Episode 62 – Arcade Ports Spectacular!

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9 thoughts on “Episode 62 – Arcade Ports Spectacular!

  • October 2, 2016 at 1:51 am

    Wow, I loved Hard Drivin'. The stunt track was the best. Stick only! The only version I ever saw was the sit down environmental. They had it at Diversions Game Room at two locations in San Antonio. I cannot believe you didn't mention the train in the tunnel. If I remember correctly, this is how I used to end most of my games.At the end of the stunt track, if you know you'll get enough hang time to beat your time, you can drive off the edge of the train tunnel exit and spin the car mid air. By the time it crashes, you're already won another round. You get an awesome crash replay and continue the game. How much did you pay to own this game?

  • October 3, 2016 at 1:19 am

    The recording was a little quiet this week? , apart from my name of course !

    Great episode though, would love to hear more of those kinda themed shows.
    I was also a big hard drivin' fan in the day, my local arcade had the full sit down job for 50p a go (alot back then).
    However I thought I was the only one who liked Do Run ! Run !
    If you not tried it, try out Qwak – a classic.

  • October 3, 2016 at 11:06 pm

    (Sorry for the deleted post, should have done better editing on the original one.)

    I already posted a comment on the Youtube video of this podcast but after listening to the podcast while walking from work today I noted a few other points worth commenting:

    Hard Drivin' was sure impressive in the arcades, the one I was going to at the time had the big sitting cabinet with full force feedback and Aaron was right to point out that it was incredibly strong, there simply was no way to counteract it when it decided to turn in one direction. 😉
    However I am of the opinion that the Amiga was perfectly capable of an arcade perfect port, at least gameplay and frame rate wise.

    When porting a flat shaded 3D, physics based such as Hard Drivin' there are three potential bottlenecks performance wise:
    – 3D projection
    – Polygon drawing
    – Driving physics
    3D projection is the act of transforming the vertices of objects from 3D coordinates to 2D screen ones. Hard Drivin' is fairly low in polygons so there are not that many vertices to project. It looks like a typical scene contains between 300 and 500 vertices, maybe up to 1000 but only in rare cases. This can probably be simplified down to more reasonable numbers without sacrificing too much in visual quality lowering the count to between 100 and 200 vertices by:
    – using simplified models for the road, vehicles and buildings especially as a function of distance (the Amiga port does that already)
    – using billboards for road side objects (speed limit indicators) (the Amiga port does not do that)
    – implementing better geometry culling by using better data structures for the scenery (octree, BSP, etc.) (the Amiga port probably does not do it)
    – storing pre-culled geometry lists for vehicles as a function of view-angle and distance (the Amiga port definitely does not do it)
    – and some others I haven't thought of yet 😉
    Polygon drawing is really not that big of an issue, the blitter is capable a large number of polygons within one frame, especially if one limits the number of colors to 8 (three bitplanes) which seems compatible with Hard Drivin's graphics.
    The physics engine is probably not the biggest bottleneck but it likely can be simplified to run smoothly while staying reasonably accurate to the arcade original.

    The MegaDrive version, visible on the dedicated Battle Of The Ports episode of Hard Drivin' illustrates that it is possible to obtain a good frame rate on a machine which architecture is not ideal at all for 3D and is likely much worse than the Amiga at drawing polygons even though it is likely slightly faster for vertex projection and running the physics: https://youtu.be/k2XFkdTJ4LM?t=164. So the Amiga should be able to at least do better than that, much better in my opinion.

    This gives me good hope that a much more faithful version of the game can be coded on stocks OCS/ECS machines. Of course, this is easier said than done. 😉

    Regarding RoadBlasters, as I commented on YouTube, I am confident that the Amiga could have had a pixel perfect (if not color perfect) port of the arcade, we should have had at least a 60 FPS version instead of the current 20, but granted this was an early game.

    I did not know Do Run Run at all and heard of it for the first time but John's review makes me want to give it a try. I am fairly confident that I will complain that it is not arcade perfect as well given how picky I tend to be but I will try to enjoy it nevertheless. 😉

    Thanks again for the show!

  • October 4, 2016 at 3:20 am

    A bit of clarification on The One magazine discussion – in the beginning it covered ST, PC and Amiga content, though was split three ways in 1991 as the 16-bit era blossomed and it was felt each platform needed its own publication to do it justice. In 1992 ACE magazine called it a day and merged with The One for Amiga.

    In its second lease of life, the production values were extremely impressive. It was a glossy, stylish mag though often criticised for being a bit on the 'fluffy' side compared with CU Amiga or Amiga Format. The emphasis was very much on entertainment.

    I loved the compilation show format, there was something for everyone in there. It's always nice to mix up the structure to keep it fresh.

    With some of the games covered, even back then I remember we were saying "they don't make 'em like that anymore". The *really* classic classics of the vintage variety never get old!

    Did you say you couldn't find any reviews of the Amiga version of DO! Run Run? It's just that I know there are a few on HOL. I must have misinterpreted or remembered wrong I reckon.

  • October 4, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Great show guys.Just on the matter of the Amiga getting inferior ports of Atari arcade games, in 1984 Atari was split into Atari Corp (Jack Tramiel) which dealt with the consumer market and focused on the launch of the Atari ST, and Atari Games, which was the arcade division owned by Warner and later Namco.

    The two companies were unrelated aside from the name so I'd doubt that there was a deliberate policy of releasing inferior ports for the Amiga vs the ST. Just a guess but I think in the early years of the 16-bit machines the ST was ahead in terms of sales so it may be that the games were simply ported straight to the ST and converted over to the Amiga. I had an ST as my first computer and the first game I played was Buggy Boy, which I've an abiding love for. Not sure how the Amiga port fared!

  • October 4, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Sorry fellas! This week we'll split the difference and hopefully the volume will be perfect. I think we're going to switch back to the trusty Blue Snowball.

  • October 5, 2016 at 1:13 am

    I agree the Amiga port should have been stronger, but looking at the code it is a shared code base between the ST and Amiga (not lazy, just a cost thing I guess) so wasn't using any Amiga goodness, no blitter fills or anything are evident

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