216 points by killittosaveit
a month ago
My goodness, the whole site is a gem, an old-school "hacker" in the best sense of the word.
Pages go back to 1996!
BTW, there's also Lemmings for the PET by Jim Orlando, all PETSCII-graphics.
Demo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6aA5Y1SRd0
Online emulation: https://www.masswerk.at/pet/?prg=pzlmgs&ram=32k&rom=2&repeat...
For more PET-ports by Jim Orlando, see https://www.masswerk.at/pet/prgs/#jim_orlando
This is incredibly impressive.
C64 Lemmings playthrough, all 100 levels: https://youtu.be/lTKmyqqugG0
Features scrolling (!), although with a narrower playground. C64 truly gets pushed hard here.
Impressively, even Shadow of the Beast level is there: https://youtu.be/lTKmyqqugG0?t=2443
The biggest advantage for C64 is of course sprites. C64 version used them for the background, that's why it's narrower.
More details about making of C64 Lemmings: https://codetapper.com/c64/diary-of-a-game/lemmings/the-maki...
> Impressively, even Shadow of the Beast level is there: https://youtu.be/lTKmyqqugG0?t=2443
Cool! Although there's a "glitch" there - the Basher Lemmings stop bashing midway through the tree trunks because of the black areas which are actually only meant as tree bark texture. This really drives home the fact that (almost) all collision detection in Lemmings 1 was based on the actual on-screen pixels (the exception being "non-diggable" and "one-way-diggable" areas).
Note: Links to parts 2 and 3 didn't seem to exist anymore in that article. But they were easy to find just by changing the URL, so here they are:
Part 2: https://codetapper.com/c64/diary-of-a-game/lemmings/the-maki...
Part 3: https://codetapper.com/c64/diary-of-a-game/lemmings/the-maki...
Impressive! The music is really well converted, and the colors have a very... psychedelic look to them, which I guess is appropriate too :) What's different from other versions however (at least Amiga and PC, with which I am familiar, and also the C64 version as far as I can see here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTKmyqqugG0) is that the Lemmings seem to pause after each step, in the original game the movement was continuous. Maybe due to some calculations which have to be done while no animation is playing?
a lot of the jumpiness in the sprites for the Apple II version is because in "hi-res" mode each 2 bytes gets you 7 pixels, so it's a lot easier to do sprites that are 7 pixels wide. Every other system tends to have 8-pixel wide sprites. So it makes it hard to convert graphics (you could make arbitrary-sized sprites but it's a lot slower and often involves large complex look-up tables)
back in the day the reverse caused problems too, you can look up the grumbling of people porting Prince of Persia to non-Apple II systems and having to convert all the multiple-of-7 graphics to systems expecting things to be multiples of 8
At https://youtu.be/6P3zubc53bw?t=1081 a lemming drops off the left side of the level and proceeds to walk over the interface as if it were part of the level. Don't recall that behavior
Pretty sure I stumbled across this via Homestar Runner fandom. The author made a custom level shaped like Strong Bad's head.
Even on this page, the mention of a Peasant's Quest port and the references to "good graphics" give him away as an h*r fan.
I love these sorts of what if experiments. Just how far can we push these old machines?
What if Apple pushed IIGS over the Mac? What if Commadore had got behind the Amiga properly?
I always wondered if it would be possible to run Doom in a meaningful way on the original 1987 Acorn Archimedes, the first computer with an Arm processor.
It had 256 colour chunky pixels, 8-channel stereo sound and a, for the time, very fast processor.
Would a game like that have tipped the market in its favour if it had been there at launch?
2. Not counting the development board for the BBC Micro.
> What if Apple pushed IIGS over the Mac?
The II was a dead end. The 65816 was not a nice ISA to program for. Very powerful for the clock, but going with the 68000 allowed the Mac to continue relevant up until the transition to PowerPC.
> What if Commadore had got behind the Amiga properly?
I think the best missed opportunity of the Amiga was when Commodore refused to allow Sun to sell the 3000 as a low-end Unix workstation. At the time, it was unclear whether Unix and its descendants would be the winner of the OS wars, but it would have been wonderful if the Amiga was launched with the same OS Commodore ported to their never launched Commodore 900 workstation.
> it would be possible to run Doom in a meaningful way on the original 1987 Acorn Archimedes
I bet there is a port for it. The first benchmarks indicated the plain Archimedes had higher FP throughput than a 16MHz 386 with a 387.
> Would a game like that have tipped the market in its favour if it had been there at launch?
I don't think I ever saw an Archimedes being sold outside the UK. I only heard of them because BYTE magazine had excellent coverage of interesting machines available abroad. I wish they would be more available in the Americas (back then I lived in Brazil)
> The II was a dead end. The 65816 was not a nice ISA to program for.
I mean you make this statement like its some kind of technical roadblock. Which might have seemed appropriate in the early 1980's but with a bit of digging would have been understood to be false.
There have been various proposals for 32-bit 65816's, and it wouldn't have been any different than any of the other architectural extensions done to other processors (never mind the conversion from 6502->65816). Modal decoders (ex: Arm), prefix bytes (ex: amd64), virtual execution modes (ex: vm86/i386), etc all provide a method for building a new architecture while maintaining backwards compatibility with the old.
This stuff is an economic or business decision. At Apple apparently it was a political/business decision, rather than anything technical. They could have (as the IIGS proved) just have created an mac like experience on the apple ][ line, while maintaining software compatibility. None of it would have been "pretty", but that is almost always the costs associated with evolving a technology stack. It took roughly a decade to evolve linux from a UP kernel to a SMP one without the BKL. In that time, and some of the results weren't what anyone would call pretty.
> There have been various proposals for 32-bit 65816's
The 68000 was already there - there was nothing to do except waiting for Motorola to turn out an even faster and compatible chip for next year's model. Motorola was also a design powerhouse back then and would continue to be one for the foreseeable future and, in many ways, lead the way ahead of Intel (who had a design that shares the same drawbacks the 65816 had).
> This stuff is an economic or business decision.
That's true. They could stretch the II family further (I would love to see what an Apple IV could have been), but then they'd need to make WDC design chips that were not on the roadmap (or acquire WDC and put those on the roadmap). This would be a higher technological risk than continuing with the Mac and 68K, which had a growing user base and a clear evolutionary path (because technical workstations were showing what you could do with a 680x0 paired with high-res screens and lots of memory). The risk, with the 68K was of being able to differentiate, both from lower end Windows boxes up to lower end UNIX workstations and the Mac did fine in that space for a long time.
> Motorola was also a design powerhouse back then
Was it though?
The 6800 was overcomplex and over-expensive as a result. The competition ate it in pretty much all markets. The nmos chips were either dramatically cheaper like the 6502, or dramatically more powerful, like the Z80. Some of that was a victim of the design era, right on the cusp of moving to depletion mode, but some of that was design. And other PMOS designs outcompeted it right up, like the Intel and even the F8.
The 6809 was a joke. Sure it was more powerful than the 6800, but it was going up against things like the 8086 and Z8000 which were far more powerful. And the price/performance was absolutely horrible.
The 68000 was a success, but it's difficult to ascribe that to positive aspects of the design. Like the 6800 it was overdesigned, spending a full 3rd of its gate count on microcode. And then there's the separate data and address registers... urg. I think it's safe to say it was a success to no small degree because of NatSemi's failure, everyone that compared the 68k to the 32k preferred the later. And while it certainly held an edge over the 8088/8086, that edge was only significant until the 386, after which it was all downhill.
Which brings us to the 88000. This design was so overdesigned the company seriously considered just dropping it and building someone else's design (can't recall, Alpha/PRISM perhaps?). The only reason they continued was Data General had a freak-out because they based their entire AViiON line on it. And once it became clear they were going nowhere, Motorola dropped it and went to IBM instead, and DG went Intel.
So over a two decade period with four separate designs, they only really had one outright success. This does not say "powerhouse" to me. Yes, I'm aware there are lots of reasons one design is successful and the next isn't, but it's hard to point to any of their designs and see anything particularly impressive in design or price/performance terms. The 68k was in the right place at the right time, and deserved to be picked up for that reason, but that was short lived.
> The first benchmarks indicated the plain Archimedes had higher FP throughput than a 16MHz 386 with a 387.
After some poking about, it is clear this statement is not true for any definition of "first" or "benchmark" or even considering confusion between 386 and 387.
In FP terms, the A3000 got 76 kWIPS, compared to a 387/40's 5.7 MWIPS. Scaling to earlier 16 MHz parts would suggest ~1.5 MWIPS, still almost 20 times as fast as the ARM. Even a bare 386DX40 gets 316 kWIPS, scaling suggests very similar performance overall.
It's plausible that an ARM2 would outperform a 386*SX*/16, but that's without the 387SX. No other combination of 38x parts would not outperform it.
I could imagine a plain Archimedes being competitive with a 386 in integer throughput, but an integer-only machine outdoing an FPU in floating-point performance would be very surprising. I don't suppose you remember which benchmarks they were?
I still wish VMS had managed to survive the 90s. I still think its CLI has not been excelled (and there’s something to be said for requiring commands to be registered rather than just treating any executable on the path as a command).
And yes, I know about OpenVMS, but it’s not really a player in any meaningful way.
And a bit of VMS lives on in its bastard child, Windows NT.
You can get a measure of the performance from doom2 on an a4000
12mhz arm2 on a vga monitor (so slower fps than composite).
Some other impressive feats are tomb raider and quake on the GBA (16mhz arm7tdmi), halflife on the Falcon, and Dread on the St and Amiga.
Doom on an overclocked ARM250 from 1992, the first ARM system-on-a-chip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8301IoVqv4
7 MIPS at 12MHz rather than the ARM2's 4 MIPS at 8MHz: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ARM_processors
Lemmings was released for the Archimedes in 1991: https://forums.jaspp.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?p=736&hilit=...
There was a port of it to the Archimedes.
Yes that’s true but not in 1987 on the original Arm 2 Archimedes.
I didn't expect to be able to time travel to 1996 by clicking a link, but I'm exceptionally glad I did. Thank you!
I think the boot up audio of the key presses and the drive's stepper hit me harder than the lemmings. But I am impressed with the translation.
First game I ever owned was Lemmings for the Amiga.
Really cool, always loved Lemmings. Weird game.
I did some work on L1 engine that is playable in the browser: https://milek7.pl/.stuff/lems/. Not sure how it will turn out, but I have some ideas about adding time-travel mechanics to it. (player would get timeline view allowing freely jumping through time, and time machine object that lemmings can enter to travel back and forth)
I have fond memories of playing it a lot as a teenager. I became even more fond of it after I figured out that the developer created Grand Theft Auto about 5 years later.
I first played Lemmings on an Amiga 500. Connected to an old monochrome Apple monitor II :)
Anybody else notice that the in-game music is Pachelbel's Canon?
The original soundtrack for Lemmings was a bunch of midi remakes of pop songs. With a few weeks til release they realized what the composer had turned in and the legal issues behind it and turned the project over to a different composer and just said 'fix this' basically. With such a short amount of time left original compositions were out of the question so the idea was reworked from well known pop hits to (mostly) well known out of copyright music. I say mostly because a couple on there actually WERE copyrighted pop music but seemed like they had been around much longer. 'How Much Is That Doggy in the Window' being probably the most prominent example, having been written (and a radio hit) in the 50s but people assume is just an old kids song thats been around forever.
Does Lemmings run on the IIgs?
there was a fan-made IIgs version LemminGS made in 1996
Sorry for being off-topic but why "][" instead of "II"?
Because that's what the logo looked like:
It's kind of a fun shibboleth for those of us that hacked on the systems back in the day. The ROM used ][ instead of II and we used that string when we discussed the computer online. I still type it that way just out of pride.
It's kind of like C64 hackers that say KERNAL instead of "kernel" since that's what Commodore docs called it.
And for added fun, although ] and [ were in the ASCII subset that the Apple ][ used, they were not on the keyboard. I remember writing a program in AppleSoft Basic that was a very limited word processor that used the ctrl key as shift and displayed uppercase using inverse (which was a bad choice because then the return key gave M as its output rather than a new line), and finding that I could get half the logo through the esc key.
> those of us that hacked on the systems back in the day.
Thanks for letting us stand on your shoulders :)
And followed by the Apple ][ plus
I think you could purchase a kit with a replacement ROM and case face plate to convert the Apple ][ to an Apple ][ plus
Integer BASIC : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integer_BASIC
Applesoft BASIC : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applesoft_BASIC
Officially Woz : http://www.woz.org/letters/apple-basic/
...and followed by the //e which only used that string on boot-up if you had the enhanced chipset installed.
It was just a popular stylization of the roman numeral that stood out, and more accurately reflected the logo on the actual device: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Apple_II_typical_configur...
][ also appears first in the boot sequence
At some point it changed to // as in: Apple //e on the boot screen and the case.
The front plate of the Apple 2 had it designed like "][", a more compact "II" I guess. Look for Apple 2 logo pictures online for an idea of what it looked like.