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Best DOS Games 1980-1990?

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5 hours ago, wierd_w said:

The Amiga suffered from the US's corporate leadership being delusional/lack of vision for the platform.  It was an explosive hit in Europe, because the EU leadership knew what it was really good for. (and it wasn't business applications.)

 

If it has been better marketed in the US, we might have seen Workbench be the standard GUI instead of Microsoft Windows.

It's a very similar situation to what Atari went through.

 

The ST and Amiga were designed during the video game crash years, and because of that there were some faulty assumptions baked into both.  For awhile the console was declared dead, but that ignored the fact that the C64 was priced like a console and people were using it as such.   When the 16-bits came it was $800-1000 for an ST system and even more for an Amiga.   The average household was simply not going to pay kind of money for console substitutes when the NES gave them a much cheaper path.    The ST/Amiga were simply not going to be a mass market gaming platform when you could have an NES for $99.    So instead they targeted professionals who might also be looking at a PC or Mac.

 

In the UK, the situation was different.   Culturally people gamed on computers more than in the US (often using cassettes instead of disks to keep costs down) and the NES never took off there.  There was no crash that temporarily made computers popular, that's just how it was.  So they were much more welcoming to the ST/Amiga as the natural successor to their gaming systems, and the ST/Amiga were marketed accordingly there.

 

The other factor was PC.   I don't think PC clone systems were as big a deal in the rest of world as they were in the US at the time.   But that market was growing by leaps and bounds in the US.  People wanted a computer system that could run the apps they were used to at work.   They didn't care about having the best graphics/sound or "genlock" or "midi" (average person didn't even know what they were).   So Atari and Commodore were stuck between a rock and a hard place in the US.  Too expensive for mainstream gaming, but became less and less attractive to the professional class as PCs gained more ground.

 

 

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A rant.. Why? Because I damned well feel like it!

 

I always wanted the best sound and graphics in the mid-80's. I wanted to be swept into oblivionic bliss, away from the boring text and ASCII stuff the PC was doing. And more than when the Apple II was doing. Was way way too young to note the value of the business-to-home connection and running the same software in both environs. Originally wanted a IIgs to stay in the Apple family, and let that carry me into the 16-bit world. But it was too expensive, so I got stuck with the Amiga. One of the criteria was how much software and material and warez was available or promised to become available. Bad mistake. Neither the ST or Amiga delivered. And soon I was stuck with a stagnant platform. Even became an embarrassment to talk about what computer(s) I owned. Always had to explain what the Amiga was - while in the know enthusiasts would say just get a PC..

 

At the time it may have been a blessing in disguise, not getting a IIgs. Because had I gotten a IIgs I may have disposed of my prior Apple II hardware. Thankfully I didn't and it's all now sitting in a pile in the next room.

 

I had many false-starts with getting all my pictures and word processing documents from the //e to the Amiga. For all its 7.1MHz speed, it couldn't handle text crisply and cleanly. A chore to do word processing. Maybe there were word processors that would eventually fit the bill. But I didn't know of any. So..

 

Ultimately it was either dump the Amiga or stay forever in computer purgatory. Never progressing beyond 1MB RAM and 7MHz. Purportedly there were expansions to address that. But I didn't know of any. So..

 

I always said in many previous posts I didn't get into the PC till the 386-to-486 transition was underway. That's only partly true. I should say that's when I seriously considered (and started saving for) a PC. But prior to that I always stopped in MicroWarehouse (or something like that) just to oogle and drool over the 12-MHz 286 AT&T Xenix rigs. I didn't know what I was looking at. Like some dumb kid being blasted in the face.

 

Leading Edge, AT&T, Packard Bell, Northsomething or other, and more. They had it all. It was a Costco/CompUSA affair that had those machines stacked 10-high. With more on pallets as far as the eye could see. Come to think of it it was like the Indiana Jones warehouse. All that power and I hadn't a fucking clue what I would do with 1/10,000th of it. Either way, the colorful text screens were to die for.

 

Come 1992/1993 I got wind of Microsoft Windows. A real graphical operating system finally. Not the chintzy kiddie stickers on the Amiga or ST. Real high-resolution graphics. As exciting as the VCS was in 1977 and the Apple II in 1978! As a bonus I learned that both DOS and Windows could co-exist on the same machine. This was getting better and better by the moment. I started buying some of the big-boy magazines like Byte and PC Magazine. I quickly learned of Microsoft Word, a real graphical word processor. But with the snappiness of text I would assume. From what I knew of the PC at the time it was bare metal like the Apple II with no custom chips getting in the way. What was once an asset slowly rotted away into a liability.

 

I learned of the major brands like Compaq, Gateway 2000, Dell, Microsoft, Intel, Micro-this and Micro-that. Shit! I was overwhelmed and to make matters "worse", all of it was readily available. With new stuff coming out weekly. Totally impressed that Intel was this huge-ass billion dollar company, whose sole purpose was to make microprocessors! And Western Digital, whose sole purpose was to make hard drives! And on and on it went. Why wasn't this happening on the Amiga?

 

I was repeatedly surprised that the PC was basically a hodgepodge collection of parts from many manufacturers, each sub-system having perhaps 5 or 10 vendors. I was hooked. I requested catalogs from everybody. Circling as much as I thought I could get away with on the Reader Service cards, but not so much as to get it thrown out as a prank. Soon the mailman was bringing rubber-banded bundles direct to my door since it wouldn't fit in the cheap apartmenty mailbox.

 

It was great reading about the 386 and 486 machines from Gateway2000. I took a liking to their catalog, how the specifications were digested down to a bullet chart that made comparisons between machines easy-peasy. Most important thing is these computers were real. Existing not just in advertisements.

 

Picking Gateway was an ok (if not spectacular) choice. I would later assume other companies of the time did just as good. They did. It was exciting learning about the features and advancements. Then another catalog came in the mail. Just a month or two after the first. This one described even more capabilities and performance that was real. More options. Cheaper prices. Complete opposite of Fantasyland Amiga.

 

Poured over the GW2K catalog multiple times per day.. Juggling the specs, my wants, and my budget.. In fall of 1992 I ordered my first PC.

 

I was frustrated a little with the C:\ and command line and stuff. It was all new to me even though the Amiga kind of worked that way too. The Amiga was unpractical because there was no affordable hard drive for it. But Windows 3.1 just worked. I was able to import all my text files from the Apple II almost immediately via ProComm+ IIRC. Made a modem-to-modem connection with a fake POTS simulator (a battery, resistor, and capacitor). And away I went. It was snappy. And Microsoft Word, a killer PC app for me at the time, was everything I had imagined in a word processor and then some.

 

A soundcard was also on my radar. At first I had a MediaVision Pro Audio Spectrum. And while it worked, not many games mentioned it by name. So I was concerned about compatibility. I rather quickly returned it. And saved a little more for a genuine SoundBlaster 16. Still have it today.

 

And printers. I used my Epson MX-80 for a while till I could afford something new, like an HP DeskJet 560C. Using a 10-year old printer was a lifesaver for a while. And that Windows supported it was a pleasant surprise. No drivers necessary. It was nice because it was a symbol of continuity in the transition from Apple II to PC.

 

I would go on to add many more peripherals. Some of which I would migrate into the Pentium III era. And up to my i9 machines today. But that's for another post.

 

In retrospect the PC was the best choice. Then and now.

 

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12 hours ago, wierd_w said:

The Amiga suffered from the US's corporate leadership being delusional/lack of vision for the platform.  It was an explosive hit in Europe, because the EU leadership knew what it was really good for. (and it wasn't business applications.)

 

If it has been better marketed in the US, we might have seen Workbench be the standard GUI instead of Microsoft Windows.

Nah, there wasn't anything out there that could compete with the idea of open PC platform. Clones didn't need marketing, people just understood intrinsically that they are the future via the appliance of common sense. Apple had all the marketing, ideas, etc and has failed anyway. And thank the digital gods for that. I love Amiga to bits, it was my teenage zeitgeist machine, but I'm glad it has folded after a few good years. But if it has survived it could only become another walled garden, suffocating niche machine, just like Macs, and I'd hate to see that.

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33 minutes ago, Keatah said:

 And soon I was stuck with a stagnant platform. Even became an embarrassment to talk about what computer(s) I owned. Always had to explain what the Amiga was - while in the know enthusiasts would say just get a PC..

That's seems odd to me.   In the circles I was in in the 80s,  the PC was definitely looked down upon and if you had an Amiga you were king, and everyone else would be jealous!

 

41 minutes ago, Keatah said:

Ultimately it was either dump the Amiga or stay forever in computer purgatory. Never progressing beyond 1MB RAM and 7MHz. Purportedly there were expansions to address that. But I didn't know of any. So..

 

I always said in many previous posts I didn't get into the PC till the 386-to-486 transition was underway. That's only partly true. I should say that's when I seriously considered (and started saving for) a PC. But prior to that I always stopped in MicroWarehouse (or something like that) just to oogle and drool over the 12-MHz 286 AT&T Xenix rigs. I didn't know what I was looking at. Like some dumb kid being blasted in the face.

 

Leading Edge, AT&T, Packard Bell, Northsomething or other, and more. They had it all. It was a Costco/CompUSA affair that had those machines stacked 10-high. With more on pallets as far as the eye could see. Come to think of it it was like the Indiana Jones warehouse. All that power and I hadn't a fucking clue what I would do with 1/10,000th of it. Either way, the colorful text screens were to die for.

I was in a similar boat with the PC from 1990 - 1994..   trying to decide if it was time to finally make the jump from ST to PC.   I remember seeing the shiny Gateway 2000s in the store running Windows.  Something about the Gateways seemed more attractive than the plain old boring beige PC,  and Windows could do color at a higher resolution than my ST could.   But the cost was still a bit much.  I found I could get new life out of my STe by a couple of upgrades.   First I upgraded to 4mb using standard SIMMs,  then I finally bit the bullet and got a hard drive.   Having a hard drive really was a game changer for the ST!   Apps flew open, no more disk swapping.  And I could expand it with the same hard drives a PC would use as long as it was a SCSI model.   I installed an improved GEM desktop on my hard drive and made it the default.   That made the system more usable.   As far as apps went,  just about every type of app was available.  I remember I even had Microsoft Write for ST, which was an early version of Word basically, WYSIWYG and all.   A nice thing about the ST was that it could read DOS floppies natively, so in school I could write papers on my ST, then save them to floppy and read them on a PC in the lab to print the paper.

 

As far as productivity went, I wasn't really missing anything, even though I was still getting the "is it time to go PC?" thoughts from time to time.

 

What it was that finally put me over the edge was Doom!  Now there was something my STe couldn't do!

 

58 minutes ago, Keatah said:

Come 1992/1993 I got wind of Microsoft Windows. A real graphical operating system finally.

Ehh....   Windows up through 3.1 was really just a graphical program launcher for DOS.   And it had really primitive multitasking.  The Amiga OS was probably more advanced in that regard even if it was less user-friendly.   It also wasn't particularly useful since DOS applications far outnumbered Windows Applications at that time.    I suppose if you had a license for Word/Excel, that's one thing,  but I didn't yet, and Windows 3.1 was basically something that looked nice and played a nice game of Solitaire...   At least until Internet and Netscape came along.  But then Windows 95 was hot on the tail of that so I didn't use 3.1 for Internet for very long.

 

1 hour ago, Keatah said:

Poured over the GW2K catalog multiple times per day.. Juggling the specs, my wants, and my budget.. In fall of 1992 I ordered my first PC.

For my friends and I, it was the "Computer Shopper" magazines that were the must-reads.  In those days, they were massive, the size of a phone book every month!   (you can't even explain this to your kids.  "Imagine a magazine the size of a phone book!"   Child 1:  "What's a Phone book?"  Child 2: "What's a magazine?")    Anyway, we'd pour through that the day it dropped, trying to find the best deal on our next PC parts.

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For a while back in the mid 90s, a friend of mine actually subscribed to Computer Shopper magazine.  One day, he happened to walk past while the mailman was putting mail in the apartment mailboxes, and he spied his new issue of the Shopper in the pile.  He and the mailman then had a nice conversation.  The mailman couldn't believe it was a monthly magazine.  He also asked if it was okay to just leave it next to the mailboxes because it was too large to fit inside.

 

I made due with buying an occasional issue on the newstand.  Wish I had kept one of them from back in those days.

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14 hours ago, wierd_w said:

The Amiga suffered from the US's corporate leadership being delusional/lack of vision for the platform.  It was an explosive hit in Europe, because the EU leadership knew what it was really good for. (and it wasn't business applications.) If it has been better marketed in the US, we might have seen Workbench be the standard GUI instead of Microsoft Windows.

Mmm.. Maybe not. I have a hard time seeing that leadership was all to blame. Granted they didn't see or act on what the engineers gave them. Sure. But IMHO 3rd-party companies simply weren't making add-ons for it. There was no motherboard swappage. No new CPUs. No new memory cards. And while some stuff was shown in print. *I* had no practical way of buying the stuff. I *could* buy some NewTek and Supra and C= stuff. But that was it.

 

Compare that against the PC. Even in the early 8086 & 286 epochs; stores were overflowing with peripherals. In fact they were like grocery stores for geeks. Aisles'n'aisles of parts, boards, software, games, peripherals, tools, supplies. None of it was visionary. It just kinda happened. There was no one company holding the reigns.

 

I also believe that "vision" for a platform is only important if it's a walled garden or proprietary. There was no such vision for the PC. And the platform proliferated like flies in a pigpen.

 

14 hours ago, wierd_w said:

However, the PC finally came into its own with 32bit flat addressing, (and instructions to get back out of it again-- very important difference in the 386 vs the 286), 256+ color video without novelty hacks, and stereo PCM audio with hardware assisted music/tone generator. (OPL2/3).  That was still behind what Amiga was doing (with 64k color being trivial, and hardware mixing audio for ages, along with pointing device support out of the box, et al.),

Yes the PC still needed hardware improvements and feature developments. And these, thankfully, were piecemeal. But industry-wide. Seemingly a good way to establish all-important standards. At least that's how I see it. Back then I wouldn'tve known a standard if it bit me in the ass.

 

14 hours ago, wierd_w said:

..but IBM (and more importantly, the clones!) were much better at marketing product, and getting it on and off shelves.

I don't know how much marketing was being done. Or how it was being done. Just that the stuff showed up on the store shelves and in real "working" catalogs.

 

I do recall, and have saved, many nice brochures from the likes of Cirrus Logic, Western Digital, Intel, Creative Labs, Gateway2000, Software Bisque, Microsoft, ARC Science Simulations, Maris, SubLogic, and others. A time when companies were openly proud to put something in print. Something you could take home, throw on the table, and come back to it again and again. Get the idea in your head that this is what you want.

 

And it really was influential. I still look fondly upon those companies and continue to prefer the likes of WD, Intel, Apple, and others that had printed flyers. Still wished they did that today.

 

Peaceful. Gentle. Zen-like advertisements. Serene brochure reading with Sunday afternoon tea. Not the caffeine-crazed vibrating noise of today. Noise we try to tune out and forget about. My head just shakes and I turn it all off.

 

2 hours ago, youxia said:

Nah, there wasn't anything out there that could compete with the idea of open PC platform. Clones didn't need marketing, people just understood intrinsically that they are the future via the appliance of common sense.

True enough. Like I just got through saying, a few ads, some flyers, and a shelf-presence, seemed to work great.

 

I remember the advertising back then was more fact-based too. At end of a skidfull of WD HardDisk upgrade kits they had specification sheets and booklets. That that kind of effort was done was a nice touch. I was sorry to see that go away. I first noted it with car dealers. They were beginning to be more reluctant when asked for a paper brochure.

 

Today I can partly understand why ads are done in PDF. But you have to dig and search through tons of shit on a website to find it. More effort than it's worth. Bzzztt! Next company.. Can you do better?

 

2 hours ago, youxia said:

Apple had all the marketing, ideas, etc and has failed anyway. And thank the digital gods for that.

Apple.. A trillion dollar company.. A failure? I don't think so.

 

The MAC on the otherhand.. Maybe. Certainly not as popular as PC, iOS, or Android. I liked the 1st MAC through till they started doing funky ugly shit like that melted gumdrop, or those clear-accented cases. iMAC.. Power-MAC G3/G4.. Or those one-off rigs like the 20th anniversary flat-panel thing.

 

IDK. Now? I could never get used to a single mouse button. And all the over-simplification. They took it too far. I feel like the OS is restrictive and fights me at every turn.

 

2 hours ago, youxia said:

I love Amiga to bits, it was my teenage zeitgeist machine, but I'm glad it has folded after a few good years. But if it has survived it could only become another walled garden, suffocating niche machine, just like Macs, and I'd hate to see that.

It came close to that for me. Being a zeitgeist machine. It actually succeeded in that with graphics. Learned tons with PhotonPaint, DeluxePaint, DigiPaint, and DigiView. Glad I saved all the "work" I did with it. More like leisure painting and artist wannabe stuff. But it was fun.

 

IMHO walled gardens happen when a company becomes greedy. Control and all that.. But like on my iPhone, I only text on occasion, do some electronic mail, catch up on the news. That sort of thing. Only have like 5 or 10 apps installed. Not a whale. And I do appreciate the "walls of security" they have going.

 

Great to always have a camera with me. In fact I don't carry my DSLR around as much these days. The iPhone is superior in every way except for zoom and custom settings for unusual lighting conditions. Even then it's not so bad. Computational photography is something Canon and Nikon (and a little bit Sony) are sorely lagging in.

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3 hours ago, zzip said:

That's seems odd to me.   In the circles I was in in the 80s,  the PC was definitely looked down upon and if you had an Amiga you were king, and everyone else would be jealous!

Shit.. man.. The PC was revered in my circles. This chick from high-school that wanted to date me had one of those fat-ass HAM father types. The ones that would do complex exotically esoteric things with radios and stuff. Incomprehensible to a teen that wanted to party. Heaven forbid we make noise while he was DX'ing! I'd get thrown out and she'd get grounded. Pins and needles were the order of the day. The tubbalard had a PC and he removed everyone from the den and living room while conducting what seemed like endless PK-ZIP operations and continual never-ending backups. Place was a hoarder's paradise. You had to pick stuff up and wade through everything by putting what was in front of you in back of you.

 

Another more mature and upscale family I knew had a PC (XT?) in the basement, in a locked room, with a beer cooler, microwave, TV, and everything. Like a tech bunker of sorts. We were never allowed in there unless supervised. Playing Flight Simulator 2.0 or 3.0 was time paid for with gold. Nearly. I got like 15-minutes on it inbetween our Apple II warez sessions.

 

Everyone at tech school talked about their systems or the systems they were going to be buying. Some were lording it over on us havenots. But we didn't care because ours was coming or we already were collecting parts. I was not a parts collector though. I didn't know enough, Computer Shopper or not, so I had to buy pre-made.

 

I was constantly having to explain what the Amiga was. And besides the few demoscene demos and pieces of art I did, there was literally nothing to discuss about anything! Woot..

 

3 hours ago, zzip said:

I was in a similar boat with the PC from 1990 - 1994..   trying to decide if it was time to finally make the jump from ST to PC.   I remember seeing the shiny Gateway 2000s in the store running Windows.

I don't ever remember seeing a GW2K shoppe anywhere in my part of town. But we had Tiger Direct, CompUSA, ComputerCity, CircuitCity, BestBuy, Egghead, Myoda, Software Etc, CDW, Babbages, Electronic's Botique, MicroCenter. And multiples of all that. And a load of mom'n'pop shops as icing on the citywide cake of computer stores. There were likely more that I don't even recall. Shit. Throw Tandy Radio Shack in there, too, once they got onboard with MS-DOS rigs. I needed a travel agency to concoct an itinerary!

 

NorthBrook Computers & Compu-Shop & Data-Domain were long dead by that time. And Computerland was fading fast. The first two were laggards and still trying to sell NorthStar desk-sized CPM dinos.. And Computerland was stuffy as all hell.

 

Computerland and Farnsworth did a stint with the Amiga. But it felt like C= had personally dropped off a car full of them and that was it. No real distro or marketing. Set up in the corner of curiosity for purchase by anyone who knew what they were. No in-store education. Complete opposite of the famed Tandy Computer Centers.

 

Software+ and Protecto Enterprises seemed to be the last Amiga holdout. The only two stores in the immediate area. I remember getting my 500 at PE and several accessories and software packages at S+. All of it felt niche. The air of specialty surrounded everything. PE felt like a liquidator in a barn. It was in a barn IIRC. And S+ was the quiet hobbyshop. None of it sustainable.

 

Gotta face it. The Amiga simply wasn't around in Chicagoland or its norther suburbs.

 

3 hours ago, zzip said:

Something about the Gateways seemed more attractive than the plain old boring beige PC,  and Windows could do color at a higher resolution than my ST could.   But the cost was still a bit much.

I just liked the name and the stark white color. My 486 still doesn't need any Retrobrighting. Though the cheap-ass Creative 2x is threatening. Maybe I can scare it back if let a bottle of bleach outgas itself next to it.

 

I almost liked the presentation of Gateway's products. With that Farm and Cow thing going. I thought it very much Apple'esque for a while. Guy from a farm selling computers? Reminded me of Steve'n'Steve from the garage. Eventually it became "fake".

 

But really it was the logo. It was a nice one. And the 8+ page brochure was definitely no nonsense once you put the cows out to pasture. Simple. A photo of the computer. A list of specifications. A list of options. And a knowledgeable salesforce capable of answering my infantile and pedantic and tedious questions. And boy did I have them back then. Fueled by wanting the absolute fastest on a low-rent budget. Delete this -149.99. Add this +99.95. And on it went for hours. Days even. Going back'n'forth till I settled on only 1 delete and 1 change. Changed SCSI to IDE. And deleted the graphics card.

 

IDE was far simpler to understand compared with SCSI's umpteen hundred different variations. IDE was cheaper, too. I justified the downgrade and tolerated the 2-second-longer load times on a typical game or even Windows start.

 

The graphics card that was to come with the machine was ATI based. IIRC. I already had my eye set on a cheaper and just as capable CirrusLogic board. Minus some special Windows accelerator drivers. I wouldn't be using them anyways. And Windows turned out fast enough as it was. I remember the advertisements for the CL "featurechips" as the marketers called the. Little pics of the function of the chip superimposed on the chip itself. A nice brochure 2bshur. Anyhow I got my 16.7 million colors and good + compatible DOS performance.

 

3 hours ago, zzip said:

  I found I could get new life out of my STe by a couple of upgrades.   First I upgraded to 4mb using standard SIMMs,  then I finally bit the bullet and got a hard drive.   Having a hard drive really was a game changer for the ST!   Apps flew open, no more disk swapping.  And I could expand it with the same hard drives a PC would use as long as it was a SCSI model.   I installed an improved GEM desktop on my hard drive and made it the default.   That made the system more usable.   As far as apps went,  just about every type of app was available.  I remember I even had Microsoft Write for ST, which was an early version of Word basically, WYSIWYG and all.   A nice thing about the ST was that it could read DOS floppies natively, so in school I could write papers on my ST, then save them to floppy and read them on a PC in the lab to print the paper.

Well that's good.

 

I remember knocking something like $400 off the price of the 486 by eliminating SCSI. The standard was too confusing for me. SCSI and all those cable configurations and terms to comprehend. No. It wasn't for me. IDE was simple and it worked.

 

HDD on the Amiga wasn't an option. Not in the mid-west anyways. No store within 100+ had one. And the mail order places I contacted couldn't promise any sort of shipping date. So I languished on with 2 floppies.

 

3 hours ago, zzip said:

As far as productivity went, I wasn't really missing anything, even though I was still getting the "is it time to go PC?" thoughts from time to time.

My productivity was alright with the Apple II. It stopped with the Amiga. And took off with the PC.

 

3 hours ago, zzip said:

What it was that finally put me over the edge was Doom!  Now there was something my STe couldn't do!

Yep. Is still true some 25 years later.

 

One of the first arcade shooters I got on PC was Tubular Worlds. Typical corny story. But the gameplay still pretty good. A little bit of grinding because if you die you get set back. Full of OPL3 and digital. Colorful in the best of arcade style. Takes a little figuring out what to hit and what to avoid. And you can get "stuck" and pushed off the screen by parts of the terrain. You do have a chance to get out of those traps however. Mostly..

 

For those of you who are Raptor fans. Check Mountain King Studios. They eventually came out with DemonStar. And Secret Missions packs 1 & 2. DS was released twice, an older version and newer version. Different graphics for your ship and the power-ups. Knowing me I have to have both. So that makes for 4 separate games. The first levels are like for toddlers. The later ones are intense with quite creative patterns. Gone is the purchasing of power-ups inbetween levels. Not something I liked a whole lot anyhow. These are Windows 95/98/XP native ports. Though they worked fine in 10.

 

3 hours ago, zzip said:

Ehh....   Windows up through 3.1 was really just a graphical program launcher for DOS.   And it had really primitive multitasking.  The Amiga OS was probably more advanced in that regard even if it was less user-friendly. 

To me Windows 3.1 was rather sophisticated. May have been less technically advanced. But I felt pretty good using it. It was the future, here, now. Maybe other aspects of the hardware architecture created the illusion it was better.

 

3 hours ago, zzip said:

It also wasn't particularly useful since DOS applications far outnumbered Windows Applications at that time.    I suppose if you had a license for Word/Excel, that's one thing,  but I didn't yet, and Windows 3.1 was basically something that looked nice and played a nice game of Solitaire...   At least until Internet and Netscape came along.  But then Windows 95 was hot on the tail of that so I didn't use 3.1 for Internet for very long.

I didn't either. It was Procomm+ and Netscape Navigator. Then right into America Online. AOL taught me everything I know about the 'net.

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Computer Shopper was totally multifunctional even after we read it. We used it as placemats and blotter paper for light spills. Lined the litter box with it. Propped up the rickety table. Even wiped my ass with it.

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13 hours ago, Keatah said:

The MAC on the otherhand.. Maybe. Certainly not as popular as PC, iOS, or Android. I liked the 1st MAC through till they started doing funky ugly shit like that melted gumdrop, or those clear-accented cases. iMAC.. Power-MAC G3/G4.. Or those one-off rigs like the 20th anniversary flat-panel thing.

Macs seem more popular than ever.   I've had to use one as part of my job since about 2013.   I rarely ever touched one before then.  A huge part of our workforce uses a mac as their desktop.

 

13 hours ago, Keatah said:

IDK. Now? I could never get used to a single mouse button. And all the over-simplification. They took it too far. I feel like the OS is restrictive and fights me at every turn.

You press a key on the keyboard along with a mouse click to simulate a right-click.   I think you can plug-in a 2 button USB mouse as well and it will work.  But MACs have really gone "walled garden" more than Windows,  if you want to install an app that didn't come from the app store, it is a struggle.

 

13 hours ago, Keatah said:

Today I can partly understand why ads are done in PDF. But you have to dig and search through tons of shit on a website to find it. More effort than it's worth. Bzzztt! Next company.. Can you do better?

Today's product websites are all style and very little substance.  They are a few horizontal bars with a few pictures and a couple of feel-good marketing blurbs.  Want actual product specs?  Good luck with that!

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10 hours ago, Keatah said:

Everyone at tech school talked about their systems or the systems they were going to be buying. Some were lording it over on us havenots. But we didn't care because ours was coming or we already were collecting parts. I was not a parts collector though. I didn't know enough, Computer Shopper or not, so I had to buy pre-made.

I was a part collector too.   I was finishing up college and didn't have the income to just make a $1000+ purchase on a complete system,  so I bought a little with each paycheck.   I didn't know exactly how to build a PC then either, but I had a friend who would advise me when I got stuck.

 

10 hours ago, Keatah said:

I was constantly having to explain what the Amiga was. And besides the few demoscene demos and pieces of art I did, there was literally nothing to discuss about anything! Woot..

What year was this?  In the late 80s, it seemed like everyone who had an interest in computers at least knew what an Amiga was.   The people I knew started with a love of videogames, moved into a home computer from there, learned to code in BASIC and maybe used that as a springboard to study computer science/information technology.   However, starting out as gamers, we were most impressed by graphics/sound capabilities of a machine.   To us, any computer could crunch numbers for a spreadsheet or be used for word processing, but Amiga had multimedia tricks that no other machine could match.     

 

But I'm well aware that many people came to computers from a different angle, and they may be more impressed by a machine that can run name-brand applications like Lotus and so impressed by a pretty bouncing ball.   Those kinds of people were always steeped in PC and may not know what else is out there.

 

10 hours ago, Keatah said:

I don't ever remember seeing a GW2K shoppe anywhere in my part of town. But we had Tiger Direct, CompUSA, ComputerCity, CircuitCity, BestBuy, Egghead, Myoda, Software Etc, CDW, Babbages, Electronic's Botique, MicroCenter. And multiples of all that. And a load of mom'n'pop shops as icing on the citywide cake of computer stores. There were likely more that I don't even recall. Shit. Throw Tandy Radio Shack in there, too, once they got onboard with MS-DOS rigs. I needed a travel agency to concoct an itinerary!

It wasn't a dedicated Gateway shop,   it was a warehouse club that had a counter with a bunch of (386?) computers lined up running either Windows 3.0 or 3.1, the Gateway ones stood out to me.  I remember staring at them thinking "maybe it's time to go PC...."  then I'd look down at the price tag and realize I had a bit of saving to do first.  haha

 

The Mom and Pop PC shops were really proliferating in those days.   However my friends and I made most of our parts purchases at the weekend computer shows that were all over the place in the 90s.  It would be a bunch of region vendors competing with each other by having special show pricing..   so we would get better deals that way than if we walked into their storefront on any given day.

 

10 hours ago, Keatah said:

I almost liked the presentation of Gateway's products. With that Farm and Cow thing going. I thought it very much Apple'esque for a while. Guy from a farm selling computers? Reminded me of Steve'n'Steve from the garage. Eventually it became "fake".

I liked the cow thing.   I still have some Gateway boxes in my basement that I used in a move that are covered in cow spots.  It was a novelty,  nobody did that kind of stuff then, especially not a stuffy PC manufacturer.  I never owned a Gateway, but when I was collecting boxes for moving and someone was getting rid of them,  I was like "Cow spots?  Yes please!"

 

10 hours ago, Keatah said:

IDE was far simpler to understand compared with SCSI's umpteen hundred different variations. IDE was cheaper, too. I justified the downgrade and tolerated the 2-second-longer load times on a typical game or even Windows start.

 

10 hours ago, Keatah said:

I remember knocking something like $400 off the price of the 486 by eliminating SCSI. The standard was too confusing for me. SCSI and all those cable configurations and terms to comprehend. No. It wasn't for me. IDE was simple and it worked.

SCSI doesn't really benefit the typical desktop usage and may even add some overhead,  it was a better choice for servers.

 

IDE was closely tied to the PC AT bus and therefore wasn't a common option for non-PC platforms.   The Atari Falcon implemented it (92?) but for the ST, it just wasn't an option,  so I had to go SCSI.

 

It certainly can be confusing.   I still struggle with SCSI termination.  Sure if you draw a SCSI-bus diagram on the board then it's obvious that the terminating resistors go at both ends of the bus,  but when you are actually cabling it all up, it isn't always obvious where the ends of the bus are.   Sometimes I'd put the terminating resistors where I think they go, and it doesn't work, but works when I put them where it doesn't seem like they belong..    Plus there were all these SCSI varients..  Fast SCSI, Wide SCSI, Fast Wide SCSI

11 hours ago, Keatah said:

HDD on the Amiga wasn't an option. Not in the mid-west anyways. No store within 100+ had one. And the mail order places I contacted couldn't promise any sort of shipping date. So I languished on with 2 floppies.

There was a point where I had to go exclusively mail order for ST stuff since local shops didn't carry the stuff.   Got my ST hard-drive rig second hand.   It was an enclosure with two full height 5 1/4" bays with an ICD ADSCSI+ inside,  So it could hold two 5 1/4 full-height HDs or four half-height drives.   The second bay was empty when I bought it, so I bought a couple of half-height drives to fill it.   By that time, you could get < 100 mb HD's fairly cheap, and 100mb went a long way on a system like the ST which didn't have huge data sizes since most apps had to be able to fit on floppy.

 

11 hours ago, Keatah said:

To me Windows 3.1 was rather sophisticated. May have been less technically advanced. But I felt pretty good using it. It was the future, here, now. Maybe other aspects of the hardware architecture created the illusion it was better.

It was just mostly a graphical shell to launch apps at that point with crude multitasking.   It wasn't really an operating system yet-  you still had to rely on DOS and messy TSRs to handle the low-level stuff.   Compare that Windows 95 and especially Windows NT where you manage the entire computer through Windows.   I know Windows 9x was still bolted onto DOS, but it hid that better and tried to manage it for you so that you usually didn't have to edit autoexec or config.sys anymore or install TSRs

 

I also found Win 3.1 a little awkward compared to other GUI systems.   And Windows 95 fixed that stuff for the most part.

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3 hours ago, zzip said:

What year was this?  In the late 80s, it seemed like everyone who had an interest in computers at least knew what an Amiga was.

This would've been from late 1984 through around 1988. Those are they years when no one knew of it. After that I just kinda stopped initiating any discussions about it. A few techie folks of course did know about it but had no interest in it. They gave me the eye like wtf was I doing playing with Commodore Crap. And in tech school in the very early 90's it was a bust. Everything was x86. No one wanted to waste time with it. Not with busy lab schedules and all.

 

A few times I was asked if it was PC compatible. Mentioning the Transformer and BridgeBoards was met with (some) skepticism. Gotta go through all that for basic DOS..? Talking B5 didn't help either. Maybe that's because my shitbox tiny minuscule A500, mouse, and monitor setup in my trailer-park-like apartment was equally unimpressive. A movie studio computer? WTF?

 

 

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18 hours ago, Keatah said:

A few techie folks of course did know about it but had no interest in it. They gave me the eye like wtf was I doing playing with Commodore Crap. And in tech school in the very early 90's it was a bust. Everything was x86. No one wanted to waste time with it. Not with busy lab schedules and all.

Those were the same years I was in college,  and the guy directly across the hall from me also had an ST (also doing a computer science degree), and the guy in the room next to him had an Amiga.  I had a roommate the next year with Amiga too.   So it wasn't hard to find people, or maybe I just got lucky?    I didn't encounter PC snobs in those days,  nothing like the so-called "PC Master Race" of today.   PC owners treated PC as just a tool.   The other computers were fun and had their rabid fans.    I suppose that changed with the 32-bit DOS gaming renaissance of the early 90s, when PC started to have all the good games leaving the other platforms in the dust.

 

22 hours ago, zzip said:

To me Windows 3.1 was rather sophisticated. May have been less technically advanced. But I felt pretty good using it. It was the future, here, now. Maybe other aspects of the hardware architecture created the illusion it was better.

one other thing.   I agree Windows 3.1 was impressive when I first encountered it,  plus all the hype around it.   But I think after using it I had this feeling of "Is that all there is?"   I spent most of my time in DOS because there were far more interesting DOS applications for telecom and whatever. 

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, zzip said:

I didn't encounter PC snobs in those days,  nothing like the so-called "PC Master Race" of today.   PC owners treated PC as just a tool.

Right. I didn't experience any snobbery, nothing like a PC Master Race or anything. More like a morbid "can't look away" curiosity as to why I'd jump through so many Amiga hoops to accomplish what was a 1-2-3 PC task.

 

Today I'm not sure I see much of the PC Master Race thing, hardware is so readily available and a commodity. Maybe it's more of the Windows vs Linux debate.

 

I do however clearly see the spoiled gamerz and their $3000+ RGB rigs with designer cases and all that.

 

Quote

   The other computers were fun and had their rabid fans.    I suppose that changed with the 32-bit DOS gaming renaissance of the early 90s, when PC started to have all the good games leaving the other platforms in the dust.

Stellar 7 and Nova 9 on PC were real upgrades especially coming from from Arctic Fox and Stellar-7 for Apple II. Both those had that downtempo cool fall evening OPL3 FM sound. The game action was slow enough to bore onlookers, but fast and intense enough to keep the player engaged. Stellar 7 was a bit of a grind, with Nova 9 being more creative. The kind that you want to start playing at 11pm till like 1am. Kept hoping for ------ 11 something or other as yet another sequel.

 

I was always pleasantly confused why ArcticFox had the same/similar enemies as Stellar 7 did. Never occurred to me to look closer at the developers' histories.

 

It's noteworthy that there is no sprite or any of that parallax 2.5D scrolling in PC hardware. No blitting or special functions. And this applies to emulation especially, because arcade games and practically all 8/16 bit stuff used those graphics features.

 

It's seems more or less that's why it took PC gaming extra time to gain ground over hardware that did have those features. Had to wait till the CPU was fast enough to do all the work. Many of us know that, but I say it for those that don't.

 

Quote

one other thing.   I agree Windows 3.1 was impressive when I first encountered it,  plus all the hype around it.   But I think after using it I had this feeling of "Is that all there is?"   I spent most of my time in DOS because there were far more interesting DOS applications for telecom and whatever. 

Always bounced back and forth. I, too, wanted more out of Windows 3.1. But it was a savior compared to what I was stuck with on the Amiga.

 

I never did much DOS telecom stuff. I moved right into ProComm+ and other Windows' terminals because it was so forward-looking. The timing was all wrong for me with PC BBS'es and color ASCII so I sadly missed most of that. And the little bit of CA I experienced was on the AMIGA. Early in the game. So it wasn't all that spectacular.

Edited by Keatah

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On 7/17/2021 at 5:58 AM, Keatah said:

Today I'm not sure I see much of the PC Master Race thing, hardware is so readily available and a commodity. Maybe it's more of the Windows vs Linux debate.

It's mostly a gaming thing.   Go to any site dedicated to gaming and you'll encounter these types of people who sneer at console users, laptop users, etc.   They are basically PC fanboys but more obnoxious than most fanboys.

 

On 7/17/2021 at 5:58 AM, Keatah said:

It's noteworthy that there is no sprite or any of that parallax 2.5D scrolling in PC hardware. No blitting or special functions. And this applies to emulation especially, because arcade games and practically all 8/16 bit stuff used those graphics features.

To me that's what the point of "windows acceleration" was, which many video cards touted back then.   Common graphics operations could be done in hardware (if you installed the drivers, of course).   But even without that, the wider and faster buses of VLB and PCI meant that PCs could move far more graphics data faster than the older systems

 

On 7/17/2021 at 5:58 AM, Keatah said:

I never did much DOS telecom stuff. I moved right into ProComm+ and other Windows' terminals because it was so forward-looking. The timing was all wrong for me with PC BBS'es and color ASCII so I sadly missed most of that. And the little bit of CA I experienced was on the AMIGA. Early in the game. So it wasn't all that spectacular.

The BBS experience varied so much by platform.   Yes, PC had had the color ANSI terminals,  but the BBSes I encountered were mostly using the color for highlighting and not so much for graphics or flashy screens.    Contrast that to my Atari 8-bit ATASCII BBS days...    People made all kinds of pretty ATASCII BBS screens, menu systems, animations, etc.   But it was monochrome.   I imagine C64 BBSes were similar since they had similar graphics in their character set, but they had the option for color too.   When I got to ST-  ST BBSes tended to be rather dull to look at because the VT-52 terminal ST used by default was rather limited in what it could do visually.  I actually wrote my own terminal program on ST that could handle ANSI and ATASCII just so I could visit more interesting BBSes :)

 

One thing I liked about DOS as a telecom platform was how crisp, solid and fast it's text modes were.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, zzip said:

To me that's what the point of "windows acceleration" was, which many video cards touted back then.   Common graphics operations could be done in hardware (if you installed the drivers, of course).

Drawing primitives like lines and filling in areas. Hardware cursor. True. Chips did have those functions. And they were geared toward Windows specifically. I don't believe any DOS games used those. Not even in a partial manner.

 

4 hours ago, zzip said:

The BBS experience varied so much by platform.

On the Apple II we never got into much ASCII art or fancy screens. It was simple stuff like boarders and outlines and highlights using "advanced" monospaced ASCII characters like:

 

[-][-][-][-][-][-][-][-]

[-]        MENU        [-]

[-][-][-][-][-][-][-][-]

 

--==< USER NAME >>==--

 

******************

*                                *

*            FILEZ            *

*                                *

******************

 

Simple stuff like that. There were no other hidden codes or tables from which to pull subscript or superscript, let alone any wingdings or foreign or unicode characters.

 

Nothing like:

 

ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°

 

.•*´¨)

`¸.•´¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.• (~·´¯`·...¸><)))º>

 

ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°`°º¤ø,¸¸,ø¤º°

 

4 hours ago, zzip said:

One thing I liked about DOS as a telecom platform was how crisp, solid and fast it's text modes were.

Right. In fact that is one reason why the PC was so well accepted. Felt professional and on the ball. No mushy sluggardly sloughing through a task. And because of that it felt more reliable. Faster. Authoritative.

 

The Apple II was similar. But being 4 years older it was much more limited. There was little to get in the way between keyboard and display. A character "generator" rom, a few bytes of ram and the cpu. The text didn't need to go through complex firmware or rendering.

Edited by Keatah

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1 hour ago, Keatah said:

Drawing primitives like lines and filling in areas. Hardware cursor. True. Chips did have those functions. And they were geared toward Windows specifically. I don't believe any DOS games used those. Not even in a partial manner.

I think some supported Glide for 3D support,  but I don't remember any supporting 2D accelerated chipsets.   Heck it was rare to even get SVGA high-res, high color modes in DOS--  because there was no universal standard for SVGA unlike previous standards.   I think that's where using Scitech display doctor helped.

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SVGA wasn't fully standardized by any one mfg. Right. Each mfg's implementation was just a little different - for resolutions higher than 640x480.

 

Adoption and progress in the uptake of higher resolutions and bitplanes was beginning to slow. This is when VESA stepped up to the plate and made VESA BIOS. And any software written to this BIOS would work on any then recent card, assuming it had a VESA compatible BIOS in ROM. And if it did not, that's where SciTech Display Doctor and UniVBE came into play. These TSR drivers endowed non-vesa-bios cards with higher compatibility of VBE 2.0.

 

Duke Nukem 3D has an option for an 800x600 VBE 2.0 mode.

So did Flight Unlimited and Microsoft Space Simulator.

There were more. Usually these options would show up in some games' setup.exe, if the game got a patch or version number changed.

 

These add-on VBE drivers would also correct flawed implementations of the LFB, which stands for Linear Frame Buffer. A little TSR patch to certain combos of graphics chips and CPUs gave gamers a 25% increase in frame rate. IIRC this was a thing with Pentium Pro, II, and III class chips mainly. Maybe regular standard 1st Pentium also, but I didn't have one so I don't recall precisely. It had something to do with how fast data was written to the graphics card.

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In thinking of 3DFx I had a few games for the platform. Call it a platform because it was its own proprietary standard in many ways, hardware, drivers, flavoring. All of it. And while I liked the performance it was rather expensive and felt very elite. Very gamerish. I don't like that stuff much. And by the time I saved up for a Voodoo to complement my Riva-128, The Voodoo2 was right around the corner. So I saved up more and got a BlackMagic board from STB. Loved STB BTW.

 

I skipped pretty much the entire Pentium-1 era. Blew right into the Pentium II. I was like beyond ecstatic because my dream machine had been a Pentium Pro. But this was better.

 

I had temporarily "stolen" the Cirrus Logic GD5422 1MB 16-bit ISA card from my now-classic 486 to get my first ATX-style Pentium-II build going. That's because I couldn't afford a proper AGP card yet. But I found the next best thing, and it wasn't being shipped just yet - the quite featureful Canopus Total 3D 128V. A Riva-128 chip with TV + S-Video in/out. But it was PCI. To my surprise all reports indicated the PCI version performed like it was in an AGP slot. The Riva-128 was really adept with with transferring and caching textures. Better than any other chip at the time. And it was the fastest 2D of its time! All for the greater part of maybe 2 years or more. Eternity in PC evolution back then.

 

To keep up-to-date with graphics cards I got a VooDoo2.  Skipped right over the first Voodoo Graphics boards because I had to save money. And by the time I had it, the Voodoo2 was out. Got an STB BlackMagic board. And it was impressive. Totally buttery smooth as long as the textures stayed onboard. GreatPlanes RealFlight was real hit with all of us then. Never seen anything like it!

 

I didn't like the signal loss because of that assinine pass-through crap though. Pass some crap through my ass! Got another Voodoo2 board. And now my rig was running hot, with 3 graphics card going. Crazy.

 

I tried the Matrox/PowerVR, the Voodoo 3500, and maybe something else. The experiences were lame. No real improvement despite the benchmark barkings of (then contemporary, now defunct) review sites. The Voodoo Rush wasn't coming to market. And some similar abominable contraption with Voodoo2 and Alliance Semiconductor's Pro-Motion chip. Supposedly this had on-board built-in pass-through.

 

Then the TNT2 Ultra came out. This was AGP and gave me single-board Voodoo2 performance. Then I started thinking. Dangerous. I was hot to trot to get rid of the 2 SLI Voodoo2 cards. It was ridiculous. 3 overheating graphics boards. Not elegant. But that's not all. I kept the Matrox Millenium PowerVR board specifically because it was doing Unreal seemingly better than anything else. So it was ludicrous. 4! 4 fucking graphics boards in one system. Hot. Heavy. Not Maximum PC cool at all.

 

I wanted the 2D/3D in one chip AND Voodoo2 performance, the TNT2 Ultra gave me that. More and more stuff was supporting Direct3D and OpenGL, moving away from Glide. And the games I were playing came out with native support for those API's (like Unreal, it got patched). I saw no need for a 3DFx card anymore. Gained back 2 valuable PCI slots for other things. And then another one when I dumped the PowerVR.

 

3DFx was thankfully bought out by nVidia, and the graphics card market soon consolidated into ATi/AMD and nVidia. That was fine by me. NO. MORE. PASS. THROUGH. EVVA!

 

I would stay with the TNT2u for a while, then move into a Geforce2, 4, then 8800GT, and presently a GTX 1080. Once RTX has reasonable prices I'll upgrade to that.

 

Note: Most of my Quake 1 gaming was done while I had the 1MB Cirrus Logic board in my Pentium II rig. How unbalanced is that!! Kinda skipped over Quake 2 more or less. The game seemed haphazard and inhomogeneous in theme and intent. I would later (this year) read about some turbulent times at id Software as the problem.

 

V2 SLI always seemed overkill to me. The TNT2u was running Quake III just fine at 1024x768 or maybe even higher. At that point there was zero need for Glide or any proprietary 3D only boards.

 

The Pentium II 266 cost $775 retail on zero-day. I just had to have it because I always wanted to make a Pentium-Pro rig. And I started saving for it in earnest, but by the time I was done. The PII was right around the corner. Bringing a big commodity cache and 16-bit fixes, with MMX to boot! So perfect!

 

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Posted (edited)

I remember trying to play Quake (DOS version) with a Pentium 1 (90MHz) and while the game did run there was bad slowdown whenever a rocket was fired. But now on my 200MHz K6 it runs a full speed always.

 

Both GPUs I had used were 4MB so it was (obviously) the CPU that was the issue with all of the floating point math it had to do.

 

 

Edited by DragonGrafx-16

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9 hours ago, zzip said:

I think some supported Glide for 3D support,  but I don't remember any supporting 2D accelerated chipsets.   Heck it was rare to even get SVGA high-res, high color modes in DOS--  because there was no universal standard for SVGA unlike previous standards.   I think that's where using Scitech display doctor helped.

VESA would beg to differ.

 

It stands for Video Electronic Standards AssociationThey created a video interface standard by the same name.  Basically ALL late-model VGA cards had a VESA BIOS with routines you could call by index, to get access to accelerated high res modes. The BIOS handler baked into the card KNEW how to use the acceleration features of the card, even if you did not. You just called the routines to do the needful.  ScitechDisplayDoctor was a software VESA driver in the form of a TSR.  It provided an up-to-date VESA "bios" implementation, that knew how to handle a very wide variety of hardware chipsets/features. (Especially legacy cards that had 2D blitting and other features, but no VBE onboard.)  Quite a few games made use of VESA modes. Take for instance, Warcraft II, Duke Nukem 3D, EF2000, etc.

 

Any game that includes "UVCONIFG", makes use of the universal vesa bios extension. ("UniVBE") (Aka, Scitech display doctor, just stripped down for commercial use.)

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9 hours ago, wierd_w said:

VESA would beg to differ.

 

It stands for Video Electronic Standards AssociationThey created a video interface standard by the same name.  Basically ALL late-model VGA cards had a VESA BIOS with routines you could call by index, to get access to accelerated high res modes. The BIOS handler baked into the card KNEW how to use the acceleration features of the card, even if you did not. You just called the routines to do the needful.  ScitechDisplayDoctor was a software VESA driver in the form of a TSR.  It provided an up-to-date VESA "bios" implementation, that knew how to handle a very wide variety of hardware chipsets/features. (Especially legacy cards that had 2D blitting and other features, but no VBE onboard.)  Quite a few games made use of VESA modes. Take for instance, Warcraft II, Duke Nukem 3D, EF2000, etc.

 

Any game that includes "UVCONIFG", makes use of the universal vesa bios extension. ("UniVBE") (Aka, Scitech display doctor, just stripped down for commercial use.)

That came later as a response to the lack of standardization.   IBM previously dictated the standards up to VGA,  but then there was intense competition between the graphics chip manufacturers in the early 90s, and they all started coming out with so called "Super VGA" cards that were incompatible with each other,   so DOS games of that era usually didn't support SVGA resolutions until VESA came up with their standard.

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That period usually had the "Mode X" targeted for that reason.

 

While not technically a supervga mode, it DID have a decent tradeoff between density, color, and pixel aspect, while still being in the baseline VGA spec (and thus every card should support it.)

 

 

 

 

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On 7/19/2021 at 7:56 PM, DragonGrafx-16 said:

I remember trying to play Quake (DOS version) with a Pentium 1 (90MHz) and while the game did run there was bad slowdown whenever a rocket was fired. But now on my 200MHz K6 it runs a full speed always.

I remember playing Quake 1.06 DOS version on even lesser hardware, like a 486 DX2/50 with a 1MB ISA graphics card. And we all loved it. It naturally ran slower than my next rig (PII-266). But it was still atmospheric and gave a taste of what was coming after Doom.

 

I wasn't really too happy with Quake till I got a Riva-128 and then the TNT2. By the time the TNT2 came out I was moving into Quake 3 and Unreal & Unreal Tournament.

 

All the while gaming with my old SoundBlaster 16. Loved that card. Still have it. I got the ASP upgrade and the WaveBlaster II wavetabe daughterboard for it. I even had it in my PIII-1400 for a while till I could afford the AWE64. And I eventually returned it to its original home, the DX2/50. Another thing. When reading the tech faq about the Creative Waveblasters, I didn't know each version, I and II, used significantly different tech. Different enough that sysex messages would need to be re-done.

 

Never liked PCI soundcards much, always seemed to have some hiccup with them now and then. Plus, much less DOS compatibility because PNP drivers.

 

And just recently I got a CT3900 for below uber-cheap. It was an instabuy at $29.95. The seller wasn't a PC enthusiast, obviously. And that's alright. Better for me!

 

With this AWE32 card I think it's possible to have 48 hardware midi channels with the addition of a midi daughtercard. Just 48 though since the OPL3 is routed through the mixer on 2 of them. And the midi-synth takes 14. That's something the AWE64 doesn't do. The 64 gets its number from 32hardware + 32software channels.

 

Considering the huge amount of evolution that went into the umpteen thousand soundcards of the era.. All the versions and makes and models.. Maybe it's best sound got absorbed into software on the CPU. IDK. But I still got the warm fuzzy feeling when installing a deluxe soundcard of the the era. It was like adding a whole new sub-system into the computer. Could say the same about graphics, but no, soundboards gave us entirely new functionality.

 

Still trying to figure out if Creative was a stabilizing force, or if they complexified the market with the sheer variety of boards!

 

http://www.dosdays.co.uk/topics/wavetable_audio.php

http://www.dosdays.co.uk/topics/sound_cards.php

http://www.dosdays.co.uk/topics/sb16.php

http://www.dosdays.co.uk/topics/sb_awe32_64.php

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7 hours ago, Keatah said:

Never liked PCI soundcards much, always seemed to have some hiccup with them now and then. Plus, much less DOS compatibility because PNP drivers.

I have two SB Live cards with different hardware revisions  SB0100 and SB0260.   The SB0100 tends to cause odd issues while the the 260 works great.   Both were sold as SB Live and you didn't necessarily know which revision you were getting.  

 

7 hours ago, Keatah said:

Considering the huge amount of evolution that went into the umpteen thousand soundcards of the era.. All the versions and makes and models.. Maybe it's best sound got absorbed into software on the CPU. IDK. But I still got the warm fuzzy feeling when installing a deluxe soundcard of the the era. It was like adding a whole new sub-system into the computer. Could say the same about graphics, but no, soundboards gave us entirely new functionality.

They were significant upgrades.   They provided not just sound, but joystick ports, midi ports and CD-ROM interfaces.   Before ATAPI was standardized to put CDROMs on the IDE bus,  there were at least 4 different common CD-ROM interfaces -  Mitsumi, Sony, Phillips and SCSI.  My SB16 had 3 CD-ROM connectors for the 3 proprietary interfaces.

7 hours ago, Keatah said:

Still trying to figure out if Creative was a stabilizing force, or if they complexified the market with the sheer variety of boards!

In the beginning, they simplified things-  if they didn't provide all the ports and interfaces they did, you would need several boards cluttering up your ISA slots.   Eventually the market decided that the simpler AC97/HDAudio was preferable to the complex things Creative was selling.

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Additionally I always felt a little overloaded with all the pack-ins they supplied. Creative this.. Creative that.. Sure some of it was useful. But I sometimes wonder how much cheaper the retail cards could have been had they forgone all this excess.

 

And in thinking about the granularity, the sheer numbers of versions.. I'd have preferred higher quality DACs (and other parts) and fewer models. It's just as "bad" as EVGA's graphics cards. They've got SKUs that vary the memory speed by ~20 MHz, with a corresponding ~25$ price difference. They're doing something like 75 cards, more than half of which are out of stock. And nearly 80 power supplies. With a 10 watt difference in some instances. And Gigabyte sells what seems to be close to over 100 different motherboards.

 

All this tedium. What's the purpose? To vibrate the market, make noise, and confuse customers? So they say ahh fuckit and buy the most expensive and highest performing item? Not sure.

 

There's gotta bet at least 900+ versions of the 30 series RTX cards going industry-wide.

3090

3080

3080ti

3070

3070ti

Now add suffixes such as Superclocked, ForTheWin, UltraClocked, and more. With water cooled variants.

 

And OMG on Gigabyte, their pages showing more than 500 versions of graphics cards, different color schemes, 5MHz granularity, different versions of RGB. Granted it's the 10, 20, and 30 series in that 500+ count. But still!

 

Granted I don't know all the operational details of the business. But, certainly, the chip supplier, Nvidia, isn't helping with all the excessive parts binning. Chip don't work at 1900MHz, but passes at 1870? Instant new SKU. 1860? Bring it on! 

 

And we thought it was tuff when we had to pick from a selection of maybe 10 cards back in the 90's and early 2000's? Hmpff..

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