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Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 11:33 am
by leenew
Hi there,
Over the last year or 2, we have been talking about getting a new archive of BBC software up and running.
The trouble is, it has just been talk :roll:
So I am just going to come right out and ask for HELP!

The brief: (briefly)...

Firstly, and smallest in scope, would be a site that hosts all of the 2000 or so games in Mick Brown's game collection on a 1 game per SSD basis, plus a few other bits and bobs.

In Scope:

- stores standard, unprotected ssd/dsd disc images only (no FSD/FDI protected disc images, no WAV/CSW/UEF cassette images)
- stores limited Metadata e.g. Year, Genre, Sub Genre, Possibly Author.
- searchable and browsable by Title, Publisher, Year

To look something like this: http://www.lemon64.com/games/list.php?title=0

The bbcmicro.com domain is ours and the hosting is sorted.

Simple?

If you think this is within your skill set to offer any help in getting this going, then let me or Arcadian know.
Once the bare bones are there, myself, and a few other stardotters will have the job of populating the site... :D

Thank you

Lee.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 12:05 pm
by Pernod
Whilst I appreciate Mick's efforts in creating his collection, they are not original versions of the software. Many are modified to include instructions and workaround emulation issues.

A complete archive should contain best known versions that match the original retail versions. If they are tape versions transferred to disc then they should be tagged as such. Multiple versions of a title should be included for completeness, which would include original tape (UEF), original disc with protection (FSD/FDI), and a best deprotected copy (SSD). Including Mick's version is fine but should be clearly marked as modified for emulator use.

I produce the software lists for MAME and doing the research to determine which images genuinely represent original retail is time consuming. Far too many images out there are hacked for personal preference. We need clean images.

Take a look at my bbcb_cass list at https://github.com/mamedev/mame/blob/ma ... b_cass.xml , it contains much of the metadata you require. There other bbc software lists there but some, especially bbcb_flop, are incomplete.

Re: Help required for A new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 12:35 pm
by leenew
Hi Pernod,
There never will be a perfect way of doing this, but this first site is going to be specifically dedicated to Mick's collection and would be a "quick win" to get things going.
The Grand Unified Acorn Preservation Project (GUAPP) would be stage 2, but first we have to see how hard it is to muster help for stage 1....
:wink:
Thanks,

Lee.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 2:04 pm
by sydney
Whilst I agree with everything Pernod has written, I think Lee is right to say we should use Mick's collection as the starting point. I believe the BBC 'scene' has been desperately in need of some kind of easily navigated repostitory of software, not just games, that can be used on both real hardware and emulators. I often wonder how many people have come and gone due to the relative difficulty in finding software for the beeb. It's not that its hard to find downloads of beeb software but when compared to other systems it is harder. Lemon64 doesn't have download links for every game but http://www.c64.com seems to link to every game it covers. In addition when I first got into retro computing it was for the c64 and I found this site: http://www.planetemu.net/ which has just about everything for all major systems from back in the day, all systems that is except for acorn systems. They even have oric stuff!

This is the kind of thing the beeb needs right now. All the other serious archival can follow on from that.

I'm not sure I can help much right now but if no one comes forward to do it I'm willing to see if I can learn enough to get it done. It can't be any harder that 6502 assembler, can it? :lol:

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 2:44 pm
by Pernod
There are plenty of other sites like doperoms that host Acorn stuff but most are the outdated TOSEC sets that contain all kinds of alt and hack versions. We need clean/documented sets to reduce the distribution of rubbish.

I see http://everygamegoing.com/ actually hosts some images. Is it worth trying to collaborate there in some way?

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 3:45 pm
by leenew
There will be no rubbish Pernod!
We have tested (and tested and tested) many versions of games that are available for the beeb - the STH ones, and yours included, and as a full set, Mick's is (after lots of hard work) the best full set that "just works".
99.95% of the games work perfectly on a standard beeb, or with beebem and BEm, or with a beeb fitted with a datacentre with no messing about.
I toatlly agree with you, that in the long run we should have a 100% complete uef archive and a 100% complete FSD/FDI archive. That would be heaven - but it isn't going to happen overnight - if ever.

This site would be a thank you to Mick for his hard work, and by far, the easiest jumping off point for anyone who wants to simply play a beeb game.
Yes - a lot of the games have had the tape inlay instructions typed out and added to the beginning of the image.
For a preservation standard archive, this is not what we want - but for someone who wants to play a game and needs to know what to do, and what keys to press, it is definitely what they want.

Thanks,

Lee.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 4:13 pm
by Pernod
leenew wrote:There will be no rubbish Pernod!
I wasn't suggesting there would be, it was a reply to sydney that there is currently alot of rubbish being continually distributed elsewhere.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 4:20 pm
by leenew
Yes, exactly!
This should be a simple one-stop-shop for people who want to play a BBC game, if we can't get the right people to implement this, I can't see how we will ever achieve our ultimate goal of GUAPP :(
All relevent info as to the source of the image will be given. Mick has kept a very close track of this, so that bit is easy.
No volunteers yet? :wink:

Lee.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 4:49 pm
by 1024MAK
Lee - this sounds like a really good idea \:D/

I'm not sure if I can help, but I fully support you and those that join you in your quest :D

So good luck :D

Mark

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 6:09 pm
by pau1ie
I think this is a good idea too. I would like to have a go - I have rusty php and mysql skills that I will dust off. I really like the simple start that Lee suggests - I think this is the way to go.

I did look into this a while ago in the hope of finding something prebuilt. I did start to do something with drupal, but was really disappointed with how slow it was especially when I was logged in.

If anyone else thinks they can do a better job then I am happy to pool resources or bow out.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 6:19 pm
by danielj
Something is far and away better than nothing :D

The only advice I'd give is, whatever is built, to be built with the "ideal archive" in mind. It's easy to use a subset of something more complex, but rather more of a pain in the bum to extend something that's already in use at a later date.

Would it be possible to base it all around a content management system like Joomla or Wordpress? That way you could just have a standard template page for games, and I suspect there's a trick to get it to index/organise things?
d.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 6:45 pm
by sydney
pau1ie wrote:I think this is a good idea too. I would like to have a go - I have rusty php and mysql skills that I will dust off. I really like the simple start that Lee suggests - I think this is the way to go.
Rusty skills are way ahead of what I have!
danielj wrote:Something is far and away better than nothing :D
...
Would it be possible to base it all around a content management system like Joomla or Wordpress? That way you could just have a standard template page for games, and I suspect there's a trick to get it to index/organise things?
d.
I'm going to knock together a quick and dirty group of html pages generated from an excel file Lee has sent me. This will get something up immediately if so desired which can simply be deleted when something useful comes along.
I agree that something like Wordpress could be the way to go.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 7:19 pm
by garfield
Cool.

It would be nice to see 'vanilla' versions (i.e no modifications) of a diskette highlighted. Just like some other platform's websites distinguish between unaltered versions and 'cracked' versions.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 7:24 pm
by sydney
garfield wrote:Cool.

It would be nice to see 'vanilla' versions (i.e no modifications) of a diskette highlighted. Just like some other platform's websites distinguish between unaltered versions and 'cracked' versions.
I'm sure that will be the final goal. I think the problem is there has been a lot of talk about how things should be done but no action. If we get something set up and working no matter how simple or 'unofficial' then at least there is something to work on and improve.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 9:04 pm
by pau1ie
I have imported the spreadsheet into a database and got a php script to query it. I think the first thing is to display it on the browser then allow paging sorting and searching.

Lee mentions 1 disc per program. This isn't how they are arranged at present.

I am not aware of a wordpress plugin that can do what Lee suggests (And I have looked) I think drupal is the closest, and I did start building a site along those lines. As I say it was rather slow especially when logged in, but maybe that is my hosting, and I am sure it can be tuned.

What do you think Lee? I don't really have anything visible for the from scratch thing yet, but I can PM you a link for the drupal proof of concept if you like.

PaulH

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 9:45 pm
by Arcadian
leenew wrote:in the long run we should have a 100% complete uef archive and a 100% complete FSD/FDI archive.
...
This site would be a thank you to Mick for his hard work, and by far, the easiest jumping off point for anyone who wants to simply play a beeb game.
...
For a preservation standard archive, this is not what we want - but for someone who wants to play a game and needs to know what to do, and what keys to press, it is definitely what they want.
^ This! :D
sydney wrote:
garfield wrote:Cool.

It would be nice to see 'vanilla' versions (i.e no modifications) of a diskette highlighted. Just like some other platform's websites distinguish between unaltered versions and 'cracked' versions.
I'm sure that will be the final goal.
Actually it isn't - adding downloads outside of Mick's collection is out of scope - that's what the Grand Unified Acorn Preservation Project (working title!) is for! :)

I've just knocked up the attached PDF, which hopefully conveys the 'vision' for the BBCMicro.com site ... quick to build, populate and finish - and very quick for the end user to access. Once built the project is considered 'complete' (other than updates to disc images and the occasional new disc image).
Scope-BBCMicro.com-vs-GAPP.png

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 10:59 pm
by sydney
Arcadian wrote:Actually it isn't - adding downloads outside of Mick's collection is out of scope - that's what the Grand Unified Acorn Preservation Project (working title!) is for! :)

I've just knocked up the attached PDF, which hopefully conveys the 'vision' for the BBCMicro.com site ... quick to build, populate and finish - and very quick for the end user to access. Once built the project is considered 'complete' (other than updates to disc images and the occasional new disc image).
In that case all thats needed is some html files generated from the spreadsheet linked to the ssd's/screenshots/coverscans.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 11:17 pm
by Arcadian
Hmm ... I'd had something more than static html files in mind ... ideally it'd still be php/mysql driven, to enable users to search and browse the archive in pretty much every conceivable manner. Results would be displayed in a 'gallery view' with either screenshots or coverscans - or via a simple list view. Not sure whether a full CMS would even be required...

See below for some possible mockups I drafted earlier in the week ... hopefully it should all be self-explanatory! As Lee mentioned, it's very "Lemon64"! (in fact, I've even used the download buttons from Lemon on the mockups!).
BBCMicro.com-ideas-listview160520.png
BBCMicro.com-ideas-160520.png

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Fri May 20, 2016 11:35 pm
by Arcadian
Ok, just copy n' pasting some notes I sent to Lee a few days ago, which support the above mockups.
In Scope:
  • stores standard, unprotected ssd/dsd disc images only (no FSD/FDI protected disc images, no WAV/CSW/UEF cassette images)
  • stores limited Metadata e.g. Year, Genre, Sub Genre, Possibly Author.
  • searchable and browsable by Title, Publisher, Year
Out of scope:
  • storage of documentation (as Mick's discs already contain all the instructions)
  • adverts, reviews, music rips etc
  • user comments etc
  • forum (though we could add a subsection on the StarDot forum, specifically for discussing the BBCMicro.com archive)
Anyway, with the above in mind, I've knocked together a couple of examples (in Word, LOL!) of a prospective site 'in action'. I've always liked the way the Lemon 64 archive was laid out - http://www.lemon64.com/games/list.php?title=0 - so the examples are based on that (though I've added a 'List View' which doesn't feature on Lemon). Incidentally, when I introduced the Electron Tape archive on Stairway To Hell about 15 years ago I copied Lemon 64 back then too! Though my pages were entirely static - http://www.stairwaytohell.com/electron/ ... tml?page=0
Now I'm sure this will be mostly self-explanatory from the examples, but with reference to the first PDF the idea is that ...

You initially either:
  • Click a symbol/letter from #-Z to display games in alphabetical order of title or publisher
  • Initiate a Search using the top-right box in the right-hand nav
  • Select a Publisher from the drop-down box within the right-hand nav
  • Select (one) Genre in the right-hand nav and, optionally (one or more) sub-Genres
Site would by default display results in Gallery view, using Screenshots (though I suppose it could store a cookie to remember your most recent preference).

You could filter results using:
  • the 'Search within these results' field
  • the Genre/Sub-Genre boxes in the right-hand nav, as before
  • the Commercial Releases / Unreleased / Incomplete / Type Ins / PD / Cheat Versions boxes [defaults could possibly be Commercial and Unreleased, as illustrated]
You could then:
  • View more info about a game (e.g. Author, Genre/Sub Genre) by clicking the screenshot or title (see Lemon 64)
  • Download a disc image by clicking the DOWNLOAD button underneath a game
  • View screenshot(s) or coverscan(s) - which would appear in a pop-up box - by clicking the appropriate button
You could also display results in List view format (see second example PDF) with either:
  • No column featuring screenshot or coverscan thumbnails
  • A column featuring screenshot thumbnails only (as depicted in the second example)
  • A column featuring coverscan thumbnails only
  • A column featuring screenshot thumbnails and an additional column featuring coverscan thumbnails
List view would operate in a similar fashion to the indexers on Stairway To Hell e.g. http://www.stairwaytohell.com/bbc/archi ... ilter=.zip

Within List View, you could:
  • Download a disc image by clicking the link in the Filename column
  • View more info about a game (e.g. Author, Genre/Sub Genre) by clicking the link in the More Info column
  • Sort results by clicking either the FILENAME, PUBLISHER, YEAR, CATEGORY, GENRE or DATE ADDED links (using Date Added would enable you to keep track of new additions)
To narrow the current selection down to:
  • all titles where publisher is for example, Database Software, click Database Software (duh!)
  • all titles where year published is for example, 1984, click 1984
  • all titles where category published is for example, Commercial, click Commercial
  • all titles where category published is for example, Action, click Action
N.B. This isn't necessarily the site we need - just an outline proposal of one possible way forward (though I have thought this through extensively over many years - trust me!). Lee is still looking into other ways of presenting Mick's collection online.

Anyway, thoughts on the above very welcome!

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Sat May 21, 2016 1:57 am
by leenew
pau1ie wrote:I have imported the spreadsheet into a database and got a php script to query it. I think the first thing is to display it on the browser then allow paging sorting and searching.

Lee mentions 1 disc per program. This isn't how they are arranged at present.

I am not aware of a wordpress plugin that can do what Lee suggests (And I have looked) I think drupal is the closest, and I did start building a site along those lines. As I say it was rather slow especially when logged in, but maybe that is my hosting, and I am sure it can be tuned.

What do you think Lee? I don't really have anything visible for the from scratch thing yet, but I can PM you a link for the drupal proof of concept if you like.

PaulH
Hi Paul,
Mick's game collection is available as approximately 110 DSDs each containing 18 games. However, a while back, we split these up in to approximately 2000 individual bootable SSDs.
I will mail you them if you pm me your email address.
Thanks,
Lee.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Sat May 21, 2016 4:16 am
by richardtoohey
I can help with PHP/MySQL. (I can make things go, but they might not be pretty!)

Could probably knock something up when at Halifax (not that you are going to be there for that, Lee.)

I agree with that a CMS would be overkill (and they become a security hassle - upgrade or get hacked, basically) - so the simpler, the better, the easier/quicker to develop ... and the more likely things are to happen.

Also agree that long-term there should be a clean/pure archive - titles as much as possible as they were BITD - but as you've all said - that can be a long-term goal.

I'll go and have a look at the games and ponder ... :-k

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Sat May 21, 2016 7:58 am
by sydney
Arcadian wrote:Hmm ... I'd had something more than static html files in mind ... ideally it'd still be php/mysql driven, to enable users to search and browse the archive in pretty much every conceivable manner. Results would be displayed in a 'gallery view' with either screenshots or coverscans - or via a simple list view. Not sure whether a full CMS would even be required...
...
Yeah, I see why a static site wouldn't do. I think the main problem is going to be the standard of presentation, as Richard says '(I can make things go, but they might not be pretty!)'. I was an active member of lemon64 when Kim Lemon was developing LemonAmiga and he put a lot of hours into it. Since there are already two offers of help with a skillset way above mine I'll bow out of the development side here but I'm more than willing to assist in other ways. Gathering 2-3 screenshots per game is going to produce 4-6000 images!

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Sat May 21, 2016 9:21 am
by tricky
Two suggestions:
Add a [PLAY] button to run in jsbeeb, might bring in a few who don't have emulators set up, or use a chrome book (if they are fast enough).
When the WIKI is up, add a keyword search, populated from the wiki. You could search for "chicken" and get chuckie egg or "tomato" and get Pod, defender->planetoid etc; for the old timers who remember playing a game with/like.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Sat May 21, 2016 9:53 am
by leenew
tricky wrote:Two suggestions:
Add a [PLAY] button to run in jsbeeb, might bring in a few who don't have emulators set up, or use a chrome book (if they are fast enough).
When the WIKI is up, add a keyword search, populated from the wiki. You could search for "chicken" and get chuckie egg or "tomato" and get Pod, defender->planetoid etc; for the old timers who remember playing a game with/like.
If I had any idea at all how to do it... I would be doing this ^^^^^^^ :roll:

Lee.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Sat May 21, 2016 11:54 pm
by richardtoohey
Cough.

I would suggest doing in phases - the more features you add at the start, the more the schedule creeps, the more issues there are, and the further the end goal seems and people give up.

Quality, features, schedule - choose two.

I'll go for a bare bones search/list system (the stuff I did for splitting the DSDs that Chet finished off - that should give us the initial database of what titles are on what discs? IIRC?) It won't be pretty but it will go.

Time permitting, a simple administration system so moderators can upload the screenshots, improve the descriptions, etc. (And tweak genre, searchable keywords/tags, "is untouched" flag (i.e. the game isn't tweaked - it's the BITD version), etc. that could be used in later phases.)

Then that can be made beautiful, polished, and the bells and whistles added.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Sun May 22, 2016 12:18 am
by leenew
Of course you are right Richard. We must stick to the brief.
I was merely daydreaming :wink:
I have none of the required skills to get this going so really it will be down to others to stick to the brief :D

Lee.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Mon May 23, 2016 8:32 pm
by Dave_E
I have a BBC games archive at:

http://www.everygamegoing.com/

Just do a search on BBC Micro... :-)

I have most covers, manuals, inlays, media, etc, already scanned, although you can't see it yet. Also lots of html instructions, links to A&B, Acorn User, Micro User, Electron User, PCN reviews (and the reviews themselves).

Don't know whether anything else would just be duplication. Once I have an API working, you could pull whatever you wanted into any "new" site.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Mon May 23, 2016 9:44 pm
by leenew
Hi Dave, I am sure we could use some of your fantastic work - especially screenshots!!!
The new site will be a "click and play" or "click and download" site.

Thanks in advance!

Lee.

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Tue May 24, 2016 12:29 am
by Dave_E
Oooh yeah, many hundreds of thousands of screenshots... :-) The BBC is well catered for on this site because I am into this computer in a big way.

I'm creating more and more content all the time too... And of course, not just for Beeb games. Have you tried searching on Amstrad or Amiga or Spectrum or ZX Vega or Colour Genie yet?

Re: Help required for the new BBC games archive

Posted: Tue May 24, 2016 7:48 am
by leenew
Dave.... you are a MACHINE!!! :D

Lee.