Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

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Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby LardoBoffin » Sat Jul 21, 2018 10:06 am

Back in the day when the 486 was still the King of the PC (P60’s being way too expensive) I had an Escom 486 DX4 100. I saw a copy of Frontier Elite in a shop and being a fan of it on the beeb immediately bought a copy. I loaded it up. Configured my EMS and the other things that you had to do to run a game before plug and play (DOS=HIGH, UMB anyone?) and sat there amazed by the planet after taking off at Ross. My amazement was short lived after not being able to pay the fine for an unauthorised launch and subsequent destruction by police ships.
Second time I got clearance and launched. Still not having read the manual I pressed space by mistake. More fines for illegal weapon discharge I can’t pay. Start again. This time I read the quick start guide and some of the manual. I even managed to put everything on maximum display settings which made it look even better.
I soared out of the atmosphere and marvelled at the music and how the sky went from blue to black and then stars and space dust - wow! Coming from wireframe Elite this was awesome.
I eventually figured out the navigation process and got to Bernards star (as my girlfriend of the time called it) and found the base and amazingly the ship had docking computers built in! The single hardest part of Elite solved in an instant. Nice.
I sold my animal meat and bought some plastics. Eventually I even figured out how to refuel.
All good so far. I set out back to Ross enjoying this new version of Elite.
Then I met a pirate. Easy I thought. Nope. I don’t think I even managed to hit it once before I was destroyed.
Not to worry I clearly just met a strong one with better equipment. Nope. Every time I got dropped out of accelerated time I got my a*s handed to me on a plate. The ships were tiny, fast and impossible (for me) to hit. Flying into them seemed the only option. I eventually got to the stage where I would reload if a ship attacked me. I built up enough money to buy missiles which helped but even so eventually (quite quickly) I launched the box and its contents out of the window.
Fast forward to now and I have way more patience, an Atari 520 STfm and a copy of Frontier Elite.
So, it is still the same difficult combat but this time with an awful frame rate. On the planet surface the frame rate is measured in seconds per frame not frames per second. This isn’t so much of an issue as I don’t intend to do much sight seeing.
On space with the detail settings low it is ok but as soon as combat starts it starts to stutter. The enemy ship, already hard to hit now moves around the screen in small hops rather than a smooth progression.
Any chances of getting into this game properly are scuppered.
So, aside from buying a faster Atari for which I don’t really have the money or more importantly the space, what can I do to speed it up and more importantly has anyone done it and does it help?

Many thanks for any suggestions!

Lardo
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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby dhedberg » Sat Jul 21, 2018 10:29 am

Daniel, New Beat - http://newbeat.atari.org. Like demos? Have a look at our new Falcon030 demo MORE.

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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby LardoBoffin » Sat Jul 21, 2018 2:41 pm

dhedberg wrote:Perhaps this would help a bit:
https://www.exxoshost.co.uk/atari/last/storenew/#0005

Thanks. Has anyone got one fitted and does it make any difference?
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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby Trixster » Sat Jul 21, 2018 4:30 pm

The problem with Frontier was.. despite its undoubted technical brilliance... it was absolutely no fun to play whatsoever, especially compared to the original. Everything you describe matches my experience with the game, made worse by the poor performance you mention and the fact the the Newtonian physics meant you had to let the computer do everything to get anywhere. Zero fun.

I really cannot understand all the praise it got back in the day. I seem to be the only person in the Atari/Amiga universe that thought it was naff though, so I must be in the wrong about it.
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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby LardoBoffin » Sat Jul 21, 2018 7:04 pm

Trixster wrote:The problem with Frontier was.. despite its undoubted technical brilliance... it was absolutely no fun to play whatsoever, especially compared to the original. Everything you describe matches my experience with the game, made worse by the poor performance you mention and the fact the the Newtonian physics meant you had to let the computer do everything to get anywhere. Zero fun.

I really cannot understand all the praise it got back in the day. I seem to be the only person in the Atari/Amiga universe that thought it was naff though, so I must be in the wrong about it.


To be honest I thought it was just me not getting the combat part of it back in the day. Maybe not!
It does seem like a triumph of realism over fun. I also got a copy of Elite (the first version) for the ST which performs perfectly so maybe I should stick with that.

But still I am drawn to trying one more time...
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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby Trixster » Sat Jul 21, 2018 7:16 pm

The ST/Amiga version of Elite is brilliant. Played the Amiga version to death, made Elite on it. I actually enjoyed it more than ArcElite as I found ArcElite a little too brutal. It’s a shame the ST/Amiga version didn’t get all the features of ArcElite though, such as the universe no longer being player-centric etc...
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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby siriushardware » Sun Jul 22, 2018 9:21 pm

In common with other 'flight sims' I always found the versions of classic games on machines which switched sticks - Spectrum, ST, etc 'unflyable' compared to the versions on machines which had analogue sticks by default. (BBC B, PC). So I played Elite quite seriously for many hours on the BBC B even though it was 'only' wireframe because the control was so intuitively smooth. I don't think I played the ST version for more than 20 minutes as I hated the switched-stick control so much.

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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby spiny » Tue Jul 24, 2018 1:13 pm

Run the PC version on DOSBox

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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby leech » Tue Jul 24, 2018 6:12 pm

I can't say as to the accelerator helping specifically, but I can say it runs a lot better on a TT030 than a stock ST, and even on the Mega STe clocked at 16Mhz, which is what I had back in the day. Runs really smooth on the 060 in the Falcon.

So yeah it's one that you should get a faster CPU for.
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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby LardoBoffin » Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:48 pm

spiny wrote:Run the PC version on DOSBox


I know that is the sensible thing to do but I find old games irritating in an emulator on a modern PC but enjoyable on the original hardware! Its hard to explain.
By way of example I tried Bards Tale on an Apple emulator a while back before getting an Apple IIe. I found the disc swapping (which only really consisted of dragging and dropping files onto a disc icon) irritating on the emulator but the physical act of doing it with real hardware enjoyable.
I guess for me it is as much about using the hardware as playing the game etc. I don’t even mind waiting for stuff to load off the floppy disc (well, except for on a C64. That had to be improved.)
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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby leech » Tue Jul 24, 2018 7:51 pm

You could just join me and others in Elite: Dangerous. I play it in VR... SO good.....
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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby ranix » Wed Jul 25, 2018 2:20 am

check my post history, I think my first post is a long writeup of my experience installing Exxos mods in an stf

I also play Elite Dangerous in VR (with cool controllers too) o7

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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby leech » Wed Jul 25, 2018 2:44 am

ranix wrote:check my post history, I think my first post is a long writeup of my experience installing Exxos mods in an stf

I also play Elite Dangerous in VR (with cool controllers too) o7

I still need to make my way back to civilization, I should fire it up tonight, my Saitek x52 Pro is feeling a bit underused lately! o7
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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby mzry » Wed Jul 25, 2018 5:30 am

I play elite dangerous as well. Currently taking my Anaconda with 77ly jump range on an exploration mission past Colonia :)
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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby LardoBoffin » Wed Jul 25, 2018 8:55 am

ranix wrote:check my post history, I think my first post is a long writeup of my experience installing Exxos mods in an stf

I also play Elite Dangerous in VR (with cool controllers too) o7


Ok - that sounds somewhat above my skill level! I may end up paying the same people who did my RAM to fit the CPU and fast ROMs assuming they have recovered from the nightmare of the RAM upgrade...
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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby leech » Wed Jul 25, 2018 2:49 pm

Fast ROM was fairly easy. I got the kit for my 1040 STe to do the CPU as well, but haven't put it in yet and need to find all the parts since I moved... at this point in time I think anyone into ancient hardware should learn to solder. I decided long ago it was a useful skill to have! But yeah there are more complicated jobs that I will stay away from!
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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby Greenious » Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:14 pm

AIf I remember correctly, Frontier also benefits from a math copro.

I doubt fast rom and a simple booster will do much to improve the framerate, you need an accelerator with cache.
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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby leech » Wed Jul 25, 2018 4:27 pm

Greenious wrote:AIf I remember correctly, Frontier also benefits from a math copro.

I doubt fast rom and a simple booster will do much to improve the framerate, you need an accelerator with cache.

Hmm, am I wrong in thinking the cache is actually part of the CPU? But then maybe not, since it's still a 68000 in that case, I'm not sure where the cache is on the Mega STe, I always thought it was just CPU cache.

I do know there were always random things I had to disable cache on, or clock down to 8Mhz to get working on the Mega STe.

On the subject of Frontier, a guy I knew had bought the ST version and it came on two disks. The hacked version was like 360k, talk about impressive compression!
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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby Eero Tamminen » Wed Jul 25, 2018 8:48 pm

For ST, I would recommend "Star Glider II" from "Argonaut Software" instead of "Elite Frontier":
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starglider_2
http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-st ... 10221.html

(Still got the original box for the game here! :-))

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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby Greenious » Wed Jul 25, 2018 10:09 pm

leech wrote:Hmm, am I wrong in thinking the cache is actually part of the CPU? But then maybe not, since it's still a 68000 in that case, I'm not sure where the cache is on the Mega STe, I always thought it was just CPU cache.

I do know there were always random things I had to disable cache on, or clock down to 8Mhz to get working on the Mega STe.

On the subject of Frontier, a guy I knew had bought the ST version and it came on two disks. The hacked version was like 360k, talk about impressive compression!


Well, onboard CPU cache is standard today, but it was not standard at the time 68000 was concieved, the Mega STE CPU cache is the same that you can find on ICD AdSpeed, Hypercache, HBS T28/36 and other accelerators. It's an external solution requiring logic that sadly is very, very hard to find today,

A mere booster lose a lot due to the simple fact ram access is still 8MHz, with a proper cache solution you will have a percieved speed increase between 80-100% with a 16MHz accelerator like AdSpeed, while a booster at best achieve 15-20%. Fast ROM mitigate some of that, but that's only helping with GEM software, and only if you don't put TOS in RAM (applying hacks etc). With most games and demos it's just a waste.
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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby calimero » Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:07 pm

This is Amiga related:

50MHz 68000 booster developed by friend of mine, running Elite Frontier:



Homepage: http://amigaprj.blogspot.com/2015/09/hc ... 0-mhz.html

btw it has fastram, fastrom, IDE, CF...

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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby Greenious » Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:23 pm

calimero wrote:This is Amiga related:

50MHz 68000 booster developed by friend of mine, running Elite Frontier:



Homepage: http://amigaprj.blogspot.com/2015/09/hc ... 0-mhz.html

btw it has fastram, fastrom, IDE, CF...



Yes, forgot to mention that. A booster with fast ram would indeed give some serious speed.

(and imho, if you got fast ram, fast rom is not necessary, atleast I use various TOS mods and usually moves TOS to ram anyway)
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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby LardoBoffin » Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:00 am

That Amiga looks somewhat smoother running Elite. 8O
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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby Atari030 » Thu Jul 26, 2018 11:05 am

I always thought it ran well on my MegaSTE, certainly does on a 50mhz Falcon.

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Re: Frontier Elite poor frame rate - booster required!

Postby wongck » Thu Jul 26, 2018 12:03 pm

Aaargh... Got a headache watching just a min of it... that's one flicking Amiga.
Never got to the part of frontier.

calimero wrote:This is Amiga related:

50MHz 68000 booster developed by friend of mine, running Elite Frontier:


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