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Blog Comments posted by potatohead

  1. Yeah?


    Of course it's press for his modern offering. At some point we all need to benefit from our time. He's doing that. However you see it all play out, the video itself is good material that conveys some of the challenges very well, potentially leading to some greater appreciation for the retro hobby. The question, "was it possible?" is a fun one, and the video answers that clearly enough, which is why I posted it.

  2. It's sloooow.


    After some tinkering, I found Pro Term not very good at anything over 1200 baud. Funny though, it can send far more quickly. I've not had emulation problems. It does a good VT100, though it doesn't have the right character set.


    I see some of the articles out there mentioning Modem Manager. That's on my hit list next.


    Did you use the right terminal specification on your Unix end of things?


    For my purposes though, Pro Term works. I don't need a ton of speed, and I can deal with basically NO emulation, if desired. It's my debug data coming from the Propeller. Or, it's my keyboard input, etc...

  3. Glenn,


    I've experienced some of what you are right now. Things tend to come and go, life moves and turns, and if you are having fun, that is about as good as it gets.


    My own ride this last few years has seen some serious ups and downs. Impacted me on a few levels, the primary one being "that spark" that drives me on the old and new tech projects. When it hits, I have a great time, and when it fades, it fades.


    Pulled out my numbered Stella CD, grinning a little, because that's when you and I first crossed paths. Damn, that project was cool. Probably one of my favorite things from the scene. Harmony is another one that's just amazing, and my VCS currently is in the office where some 20 and 30 somethings enjoy playing on it.


    Thanks. You've done some great stuff, and it was always good to read your take on things and watch your various antics in classic gaming.


    I really don't think this stuff is going anywhere. When the mood strikes, it will be as fun then, if ever, as it was, or may be now for people. Constant.


    Your daughter needs a Dad too. The next 10 years could be one hell of a ride. Was with mine, the youngest of whom just left the house --only to crash and burn, returning home again. There is a lot to kids above and beyond caring for them. You could be in for quite the ride. I was! No regrets either.


    Consider keeping a coupla goodies for the grand kids someday. They might be interested in your antics, and at the least, some old school gaming will be a treat.


    See you around the net. One never knows...

  4. As silly as this sounds, we enjoyed the heck out of Pop Cap's "Peggle". It is multi-player online, if you want, or it can just be played at home.


    Yes, it's probably the most "gay" game ever! We laughed our asses off at the graphics and rainbow colors. (my youngest daughter liked it, but won't admit it)


    Anyway, there is a great funk jazz sound track, simple game action, and enough levels and stuff that could happen to make for a few fun game nights. We did the Sony Store download for a few bucks. Worth it.

  5. I've been inside LLNL, setting up simulation software on their NUMA SGI machines. Most of the scientists use OS X, running an X server to hit their big iron. Damn cool. A lot of the work there involves big memory model simulation, of the single image type, not the movie rendering type.


    Anyway, CRAY was purchased by SGI. Part of that purchase was to get access to the CRAY patent portfolio and interconnect know how, and that's when the "NUMALink" was born, and SGI started down the road to NUMA (non-uniform memory access) multi-CPU, single OS image, modular computing, scaling way above the usual 16, 32 or 64 CPU systems, seen coming out of SUN and HP at the time. Memory intercommunication latency off the charts too, even up at 256 and 500 CPUs! That latency determines the scaling possible, and the productivity of the various nodes.


    I've been on some 32 and 64 CPU NUMA, ONYX machines, running at a brisk 600Mhz, or 400Mhz, Mips R12, with powerful visualization graphics pipes, featuring hardware compositing and edge blending on multi-screen displays. Did some big scale CAD design, like modeling a chip fab, or huge building, and some video / animation stuff, like MAYA or Alias Studio for rendering and product design.


    SGI transitioned off IRIX + MIPS, which could handle 1024 CPU, single system OS image, NUMA designs very well. A 2048 CPU was made for NASA, but I don't know that it ever ended up as one OS image... Many kinds of simulation need the fast memory interconnects, unlike simple frame rendering, which can be done Beowolf style, slow connects, multi OS image. (each node runs it's OS, communicating results to master nodes) NUMA machines run one OS, intercommunicating between processes and threads across the NUMA links, at insane speeds. Processors have 8GB, 4GB, 2GB memory local to them, fetching from whatever the system total RAM is, when needed. CRAY tech is a big part of that.


    Anyway, they went to Itanium + Linux, porting over the IRIX scheduler, and memory interconnect software. Those systems ended up scaling to 1024, with several 512 CPU machines being common.


    One other thing that came from CRAY was advanced compilers. All of those complex conditions, as well as the Itanium are extremely difficult to optimize. CRAY tech contributed there too, though not in as significant of a way. The high end computing found in NASA, NSA (scary data mining and visualization none of them wants to talk about), Petrofuel, medical life sciences, aerospace and auto all use some variations on the great stuff CRAY did, with most big iron Unix companies way behind where SGI + CRAY got to on single OS image, big memory, massive parallel computing.


    Older school IRIX 8+ CPU systems can still fetch over 10K, running big ram, clocked below 1Ghz, still punching well above their weight over other systems on parallel computing problems that require the memory throughput. Until a few years ago, I was active in selling and supporting those boxes. Really fun hardware! The docs that ship on the machines are a complete comp-sci class all on their own.


    CRAY contributed to big scale computing with their tech. SGI expanded on it, with the simple idea that all compute problems boil down to I/O problems, given the right memory interconnect technology, and a damn good compiler... Was at a convention in Vegas, one of those kick off kinds of things, where I got to talk to the SGI chief scientist and CEO for a coupla hours... It's flat out amazing the scale those guys think on!


    CRAY was there at first, showing how to scale up really big, well ahead of the others.

  6. I don't think there was any real trust. Sony has never been all that open of a company. IMHO, their flirt with Linux was political, designed to get a return for utilizing open code in the production of their machine.


    On one hand, SONY is a company that recognizes the value of competition in the game creation space. That's why the Yaroze dev kit was made available. That's also why they regularly work with teams to build games for their stuff too.


    On the other, SONY is extremely conservative when it comes to risk, and the fact is allowing people to create content of any kind within their IP garden is very risky. I've spent some time goofing around with avatars, playing the little multi-player games in Home recently.


    Honestly, I like Home. I've met some people, and had a lot of fun playing games, and creating personas. That's the kind of thing SONY sees value in that a lot other companies don't. There are a few bits of Home, where a user can actually author something, and they've gone to great lengths to insure they are not in any way liable for the product of those creations. It's very draconian, but not anti people socializing and entertaining themselves, just risk adverse conservative.


    Geohot presented some risk. I do not believe SONY really cares what is done with their consoles, so long as it does not involve SONY. They've demonstrated that over the years in subtle ways. I'm convinced of that.


    What Geohot did do was raise the risk equation, and that is what prompted the move, because SONY loses a bit of control, unless they assert it, which they did by linking online activity to a system update, which closes the risk door.


    IMHO, Sony didn't have other alternatives. From a risk perspective, Geohot has entered ring 0, and has published information that is core to the operation of the console. There isn't really any getting around that, once done.


    There are various strategies for dealing with piracy. Let's assume that the US Right Of First Sale is in play, meaning that somebody actually owns something, and that means they get to do what they want with it. Sony then forced the matter, highlighting one of the strategies that is growing in popularity; namely, networked authentication and content.


    When something is access controlled with a simple device on the media, it's well known that won't be longer term effective, because both the key to access and the access control device is in the hands of the user, who then can circumvent said device over time. The Right Of First Sale more or less insures that will be done, if not in the US, somewhere else, game over eventually.


    A rapidly growing number of companies are using online authentication, and or making network access a key component of the product. This keeps much of the system out of the hands of the user, maintaining a high degree of control. That's what SONY did in response to Geohot essentially opening the door on what was otherwise a closed system.


    IMHO, that was a plan on the table at SONY when the Linux function was introduced in the first place, and it was just triggered into action.


    Other strategies include, phoning home on hack detect, bombs aimed at rendering something useless on hack detect, more aggressive access controles, contracts, etc...


    All of that is rather hostile to average people, and SONY does not want that at all.


    In the end, SONY knows the value of their entertainment solution comes from it's networked component, so they've done their part to insure that users are operating as intended with this. That means, they can go to developers and highlight how their entertainment platform is a low risk proposition for creators, and that's the whole deal right there.


    Game authoring is then also a choice. Online distribution only, within the SONY framework, like Pop Cap games is doing, is one choice. I bought "Peggle" for $7, and it's all digital, but it's cheap, so I don't care so much. I have essentially no real assurance that purchase won't disappear, or be changed sometime in the future on that deal, like I would with some media. On the other hand, those changes could be good too. Either way, that's a very secure sale for Pop Cap, in that it's currently very difficult for a user to circumvent that.


    Geohot, did open the door for that to occur, which was not open prior, BTW.


    If media is used, either the title is stand alone, old school, or networked, new school, or a hybrid.


    A fully stand alone, complete title, can be resold, etc... A hybrid may be resold, depending on what the authors choose to do.


    Often some base level of functionality is available, with for sale add-ons available to anyone in possession of the media. This actually means revenue from rented and used game sales, and will become dominant because of that.


    Personally, I think the issue of IP revenue is escalating to a point where it's going to get rather ugly. The pool of interactions required to publish nearly anything is growing very complex, rendering it difficult to impossible for small / independent creators. This escalation of control for revenue is front and center right now, which is why SONY did what it did. Nobody in the industry wants a Dreamcast scenario.


    On the other hand, no user wants to get jerked around either. Personally, I love the Dreamcast! I never did pirate anything for it, but I do enjoy the many creations that happen on that machine, and have purchased some titles post SEGA, and was happy to do so.


    SONY is politically conservative too, often offering what they see to be superior technology, always with significant caveats attached to it's use, while also permitting open use as well. If one goes the more open route, SONY is then out of it, drawing a line between SONY and the rest of the world, using it's IP and technology to draw and maintain that line.


    Geohot just disturbed that, and the politically conservative thing to do is cut the risk, showing that effort as an example of how firm that line is.

  7. Seems to me, comparing a game to real life, then expressing a desire for it to be an escape is somewhat contradictory.

    I guess you missed the part where I was replying to "It's kind of like anything in life." The challenges in life are not like the ones in these frustration fests that some people have the nerve to call games.


    Most video games are flawed from the start because they are made with tainted ingredients, but if we are going to play them, at least give us choices. People who don't want to play for 2 hours to get to the spot where they left off can resume there and lovers of tedium can choose to play the same levels over and over again like a 5 year old watching the same episode of Barney until everyone else in the house prays for death. That way everyone is happy.


    No, I saw that. Was just expressing this as something not resolvable, and that's where the art of it is. If it were resolvable to some known, absolute, there would be no art to gaming, that's all.


    Funny thing about choices. Everybody wants lots of them, but when it comes down to it, fewer overall choices raises value perception. Less is often more. If, every game has every option, you get a mess, where the art kind of gets lost.


    Looking at a game from a holistic standpoint, level design, story, UI, world physics, or lack of them, etc... there are times when options make good sense, and other times where they do not, and people vary considerably.


    On one hand, we want games made for US! On the other, we want to be surprised, challenged, entertained, told a story, etc...


    That's the unresolvable part, and the core of the art as far as I am concerned.


    So, let's say we've a game with the return to start mechanic a lot of us don't like very much. On one hand, that's frustrating, or not well aligned with our desires. So that's a negative. On the other, let's say the graphics and story are very compelling, or the rewards are sweet.


    Would that work as a step-by-step progression with no backtracking? Maybe, depends on the level design, story and other things.


    There is the art right there!

  8. Seems to me, comparing a game to real life, then expressing a desire for it to be an escape is somewhat contradictory.


    "fun" means a lot of things to a lot of people.


    I too like the ramp up to "magic time", or as I call it the trance.


    You are playing along, difficulty ramping up, you get tuned to the point where thought is action, and then...


    *BAM* you are there!


    This is a great thing, for those people who enjoy that kind of thing. I sure do.


    Generally, I don't like returning to check points and such. Having a game state that endures, where you can just save where you want, is my personal favorite. A great example is the AvP on Jaguar.


    Once, I had to take a step, save, take a step, save, inching along to a medpack in order to save a state I had been working on for weeks.


    In a way, checkpoints kind of spoil that experience, requiring a specific amount of progress to advance, and then once advanced, the player is locked into the next state.


    I find it much more enjoyable when the game world just is, and you can save the moment in time where you are and return to it, carrying on.


    The nice thing about the AvP model is the consumables are just enough to finish the game in one run, if you are extremely good. If you are not, then you will need to save, in order that those are restored.


    This is a self-correcting kind of thing where lots of different players can get their challenge at the level they want. IT can be abused, of course, but so what?


    If one plays the game for gratification, and gets it, who cares really?


    IMHO, a lot of bad game mechanics boil down to making sure that somebody who did achieve something, did it in such away as to be recognized by others no matter what. That's kind of goofy to me.


    Much better to put the tools out there, and let the players simply play.


    An analogy for the mountain then would be you struggle on the thing, slipping, tired, out of resources, so you save, only to return, rested, and not so worried about losing where you are, but doing so in a way that is gratifying.


    Another one that provided those good experiences was WOLF3D. Once I got past a rather nasty level, ran down a hall to rest, only to find it was a long, dead end. I turned, holding only the knife, knowing the baddies were at the other end. Made it out of there, with just the knife and a health point or two. A little sneaking around saw the kit, and the state of the game carried on.


    That knife battle was important because I didn't want to reload the game and refresh things, but I could have, denying myself the gratification.


    In the end, structuring the game to manage these things is not healthy for anybody, and leads to more bland, managed, safe, structured experiences, and that's just not what I enjoy in gaming at all.

  9. Well, some of them.


    I thought about bagging on my 6502 + Prop project, but have decided to get it built and running anyway.


    Propeller has 32K of shared memory among it's 8 processors. Each processor has 2K of memory where it's assembly code runs.


    Ideally, a real 6502 would free some shared memory, and a processor or two, for doing other things.


    At the end of the day though, 32K isn't as much as people would like. That means paging, via SD card, external serial RAM, or full on running another Propeller, or RAM chips.

  10. http://www.coco3.com/community/2009/12/256-composite-colors-screen-capturesphotos/comment-page-1/#comment-57822


    On that thread, we've got 256 color captures and I did a live TV photo of a CoCo 3, connected to a SONY television. It's taken with a high-detail digital camera, giving that close up look. Damn nice actually. The captures don't do it justice, IMHO.


    If you connect a CoCo 3 to a monitor, these colors don't appear. They require NTSC composite display.


    On a monitor, the machine is 64 color, with 16 per scanline, if CPU tricks are used. 16 per screen otherwise.


    So far, we've only got the static picture bitmaps. Moving object demos are in progress.


    A quick look at Remz sprite / scrolling demo shows what the monitor colors look like.




    That one is done in 320 pixel mode, with the stock 64 colors available without the artifacting technique shown here.


    This technique is 160 pixel resolution, BTW.

  11. This is not yet supported through emulation. The only artifacting supported is the basic red / blue artifacting the CoCo 2 and 1 were capable of.


    I've edited my previous blog entry to show the best overall artifact palette, you could use as a color chart.


    Best case work flow on emulation is to use the 320 Pixel mode for development. That one will display as pairs of pixels, each being one of 16 colors. That's enough to see that the screen graphics make sense.


    Once it's done, then edit the program to the 640 Pixel mode, and set Palette entries to 0, 16,32, 48 and build a disk or cassette image.


    Somebody with a real CoCo could then display the product of it for you.


    Some discussion has occured regarding emulation support. Frankly, I think the palette I have displayed here is the best overall one for emulation. It has a great color set.


    Truth is, tons of possible palettes are possible and emulating those would be a PITA. Probably a real machine only kind of thing.


    Right now, there is also some discussion as to the best palette to use for an emulation target. Some viewing of the combinations in both the 640 and 320 pixel mode need to be done before a 256 color emulation support is considered. That process is going on right now.


    I'm actually going to generate a lot of them, do some captures and send them off to others, who are going to toy with them, encoding pictures and such to sort out what might make sense to go into the emulator.


    Nobody has approached the author of the CoCo 3 emulator, and MESS could be updated by anyone with the skill. Neither project has been initiated just yet.


    Users are just now getting aware of the high-color capability this machine has, and that's mostly the product of my efforts recently to get it out there and published, after having sat on it since the very early 90's.


    I had to get rid of my CoCo 3 back then and didn't circle around back to this until this year. ;)


    Better late than never, I guess.


    If you want to run a .cas image, I'm happy to do a screen capture for you anytime. I won't have disk capability for a while yet, and will be using emulation myself, in the way I posted here, to write some early code, then view on a real CoCo 3, once it's up and running.

  12. Serguei,


    It's a bitmap picture converted to one of the Color Computer 3 NTSC artifact palettes to show capability.


    Andym: Yeah, you know it! I've been thinking through some sprite draw routines already. The 6809 is such a great 8 bit CPU.


    If you have to have one, go seek out Cloud 9. They are still in the CoCo business, and have the gear you want. Funny, I used to see the things all the time, then nothing. Thrifty scene here has dried almost completely up!

  13. There have been no games released.


    The 160x200x256 mode is an artifact color mode, like what happens on Atari and Apple, when pixels are drawn to the screen connected through a composite video signal.


    Tandy designed the machine to run a 16 color display, and gave it display interrupt capability to use it's 64 stock color palette, like Ataris do by changing color definitions mid-screen.


    In the very early 90's I had a CoCo 3, and figured out the machines would do 256 colors at 160x200 resolution and never did much with it. Was just barely on the Internet at that time, and so never posted it. I don't think many people knew about this, because the machine also shipped with RGB capability and that's where all the attention went.


    TV Graphics were largely ignored. --until now! Heh!


    Recent retro computing discussions sparked this memory and the mode is seeing some use. One user has pictures encoded now. I don't have a disk or disk emulation yet, or I would have already uploaded them!


    Can't wait to see the pictures.


    I'm kind of hoping some development can happen, maybe emulator support. The CoCo 3 does not have sprites, but it's got a good, fast CPU, and some hardware scrolling assist.


    IMHO, the machine should be able to do some great retro style games with a lot of color. It's a very powerful and well designed little computer.

  14. It's a capture from a PC capture card. The one I have is really nice, capturing a full 720x486 NTSC frame, with great color resolution.


    This is the Radio Shack Color Computer 3.


    That display was created by NTSC artifacting, where smaller pixels result in colors on composite video displays, due to signal resolution.


    On Atari machines, for example, the 320 pixel mode, results in two easy to obtain artifact colors. Odd pixels are one color, even pixels are another color.


    The Color Computer 3 has a 640x200x4 color display! When running on a composite monitor, or in this case, a PC capture card, that is one byte per pixel at 160 pixels, which is the signal limit of the Color Computer.


    Some computers, like the C64, output a better color signal that has more resolution, and those computers won't do the hi-color trick, but will show more detail on a TV.


    The CoCo 3 was built with high resolution graphics, intended for a RGB monitor, and had TV output capability compatable with the older Color Computer 1 and 2.


    That design decision brings 256 colors to the CoCo 3, because of how the analog signal works.


    The display above is a 160x200x256 color display, one byte per pixel, where each byte value results in a different color on the screen. A few of these actually are the same, but I'm not going to worry about that.


    A 512K CoCo 3 should be able to render some very nice retro game titles in great color, without fancy interrupts and such being needed for the display. It's a full on bitmap!


    I thought this was cool in the very early 90's and never did anything with it. Recently, some discussion with other CoCo owners triggered me to get this out there for discussion and some programming fun.


    So it's a capture. The speckles are because my CoCo seems to have a rather noisy video output. Might be all CoCos do this. The little speckles are variances in the video output. Again, I think that's my CoCo showing some age...

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