Welcome fellow Atarians
GamebaseST is an attempt to bring together the best games the Atari ST has to offer into a flexible and user friendly front-end. Think Mame32 but better
Those of you who haven't heard of GamebaseST might like to check out the websites that follow for more info. James Burrows has written the Gamebase Engine originally for the C64 platform, and over a 5-year period the GB64 team managed to build a database of over 15000 C64 games. That was a massive undertaking and one we would like to draw our inspiration from.
Gamebase Engine Homepage
Gamebase64 Project Homepage
I've been working with Paul on this project for a while now, and it's really starting to take shape. Gamebase uses a custom script language which allows us to get the most of every ST emulator out there. Here is a rundown of what we do to get a new game into GamebaseST.
1. Find the best version of the game. Most original ST game disks are protected, and disk protection isn't currently compatible with any Atari ST emulators. Hence we have to find the best *alternate* version, with the perfect match being a very clean self-booting disk without a menu, but with a trainer. Of course some of the menus themselves are of interest but I'll cover this in a separate post soon.
2. If necessary, we will re-author the disk(s) to get as close to our perfect version as we can. This can also include de-packing ice/fire/pompey/lsd etc packed files if we think GamebaseST can benefit from it. Currently both Steem and SainT will automatically fast forward disk access but will not speed up de-packing without user intervention.
3. We then try the game under TOS 1.62. That way, if there are any STe enhancements we can make the most of them. If TOS 1.62 is rejected, then we move down to TOS 1.04/1.02/1.0 as required. We can also move up to TOS 2.06 if there are any gains to be had. Thanks to the flexibility of the Gamebase engine, we can easily select the TOS version we want on a game by game basis.
4. Then we play the game [not for too long Paul
] to take the screenshots we need and get all the information we can from the credits. At this stage, we can also find out if the game works better at a faster CPU speed. For instance Frontier and No Second Prize work really great at 16MHz. We can enter this ideal speed setting into GamebaseST.
5. All the details are entered into the database and the screenshots are optimised. Any other information we can find on the game we add into the extras section, e.g. maps, manuals, tips and artwork.
6. GamebaseST currently supports YM, SC68, SNDH and MOD music files, hence we also point GBST to the best music file we can find. Work is in progress to add in custom file header recognition into Gamebase, so that we will be able to read all the composer information from each music file.
We have found both the SainT and Steem authors to be very helpful and have supported our efforts so far. Thanks to Leonard, Russ and Anthony.
GamebaseST has already come a long way since the current release version v0.1, and we hope to get a v0.2 out soon. There will be many changes and we are confident that you will like the result.
I am working closely with James Burrows to add extra features to Gamebase, most importantly a tool to enable the quick merging of database updates from several sources.
We are looking for more Atari enthusiasts to join the GamebaseST team, so let us know if you are interested. You can find an email address on the GamebaseST homepage.
Let us know your thoughts and ideas by posting in the forum, Now is the time to speak. All suggestions welcomed.
(a.k.a. TK Dentrassi)