Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

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chicane
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Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by chicane »

The final v1.0 version of Lotus STE has now been released!

See https://twitter.com/RetroRacing/status/ ... 7229830147 for the release announcement and download link.

I'd be really grateful if you could share with fellow STE fans through tweets, FB posts, YT vids, live streams and so on. We want to get this out to as many STE fans as possible!

Below is some background information for the benefit of those less familiar with the history of this project:
Lotus STE is an adaptation of the original Lotus 1 game that makes use of the additional hardware in the Atari STE. Put simply, it's a major graphics and sound upgrade from the original game!

This improved edition has been created by:

- Graphics: Jonathan Thomas (chicane on Atari-Forum, @RetroRacing on Twitter)
- Sound: Jamie Hamshere (junosix on Atari-Forum)
- Loader: Grazey/PHF (@Grazeyphf on Twitter)

Thanks to

- Masteries on Atari-Forum for the initial version of the PCM sound mixer;
- Defence Force/Dbug for code reviews and performance improvement suggestions;
- Steve of AtariCrypt for relentless enthusiasm;
- Metalages on Atari-Forum for discussion around engine noise;
- Marko Latvanen (@maraka77i on Twitter) for extensive and exhaustive beta testing.

System requirements

The game requires a minimum of 1 Meg of memory, and either an STE, or an STFM equipped with the Blitter chip.

Feature set in detail

We're not going to lie - the Amiga version is the best version of this game available and has provided a heavy dose of inspiration for us. We've not tampered with the core gameplay in any way as you can't improve upon perfection! However, you will see and hear the following improvements:

- The road is rendered by the Blitter chip and features much more graphical detail than the original;
- All roadside scenery and cars are rendered by the Blitter chip and move smoothly side-to-side (as opposed to jerking along in 16 pixel increments on the original);
- The background mountains are rendered by the Blitter chip and scroll smoothly side-to-side (as opposed to jerking along in 4 pixel increments on the original);
- The sky features a colourful gradient of raster bars making use of the enhanced STE palette;
- The road and roadside colours are refined to make use of the enhanced STE palette;
- A sampled engine noise and sampled sound effects are present. You can even have music, engine sound and sound effects simultaneously;
- Provisional support for Mega STE running at 16MHz (hold Shift on boot to enable).

Users of STFM machines equipped with a Blitter chip can also enjoy the game, with the following compromises:

- The colours used in the sky gradient are reduced due to the limited palette in the standard ST model;
- No sampled engine noise or sound effects are available.

Other information

For those interested in the technical nuts and bolts, this is an open-source project, with the source code being available at GitHub. We encourage people to clone and build the project, and contributions are always welcome!


How did Lotus STE come about, and how has it evolved over time?

Jonathan has always been a fan of the Lotus games, with Lotus 1 always being his favourite in the series despite the technical advances of the later games. He owned and played the game on his Atari ST back in 1990, but it was only recently that he discovered the dramatic difference in quality between the ST and Amiga versions.

Like many people, Jonathan was disappointed with the uptake of the STE hardware by software publishers back in the 1990s, and wondered in the late stages of 2019 if Lotus might be improved through use of the STE hardware. He used the experience gained during his previous project (Atari STE Pole Position) to prototype a few modifications to the game, but encountered technical challenges working with the STE hardware and shelved the project on the assumption that it was not workable.

Many discoveries were made by the Atari community regarding best use of the STE hardware (and particularly the Blitter) during the course of 2020, and Jonathan picked up the project again in late 2020 with a fresh set of ideas. The code was reworked to overcome the previous challenges, and the community at Atari-Forum showed enthusiasm for the project. Masteries at Atari-Forum provided software to play multiple channels of audio on the STE's DMA hardware, and Junosix built upon this work, adding variable rate playback code to support a sampled engine sound. The pace of the project has picked up massively since Junosix joined the project, with daily improvements to the sound side of things being contributed by Junosix, and Jonathan replacing existing graphics routines to make use of the Blitter. Following this period of hard graft, we've arrived at a point where we feel that we have a initial feature set that we can release to the public!

Steve is the owner of the AtariCrypt website, and has been chronicling recent updates to the code with a series of articles and videos. He also covers a wide range of other Atari ST games and productivity software on this website!
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by mOdmate »

Congratulations, that's very well done! Thank you for the hard work you've put into this one!
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by uko »

Great job !
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by EvilFranky »

Hard work pays off, looking forward to trying this later. Well done!
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by AdamK »

Big thank You for everyone involved :)
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by wietze »

Is this confirmed to work on the actual hardware? I've had some mixed results the past weeks of running the recent builds on my STE's.
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by chicane »

wietze wrote: Sat Apr 10, 2021 11:33 am Is this confirmed to work on the actual hardware? I've had some mixed results the past weeks of running the recent builds on my STE's.
We've tested on real STE hardware every step of the way. :)

I know you've had a few problems reproducing the same binaries as me on your local dev environment - are you waiting for me to respond to any of your PMs?
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by wietze »

chicane wrote: Sat Apr 10, 2021 11:35 am
wietze wrote: Sat Apr 10, 2021 11:33 am Is this confirmed to work on the actual hardware? I've had some mixed results the past weeks of running the recent builds on my STE's.
We've tested on real STE hardware every step of the way. :)

I know you've had a few problems reproducing the same binaries as me on your local dev environment - are you waiting for me to respond to any of your PMs?
Awesome! The issues must be on my end then!
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by metalages »

Thumb up :)
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by MisterUndo »

:cheers: Congratulations!
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by EvilFranky »

It's very good indeed. Been giving it a play this afternoon.

Side by side with the Amiga version, only using sound FX it's very hard to tell the difference. At 16MHz it's even better.

It's a great release, very much appreciated.
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by TheNameOfTheGame »

Nice work!
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by Cyprian »

Great news! Thanks Team!

Btw. would be cool to read your thoughts/story about that upgrade, and also some technical detail, e.g. how Lotus data are organized in the memory, and also in files.
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by chicane »

metalages wrote: Sat Apr 10, 2021 11:53 am Thumb up :)
MisterUndo wrote: Sat Apr 10, 2021 12:02 pm :cheers: Congratulations!
TheNameOfTheGame wrote: Sat Apr 10, 2021 12:32 pm Nice work!
Thanks all!
EvilFranky wrote: Sat Apr 10, 2021 12:13 pm Side by side with the Amiga version, only using sound FX it's very hard to tell the difference. At 16MHz it's even better.
It's very nice at 16MHz isn't it :)
Cyprian wrote: Sat Apr 10, 2021 1:40 pm Great news! Thanks Team!

Btw. would be cool to read your thoughts/story about that upgrade, and also some technical detail, e.g. how Lotus data are organized in the memory, and also in files.
I'll aim to do a technical writeup at some point. We have a certain degree of knowledge regarding how the game is organised in memory, but we're not reverse engineered the file formats as yet. All we know at the moment is that most of the data files are compressed, and there are two different compression algorithms depending upon whether the data in question is "general data" or "screen data". I'll keep you posted :)
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by kni »

great! thanks!
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by Cyprian »

chicane wrote: Sat Apr 10, 2021 2:07 pmI'll aim to do a technical writeup at some point. We have a certain degree of knowledge regarding how the game is organised in memory, but we're not reverse engineered the file formats as yet. All we know at the moment is that most of the data files are compressed, and there are two different compression algorithms depending upon whether the data in question is "general data" or "screen data".
I mean e.g. which file is used for what.
chicane wrote: Sat Apr 10, 2021 2:07 pm I'll keep you posted :)
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by chicane »

Cyprian wrote: Sat Apr 10, 2021 3:07 pm I mean e.g. which file is used for what.
We have a vague idea of that - we're able to trace through the files being loaded for each level and take educated guesses at what they might contain. At some point, I'm going to write a decompression utility that runs the original decompression code within a 68k virtual machine - this should make it easy to take a look inside the contents of each file.
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by sporniket »

well done 8)

The smoothness of all, it's a pleasure to play. If only those damn bots would stop getting in the way :evil: :lol:

For now I'm using an emulator, but my real STE will soon be ready for a test run.
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by chicane »

sporniket wrote: Sat Apr 10, 2021 5:10 pm For now I'm using an emulator, but my real STE will soon be ready for a test run.
Thanks - look forward to hearing how you get on with the real hardware!
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by tresas »

Great stuff!!! I'm very happy to see an atari STE project finish (a thing that never happened despite the other affords in the past)!!!
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by simonsunnyboy »

OMG, terrific stuff! And the first STE remake that

a) gets finished AND
b) stays true to the original.

This is the correct formula to use.

Is this harddisk installable in some way? I remember it was promised to run on Falcon aswell?
Just copy the files to a harddisk and run loader.prg with clean boot?
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by chicane »

simonsunnyboy wrote: Sun Apr 11, 2021 7:17 am OMG, terrific stuff! And the first STE remake that

a) gets finished AND
b) stays true to the original.

This is the correct formula to use.

Is this harddisk installable in some way? I remember it was promised to run on Falcon aswell?
Just copy the files to a harddisk and run loader.prg with clean boot?
Thanks! This first version is neither Falcon compatible or hard disk installable, sorry.

I'm starting work somewhere new tomorrow, which will almost certainly take me away from ST stuff for a month or two. I was concerned that refining the release further would put us at risk of not being able to fulfil your critera a) as stated above :D

We'll look at supporting HDD installation and Falcon in the 1.1 release. I believe Peter Putnik has already adapted the orginal game for both HDD installation and Falcon so we should have a base to work from. Although neither of the development team have real hardware or access to a Falcon!
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by metalages »

simonsunnyboy wrote: Sun Apr 11, 2021 7:17 am OMG, terrific stuff! And the first STE remake that

a) gets finished AND
b) stays true to the original.

This is the correct formula to use.

Is this harddisk installable in some way? I remember it was promised to run on Falcon aswell?
Just copy the files to a harddisk and run loader.prg with clean boot?
Hmmm. Pacmania Ste too ?
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by junosix »

metalages wrote: Sun Apr 11, 2021 8:27 am
simonsunnyboy wrote: Sun Apr 11, 2021 7:17 am OMG, terrific stuff! And the first STE remake that

a) gets finished AND
b) stays true to the original.

This is the correct formula to use.

Is this harddisk installable in some way? I remember it was promised to run on Falcon aswell?
Just copy the files to a harddisk and run loader.prg with clean boot?
Hmmm. Pacmania Ste too ?
Plus Pole Position, Droid Special Edition and Klax STE (I ripped the Amiga samples for this too)!
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Re: Lotus STE - final v1.0 released!

Post by masteries »

chicane wrote: Sun Apr 11, 2021 8:00 am
We'll look at supporting HDD installation and Falcon in the 1.1 release. I believe Peter Putnik has already adapted the orginal game for both HDD installation and Falcon so we should have a base to work from. Although neither of the development team have real hardware or access to a Falcon!
Remember, I can provide help; I own a real STE with a hard disk unit; and I have several Metal Slug port testers with a Falcon 030.
These betatesters can provide help on Falcon compatibility testing,

However, the main aspects for Falcon compatibility:

-PCM sound need to use 12.5 KHz as minimum
-Blitter can behave different, but probably due to Lotus STE do not use the blitter in an uncommon way, it can be compatible as is


Falcon 030 compatibility with Metal Slug STE code:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uxU-cUz824


It appears, that EMS sprite format is not correclty rendered on Falcon computer,
despite this the game runs and sounds perfectly.
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Metal Slug for Atari STE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMrdjrrtxWo
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