Sunday, 25 November 2012

Mini-Game Review - GEMZ on X1000

Today I am looking at a new game called GEMZ for the X1000 under AmigaOS4. The game is written by Fabio Falcucci and Pascal Papara. It is also available on other platforms like AROS, MorphOS, Windows and Mac. It was written using the Hollywood development package.

The game is essentially a Puzzle game where the objective is to get rid of all the tiles in the centre of the game field. This is done by clicking on the tiles around the edge of the gameplay areas which horizontally or vertically can slide into a tile in the centre of the game field.

As tiles are moved from the outside of the game field they are replaced with another tile of a random colour.

When two or more tiles of the same colour in the game field touch, they are removed from the game and your score is increased.

There is a timer for each level. When your time expires, your score is quickly reduced until it reaches zero. Once it reaches zero the game is over.

It is quite a challenging game and I got through the first few levels without difficulty but it gets quite hard very quickly!

Some mention needs to be made of the install process for the game as it is a bit confusing and not explained very well.

The game demo can be downloaded from the GEMZ website here. However please note that the game also requires a quite large game data file (489MB) to be downloaded from the same page.

The reason for the large file is mostly because it includes 43 minutes of uncompressed music that is included with the game data! Using MP3 or OGG format music files would be more space efficient I think.

I understand the music is left uncompressed for AmigaOS3 game players, but given the tight storage constraints on AmigaOS3 systems a 489MB download is not possible for many of these systems to store and extract on hard disk anyway, unless they have been significantly upgraded.

It is unfortunate that the data files are so large since a game of this type would normally be fairly small - it may put people off downloading it which would be a shame as it is a interesting game.

After downloading the two archives (Game Data and Game Demo), extract the Game Data where you want it on your hard disk as usual, but make sure first that the structure you extract into eg. Work:Games/OS4/GEMZ exists before you extract to the GEMZ folder.

After extracting the game data archive to this folder location, it will create a another subfolder called GEMZ. It is important not to change this, or the installation of the game demo archive will fail as I discovered below:

So after I corrected the error as described above, I ended up with the correct folder structure.

I then reran the game archive installation (which I extracted to RAM:) again and this time it was successful (click to expand):

The installer then prompts a User license agreement:

The installer reminds you that you need to download the game data archive and extract it before running the installer:

The installation finishes quickly, however the final message below is missing the installation path:

I have to say the installer and install process needs some work and I noticed on the Amiga forums that a few people had problems with it. So I hope my tips help some people out!

The final GEMZ subfolder then looks like this:

When I first ran the game it came up with an error trying to initialise the sound and exited. I found the issue was that if I ran TuneNet or some other audio program prior to running GEMZ it would report that error. When I boot the X1000 and ran the GEMZ game first, I had no issues...

Here are some game play screenshots, starting with the intro which after a background story explains the games rules:

There are a number of difficulty levels to choose from - I didn't go beyond Normal because I was hopeless at that level! (Screengrab utility didn't do a good job of the screen capture as the tiles are moving quickly, sorry!):

You can run the game on the workbench or full screen. Onto the game itself, below I am working through Level 2:

Onto Level 3 now:

A few levels later and things get harder - much harder:

 Game Over! To be honest I am not very good at this game!

HiScore screen - I am not even close to getting an entry on this. I am curious how you get an entry on it given that your score has to be zero before the game ends....anyway!

To register the game costs Euro4,99 using PayPal from the webshop linked from the Download page  here. Once paid, as I did, within a few days you will receive the registered game executable via email with the registration assigned to your name.

This game is interesting - it needs some tweaks, especially to the installation process, and sometimes the music seems to stutter, especially in the main menu - but it's good fun to play, although I am not good enough to do the game justice!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

AmiCygnix 1.2 Upgrade and Audacious on X1000

This week there was the new release of AmiCygnix 1.2 Base and Tools packages on In addition there was also the release of the Audacious Music player for the new version of AmiCygnix 1.2!

Keen to try both out on my X1000, I downloaded the hefty AmiCygnix 1.2 base and tools packages, extracted to RAM and got started with the AmiCygnix Base installation:

I previously covered my installation of the older AmiCygnix 1.1 in a blog entry here. So this will be an upgrade installation which may not be that helpful if you don't have AmiCygnix installed already, since the installer asks a lot more questions on a fresh installation.

As with the earlier 1.1 version it uses a standard Amiga Installer. I will step through the screens to show what to expect, the first few screens are fairly standard:

A screen pops up to gave you some warning that you need a decent amount of hard disk space and that Amicygnix should be installed on a SFS or higher filesystem. In other words, not to install AmiCygnix on the System partition. It also warns that the Random device is mounted. I did this as part of the Timberwolf installation, and the instructions to do this are included in the information also:

After closing the window as prompted the installer picks up that I have AmiCygnix 1.1 installed already and that it will upgrade it:

After clicking Yes, it then prompts to backup my home folder in AmiCygnix, which of course I did!

The next screen prompts for the screen resolution AmiCygnix uses to display it's session. AmiCygnix uses a separate display screen to the Workbench (although it also has seamless mode to run applications within the Workbench screen). Note that there is no option for 32bit, only 16bit is available:

Next it asks for language and character sets, which I left as default since I am using English:


Popup screen then appears showing the timezones for selection, which need to be typed in as Country/City format, as shown in the pop up below:

Since this is an upgrade the installer already filled in the correct details from the previous installation:

Nto sure what the Quick transfer feature is used for, but I enabled it in this next screen:

The next screens I accepted the defaults and moved on:

Installation is now completed and after a reboot, I was ready to install the AmiCygnix Tools package and Audacious package. Neither of these installers have any specific settings to change (just proceed through each screen) so I have not included the installer screenshots for them.

So next I ran the AmiCygnix startup and AmiCygnix desktop comes up quickly (click to expand):

Next I ran a few applications - Audacious Music Player (in WinAmp skin mode), Homebank, ROX-Filer, GQ-View and the Calculator. All run well under AmiCygnix 1.2:

Keen to play with Audacious Music player more, I quit AmiCygnix and I fired Audacious up in seamless mode on the AmigaOS4 Workbench. There is an icon for this in the installation folder for Audacious. It opens like below on AmigaOS4:

As expected it plays back mp3 and related m4a files fine and shows the album picture preview which is a nice touch - very much like iTunes.

Next I checked the Audacious settings to see what other formats it worked with:

Audacious can also play FLAC, OGG and some common MOD formats (MOD, IT, S3M). Note that it won't play custom or non standard module formats commonly used on the Amiga as it doesn't have UADE support. This limits it's usefulness for me - so I will keep using TuneNet for now. Hopefully more formats will be added in the future as this program has a lot of potential!

An interesting thing I found while trying out various files is that the Audacious player can show Japanese Katakana and Hiragana in song title names and author information as below:

 This is great to see some Japanese character support on the Amiga, although there is no Japanese Kanji character support in AmiCygnix (as installed), so I can't view Kanji characters present in song titles.

One other thing I found is that when I tried to open .M3U playlist files I created in TuneNet to reference MP3's on my system, it comes up with strange pathing errors trying to load, prompting for drive names to be mapped. I am assuming the slashes in the file names referenced in the M3U may be the issue there.

In any case, I intend to do some more exploration of this new version of AmiCygnix 1.2 and see what other improvements are there!

I hope there is a few more audio and office applications ported to AmiCygnix as it really has a lot of potential. I also hope that seamless mode can be setup to removed the window around applications under AmigaOS4 so that the applications can be truly seamless.

But I have to say I am impressed with the huge amount of work done to make AmiCygnix to date and look forward to further future updates!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Wireless Attempt on Amiga X1000

I decided to try getting back into some hardware stuff on my AmigaOne X1000 this weekend.

I have been looking at the success people have been having with getting PCI Wireless cards to work with AmigaOS 4 using the prism2 driver on and I decided to give it a go myself.

I should advise from the outset that this project is not successful as yet, but I learnt a lot along the way and wanted to share my adventures trying to get it working in case it helps someone else.

As covered previously, to add a PCI card to the X1000 requires a PCI-e to PCI adapter because all the PCI slots in the X1000 are already in use. These adapters are very cheap on Ebay and I got my second one this week which is the reason for the delay in blog posts. The first PCI-e adapter runs my Ethernet PCI Card on the X1000.

I already have a NetGear 311 PCI adapter which according to the documentation should be supported so I have everything I need to get started!

After unwrapping the PCI-e to PCI adapter card I recognised my first issue - the Netgear card doesn't have a half-height backing plate, only a full one:

So I had to remove the backing plate and then connect the NetGear PCI card to the adapter. In my opinion it fits well:

So now that the card is ready to put into the X1000 I needed to put it into one of the two remaining PCI-e slots in the X1000. I originally planned to put it in the uppermost PCI-e slot but hit a problem with this - the card covers the fan for the ATI HD graphics card:

Not Good. So I changed it to the lower shared PCI-e / Xorro Slot shown below:

Here it is now installed and ready for power on:

Here's a view of the back of the X1000 showing the wireless card installed:

I kept the Ethernet card installed since I knew it worked and I expected to have issues with the Wireless card. How true that was....

When I powered on the X1000 I hit problem number one. It didn't boot.

The computer was running but no A-Eon logo or any sign of booting. I rechecked all the connections and tried again but same result.

I took the Wireless card out and tried again and it booted no problem. next I removed the ethernet PCI card and put the Wireless card back in on it's own. Powering on worked this time. So it means nothing wrong with the PCI-e adapter or the wireless card.

Keen to investigate further, I put back in the ethernet card to recreate the same power on issue. While the system was powered on and not booting, I noted that the Ethernet port on the ethernet card and the ethernet port on the motherboard (which is not functional under AmigaOS4 as yet) were flashing green slowly even though neither card had a cable attached. I have no idea what this means, but I do know that when it happens the system doesn't boot.

It seems that the X1000 does not like having three network adapters running in the system at the same time...(although the onboard cannot be used so I have no choice about that one!)

Lesson learned, I removed the PCI ethernet card again, left the wireless PCI card installed and powered on so I could get on with configuring the wireless driver and network settings in AmigaOS4.

The prism2 wireless driver can be downloaded from and it supports WEP, WPA and WPA2 which is great news for X1000 owners. Last time I looked at the prism driver it only supported WEP so I was excited to give it a go on my WPA secured Wireless network.

Once I downloaded and extracted the prism2 driver to RAM, I then get the following folder, ready to double click Install to get started:

The installation is a typical Amiga Installer, but includes some steps to allow you to configure the wireless settings for your network:

Now the installer prompts to set your Wireless SSID and WPA passphrase. Please note that by default it assumes your network is WPA:

As a final step the installer tells you that you need to modify your s:startup-sequence to add a line before AddNetInterface is called:

What it doesn't tell you is that the s:startup-sequence DOES NOT contain this line!

On investigation I found that the line it refers to is actually in s:Network-Startup

The Network-Startup file is called from the startup-sequence. So I modified the network-startup file to add the line required:

Next I needed to add the new network card to the Internet settings in Prefs. After opening the Internet settings in the Prefs drawer, under Interfaces I click Add to add a new card with the settings shown below. It is necessary to browse to the devs:networks folder to find the prism2.device driver. I set the static IP address as it didn't give me the option to select DHCP:

You can ignore the Network Log window shown above at this point. It is complaining because I removed the PCI Ethernet card. After clicking on Use for the new network interface I then get the setup shown below:

After clicking Save it prompts you if it is ok to restart the TCP/IP stack to reinitialise the network interface with the new settings:

I clicked Yes didn't work:

I rebooted and got the same result - Device failed to open....Sigh.

So next I checked the Prism2 documentation again and discovered a bad thing...My NetGear 311 Wireless card is not a MA311 card but a WPN311 card. So it won't work!!!! In my excitement to try it out I didn't pay close attention to the exact model - my fault and I wasted quite a few hours by this stage on it to find that out!

Frustrated by this stage and with no other wireless PCI card to try I gave up. I removed the Wireless config, restored the Ethernet PCI card and removed the Wireless card getting my network access back again!

One important rule I learnt from all this - check the revision model of the card you are planning to use in the prism2 installation guide...I thought mine was supported and it turned out it wasn't...I aim to get another prism2 compatible wifi pci card model and try again in another blog entry soon!