A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Retro Computing: Why Bother? Amiga 1200 Booklet Special!

On this snowy day keeping me from work I have little to do but goof off as my wont.

But instead of being a slacker, I shall do the Internet a favor and scan and comment on a pack in booklet I somehow still had from a 1992 Amiga magazine from the UK.  (A place that actually cared about the best computer for price AND performance of the mid 80s to early 90s.)

So here it is with commentary.  Hopefully this booklet being so old I am not breaking any actual copyright laws.  Its a 22 year old supplement to an Amiga magazine.  Somehow I doubt it.  I also do not know if anyone else has scanned this booklet but.. I think it has merit to archive.

(As usual click for bigger.)
 The 1200 would have been the ultimate home computer.  If it came out in 1990.  In 92 it was really too late.  486 PCs with VGA/SVGA basically owned the market at this time.  Commodore's nearly nonexistent marketing outside of Europe didn't help matters either.

 400 Pounds in 1992 was what?  600 or so US dollars?  Damn that is about what my Amiga 500 cost like that less than six months from when this was printed!  Course in the US we didn't even know about the 1200!  And I was a computer geek and didn't know about it.  The regular public?  HAHA.  No.

For funsies I did a little research.  400 Pounds in November 1992 was 610 .72  in US Dollars.   (The Pound to Dollar conversion was VERY low that month.  It was usually closer to 1.8 Dollars to the Pound but was 1.5 or so in November.  So 5 months earlier if this machine had somehow been imported to the US it would have cost you about 750 US and be worth closer to 1300 in today's money.) If we adjust for inflation, 1014.05 Dollars.  Ouchie!  (For comparison in a year or so my VERY bare bones Tandy 486 PC would cost 1500 dollars at the time, and not have joystick or sound interfaces.  But would come with a 2400 baud modem, 2 button mouse, monitor, a couple games and programs, plus 2 megabytes of RAM.)

Basically AGA chipset gave Amigas SVGA level graphics if you had a really good monitor.  If you hooked it up to a TV set not so much.  And from the 68000 CPU to a 680020 with options to put in math co processors almost nobody ever did.  Especially home users.  Businesses might really need more number crunch power.  Joe Homebody does NOT.

 2 Megabytes standard was pretty solid in 1992.  PCMCIA is great for modern users as it allows for flash drives and the like.  Low density 3.5 is basically a damned JOKE in November 92 though.  Laughing at the Hard Disk prices though it does own for modern users.  

 IDE hard disks?  Again, fantastic for us modern folks.

 If you had an HD Workbench 3 looks like it would demolish the Windows 3.1 standard of the day.

 Argh.  Scan got borked.  Unless there is demand it is viewable enough here for what it is.  

 Yay basic files management info?  This might help someone out there I suppose...

 Let us continue to laugh at the HDisk prices.  LAUGH I TELL YOU.

 GVP made lots of bits and bobs to make Amigas better.  The 1200 and 600 were finally home user machines where it wasn't completely ridiculous to crack open the case and do it.  (600 basically being a smaller Amiga 500 without the numeric keypad and that whole PCMCIA and IDE business capable.  And a built in RF modulator.  Something the 500 was not.)

 Not sure early 90s flight sims on an Amiga are worth caring much for.   Battle Isle running faster sounds nice though.  Not sure anyone ever cared about Zool besides the UK though.

 I think I have the PC Ishar trilogy thanks to Dotemu and some great sales.  

 Again, Civ 1 but prettier isn't much to care about nowadays.  Civ 2 is the only Civ one needs.  Deluxe Paint 4 sounds nice but nowadays we have stuff like Photoshop x.x and GIMP and the like.  But I suppose if you want to draw in the age of KLAX it might be a thing.

 More programs free software today like Libre Office outdo on modern PCs.  

 I had a DOS Vista Pro program.  Its kind of neat but more of a visual toy.  I should see if they have more modern ones and how much..

 More programs nobody nowadays really needs most likely.  But I am showing it all for historical importance and retrospectiveness.

 Agony, Alien Breed, Apidya, Birds of Prey, Black Crypt, Budokan, Chaos Strikes Back, Dungeon Master, Elvira, Eye of the Beholder, F19 Stealth Fighter, IK+?  All games I respect.

 Leander, Myth, Monkey Island 2, Parasol Stars, Pinball Fantasies, Populous 2, Prince of Persia, R Type, Rainbow Islands, Railroad Tycoon, Road Blasters, Sensible Soccer, Shadow of the Beast 3,  Windwalker, Wing Commander, Turrican?  Some solid games that work on this machine.  (Some I love on other platforms so they may or may not be as good here.  Other games I may want to have played but have not yet.)

 Jaguar XJ220 was pretty rad in the day.  And Lemmings is always good fun.  But what have we lost?  Airborne Ranger, Bubble Bobble, California Games, Chase HQ, Double Dragon 2, Heimdall, Hero Quest, Last Ninja 2, Lotus 1-2, New Zealand Story, Ninja Warriors, Outrun Europa, Populous, SCI, Shinobi, Space Crusade, Street Fighter 2, Strider.  (Again some may own ass on other platforms but suck on the Amigas anyhow.)  A pretty sad state IMHO.

 Super Off Road?  Super Space Invaders?  Zak McCraken?  SAY IT AINT SO.    I am not sure most of those AGA releases ever came out...

The future was: Commodore was effectively out of business within 2 years of this publication.    So anyone buying this machine a year after release (November 1993 basically had a machine about to die that couldn't even run all of the older software.) effectively bought a dead machine without a future.

Let's not grieve over Commodore.  Much like the contestants in Slaughterama they chose their path in life.  And death.

The UK and Europe could not save the Amiga alone.  The USA mattered.  And the USA chose the PC.

So we may grieve for this machine.  For the Amiga platform.  What might have been.  What should have been.  What deserved to be.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Mechwarrior Online: USER INTERFACE 2.0. (It is really more of a step to the side!)

Yes folks it has finally happened.  The mythical UI 2.0 is out.
It works.  Kinda.
Its not bad.  Kinda.

First off what the patch notes say:

(As usual click for big.)
 Turrets, new interface, a new 35 ton mech, and some weapon modules?  Its like Christmas in February!

 Weapons modules are not worth the 3 million C Bills and module slot in my opinion.  If they didn't require slots I wouldn't be too down on it.  But with GXP, C Bill costs, some weapon heat drawbacks, AND a module slot?  A bit much for not a lot.

And our new Hero class mech.  Yay?  Hero mechs are dumb really.  Not even a great paint job.  Its not terrible or anything but.. its just a Light class mech...

Now the link below is the SEEKRIT IF YOU READ THE FORUMS actual patch issues.


Quite a lot of issues but it honestly kind of works.  Not great but.. it works.  Some things kind of become a pain but others become pleasant and nice.

Our main screen now.  Sadly its fullscreen only instead of the handy windowed and not entire screen overtaking original.  Looks really pretty however!

 Now mech selection also has a giant screen showing you all your owned and trial mechs, plus hovering over a mech can bring up that extra info bit.  More information is never a bad thing.

 Pilot skills have had a change too.

 All our new weapon pilot modules.  Well, as many as fit on the screen.

 A pretty shot of one of my Battlemasters.

 Engine selection.  One thing I like is now you can click the mustard yellow EQUIP button and have it instantly slot into the location.  What I dislike is switching mech sections isn't quite as easy as just clicking a body part.  And selling is now in a different place.  Plus you have to click the CHECK OUT to finalize your purchases or changes.

 My graphics settings were all tweaked back.  My control settings stayed saved up but I had to tweak them all again.  I went with these levels and have nice performance.  Superior to how it used to be.

 Weapons here.

 You can even set weapon groups in the Lab now!  No more quickly doing so when you begin a match!

 Now when you select to play you can select game type.  Such as they are.

 What the pre game match looks like now.  Not a big change other than the font look.

 Mechs there to buy.  Not surprisingly the real life money Hero mechs up front.

 You have to go into your Inventory tab to sell.  A pain in the butt but not unsurmountable or anything.  Same with it basically always being fullscreen now.  It is an irritant not a deal breaker.

 How did I even have any Jump Jets in my inventory?  Well the new UI at least let me see what I had better.

 Those tiny 3 silhouettes at the bottom center right of the screen brings up the social interface.  Here showing who is on, if I am getting an invite (still just a flash on the little triple head icon.  No sound alert or pop up though.), and what they are doing.  With color coding.  Handy!

 And actual Group menu.  Folks with multiple monitor layouts have issues with the interface and all but on my 1 monitor system its fine.  I can see how these windows being open on different screens would be annoying though.

 You still cannot automatically refill consumable modules.  And you cannot be in the Mech Lab to start a game.  And you have to go into the Lab pretty much just to see if your modules are equipped.  Kind of obnoxious.  

Cockpit items menu.  Alienware/Dell has an offer for a new free one but to heck with making an account with them to get a stupid code for a stupid black space alien head.  A bit too much work for.. nothing really.

 In game seeing the Hero Hunchback mech and the icons showing all our friendly turrets.

 They come in a couple different types and are well armored when closed.  Baddies get close enough they open up to attack and can be killed for some XP and C Bills.

 Another shot of the Hero Hunchie.

 The missile defense turret opened up to give us a little extra dakka.

 This mech throws a tribute to Dio.  For in death they will both be remembered.  Ok Dio will.  Nobody gives a damn that your robot blew up in a video game.

Turret opens up?  Bring the hammer down for a little bonus.  Just don't forget about the real threat.
Some maps now have a new capture objective module.  In this case a tread vehicle train of some sort.

Light up Christmas Tree Bobble!

And finally!  My one time out of a good 20-30 matches over 2 weeks!

Again, new interface font and look is on display with the loading screen.

 Our new map in an overhead view.

 Sound is muffled and muted.  We are on a moon with a light atmosphere or something.  

 Lots of craters and massive walls protecting the vital HPG (Hyperpulse Generator.  It is basically a giant intergalactic transmitter.) dish.

 It is a gorgeous map.  Looks kind of like someone scavenged a Borg Cube from Star Trek and made a moon base out of it.

 Or we are walking on the Death Star.  Either one really.  Lots of trenches and the like.

 I liked what I saw but only got on the map once so I cannot really say what strategies (in MWO?  HAHAHA) it promotes or encourages.

 Like this area leading underground.  Didn't really get to see much of it.

 Jump jet me to the moon and let me play among the capture points...

Overall?  I am mostly impressed.  I need more time with the new interface before I can say it is decent though.  Just like the new map.  I am not used to it and thus cannot really say if I am just comfortable with the old UI to the point my irritations with the new one are genuine and not just me liking what I know.

Once there are more bug fixes and interface issues dealt with I can say more.

Short answer is that it is a sideways step.  Some things are much better and others are much worse.

Time will tell if this is a sign of positive change in MWO or if it is merely too little, too late.


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