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Article archives

Free Substitute Soccer game available on !Store

Posted by Mark Stephens on 17:25, 29/11/2021 |
 
Jeroen Vermeulen has been busy continuing with his project to convert Python games in Python from the book "Code the Classics" by the Raspberry Pi organisation. His fifth game (Substitute Soccer) is now available as a free download from !Store
 
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Software Preservation at the ROUGOL Show

Posted by Andrew Poole on 15:30, 28/10/2021 | , , ,
 
Disc image of Pandora's BoxWe've mentioned before the work of the Acorn Preservation Team to archive and preserve BBC Micro and Acorn software before it's lost to time and bit rot. As part of this effort, there will be a Software Preservation stand at this weekend's ROUGOL show which will offer a software preservation service. This is possible thanks to a generous offer of time and expertise from Paul Emerton (who you may remember from his excellent demonstration on BBC TV graphics and Acorn machines at the Centre for Computing History).

The idea is that you can bring along your BBC Micro or Archimedes floppy discs and if it's not already in the Acorn Preservation Team's archive, Paul will take an image of the disc while you wait and give the original back to you. If you take along a USB stick or SD card, a copy of the resulting disc image will be provided back to you (although be aware that the images of a single floppy disc can be up to around 85MB).

Imaging the discs will be made possible thanks to Paul bringing along his Greaseweazle - a small device that reads and stores the raw magnetic flux readings from the floppy disc (hence the large size of the resulting images). The advantage of imaging the discs this way is that it preserves the content exactly, including any special copy protection tracks from the original disc.

Even if you can't bring your own discs along, Paul will be available at the stand to chat and give advice on how best to store and avoid damage to both discs and drives to help preserve the life of both.
 
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Arculator updated to add A4 emulation and more podule support

Posted by Andrew Poole on 10:33, 10/9/2021 | , , , , , ,
 
Archimedes emulator Arculator has been updated to version 2.1 with some very nice new features. The emulator can now emulate an A4 laptop or the A500 prototype and can also emulate more podules, including the Aleph One 386 and 486 podule, meaning you can now run DOS and Windows in the emulator.

Other podules now supported include Acorn ROM podules, MIDI podules, Oak SCSI interfaces and Computer Concepts' ColourCard. Support for disc images in the .hfe format is also now included.

Arculator running WindowsArculator being an A4


Head over to the Arculator website to download the new version.
 
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How data can be recovered from damaged discs using an oscilloscope

Posted by Andrew Poole on 07:30, 18/5/2021 | , ,
 
Reading data from a floppy disc - the hard wayA couple of months ago, we told you about the Acorn Preservation Team, who are working to preserve the data from old discs before the data's gone forever.

Chris Evans and Phil Pemberton have written an in-depth look at how they were able to recover the data from some damaged discs that were otherwise unreadable using more traditional methods.

The post is an interesting look at how even when it appears the disc may be unrecoverable, with the right tools there can still be hope of recovering the data using more analogue methods at the magnetic flux level (and sometimes drawing peaks on a waveform manually!).

Also, as we noted in the previous article, the Acorn Preservation Team are still looking to help preserve any unique, rare, interesting and potentially historic discs anyone may have tucked away in the back of their cupboards before it's too late. They're not only working on BBC Micro discs, but discs for other formats and systems, too.

Links:
Recovering "lost" treasure-filled floppy discs with an oscilloscope - Chris Evans' blog
 
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Acorn Preservation Team want to help archive your old data before it's too late

Posted by Andrew Poole on 10:00, 8/3/2021 | , , , ,
 
Matthew Atkinson's Source DiscsThe need to preserve data from the BBC Micro days is becoming more and more urgent as time goes by since many of the discs are now well over 35 years old and many will be starting to degrade - if they haven't already. During this weekend's all-day ABug event, the Acorn Preservation Team gave an update on their recent project to recover the data from the original source code discs for several of Matthew Atkinson's games for the BBC Micro including Repton 3, UIM, Tempest and The Living Daylights.

The Acorn Preservation Team are also encouraging anyone who may have some old discs containing anything that is in need of recovery/preservation/archival to get in touch and loan the discs to them to help make sure the data isn't permanently lost. In particular, the team are interested in development discs containing sources, binaries, unreleased/missing/early versions of games and applications for both the BBC and RISC OS platforms.

In the case of Matthew Atkinson's discs, they were passed over to the Acorn Preservation Team a few weeks ago when they turned up here at TIB Towers after having been presumed lost by the author. It turned out that he'd in fact sent them to TIB back in the early 2000s where they were stored for the last fifteen years before turning up during a recent house move.

Once we'd sent the discs over to them, the Acorn Preservation Team set to work recovering the data contained within. This task wasn't entirely straightforward as some discs were showing the effect of their advancing age. One disc had damage that looked like it had seen an impact at some point in its life and sported a dent covering around 11 tracks of data. Despite this, the team were able to recover almost all of the data from the 22 disc set using a variety of methods including flux-level readings and analysing low level analogue signals from the discs. At the time of writing, only a handful of tracks from the dented disc remain to be recovered and are still being actively worked on. The data recovered so far has been provided back to Matthew Atkinson to have a look through and decide what he'd like to do with the soruces next.

A State of Flux talk
Phil Pemberton and Chris Evans talk about the process of recovering data from Matthew Atkinson's source discs at this weekend's ABug event


The ABug talk from the Acorn Preservation Team will be made available through both the ABug website and their new YouTube channel in the near future along with a talk by Matthew Atkinson himself on the history of his BBC Micro and Archimedes development days.

If you have any old discs in need of preservation, whether BBC Micro era or Archimedes/RISC OS, the Acorn Preservation Team urge you to get in touch via the Stardot forums or the Software Preservation channel in the Stardot Discord Server before it's too late and the data's gone forever.
 
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Book: Acorn - A World in Pixels

Posted by Andrew Poole on 09:00, 1/1/2021 | , ,
 
Acorn - A World in Pixels, by idesine publishing, is a new 476 page book about the best the BBC Micro had to offer in games. From Airlift to Zalaga, a huge number of the well known BBC Micro-era games are included with wonderfully designed full-colour pages for each and interviews with some of the programmers behind the games and also the people behind the computers themselves. The book, published on 27 November, 2020, is beautifully presented in hardback form with an Acorn green bookmark attached to the spine and contained within a hard slip cover.

The book starts with a short overview of Acorn and the BBC Micro followed by overviews of some of the bigger publishers of the time including Acornsoft, Superior Software, Micro Power and the 4th Dimension before diving into the games themselves. Many games have a full page spread with a description of the game and screenshots and illustrations. Interspersed between the game pages are interviews with developers, publishers and other prominent names from the era.

Towards the end of the book, there's a selection of interviews and information about the magazines of the time including Acorn User, The Micro User and Electron User as well as some interviews with some of the people who produced the sound and graphics to go with the games.

Finally, there's a quick look at some more recent activity in game development for the BBC Micro with interviews with some developers who have been working on games for the systems in recent years.

If you played games on the BBC Micro or Electron, Acorn - A World in Pixels is bound to bring memories of the time flooding back.

The book is available from the usual book stores and the publisher's website with an RRP of 29.99.

Links
idesine: Acorn - A World in Pixels (Publisher's website)
 
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Cloverleaf drops promise of including retro games with Kickstarter rewards (Updated)

Posted by Andrew Poole on 17:53, 22/12/2020 | , , , ,
 
Banned from CloverleafFollowing an odd saga over the weekend involving Facebook group bans, deleted comments and generally hostile responses, the Cloverleaf project have this evening posted an update to their Kickstarter page noting that due to legal concerns, their previous promises of including a large collection of games with the project's rewards will no longer be fulfilled. Instead, Cloverleaf will provide a way to download games from other sources.

Previously, Cloverleaf had promised a number of emulators and "enough games to discover and play for at least 1 year" as well as illustrating their project's posts with pictures of popular games such as Doom, Lemmings, Elite, Myst and Duke Nukem 3D.

In the short statement on the Kickstarter project's updates page, Cloverleaf explained:
 
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Amcog's latest game Star Mine reviewed

Posted by Mark Stephens on 08:06, 10/12/2019 | ,
 
Amcog has become a great source of new games for RISC OS over the last few years, and the London Show saw the release of their latest offering - Star Mine. It should run on most RISC OS machines (I tested it on a Titanium). This is the first Amcog game to offer joystick support as well as using user-definable keys.

 
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Amcog Games Escape from the Arcade reviewed

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RISC OS interview with Tim H-Smith

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Treasure trove of RISC OS games at JASPP site

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New release of Cyborg from AMCOG games

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RISC OS Interviews - Anthony Vaughan Bartram

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Games news

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