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pixelmischief

Most "Immersive" Modern Amiga Implementation

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What would you all say is the most immersive modern implementation of the Amiga.  I'm talking about everything from boot to desktop to games.  I've looked at some of the common stuff; Aros, AmigaOS 4.X and MorphOS on Mac Mini, etc.  They all seems to break down on the gaming experience.  In particular, they all require configuration and execution of an emulation package that is not nearly transparent enough to preserve immersion.  They run windowed, or they require multiple configurations, or they run from ADFs, etc.

 

I am currently running Workbench 3.1 on an A1200/030/50 with CF2IDE, wireless networking, and external SCSI CDROM on Squirrel SCSI.  It's beautiful, to be sure, but nothing like a modern multi-GHZ machine with Picasso support would be.  I haven't tried any of the FPGA implementations or the enormously expensive AmigaONE.  I guess I would, if I could be sure it was going to be that "seamless" experience I am looking for.  I suppose recasing the 1200, adding something like a Mediator, and waiting for the "Holy Grail" PPC accelerator to pop up is an option.

 

Tell me, fellow Amiga lovers, where will I find my best Amiga.

Edited by pixelmischief

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If I had the money I think the Vampire guy has a stand alone solution.

 

The poor mans best bet might be the Amiga emulation images on Raspberry Pi 3/4

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Hmmm... The issue here is that it's all subjective, based on what you consider immersive or typical usage. For you, it would appear that classic gaming is important, and that's fair enough. Part of what made the Amiga so good for games back in the day was the tight integration of the software and hardware, with the chipset doing heavy lifting, and the OS taking advantage of that, but also side-stepping to allow games to bang the hardware directly if desired. As the years went on though, the demise of Commodore and its ecosystem meant the chipset stayed put while the rest of the world moved on with advances in hardware and software. While the design of the OS itself meant that it could be scaled relatively easily to new chipsets and faster CPUs, software that hit the hardware directly would be left behind too. This means that your experience relies on having either the original chipsets (as in OCS/ECS/AGA), or some emulation of those chipsets. This means you need a complete emulation of the machine either in hardware or software, and this is why running old games from ADFs in an emulator is how it's done on updated systems, even under MOS and OS4, which can otherwise run "system friendly" software absolutely transparently. You can, of course, also run such games in full-screen, and utilities like RunInUAE that allow you to run the minimal emulation simply by double-clicking an ADF or 68k executable help too, but it's never going to be 100% seamless. A hardware emulator (reimplementation for those who think emulation is a dirty word) such as the Vampire SA, MiST, MiSTer, FPGAArcade etc. is always going to be closer to the original thing, of course, and that's probably the best compromise you're going to get these days if what you're looking for is a modern way of running the classic games without using a software emulator.

 

For me, it's a little different. I was more about the "serious" use - I used my Amiga as my main computer for everything back in the day, and so instead of moving to PC, it was expanded to suit the tasks, at one stage in the dial-up era even acting as the internet gateway for the PC and Mac on my LAN. It's an A1200 with OS 3.9, an '060, full SCSI setup, 256MB RAM, Mediator PCI board, Voodoo 3-3000, 10/100 NIC, SB128 and all sorts of other bells and whistles, and has been more or less that spec for around 20 years. Even back then, I wasn't that interested in playing the older games, so the chipset was rarely used. Other than a very expensive, fragile and limited PPC accelerator, that was about as far as you could go with the classic Amiga, but it was, and still is, a fine beast of a machine, capable of running some of the heaviest non-PPC games there are. For example, Descent: Freespace and Earth 2140 both had Amiga releases that I could run perfectly well, and Amiga original games like Payback and Napalm used all of that available power too and were thoroughly enjoyable. At that stage, the PC was needed more and more for everyday computing, so the Amiga was relegated to more of a hobby role. But still, for my use of mainly system-friendly software, about 15 years ago I got an AmigaOne G4. That, with OS4, was everything that the A1200 wanted to be - it was so much faster (800MHz G4, Radeon 9200SE) and did pretty much everything that the A1200 could do, only quicker and with more polish thanks to OS4. To this day, it's still where most of my Amiga use happens - OS4.1 is like a super-patched, super-polished version of OS 3.9, and still runs almost all the software I used on my A1200 100% seamlessly. I also have pretty much all of the other options here - an A2000 with an '060 and Picasso IV, an A1200 with '030 similar to yours except an internal CD drive (this is the one that gets rolled out for beer & SWOS nights with the lads), and various lower A1200s, 500s and 600s. I also have MorphOS and AROS machines, but none of the others get the use that my A1 gets.

 

The thing is, there's a massive generational gap between the likes of that AmigaOne and the humble stock A500 or A1200 that was primarily used for loading games from floppy. If you're mainly interested in the classic games with a bit more convenience, the A1200 with an '030, some extra RAM and a hard drive really is the sweet spot. Sticking with original hardware, to go beyond that is a massive jump in cost for very little gain games-wise. However, if you've got cash to splash, there's a board on the horizon now will give you essentially the fully-blown Mediator experience in the standard A1200 shell. It's the Warp 1260, and it's an '060 accelerator with 256MB RAM, fast IDE, Wifi, limited USB, full HD graphics capability, HDMI out, overclockable to 105MHz (depending on CPU), and an optional upscaler for the native chipset output via HDMI. That will make for an insane A1200 in the standard case, but will also cost you a small fortune (and you'll need to source your own '060 for it too). The Vampire 1200 will offer a similar experience, but with a different focus that might also be of interest at a slightly lower price point. But ultimately, if you're looking for seamless classic capability and semi-modern speed and graphical capability, it's a massive gap you're trying to bridge and will cost you a small fortune in hardware. After all, you don't get Windows 10 PCs running DOS games natively either - somewhere along the way, compatibility has to be packaged up into an emulator.

 

Sorry, that's a long post, but the bottom line is: "it depends..." :p

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@Daedalus2097 Thanks for the detailed analysis.  You make some...inescapable points.  I think the crux of my dilemma is that I want it all.  I want a powerful, elegant "daily driver" desktop experience in the same machine on which I want a seamless, classic gaming experience.  I want these things with modern luxuries, like high-resolution RTG graphics; without compromising on vintage appointments, like floppy disks.  I want to never be reminded I'm not on a modern PC while also never being reminded that I am not on a classic Amiga.  I mean, really.  Is that too damned much to ask for? 😃

 

@Gemintronic's comment leads me to the most attractive option I have seen yet.  Indeed, the Vampire 1200 v2 with a Mediator PCI board could get me all the way there; except for the seemingly endless waiting list.  The stand-alone Vampire v4 would actually be the better choice for having RTG and USB built in; except that it has no floppy drive header or external floppy drive port.  C'est la vie.  The endless, but still quite enjoyable pursuit continues.

Edited by pixelmischief
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Yeah, in PC terms you want a current Windows 10 machine that will transparently and natively run a DOS game from floppy disk. A tall order really, but a nice dream :)

 

Some things to note about the Vampires too: First off, all current Vampires have RTG capability, it's not just the stand-alone. But the RTG bandwidth is limited, so you're normally limited to 720p output. That can be pushed to 1080p by dropping the refresh rate to 24Hz - if your monitor supports that. Second, I have my doubts it would work with a Mediator setup, which itself quite a fussy beast, and the Vampire doesn't exactly play by the rules when it comes to Autoconfig either, and lacks an MMU (which I believe is required for how the Mediator works), so I can't imagine the two of them cooperating. Still, there's very little use for a Mediator except for more powerful RTG boards and maybe USB - audio and networking can be done without it, and you don't need a massive tower case then.

 

The stand-alone makes for an interesting little machine in its own right, but the same limitations apply regarding RTG, and the USB is kinda limited, requiring legacy mode support on the keyboard and mouse and not offering removable storage.

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@Daedalus2097 I think I can deal with those limitations; especially in a Vampire that gives my 1200 huge new speed and 1024x768 RTG at the desktop with seamless AGA integration.  We'll see.  Thanks for the additional information.

Edited by pixelmischief

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hmmm...

 

AROS (native) + Janus-UAE on i386?

 

 

Could use an "Inexpensive early 2000s era motherboard" that has a floppy diskette controller, and build something that boots directly to AROS i386 (Since it does native install on naked hardware), then install the janus-uae package so it can transparently execute 68k software.

 

 

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Janus still isn't completely transparent. It's cosmetically transparent, but it's still running an individual instance of UAE in the background. Whether it's transparent enough for someone is entirely up to the individual, if old-style games are the aim, then it might well be good enough. AmigaOS4 and MorphOS are the only ones that do fully transparent emulation, and that only works for "system-friendly" software, ruling out most older games.

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For me, the answer is emulation through Amibian on the Pi 3B+.  At least, that's what I've finally managed to get a working WHDLoad set-up on (thank you Daedalus for your help both on here and at Lemon Amiga) and I really feel like it has everything I need.  I've been playing WHD games non-stop for the last couple of days and I'm actually able to have the full mouse and keyboard experience from the comfort of my sofa thanks to being able to use contemporary PC Gaming input devices with long leads while the Pi sits on the coffee table safely ensconced in a 3D printed A500 style case.

 

My A600 is a work in progress that I can't be bothered to deal with right now.  I've installed a memory upgrade and an IDE/CF hard drive but the AmigaKit installer (which was supposed to make things easier) won't recognise anything from the PCMCIA slot or from the WB disks I bought from Cloanto.  It looks like I'm going to have to prepare my own CF card from scratch to get this done but it's something that's going to have to wait until I'm in a fixer-upper mood again.

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7 hours ago, English Invader said:

For me, the answer is emulation through Amibian on the Pi 3B+.  At least, that's what I've finally managed to get a working WHDLoad set-up on (thank you Daedalus for your help both on here and at Lemon Amiga) and I really feel like it has everything I need.  I've been playing WHD games non-stop for the last couple of days and I'm actually able to have the full mouse and keyboard experience from the comfort of my sofa thanks to being able to use contemporary PC Gaming input devices with long leads while the Pi sits on the coffee table safely ensconced in a 3D printed A500 style case.

 

As I get older, I get less patient to sort out cases with these Pi’s etc. I wish someone would just sell these kits all combined With the Amiga style case at an affordable rate so that we can purchase and set up easily.

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