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Why were the European games better


Jim Pez
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If you take a Rev 6A Amiga 500 or 2000 and pop out the blitter and replace it with either a 512K 8371 or a 1MB 8372A then you can go ahead and play European games on your North American Amiga.

 

As for why the games are generally better from across the pond, it's because they have a better programming education there. They teach assembly language at a much earlier age than here. Plus there's the demo scene which creates intense competition to squeeze every last drop out of the machines (and to do that, you need to code to the metal).

 

I'd rank the Scandinavians as the best programmers on the planet.

 

The Black Lotus

The Silents

and many others.

 

 

UK is really strong in that department too:

 

Team 17

Psygnosis

DMA Design (which became Rockstar games)

The Bitmap Brothers

Edited by Nebulon
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Teach assembly language programming? Where? One thing for sure, there never was and still are no mandatory or even voluntary programming classes in regular school over here. We barely get to learn set theory in school, much less programming. However many were self taught or learned from older friends, but that is something people everywhere could do.

 

Rather, I think the fact that Europe sticked to the C64 and Amiga for much longer than people did in America, is the real reason why (later) Amiga games may be better on PAL as the majority of development may have taken place on PAL and then sloppy conversions to NTSC if converted at all, since obviously there was no market over there so why bother converting the games that won't sell anyway?

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Teach assembly language programming? Where? One thing for sure, there never was and still are no mandatory or even voluntary programming classes in regular school over here. We barely get to learn set theory in school, much less programming. However many were self taught or learned from older friends, but that is something people everywhere could do.

 

Rather, I think the fact that Europe sticked to the C64 and Amiga for much longer than people did in America, is the real reason why (later) Amiga games may be better on PAL as the majority of development may have taken place on PAL and then sloppy conversions to NTSC if converted at all, since obviously there was no market over there so why bother converting the games that won't sell anyway?

 

Maybe I should have said learn instead of teach. :)

 

Even when the Amiga was still current, good stuff was coming from UK and Europe. I do agree though, things continued to be optimized even into the more modern era on what (by then) were considered antiquated machines.

 

If you saw the grade-school level of programming over here, you'd laugh and laugh. It looks like -- globally -- it was mostly up to the individual to learn this stuff. I do think the demo scene helped motivate people there though.

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I have noticed that most people who collect the amiga want the European models because the games were better. Couldn't you play the same games in the US

 

 

I don't know why anyone would do that. Most of the Amiga friends I know are all NTSC users. I think this notion that Amiga sucks in NTSC land is perpetuated a lot on the other side of the pond and that the Amiga was not popular here and was a dud, which I completely disagree with. They also site very low sales numbers which don't match the facts. There were plenty of great games in the USA and (later) in PAL territories. Way more demos in PAL land though. Way more hardware and software companies were actually in the USA then anywhere if you take a look at the resources available online.

 

If you take a Rev 6A Amiga 500 or 2000 and pop out the blitter and replace it with either a 512K 8371 or a 1MB 8372A then you can go ahead and play European games on your North American Amiga.

 

 

It takes more then just swapping the "blitter" or Agnus to a 8372A. An 8371 is PAL only and an 8372A is NTSC and PAL, which a Rev 6 A500/A2000 would have most likely come with anyway. I have seen hack articles around that discussed this and how to use a switch and a couple other components to switch between PAL/NTSC on an A500. I think an A2000 has a jumper already. But on an A1200 or A4000 you can easily switch between NTSC/PAL in the early startup menu making those machines great for enjoying everything. Back then we also had PAL boot disks for A500/2000 that more or less allowed you to see the PAL demos at proper speed.

 

Personally I am fine with an NTSC Amiga. I see no downside or handicap as many people proclaim. I have heard people write about how if they only had an NTSC Amiga they wouldn't bother or they would toss it as it is just not useful. I think that is complete rubbish.

Edited by Zippy Zapp
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Nebulon: I'm halfway through reading a thick book on Swedish video game development 1956-1999, where the authors have contacted every individual involved in development, no matter how insignificant or if their games never got commercially released. What strikes me is that very few of these individuals reference to any education in programming, graphics, sound, game design or even group management and leadership. Just about all of them were self taught. While we've had computer science education at university level for a good 40 years or more, people who went that route ended up in completely different fields of computing than programming games. Not until the last decade or so, we've had real game development educations. So my conclusion is just about everything that was required to make Amiga games, was something you learned on your own, not from institutional education. The ability to read books or ask friends in order to teach yourself something, should be equal on both sides of the pond.

 

Then again the same could be said about popular music. Very few of the top song writers or pop artists have gone through higher music education, although it is a field that has been around much longer so in that case one should look at pop music in the 60's, early 70's instead of 80's, early 90's.

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What strikes me is that very few of these individuals reference to any education in programming, graphics, sound, game design or even group management and leadership. Just about all of them were self taught.

The same is true of the UK, when i were a lad in the 1980s they taught BASIC at O level/GCSE with further education leaning towards high level languages and concepts rather than delving down to the metal as game coders needed to with 8- and to a degree 16-bit systems. Those of us with an interest in assembly language back then taught ourselves, usually in groups because it was easier to bounce ideas off each other than learn alone.

 

From about the 1990s onwards until very recently there was no formal programming in UK schools at all, at least not at primary or secondary level; that's pretty much where the Raspberry Pi and more recently the BBC Micro:bit came from, a want to bring programming back into education. i think there were a few universities during those "wilderness years" offering programming as an option but it wasn't commonplace.

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Off-topic, but in Sweden the leading politicians are of the strong opinion that programming should not be teached in primary school. First aim that students can read, write, do simple math, woodworking and crotchet. If they want to try some kid level programming on their spare time, fine but leave school out of it. In particular don't try to merge math with programming (which I agree about) and don't cut down on some other subject to make room for a new one. Those who need to be able to program a computer will learn eventually, it is not a knowledge everyone need to have... or so they say.

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I don't know why anyone would do that. Most of the Amiga friends I know are all NTSC users. I think this notion that Amiga sucks in NTSC land is perpetuated a lot on the other side of the pond and that the Amiga was not popular here and was a dud, which I completely disagree with. They also site very low sales numbers which don't match the facts. There were plenty of great games in the USA and (later) in PAL territories. Way more demos in PAL land though. Way more hardware and software companies were actually in the USA then anywhere if you take a look at the resources available online.

 

 

It takes more then just swapping the "blitter" or Agnus to a 8372A. An 8371 is PAL only and an 8372A is NTSC and PAL, which a Rev 6 A500/A2000 would have most likely come with anyway. I have seen hack articles around that discussed this and how to use a switch and a couple other components to switch between PAL/NTSC on an A500. I think an A2000 has a jumper already. But on an A1200 or A4000 you can easily switch between NTSC/PAL in the early startup menu making those machines great for enjoying everything. Back then we also had PAL boot disks for A500/2000 that more or less allowed you to see the PAL demos at proper speed.

 

Personally I am fine with an NTSC Amiga. I see no downside or handicap as many people proclaim. I have heard people write about how if they only had an NTSC Amiga they wouldn't bother or they would toss it as it is just not useful. I think that is complete rubbish.

 

You do not have to make any additional modifications to an Amiga 500 or 2000 with rev. 6A motherboards when swapping out the blitters.

 

If you'd like me to send you video evidence proving this and showing the difference in timing on the same North American machine with an 8372A fitted, I'd be happy to.

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If you take a Rev 6A Amiga 500 or 2000 and pop out the blitter and replace it with either a 512K 8371 or a 1MB 8372A then you can go ahead and play European games on your North American Amiga.

Why would you need to replace the blitter? I used to boot up my NTSC Amiga 2000HD in PAL mode all the time so I could play things from Europe. I still do the same with my NTSC Amiga CD32.

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Why would you need to replace the blitter? I used to boot up my NTSC Amiga 2000HD in PAL mode all the time so I could play things from Europe. I still do the same with my NTSC Amiga CD32.

 

You're fortunate enough to have an 8372A blitter in your Amiga 2000.

 

There are a lot of rev. 6A boards out there (usually A500s) with 8370 blitters that don't have the option to switch to PAL.

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You're fortunate enough to have an 8372A blitter in your Amiga 2000.

 

There are a lot of rev. 6A boards out there (usually A500s) with 8370 blitters that don't have the option to switch to PAL.

 

 

I have yet to run into a Rev6 A500 that does not have the 8372A Agnus, which is the good news. The Rev6 came out after the 8372A did so it was usually included. I am sure there are a few that didn't because Commodore was known to use what chips they had on hand.

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I have yet to run into a Rev6 A500 that does not have the 8372A Agnus, which is the good news. The Rev6 came out after the 8372A did so it was usually included. I am sure there are a few that didn't because Commodore was known to use what chips they had on hand.

 

I've seen at least six rev. 6A Amiga 500s with 8370s installed from the factory. That's six out of the eight Amiga 500s I've taken apart. The other two had rev. 5 boards with 8370s as well. So that's zero of eight Amiga 500s that I've personally seen with 8372A blitters in them.

 

As for Amiga 2000s, I'd say a bit over half of the ones I've seen have 8372A chips.

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Teach assembly language programming? Where?

 

In The Netherlands around 1990, at my "middle" electronics education, I got Z80 assembler with a Micro-Professor board (besides Pascal programming under DOS). This was very primitive entering hex codes for the instructions.

About two years later for my bachelor electronics degree I got 68000 assembler at a, I think a Motorola 68000 dev system (besides C++ programming under Unix). Here we typed and compiled the 68000 assembly on a Unix mainframe and uploaded the code to the board. Granted, the assembly lessons were fairly basic and as I programmed 68000 on my Atari ST I knew more about 68000 assembler than my teacher :-D

 

I believe we got assembly programming because the electronics education was more technical than the IT education which did not get assembly programming.

 

Robert

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Wow. Then we have opposite experience. :) I have 4 Rev6 that all came with 8372A. I have worked on at least 10 additional Rev6 MBs for friends and none of them had an 8370 which is why I said I haven't seen it. I guess it is all odds. ;)

I wish my odds have been as good as yours, because I had to mail-order mine (and salvage the rest from dead Amiga 2000s). Waah! :_(

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Personally I am fine with an NTSC Amiga. I see no downside or handicap as many people proclaim. I have heard people write about how if they only had an NTSC Amiga they wouldn't bother or they would toss it as it is just not useful. I think that is complete rubbish.

 

(I'm not an Amiga expert by a long shot) I have an NTSC A1200, never laid hands on a PAL Amiga, and realize things may be different with older models. However, between WHDLoad plus a monitor capable of handling a PAL video signal, I have encountered few - if any - programs that won't run due to it being an NTSC machine.

Edited by Laner
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(I'm not an Amiga expert by a long shot) I have an NTSC A1200, never laid hands on a PAL Amiga, and realize things may be different with older models. However, between WHDLoad plus a monitor capable of handling a PAL video signal, I have encountered few - if any - programs that won't run due to it being an NTSC machine.

 

Sometimes it's just a timing thing. Music might run faster than intended by the programmers or sampled instruments might clash a bit. PAL does have the advantage of more on-screen real-estate for the games that make use of it.

 

You've got a 1200, so you don't need to worry about being locked to one standard or the other.

 

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When i did go to middle electronics school in the Netherlands i did have a course that teached us programming in assembler for the pc.

 

Zippy zapp, i know what you mean with saying that your view of the Amiga in the Usa may be wrong, compared to what you experienced. That's the same feeling most of us Europeans have when we read that the Nes saved gaming. With early computing i think the main success factor of a computer in a area where you lived was based upon the available hardware and software where you lived.

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