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emkay

What if ... ;)

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1irR4TQ5aMA

 

As it is now approved, the A8 has a fast enough interface for streaming videos incl. digisound .... even after most CPU cycles were put into the graphics... things should be more clear.

 

Games like "Dragon's Lair, Rebel Assault... and so on" would have been possible, with a dedicated interface device.

 

One could have done a charset mode with some splits to have more charsets on the screen, and the PMg could be used with a full working multiplexer.... and the background is scrolling in a multilayer parallax field...

 

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A lot could be done just with an IDE interface and hard disk or CF card. I can stream interlaced mode 9/11 80x136 video at 7.6 fps with 7 bit sound at 15.7KHz with just an IDE cart, with a transfer rate of 57KB/sec. That's enough to do minimally interactive FMV games like Dragon's Lair. It'd be more than enough to do an adventure or visual novel style game with a music track.

 

You can keep going with the hardware beyond that. The next step is to have another complete computer hanging off the bus presenting a dynamic framebuffer and just use ANTIC+GTIA as a scanout mechanism, and beyond that you can have the external hardware do the video output, too. At some point you're just using the Atari as a big unwieldy keyboard and power supply and it's not really the Atari anymore, so the line has to be drawn somewhere.

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You can keep going with the hardware beyond that. The next step is to have another complete computer hanging off the bus presenting a dynamic framebuffer and just use ANTIC+GTIA as a scanout mechanism, and beyond that you can have the external hardware do the video output, too. At some point you're just using the Atari as a big unwieldy keyboard and power supply and it's not really the Atari anymore, so the line has to be drawn somewhere.

 

The line is where the chipset gets changed. It's more an "off" , when using more than one POKEY, than to use "unlimited" external memory. External Memory never has been a limit on the 8 bits. But, IF you exchange a chip, you get a different machine ...

Edited by emkay

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That the Atari 8bit is possible to show videos/movies etc is old news. I remember that i got some 5.25 disks from Metalfly (rotterdam cracker team), that contained short videoclips of 3-5 seconds or so. Axel F (beverly Hills cop), some nude videos etc. Make the 5.25 a harddrive or SD and off you go.

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The line is where the chipset gets changed. It's more an "off" , when using more than one POKEY, than to use "unlimited" external memory. External Memory never has been a limit on the 8 bits. But, IF you exchange a chip, you get a different machine ...

 

so let's imagine I do a SNES superFX style thing where the Atari polls input and puts it into an area of memory the expansion board can see, waits for a signal in an agreed memory location (such as an incrementing counter) and then throws the entire 6502 horsepower at pushing that video display and sound through the chipset.

 

on the expansion board I have an ARM running at some multiple of the CPU clockspeed with its own internal RAM and a 3D engine running on it to run the game logic, filling the display buffer, spitting it out to common memory and then incrementing the synchronisation counter when the frame is ready.

 

Is that still an Atari?

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The line is where the chipset gets changed. It's more an "off" , when using more than one POKEY, than to use "unlimited" external memory. External Memory never has been a limit on the 8 bits. But, IF you exchange a chip, you get a different machine ...

 

so let's imagine I do a SNES superFX style thing where the Atari polls input and puts it into an area of memory the expansion board can see, waits for a signal in an agreed memory location (such as an incrementing counter) and then throws the entire 6502 horsepower at pushing that video display and sound through the chipset.

 

on the expansion board I have an ARM running at some multiple of the CPU clockspeed with its own internal RAM and a 3D engine running on it to run the game logic, filling the display buffer, spitting it out to common memory and then incrementing the synchronisation counter when the frame is ready.

 

Is that still an Atari?

Isn't this question being discussed currently in the Tomek-Cart thread?

 

My opinion is still the same (as some months ago). For me it is not an Atari. Same as with VBXE and other stuff.

Extended RAM (256-1GB) and dual POKEY is OK (as long as the music is kinda a working with single POKEY).

I can see why HW like VBXE, TOMEK-Cart, Sack's ARM-Cart is beeing build. And it is useful when someone wants to program an PIC or ARM chip or use advanced graphics mode on his beloved computer. I for one will stick to 6502+ANTIC+GTIA for NOW. I have lot's of stuff to try/do with the original system. ;)

And for ARM coding I have my OpenPandora (and GP2x).

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Creature XL - isn't that the whole point of the TOMEK cart - it is just 6502+ANTIC+GTIA with a little help and that is invisible to the end user, unlike a big upgrade like a VBXE?

 

The fact it is invisible to you (it's in the cart and you have no idea about it, 'cos you are just playing this awesome game that looks and sounds like other A8 games, but BETTER) means that it was ALWAYS an option (like a 7800 cart with a Pokey chip inside for extra music)?

 

sTeVE

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True, when the SuperFX-Cartridge came out for the SNES nobody said "Eh, its not a SNES anymore".

For me the difference to "back then" is probbably, that I used the SNES to play games. Nowadays I use my A8 mostly for coding stuff. So I think, I do not like the idea of TOMEK or other such expansions, because I try hard to get 5-7 soft-sprites on screen and others just issue some commands to render 40 bigger sprites :)

 

Must confess though, that it would be interesting to let the TOMEK cart render the sprites so you can have the 6502 for 2600-like display kernals.

Think a cross-over of "Callisto" and "HAR'em" ;)

Edited by Creature XL

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Perhaps someone should 'cartridgise' vbxe then...or make some super duper upgrade that actually makes use of the ECI/PBI slot/port

 

something along the lines of an updated 1090xl expansion box (i.e you have an upgraded gfx card like say 2 gtia's/antics in one chip, you have something like and upgraded sound card, i.e something like an arcade quad pokey but modified for the a8, something like a hard drive or i/o card, so you can use those el cheapo pc ide/sata hard drives or dvd drives and lastly something like a network/ethernet card, i.e so you can link atari's together or surf the net broadband stylee and before i forget a combined cpu/memory upgrade board)

 

And all that you stick into the expander box and you connect it to the pbi/eci port and you've given the a8 a whole new lease of life

 

But i guess people don't like the 1090 expander box approach, they'd prefer to go hacking away at some poor computer's mainboard trying to do some sort of upgrade

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And would you buy it? Or any upgrade for that matter.

 

1090 is a has-been device, probably redundant by mid-late 1990s tech, if not before.

 

Almost every upgrade ever envisioned that otherwise could have gone into a 1090 can be fit inside the machine, a cartridge or simply attach to the PBI as a not too intrusive device.

 

I'd rather go to that bit of extra trouble than have something hanging off the back of the computer that's almost as big as a CRT monitor and essentially containing 95% air.

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That the Atari 8bit is possible to show videos/movies etc is old news. I remember that i got some 5.25 disks from Metalfly (rotterdam cracker team), that contained short videoclips of 3-5 seconds or so. Axel F (beverly Hills cop), some nude videos etc. Make the 5.25 a harddrive or SD and off you go.

 

You really should get a little closer ;)

We're not talking about some small videos that use all CPU power.

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Dragons Lair via Laserdisc+genlock is the ONLY way to do it.

 

I've read this sentence up and down , but it makes no sense to me.

Why does the A8 need to have genlock for this?

 

You could even do an interlace mode and overlay it with the PMs for some controls.

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Dragons Lair via Laserdisc+genlock is the ONLY way to do it.

 

I've read this sentence up and down , but it makes no sense to me.

Why does the A8 need to have genlock for this?

 

He's saying to use the original footage and the A8 basically just acts as game management like the board in the original coin-op does, genlocking itself over the artwork to display messages, control prompts and so on.

 

Just in passing like, Dragon's Lair is impressive as a technical exercise (even if it's "just" about building the optical drive/genlock interface rather than converting the frames) but not particularly hot as far as playability goes so that's a good slice of work for something that probably won't get played much...

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Dragons Lair via Laserdisc+genlock is the ONLY way to do it.

 

I've read this sentence up and down , but it makes no sense to me.

Why does the A8 need to have genlock for this?

 

He's saying to use the original footage and the A8 basically just acts as game management like the board in the original coin-op does, genlocking itself over the artwork to display messages, control prompts and so on.

 

But this has nothing to do with the main thread. IT's about the huge amount of streaming data that would be possible for games. So the game content had to be converted to fit in.

 

 

Just in passing like, Dragon's Lair is impressive as a technical exercise (even if it's "just" about building the optical drive/genlock interface rather than converting the frames) but not particularly hot as far as playability goes so that's a good slice of work for something that probably won't get played much...

 

On the other hand....

An external device directly writing into GTIA registers allows 128 colour 160x240 colour mode, so the external device could convert the Laserdisc data on the fly...

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But this has nothing to do with the main thread.

 

[shrugs] Nothing to do with me guv, i'm just translating. But people'll always offer alternative solutions that step outside the boundaries of a specific topic like that, yourself included on occasion. =-)

 

Just in passing like, Dragon's Lair is impressive as a technical exercise (even if it's "just" about building the optical drive/genlock interface rather than converting the frames) but not particularly hot as far as playability goes so that's a good slice of work for something that probably won't get played much...

 

On the other hand....

An external device directly writing into GTIA registers allows 128 colour 160x240 colour mode, so the external device could convert the Laserdisc data on the fly...

 

That isn't really the other hand though, Dragon's Lair with 128 colour 160x240 graphics still won't play very well as a game because it didn't to start with. If it has to be an FMV game there must be more enjoyable examples out there to work from... i just can't think of any right now!

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External devices can't write to GTIA, or other memory for that matter. If they could, then we'd have super quick DMA interfaces for IDE drives and other such purposes.

 

I share the opinion that such games are oddities, not having much repeat play value. They only existed to bridge the gap between what a computer could do and what video action was required onscreen. That gap disappeared for the most part by the mid 1990s - despite early 3D stuff for the most part looking very crude.

 

If someone wants to put the effort in, then good luck to them. But regardless, an external device with some processing power, hundreds of Megs Ram and fast interface to the Atari would be a great toy.

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Looking at the video again... does that device actually have the kind of control over what it's receiving to actually do an FMV game?

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I'd say yes. The nature of PBI is such that the computer can potentially have almost full control over attached devices but not so much the other way around.

 

Doing an animated RastaConverter sequence should be as simple as reading concatenated pics as a streaming file. Of course you'd need to ensure successive pic/kernal doesn't wipe the one being currently shown as it loads. In theory you could simply add seek ability to that demo by building an index of the offset for each frame.

 

Chances are though that the device being used there is probably acting as a sort of virtual memory paging device. But the underlying principles are similar for that, Ramdisk or real filing system.

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I remember having a discussion in another thread about the possibility of porting Space Ace (or Dragon's Lair) to the 8-bit ...

 

I think Space Ace or Dragons's Lair could be done, using an interlace character mode like PCIN (Graphics 12+10), character optimisation to reduce the size of your screens, and a delta system that stores the changes to the screen data. Of course, you would have to do your animations in 30 fps in NTSC (25 fps in PAL).

 

An example:

 

post-23798-0-68988200-1347240231_thumb.png space ace opening - pcin.atr

 

This mode allows 34 colors onscreen at 160 pixel resolution. This uses 16k of font data per screen, with optimisation you could get it down to 10k. Even further, if you used either narrow mode, or ANTIC 5 (Graphics 13). The interlace flicker is minimal since no color register changes (except for BAK) are done.

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I think it would be feasible to port a FMV game. I described the ABX programming interface on the github page. All of Rybags' points are spot on. RastaMovie requests the next frame during vertical blank, so it can overwrite the frame that was just shown. There's some tricky timing to make sure that the audio is played continuously. There are still a few left over cycles that could be used for simple game logic.

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for me cart based expansions like SuperFX or any A8 cart incl. RAM/additional hardware is ok as every noob can boot such a game or app without knowing how to modify hardware. same went with Starwing on the SNES.

 

and this is a difference to Mega Drive and the 32x expansion.

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true - that was going to be my requirement as well - it has to be 'regular user-friendly'.

 

But I was going to suggest something like the 32X because there's also the issue of price - limited-run retro expansion hardware is bad enough without having to build it into every individual cartridge so I was thinking that maybe the passthrough cartridge idea would be the way forward.

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