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|AmiGBG 2005 report & Global Amiga celebrations (28-Jul-2005)
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|Last Saturday on the 23rd of July Amigans worldwide celebrated the 20th birthday of the Amiga platform at several events and gatherings. It was the 23rd of July 1985 when the Amiga 1000 was unveiled to the public at the Lincoln Center in New York. At the three biggest Amiga birthday events there were also extensive AmigaOS4 presentations, namely at:
- AmiGBG 2005 fair in Gothenburg, Sweden.
- AmiWest 2005 show in Sacramento, California, USA. Most notably by OS4 developer, E-UAE programmer and AmiWest 2005 keynote speaker Richard Drummond.
- fYaNICA Party #12 in Budapest, Hungary. Most notably by Stephen Fellner of DvPlayer (OS4 Screenshot) / RiVA Amiga movie players fame. (Party pictures by Rachy)
Another nice surprize was the release of 20th Anniversary Bonus Pack for AmigaOS 4.0 by Hyperion, which includes several interesting GUI themes.
Last year I attended both the AmiWest and AmiGBG events, so for this year I had to choose between the two. Although I had a great time in California last year, for this year I eventually decided to combine AmiGBG with a week vacation in Scandinavia. 2 dozen officially exhibiting Amiga companies and organizations resided in the two main halls, amongst these AmigaWorld.net, 6 Swedish Amiga usergroups as well as the Norwegian Amiga Union (NAF) which represented the Norwegian usergroups. In addition to these Mikael Haglund of IBM, David Burström of the IBrowse team, Hans-Joerg & Thomas Frieden of Hyperion and Mikael Kalms of the demo group TBL (also credited on games developed by companies like Crystal Dynamics and Digital Illusions) were participating in various interviews, presentations, seminars and BoF (Birds of a Feather) sessions.
For AmiWest Steven Solie of the ‘Amiga Users of Calgary’ usergroup (AMUC's AmiWest report) estimated that around 130 people attended the show in person, while another 50+ people were listening to Bill Bosari's live online UGN coverage from the event. Ryu of Intuitionbase.com (Ryu's AmiGBG report) estimates that about twice as many people attended the AmiGBG fair, while Simon Archer (aka Rigo) was able to draw 80+ online listeners with his live AmigaWorld Radio coverage. A quote from SACC’s AmiWest report: “it was the first time for AmiWest that so many developers were present and participating in our show”!
The AmiGBG fair
Arriving together with press photographer Rick, we noticed the AmiGBG flag waving on a pole in front of the Lindholmen science park.Yes, we were at the right building. Downstairs at the main desk in front of the main entrance and next to the restaurant, exhibitors, the AmiGBG crew and even visitors were able to print out their name tags for usage at the fair, which proved to be quite helpful. For instance because of the nametag I noticed ‘Captain Moo Moo’, a teacher who recently bought a MicroA1 for London University students! The main AmiGBG venue was located at the 4th floor.
The entrance hall included a helpdesk, an AmigaART section and refreshments.
- The A1 dealer Guru Meditation was selling various classic and NG Amiga accessories. Sadly their OS4 version of 'Directory Opus Magellan' wasn't ready in time for AmiGBG to be displayed, unlike was originally planned, but instead David Burström of the IBrowse team demonstrated a new beta version of the webbrowser IBrowse at the booth. A new version has been delayed for a long time due to developers mainly having to concentrate on enhancing OS4 itself.
- Martin Wolf of Eternity Entertainment Software together with his wife were demonstrating Eternity’s online strategy game 'Tales of Tamar'. The game now includes a nice looking 3D map (older xvid video) and several bugs have been fixed, but compared to what Martin showed me at CeBit a few months earlier there were no major changes to the actual game. Multiple platforms will be supported by the final release. Next to the PC and MacOS versions, an AmigaOS (OS4 enhanced) version will be distributed on the same CD.
- Matthias "AmiDog" Roslund, who is well known for his ports of various emulators for OS4 and his OS4 movie player AMP2 (old demo video), demonstrated his latest version the playstation emulator FPSE for AmigaOS4 which includes Warp3D support as well as support for the newly shown AmigaInput, which has support for various USB Gamepads and joysticks. He had original playstation gamepads connected to his AmigaOne using an USB->PSX Connector and the games which were being shown ran with full perfomance and with indistinguishable genuine gameplay. (Picture by fryguy) Apparently AmiDog also demonstrated dual screen multiplayer support using two graphic cards within one A1 setup!
- Gunne Steen of GGS-Data sold various Amiga accessories, the dealer had both a Micro-A1 and Pegasos2 on display for AmiGBG. During a lunch break later that day, Gunne pointed out to me that there would be a 'blue trolls vs red trolls' (Pegasos users vs Amiga users) competition. The ‘blue troll team’ could win an AmigaOne and the ‘red troll team’ a Pegasos2. Gunne was convinced the blue troll team would win, which they actually did!
- OnyxSoft released updates of three of their smaller software projects. Amongst these they re-released an OS4 native version of the text editor Annotate (from 1993 by Doug Bakewell) which has been released as open source.
- AZine, a Swedish Amiga Magazine was holding a "Pagestream workshop" using an AmigaOne with AmigaOS4, to show the powerful features of this professional DTP application and demonstrate how the software helps them to create their print magazine. Next to them there was ACG selling some Amiga stuff.
- Per Johansson, who previously released various freeware OS4 software, including ports of many game console emulators (such as amiNES, SMS plus, Genesis Plus, TGEmu and WarpSNES), with the help of Ronald Hof and Timm Müller released an AmigaOS4 beta version of the famous classic Amiga tracker program, Protracker 2.3d! (Screenshots).
The second hall, like the entrance hall, included an entrance to the large Speakers Theatre and in addition entrances to the Retro, Showcase and BoF / Amiga Developers Pavillion (A.D.P.) rooms.
This community section was filled with Amiga community representatives from various Amiga websites, usergroups, magazines and other community efforts, including for example Amiga.dk (Danish portal), Amigaguiden (Norwegian magazine), AmigaRulez (Swedish portal), AmigaOpenOffice (open source project), PUGS (Pegasos usergroup), AROS (open source Amiga-like OS), Compusphere (Amiga demoparty organisers), SAFIR (Swedish portal), UtilityBase (developer portal), PolarBoing (multi-platform Amiga orientated Scandinavian portal) and a few others.
In the Showcase room various software running on AmigaOS4, including GoldEd Studio (Text editor and development environment by Dietmar Eilert – Screenshot), Hollywood (Presentation software by Airsoft Softwair - Screenshot), AudioEvolution 4.0 (Digital audio recording and editing software by Sultan Systems & Software - Screenshot), Frying Pan (shareware CD/DVD-Burning/ mastering software by TBS Software), Horny (Midi Sequencer by Inutilis Imperium – Screenshot), HD-Rec (MIDI/audio sequencer by Thilo Köhler) as well as an AmigaOne MacOSX - Live CD were being demonstrated.
The two main halls and rooms were crowded at least until the various presentations and interviews started in the speakers theatre. At twelve o'clock Stefan Nordlander (aka Shoe) officially opened the fair. Personally I was present to record various presentations and interviews. Paul Townsend (aka AmigaOne productions) was also organizing a recording team effort (with 3 cameramen) to create an official AmiGBG DVD, so later we decided to combine our raw footage into one video. Many other visitors were also recording the presentations/interviews and taking photographs. There was live webcam coverage from the Speakers Theatre and especially AmiGBG's official photographer Niels Bache and AW's photographer Rick (Pictures below!) were taking lots of pictures.
The Speakers Theatre
The first interview was with Mikael Kalms, a member of the famous (almost repetively!) award winning demo group TBL. First Stefan and Mikael discussed and compared the current demo scene with the demo scenes of the past as well as the Amiga scene with the PC scene in general. Mikael seemed to agree with Stefan that the PC demo scene currently doesn't impress as much as the Amiga scene did during its hights from around 1997, especially considering the Amiga demoscene’s many distinct styles, tradition of pushing the hardware to its limits and using available resources as efficiently as possible.
Then TLB’s winning demo silkcut from Breakpoint 2004 for the classic Amiga 1200 was shown first. The demo showed some impressive animated AGA chipset generated fly through landscapes and an amazed Stefan checked with Mikael if this was really still AGA graphics (1992)! After this a second demo was shown illustrating TBL’s first effort at doing an AmigaOS4 demo, while utilizing Warp3D/MiniGL.
Next up was an interview with two fulltime OS4 developers Hans-Joerg and Thomas Frieden of Hyperion Entertainment. After talking about some major milestones and challenges, they stated that the OS4 team is aiming for a full Amiga OS4.0 release in time for Christmas 2005. Regarding hardware they felt confident that the Eyetech AmigaOne-XE and MicroA1 hardware will soon become available again, as they are currently sold out at all the official A1 dealers. In addition new hardware is being worked on behind the scenes by other 3rd parties. Within a few weeks one of these projects will be announced to the public, but eventually when they are released these boards will be similarly specced as the current A1 boards and this will take a still unknown amount of time.
The Frieden brothers also made it clear that they prefer not to talk too loudly about future hardware projects, which may still take many months or even years to be completed. They referred to the various failed PPC projects which were announced by 3rd parties for classic Amigas in the past. After this the Frieden brothers stressed that Amiga fans should not hold out for any such hardware, as if everyone does this after the AmigaOS4.0 final release this will hurt the Amiga market significantly.
Then they talked a bit about their past difficulties of porting modern PPC games to classic Amiga hardware. Heretic II by Raven Software was their first high profile PPC Amiga port and it took lots of additional work to make the game run well enough on the classic systems. After this, porting Shogo, a game by Monolith, took even far more effort to be optimized well enough for the classic hardware to cope decently enough. But in the end: “Shogo on the Amiga, on a 200 Mhz Amiga runs approximately two times faster than on a Macintosh with a G3, 250 Mhz”!
Then beta versions of two new Warp3D accelerated OS4 native games were shown:
- Quake 2 Evolution, an enhanced version of their earlier port of Quake 2 by ID Software.
- Freespace 2, a sequel to their earlier port of ‘Freespace: The Great War’ by Volition/Interplay.
The sound support was still much distorted, so it was decided to turn this off. Other than this both games seemed to run very well on A1/OS4. Personally I specially like the look of Freespace 2 and also Stefan couldn't wait to get his hands on these games. Also a new updated SDK is planned for release next week! So soon OpenGL based SDL games can more easily be ported to AmigaOS4. The above two mentioned games were already ported in ‘free time’ to OS4 mainly for 3D driver testing purposes, but personally I am astonished and somewhat mind boggled by the amount of other Amiga licenses Hyperion has been able to acquire and the amount of additional work the Frieden brothers are doing in their spare time, next to working fulltime on the AmigaOS4 project as well. Other earlier announced licenses include the 3D graphics package Realsoft 3D and games like Gorky 17, Worms: Armageddon, Soldier of Fortune, SiN, Midnight Racing, etc! IMO it really shows that their job is also their most favorite hobby.
After a break, at two o’clock there was an interview with and presentation by Mikael Haglund, technical specialist of IBM Sweden. To summarize Mr Haglund described the markets where PPC technology is being used today and basically with regard to processing technology IBM is still the global market leader and beyond. (Haglund announced IBM still has a 100% market share on Mars! )
Mr Haglund described the current situation with Apple as a ‘marriage break up’. He speculated Apple may be upset by IBM’s various new ‘mistresses’ (such as for example Sony, Toshiba and Nintendo). He also countered that, unlike what Apple seems to suggest in public, IBM is still leading in terms of the Watts/Performance ratio with regard to their processors compared to available x86 technology and he believes this will likely continue to be so for the foreseeable future. He also explained that the new Cell processor technology includes a simple yet highly clocked PPC compatible processing core, but for software to really take full advantage of the new Cell technology, software needs to be optimized for using the specialized SPEs. He compared the Cell to how the classic Amigas operated, as the more impressive Amiga software took full advantage of its specialized custom chips. He wasn’t only thinking about complex Playstation3 games taking advantage of such technology (for instance dealing with lots more complex and more quantitive collisions), but also with regard to possible desktop orientated usages, like for instance for enhancing the performance of multimedia software or for advanced spreadsheet calculations.
In conclusion there have been various awards and competitions with lots of different prizes, from MicroA1 to A1200 Magic Pack and from USB attached Mug warmer to T-shirts. The Frieden brothers won an award for their achievements. And after the fair dozens of Amigans joined in the restaurant for a Mexican dinner, ending the meal with an Amiga 1000 keyboard cake and some after dinner fireworks. Everyone seems to have had lots of fun.
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