"Unfixable bug" in BBC B Elite

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

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davidjefferies
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Re: "Unfixable bug" in BBC B Elite

Postby davidjefferies » Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:37 pm

it's very close to a circle. Here's the Minsky circle in red and a sine/cosine circle overlaid in yellow - almost no difference. Clever stuff.

minsky.png

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BigEd
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Re: "Unfixable bug" in BBC B Elite

Postby BigEd » Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:42 pm

I was thinking about this a few weeks ago, and I thought one way to make it faster without losing much circularity would be to run the iteration twice - or more - between plottings. I
haven't yet tried it though.

John_Acorn
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Re: "Unfixable bug" in BBC B Elite

Postby John_Acorn » Sat Sep 02, 2017 9:29 am

Rich Talbot-Watkins wrote:
Like David, I'd love to know if there were any such routines copied from Elite (as Superior claimed), or even just algorithms lifted and reimplemented (multiplication/division techniques, line clipping/rendering, etc). As I said, the end results look markedly different in each game, so I'd be surprised.

What about UIM?

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CHRISJJ
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Re: "Unfixable bug" in BBC B Elite

Postby CHRISJJ » Wed Sep 27, 2017 11:08 pm

nix wrote:BBC B Elite, which must be considered to eventually have been completed because there was literally no more RAM in which to fix the single remaining known bug: IIRC, it needed three bytes, and after many sweeps through the code, optimizing each time, there was no more fat to be wrung out of it.

That sounds very improbable to me. Neither DJD nor myself knew of any bug that reached release. Also I can think of at least one undocumented feature we could have dropped to free three bytes.

Wouter Scholten wrote:It was Superior who protested, not Acornsoft, right?

Right.

Wouter Scholten wrote:As to the scanner, that was apparently not an idea by Braben and Bell but someone from Acornsoft...

Correct. For interest, here's the the pre-Acornsoft version.

Wouter Scholten wrote:What is clear from what Braben tells about Elite, is that he is a story teller, and not someone who cares a lot about details and getting it right. He is I would wager the person behind the story in Spufford's badly researched "Backroom boys".

Correct. From a letter from Spufford to me at the time:

"I'll certainly delete the erroneous stuff about the contract, and I'll adjust my description of DB's original demo so that it is as unfictional as possible, though I may have to keep some diplomatic fudging as the accounts I've had of it are utterly incompatible with each other, and I think I have to aim at something minimally acceptable to everyone."

Wouter Scholten wrote: I have received comments that the history of Elite is different than portrayed, though details are elusive (mainly because of the inane libel laws in the UK!).

Those UK laws have been recently reformed to prevent abuse for the purposes of silencing truth. The Elite libel case could not happen now, so it's only a matter of time before the real story of Elite is told.

Ian Bell
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Re: "Unfixable bug" in BBC B Elite

Postby Ian Bell » Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:51 am

Wouter Scholten wrote:
As to the scanner, that was apparently not an idea by Braben and Bell but someone from Acornsoft...


This is incorrect. David Braben had the idea for the final "ellipse" scanner and I coded it, after we took the original game (with two "box" scanners) to Acornsoft quite late in production.

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Wouter Scholten
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Re: "Unfixable bug" in BBC B Elite

Postby Wouter Scholten » Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:26 pm

Ian Bell wrote:
Wouter Scholten wrote:
As to the scanner, that was apparently not an idea by Braben and Bell but someone from Acornsoft...


As Jordan knows, this is incorrect. David Braben had the idea for the final "ellipse" scanner and I coded it, after we took the original game (with two "box" scanners) to Acornsoft quite late in production.


Well, perhaps a distinction needs to be made. The ellipse is just the 2d distance in one plane, and Braben may have come up with that but the final scanner was apparently with input from people from Acornsoft, so why do you say "As Jordan knows"?

Here is the web page that I found back again, which mentioned the scanner:

http://www.drewwagar.com/lore/elite-dan ... nal-elite/

Edward Rothman April 2, 2017

I worked for Acornsoft and was present during many of the meetings ( including the first). The initial scanner was two circles which scanned ant 90 degrees to each other and the pilot had to merge those two in his/her brain. Not easy. Even Alan Bellingham who was the chief play tester on elite (and as I recall, unsurprisingly, the first to achieve the rank of elite) had a hard time with it. The suggestion of the ‘periscopes’ cane during a brain storming session on methods of overcoming the confusion
I think Alan and myself first came up with the idea but Braben and bell caught on quickly and had a working demo inside of a day.
Incidentally as I recall there was a constant shortage of ram available in the 32k memory of the bbc micro for the game. I think the final version used every single available byte.


The up/down position with 'periscopes' is the essential, which makes the 2d projection on an ellipse usable.

Note as to remembering: Very few people remember everything accurately. The ones who remember most accurately are logically those who did something or thought of something that stands out from the situation for them. So I would not simply disregard the above quote unless he didn't work there. As an example of remembering and not-remembering, I once asked about 1987 hi-basic (on the BBC mailing list) which is mentioned in Tubelink's ad for their (2p) Advanced basic, and was told by someone who at the time worked at Acornsoft something like "I worked there, it doesn't exist or I would know" (see the BBC mailing list archive for an exact quote). Such things, knowing and esp. remembering and knowing what you know and knowing what you don't know, are tricky, definitely after 15 or more years, and in reality it did exist, confirmed by someone sending me 'Advanced basic' not long after my query.

Another example: I was curious to find some confirmation on who wrote the manual for Elite. I long ago (in the late 1980s) read somewhere that Holdstock wrote that along with 'The dark wheel', but nobody seems to remember, even though it's quite a big part of Elite... The only place my recollection was confirmed is on your page with the HTML copy of the manual where you write that Holdstock wrote it... Why doesn't anyone else know/remember about this?

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Re: "Unfixable bug" in BBC B Elite

Postby Ian Bell » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:28 pm

To the best of my recollection the new scanner did not emerge from a brainstorming session at Acornsoft, at least not one at which I was present. David Braben told me his idea presented to me as his idea, we coded it and took it in to Acornsoft, surprising and initally alarming them with the notion of a new scanner so late in production, or so I recall. However, you are right about remembering. Perhaps the origional idea was just to render the "lollipop" head , or the head and the projection into the plane, and someone at Acornsoft suggested the "stalks" which I agree are crucial. That is not my recollection but it is conceivable.

I believe that the "flavour text" in the manual was mainly written by Rob Holdstock and possibly Piers Dudgeon, with some input from myself and David Braben. It reads like Rob and I think Rob was primarily chosen on the basis of his previous (as Steven Eisler) "The Alien World" which is more pertinent for the manual than the novella.

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Re: "Unfixable bug" in BBC B Elite

Postby daveejhitchins » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:55 pm

Ah! Memories . . . I recently had a favorite memory completely destroyed - leaving me, well upset, sort of. My memory is one of listening to The Doors – Riders On The Storm played on Luxembourg - listened to on a crystal set under the bed sheets (fortunately my mother never did catch me 8) ) Now this memory was from my school days - I left school in 1964 to join the Army. Recently I noticed that Riders On The Storm wasn't released until 1971 :? Go figure . . .

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For a price list, contact me at: Retro Hardware AT dave ej hitchins DOT plus DOT com

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Rich Talbot-Watkins
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Re: "Unfixable bug" in BBC B Elite

Postby Rich Talbot-Watkins » Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:09 pm

Thanks for joining the conversation, Ian! Nice to hear your memories and perspectives on BBC Elite, and many thanks for the hours and hours of fun I had playing Elite as a kid!

Do you remember anything about the Star Clash row (alluded to upthread)? Was it ever demonstrated that any of your code was lifted directly, or was it more just an attempt to protect your IP and scare Gremlin into withdrawing the game?

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Rich Talbot-Watkins
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Re: "Unfixable bug" in BBC B Elite

Postby Rich Talbot-Watkins » Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:12 pm

Ian Bell wrote:David Braben told me his idea presented to me as his idea, we coded it and took it in to Acornsoft, surprising and initally alarming them with the notion of a new scanner so late in production, or so I recall.

Yes, that's the story that I've heard directly from Braben in the past; I was always under the impression it was an eleventh hour change you decided to make yourselves, and it was such a big improvement that the risk paid off.

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jonb
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Re: "Unfixable bug" in BBC B Elite

Postby jonb » Sun Oct 15, 2017 4:46 pm

One more thing to add: Ian, you are most welcome here.

Thanks for chipping in! :)

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Re: "Unfixable bug" in BBC B Elite

Postby lurkio » Sun Oct 15, 2017 9:21 pm

jonb wrote:One more thing to add: Ian, you are most welcome here.

Hear, hear!

:)


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