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The Icon Bar: News and features: Acorn games news

Acorn games news

Posted by Tim Fountain on 00:00, 29/11/1999 | , , , , , , , ,

...And down again (29/11/99)

EliteThe Elite Logo
No sooner had the news of the new, improved Ian Bell Elite website been spread about than the site has again been blocked at the behest of David Braben.

In a news posting on alt.fan.elite, Braben was told of the existence of the new site and said "I'm afraid I'm going to have to get this one pulled too because of the libellous stuff and the misleading story of the CIX website.".

However, given that Acorn Arcade has in its possession the original emails on the matter of the first site closure it is not obvious where the CIX story is "misleading" - given that, barring a complete forgery, the IT director of CIX states that "CIX has been threatened with legal action by Mr David Braben over the breach of distribution rights for the Elite gaming software" - while at no point do CIX appear to send Ian Bell the original complaint by David Braben. So, who's in the right? We wait in eager anticipation...

And in a related note, it seems fitting that Elite has been voted the best RISC OS game ever in the RISC OS '99 poll - this really is the game that will not die!


Elite site back - with a vengeance! (24/11/99)

EliteThe Elite Logo

Ian Bell's Elite website, which was shut down in September, is back! Or at least, there's a new version up at http://www.bigfoot.com/~elite0/ where you can download most versions of the ground-breaking space combat game for free.

And as it's Elite's 15th anniversary, he's decided to mark the occasion by releasing the original source code! Although it's only a disc image of the original 8bit code, Bell explains:

"I've lost count over the years of how many have asked me how it was possible to fit the game in the 20K of program memory available on the original BBC Microcomputer. What awed most seemed to be the eight galaxies with 2000-odd star systems, each with unique name and description etc. In fact these were algorithmically generated on the fly rather than stored, but such synthetic generation of game content had not been seen before at the time. Others asked about the maths required to implement the fully 3D gameplay, which was unprecedented, on an 8-bit 2MHz CPU. I hope that releasing the program sources will satisfy those still curious to discover how we accomplished what we did on a computer with about a thousandth of the power of the modern PC."

ArcElite, probably the best version, can also be downloaded from our FTP section and support page; our version has been patched to work with all RISC OS machines including StrongARM RiscPCs.


Braben and Bell
BBC Elite

Braben and Bell back when Elite was released
The original Elite for the BBC Micro



New Toy Chronicles screenshots (22/11/99)

Bill Kotsias of Fantasia software has released a new set of screenshots from their upcoming game Toy Chronicles. Toy Chronicles is a 2D platformer which includes graphics rendered in TopModel. The game has been in development for over a year now, but is apparently progressing nicely. Kostas Proitsakis (best known as author of the RISC OS app Freeze) has joined the team and will help with the special effects such as transparencies.

 Screenshot 1  Screenshot 2  Screenshot 3


Quake at last! (16/11/99)

R-Comp Interactive finally released their RISC OS Quake player at a windy RISC OS '99 show in Epsom, Surrey. Mail orders for the game, some of which date back more than a year, are finally being dispatched as we write.
The conversion of the smash-hit PC game had been dogged by numerous delays. TBA's Martin Piper was unable to get his engine re-write finished due to work commitments at the PC/console gaming house, Argonaut. As a result, RCI were forced to adopt an enhanced version of the freeware player which is still available from
our downloads section to this day.
RCI's product is noticably faster and far more stable than the free alternative. A full review will grace these pages shortly but £22 for a legit copy of Quake along with the add-ons Malice and Q!Zone is good value in anybody's book.

TEK jungle screenshot (20/10/99)

ScreenshotArtex Software have released a new screenshot of their realtime strategy game TEK. The screenshot shows the new jungle landscape as well as some new buildings. Jan Klose told Acorn Arcade that they are still working hard on the game alongside their Iron Dignity, their main project. This month, as well as the scenery graphics they have been working on the game AI, especially the way finding algorithms.
Artex have also recently re-designed their website (http://www.artex.oaktree.co.uk/), which includes up-to-date info about all of their games, and will shortly include a new sound patch for Ankh.


Elite website shot down by rival (18/9/99)

EliteThe Elite Logo

The NTK website has a report on the recent disappearance of Ian Bell's website. Bell, co-writer of the seminal space trading game Elite, had a section on his site where anyone could download copies of the game for free - including versions for the BBC B and Acorn RISC OS range, as well as other machines.

It's alleged that the other half of the programming duo, David Braben, objected to this, but as the relationship between them has soured over the years since their glory days he went straight to the ISP hosting the site and got it taken down without first consulting his former colleague. This is not the first time that Mr. Braben has been accused of "defending his interests" in such a forceful manner, although whether any or all the net gossip is true is open to conjecture; it is certainly true that Mr. Braben did not answer any of the questions on the subject that were put to him by Acorn User in an interview they carried earlier this year.

Although this turn of events means that some versions of Elite are harder to get hold of - which could be run under emulation on most modern machines - the "Archimedes" RISC OS native version is still available to download from our FTP section and support page, which is a special version that has been patched to work correctly on anything up to and including a StrongARM RiscPC. It is worth noting that the RISC OS version was in fact written by Clive Gringras and Warren Burch under license, and is considered by most (even on Mr. Bell's former website) to be the definitive version.


New Iron Dignity screenshots (11/9/99)

Jan Klose has released a new set of Iron Dignity screenshots, which show how much the game has come on since we last saw it. The screenshots show that the in-game interface is now nearly done, and features a huge set of crosshairs in the middle along with weapons selectors in two corners, and a radar-style aerial view map in the bottom right hand corner. The screenshots also show more "real" settings, with one in what looks like a town, and the other in a river with buildings at the side. All previous screenshots have been just landscapes.

ID 1ID 2

Iron Dignity is still on target for a joint PC/RISC OS release. More info when we get it.

MicroDigital's Mico on-time (26/8/99)

Despite delays to RISC OS 4 and the RiscStation, MicroDigital have told Acorn Arcade that the Mico will still start shipping next month, as planned.
The company have already received more advance orders than they expected, which surprised them as they have not really been marketing the machine.
MicroDigital front man David Atkins told Acorn Arcade:

The Mico is designed to be attractive to the first time home buyers and the primary/middle school markets, hence Microbus for existing cards and the ISA for low cost network and modem cards and USB for future proofing.
RISC OS 4 has been delayed because of problems getting Flash ROMs, but MicroDigital already have Flash ROMs built into the motherboard, so RISC OS 4 will be pre-installed on all machines.
For more information on the Mico, see
our preview.

RCI Summer offer (26/8/99)

Yesterday R-Comp Interactive announced details of a special Bank Holiday offer that they will be running until the end of August. You can buy Abuse, Ankh, or Exodus for £17.00, (including P&P); Syndicate for £25.00; or the Repton Compendium for £18.00. All prices include postage and packing. To order, visit http://www.rcomp.co.uk/.

GCHQ to decide fate of Ant SSL module? (9/8/99)

GCHQ LogoThe GCHQ Logo

Our spies at Argo Towers have just reported that the fate of the Ant SSL module may be at the mercy of the real spies at GCHQ.

HTTPSMod version 0.97 exists and supports SLL for 40 bit and 128 bit encryption, but due to export restrictions cannot be released outside the UK, and apparently Argo (as distributors of the module) have to take "demonstrably reasonable steps" to ensure that strong cryptographic code is not exported outside the UK. As such GCHQ and/or the DTI have to be involved to figure out exactly what that entails, which means a release date will be at the mercy of more bureaucracy.

We have been assured that ArgoNet are pursuing the matter vigorously, but this matter does complicate whether the upgrade will be free or paid for, and if it's paid for how much it would cost. The easiest way to take "reasonable steps" to ensure the software is not shipped out of the UK is of course to send every copy out by disc, so it's likely there'd at least be P&P involved.


Doom maestro creates new website (7/8/99)

Top programming type Justin Fletcher has started a new section on his website for Doom+ resources, in preparation for the release of his new Doom plugin system.

Although there's already some useful information there in the way of plugin info, cheats and a list of command line switches, it's probably the Slige section that will get the most attention for now - Slige is a random Doom map generator Justin has ported to RISC OS, offering an infinite number of new maps.

And just to show that random doesn't mean a complete mess, in preparation for our own Doom section revamp we've generated a couple of new maps for you to play with.

Free maps from your caring Acorn Arcade staff



Acorn Arcade poll results (19/7/99)

Acorn Arcade's poll for the last fortnight is now closed. The question was 'If you had to choose a current game to show off your RISC OS hardware which would it be?', and was suggested by AA member Jon Hall following a posting to the Archive online mailing list. The most popular game chosen was Heroes of Might and Magic II, followed by ArcQuake, Descent and then Ankh. I was a little suprised by this, as I thought Descent would win. It is after all "technically superior", using a true 3D, texture mapped engine, and it is the only game on the list that is SA-only.
The poll for the next fortnight addresses the age old issue of ports versus home grown games, and asks which you would prefer RISC OS games companies to be working on.

RISC OS 4 (18/7/99)

RISC OS 4 screenshotNow that copies of RISC OS 4 have started to arrive to customers, there have been a few calls in the newsgroup for some sort of screenshot, as there aren't really any 'full desktop' ones on RISC OS Ltd's website. Dunstan Orchard has kindly provided Acorn Arcade with this screenshot for your viewing pleasure. It shows the vastly improved configuration options, as well as some of the new icons and the '3D' feel to the RISC OS 4 desktop. The upgrade, priced at £120 can be ordered from RISC OS Ltd's website.


Quake poll results (6/7/99)

Acorn Arcade's first poll was a great success, with more than 200 votes in total. The question was 'How do you feel about the Quake situation?'. 62% of voters said that they were fed up with the whole thing, 25% said that they were happy with RCI's solution of releasing an improved ArcQuake player, and only 13% said they were holding out for Martin Piper's Quake player.
The question for the next fortnight is 'What current game you would use to show off your RISC OS machine?'. By 'current' game we mean one that has been released, so Iron Dignity is not an option.
If you have any comments or questions about our current or past polls, or would like to suggest future poll questions, please contact
the editor. Any suggestions that we follow will be credited.

Acorn South-East show (6/7/99)

The Acorn South-East show took place on Saturday 3rd July at the Alban Arena in St Albans. RCI were selling their existing range at the standard show prices, and 4th Dimension were there as part of CJE's stand. Show highlights included the 'Ask the experts' talk in the theatre, Richard Jozefowski's talk on Millipede's current projects, and the demonstration of the RiscStation computer.
Following the official launch of RISC OS 4 on Thursday, there were only 11 copies of the OS upgrade on sale at the show.
RISC OS Ltd. intend to start shipping copies out to customers who pre-ordered the upgrade early this week.

Eddie Edwards releases Wolf3D source (2/7/99)

Eddie Edwards has announced the release of the source code and shareware data files for Wolfenstein3D, the original walkabout shoot'em up. The files are available on his recently updated Powerslave website, which also includes details of Nigiri, a new game 2D shoot'em up he is planning for RISC OS and Windows.

D-Day for RISC OS 4 (1/7/99)

Today's the day - RISC OS 4 is due to be shipped to customers who have pre-ordered a copy. A scant two days before the South East show, if it happens it could make the show one of the more memorable ones of recent times, and a welcome bit of cheer after events of the past year.
However, in a market where users are becoming increasingly used to slipped deadlines, we decided to verify if the date was still good. Using a contact who worked for a registered developer, we asked when the release date would be. Paul Middleton, MD of RISC OS Ltd., responded: "The release date has been on the website for ages." When our contact pointed out that release dates are given to slipping and asked again when RISC OS 4 would be released, Mr. Middleton again replied, "The release date has been on the website for ages". Someone stressed from tight deadlines? Or just plain old bad customer service? The next few days will tell...


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The Icon Bar: News and features: Acorn games news