Scorpius Demo Video

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davidb
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Scorpius Demo Video

Post by davidb » Thu Nov 18, 2010 1:21 am

I searched YouTube for a video of the Scorpius Demo from the November 1992 issue of Archimedes World, but failed to find anything, so I fired up ArcEm and recorded one of my own:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqA7CHmfEsI

I still couldn't get past the end-of-level robot, though, even playing at about half speed. :-(

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by Cybershark » Thu Nov 18, 2010 8:39 pm

Wow, that really is very R-Type!

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by davidb » Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:49 pm

Yes, I always thought that Scorpius looked like it was going to be the best of the R-Type clones for the Acorn 32-bit platform. Shame it never made it to a full release.

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by Cybershark » Fri Nov 19, 2010 1:55 am

Oh yeah, that is sad to hear.

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by Rich Talbot-Watkins » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:11 pm

The team that wrote Scorpius was called SICK, an entertaining bunch with a crazy sense of humour, and they knew all the technical tricks in the book in order to push the machine to its limits. Scorpius was probably the only game I ever saw which ran in its own custom widescreen screen mode, and - yeah - it's a real shame they never finished it, it was streets ahead of anything else.

They also made a superb version of Tetris, which was released as Rhubarbware, the conditions of which I will reproduce here ('cos it made me laugh when I found it):
SICK wrote:

Code: Select all

Rhubarbware [TM]

            Rhubarbware is a non-registered trademark of

               the Slightly Intelligent Crazy Rosebi
               and Fluffy Rhubarb Information Systems
                              (honest)


  This software is RhubarbWare, not Public Domain, so  please read
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  What does RhubarbWare entail?

  RhubarbWare is licensed for free non-commercial  public use  and
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                                -o-

                   The Future of Rhubarbware [TM]

  Sadly, Rhubarbware  [TM]  has, up  to this point, been  a dismal
  failure.  Ignoring  monetary donations,  and regarding images of
  rhubarb  (regardless  of  their  accuracy and  origin)  as being
  imaginary,  Rhubarbware  [TM]  has to date, amassed this  author
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  Summing   these,   one   could  produce  the  impure  quaternion
  [2,3i+3j].  Should this subsequently be squared, the three-space
  quaternion  [-14,12i+12j]   can  be  produced.  This  result  is
  indeed, very interesting.  Sadly  however, none of the donations
  were particularly square, so this phenomenon must be ignored.

  To  attempt  to  alleviate  the aforementioned lack of  suitable
  recompense,  some system  of  auto-registration  may have  to be
  introduced.   The   most   promising   system  currently   under
  consideration involves supplying free Sticky Buns [TM]  with all
  copies of  this product.  The Rhubarbware [TM] license would  be
  updated to stipulate that supplying such a Sticky Bun [TM] would
  be a mandatory requirement whenever any Rhubarbware [TM] product
  was  copied.  By carefully  monitoring the  Sticky  Fingerprints
  [TM]  produced  by users  of our  Sticky  Buns  [TM],  and using
  Advanced  Computer  Techniques [TM], we would hope to be able to
  PINPOINT  BY  NAME, all Rhubarbware [TM] users who are illicitly
  drinking cups of tea between the  hours mentioned in  RFC  3.12,
  paragraph 6.  An  Accurate Correlation [TM] between this illicit
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  using More Advanced Computer Techniques [TM], and from this,  we
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  then be able  to  operate free of  all constraints (ignoring for
  the moment,  any Limited Mental Capacities [TM]), and  we  would
  thus be able  to detect Where  You  Are [TM], and  What  You Are
  Doing [TM].

  As  you can see, we  have  a formidable system Ready  For Action
  [TM].

  The future privacy of the world is at risk.

  Send us your Rhubarb, or face the consequences.  Or don't.

                                -o-

  I don't live anywhere anymore, except in the great United States
  of America, land of the free, et cetera.

  Address:                 Merlin Hughes,
                  Department of Computer Science,
                      CB#3175 Sitterson Hall,
            University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
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                           NC 27599-3175,
                               U.S.A.

  Office Phone:           +1-919-962-1909

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  Contact me through my mum at:

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                                -o-

  If rhubarb does not lie within your vegetable garden, dig it  up
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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by Station5 » Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:26 pm

Were there any games that pushed RiscPCs, to their limit?

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by flibble » Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:51 pm

Station5 wrote:Were there any games that pushed RiscPCs, to their limit?
Well, Quake runs pretty poorly :lol:

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by Prime » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:06 pm

flibble wrote:
Station5 wrote:Were there any games that pushed RiscPCs, to their limit?
Well, Quake runs pretty poorly :lol:
Even with a Stongarm ? On that note where can I get the executables for RiscPC quake ? I have the PC version (leagally), so I should be able to use the .PAK files from that.....

Phill.

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by SarahWalker » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:50 pm

The RiscPC version is here : http://www.acornarcade.com/downloads/qu ... ake107.zip. This is exactly the same code as in R-Comp's commercial release.

You'll need a StrongARM to have it even remotely playable. Even with one, you'll get about 10 fps - about the same speed as on a DX2/66. Actually, if you have a reasonable PC card you might do better to run the DOS version on that!

It is actually pushing the StrongARM pretty hard with this. The problem is Quake was aimed at Pentiums, which have (relatively) fast floating point and lots of memory bandwidth - neither of which the SA RiscPC has.

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by MatthewThompson » Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:36 pm

That's where the Iyonix comes in, Quake runs really well on it. Much more playable than it was on the Risc PC.

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by SarahWalker » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:47 pm

Out of interest, how fast is Quake on an Iyonix? Can it beat a Pentium 66 yet - that gets about 22fps on timedemo 1.

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by MatthewThompson » Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:32 pm

TomWalker wrote:Out of interest, how fast is Quake on an Iyonix? Can it beat a Pentium 66 yet - that gets about 22fps on timedemo 1.
I don't know to be honest, how do I tell? I just loaded it up and it certainly shifts pretty quickly too, not slow and sluggish at all.

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SarahWalker
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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by SarahWalker » Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:24 pm

Press the tilde key (next to 1) and type in 'timedemo 1'.

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by retroclinic » Tue Nov 30, 2010 12:19 am

SICK wrote:

Code: Select all

Rhubarbware [TM]

<snip>....

  Public domain libraries and such institutions may charge NO MORE
  THAN  £1.00 for  distribution on a  medium as cheap as a  double
  density disk, and NO MORE THAN £2.00 on  a more expensive medium
  such  as a high density  disk. 
LOLOOOL......expensive media such as HD - can't give the flipping things away, not like the expensive DDs! How times change.....
Image

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by MatthewThompson » Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:02 pm

TomWalker wrote:Press the tilde key (next to 1) and type in 'timedemo 1'.
Slight problem at the moment, although I have the Iyonix compatible version of Quake, unfortunately I don't have a compatible monitor definition file (MDF) so when it displays the screen, it has black lines and parts of the display are broken as is the text so it's impossible to read anything.

If I can get a result from this i'll post it here, but it does run at a pretty fast rate.

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by MatthewThompson » Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:37 pm

TomWalker wrote:Press the tilde key (next to 1) and type in 'timedemo 1'.
I found this on a website, is this of use ?

http://www.riscos.me.uk/articles/IYONIX ... ex787.html

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by MatthewThompson » Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:47 pm

Apparantly the Iyonix can run Quake in a 640x480 mode at about 25fps.

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by RichP » Sun May 20, 2012 4:09 pm

That (Scorpius) is really impressive. Someone else has put a video up running at full speed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zw1fnarunoA Reminds me of Pulstar on Neo Geo too (I think that was coded by the R-Type team also)

I didnt know the Archimedes could handle sprites as well as that, would this run on the first Archimedes models that came out or on the later ones? what screen mode (+ how many colours) do you think this is running it?

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by davidb » Sun May 20, 2012 4:31 pm

Yes, I put a link to the other video in the comments to my video. There's also a non-interactive demo which I believe is not on YouTube.

The screen mode is a custom one, I believe, probably with 256 colours. It should run at full speed on an A3000. Some games perform better with a faster CPU, but many were written for the original ARM 2 processor that came with the A3xx and A4xx machines.

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by RichP » Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:28 pm

That's interesting because it looks a lot there are a lot less colours on screen than that. Maybe they are using less colours on certain objects so they can be drawn faster? i dont know that much about the Arch but i know on other computers you can do that to speed things up.

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by SarahWalker » Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:48 pm

There's no advantage to using less colours on the Arc (except going straight to 16 colour mode) - the video modes are chunky, rather than planar like on Amiga & ST. It doesn't look like 256 colours because the Arc 256 colour modes have a fixed palette, and not a very good one at that.

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by poink » Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:39 am

TomWalker wrote:the Arc 256 colour modes have a fixed palette, and not a very good one at that.
Well, strictly speaking, it's programmable, but given the vicious restrictions, fixed is probably closer to the truth!

If I've read the datasheet correctly, there are 16 fixed 'base' colours and you can describe 16 levels of tint. Those 16 levels of tint (chosen from 512 possibilities) are then used for each base colour to give 256 colours. Upshot is, you can tweak the shades a little.

Anyone know why they did it like this? It'd seem more useful to have 16 fixed tints and allow you to define the 16 base colours. (The hardware should be the same complexity too.)

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by Rich Talbot-Watkins » Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:48 am

I remember it being a bit more straightforward than that: essentially there are 64 base colours (derived from 2-bit R, G and B), and then each of these has 4 tints, which amounts to increasing the saturation - in other words, a fraction of R, G and B is added to make the colour more 'white'.

The reason for this is that, of the 8 bits of pixel colour, the top 4 have a fixed meaning in the hardware, and only the bottom 4 can be programmed. Considering that VIDC1 has a 12-bit palette, which we'll say is composed of bits r3-r0, g3-g0 and b3-b0 (where r3 for example represents the brightest red, and r0 the dimmest), then the hardware fixes the top 4 bits of a 256 colour mode to represent:

b7 = b3
b6 = g3
b5 = r3
b4 = g2 (might be in a different order)

Since there is a bias towards green, the palette is then programmed so that the lower 4 bits represent:

b3 = b2
b2 = r2
b1 = r1 + g1 + b1
b0 = r0 + g0 + b0

This is where the notion of 64 colours + tint comes from. This way, pure white can be displayed as well as I reasonably balanced spectrum of colours.

But, yeah, it's pretty limiting. Did any game ever dare to change the 256 colour palette? I remember trying once, but giving up quickly.

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by SarahWalker » Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:45 am

Lemmings 2 is the only game I know of to change it, solely to reproduce the 32 colour Amiga title screen more accurately.

I'd tend to describe the palette as essentially fixed, or if you are going to the trouble of changing it, as being 16 colours you want and 240 you don't. But the effect is relatively minor in any case.

Edit : for comparison, standard palette on top, altered palette middle. The changes seem to be re-ordering more than anything. A straight conversion with the standard palette is bottom.
lem1.png
lem1.png (41.06 KiB) Viewed 2625 times
lem2.png
lem2.png (40.8 KiB) Viewed 2625 times
lem3.png
lem3.png (19.04 KiB) Viewed 2622 times

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by Rich Talbot-Watkins » Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:58 am

It's actually possible to get a slightly more balanced palette out of the Archie in 256 colour modes, by dropping the 'tint' thing, and just programming the palette in 8-bit truecolor, as described here:
Image
This uses 3 bits of green, 3 bits of red, and 2 bits of blue.

The result (in Arculator) can be seen here:
Image
ArcTruecolor2.PNG
ArcTruecolor2.PNG (29.36 KiB) Viewed 2609 times
The 'white' isn't pure white, but actually (224, 224, 224). Best we can do with the hardware limitations, but it looks white enough to me!
Last edited by Rich Talbot-Watkins on Thu Jun 07, 2012 6:15 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by davidb » Thu Jun 07, 2012 9:54 pm

I think it's a 256 colour mode because there seems to be more than 16 colours in use. The blues in the background are also familiar colours in the standard 256 colour palette. You would have to disassemble the code to see what the authors did, or trap the mode change in an emulator.

I seem to remember that it's possible to get some reasonable colour choices in 256 colour modes, but there are always colours in the palette you don't really want to use, so that's why there seems to be less than 256 colours in use in the demo.

You can also do some interesting things with dithering to give the impression of more colours.

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by RichP » Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:50 pm

really interesting to read. I think when i look at Scorpius i see that kind of 'pastel' palette you get in some Archimedes games, where some of the colours arent as bright as they could be. maybe thats the standard palette then? If i had to guess i would have said that had 64 colours on screen max. But i guess there could be tints i am not noticing or maybe even just an artistic choice by the artist. Must be hard to use all 256 colours! after all most arcade games from that era dont seem to use that many anyway.

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by RichP » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:31 pm

Will Scorpius work on Arculator, i can't get it to run? if not what emulator will it run on? would like to try it out, thank you :)

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by Rich Talbot-Watkins » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:25 pm

To return to this comment:
RichP wrote:maybe thats the standard palette then? If i had to guess i would have said that had 64 colours on screen max.
Essentially, the Archimedes standard 256 colour palette is 64 colours with 4 tints each, each tint just being an increasingly washed-out version of that colour. This does mean there are a few smooth runs of colour, but overall it just looks a little bit bland to me.
RichP wrote:But i guess there could be tints i am not noticing or maybe even just an artistic choice by the artist. Must be hard to use all 256 colours! after all most arcade games from that era dont seem to use that many anyway.
Yeah I think it looks like that by deisgn. But many games on the Arc ran in 16 colour modes because either they were Amiga ports, or there just wasn't the CPU to update a 256 colour screen at a decent rate.

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Re: Scorpius Demo Video

Post by davidb » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:30 pm

RichP wrote:Will Scorpius work on Arculator, i can't get it to run? if not what emulator will it run on? would like to try it out, thank you :)
I used ArcEm for that. I don't know if it needs a particular version of RISC OS. I'm guessing that RISC OS 3.1 will be fine.

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