BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

reminisce about bbc micro & electron games like chuckie egg, repton, elite & exile

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vanpeebles
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BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby vanpeebles » Fri Jul 15, 2016 8:01 am

Which is the best version of Elite for the BBC, the Master version or the Co-Pro version? Or does the Master version support co-pros? Or are they both equally good in different ways?

I've looked all over for a definitive answer.

Or does Elite-A have all the improvements from both?

Answers on a postcard (although on here would be better)

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sydney
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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby sydney » Fri Jul 15, 2016 8:44 am

For me it's the tape version as the docking computer doesn't take ten minutes to get you to the space station. :lol:

Seriously though, I've not played any version extensively other than the electron version but that was last played seriously over a quarter of a century ago. I seem to remember playing it a couple of years ago and being horrified at the flicker of the graphics.
I've recently started a game on the 128 version and other than the shock of having to wait to be docked by the docking computer I'm really enjoying it. I've not played the copro version much other than to stare in amazement at how fast it is with the grunt of a 16(32?)Mhz 6502 running it.
I'm going to give Elite-A a good go too at some point as I think this is probably going to be my favourite.
In between times I played a lot of Oolite so my piloting skills are very much intact!

Doesn't really answer your question though.

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby vanpeebles » Fri Jul 15, 2016 8:50 am

It does highlight how many versions there are and how they all differ! :D

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trixster
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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby trixster » Fri Jul 15, 2016 11:02 am

Check these links out for info about the different versions:

http://www.frontierastro.co.uk/Elite/bbc.html

http://knackered.org/angus/beeb/elite.html
A3020 | A3000 | BBC B + 128K RAM/ROM + 20K Shadow + Pi0 + VideoNuLA
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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby jms2 » Fri Jul 15, 2016 11:29 am

The first thing to say is that Elite A is very different from the other versions in lots of ways, and can really be regarded as "Elite 2". I hadn't realized that it automatically detects the second processor, that is a very neat feature! So Elite-A can probably be regarded as the "best" version but as I have said is different enough not to count.

For the official versions, I would say the ranking is as follows, from low to high, with the brackets showing roughly what is added compared to the previous one.

- Electron Tape
- BBC Tape (adds more speed, colour and some more ships I think)
- BBC Disk (even more ships, missions, views inside space stations, docking computer autopilot etc)
- Master version (more colour)
- 2nd processor version (more speed).

Whilst I might have the details a little bit wrong, I think most people would probably agree with the above list because the differences are fairly clear-cut and not really a question of personal preference.

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby vanpeebles » Fri Jul 15, 2016 11:44 am

Is there a co pro Master version? That has the speed and colour? I think elite-a is built on the original disc version.

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby jms2 » Fri Jul 15, 2016 12:11 pm

There isn't a specific Master Co-Pro version, but the ordinary Second Processor version does work.

You've misunderstood my list though, the features were additive, so the Second Processor version does have full colour + full speed. :D

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby 1024MAK » Fri Jul 15, 2016 12:16 pm

Don't forget that the second processor has just under 64k bytes of RAM to run the game, in addition to the 32k bytes of main RAM for the screen and the I/O processor on the main board (BBC B) or 128k bytes for a Master (with a shadow screen).

Mark
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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby vanpeebles » Fri Jul 15, 2016 12:25 pm

So the next newbie question is, once I get my Master PSU fixed. Can I plug my external 6502 in, at the same as having the Master 512 internally?

I've have tried the co processor version and elite-a co pro on my B+ in the past, you could tell the difference straight away by the smoothness of the rotating planets :)

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby 1024MAK » Fri Jul 15, 2016 1:22 pm

vanpeebles wrote:So the next newbie question is, once I get my Master PSU fixed. Can I plug my external 6502 in, at the same as having the Master 512 internally?

I've have tried the co processor version and elite-a co pro on my B+ in the past, you could tell the difference straight away by the smoothness of the rotating planets :)

Yes, you can connect the external second processor. Use *CONFIGURE to select between them:-

*CONFIGURE InTube / ExTube
Causes either an internal or external TUBE to be selected in preference to the other.
InTube
ExTube

See here for all the *CONFIGURE command versions.

Mark
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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby vanpeebles » Fri Jul 15, 2016 1:37 pm

I didn't know if would be like crossing the streams on Ghostbusters if you had them all connected and powered at the same time. :lol:

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby mygrandmawheels » Thu Oct 26, 2017 3:49 pm

And this??? What the hell is it? It seems a BBC, but who the devil did it?? I'm astonished! :shock:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIGnYYuBShA

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby Pernod » Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:02 pm

mygrandmawheels wrote:And this??? What the hell is it? It seems a BBC, but who the devil did it?? I'm astonished! :shock:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIGnYYuBShA

That's the PC DOS version.
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BBC Model B, ATPL Sidewise, Acorn Speech, 2xWatford Floppy Drives, AMX Mouse, Viglen case, etc.

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby mygrandmawheels » Thu Oct 26, 2017 4:24 pm

oh.. too good to be true...
:oops:

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby trixster » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:03 pm

I think ArcElite took some inspiration from that version.
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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby crj » Thu Oct 26, 2017 11:11 pm

I'm Elite on the BBC disc version then again on the Master version. I've also dabbled on the Tube version.

As well as the obvious differences like more colour and greater speed, there are some subtleties as well.

The Tube version has a silly Star-Wars-style scrolling text, which suggests they'd run out of things to do before they ran out of memory.

The Tube version seems to have significantly more activity around space stations - more orbital shuttles, the occasional Boa, etc. Anacondas and Boas spit out Worms instead of escape pods quite a lot of the time. Generally you get larger flotillas of ships in many circumstances.

The Master version spins an unfamiliar, undocumented ship on its start screen. You can meet it: it's fast, mean and radar-invisible. Does it have a name?

I seem to recall preferring the Master version to the Tube version, but thirty years on I'm blowed if I can remember why!

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby tom_seddon » Fri Oct 27, 2017 12:56 am

The Master version had double-buffered graphics, thanks to the Master's shadow RAM, so while the frame rate isn't as good as the Tube version the display looks generally a lot better. (I think the planets might not be double-buffered? - however the other stuff is, and it makes a big difference.) The Tube version on the other hand has a great frame rate, for obvious reasons, and is similarly colourful, but the flicker is quite noticeable. The Master's shadow RAM hardware is a huge benefit for this type of game.

There are quite probably some other settings that they presumably tweaked for the 2nd processor version and left at their defaults for the Master 128 version. The M128 is after all is stuck with the same 2MHz CPU as the BBC Micro... the CMOS opcodes and extra RAM can only help so much...

Shame there's no Master Turbo version that combines the attributes of both! I had a look at trying to make one a while ago, based on the Elite source from Ian Bell's page, but didn't get very far... the Elite source is pretty opaque! I managed to figure out how the two CPUs communicated, but got a bit lost trying to do much more.

--Tom

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby RobC » Fri Oct 27, 2017 8:03 am

crj wrote:The Master version spins an unfamiliar, undocumented ship on its start screen. You can meet it: it's fast, mean and radar-invisible. Does it have a name?

It's called a Cat/Cougar. I've never come across it but it featured quite a bit in the Micro User adventure column's Elite section (where it was called the "cloak and dagger" ship).

You can see it on the Elite ships sources disk on Ian Bell's Elite page.

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby kieranhj » Fri Oct 27, 2017 10:11 pm

tom_seddon wrote:The Master version had double-buffered graphics, thanks to the Master's shadow RAM, so while the frame rate isn't as good as the Tube version the display looks generally a lot better.

Ahhh, that makes sense. Thanks for the clarification. I had often wondered.

tom_seddon wrote:Shame there's no Master Turbo version that combines the attributes of both! I had a look at trying to make one a while ago, based on the Elite source from Ian Bell's page, but didn't get very far... the Elite source is pretty opaque! I managed to figure out how the two CPUs communicated, but got a bit lost trying to do much more.

I also looked at the Elite source when messing around with some copro coding. I got how the line drawn commands etc were sent over the Tube using redirected OSWRCH but I couldn’t figure out any screen synchronisation. What I mean is if you run on a higher speed copro (eg PiTube) then the frame rate is insanely fast but the line draw is being done on the host side so can’t possible be drawing all these lines to keep up. It must be syncing or dropping lines somewhere.

On a tangential note, using an original Master edition floppy disc I get a Bad Program error attempting to run the copro version with my Turbo enabled. If I use a disc copied from the STH archives then I can get it running just fine... has anyone else seen this?
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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby Rich Talbot-Watkins » Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:07 pm

Actually I don't think the Master version does double buffer! Fairly sure I remember seeing code in the main screen memory, and the shadow bank only used for the screen. (If it does double buffer, then there's absolutely no excuse for that flicker!)

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby cmorley » Sun Oct 29, 2017 2:42 pm

kieranhj wrote:I got how the line drawn commands etc were sent over the Tube using redirected OSWRCH but I couldn’t figure out any screen synchronisation. What I mean is if you run on a higher speed copro (eg PiTube) then the frame rate is insanely fast but the line draw is being done on the host side so can’t possible be drawing all these lines to keep up. It must be syncing or dropping lines somewhere.


When reg1 FIFO is full the Tube parasite OS will block waiting for more space. It will only unblock when the host has consumed some bytes (drawn lines). So the parasite is synchonised with the host drawing by a spin-lock waiting on fifo space "for free".

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby Rich Talbot-Watkins » Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:49 pm

Rich Talbot-Watkins wrote:Actually I don't think the Master version does double buffer! Fairly sure I remember seeing code in the main screen memory, and the shadow bank only used for the screen. (If it does double buffer, then there's absolutely no excuse for that flicker!)

Just checked this, using the following highly precise technique:
  • Load Elite and let it run to the attract screen
  • Press Ctrl+Break twice very quickly in succession (on a Master, this interrupts the memory clear sequence, and allows you to examine the RAM contents; I used this on occasion as a loophole around protection systems, but it doesn't work if &FE4E has been set to 127)
  • MODE 129
  • *FX113,1 (to view main RAM)
Doing that reveals code in main RAM, while doing it again to examine the shadow screen shows that the display is there.

I wouldn't be surprised if Master Elite is running the erase old/plot new Bresenham lines in parallel, as there's barely any flicker at all. Either that or, at very least, it must be drawing each new line, and erasing the old one, in direct succession.

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby tom_seddon » Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:07 am

Yes, you're quite right - I put a breakpoint on ACCCON writes in my emulator and the D flag always has the same value. Interesting!

It did seem a bit odd to double buffer the ships and then draw/erase the planets normally... but I figured maybe the Master 128 version was put together quite quickly or something and they had to bodge things in a bit. I just couldn't think of any other explanation for how flicker-free the other rendering was!

Shame they didn't use the same technique for the Tube version. My recollection is that there was a decent amount of I/O processor RAM still free.

--Tom

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby fuzzel » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:53 am

I'm thinking about playing either the Master or 2nd Processor version, I'm not sure which is better so I'll probably play both for a while and decide.
Does anyone know if they offer more missions ? From memory I think the Electron and BBC tape versions have none, the BBC disk version has two,
but what about the Master and 2nd Processor versions, do they have more ?

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby trixster » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:04 am

Neither the master nor tube versions offer any extra missions over the standard disk version.

I would prefer the tube version over the master due to its extra speed and that it doesn't slow nearly as much when there's lots happening.

A-Elite is the best of the lot and it too detects a tube and speeds up.
A3020 | A3000 | BBC B + 128K RAM/ROM + 20K Shadow + Pi0 + VideoNuLA
BBC Master Turbo + DC | Atom | A1200 060 | A500 | Jaguar | A420/1
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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby davidjefferies » Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:32 am

tom_seddon wrote: I just couldn't think of any other explanation for how flicker-free the other rendering was!
--Tom


Braben says in the GDC talk he did (http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1014628/Cl ... Postmortem) that he and Ian had a realisation after the initial Elite release to reduce flicker. Instead of undrawing an entire ship before redrawing it in the new location they undrew and redrew the ship line by line. This reduced the amount of time that the ship's pixels were absent from the screen and so reduced the flicker. Perhaps its this optimisation that made it into the Master version

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Re: BBC Elite Which is the best version? Or do they differ?

Postby davidjefferies » Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:40 am

I just double checked exactly what he said (it's at about 33mins) and he said the 'BBC Micro' version didn't have the single line redraw optimisation because they 'hadn't thought of it at the time'. Seeing as the Master version came a long time after the initial version (1986 vs 1984) then I think its reasonable to assume it has the optimisation to reduce flicker.


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