Submitted by Dan Dooré on Monday, May 21, 2018 - 18:25.
|Magazine||Article On Computer Storage Systems|
|Letters||Days of Sorcery, The Witching Hour Reviewed|
|Axel F||Stefan Drissen||Sampled Tune!! Excellent Version|
|Pot Noodle||Derek Marriott Kevin Marriott||Machine Code Demo|
|Driver||Steve Taylor||Selection Of Screens From DRiVER WIMP system|
|Maze||Paul Horridge||Fast Mc 3d Maze Game|
|Mc Pt 26||Steve Taylor||More Techy Details For Driver|
|E-Tunes||Andy Monk Robert Pain John Hutchins||Selection Of E-tracker Tunes|
|Witching Hour||John Vincent||Playable Demo Of Games Master Hit|
|Invaders||Chris White||Diy Space Invaders, Concluded|
|Podpersons||Stefan Drissen||Converted Speccy Demo|
|E-Tune Player||Brian McConnell||Play Individual Tunes Of Your Choice|
|Rainbow Maker||Ben Wyatt||Draws Cute Little Rainbows (Awww...)|
|Diary||Paul Crompton||Enable Friends To Blackmail You...|
|Cards||Paul Walker||Two Basic Card Games|
BM Editorial Interestingly enough, this issue was just about mind-numbingly early. I'm writing this last bit of text (ie the whole magazine!) on the 26th of August, but due to events beyond my control (Colin's going off on holiday or something) you'll probably still end up getting it mid-Spetember. Ah well. I tried. The reason for this sudden burst of frantic disc-compiling is because the way things were going, I'd end up having to finish off FRED 38 while in the middle of Fresher's Week at University. Obviously when presented with a choice of (a) do lots of work now and be able to get legless in October, and (b) do bog-all now and then sit FREDing when every other student in the country is getting puggled, I opted for the most sensible long term option. Oh, I wonder which option I plumped for. Hmmm. That's a toughy. Can't work it out? Alright - it was (b). Difficult eh? Don't worry though, I'll be sticking to shandies all week (remember kids - there's nothing mature about getting drunk. That's why only adults are allowed to do it... (eh?)). BM Editorial I found a little story in the pages of Teletext - there's a daily computer thing on page 470 on C4 - that some sick people out there may find amusing. I did. Apparently the launch of the Atari Falcon was delayed because the first batch of machines failed the quality control test. Bit of a blow for Atari, that. So they worked hard, and then came along the second batch. This lot also failed. Bummer eh? Anyway, somebody smelled a rat, and it turns out that it was the quality control equipment that was on the blink!! And people thought the SAM had a bad start! The Falcon's now sold about 7500 machines. Commodore's A1200, perceived by many to be a direct rival to the Falcon, has already sold 44,000 and sales of 200,000 are hoped for by the end of year. Bye bye Mr Atari... Speaking of Commodore, a certain Mr Slavin and myself are considering beginning a "Get a free CD32" which involves writing to the big C and well, asking for a free CD32. It cannot fail. AXE said "Let's go for a Cray," but I think that that's just being too greedy. A CD32 would do me nicely, thank you. BM Editorial Those of you who gave the FREDEX thing more than a cursory glance, in particular tried to save some data which you added yourself, will have found problems. For a start, the data when saved is not compressed and wouldn't fit onto the disc if you didn't copy it all from issue 36 onto a different one. Secondly, you wouldn't be able to load in the saved data without messing around in the main program. Never mind though. If you think that that's unacceptable, just be grateful that you weren't born 170 years ago; you may well have spent your childhood up chimneys. So there! I've just been watching a bit of Newsnight, and it had that Bottomley woman defending the NHS reforms. I've decided to make it an ambition of mine to get a politician on a program like that, ask a fairly awkward question, and DEMAND a yes or no answer. - Are you creating a two-tier health service? Yes or no? - If I may just say... - YES OR NO?! - It's not a question of... - YES OR NO! YES... OR... NO!!!!!!! BM Editorial My 512k expansion's on the blink again. If it doesn't stop sliding off the pins, I'm afraid it's going to get hit by a mallet. Running off at a complete tangent, has anybody noticed that proverbs normally have completely contradictory colleagues? "He who hesitates is lost" is matched perfectly by "Look before you leap" while "One man's meat is another man's meat is another man's poison" and "What's good for the goose is good for the gander" cancel each other out nicely. That's something that REALLY annoys me, although quite why I've chosen this moment to air this view I can't really say. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that it's 1:45 am. Yes. Why is that I'm never able to finish these things off mid- afternoon? I always seem to have to write the main magazine part in the middle of night. I bet the unions would have something to say about this. Anyway, the moral of this editorial, and also the title of "Mr Don and Mr George"'s 1st episode, is this: You can run, but you can't hide your legs... - BRIAN CM Steve's Software Right, Steve has sent in two new products of his. Due to their specialised nature they can't really be reviewed, so you'll have to be content with a few details. Firstly, we have SC_24. This is a printer driver to enable those of you lucky enough to own 24 pin printers to output Mode 4 screens in 16 shades. If you've got an Epson compatible printer (Citizen and Star are the most popular) you can produce a picture about 1/3 A4 size, and if you have an IBM Proprinter X24E compatible (ie Canon bubblejet) the output is credit card sized. The disc comes with ten sample screens that print out very nicely, but of course you can print out your own. Naturally, you can choose where on the paper the dump will appear, and you can just output part (ie a quarter) of a screen or all of it. CM SC_24 You change all the parameters by altering LET statements in the program - it's all very easy and effective, but the user- friendliness hardly jumps out and grabs you. Having said that, the program does what it's supposed to do, and that's all that really matters. Personally, I don't really have much need for a screen dumper, but if you do have a 24 pin printer then you should seriously consider splashing out the £3.25 just on the off chance that you find the improved print quality not worth living without. Steve will also be stocking Canon printers in the near future and he'll throw in a free copy of SC_24 with every Canon bought from him. If I can find an appropriate screen, I'll dump it out and put it on a newsletter sometime soon.... CM SC_Disc Protector Unit Aha - the solution to the old "disc corrupts when reset is pressed" problem. This little hardware device was devised by Edwin Blink (author of Comet assembler) and comes in at £15. The SC_DPU (still a mouthfull...) is a small chip which has to be soldered onto the main PCB inside your SAM. This involves opening up your machine (yes, disconnecting those keyboard ribbons AGAIN) and doing a spot of soldering to add the three wires to SAM's PCB. This isn't a tricky task, but it's easy to make a mistake. If you're not careful you could do your machine a fair amount of damage. I'd suggest paying a local electrician to do the job if you've never soldered before. Naturally neither Steve's Software, Blue Alpha or West Coast are responsible for any damage you do to your machine. Having used a soldering iron a handful of times before, I did the job myself. It all went well - the accompanying instructions CM SC_DPU explained everything in steps that even I could understand and the entire task only took 10 minutes. The chip has now been in the SAM for several weeks now and there are no signs of any side effects. I've also tried desperately hard to corrupt a disc - without success. So it seems to work. Personally, I've never reset my SAM with a disc in it since I corrupted the only master of a FRED a year or two back and so this chip is only a safety net which I don't expect to use much but nevertheless, had this chip been around when I reset the machine with the FRED master in it, I would have paid a small fortune for that chip to have been in there. Still - what's 20 hours of solid work between SAM owners? Basically, if you or your brother/son/dad/girlfriend is in the habit of corrupting discs then SC_DPU will solve your problems. If like me, you kicked the habit, then you'll have to decide whether £15 is worth forking out. CM SC_DPU Again, like SC_24, the conclusion is that if you could use it, it's worth the money. If not, then buy them and hope they come in useful sometime. Steve also tells me that version 2 of SC_DTP is still on schedule for an early '94 release. SC_DPU and SC_24 are not available through FRED, so if you want to get your hands on them, then here's the details : Steve's Software [redacted] CM Got Style Writer? Following a very complimentary review of Style Writer in a recent issue of FORMAT, there has been a lot of demand for colour clip art compatible with it. Although you can take clip art from other sources (even Mode 4 screens!), I've had requests for a disc full of a wide variety of clip art. This the Stylish Images disc came into production. The disc features 78 colour image files that can be loaded directly into the mini-DTP Style Writer. The images cover a wide range of uses ranging from birthday and christmas cards to credit card signs, vehicles, animals - and even the SAM character! The disc was created by Carol Brooksbank (FORMAT and FileManager fame) and even includes a simple program to let you convert the clip art back into a Mode 4 screen should you wish it. The disc costs £3, and if you've got Style Writer or are into Clip Art, it's well worth the money. Available from the usual FRED address.... BM News This has nothing to do with the SAM, but in the industry in general a standard for visual output on CD has been agreed upon. There's been an audio standard for ages (which is why, say, a Sony audio CD will work on a Technics CD player), but despite equipment like Philips' laser discs having been around for about as long as audio CDs, we've had to wait until now for an industry-wide standard. The standard is known as Video CD (how do they think up such exotic names?). The CD32 thing that AXE and myself are going to try to get free from Commodore (and hey, I think it might just work) adheres to this standard, so before long it could be a case of watching films on your Amiga! There are no plans for a SAM CD peripheral, but that's hardly surprising. A factory belonging to the Sumitomo Chemical Company in Niihama, Japan, recently blew up. The reason I'm telling you this seemingly useless fact is that this little company is responsible for producing over half of the epoxy resin used in the manufacturing of computers (see, now it makes sense). BM News This explosion has resulted in large companies buying up vast quantities of the available glue which is used to make cases for microprocessors and chips, which has led to significant price increases and many firms, including Silica Systems, have had to raise their prices. Interesting, huh? In last month's CU Amiga, there was an item regarding rumours that US GOLD and OCEAN were both considering floating themselves on the stockmarket. Both companies have denied the rumours, but just think - if SAM owners everywhere bought truckloads and truckloads of shares, we could try to get 51% of them and then decide that OCEAN/US GOLD would from now on be producing only SAM games. At the very least we could arrange for some licences to be put out. Sorry I've not been able to get anything more SAM-related, but look, you had enough news last issue to last until January! ---------------------------------------------------------------- - Bits-Bytes-KiloBytes-MegaBytes-GigaBytes-TerraBytes and more - ----------------------- By Calvin Allett ----------------------- Computers don't think like us. In fact computers don't think at all, at least not in our sense of the word, but when they do "think" they think very fast. This is not just because they can carry out millions of operations a second but because of the way in which the information they have is stored. Computers store ALL information they have in just one way: a 0 or a 1, or in other words an electrical impulse to be sent or nothing to be sent. All those flash graphics, documents etc are stored and manipulated in this one simple way. The computer's memory is divided up into segments, the smallest of which is a BIT (which stands for BInary digiT), a BIT on its own, though, is practicly useless and that's why BITs are banded together in groups of 8 to form what is known as a BYTE. A BYTE can hold a character of information; a character can be a letter such as the following:- a b c e g i l n p q s u x z ; = - * T Q G H X . A BYTE can also hold a number up to the value 255. When you group 1024 BYTES together you get what is normally known as a K which stands for KiloByte, group 1024 KiloBytes together and you get a MegaByte and if you've got a 1024 MegaBytes then that makes a GigaByte. 1024 GigaBytes make a TerraByte! The reason that there are 1024 Bytes in a K, and 1024 K in a MegaByte etc is because 1024 is two to the power of ten, or to rephrase that, 2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2. The abreviations you will come across are as follows:- Bit-isn't abreviated : KiloBits-KBits Byte-Isn't abreviated : MegaBits-MBits KiloByte-K : MegaByte-Mb or "a Meg" GigaByte-Gb : TerraByte-isn't abreviated You may also see the letters GIGO , this isn't an abreviation of GigaByte however but refers to the term Garbage In Garbage Out. Some other names which you might also come across are KiloBits and MegaBits (as opposed to KiloBytes or MegaBytes), as there are 8 Bits to a Byte you just divide the number by 8, these terms are often used when talking about console cartridges so if a Sega Megadrive games came on a 8 MegaBit cartridge it is actually only 1 MegaByte. Also there are Nybbles which consist of 4 Bits or rather half a Byte, a Word which is 16 Bits or 2 Bytes and a Long Word which is 32 Bits or 4 Bytes. You probably won't come across these ones very often though (if ever!). Nybble will sometimes be written Nibble. Computers don't think like us because they don't actually think at all. I've already said that but I didn't explain: all that computers actually do is count, and you could go so far as to say that all a computer can really do is tell the difference between a 1 and a 0. Unlike us computers don't count with a base ten number system but with a base two system called Binary. In Binary the number 1 would look like this: 00000001 and the number 255 would look like this: 11111111 In Binary each of the eight digits (which can be either a 1 or a 0) stand for a number between 1 and 128, below you can see what each one represents. 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ 128 64 32 16 8 4 2 1 I'll refer to the eight Bits as Bit 1 to 8, Bit 1 is the one at the far left which has a value of 128, Bit 2 is the second from the left and has a value of 64, etc and Bit 8 is the one at the far right and has a value of 1. So that is why the number 255 would look like 11111111, if you wanted to express the number 32 then it would look like this:- 00100000 and 00001000 would mean 8. What if you wanted a number other than 1,2,4,8,16,32,64 or 128? If you wanted to express the number 3 then digits 7 and 8 would be set because they have a value of 2 and 1 and 1+2=3, so it would look like this:- 00000011 The number 11 would look like this:- 00001011 because digits 5,7 and 8 have the value's 8,2 and 1 and 8+2+1=11. The number 65 would look like this:- 01000001 because digits 2 and 8 have the value's 64 and 1 and 64+1=65. If all the digits are unset then the Byte has a value of 0 and if all the digits are set then the Byte would look like this:- 11111111 and would have a value of 255 because 128+64+32+16+8+4+2+1=255 and thats why a Byte can only hold a number up to 255. Now you know why the biggest number that can be held in 8 Bits is 255, but what if your dealing with say 16 Bits, let's see. 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ 32768 16384 8192 4096 2048 1024 512 256 128 64 32 16 8 4 2 1 ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ Bit 1 Bit 3 Bit 5 Bit 7 Bit 9 Bit 11 Bit 16 Above you can see all 16 Bits along with their values below them. The Bits are numbered 1 to 16 from left to right. Some people name them the other way round but it makes more sense to name them in the direction we read. So if you wanted to express (or hold) a number bigger than 255 then you would need more than 8 Bits of computer memory. If say you wanted the number 256 then you would leave all Bits except Bit 8 unset and set Bit 8 because as you can see Bit 8 is equal to 256, the number would look like this:- 0000000100000000 If you wanted the number 257 then you would do the same except you would also set Bit 16 so that it looked as follows:- 0000000100000001 Because there are 16 Bits with value's ranging from 1 to 32768 the biggest number we can hold is:- 32768+16384+8192+4096+2048+1024+512+256+128+64+32+16+8+4+2+1 =65535 Or another way to find find out the maximum value we can hold would have been 2 to the power of 16 or should I say 2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2, which is 65536. You should take note that when you're using 2 to the power of whatever, the result is always 1 more than the maximum number you can have with that many Bits, for example as I said before with 8 Bits you can have a number up to 255, but if you use :- 2*2*2*2*2*2*2*2 you get the result 256. (256-1=255) Onto colours now, you may have heard about 24-Bit colour or similar but you may also not understand what this means, well if you understood the last bit (which went on far to long, sorry!) then you more or less understand it already. 1-Bit colour means that you can have two colours because the Bit can either be set or unset (or a 1 or 0), with 2-Bit you can have 4 colours, with 3-Bit you get 8 colours and so on. The SAM Coupe can display 16 colours on screen so this means that the SAM can display a 4-Bit screen, which means that for every dot on the screen it takes 4 Bits of the computers memory. The SAM displays a screen with 256 horizontal dots and 192 vertical dot so this means that there are 256*192=49152 dots making up a Mode 4 screen, because it takes 4 Bits for each dot and there are 8 Bits in a Byte this means you can store the colours of 2 pixels (Picture Elements or dots on the screen) per Byte so the screen takes up 49152/2 = 24576 Bytes which is about 24.5K If a computer had an 8-Bit display then it would be able to display 256 colours on screen at once. The most colours that any computer is likely to display is 262144. One of the main reasons for this is because if you go any higher then there wouldn't be enough dots on the screen to be able to display the colours unless you had special equipment. The very best graphics computers usually have 24-Bit colour. These computers are the type normally used on the flashy graphics animations used on TV etc. The problem with this amount of colours though is that a single screen takes up hundreds, even thousands of Kilobytes depending upon the resolution of the screen so as well as the immense processing power that is needed to flick through the frames storage also becomes a problem as even most hard disk drives wouldn't be able to store many frames. Another thing as well as graphics that takes up a large amount of memory is sound, at least it does when it is sampled from the real world, you can use up over 100K for just a few seconds of sound/music and if your sampling at a high quality in stereo then you're talking MegaBytes of memory. There is a way to compress sound though; sound squeezing chips have been invented that can squeeze four times as much sound or music onto a disc or into a computer than normally possible. The chips do this by analysing the waveform of the music/sound and doing two things, firstly they look at a section of the music/sound and if two bits are the same then they only record the first bit, if they are similar then the chips only record the changes and secondly they examine the sound to determine which sounds our ears won't be able to hear and so they don't record these sounds. Unfortunately these chips are yet to be used on a computer so the memory problem is still a huge problem. One answer is CD-ROM, or Compact Disc Read Only Memory. One single CD can store up to around 650 MegaBytes of information. As computers and consoles move over to CD instead of floppies and cartridges, we'll see a wealth of amazing games and applications using Full Motion Video (FMV) and lots of sampled sound and music. Just imagine taking part in a game that looks and sounds more like an interactive film! The only possible thing that could be called a disadvantage with CDs is that at the moment to the home user they are as their name suggests - Read Only. This means that you can't save your own work onto them, but this will help to combat software piracy and the fact that a CD only costs about the same as a 3.5 inch disk and yet can store nearly a thousand times more information more than makes up for that fact, when tapes were around (along time ago in computing circles!) they didn't have a very large capacity and were very slow, so when disk drives came into common use people were both amazed and relieved, now with CD's that amazement is pouring over people again and yet there is something that's potentially better than CD's and has been around for over 5 years! The "things" I am referring to are DATs. DAT stands for Digital Audio Tapes. These tapes are half the size of normal tapes and can hold 1.2 GigaBytes (although I think someone has just found a way to increase it to 2.5). That's as much information as about 2 (or 4 if the capacity is 2.5 Gb's) CDs or over 3000 3.5 inch floppy disks! What's more is that as well as being able to read data from them you can save data onto them. Unfortunately DATs haven't caught on as well as they should have. With DATs the data is recorded on a helical scan basis, laying tracks across the tape using a rapidly rotating recording head. The digital (rather than analogue wich is how conventional tapes work) format eliminates unwanted noise and when used for music offers frequency and dynamic ranges greater than a CD! There are many formats of storage such as Floppy Disks, CDs, Hard Drives, Optical Drives, DATs, the list is endless but with computers' graphics taking up more memory all the time and with games getting constantly bigger, one medium will have to win the battle and the only one's which we can really rule out are floppy disks and Hard Drives. Nobody knows what kind of computer equipment we'll be using in ten years time but one thing's for sure: it sure is fun thinking about it! Ten years ago what were the graphics like? What was the sound like? What was the loading like!? Answer these and then marvel at the future. BM Me Adding My Tuppence-Worth Thanks for the article Calvin. I did my Higher Computing investigation on state-of-the-art graphics, and I can tell you that describing the theory behind bitmaps and 24-BIT colour in under about three thousand words not an easy task! A couple of extra comments; the reason for people using 18- as opposed to 24-BIT colour is more to do with speed and storage than simply the number of dots on a screen. Also, it's worth pointint out that 24-BIT colour allows 16.8 million individual colours; the human eye can only differentiate between about 12 or 13 million, so 24-BIT colour covers the entire spectrum as far as humans are concerned. For this reason, 24-BIT colour is often called truecolour. In case anybody is interested, a single Coupe screen, if truecolour were implemented in Mode 4, would take up 144K. Try loading THAT from a tape! One last thing; hard drives may be a little old-fashioned, but until some form of writable optical medium becomes widely available I can't see them becoming less popular at all. BM E-Tracker Event Here's something for those of you who were sensible enough to buy E-Tracker. Basically we'd like to get some kind of "special" E-Tunes one month which features nothing but cover versions. So far we've all heard Craig Turberfield's superb rendition of Genesis' "I Can't Dance" (if you haven't heard this tune yet, you can find it on the Pot Noodle demo this very issue) and Zoe's "Sunshine On A Rainy Day", and there's even a Star Trek tune in this month's E-Tunes. If you've composed a cover version of a song that you think would set the ears of Coupe owners alight (!) please send it in, or if you think you know of a classic tune that's just begging to be Coupified, have a go! The only thing I would ask is that you supply the name of the original artist and the song title with your tune because there are few things more annoying than recognising a tune but not being able to put a name to it. Note: any covers of indie or metal songs will probably be given preferential treatment! BM Disc Contents And you thought I'd forgotten. Actually I had, but came to my senses in the nick of time. AXEL F. Yes okay, so it is THAT tune again. I doubt you've ever heard it quite like this though! Thanks to Stefan Drissen for converting this one. POT NOODLE. Who remembers the Fish and Chips Demo then? Good wasn't it? Well, in another trip down junk-food lane, Electron Affinity has returned! And in a decidedly scary twist of fate, I had a pot noodle for lunch this very day! Doo do doo doo, doo do doo doo... (that's the theme from The Twilight Zone, for those of you with no musical ability) Steve Taylor has put together a small demo of DRIVER, his WIMP system. More of a selection of screen shots than an actual demo, I can assure you that this will still have you dribbling down your chin in excitement! BM Disc Contents MAZE is a wonderful little game by Paul Horridge in which you can pretend to be stuck down at Hampton court. It is a maze game, something which many of you would have guessed by the title, and it's in 3D, and it's in machine code, and it's fast. Not just fast, in fact, but FAST!! There is a map facility which costs you 20 moves a time, and the best I've ever done is 51 moves. You'll love this! Not content with filling up most of the disc with his Driver demo, Steve Taylor's also prepared what could well be his longest machine code article yet! Or maybe not. I never read it, so I can't really say! Well. That's not entirely true. I mean, I do go through it to make sure that he's not started putting satanic messages or anything in the column, but I don't know the first thing about machine code and part 26 of a tutorial isn't the best place to start. Next is a playable demo of THE WITCHING HOUR by John Vincent. Pretty obvious, really. BM Disc Contents Chris White concludes his SPACE INVADERS thing, and ends it with a threat to write about DOS commands in machine code! Come on Chris - how about something easier, like solving all the East European conflicts going on at the moment in one fell swoop? PODPERSONS FROM MARS is another converted Speccy demo, which everybody claims is a waste of the SAM's capabilities but which we all really love to see. Oh, and guess who converted it? Yes it was Stefan Drissen, actually. How did you know that? BITS N BOBS makes a comeback, and has a Diary program by Paul Crompton, a Rainbow maker by Ben Wyatt, a couple of card games by Paul Walker, and an E-Tune player by me. The reason I did another E-Tune player when we've already got an excellent Stefan Drissen one is that this new one lets you choose the filename of the tune to be played. BM Credits Editor : Brian McConnell Thanks to : Stefan Drissen\ Robert Pain Steve Taylor \ for a change! John Hutchings Andy Monk / John Vincent Chris White / Ben Wyatt Electron Affinity Paul Walker Paul Crompton Bunj Wobl Calvin Allett D Simmonds Pauli Lindgren Paul Horridge Cheques payable to: FRED Publishing, [redacted] [redacted] >>> Music and Comics! >>> BM Music Section Having eased up on the old CD buying for the first half of the year, I haven't had many albums to review. This month though, we've got four little beauties for ya. And here they are: Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine Sven Vath - Accident in Paradise Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream Jesus And Mary Chain - Sound of Speed I have got another couple of new albums, but I'm going to save them for next issue. A quick "Hello" to everyone who is going to / was at (depending on the release date of this issue!) the Smashing Pumpkins concert in Glasgow. I will be there, and it will be great. A review, of course, next issue. BM Rage Against The Machine This is actually quite an old album now. February or something it came out, wasn't it? It's an album that I've never gotten around to buying until now, anyway. You'll probably have heard the best track on the CD, Killing In The Name, and the second best one, Bombtrack is apparently also now a single. There are 10 songs altogether, so we're talking about a 40-50 minute thing (I can't be bothered checking exactly. Long enough though). The music is very "different" to say the least. I've heard them described as an angrier, heavier Red Hot Chili Peppers, and also as rap with guitars. Both are true, but not perfect descriptions. Let's just say they could well be the natural opposite of Ambient; this is an album with the calming effect of anabolic steroids! A good album, ideal for getting ready for a night out. Get's the old adrenalin going nicely! 8 out of 10. BM Sven Vath - Accident In Paradise A bit of a gamble, folks. By now you should know that every so often I like to just pick a CD on the strength of a review, a recommendation or even because of one song which I've heard and liked. This comes into the latter category; remember I mentioned a video called 3-Lux 3 recently? Well, Sven Vath was responsible for one of the best songs from that video so I bought the CD. This has 9 tracks, and clocks in about the 60 minute mark. Having said that, there are a couple of really turdy tracks which are meant as some sort of joke, I think. The "proper", ambient tracks last about 50 minutes though, which is fine. And yes, you did hear the word ambient there. Caravan of Emotion and L'Esperanca are two of the very finest ambient tracks you will ever hear; if you want to know why ambient music is becoming so popular, these two will explain that. There are a couple of tracks which really don't fit onto this CD at all well. The title track, for example, is a pretty hard core techno thing, and there are some very strange bits in it - a track whose bassline is a bloke snoring! But get this anyway. 9 out of 10. BM JAMC - Sound of Speed This isn't really a proper album, because it contains mainly B-sides, covers and remixes. There are new songs in it though, and of the whole 20-track CD I must admit there were only about 3 which I'd already heard, and even those had been altered pretty drastically. The opener, and also a single which got into the charts for about a week, "Snakedriver", is excellent. This lasts about 70 minutes, and considering the low price tag, value for money is a phrase which leaps readily to mind. The first couple of times I listened to this I thought that the JAMC had finally run out of ideas, but now that I'm more used to it, I'd have to say that this is probably as good as any of their material, which I suppose is a compliment or an insult depending on what you feel about the band. The "star" of the CD could well be a cover of "My Girl" - and yes, I do mean THAT My Girl! There're also covers of Leonard Cohen and Elvis (!) songs! Overall, I'm pretty happy with this CD, even though it's nothing really new. 8 out of 10. BM Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream You all know that the Pumkins are playing the Barrowlands on 18th September (and I'm going!) so I won't tell you that again. What I WILL tell you is that this is one superb album. I'd say that it's much better than Gish. It's got 13 tracks, and it's pretty long, which is what I like to see when I fork out £13 for a CD. The opening track, "Cherub Rock", is sheer class. It reminds me of My Bloody Valentine somehow, but it's much less hard on the ear (unless of course you have the volume up too high, in which case it's downright painful!). "Today" is also fantastic. From here, the pace of the CD falls quite dramatically, but the tunes, if anything, improve. There are about 4 tracks on this which could contend for "Emotional Song of the Year" were there such an award. Everything finishes on a nice happy note though, with a harmony-drenched ditty. Album of the Year? Very possibly. 9 out of 10. BW Bunj Wobl's Comic Spot Welcome Samsters! Bunj Wobl here, reporting on the latest happenings on the comics scene. I had the idea to do this when there were ideas of book reviews floating around Fred. Well, I wrote to the deity of Fred himself and put the idea forward. "We'd be grateful for any comic articles you write" the great one replied, so here I be. HOLD ON A MINUTE! Aren't comics only for people under four foot tall? (No offence to little people out there, I'm referring to the younger generation known commonly as children) Well, kind of. Comics books were originally created for children in the form of a simple story accompanied by lots of pictures to keep the child entertained. Some comic books about now are still aimed at the same market of young children, but you may be surprised to hear that a large majority of comics are not made purely for the amusement of children. There are some comics that I can't even buy. When I was lucky enough to go to America I was in a comic shop, looking around, and then the manager started shouting at me that the isle I was in was for people aged 18 and over only. Extreme embarrasment! Pornographic comics! Don't worry, the comics mentioned here are suitable for people under 18 as well as above. The comics business around the world is extremely large. Comics are extremely collectable and enjoyed by all age ranges. In Japan comics have been accepted as a medium for all ages and are as commonly read on the subway by businessmen as papers are! The comics that will be referred to here will not generally be Japanese comics, or even British comics. The biggest selling comics in this country come from America. These are also the most collectable here. The four largest comic manufacturers in America are Marvel, D.C, Image and Valiant. For the past thirty years or so, the comic book companies have been split into Marvel, D.C. and independant companies. That is until recently, Marvel and D.C. have dominated the comics scene with no other company coming anywhere close to them. However, two independants, Valiant and Image have grown to such proportions that in many peoples eyes, these two companies can no longer be classed as independant. Latest figures show that Image comics is now actually selling more comics than D.C, putting D.C. comics in third place, the lowest they have ever been (I think!). There are many shops around Britain that sell only comics, recent and back issues of many titles from many comic manufacturers. Regular comic marts are also held which, in my opinion, are the best way to get hold of old comics. There are also mail order companies that deal solely with comics and related merchandise. NOW ON TO THE COMICS THEMSELVES... The quality of comics has greatly improved, with the most noticeable being the art. Artists such as Todd McFarlane and Dale Keown (my favourite) create images which are truly amazing. You may think that comics are made by an artist and a writer. Nope. Usually there will be a writer, penciller, inker, coulourist and letterer along with various editors. The best selling comics have comic "univereses" that contain many super heroes and villains, set at the present time, on the planet Earth. I have noticed that generally, a comic that is set in the future, or on another planet does not sell as well. The largest comic universe is the Marvel universe, containg characters such as Spiderman, The Hulk, Captain America, The Fantasic Four, Iron Man, The X-Men, The Avengers and Daredevil. All of these characters/teams have been well established and are among the oldest in the Marvel universe. (By the way, I missed out Thor.) D.C. have characters such as Batman, Superman, The Flash etc etc. I don't like D.C, so I'm not that knowledgable about the D.C. universe. If you don't know much about comics, then you won't know any of the characters in the Image or Valiant universes. Image has characters such as Spawn, Pitt, Youngblood, Savage Dragon, The Maxx, Wild CATS, Brigade, Supreme and Shadow Hawk. The Valiant universe has been constructed very cleverly, with characters united on Earth at the present time by an event called "Unity". The characters in the Valiant universe include Solar, Magnus, Turok, Shadowman, Bloodshot, Rai, X-O Manowar, Archer & Armstrong, Eternal Warrior and HARD Corps. Each universe is separate from each other, with characters from each universe staying in their own universe. For example you won't see Spiderman in a Superman comic. Or will you? Sometimes companies will get together and decide it would be a good idea to use a character from one universe in another, such as Spiderman with Superman (from the Marvel and D.C. universe). Because each universe is completely different there has to be some strange explanation as to why a character from one universe is in another. This can be simply explained if a nexus were to engulf a parallel world, creating an alternate dimension through which each astral body can co-exist in a multiverse. Simple eh? Why don't you try it one day! Well, that's my explanation of all you need to know about comics. If you out there in the parallel univere of SAMdom want me to do a comic spot again, I'll do an in-depth article into one of the companies, or the history of comics. Don't think it's over yet. The main article is finished, but there's some comic reviews to follow... Once a month I travel to Birmingham to buy my comics. Here are some reviews of the comics that I bought (31/7/93) SECRET WEAPONS no.2. (Valiant) app £1.60. Allinces part two. The story that began in no.1 concludes here. An excellent, enjoyable comic, teaming up characters from the Valiant universe. If you can find no.1, It's an excellent introduction to the Valiant universe. 7/10 CEREBUS no.0. (Aardvark Vanheim) £1.25. My first Cerebus comic from the independant company. A black and white comic featuring an aardvark called Cerebus. Contains three stories. A funny, weird comic, not the best comic to buy if you haven't bought any before, but an excellent introduction to Cerebus the Aardvark. 6/10 SILVER SURFER no.83. (Marvel) app 85p. The Surfer has an all out battle with a possesed fiery dude called Firelord. Bit of a disappointment to a usually excellent title. The guest penciller, Cully Hamner, doesn't really handle the book that well, I just hope that Ron Lim, the usual artist is back for the next issue. 4/10 X-MEN no.22. (Marvel) app 85p. There are two Psylockes (a rather fit member of the X-Men) in this truly confusing conclusion when we find out the truth about Psylocke. A bit of a disappointing end, I was expecting a bit more in a more convincing way. 5/10 THE INCREDIBLE HULK no.408. (Marvel) app 85p. Here's a comic I bought at the end of June, I must have just missed no.409, but because the Hulk is one of the best comics on the market, here's a review of no.408: The Hulk's in Loch Ness, Scotland where he has a final showdown with a weird type bloke thingy. Peter David, the best writer in comics at the moment has written the Hulk for some time now and comes up with some truly amazing stories. This is one of them. He's brought back a big bad dude called Madman. Now there's one hell of a funky big bad dude. To wrap it up, Gary Frank is the artist, and I think he's one of the best around (though nobody else has noticed this yet). Past issues have been better, but it's still a truly amazing, or rather Incredible comic. 8/10 WILDCATS TRILOGY no.1. (Image) app £1.70. The premiere issue gets off to a pretty good start. Grifter falls into a trap set by Coda. That's it. Sounds a bit crap really, doesn't it? Well, it is a bit better that. Written by Dafydd Wyn, from Wales no less, and Brandon Choi (Co-creator of WildCATs with Jim Lee) who make the book interesting and full of action. The art by Jae Lee... Hmmm, I don't know, I think Jae Lee is a bit over-hyped. 7/10 YOUNGBLOOD STRIKEFILE no.2. (Image) app £1.70. Two solo stories of characters from the team called Youngblood. This is undoubtably the best Youngblood title around. The first story centres around Die Hard. This is an all action story as Die Hard fights through the Cyberdata defence systems and finally confronts "Super Patriot". Truly amazing art from Rob Liefeld. Pretty funky. The second story centres around Chapel. Not much happens, but it's still O.K. Art by Jae Lee...Hmmm, I still don't know what to think of him. Youngblood Strikefile no.1 was better, but it's still good. 7/10 SPAWN no.12. (Image) app £1.40. Todd McFarlane (Creator/Artist) starts writing again after a line of guest writers. More about Spawns past is uncovered and in the final panel of the book we find out who killed him (he's kind of dead you see). Interesting, but perhaps only to people who have knowledge of past books. Todd Mcfarlane produces artwork that most people say is the best in comics at the moment, and he can actually write pretty well aswell. If you can, try to find Spawn no.11, or even 10, they're a better starting point. Always a brilliant book. 7/10 PITT no.2. (Image) app £1.40. This book is supposed to be monthly (as most are), but issue 1 came out over six months ago. This wait really pissed me off. Was it worth the wait? Well, is anything worth that wait? This is a brilliant book though. Drawn by Dale Keown, who I think is the best in comics produces good artwork here, but perhaps not as good as in issue 1. The story however is an improvement on issue 1 and looks like it is going to get pretty interesting. There are plenty of action scenes as some super-dudes try to kill Pitt, but of course they can't, even having half of his face blasted off doesn't bother this bloke. We learn more about Pitt here, in this second issue which is equally as good as the first (which I bought 10 copies of!). 9/10 DEATHMATE PROLOGUE (Image and Valiant) app £2.00. The first of six books that completely cross over the Image and Valiat universes. This is undoubtably the biggest crossover for a long time. The first chapter has Solar (Valiant) going off to explore other planes of reality. In a dimension between real and unreal he encounters Void (Image), falls in love with her and upon consumating, their combines energies fuse and unwrap the fabric of time, bringing the Image and Valiant universes together. The second chapter shows team ups of characters from the Image and Valiant universe, including the Geomancer, Geoff (Valiant) and Prophet (Image) who are the only two who know what is going on. Pretty good book with great art in part two by Rob Liefeld and an amazing cover by Jim Lee. Might be a bit confusing to people who don't know anything about the Valiant or Image universe though. 8/10 DEATHMATE YELLOW (Image and Valiant) app £3.50. One of the four main books didn't do that much for me. Four stories in a 48 page comic. All of them with WildCATs (Image) with characters from the Valiant universe. Published by Valiant, the artwork isn't that good and the stories are a bit thin, but interesting in parts. Again, would be confusing to anyone who doesn't know about the Image or Valiant universe. 4/10 That concludes the comic reviews. Just before I go, I'd like to mention a magazine called Comics International. It's a monthly "comic newspaper" containing news and articles on the latest happenings in the comics industry. It's only 50p and I advise anyone to go to a comic shop and buy one. If Fred would like me to do another article on comics, I would be happy to. I promise that If I do, it will be shorter! Hah-Fwibble. Bunj Wobl. Thanks, erm, Bunj. Please, do write us some more - I can actually see myself becoming quite interested in comics now! BM
Letters & Reviews
Letter from Paul Walker Dear Brian/Colin, Hello! Firstly, can you please send me Fred 36, as (if you remember) I sent five pounds to you to buy Freds 34 and 35 asking if you could keep the pound change. I've received the West Coast Mailshot, where it says that Fred 36 will only be a pound, or free if I send you a disk. Right, that's got that out of the way. In the letters section of Fred 35, someone wrote in asking if there was a disk of all the Etunes. To save you (most of!) the bother, I've enclosed a disk with all the Etunes from Fred 28 to Fred 35. I haven't got the others yet, so you can either send them to me, or do it your self. Can I please have my disk back, though! Also on the disk is an Addressbook program, and a Disk Manager, although I feel that's somewhat redundant after Cyclops. They both need the bugs working out of them, but I'll do that, if you like them - I thought I'd see what you thought of them before I put in the time (lazy aren't I!). Letter from Paul Walker On the subject of piracy - what would happen if someone had accepted pirated disks of someone else, but later told FAST about them? Would the informer get fined as well, or just have to wipe the disks/buy the originals? I would like to volunteer to review any SAM packages you want reviewing, if you would like me to. I'm not fussy - I don't mind which sort it is! I'd quite like to review WaterWorks, though. To Brian - you've got good taste in music! Do you like REM, and My Bloody Valentine as well? I've got several books I could review for you if you want, and some music as well. Paul Walker BM Reply to Paul Walker Thanks for compiling the disc full of E-Tunes, although I must confess I don't have the vaguest idea of what to do with them! I don't know how many people would be interested in an entire disc full of songs, but if those of you who would want such a disc write and tell us, we'll get something sorted out. If you get rid of all your pirate software then you can't be prosecuted. That's all there is to it. I can't see FAST attempting to prosecute an informer, although they probably could if they wanted to. As piracy is already killing the Amiga, and isn't exactly helping the SAM to flourish, I'd suggest that everybody reading this replaces their pirate software with the real thing as soon as possible. By all means, please do finish your programs; I'm sure we can squeeze them on somehow! The same applies to your book and music reviews (ie please, do write 'em!). Finally, I do like MBV but not REM. - BRIAN Letter from Stefan Drissen Stefan Drissen (055443 - how about increasing the 43?) [redacted] 28 July 1993 Hi there Colin and Brian or Brian and Colin, First of all happy third birthday to you Colin! (Ha, for FRED that is (I bet this is NOT the first time you have heard this!)) Please find enclosed a disc loaded with some Spectrum demo conversions, the reason for this is that my letter on FRED 33 requesting demos did prompt Nigel French to send me two discs full of Spectrum demos. The Sample Tracker demo really is impressive and should not be withheld from the SAM public. Letter from Stefan Drissen If you think The Lyra II is too big to include on Fred you could always split it up over two (or more) issues. A lot of the smaller Spectrum demos should make rather good space fillers though. FRED 35 was rather good, I only missed some real E-Tracker tunes, Bub was excellent, Cutey was cute (good to see Axe back) and the Turbo Worm is the best programmed worm yet (but please no more worms or I'll have to write some kind of Centipede program to kill them all). Steve Taylor's "Driver" sounds very promising (I suppose it's pointless continuing my work on SAM Windows), will it be released on FRED? I would now like to ask for a "free" piece of software, for my contributions: E-Tune player, ST->ET converter and Soundtrack IV, what I had in mind was the "MIDI Sequencer", if anything else of mine is used in the near future I would like "Days of Sorcery". Letter from Stefan Drissen By the way, has my "ST->ET converter" automatically been entered into the utility competition? Or is everything that has been included on FRED disqualified? Well, that's all for now, looking forward to FRED 36 (why do you always hype up the news so much?) Happy third birthday, Stefan Drissen BM Reply to Stefan Drissen Stefan did not write in late, for those of you who are wondering, it's just that we didn't include the letter until this month. Sorry about that Stefan, but I suspect you're getting used to it... I think that disc of converted Spectrum things will help us fill up a good few issues. The only thing is, the Lyra II demo didn't work. This probably has something to do with the fact that the BASIC loader didn't recognise the variable "speccy$" at line 20. I can safely say that the public will soon be thrilled by the sampled music - we've included Axel F this issue, and the other ones will follow soon. Much as we'd like to include Steve's Driver thing on FRED, we can't because he's already signed up to Revelation. Or something. Every single game/utility we received was entered in the FRED competition. We haven't yet decided on winners though. Letter from G Robson Dear Brian, Many thanks for your information re copying Etracker music from FRED discs. I am happy to say that I have managed to collect so far, some 34 examples, and as you suggested, called them "E1" to "E34". Now may I once again prevail on your expertise, by asking if there is any way of selecting one individual tune to play? At present, I can change each tune by pressing the SPACE bar, but they will only run in the sequence they are saved in. Thus, should I wish to play "E34" I have to go through 33 SPACE presses to get there! I feel sure that there must be some way of selecting the individual tune required by altering the E-Basic program somehow, but I'm afraid that it is beyond my meagre programming capabilities. Hope you can help me once again, George Robson BM Reply to G Robson Indeed we can help out! In the Bits N Bobs section of this very issue, you will find an E-Tune player which allows you to enter the name of a file, and then it'll load that tune and play it. It is nowhere near as polished as Stefan Drissen's player, but it does what it needs to do. To put this on your collection, copy the file called "Tune_play" from this disc, and those days of having to press the SPACE bar umpteen times will very quickly become a distant memory! - BRIAN Letter from Craig Harris Dear FRED, After scanningg over the latest issue of FRED these few words sprung to my mind, " !" That's right - I was speechless. Then Shock! Horror! Aaarrgghhh! What's this! A small piece of paper declaring the fact that my subscription has run out. RAN OUT OF WHAT? Of course this came as a shock so I immediately called my best friend and sidekick... Klato. Klato as usual smashed through my door a few seconds later. "Yaaaaah!" he screamed, blood pouring from his face. I told him not to header the door but still he persists. Once I had repaired his face I told him the horrific news that my FRED subscription had run away. He stepped back, agast at such a tragedy; this however was a very bad move as he fell out of my open window and plummeted four stories (an amazing feat considering I live in a 2-floored house). Unfortunately I had to rush him to hospital which severely dented the time I had to look for my FRED subscription as the next issue was due out in Letter from Craig Harris August. I had been searching for days without Luck (we had had an argument a few days before and he wasn't speaking to me) when it hit me - a large monstrosity with a face like the back of a bus. Actually, it was the back of a bus; the driver backed into my house thinking it was the bus depot. I rescued my SAM just before the black rubber of a "Good Beer" radial bus tyre squashed it into oblivion. As I sat there cuddling my SAM and trying to bring it out of shock I realised that all was not lost as the nice people at "FRED Subscriptions" give a service to restore run out subs... PS This letter was written on the Secretary and I have a complaint to make about the manual for this wonderful word- procesor. That's right, a COMPLAINT! Under the description of how to use the TAB feature, the author (Adrian Parker) gives a long description on how to find the bloody key. Letter from Craig Harris This is F*$#*& pointless. He babbles on about a double sized key below the ESCAPE button. Does he think that we're all stupid or maybe blind? The TAB key which he thinks is so difficult to find has TAB printed on it in block capitals! Phew! Now that I have gotten that off my chest I would just like to say that I think that you at FRED Publishing are doing a magnificant job. I would also like to say how much I liked the menus with music on them; the inclusion of music on the menu screen improves the mag ten-fold. Well, that's it. All that's left to say is that I will not be held responsible for the drivel at the start of this letter. BM Reply to Craig Harris Eh!?! - BRIAN Letter from Robert Pain Dear Brian, Will this letter mark my fifth appearance in FRED? I wonder. Firstly I must say thanks for printing my previous letter, but why did you exclude it from one issue only to print it the next? Thanks for the answer to the BASIC question, I must confess that page 178 was the last place I would have looked for such info (well, almost last, anyway). Now a question about Waterworks. Reading back through FRED back issues I saw the password for level 21, and I thought, "Why is there a level 21 in a 20 level game?" Also, is level 21 the final level, or are there more? Now a note to readers about Wop Gamma: you've read the reviews and think it MIGHT be worth buying; I say don't hesitate - buy it now, it's AMAZING! I don't want to sound like Mr High and Mighty, but I've just completed it! It took me only two weeks (I know that isn't too quick but it's good none-the-less). Letter from Robert Pain I could give a list of passwords, but I won't, so there! You asked me what printer I use - a 600dpi laser of course! No, seriously, I actually use an electronic typewriter. Finally, I wish to know if you are a natural computer artist, or did you read some book or article etc. to improve your knowledge? If so, what? I can't wait for the big licence news! I wonder if it begins with an "L".... BM Reply to Robert Pain Why did we exclude your letter one month only to use it the next? This was obviously for your own benefit - it is a well known fact in computing circles that to make four successive appearances in the Letters section of any disc magazine is to incur the Curse of the God of Computers (Fred Harris, off "Micro Live"). You should therefore be thanking us. (The curse obviously is not applicable to magazine editors, otherwise I'd have sold my SAM and Amiga and bought a BBC B long ago...) Waterworks is not a twenty level game; there are 25 levels. Remember kids - the sequel to Waterworks will be out before too long! If you want to be good at computer graphics, you do need a little bit of artistic ability, but even with a tiny bit of ability you can get by. A lot of it's to do with knowing certain techniques and "tricks" that can produce impressive results with minimal effort. Using DPaint on the Amiga instead of Flash doesn't hurt, either... - BRIAN Letter from Douglas Murdoch Dear Brian and Colin, I would like to start by expressing my thanks for printing a "certain" letter that put on my face an expression that can only be described as "an expression that Brian wishes he could have seen." Well Mr McConnell, I'm not taking this lying down - just to prove how disgruntled I am, I'm going to re-subscribe to FRED. So there. And let that be a lesson to you! Okay, so it was a mildly amusing dig at me but it was a slight exaggeration, I mean, sometimes I spend whole evenings away from my SAM - and I don't even pine too much. To suggest that I'm obsessive is just ridiculous... Now onto some more (slightly) serious business; LEMMINGS? On the SAM?! Yahoo and hurrah! (not to mention "What kept you?") The next serious point is a little message for AXE: DON'T EVER LEAVE THE SAM SCENE! (please). Letter from Douglas Murdoch Call me silly and hit me on the head with a large plastic coconut but if somebody can write something as brilliant as CUTEY and call it crap then we're talking about an excellent programmer here. And don't worry, I will indeed "get off my butt" and take Jill out (seeing as she asked so nicely). I don't know how she remembered the FRED address but it looks like she's got one over on me (any ideas on how I can get my "dear beloved" back would be greatly appreciated). In fact that's the second time Jill's got me if you include the old "salt in the coffe" trick. Maybe I'm just easy to "get" - somebody told me "gullible" had been taken out of the dictionary and I asked why. Oh dear. Before I waffle you all to death, here are a few questions: 1- Are there any plans for a sequel to Prince of Persia? 2- What did you think of the tape? 3- Have you heard (of) Teenage Fanlub? Letter from Douglas Murdoch Have a very happy birthday FRED, and may FRED magazine continue to bring the best SAM news and reviews for centuries to come. Or something. Finally, my SAM actually has dinky little BLACK feet. Is that weird? Have I been feeding mine the wrong food? BM Reply to Douglas Murdoch Readers who haven't the vaguest idea what Doug's letter was about obviously missed the recent issue of FRED where we let Doug's girlfriend get in a wee moan about the time he spends with his SAM. Oh, how I do wish I'd seen that expression! Colin and I are still reeling from that vicious bit of retaliation - renewing subscriptions is possibly the only effective means of hurting the FRED empire (it's lucky that we're heavily into masochism, really). BM Reply to Douglas Murdoch I don't think Axe is still intending to leave the SAM; the leg- irons we've got attaching him to it make escape very difficult indeed. There aren't any plans whatsoever for another PoP, but there will be a new Lemonheads album out in the not too distant future if that's any consolation. The tape you sent was indeed smart, thanks. I did think about going to see Teenage Fanclub live, but that's the week after the Smashing Pumpkins concert and two concerts in the space of eight days is pushing things a bit. Black feet? Oh no!! Your SAM is the spawn of Satan! Quick, phone a priest and get him to exorcise the evil fella before it spreads! No, your SAM SHOULD be alright; just don't leave it unattended for more than 12 hours at a time or I dread to think what might happen. - BRIAN DL DAYS OF SORCERY Review By D.Lewis Well I must admit I've always prefered skill games to adventures. In fact, the only adventure game I really liked was on a CRASH disk years ago. Well, did Days Of Sorcery transform me? Not really, no, but I don't regret buying it because even though it's not my type of game its still fairly good. The mode 4 graphics are quite good and they really do help create the atmosphere of the game. The text which occupies the bottom two thirds of the screen can be 32, 42 or 64 columns in width and you can have it (oo-er free zone I'm afraid) in 19 fonts ready for use on loading. As you might expect pen and paper colours can be changed to suit your TV or monitor. Sound, as far as I can tell, is completely non-existent which is a pity, but at least you can play it late at night. However considering the guy you play lived in years gone by he certainly DL D.O.S. has a modern taste in MUSIC. Well so far you're thinking, "Hmm fairly average game" but this game does have one area in which it excels: playability. A great deal of feeling has been put into the writing of the text in the game along with just a tiny touch of humour. The game starts off fairly straight-forward and draws you into the plot and setting; when you're making progress the game really is quite addictive. One of the main problems I find with adventure games is trying to get the computer to do what you want. Most of them, unless you type in the exact syntax, give you the annoying "I do not understand" message; a reason my old Speccy joystick used to go off the wall so often. Days Of Sorcery gets around this fairly well and will even accept commands like "take book and fling it." This is another factor with makes the playability so good. Later on when the game started to get really hard it did tend to give me the brick wall feeling, but like I say I prefer skill games, and my SAM joystick is still in working order! DL D.O.S. The game editor, as well as what I've already mentioned, does have a rather good ramsave option and you don't even need Masterdos. The game also uses the extra memory on 512K SAMs to load all the graphics into the memory on boot up, whilst 256K SAMs have to load them in from disk as they are used (unless you turn them off with the GRAPHICS command). Last but not least for your tenner you get a disk and a 7 page manual which is OK but doesn't give too much away. Hardened adventure fans have met their match, normal adventure fans will be hardened ones by the time they've completed it, and first time adventure game players are in for some right co-operation. But on the whole the game is quite good. Graphics......78% Sound..........5% (because of the main character's good taste) Playability...87% Lastability...95% Difficulty....Well 'Ard! OVERALL.......75% DT The Witching Hour £5.00(£4.50 to subbers) 512K only Blimey, the population of the 'The Little Town by the Sea' are a fickle bunch, aren't they? One minute they're threatening to burn you at the stake for blighting crops and dancing skyclad, but as soon as a demon army invades and kidnaps half the townsfolk it's all "Please help us, we're terribly sorry we blamed you for old Mrs Turnip's cow turning purple and saying that black doesn't suit you. My, that's an attractive wart on the end of your nose." Tsk,eh? And more fool you for agreeing. So, as either Gretta the witch or Beardy the wizard you set out to vanquish the evil demon master. God, what horribly silly, cliched names. Look, for the sake of my sanity, from here on in Gretta will be known as "Tanya" and Beardy as "Evan". Far more sensible names, I hope you'll agree. (And coincidentally the lead singers of "Belly" and "The Lemonheads" respectively.) DT Review of The Witching Hour Right, on with the show. As Tanya or Evan you must find this demon master blokey and complain loudly in his general direction about the immorality of kidnapping large numbers of people. The actual hard bit is finding him. At least that would be the hard bit if the game wasn't so pitifully easy, but it is, so it isn't, if you see what I mean. For those who don't know, "The Witching Hour" is a Dizzyesque arcade adventure where you trudge around a flip screen map, littered with objects, characters and various hazards to overcome. A novel twist on this theme, which I haven't seen before, is pulling down on the joystick to enter houses or walk down paths. Unfortunately this feature is rarely used, which is a shame, because as it is the map is disjointed and occasionally downright silly. DT Review of The Witching Hour Used properly it would have made the game stand out from its predecessors, but as it is it seems to have been added as an afterthought. What a pity. But The Witching Hour's main problem is that the puzzles have to be logical, and from there it's just a short bus ride to "blatantly obvious". I mean, if you come across, say, a troll that complains about being hungry there's a fair old chance that it would be a good idea to find it some food. (Other than yourself,that is) This is the fault of the genre rather than the programer, but the flimsy arcade element and pointlessly generous time limit don't help. Speaking of the programer, which I wasn't, but might well have been, he goes by the name of David Vincent, and as far as I know this is his first commercially released game. The graphics are the work of the talented Neil Holmes, and there are a couple of funky tunes by Craig "Planet Sweet" Turberfield (though absurdly no in-game tune). DT Review of The Witching Hour Anyway, time for the summary bit. Despite its irritating plot, daft character names and the complete absence of any hardness level whatsoever, "The Witching Hour" still manages to be strangely enjoyable. It has some clever use of animation, (Tanya (or Evan) wobbles along most realistically), lovely, moody graphics, some nice sound effects and buckets of smart touches, such as the little introductory demo or the choice of characters. I don't know why, but you just can't help enjoying yourself. OK it's too easy, fair enough, it's written on GAMESMASTER (and this does show on occasions), but it's fun, it's sweet, and you can't take that away from it.(Oh,yeah?) Overall:75% Reviewed by David Tallerman DN Review of The Witching Hour NAME : THE WITCHING HOUR PUBLISHER : FRED Publishing PRICE : £4.99 (£4.50 to subscribers) CONTACT : [redacted] COMPATIBILITY : 512k Only Review by Dean Nicholas THE WITCHING HOUR is your everyday story of bad guy kidnapping several people, and you have to get them back. In this case, the bad guy is the evil Demon Master, who has come, on Hallow'een night, and captured nearly all of the villagers from the little town near the sea. You, as either Gretta the good witch or Beardy the wizard, must destroy the Demon Master during the witching hour otherwise all will be lost! OK so the plot is nothing revolutionary. Neither, in fact, is the game's style, but that doesn't mean that it is a bad game. DN Review of The Witching Hour It is an arcade adventure in the mould of Dizzy. This is the second game of the genre on the SAM, the first being BOING! It has many challenging puzzles to overcome, most of them quite original and obvious but not so obvious that you would be able to complete the game straight away. This game is special in two ways. One - it is the first commercially released game made using Gamesmaster. Two - it is the SAM's first budget game. As a game, it represents Gamesmaster very well. The game is played by walking around the screens. You have 3 lives, and can carry 2 objects at a time. If you press the fire button, then a little menu comes up on the right hand side of the screen, from which you can pick up/drop/use/give objects or talk to people. This is quite useful, as unlike adventure games you don't have to type in the exact correct command, just USEing an object does it all. DN Review of Witching Hour Graphically it is nicely presented, with colourful characters and horribly cute ghosts (that kill you if you touch them). Paths are a little confusing, as they don't seem to be there until you accidentally enter them. However, overall quite good. Sound. Oh dear me. Whereas before the game there is a nice, spooky tune playing, as soon as you start the game this music completely disappears. All the sound in the game is either a dull thud when you enter the menu, or the sound of running water (which sounds like a garbled message over a British Rail announcer system). So, not very good at all, the sound. Value for money is excellent. It is a budget game, but could quite easily have been released as a full-pricer. It even has a proper box, like the ones for Impatience and Dyzonium. Great value for money. Lastability isn't too hot, but it isn't too bad either. Within about 3 hours of playing, I had completed 49% and I thought this DN Review of Witching Hour must be such an easy game, but now I am hardly progressing at all. So, it should last bad gamesplayers quite a while, but good arcade adventurers will finish it off pretty quickly. Ratings: GRAPHICS........... 77% MUSIC/SOUND........ 20% VALUE FOR MONEY.... 90% LASTABILITY........ 75% OVERALL............ 79% This is a good game, and the price adds even more authority to the fact that you should buy this game now!
DIY Space Invaders: MC Tutorial (Ctd.) End.
Well. This is the end of the Invaders game (after you have installed this month source), but it may not be the end of this extra M/C supplement by me. How would you all like to be able to use SAMDOS/MASTERDOS for load/save/verify/read/write/directory etc. - without having to return to BASIC! If you would, then write to me at the address below and it shall be done. But back to this month's source and it's all about the high score table. This will include a ten entry high table, with a 29 character name area, and also allows you to input your name by just typing and not left/right method. First off, I had better tell you what you need off the disk : File name Discription IN-SOURCE Comet source file (fifth and final installment) Game Theory ----------- Well it's part of the game and some people think a game without a high score table is not worth playing (these people like to show their friends how good they are at playing games). To my high score stuff there are a few subroutines (sort/print/input name, to name a few) which are used and could be used for other purposes. Like the main sort, which could be used to sort something else, or the input routine could be used to input other text, say in a text editor. Only you can decide the outcome of this. Back to the theory at hand. As we have a high table of ten entries, to make things a little simpler we will have a data area capable of holding eleven entries. Why? I hear you cry. Well, when we have reached at least the lowest entry, we put our score into the eleventh entry and clear the name for that area. Then we simply check that score against the one above (all will make sense in the explanation. I hope). Before we do the above we must check if our score is bigger than the lowest, otherwise my HI.SORT routine will fail. If we have not, then we just have to print the table. The next thing we will need is a routine that will let us type in our name (or anything else). This will have to display what we are typing and store the characters in the name area. This routine must not use ASCII characters, so that we can delete and exit upon pressing return (it will use the READKEYBOARD routine from issue 32). Equates ------- Well as last month's did not have any, this month has two. MAX.SIZE is the number of characters in the name area of the high score table MAX.HIGH is the number of high score entries in the table Main Area Source Examination ---------------------------- **************************************************************** To mix this month's source with the source you should have saved last month, all you do is load in the source you have saved, then merge in this month's source. Then find the label MERGER; this will take you to the start of the merged source. Then follow and act on the text messages there. **************************************************************** Now this is going to be at times confusing, but I will do my best to explain why I wrote the source like I did. High.Check ---------- This is the entry point to test if we did get a score bigger than the lowest high score entry. First we set the LMPR to the current VMPR setting. Then we test the game score to the high score entry number 10 (lowest high score).If no then go to NO.HIGHEST. At this point we are on the high score table, so we must put our score into high score 11 (extra high entry for sorting). Then clear the name area for high score 11. Then we call HISORT, after which we then print the new high score table. Then setup the high score entry reached and print that message and enter name message and show that screen. Then we setup the INPUT.STRING vars to current high entry screenxy maximum string length and the address to store the input and call INPUT.STRING. After returning from INPUT.STRING (return pressed) we then jump to HIGH.FINISH. Hisort ------ This is the main routine that starts at the bottom of the high score table, and check's our score against each high score untill we either : Find a high entry that is bigger than our score or Reach the top of the high score table This is done as follows: First off, we have to setup the maximum high score entry (this also acts as a high table position varable), then setup the start address for checking (score at high). Hisort Loop ----------- First off we get the current high enter counter (REACHED) and multiply by eight, then add this to the HIGH.TAB.ADR (see below for explanation). Then we get the address for the screenxy, name area and the score area for that particular entry and store them for future use. Then we get the address stored for the high entry to check, and check it against the score entry. If smaller or equal then goto GOT.HIGHEST By getting here the score must be bigger than the high score entry, so we swop the high score and high name with our blank name and our score (as in move that high position down one line and move our score up one line). Then we get the address for the high entry and store them into the score entry vars for rechecking on next loop. Then we decrease the REACHED variable and if not zero (there is no zero high score entry) then we goto HISORT LOOP. GOT.HIGHEST ----------- This is just a return but when we get here, we have got in vars GAME.SCRXY the screen position to print our name, GAME.NAME the high score memory location to store our name and REACHED hold the number+1 of the position reached in the high table. Sortit ------ This is a small subroutine which checks one string of numbers (HL) against another string of numbers (DE), To see if one>other (HL>DE). This does not have to be ASCII, numbers it could be decimal numbers. On entry, B is set to the number of digits to test (in our case we only have a 7 digit score). Then we test the contents of HL against the contents of DE for the following : IF (HL)=(DE) then EQUAL IF (HL)<(DE) then SMALLER IF (HL)>(DE) then BIGGER EQUAL increase to next location and decrease B. If B=0 then the two equal the same, so set A to zero (score <= high) and return. SMALLER set A to zero (score<=high) and return. BIGGER set A to 1 (score>high) and return. No.Highest ---------- This is jumped to if the score <= the lowest high score entry. So all we do is print the high score and drop into HIGH.FINISH High.Finish ----------- Here we display "Press fire" message and wait for fire to be pressed. Upon fire pressed then released we jump back to FRONT.END. High.Print ---------- This is the same as all the other prints, But explanation coming up: As always we set the opposite to VMPR low and clear. Then we print the high-score Invaders sign. Then we print the high score table (HIGH1 to HIGH10 messages). Then we switch screens and set LMPR to VMPR, So we can see what we are typing. Input.String ------------ This is a complimentry routine for READKEYBOARD. What it simply does is gets an ASCII code from READKEYBOARD, and if it's a printable code (>=32 and <=127), it prints it to the screen at LMPR and stores the code into a memory loaction. Heres how I did it. On Entry HL equals the screenxy co-ords for the left position to start print at and BC equals the maximun characters aloud in the string. These are stored into the INPUT.STRING vars. Input.Loop ---------- In the input loop we wait for a frame flyback to occur (TV raster line is at top of screen). Then we swop the cursor character between chr$ 0 and chr$ 32 (XOR 32 does this), Then print the cursor at the current xy position. Then we wait for READKEYBOARD to return with a character other than &FF (no key pressed), store the key vars and wait for you to let go of the key (&FF from READKEYBOARD). Then we restore the key codes and test for the following : If the key is a return, goto INPUT.STRING.E If the key is a delete, goto INPUT.DELETE If the key code is less than 32 (we only want control codes for return or delete), then goto INPUT.LOOP Getting here we must have a printable ASCII code (we hope), so first we must check to see if we have reached the maximun string size. If yes goto INPUT.LOOP, otherwise we increase the string size counter. Then we get the ASCII code and print at currentxy position (this will erase the cursor), and increase the xy by 3 bytes (next screen location). Then we store the asci code into the memory loaction and increase the memory address ready for next character. Then we goto INPUT.LOOP Input.Delete ------------ This is jumped to when we have pressed the delete key, so first off we must check if input count equals zero (at left edge of input area). If yes goto INPUT.LOOP, else we decrease the input count. Then we print a space at the cursor position (delete cursor), and decrease the screen xy by three (back space to last screen position). After that we decrease our memory address by three and store a space at that loaction (erase ASCII from store area). Then we goto INPUT.LOOP Input.String.E -------------- Upon pressing return we arrive here, and all we do is print a space at the screenxy (delete cursor). Then return. The last thing I will explain is the HIGH.TAB.ADR. This is a table which looks something like this : HIGH.TAB.ADR: DEFW 0,0,0,0 DEFW SCR1,NAME1,SCORE1,0 DEFW SCR2,NAME2,SCORE2,0 DEFW SCR3,NAME3,SCORE3,0 DEFW SCR4,NAME4,SCORE4,0 ETC... The first eight bytes are zeros because I will never get a high position of zero in my sort routine. The last byte for each entry is zero, as this enables me to multiple by 8 (ADD A,A 3 times), instead of multiplying by 6 (ADD A,A: LD C,A: ADD A,A: ADD A,C). The label SCRX points to the high score entryX start text message line (which in my data holds the screen xy coord to print the text message). The label NAMEX points to the high score entryX name area (which should be the start of the asci area for the name). The label SCOREX points to the high score entryX score area (which should be the start of the asci area for the score). So, by getting the high score entry no 3, multiplying it by 8, and adding it to the address of HIGH.TAB.ADR., we can get the address to read the screenxy, followed by the address to start poking the new name and followed by the start of the high score for that entry number. If you wish to increase the high table size then you will have to change the MAX.HIGH equate to the number of entrys and add the new addresses for those entrys. The End ------- Well I have really enjoyed doing this series of articles, and I hope you have all learned from it. If you'd like any more articles to appear in FRED then write to me with what you would like to know and I will do my best to assist you (if I can). My address is as follows : Chris J. White, [redacted] So its bye for now, but it may not be bye for ever! Chris White.