Atari and Amiga dev coming from modern systems

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mrbombermillzy
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Atari and Amiga dev coming from modern systems

Postby mrbombermillzy » Tue Aug 22, 2017 7:30 pm

Some of you here may have seen my posts about my bumbling around trying to fix, setup and eventually get to the stage where I can program for the Atari systems.

I was wondering what other peoples experiences are, coming from other systems? (e.g. PC or maybe Mac)

Ive tried to get a 'fast track' Atari 16/32bit setup just to try and convert or make some games. Having only seriously gone 'to the metal' with older C64/128 machines, I was initially not expecting to have to muck around with the OS very much.

On the Atari, (STE,F030) I was initially looking to bypass the OS completely, as I was expecting this to be a real drag from previous experience.

For example, earlier meddling with the Amiga 1200 as a system, drew me to the conclusion that it has a fairly vertical learning curve and I just dont have the months/years to learn all the dedpendencies and CLI shortcuts just so that I can set up a dev environment and then spend time making a game too.

Even the stuff which was meant to take all the difficulty away would:
1. fail due to a dependancy
2. Fail due to *another* dependency : if fail number<20 then goto 1
3. not be for the right machine (a500/1200/020/030/ocs/aga/512kb/1mb/etc) so fails
4. Crash for an unknown (to me anyway) reason. A crash is definitely a fail.
5. Be the 'wrong' version which is bugged/corrupt/incomplete (someone clean aminet! lol)..fail
6. Look like it was going to work, flick the screen to black then guru meditation.Fail
7. Im sure there are many more, but the above are mainly what happens when I try to do anything of any worth on that machine. Sigh!

I could go on here, but it would look like I was slating the Amiga. Perhaps I am, but I dont want to be doing it; its just how it is for me and I will likely persevere with the darned thing until I either fall on my back and get taken to the morgue or finally become enlightened and figure out why I need a whole clutch of utilities just to run a couple of applications.

Now, in contrast, many people (mainly Amiga fans obviously) say that the Atari OS is limited and not so great.

From what Ive discovered so far, I would say it is far simpler to understand and things seem to be set out more logically. Less stuff seems to be critically dependant on other programs... from what little Ive seen of the programming side, there seems to be much less cycle stealing by various DMA/custom chip devices, so less things to have to balance timing-wise. The main problems seem to have been the hardware limitations with regards to scrolling, palette and sprite/block speed.

However, as the machines have matured, it seems that the Atari has managed to catch up in the certain areas that it had traditionally struggled with and has definitely become a match for the Amiga.

Wether the hardware is on an even keel, or more effort has been made by the software devs (Im looking at you DML, Anima to name a couple), its a fairly close match now.

This then exacerbates the Amigas OS mysteries and leaves me wondering is it worth the effort on this machine?

(On the Amigas side, the PCMCIA slot is a godsend!)

Anyway TLDR;

What are your thoughts on the pros and cons of these machines from a modern dev perspective?

Ok, Ive had enough! Your turn! :mrgreen:

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Re: Atari and Amiga dev coming from modern systems

Postby Zarchos » Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:48 pm

Oh well I am again going to talk about the Archie.
Systems pre RISC PC.(So, that's ARM2, ARM3, ARM250 based machines).

They all have either RISC OS 2 or RISC OS 3.
Switch an Archie on, it works straight out of the box.
No fancy little strange pieces of code to add, and that not everybody will have on their machines. No, same for all, efficient, and fully documented OS for everybody.
You'll need let's say 2 Mbytes of RAM, and no need of a hard drive. I mean it. Yes it is true.
Your working environment is easy :
1/ Choose an editor, not difficult there are 2 : StrongEd (still being developped) and Zap
2/ Use the ASM built in the BASIC, so powerful that 95% of everything ever coded on the Archies used it.
Mix BASIC and ASM code to your pleasure, so great to build your own tools, with access to all functions of the OS.
3/ Use a debugger of your choice, again there are several, but not many, they all work straight out of the box.
This year thanks to me who asked its developper (French, from a demogroup) we not only have QDbug but most importantly its documentation.
4/ Need a good book to learn ARM ASM ? Well, you won't scratch your head to know which one to choose, there are only 2 available and the best one is available online here :
http://www.peter-cockerell.net/aalp/
5/ Fancy understanding the chipset ?
Well it is not complex at all, far less than on the Amiga or even the ST, and it is online too.
Want to know how many cycles your code will take, to make optimisations.
Well, except for the load and store instructions, that's all 1 cycle (for 95% of them).
6/ So you want to code sthing new using the latest hardware developpement (that is a raster manager).
Well, wait for a few weeks, and you'll have it. So user friendly that you can even use it in BASIC.
Al functions provided, you'll just have to create your 'copper list' and that's it. It'll work.
7/ Want the best, fastest sound playroutine, fully documented ? It is QTM and available online, still being maintained.
8/ Want to transfer to and from PC ? Use any Archie with a bidirectional parallel port and use ZIP. Or even floppies.
9/ Want to code and try your code on a laptop while away from home, from a real Archie ? Use Arculator.
10/ Need doc about the OS ? Spend GBP50 and buy the PRMs, that's 3000 pages about its guts. Or get the CD ROM.

I don't know if I have answered all your questions or missed the point.
Atari 1040 STE+SATAN, 520ST, 800xl, xegs, Amiga 500, 2000 with 68020, Archimedes, RISC PCs + Iyonix, Omega, BBC B, Atom, Electron, ZX 81, Spectrum 48/128/+2/+3, Speccy2010, Russian clones, Sam Coupe, V6Z80P, QL with accelerators, Enterprise 128, Einstein inc 256, Oric Atmos, MSX 1, 2, Thomson MO5, Amstrads inc CPC+, C 16, 64, 128, VG5000, Apple IIGS and more ! Yes I want to create a museum when I retire.

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Re: Atari and Amiga dev coming from modern systems

Postby mikro » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:13 pm

As soon as you start looking at Atari as an embedded systems development platform, writing stuff for it turns to be pretty comfortable and easy (esp. thanks to m68k-atari-mint-gcc & friends). If your starting point is ST-Low with floppy, development is quite hard.

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Re: Atari and Amiga dev coming from modern systems

Postby mrbombermillzy » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:33 pm

@Zarchos:

Well, I was basically looking into the frustrations of learning to set up a programming environment for mainly M68k C=/Atari machines, but what the hell!

I have an Archie too, an A5000. I have been itching to use it and even started reading the Peter Cockerell book you mentioned.

However, it needs repairing (usual battery damage has eaten through the CMOS IC part of the mainboard). It will boot to a command prompt but has no stored settings and wont remember any commands. So its basically sat in the corner for sometime when I can get the board repaired. Sad really. Wont really do much on it for a while, as I have more pressing projects to do.

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Re: Atari and Amiga dev coming from modern systems

Postby mrbombermillzy » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:34 pm

@mikro:

Well, Im not 100% sure yet about Mint. Havent really looked into it greatly. It seems like extra complication and possibly more headache. (I can live without multitasking; I dont need to do too much at once while coding and I also want to try to code to the lowest common denominator. i.e. TOS and STE compatible, if not STFM).

Im very impressed with what DML has done with his game dev system. However, I am still getting to grips with C and setting up from windows GCC and getting that all to work seems more daunting than just assembling some 68k code on a Falcon/TT.

I fully understand that its ok given time to understand, but time is very short for me..especially my coding hobby! :(

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Re: Atari and Amiga dev coming from modern systems

Postby mikro » Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:52 pm

DML is also using gcc. :)

The important thing to realise is that you don't need to use/target MiNT if using gcc. Everything happens on host machine (cross compilation) and you only debug things remotely.

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Re: Atari and Amiga dev coming from modern systems

Postby Zarchos » Tue Aug 22, 2017 10:00 pm

mrbombermillzy wrote:@Zarchos:

Well, I was basically looking into the frustrations of learning to set up a programming environment for mainly M68k C=/Atari machines, but what the hell!

I have an Archie too, an A5000. I have been itching to use it and even started reading the Peter Cockerell book you mentioned.

However, it needs repairing (usual battery damage has eaten through the CMOS IC part of the mainboard). It will boot to a command prompt but has no stored settings and wont remember any commands. So its basically sat in the corner for sometime when I can get the board repaired. Sad really. Wont really do much on it for a while, as I have more pressing projects to do.


If it boots ok when you keep pressing DELETE while powering it on, you are not far from having a working machine (resurrecting the hard drive needs 4 clicks of the mouse).
Atari 1040 STE+SATAN, 520ST, 800xl, xegs, Amiga 500, 2000 with 68020, Archimedes, RISC PCs + Iyonix, Omega, BBC B, Atom, Electron, ZX 81, Spectrum 48/128/+2/+3, Speccy2010, Russian clones, Sam Coupe, V6Z80P, QL with accelerators, Enterprise 128, Einstein inc 256, Oric Atmos, MSX 1, 2, Thomson MO5, Amstrads inc CPC+, C 16, 64, 128, VG5000, Apple IIGS and more ! Yes I want to create a museum when I retire.

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Re: Atari and Amiga dev coming from modern systems

Postby mrbombermillzy » Wed Aug 23, 2017 4:10 pm

@mikro: As it stands at the moment, as much as I think Dougs routines are absolutely hardcore optimized and amazing, I believe I would struggle to get to grips with the whole C setup, as I dont really have a 'working' (as in not having to constantly check the C language and GCC syntax manuals every line) knowledge of the C language.

Currently I have a notion to use something like STOS basic for rapid prototyping and then just replace it function by function with assembly, if I can get the timings good enough to begin with. This is probably what I will go with, unless someone really convinces me that going the C route would be far more productive from what Ive said about my knowledge of the language.

@Zarchos: Ive previously prowled around the stardot.org forums to try to work out the problem. Its the ROM chip that cannot be accessed, so it wont recognise any commands let alone load drivers for a HDD or boot OS3. Believe me, I gave it a good try and exhausted all the options. :)

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Re: Atari and Amiga dev coming from modern systems

Postby Zarchos » Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:21 pm

mrbombermillzy wrote:@mikro: As it stands at the moment, as much as I think Dougs routines are absolutely hardcore optimized and amazing, I believe I would struggle to get to grips with the whole C setup, as I dont really have a 'working' (as in not having to constantly check the C language and GCC syntax manuals every line) knowledge of the C language.

Currently I have a notion to use something like STOS basic for rapid prototyping and then just replace it function by function with assembly, if I can get the timings good enough to begin with. This is probably what I will go with, unless someone really convinces me that going the C route would be far more productive from what Ive said about my knowledge of the language.

@Zarchos: Ive previously prowled around the stardot.org forums to try to work out the problem. Its the ROM chip that cannot be accessed, so it wont recognise any commands let alone load drivers for a HDD or boot OS3. Believe me, I gave it a good try and exhausted all the options. :)


Can you pm me some pictures ?
Have you tried to remove the RISC OS ROMs from their sockets, use some spray for electronics contacts, to then insert them back ?
To be technically correct, there are no drivers to load be able to use the A5000 hard drive : they are in the OS, and always there by default, in the OS ROMs, when booting up the machine.
What you need to do is tell the machine it has a hard drive fitted, and you do that with 4 mouse clicks using the Apps->Configure->Hard Drive tool provided by the OS (Apps, bottom left on the icon bar).

And please tell me you have removed your leaking battery and cleaned everything ... to stop the damages ...
Atari 1040 STE+SATAN, 520ST, 800xl, xegs, Amiga 500, 2000 with 68020, Archimedes, RISC PCs + Iyonix, Omega, BBC B, Atom, Electron, ZX 81, Spectrum 48/128/+2/+3, Speccy2010, Russian clones, Sam Coupe, V6Z80P, QL with accelerators, Enterprise 128, Einstein inc 256, Oric Atmos, MSX 1, 2, Thomson MO5, Amstrads inc CPC+, C 16, 64, 128, VG5000, Apple IIGS and more ! Yes I want to create a museum when I retire.

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Re: Atari and Amiga dev coming from modern systems

Postby mrbombermillzy » Wed Aug 23, 2017 5:35 pm

@Zarchos: Maybe I wasnt being clear here...

I do not even get to the OS!!! :)

Its been about a year or more since I looked into it, but this is what I can remember...

I started the machine and got to a command prompt on a black screen. I could enter * commands but they are not recognised by the machine, hence the CMOS data is corrupt/unavailable. Ive tried resetting the CMOS ('delete' key is it?) and typing *desktop. Command isnt recognised.

I havent heard of trying to reseat the ROMs. Will try that once I fix the 'melted' trace on the board if it still doesnt want to know. I tried cleaning the board up by neutralising the leaked battery fluid but also managed to 'wipe off' a SM capacitor and some of the tracks are destroyed, so Im pretty sure that until I re-wire that lot, Im not going to get it to work yet! :)

This might sound a bit nasty, but its VERY common. I have several machines that have had the CMOS cell splurt its stuff and damage the board. (A5000, 486dx66 mainboard,laptop).

Thanks for all the info in your first post though. Will save me alot of question asking when I do get this machine running! :cheers:


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