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Crazyace

How would a game console amiga have competed?

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Unless otherwise mentioned, the below systems seem to be based on the Amiga 500 or unknown model:

 

The Arcadia Systems machine offered 12 different games:

http://www.bigbookofamigahardware.com/bboah/product.aspx?id=2005

 

Up Scope (Amiga 1000): http://www.bigbookofamigahardware.com/bboah/product.aspx?id=38

Riverboat Queen: http://www.bigbookofamigahardware.com/bboah/product.aspx?id=55

1000CS Virtuality System (Amiga 3000): http://www.bigbookofamigahardware.com/bboah/product.aspx?id=56

Pinball 2000 Holopin: http://www.bigbookofamigahardware.com/bboah/product.aspx?id=57

Battletech: http://www.bigbookofamigahardware.com/bboah/product.aspx?id=58

 

There may have been more, those were the ones I could easily find.

I recall seeing Hybris in the arcade once. From what I could tell, it was identical to the Amiga version.

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Having FAST and CHIP on the cart port would complicate things. I was thinking that 68k only rom could be slow, and still work at the same time as chipset ram accesses

Well, it means having a lot of pins on the cart connector (easy but large), or you have to multiplex address and data lines.

Given the size of some carts used in other consoles I don't see the first approach being much of an issue.

The latter certainly isn't as easy but if you can run the connector at 16MHz, alternating CHIP and FAST accesses, you can do it.

You wouldn't need to run cart memory twice as fast, just run CHIP and FAST on overlapping clocks, and latch signals based on the higher clock speed just after signals settle.

The 6801/6803 and 65816 multiplexed some signals, so something similar had been done, just not to that extent.

The 6801 was released in 1978 so it's not exactly a new idea.

It does mean more logic in the chipset, and additional chip(s) in all carts to handle the other side of the interface.

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Expansion on cart would be nice - It might actually be better to only have 'chip rom' instead , The Amiga 1000 used up to four banks of 128K chip ram ( 2 on board, 2 in expansion ) so something similar could be used to allow 3 possible 128k areas on the cart.

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Although the Amiga 500 was not really a game console it was by all means usable as one. My brother and I carried one around with us when we went to friends places and even though floppy based had a boatload of games available and loaded fast enough to be just a usable as a console.

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I just read the Digital Press interview with Larry Kaplan of Atari and Activision fame. He was about to join Hi-Toro for the Lorraine/Amiga project, but drifted back to Atari instead.

 

Amiga: (Jun 82 Oct 82)

Doug Neubauer and I went to talk to Jay Miner and the company he worked at (Xymos?) about doing a new game system. I had seen the Nintendo NES at the CES in June 82 and thought we could do better. The president of the company contacted the owner in Texas and by Oct. we had hired a President from Tonka Toys and got $6 million in funding. Unfortunately, the president asked me to see if Nolan Bushnell wanted to be chairman of the board. When I called Nolan he said I could do better financially with him, so I quit what was to become Amiga. Nolan, of course, flaked out.

http://www.digitpress.com/library/interviews/interview_larry_kaplan.html

 

It is an interesting note that a Famicom prototype was displayed on CES Summer 1982, about one year before the launch. I've read elsewhere about the Famicom history and how much work went into that system between early prototype and finished console (and that it was revised at least once before they got all problems fixed and it started to take off in Japan). Of course in June 1982 it was too late for Commodore to do anything major to the C64 chipset, but an interesting comment by Larry that he, Doug and Jay thought they could do better than what Nintendo were working with. This clearly was before the video game crash too.

Edited by carlsson
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As I understand it the Amiga was supposed to be a games machine / console from the beginning. However, due to the video game crash they decided to build a computer system instead. Most of the hardware for a computer already existed on the breadboards, so they made minor adjustments such as adding line drawing mode and I/O ports.

Edited by shoestring

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I was watching the excellent video about the Amiga design, and one comment here was interesting

 

An Amiga games console with only 32K of chip ram. It would be interesting how this would have looked to the market, and the kinds of programming tricks that would have been needed.
I think, even with 32K it would have competed with the NES and SMS.
For scrolling - 336x192x8 colours would fit in 24k , leaving 8k for h/w sprites and Copper lists
A pseudo colour mode could be implemented by replicating some plane data over multiple lines...
336x192x2 for 2 full screen bitplanes + 336x(192/4)x2 would give 16 colours using 1x by 4y 'attributes' in 20k
The CPU would be busy copying data from cartridge rom ( like fast ram) to chip ram for graphics updates during vblank, and any blitting would need to chase the beam as double buffering would need too much ram to be practical.

Great video, the bit-blitter is an awesome chip! :) One of the fellows in the presentation wrote a soft bit-blitter to prototype the idea on the 6502 using the Apple II. That sounds really cool, anyone have more info?

 

Some interesting spots in the video:

9:30 Describes the bit-blitter enabling tile mapping and a virtual world where you pan the image about.

 

19:30 Direct Atari VCS visual comparision showing how the Amiga expands on the sprite engine hardware by adding hardware for panning the background image around "behind the atari sprite objects with a bit-blitter for the moving screen as all the players run around where they're going to run around. All that can be done on the amiga and we thought hey, that's the interactive computer."

 

Like the Apple II prototype soft bit-blitter can also be done on the Atari VCS - Virtual World BASIC has a soft bit-blitter chip.

 

The video has excellent technical descriptions and analogies for describing what's happening in KC Munchkin Monster Maze and StarBlitz, two new VCS games that use bit-blitter operations:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3IlUdxMbJo

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If you are referring to the 1980's era consoles then an Amiga console was sort of developed. It was called the Atari Lynx. It was as close to an Amiga in regards to chip architecture concept. The developers of the Atari Lynx were also involved with the development of the Amiga.

 

 

 

I was watching the excellent video about the Amiga design, and one comment here was interesting

 

An Amiga games console with only 32K of chip ram. It would be interesting how this would have looked to the market, and the kinds of programming tricks that would have been needed.
I think, even with 32K it would have competed with the NES and SMS.
For scrolling - 336x192x8 colours would fit in 24k , leaving 8k for h/w sprites and Copper lists
A pseudo colour mode could be implemented by replicating some plane data over multiple lines...
336x192x2 for 2 full screen bitplanes + 336x(192/4)x2 would give 16 colours using 1x by 4y 'attributes' in 20k
The CPU would be busy copying data from cartridge rom ( like fast ram) to chip ram for graphics updates during vblank, and any blitting would need to chase the beam as double buffering would need too much ram to be practical.

 

 

 

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