Sunday, 6 April 2014

Amazing Voxel Bird Saga BETA on X1000

Today I want to take a look at the recently released Amazing Voxel Bird Saga BETA for AmigaOS4 on the AmigaOne X1000.


You can download Amazing Voxel Bird Saga BETA from Cherry Darling's website here. It is free to download.

The Cherry Darling developers were also responsible for the 2014 game release Ace of Hearts, which I took a look at here.

I should stress that this game only works if you have the dual graphic card setup installed on your AmigaOne X1000 using a Radeon 9250. You cannot use the Wazp3D software emulation to run it. If you do not have this Dual card setup which enables Warp3D, you cannot run this game.  I covered how to set this dual graphics card setup in my previous blog entry here.

Amazing Voxel Bird Saga is an enhanced Flappy Bird clone (the famous iPhone game if you don't know what Flappy Bird is).

The game uses an interesting concept of a Voxel 3D landscape and some gameplay tweaks to extend the original Flappy Bird game concept and make the game quite fun and playable.

Once downloaded and extracted where you want it, you get a folder like this:


The Readme.txt explains this game is a BETA and runs a bit slowly on AmigaOS4 due to the graphics drivers.

Also note that we need to turn on a fix for 16 bit screen mode as I run a 16bit screen mode on the Radeon 9250 screen for better performance. This fix is applied via an option on the AmigaOS4 icon to launch the game - just remove the brackets around the options as shown below and click on Save:


Once the game launches, it launches in a window, which can be changed to full screen in the Options area on the Main game title screen:


Here is the Options menu where you can adjust Full screen/window mode, music/sound volume, difficulty level and sign into Cherry Darlings online highscore table to post your high scores online!


The music is a wonderful retro Amiga style tune, which I quite enjoyed listening to and works well with the game.

Upon starting the game itself, you are reminded of any achievements you have earned (and there are many achievements to unlock), and a hand reminding you to click on your mouse to start. And just keep clicking and clicking...


Basically you click periodically to keep the bird in flight, otherwise the bird will fall and crash into the ground. Unlike Flappy Bird you have a health bar, which means you sustain damage when you hit the ground or other objects, and it is game over when your health bar disappears.

You fly through coins for more score...you need to fly through the centre of the coins to collect the coin.


Game over in this game comes quickly, and often. The frustration of keeping the bird going for longer to get a better score is what keeps you coming back for another go:


Here is the high score table - you can switch between local and online high score, and use click and hold with scrolling to scroll through the list:


Here is some more in game screenshots:

   

If you fly through the flowers in the landscape you get some health back, and hitting bombs destroys a section of terrain and provides points for the coins distorted in the blast:


Here are the achievements you can unlock during the game - I still have a few to go!


I have uploaded a YouTube video to show the gameplay a bit better, showing both window mode and full screen. I did my best ever score in the full screen mode part of the video! Sorry but the camera angle is a bit crooked and I didn't realise until after I did it - I have very little chance of repeating that good run again so it remains like this. You may also need to turn the volume up a bit as I recorded the video on an iPhone:


I have to say that Amazing Voxel Bird Saga is a great game. Very addictive, graphics and sound are great (although there are some drawing errors at the bottom of the screen occasionally), and the game play can't be faulted. The online high score facility is also welcome.

The extra parts of the gameplay above the standard Flappy Bird clone fare makes this game a lot more engaging and fun to play.

This is a highly recommended game (even in BETA form) for X1000 owners, especially considering it is free! But please ensure you have the dual graphics set up with Radeon 9250 first, in order to be able to play it.


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Odyssey 1.23 on X1000

Today I want to take a look at the recently released Odyssey 1.23 web browser for AmigaOS4.1.6 on the X1000.


For the past few weeks I have been dealing with some family illness issues in Japan, and also handling a large Exchange Server 2010 migration which I am pleased to say both have gone well. Unfortunately it has not left any time for using my X1000, but I have had some time on it this week to try out some new stuff!

Odyssey 1.23 is the latest version of the popular web browser for AmigaOS4, originally written for MorphOS and ported by Kas1e to AmigaOS4. It is available for download as usual on os4depot.net 

I have been a heavy user of the previous MUI-OWB web browser on the X1000 and have been looking forward to this latest release.

Once you download the 30MB+ archive and extract it to the folder of your choice (SYS:Internet in my case), you get the folder below:


Make sure to run the Download_Fonts program to download the correct fonts for good web site page rendering in Odyssey. The Odyssey.readme covers all the new features in detail and tips on setting up the web browser as below:


An important system requirement for this version of Odyssey is that you must have AmigaOS4.1 Update 6 and the latest version of MUI4 installed. You can download MUI4 via AmiUpdate as well if you haven't already done it.

The readme also discusses YouTube support, and how things work in the web browser itself, including some limitations, like not being able to use the fullscreen mode of YouTube video playback on AmigaOS4 at this time.


The implementation of HTML5 support, ability to playback YouTube and Vimeo videos within the web browser are very welcome new features, for AmigaOS4 users like myself.

The improved HTML5 support now even means I can create this very blog entry using Odyssey on my X1000:



I am really glad to be doing this blog posting on the X1000 again. As the Timberwolf last Release Candidate release doesn't work for me on the X1000, I had been forced to use my Macbook Pro to compose these blog entries for a while, but now I can use the X1000 again. :-)

When first launching the Odyssey web browser it needs to initialise the fonts, which takes a few minutes, but after that launches very quickly indeed on the X1000:

 
Here is the initial Odyssey web browser on first launch:
 

Google search bar is on the right hand side, the URL field on the left. Bookmark support and URL autocompletion is also present.

Eager to try it out, I tried out a few Amiga related websites to start with, which reminds me that we still have a dedicated Amiga community in 2014:

AmigaWorld.net: (Click to expand)


Amigans.net: (Click to expand)


Amiga-news.de: (Click to expand)


Obligement.free.fr: (Click to expand)


PPA.pl: (click to expand)



Amigax1000.blogspot.com.au: (click to expand)



Adelaidenow.com.au: (click to expand)


As Odyssey supports tabbed browsing, you can open a new tab to browse to another website, similar to most modern web browsers.

A new feature is the recently used website preview (called Top Sites) when opening a new tab. This allows a preview of  and quick connection to commonly visited websites. You can also modify it's behaviour within this view as shown below (click to expand). Very nice feature:



So now we move on to the elephant in the room - YouTube and video playback within the web browser. As people who follow my blog will know, AmigaOS4 has long had issues with playback of YouTube and other video content on the web that uses Adobe flash to playback. This is because Adobe Flash has not been released on AmigaOS4.

Indeed, I spent quite a bit of time back in 2012 looking at how to fix YouTube playback under AmigaOS4 here, using the older MUI-OWB web browser. So, have things improved? Yes, I am pleased to say!

A big part of the improvement comes from the more widespread adoption of HTML5 in common websites, predominantly to support popular iphone and ipads which also can't playback flash video content. This requirement has allowed AmigaOS4 to catch up through the adoption of HTML5 standards in it's web browsers.

With this latest version of Odyssey, the previous YouTube fix scripts are now included with the web browser (rather than a separate download), and the HTML5 support (together with spoofing functionality) allows us to finally playback YouTube and other website video content within the Odyssey web browser web page, as the original website developer intended it to be seen.

For YouTube, by default the view uses flash content as below:


To fix this, you also need to first visit youtube.com/html5 to enable HTML5 support in Odyssey as below - click on Request the HTML5 player:
 


The website then updates as below:


You will note that WebM and a few other media formats are shown as not supported in the browser.

You can adjust the Settings in Odyssey (available in th Top Menu) to enable some of these formats to be supported as below in the Media section of Settings. By default it appears as below:
 
 
I ticked the all the media support options as below (it is a good idea to set your Downloads folder location under Downloads section while in here), and then click on Save:
 
 
If I now revisit the YouTube.com/html5 website it now shows the WebM support is enabled in Odyssey:
 
 
From the screenshot above it may look like you are missing some things you need. Not so - I have also shown the same screenshots below from Youtube.com/html5 with Internet Explorer 9 and the latest FireFox 28.0 on Windows 7 PC for comparison - they support the same formats as Odyssey does excepting that Internet Explorer doesn't support WebM:
 
FireFox 28.0: (click to expand)
 

Internet Explorer 9: (click to expand)




Having done these configuration steps for Odyssey, it is recommended (but not necessary) to go to the top menu in Odyssey and select to Spoof as iPad for YouTube and Vimeo for the best website video support as it forces these websites to render in a way most compatible with AmigaOS4 for playback of media content.
 
This setting can be changed at any time, so you can use the default setting when not using video based websites.
 


I have included some example screenshots of this video use in action from YouTube, Vimeo and AdelaideNow news websites in Odyssey.


Adelaidenow.com.au: (video playback - click to expand)


Vimeo.com: (Using 720p and 360p with Spoof as iPad - click to expand)




Note that using 720p HD playback on Vimeo is not recommended and results in choppy video playback for me. I turned it off and playback was okay after that:



YouTube.com: (Using 360p and spoof as iPad - click to expand)





Special note here for Mike Brantley: Love your various Amiga's set up in this video mate - much respect and looks great! :-)


Video Playback can be choppy at times, but audio stays in sync and is on the whole, acceptable.

Note that for videos not available in HTML5 in YouTube (there are a few like this), you can click on the view Option 18 below the video in YouTube (as covered in detail in my original blog entry here) to stream the video externally in mplayer.

It is fantastic to have video support working well in a web browser on AmigaOS4. My sincere gratitude goes to Kas1e and the original MorphOS development work to make this happen for NG Amiga users!

I look forward to even more features and improvements in future Odyssey versions (Full screen Youtube playback, plugin support, etc)

Odyssey is a great web browser under AmigaOS4.1.6 and is highly recommended to use for all X1000 owners. It is now my main web browser on the X1000!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Kryoflux on X1000 and A4000T

Today I wanted to take a look at the fantastic Kryoflux device, which now works under AmigaOS4 on the X1000.


So what is Kryoflux? Basically it is a USB device that allows you to read/write floppy disk images to a real floppy disk, using a floppy disk drive connected to it. (you can read more about it here).

What makes it special for Amiga users, and more useful than the Catweasel I already use on the X1000, is the ability to write out IPF Classic Amiga disks, which are protected Classic Amiga disk images of original games. These cannot be copied using normal Amiga disk copy methods, but the Kryoflux can read the raw image out directly from the original Amiga floppy disk, which can then be converted to IPF and rewritten to blank floppy disks to provide a backup.

For disks that are now up to 30 years old, this is a blessing as original protected Amiga games disks can be backed up using the Kryoflux.

In addition to IPF, the Kryoflux can write out ADF disks too, and also images of C64 disks (D64), PC disks (IMG) and more to real floppy disks...

I purchased the Kryoflux back in late 2012, and used it on my Mac and PC. But now, I can use it on the X1000 too!

An AmigaOS4 version of the software needed to support the Kryoflux and read/write floppy disks images was recently released on Kryoflux's website. (scroll down a way down the page to see the downloads)

There is no GUI front end available for AmigaOS4 version as yet, so it is used completely from the shell.

I hope a GUI frontend is also written in due course, as it is a lot more user friendly.

But first, let's take a look at the Kryoflux board itself (click to expand):


The back view of the Kryoflux board is below:


The Kryoflux AmigaOS4 downloaded archive includes the programs needed to operate the Kryoflux, the caps image device driver, and a Quickstart guide and full Kryoflux manual (click to expand):


I created a Kryoflux folder under the SYS:Utilities folder, and then extracted the Kryoflux archive into it.

The Quickstart guide has AmigaOS4 specific instructions, the full Kryoflux manual does not, but contains all the command line flags and descriptions to use the program - this means both are needed here:


Make sure that you copy the capsimage.device to the DEVS: directory to start with. I checked first and my existing version in DEVS: was v2.0, while this updated driver is version 4.2 (as below)!


The Quickstart guide also explains how to set the Kryoflux jumpers depending on how many floppy drives you have connected to it. In my case, I just have the one drive:

After connecting a standard PC HD Floppy drive to the Kryoflux and the various connectors, making sure not to connect the power for the floppy drive prior to connecting the Kryoflux to the X1000, it then looked like below:


While doing this I was thinking I would like to source a Classic Amiga  Commodore 1011 floppy drive, strip out the Amiga disk drive and disk drive external cable, and then replace it with the PC floppy drive and Kryoflux inside (with usb and power coming out the old drive cable hole) so it is self contained and easier to move around - not sure if it will fit or whether I need a 1010 drive casing - anyway, perhaps one day I'll get it!

As per the instructions it is important to connect the Kryoflux via USB to the X1000 before powering on the floppy drive. Once this is done, I can then configure the drive in AmigaOS4.

I put in a normal Classic Amiga floppy disk as I need to initialise the Kryoflux device and get it to detect from the floppy disk inserted how large the disk images need to be.

From the Shell I just need to be in the SYS:Utilities/Kryoflux/dtc folder. Then I can run dtc -c2 which will then do the detection. In this case we get the result that there are 81 tracks:


As part of this the Kryoflux device will then be seen by the USB controller. The lights will come to life on the Kryoflux device and the floppy drive too:




So next we need to try out some disk writing. To start with, I tried an ADF image, and then an IDF image. I copied the files I wanted to the sys:utilities/kryoflux/dtc folder and renamed them to remove spaces in the filenames.

I guess you don't have to do this but I couldn't work out how to get it to see files in folders or if the filename had spaces. Let me know if you work it out.

The command I used to write out the images is:

dtc -i2 -d0 -f<filename>.adf -w

-i defines the type of file, -d the floppy drive number, -f the filename, -w to write the image to disk.

I tried a old classic Amiga game from 1988 first....


As the tracks are written out, the progress is shown in the Shell window - all good so far:


And below the image is all done, no problems found, and quite quick too:


So now to try out the disk - which nicely brings me onto the subject of my Classic Amiga I am going to use - my Amiga 4000T. I spent a lot of time over the years getting this Amiga 4000T exactly how I wanted it. I finished the setup back in early 2012, just before getting the X1000! :-)

The A4000T runs AmigaOS3.9, has USB (Deneb) and PCI ports, PCI Network adapter, Dual TFT displays, Dual IDE ports on a Zorro card, Individual Computers scan doubler and PCI video card, PCI sound card for hardware MP3 playback (with Amiga standard audio mixed in), multiple CD/DVD drives and hard disks, Cyberstorm PPC/060, etc.

In short, I like this Classic Amiga very much - I could never imagine selling it. Here is some shots of it before we try out the game we just wrote out using the Kryoflux - this is the first time I have turned  on the A4000T in 2014:


Inside the front cover:


Here is a shot showing the PCI video card display on the left screen and the Individual computers scan doubler used for the native Amiga display on the right:


I do have a Picasso IV Zorro card, so in theory I could just use one screen if I just used that, but the PCI video card provides higher resolutions and greater colour depth, hence the dual display.

I run AFA_AOS on the A4000T, allowing me to use PNG icons, AmigaOS4 theme and Anti-aliased fonts. I used the AmigaSys4 install as a base, then modified it - a lot :-)


Little bit off topic of course but while I was here on the A4000T I checked Aminet using AWeb and found a port of Flappy Bird (famous on iPhone iOS) available for Classic Amiga today. I quickly downloaded it and had a go since I was here:



It was just as frustrating as the iPhone version....I guess that is good, right? I loved the title tune, a great retro Amiga throwback!

Anyway, enough about that - easy to get carried away as an Amiga user of over 25 years!

Let's now test the disk image we created on the X1000 using Kryoflux - on reboot we need to go to the early startup menu to disable CPU caches and use the Enhanced Chipset rather than AGA:


I put in the disk I created in the A4000T and it booted up and played no problem:



So having confirmed ADF's work fine, I then tried writing out a backup of a protected ipf original Amiga disk using Kryoflux on the X1000, which completed successfully too (it uses the same command structure as for the ADF):


And here is the disk booted and running on the A4000T, working perfectly:



And one more image disk writing tested using the Kryoflux, and also working fine:


In summary, Kryoflux is a fantastic way to preserve and restore Classic Amiga disks, and I am very glad to be able to use it now on the X1000!