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Amstrad CPCnext: Would you buy one?

Started by cwpab, 20:29, 31 December 23

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Do you wish there was an Amstrad CPCnext?

Yes, and I would buy it
24 (44.4%)
Yes, but I would not buy it
2 (3.7%)
No, that wouldn't be an Amstrad CPC
27 (50%)
I would prefer a PCWnext
1 (1.9%)

Total Members Voted: 54

HAL6128

Talking about... Ultimate. The Ultimate64 has the goal to emulate the C64 with modern technology, nothing more. You can expand it, of course, with all the expansion you want as it is on original one.
Very attractive idea.
...proudly supported Schnapps Demo, Pentomino and NQ-Music-Disc with GFX

cwpab

#51
After several weeks, it looks like someone (1 of 38) finally voted for the "I would prefer a PCWnext" option.

Congratulations! You're the most original voter of this poll. I'm 99% sure it was a joke, but just in case... What would you add to the PCWnext? 3D text? Ray tracing in black and white? An OS intro with this song?

Anthony Flack

#52
The CPC+ isn't some retro fantasy computer, it's a genuine Amstrad from the end of the actual 8 bit era, and it feels every bit like a true CPC. As an under-utilised piece of real vintage hardware that already exists in fairly large numbers, it sidesteps any argument about the pointlessness of creating it. And the enhancements are both powerful and limited, and still largely unexplored which makes it a fun target for hobbyist coders.

Also the CPC just looks so good with the expanded palette.

andycadley

Indeed. I'd rather see more Plus software than stuff for some 28Mhz, 4MB super machine. I can see reasons for a.modern recreation of it though: the ability to just plug directly into a modern display would be handy and if it were possible to have some sort of Wii like replacement for the light gun too it could be awesome. 

asertus

Quote from: Anthony Flack on 07:10, 28 January 24The CPC+ isn't some retro fantasy computer, it's a genuine Amstrad from the end of the actual 8 bit era, and it feels every bit like a true CPC. As an under-utilised piece of real vintage hardware that already exists in fairly large numbers, it sidesteps any argument about the pointlessness of creating it. And the enhancements are both powerful and limited, and still largely unexplored which makes it a fun target for hobbyist coders.

Also the CPC just looks so good with the expanded palette.
To me, the plus versions are kind of MSX2 or msx2+ .., improving the video capabilities, dma.., but keeping cpu speed.. Problem is it came very late.., maybe in 1988 would have been great..


ZorrO

#55
In my opinion, biggest disadvantage of CPC+ wasn't that it appeared late, but its high price, because with B/W it cost as much as 520ST and with color as much as A500 or PC1640.
CPC+PSX 4ever

dodogildo

CPC+ = too little too late
M'enfin!

cwpab

One great question with a potential (and unlikely) CPCnext would be the monitor. This was a key feature in the original CPC, so releasing a CPCnext without one wouldn't feel authentic.

cwpab

By the way, I have some quick questions about the Plus and PCW ranges:

PCW: If Basic was not included or even adapted for this, is it correct to assume that the only option was to program games in assembly or was there an option to make "CP/M games"?

Plus: Was there a new "mode" with the enhanced resolution and colors available from Basic, just like mode 0, 1 and 2?

Prodatron

#59
Quote from: cwpab on 18:45, 28 January 24PCW: If Basic was not included or even adapted for this, is it correct to assume that the only option was to program games in assembly or was there an option to make "CP/M games"?
On the PCW you had Mallard Basic for CP/M:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mallard_BASIC
which was the standard Basic for this machine (from Locomotive Software, which did the CPCs Locomotive Basic as well). I have no idea, if it was restricted to the CP/M environment or could do something more.

Quote from: cwpab on 18:45, 28 January 24Plus: Was there a new "mode" with the enhanced resolution and colors available from Basic, just like mode 0, 1 and 2?
No, it is still using Basic 1.1, and this has no idea about any Plus features at all.
A similair thing already happend to the 6128, where the Basic had no idea about the additional 64K. But here they provided "bankman" as an RSX Basic extension for accessing the second 64K.

For the Plus Amstrad didn't want "normal" people to access the additional features of the ASIC, no idea why the fuck they did this. Maybe they wanted to get paid for this, I don't remember anymore.
So Logon System (Longshot?) hacked the ASIC and found the sequence of bytes you have to send to the CRTC to unlock the ASIC. And so Longshot released a Basic extension for the Plus features called "B-ASIC":
https://www.cpcwiki.eu/index.php/B-ASIC

GRAPHICAL Z80 MULTITASKING OPERATING SYSTEM

andycadley

Quote from: cwpab on 18:45, 28 January 24Plus: Was there a new "mode" with the enhanced resolution and colors available from Basic, just like mode 0, 1 and 2?
As Prodatron said, BASIC itself wasn't changed. But it's also worth pointing out the Plus colours can be used in all three of the original modes, they just change the number of available colours from 27 to 4096. The Plus itself doesn't have any additional resolutions, although the 16*16 sprites have Mode 2 sized pixels in up to 15 colours if you don't use any of the magnification options.

lmimmfn

Quote from: andycadley on 21:04, 28 January 24
Quote from: cwpab on 18:45, 28 January 24Plus: Was there a new "mode" with the enhanced resolution and colors available from Basic, just like mode 0, 1 and 2?
As Prodatron said, BASIC itself wasn't changed. But it's also worth pointing out the Plus colours can be used in all three of the original modes, they just change the number of available colours from 27 to 4096. The Plus itself doesn't have any additional resolutions, although the 16*16 sprites have Mode 2 sized pixels in up to 15 colours if you don't use any of the magnification options.
Interesting that sprites can be mode 2 with 16 colours(including transparent one), I've never seen this in use, did anything commercially use it? 
I've only seen this with the amiga with AGA chipset where the sprites are completely detached in resolution from the main display.
6128 for the win!!!

Anthony Flack

The sprites can also be placed with mode 2 precision in any mode, at any scale,.

Wikipedia lists the GX available resolutions as 160x200x16, 320x200x4 and 640x200x2, but it's really not; just like the original CPC it has the entire PAL space to work with and there's no particular reason that games should limit the visible display to the screen dimensions of Amstrad BASIC. 

andycadley

Quote from: lmimmfn on 02:26, 29 January 24
Quote from: andycadley on 21:04, 28 January 24
Quote from: cwpab on 18:45, 28 January 24Plus: Was there a new "mode" with the enhanced resolution and colors available from Basic, just like mode 0, 1 and 2?
As Prodatron said, BASIC itself wasn't changed. But it's also worth pointing out the Plus colours can be used in all three of the original modes, they just change the number of available colours from 27 to 4096. The Plus itself doesn't have any additional resolutions, although the 16*16 sprites have Mode 2 sized pixels in up to 15 colours if you don't use any of the magnification options.
Interesting that sprites can be mode 2 with 16 colours(including transparent one), I've never seen this in use, did anything commercially use it?
I've only seen this with the amiga with AGA chipset where the sprites are completely detached in resolution from the main display.
Burnin' Rubber uses sprites in Mode 1 resolution with a dithered transparent pattern for the shadow under the car. Which works quite well.

I had played around with Mode 2 sprites, using a similar dithered pattern. The colour blending worked really well on a CM14 and you can make a nice "spotlight" effect over a Mode 0 screen. I think I had in mind some sort of sniper game but never really advanced it. Doesn't help the with Mode 2 resolution, you need to use a lot of sprites to cover a small area on the screen.

cwpab

Thanks all! Very interesting technical stuff.

Hopefully my last questions about the PCW and Plus ranges:

PCW: 
Q: Considering the PCW had 2x or 4x the RAM of the 6128, and the 2x RAM with the 4MB expansion pack made allowed for improved resolutions or even framerates in some N64 games, would it be possible to program a new PCW game from scratch that used the extra RAM and was not possible on the CPC (or is this RAM not ideal for games?

Plus: 
Q: What does Anthony Flack mean with "the entire PAL space" instead of a fixed resolution?

McArti0

Quote from: cwpab on 12:07, 29 January 24Q: What does Anthony Flack mean with "the entire PAL space" instead of a fixed resolution?
By reconfiguration CRTC, CPC can display the image in the full specification of the PAL system. This means 52u sec dotpixels in one line and 576 image lines interlaced at 50/25 Hz. i.e. 55kB of image, which gives a resolution of 832x576i@25Hz
And without interlaced 832x288p50Hz
CPC 6128, Whole 6128 and Only 6128, with .....
NewPAL v3 for use all 128kB RAM by CRTC as VRAM
TYPICAL :) TV Funai 22FL532/10 with VGA-RGB-in.

andycadley

The physical timings that define the size and shape of pixels are fixed. But the CRTC is flexible in which bits of the actual display are border and which are screen so you can create a lot of different dimension and shape screens.

In contrast machines like the Spectrum and C64 has fixed timings for their borders, so the dimensions of the screen area are also fixed.

cwpab

#67
I accidentally found online a September 1990 magazine from Spain (MegaOcio, one of the smaller ones):
https://retrocdn.net/images/4/49/MegaOcio_ES_18.pdf

The Plus range (+GX4000) was released that month in the country. Reviews don't say anything new, but three things surprise me about the pricing model:
1) I can't believe they still offered a green monitor for this range considering the reason to buy them was the improved graphics (and more colors).
2) Original CPC models cost around 2x when they were released compared to the Plus range and without considering inflation.
3) The most expensive moderl with disk drive and color monitor cost 90K ptas compared to the 100K ptas that cost the Amiga (it's all in the same magazine issue).

Considering the lower cost, I guess Amstrad didn't lose too much with the Plus debacle as parts were probably much cheaper 6 years later. I hope they didn't manufacture 1 million, though.

Prodatron

#68
Quote from: cwpab on 12:07, 29 January 24PCW:
Q: Considering the PCW had 2x or 4x the RAM of the 6128, and the 2x RAM with the 4MB expansion pack made allowed for improved resolutions or even framerates in some N64 games, would it be possible to program a new PCW game from scratch that used the extra RAM and was not possible on the CPC (or is this RAM not ideal for games?

There are two differences between the CPC and the PCW regarding RAM:

1.)
- CPC can place the video framebuffer in the first 64K only
- PCW can place it in the first 128K

2.)
- CPCs memory banking is a little bit limited; you can swap in any 16K from a secondary bank at #4000; or the upper 16K of a secondary 64K bank at #C000; or a whole 64K bank at once; this is still much better compared to most other early 80ies systems like the C64 (no useful RAM banking at all, LOL!), the Atari8, ZX Spectrum (only 16K at once), Memotech MTX, C128, Spectrum +3 (limited and restricted to 128K) and more
- PCW can map any 16K bank at any position at #0000, #4000, #8000, #C000; like more advanced Z80 systems in the 80ies like the MTX, Enterprise 64/128, NC100/200, PCW16 and more

That's it. The PCWs resolution is fixed to 720x256, I don't know if there are any hardware tricks to enhance this, but I never heard about something like this.
The CPCs ram can be expanded to 576KB ram by 80ies standards and to 4160KB ram by later standards while the PCW can be expanded to 2048KB ram (and 2048KB rom), no idea if it's possible to increase it with some "hacks" like we have for >576K on the CPC.

IMHO this has nothing to do with the ability to make PCW games with higher framerate. Usually graphic is slower on the PCW due to its roller ram, which is nice for textoutput but tortuous for bitmaps.

GRAPHICAL Z80 MULTITASKING OPERATING SYSTEM

cwpab

Thanks Prodatron... So in more simple terms, do you see any advantages for a game developer that somehow decided to make a PCW game due to the extra RAM compared to the CPC? (Let's pretend game players will not expand the RAM as I believe most users don't, I personally have never done that).

Prodatron

Quote from: cwpab on 21:29, 29 January 24do you see any advantages for a game developer that somehow decided to make a PCW game due to the extra RAM compared to the CPC? (Let's pretend game players will not expand the RAM as I believe most users don't, I personally have never done that).
Ah yes, sorry, I didn't thought about this point, seems that I am too focused to expanded 8bit machines :D
Of course more standard RAM enables you to create more advanced games for everyone with this standard config, as you can store more sprites, tiles, maps, animations etc inside the same level.
Sorry I forgot his name, but someone brought a good example here, regarding something like Prince of Persia, where you could have tons of KB or even MB to store all the nice animations.
So yes, e.g. a PCW8256 (256K ram) Prince of Persia would be much better than a CPC464 (64K ram) version.
That is, what I really love about the PCW, even the smallest version has the amount of RAM which is really fun, when you want to do bigger things (like in my case).

GRAPHICAL Z80 MULTITASKING OPERATING SYSTEM

eto

Quote from: cwpab on 21:29, 29 January 24Let's pretend game players will not expand the RAM as I believe most users don't, I personally have never done that)
I'm pretty sure if you would get great games with a RAM expansion you would invest into one. 

Thousands of RAM expansions have been sold in the past. Not sure how many DDI5 and ULIFAC were sold in the last 2 years but they made sure that expanded RAM AND mass storage are available - yet we do still not see releases that benefit from additional RAM. 

I think the most crucial aspect that we don't see those games is, that it's a lot of time and effort to produce all the artifacts that will then be put into RAM.

Making a game for the CPC is already a challenge and time consuming - but if you want to fill not only 64 or 128K, you need to invest A LOT more time into gameplay, graphics, sound, etc ... that usually requires a pretty high team effort for a significant time. Legend of Zelda on the NES is just 128K of ROM - but it took a professional team months to develop it. 



Prodatron

Phew, you may be right, but it is a challenge as well, if you are forced to create a game for only 64K. I already read some stories (like Rastan?), where the programmers had a big issue to implement it in only 64K.
Usually it was more easy to program on a system with less limits.

GRAPHICAL Z80 MULTITASKING OPERATING SYSTEM

Anthony Flack

There are things you can do with 128k that are just not feasible with 64k. Double-buffering the screen is very handy but expensive if it costs half your RAM.

You can do a lot with 128k and a disk drive, and if you detect 256k you could use that as a RAM disk. Or, make a cartridge game and go nuts with 512k ROM for things like compiled sprites.

A PCW could do a whole lot with all that RAM that you could never do on a 464. There's lots of ways you can improve speed by wasting memory.

I'm quite interested in what you can do with the GX/Plus sprites when scaled up. They do get chunky, but they're also quite big, and there's sixteen of them, and they move with high precision even when chunky. It was perfect for Pang. Also you don't need to double-buffer the screen if you're using hardware sprites so you could go full overscan. Well, Sonic GX has shown what this looks like. I think this is one of the best ways to use the Plus hardware for games, and shows that the GX resolution is not just 160x200.

asertus

Quote from: Anthony Flack on 04:06, 30 January 24You can do a lot with 128k and a disk drive, and if you detect 256k you could use that as a RAM disk. Or, make a cartridge game and go nuts with 512k ROM for things like compiled sprites.

It is funny you say this.., these were almost the same comments by @Rhino in last cepeceros program talking about The Abduction of Oscar Z and Orion Prime.. (and Vespertino).. and he said the CPC6128 was the most balanced CPC, because 128kb fits better with the overall CPC architecture. 

And he also spoke about using extra memory for compiled sprites and other stuff..

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