applied Engineering internal modem, the DataLink. Get ready to fire up your time machine so you can log back into some BBS action!

Andrew Roughan's also got his photos up from OzKFest on Flickr!

Additionally, Andrew's put some videos from OzKFest on YouTube, where we quite possibly broke the world record for the biggest number of monitors hooked up to a single Apple IIGS:

Apple IIGS Driving 7 Displays

Apple IIGS displaying 3200 mode on multiple displays

Apple IIGS displaying DHGR & HGR graphics on Carte Blanche and SecondSight

Apple IIGS Carte Blanche demo with HDMI output in 320x200 mode

Apple IIGS driving 8 displays

Speaking of YouTube the Every Apple Ads channel has been very busy lately. So busy, in fact, that they've even slipped through some IIGS TV commercials from the mid-to-late ‘80s in between all the Mac adverts. Some of them I haven't seen before now and chances are if you have seen them it would have been when they were broadcast between episodes of Family Ties and the Cosby Show.

Apple II ad feat. Andrea Barber (Full House) - Never Put Off Until Tomorrow (1987)

Apple II ad featuring Jenifer Graham - Frog (1987)

Apple IIgs ad - Share (1987)

Apple IIgs ad - Experts (1986)

Apple IIgs ad - Dual Mind (1986) - This has been doing the rounds for a while now from an old postage stamp size QuickTime movie, but this is higher quality (albeit from VHS!)

The Making of Apple's IIgs "Dual Mind" ad (1986) - This is the icing on the cake. A very rare insight into how this TVC was made. Great concept and even more amazing execution!

29/07/2013: OzKFest – Quick Report

Well, I'm back in Melbourne after spending a glorious weekend in Brisbane in the company of other fans of the Apple II. It was loads of fun, not to mention a novel way to talk about one of your passions to others in flesh, instead of just online. The tyranny of distance was conquered!

It was especially great to finally meet Willie Yeo after 20 years of off and on again online correspondence and he brought LOADS of his collection to scan (a big thanks to OzKFest organiser Steve Kazoullis for providing his scanner!). Whatever couldn't be scanned during the bustle of the weekend, Willie was happy for me to take certain items back to Melbourne to scan (the Lost Treasures of Infocom, including documentation from every classic text adventure they created, is going to require a LOT of time to scan. As is the giant sized manual for Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing!). Primarily though, I was able to scan a few more disk labels thanks to Willie's collection, so the list of yet to be scanned disk labels has gotten a little bit smaller.

Something of particular note was something that Willie gave me (because he still had another 14 shrink-wrapped copies of it!) was the newer version of Reader Rabbit (v2.3). Our family bought Reader Rabbit soon after we got our IIGS in 1987, and it's the original IIGS version (v2.0). So to my delight upon trying v2.3 out, it seems to launchable from the Finder and System 6 now. It also includes a hard drive installer application, however, I tried this on my ROM01 IIGS with CFFA3000 and the program said it couldn't find a hard drive. It did the same on Sweet 16 (and the program isn't compatible beyond the main menu unfortunately within this emulator). Not sure what could be causing this (maybe it can't handle the newer lowercase character support introduced in System 5?), but I'll investigate further, as I love nothing more than hard drive (or large volume) installable programs. In the meantime though, I've updated the archive for Reader Rabbit and included the new version in the 2image archive you can download.

Something else I borrowed from Willie has some good stuff in it too – some de-protects and hacks for IIGS games and apps I didn't have previously. I thought it would be a couple disks worth of stuff I already have, but most of these cracks and patches are different from ones previously archived. I've copied them to the Sports and Unreleased Games 32 meg volume, in the 'Game Utils' folder. Included with that was a cute icon for Gnarly Golf, which I've added to this volume. I haven't played with it myself yet, but the most promising item in there is a hard drive installer for the game Questron 2, which even allows you to save games to hard drive, making a save game disk no longer required.


5 Displays on a IIGS!


Another addition to the site I've added after OzKFest is the hardware diagnostics for the Apple II Video Overlay Card. Both Alex Lukacz and Andrew Roughan brought their VOCs to the event and we tried getting some genlocked video action happening, but to no avail. We believe both of the VOCs on hand are NTSC models, while the video we were trying to pass through was PAL. Regardless, the diagnostics and the New Desk Accessory (NDA) for the IIGS helped troubleshoot the matter. We did however do perhaps what no-one else has done before – attach 8 displays to a single IIGS (although the photo above only reveals 5 working), thanks to the built in RGB and composite outputs, a Second Sight card, a VOC, and a Carte Blanche prototype with HDMI output card. Scans for the Carte Blanche will be appearing soon on this site.

A more comprehensive report will be written for all the weekend's happenings soon by event organiser Steve Kazoullis, but as a brief overview we covered presentations as diverse as virtual machines, the cc65 cross compiler, near field communications, a 16 meg RAM card for the IIe (the ScramWorks!), better scanning techniques (who might have presented that?) as well as making your own SAM speech synthesis card, programming music in Integer BASIC, converting a standard Apple 1 meg IIGS RAM to hold 4 meg, controlling a robot with your II, physical floppy drive emulation and a demo of The Complex III turn based online role playing game for the IIGS, plus more. I got to see how Kim Howe's FTP NDA is progressing and it's coming along beautifully. And it was fun coming face to face with many at KansasFest! Nice to be able to wave to Brian Wiser! :-)

25/07/2013: KansasFest Begins Again, as does OzKFest. Sweet 16 v3.0 Released! IIGS Sales Demo Added.

Hi all! It's that time of year again, where KansasFest kicks off as the best place to be for an Apple II afficiando. Not so much if you don't live in the on the American continent somewhere, and that's why Steven Kazoullis has decided to organise a similar get together in Brisbane Australia – OzKFest. Which I'm looking forward to attending! At last, I'll be able to meet more than 5 people at the same time, in the flesh, to share in our love of the Apple II! Meeting with people I've emailed for years and years and now finally get to meet them. And escape the cold of Melbourne and enjoy the warmer climes on Brisbane! See you all there!

KansasFest already seems to have started early and as party of the celebrations, Sheppy has released Sweet 16 v3.0! Most notable with this release is being able to copy files to and from your Mac OS X environment and the emulated GS/OS one. Awesome sauce!

In the leadup to OzKFest, Andrew Roughan suggested adding the IIGS Sales Demo to the 'What is the Apple IIGS?' archive. And who am I to argue?

19/06/2013: More Manuals – Out of this World, Kaleidokubes, Maps! Maps! Maps!, Thunderscan Read Me First and the ProTERM 3 box for good measure

Antoine's dug even deeper and found some more manuals previously unarchived: Kaleidokubes (which reveals there's a version 2 – which I've now updated for the 2image archive and the Board games 32meg volume), Maps! Maps! Maps! and a Read Me First file for Thunderscan (which my Thunderscan manuals were missing). Brian Picchi also chipped in with the IIGS reference card for Out of This World.

Antoine's also scanned the package for ProTERM and I've moved this title from the Communications category and moved it into the 8-bit Apps on 3.5" disk genre; a more accurate place for it to be archived. In the same vein, I've moved Strategic Conquest from Board games to 8-bit Games on 3.5" disk. I also realised Arnaud Brossard had scanned the manual for this title quite some time ago when we exchanged our archives back in 2009, so that's included with that title now.

And now for something completely different: how about some art made on the IIGS back in its heyday? An eBay vendor is selling some John Byrnes Cachets (the previous name of an artist now known more by 'Onedog Cachets') that were created on the IIGS and printed from an Image Writer II back in the late '80s. Some examples 1, 2, 3.

I personally don't think the art is good for art's sake, nor does it come close to being good pixel art. The worst is still to come: can an artist call themself that if they use clip art (from Clip Art Gallery by the looks of it) if you check out this example?

19/05/2013: Wings & Kangaroo Manuals now available. Dungeon Master Demo Fixed!

Antoine's found some missing manuals and scanned them to include in the archive here. Wings, the alternative launcher application, can now be more fully appreciated through its rich feature set now that it's documented and Kangaroo, the system extension that greatly improves the open and save dialogues on the IIGS. Antoine had already provided all the French manuals, but now the previously elusive Seven Hills manual in English is archived. Still proving elusive however, is the newer English version 1.5 of Kangaroo however. If anyone can submit that, or v1.4 or higher for Transprog III or v1.1 or higher of the Manager, that would be great.

Rick Gast wrote in to let me know the 2image archive for the Dungeon Master Demo was corrupt and has been able to replace it with a fully working copy. Game demos can be interesting little beasts – sometimes revealing earlier features of a game that were changed for the final release. Rick may be able to provide more demos not currently archived either, so stay tuned.

25/04/2013: Updates Big and Small

We now have pull down navigation links to the 8-bit programs on the 8-bit 3.5" disk categories; for games, educational warez and at last, applications as well (although it's a modest start). There are also some brand new categories as well - Unreleased and Vapourware applications, which is currently unpopulated by I'll add a few titles soon, and Special Needs educational software. This section is primarily reserved for the programs of Laureate Learning Systems', who even into the 2000s, was still selling their 8-bit and IIGS specific software. However, they have since stopped selling the software and my email enquiries to them go unanswered. If anyone has any of their rare and valued software, please write in or submit it via the site.

I recently learned that some of the 8-bit game and educational titles on 3.5" disk images weren't working properly with the CFFA3000, and it was the old and buggy (at least with OS X Snow Leopard) program I use, ADFS, for converting between different types of disk image. I've now fixed a variety of titles from these categories so the 2images now work fine with the CFFA3000, so feel free to download each of the images again from the 8-bit educational and gaming software on 3.5" disk if you've ever encountered issues. I might have to look into installing WINE for OS X so CiderPress is available for my disk imaging utility needs.

Speaking of the CFFA3000, if you haven't already got one, why not?! It'll eliminate the need for SCSI hard drives and the Disk ][ floppy drive, but not the 3.5" disk drive for IIGS users, as my forthcoming review of this still splendid card will reveal. It's still the best way to store anything on an Apple II and luckily, R&D Automation have just announced that a third production run of the card will be coming in Spring, hopefully September. Check out the project status and be sure to sign up to be notified when pre-orders are ready.

In the meantime, it's back to updates on this site: The DuelTris limited edition jewel case packaging has been submitted by Antoine. This rarity was mailed out to all those who paid for their shareware fee for this killer version of Tetris.

Jorma Honkanen submitted a scan for the Championship Edition Lode Runner box, which works well with the ACS IIGS only compilation of Lode Runner and loads of extra levels to play with.

Arriving back in Melbourne, unpacking everything and going through some old CD-ROM archives, I came across a scan Algebra Blaster Plus!, that I forgot I had and unfortunately, can't remember who (I think it was an Australian chap who needed to sell his Apple II collection) originally submitted it to me perhaps some 4 or 5 years ago.

I've also made some updates to the Freeware and Shareware games 32 meg volume: a newer version of Carte Primus, grouped the Todd J Wood and Doug Davies' card games together in a folder and added their card converter program, which allows you to add your own designs to all of their card games, found the icon to Operation Lambda at last (how did I ever misplace it!?) I've also updated some icons here and there across all the 32 meg ProDOS volumes. Check em out via the home page and as always, if you can provide an icon for an app you don't see already has one, go for it!

For petrol heads, I've been able to create a fully loaded ‘Play Disk' for Test Drive II, something that I had tried to do in the past, but encountered a very unfriendly MS-DOS installer. That hasn't changed, but whatever voodoo I employed, it now let me add all the extra cars and scenery disks for the game to the one volume, which now means NOT having to swap between each of the individual disks all the time. Now, you can simply load the Test Drive II Master Disk, insert the Play Disk, and enjoy disk-swapping-free driving pleasure. Be sure to read the documentation for more specific info.

Additionally, I've got some extra info on how best to enjoy Captain Blood, the rather challenging adventure game. Check it out at the end of my review.

Andrew Roughan spotted there was a Christmas Songs disk available for Diversi Tune and it wasn't included in my archive. Well, thanks to Antoine again, who recently sent me his own disk images of Diversi Tunes, I happened to come across the missing Christmas well as American Folk and Gospel. They're all available from the one easy to download .zip archive. Who's for a sing-a-long?

I've also created a new 32 meg volume, entitled Hardware Apps (~3.6meg). It includes all the software found on separate disk images for each of the hardware items on the site that includes any software/drivers for them. I've also moved the ‘Drivers' directory from the System Add-ons 32 meg 2image into Hardware Apps, as it's more relevant there. It also frees up a *little* bit of space on the System Addons volume, allowing me to include the latest system extensions from Ewen Wannop, the brand new NDA RamRunTime (which allows you to store BRAM settings AND lets you use an ethernet card in conjunction with the Marinetti TCP/IP stack to automatically set to your IIGS' system clock if you have a failed battery). Also available, the v1.0.5 update to the Byte Bagger NDA. Of course, it's always better to grab them from Ewen's own site, as he has made exquisite PDF manuals to go with each of his productions.

As usual, if you come across a hardware related piece of software or driver or any system extension that you don't see on this 32 meg 2image, let me know and submit it.

Last but not least, I quite like the Noirlac | when kevin wins, the planet loses blog. I've been hesitant to endorse it fully, because it doesn't credit where the pixel art filling this digital scrapbook comes from, or which artists originally created it and it's a bit dodgy given Noirlac (or kevin) is making money out of it selling t-shirts. Because of it, I fear to watch yet cannot turn away thanks to my love of pixel art. Make your own mind up. The collection is VERY platform agnostic, you'll see anything from the C64 to the PC88, and even a lot of Apple II stuff, and even... IIGS imagery. The thrill of finding some random pixel of our favourite platform is quite fun :-)

11/03/2013: Mr Sprite and Brutal Deluxe's Cross Platform Development Tools Plans

Brutal Deluxe has released another asset in their set of cross platform development tools for the IIGS - Mr Sprite. It's a useful utility on several levels that makes the preparation of sprites the best available for the IIGS. It automagically extracts sprites from a sprite sheet (where all sprites for an intended game are included in an image), mirrors and flips existing sprites so you have sprites facing all necessary ways (if necessary) and automatically generates code for Merlin 16+ for each sprite, which is the most optimised code you'll ever find on the IIGS for sprites. If there was any doubt this is the best method, check out Antoine and Olivier's comprehensive summary of how their sprite tech works.

Mr Sprite joins previously released cross platform development tools from Brutal Deluxe Cadius, KEGS for modern IDEs and Window Capture.

Olivier Zardini explains the philosphy behind making development tools for the IIGS... that aren't used on a IIGS: 'We have started from scratch. We are rewriting all the required generic tools allowing us to to minimize the time required to create new games. And because it is more efficient to use modern tools & computers, the way to go is to create such tools on a PC and using the IIGS as a target machine, not as a developpement machine. Did people writing video games for Nintendo at the time also use the Nintendo console to program? Answer is of course NO. They were using more advanced hardware like a PC with dedicated tools like a cross compiler. Of course it takes more time to recreate everything on PC than just using the IIgs native tool; but if you have to create several games, at the end, you will be more efficient by spending a few times first to design inovative tools than using the same old tools.'

On Mr Sprite: 'It is a sprite compiler for the IIGS. It creates fast assembly 65c816 code to display sprites on the IIGS screen for games. You start with a GIF file full of Spirtes and 1 second later, the code is ready to be tested in your IIGS! It is probably the most efficient way (fast) to display something on the IIGS screen today. Faster means more sprites on the screen or bigger ones. Instead of writing such tools on the IIGS, we have designed it to work on the PC so we can process huge number of sprites in one click and the code we produce (a direct 65c816 output) is VERY optimized (thanks to the MB of memory & processor power the PC provide). You design your graphics on your PC, you organize your sprites there on very large pictures and you don't care anymore to have the IIgs to do the conversion. For all the next games, we won't have anymore to care about finding the best way to display sprites on the screen. We did it! By covering all the basics of video game programming needs (read keyboard, joystick, display sprites, play sound, play music, do scrolling, play animation...) as generic library, we will end by having only the core of the game to create for each project. And this is about 20% of the total line of code. 80% is (or should be) game independant.'

On what cross development tools Brutal Deluxe is going to produce next: 'We have also few other to deliver like the one used to re-create the animation steps from sprite sheet and the one used to get resources from binary files (Memory Dump or ROM from video game). Next tools will be more development oriented (65c816 cross assembler, 65c816 cross disassember...).'

I asked Olivier 'How do you and Antoine want people to use these tools? For example, are you happy that people randomly start catching resources of certain games, or are there specific games you've already done a technical evaluation on and would rather that IIGS users out there concentrate on resource gathering for those games?'

Olivier responds:'The tools are for everyone and also for the future (if one day someone decides to go back to IIGS programming he will be probably happy not to start from scratch). The first idea with the tool is to give a modern easy way to program the IIGS. Perhaps you have some people here and there ready for that but they don't want to face the 80*24 text mode (environment to write code) anymore. When do you have time nowadays? Sometime at the office, sometime in a plane or in front of your laptop. So we have to bring the tools there, on the machine people are using everyday. It is hard to go back into Dream Graphix in 320*200 when you can use PhotoShop in 1920*1080. Everything is not yet done to have the complete chain of IIGS software creation on the PC side, but we're taking it step by step.'

'Of course, we also use the tools ourselves, just to make sure they are efficient.'

'We encourage people to use our tools to grab the resources for the games they want to see one day on the IIGS screen, because it is the first and very important step of the grame creation process. And we maintain an invitation for helping you with your own development efforts.'


I ask Olivier the following: 'How about music and sound effects? There was a recent discussion on c.s.a2 about how to add triggered sound fx and music together for games. Do you have any development frameworks in mind for that? I'm not a big fan of MIDISynth music (requires too much CPU and sounds very artificial) but it's true to say there's a lot of MIDI music that we can convert easily.'

Olivier:'Sound effects are, for once, very easy to handle because the IIGS has separate RAM and a dedicated chip (the Ensoniq and its DOC RAM). Also because all computers use the same sound encoding (moving a sound to 8 bit resolution at 22 khz is piece of cake comparing to graphic conversions are). So, we fill the sound RAM with 64 KB of sound effects and we have very few CPU power to play the sound. Perfect for games.'

'Music is a real topic. The easy way is to use MIDI files, because they are available everywhere and render well on the IIGS. Once gain, who today will spend energy to write music using IIGS capabilities using Soundsmith or NoiseTracker?'

'I think we can have games without music. But probably not without sound. Or we can keep the music for the introduction and switch to sound effects during game (what we think we'll do for Barbarian).'

Lastly, I ask :'What about scrolling in games? Mr Sprite handles sprites (obviously) but what about scrolling? I ask because the Generic Tile Engine that Lucas Scharenbroich was working on was quite amazing, but even after years of development, Lucas still felt it could be better. Now Lucas' blog has disappeared and can only be accessed by Web Archive.'

Olivier:'Mr Sprite displays the sprite but do not remove it from the screen. Or, in animation, you have to alternate the sequence : draw sprite / remove sprite (=display background) / draw sprite at new location...'

'Before entering the scrolling part, we have first to deal with sprite animation. It would be useless to have a very fast drawing routine if the cleanup is very slow! So next step would be the Animation Tool, to create, from a Sprite sheet, smooth sprites animations (using of course the Mr Sprite drawing routine). This will help to recreate the animation steps from a sprite sheet.'

'Scrolling will be (yet) another topic.'

Well, there you have it people. Another great tool and without wanting to put too much pressure on Olivier and Antoine, a brighter future for cross platform development for the IIGS. Thanks guys!

04/03/2013: Homebrew Helpings: Lots of Courses for Mean 18

Sorting through many miscelleous archives forwarded on from Antoine as he comes into contact with random collections and images each disk from them, I came across 8 disks worth of golf courses for Mean 18, the excellent golfing sim from Accolade. To use them, you'll need to point the Mean 18 or Architecture programs to the 3.5" disk images (or actual disks). Unfortuntaely, you cannot copy all the levels to the recently sector edited Mean 18 that runs from a hard drive. The program will only list up to 6 courses per volume, so you might as well keep them on the disks as is.

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