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Re: Stunning new Amstrad CPC racing game

Posted: Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:32 pm
by ivarf
Matt_B wrote:
Sun Jun 07, 2020 7:35 pm
I don't think Sinclair ever made a proper French version of the Spectrum. You can plug a British one into a TV set there and get a black and white picture, but colour wouldn't have been possible without expensive hardware mods until the 128K models arrived and I've yet to see one with an AZERTY keyboard that wasn't obviously a mod.

Commodore were selling the C64 there through a French distributor called Procep, who made the necessary localization to the keyboard and the TV output, but these both delayed the market entry and pushed the price up to the extent that it wasn't very competitive as a games machine.
A substantially number of games for the Spectrum and C64 were advertised and reviewed in the french magazines. I have a feeling they did better there than what people think these days. Part of slower take up of home computers may have something to do with dominance of the Minitel sysem as well.

Re: Stunning new Amstrad CPC racing game

Posted: Sun Jun 07, 2020 9:56 pm
by Matt_B
ivarf wrote:
Sun Jun 07, 2020 8:32 pm
A substantially number of games for the Spectrum and C64 were advertised and reviewed in the french magazines. I have a feeling they did better there than what people people think these days. Part of slower take up of home computers may have something to do with dominance of the Minitel sysem as well.
Yeah, I don't think the Spectrum and C64 were unsuccessful in France to the point of never catching on at all. It's just that they didn't enjoy anything like the head start they had over the CPC elsewhere. As the 80s wore on, you'd increasingly see games being localized for sale across Europe - and to a lesser extent in the US - so it made sense to port to the other platforms to hit the largest export markets regardless of where you were.

Minitel is certainly a factor too. I don't think our household had anything more technologically advanced than a pocket calculator when we first got the ZX81, but its appeal would probably have been blunted if we'd already had a terminal for online services albeit teletext over 1200/75 baud.

Re: Stunning new Amstrad CPC racing game

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2020 1:46 am
by Antiriad2097
Yes, it was just a response to Ivarf's "if only it had a 6502". History could have been different for lots of reasons, but there's no escaping the CPC is an also ran alongside the Oric.
They may both be quite capable machines in the right hands, but that was rarely proven at the time. They both have their niche groups, but the Oric fans aren't quite as deluded as the CPC ones.

Re: Stunning new Amstrad CPC racing game

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2020 3:47 am
by ivarf
Antiriad2097 wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 1:46 am
Yes, it was just a response to Ivarf's "if only it had a 6502". History could have been different for lots of reasons, but there's no escaping the CPC is an also ran alongside the Oric.
They may both be quite capable machines in the right hands, but that was rarely proven at the time. They both have their niche groups, but the Oric fans aren't quite as deluded as the CPC ones.
Oric fans doesn't have a machine that impresses as much as the CPC is doing these days either, or do they?

Re: Stunning new Amstrad CPC racing game

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:29 am
by Antiriad2097
Given the relative release dates of the two systems, yes, yes they do. We have games released now that are as good as quality Spectrum games, and some where the feature set goes beyond.

With the much later release of the CPC, it should be a more capable system than the Oric. This is my main bugbear with it, coming so late, it should have offered a lot more instead of just being yet another very similar system to the dozens of 8 bits that had preceded it, especially at the price point it sat at.

Re: Stunning new Amstrad CPC racing game

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:40 am
by ivarf
Antiriad2097 wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:29 am
Given the relative release dates of the two systems, yes, yes they do. We have games released now that are as good as quality Spectrum games, and some where the feature set goes beyond.

With the much later release of the CPC, it should be a more capable system than the Oric. This is my main bugbear with it, coming so late, it should have offered a lot more instead of just being yet another very similar system to the dozens of 8 bits that had preceded it, especially at the price point it sat at.
I always thought the CPC was a cheap computer, way cheaper than the C64.
The Amstrad CPC has fast reliable disc drives, runs CP/M, has a screen width of 80 characters, has an easy to use system for adding extra ROM software (advertised as up to 4 MB ROM in 1984), hardware scrolling, RGB output gives clearer colours and sharper picture, fast good BASIC, very good documented firmware, 27 colour palette, free placement of colour

Re: Stunning new Amstrad CPC racing game

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2020 1:15 pm
by Antiriad2097
Or from the non-fan viewpoint, it's just another hoary old Z80 machine with a tired AY chip and garish low resolution colour, that you'd mostly end up playing in green screen while loading from tape, at a not inexpensive £250! That colour was an option and disc drive models came later doesn't quite reflect the reality for many of us. CP/M, 80 columns and ROMs don't mean anything to your average teen either, who just wants to play games.

Re: Stunning new Amstrad CPC racing game

Posted: Mon Jun 08, 2020 1:59 pm
by ivarf
Antiriad2097 wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 1:15 pm
Or from the non-fan viewpoint, it's just another hoary old Z80 machine with a tired AY chip and garish low resolution colour, that you'd mostly end up playing in green screen while loading from tape, at a not inexpensive £250! That colour was an option and disc drive models came later doesn't quite reflect the reality for many of us. CP/M, 80 columns and ROMs don't mean anything to your average teen either, who just wants to play games.
You know, that may have been a difference between the typical C64/Spectrum user and Amstrad user. Many Amstrad users used did more than gaming.
The discdrive arrived 2-3 months after the 464s release in mai 1984.
Most of the buyers in France went for the 128 model with discdrive.
I agree about the soundchip.
You couldn't get a similar setup for another computer at the time for less money.

Kudos to Oric-1s RGB-out and nice to see the Oric Telestrat that looked for a niche in the market, Minitel in France.

Re: Stunning new Amstrad CPC racing game

Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 12:01 am
by Matt_B
I dare say that if you were hoping for a revolutionary games machine to appear at the CPC's price point in 1984 - and for reference the CPC464 was only around £80 more than a 48K Oric Atmos or Spectrum Plus without either a monitor or tape drive - you were always going to be disappointed, because it could only offer small evolutionary advantages that'd still take a lot of effort from developers to leverage into good games. You'd either have to spend a lot more money or wait until much later in the decade for something that could truly floor the better 8-bit computers of the early 80s, because the relevant technologies weren't advancing in the same sort of great leaps that they had during the 1970s.

As such, I'd think that the 4MHz Z80 in the CPC is probably the best you could have expected in a sub-£250 computer. CPUs like the 68000, 8088 or even just a faster Z80 would have necessitated a much more expensive machine overall, not only due to the price of the chips themselves, but the other components required to take advantage of the increase in processing power. Take a look at the Atari ST, Amiga, Tandy 1000, MSX 2+ and SAM Coupe even several years after the CPC launched and this is pretty obvious. The only realistic alternative would have been a 2 MHz 6502, which was what the original design called for. However, they went with the Z80 at the request of Locomotive Software, who wrote the BASIC and CP/M implementation for it, largely because it'd make it a more attractive machine to port to. I think they mainly had business computers like the Osbornes, Kaypros and Zeniths in mind rather than the Spectrum, but the machine certainly ended up getting a lot of ports. You can argue the merits of this choice back and forth, but it's still a pretty obvious step up from the 1 MHz 6502 in the Oric.

Similarly, what sound chip do you think they could have gone for instead of the AY? There wasn't really an obvious next step up without playing a lot more money. FM synthesizers - like the YM2151- were brand new and still at bleeding edge prices, and PCM or wavetable synthesis was still a way off and far too memory intensive for a 64K computer in any case. Amstrad did implement a stereo system where the three channels were left/middle/right though which offered something over earlier machines, even if there aren't a lot of games that use it to great effect.

The CPC has a number of other technical advantages over the Oric too. The RAM is clocked at twice the speed which in turn allows the video system to run twice as fast without hampering the CPU much because they can access the RAM on alternate cycles. That's what allows for the 80 column mode, and also the 4 and 16 colour modes without any colour clash or inlined attributes. Even in mode 2 pixels are only about 50% wider than Oric ones so there's not exactly a huge difference between its low resolution and the earlier machine's high one when you look at the two side by side. There's also a broader colour palette, so any games that look garish are probably making a design choice to do so. Then there's the hardware scroll, interlace, palette registers, double (or triple or quad if you can find the RAM for it) buffering, overscan, palette/mode switching mid-frame, etc. so quite a bit actually. I'd guess that if you've never seen any games or demos that use those things effectively they might have passed you by though.

By the way, you can plug any CPC into a colour TV set using the modulator that was bundled with most of the green screen variants. You might still prefer to use the monitor for the better picture though, especially with mode 1 or 2 games.

Re: Stunning new Amstrad CPC racing game

Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 2:03 am
by Antiriad2097
You make the mistake of directly comparing Oric and CPC.

I'm not doing that.

The Oric was not great, being a system that was designed to launch before the Spectrum, but has been proved to be quite capable in that context. Many of its competitors were more akin to the ZX81, yet the Oric was intended as a £100 colour computer. Oric owners accept the system ended up an underdog, an also ran.

The CPC came late to the party and offered no advance. It was and remains in a similar position, an also ran, but the fans insist it was a player. It wasn't. It only has 3rd place because any competition had fallen away before it launched. The 8 bit wars were over, the Spectrum and C64 had won, then Amstrad thought they could gatecrash the party. In that respect, its proving now its capable of more than it gave at the time, but it's still a loser.

Re: Stunning new Amstrad CPC racing game

Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 2:10 am
by Matt_B
Antiriad2097 wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 2:03 am
You make the mistake of directly comparing Oric and CPC.

I'm not doing that.
Antiriad2097 wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 1:46 am
Yes, it was just a response to Ivarf's "if only it had a 6502". History could have been different for lots of reasons, but there's no escaping the CPC is an also ran alongside the Oric.
They may both be quite capable machines in the right hands, but that was rarely proven at the time. They both have their niche groups, but the Oric fans aren't quite as deluded as the CPC ones.

:roll:

Re: Stunning new Amstrad CPC racing game

Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 4:43 am
by Rory Milne
I've always thought of the C64 and Spectrum as the Seb Coe and Steve Ovett of the 8-bits. Using that analogy, I'd say the CPC would be Steve Cram, who never won gold at the Olympics, but was always there or there abouts.

For me, the Oric would be one of the other 800m or 1500m runners who made up the pack. They did well to be there, but they aren't as well remembered now as the front runners.

Re: Stunning new Amstrad CPC racing game

Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:26 am
by Antiriad2097
Matt_B wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 2:10 am
Antiriad2097 wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 2:03 am
You make the mistake of directly comparing Oric and CPC.

I'm not doing that.
Antiriad2097 wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 1:46 am
Yes, it was just a response to Ivarf's "if only it had a 6502". History could have been different for lots of reasons, but there's no escaping the CPC is an also ran alongside the Oric.
They may both be quite capable machines in the right hands, but that was rarely proven at the time. They both have their niche groups, but the Oric fans aren't quite as deluded as the CPC ones.

:roll:
:roll:

Yes? Your point? I'm not comparing the two machines on a technical level. I'm not the one pulling out tech specs. They're not from the same time period, so it's pointless. I did compare their situation, where they weren't able to show their technical capabilities at the time, but have since. I compared their fans, with the more realistic worldview of the Oric owners compared to the overly optimistic Amstrad ones. Not a comparison of the systems though.

Re: Stunning new Amstrad CPC racing game

Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 10:09 am
by ivarf
Antiriad2097 wrote:
Tue Jun 09, 2020 2:03 am
The CPC came late to the party and offered no advance. It was and remains in a similar position, an also ran, but the fans insist it was a player. It wasn't. It only has 3rd place because any competition had fallen away before it launched. The 8 bit wars were over, the Spectrum and C64 had won, then Amstrad thought they could gatecrash the party. In that respect, its proving now its capable of more than it gave at the time, but it's still a loser.
I had to check what gatecrash the party meant...
So Amstrad was late to the party and Alan Sugar being the man he is he didn't know or care about the needed invitation. Amstrad ended up kicking out one of the hosts and taking over the party for a few years. It was the biggest PC manufacturer in Europe. Sold 12 million PCs, 8 million PCWs, 3 million CPCs and even some Sinclair Spectrums computers. Do anyone know how many of the total 5 million Spectrums that Sinclair made? I believe the Spectrum +3 sold around 700 000 machines. I assume the Spectrum +2 sold better. As most of you probably know, the Spectrum +2 and +3 was made by Amstrad after their Sinclair buyout/takeover.

Amstrad was hoping to sell 200 000 Amstrad CPCs. Selling 3 million of them was a very positive surprise for the company

Re: Stunning new Amstrad CPC racing game

Posted: Tue Jun 09, 2020 4:56 pm
by Antiriad2097
See, even Amstrad themselves accepted they were below the Spectrum with the CPC, they had to buy it to get to the top ;)