Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

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sirbod
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Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby sirbod » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:36 am

Thanks to Philip Hawthorne from Alpine software, JASPP have been granted permission to release all the Alpine Software titles. To facilitate their release, I would appreciate assistance in locating the missing items so the archives can be completed.

If you have any of the missing items detailed below, and a scanner, or can create a floppy image of Creator 2, your assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Green are complete, Orange are in progress and Red are missing.

F10492 Adventure Collection, The (1993) (Alpine Software) (with testers)
  • Complete
F10663 ALPS [v5.12A] (1995) (Alpine Software) (with testers)
  • Complete
F10460 ALPS Support Disc (1990) (Alpine Software) (with testers)
  • Box insert
  • Manual/supporting material
  • 300dpi scan of floppy
  • unversioned floppy image
F10091 COPS (1989) (Alpine Software) (with testers)
  • v1.02 Complete
F10591 Creator - Arcade Games Designer (1991) (Alpine Software)
  • 600dpi scans of the box insert
  • 600dpi scans of the manual/supporting material
  • 300dpi scan of floppy
  • v1.04 Floppy image
F10604 Creator 2 (1993?) (Alpine Software)
  • 600dpi scans of the box insert
  • User Guide
  • 600dpi scan of the front and back cover of the User Guide
  • 300dpi scan of floppy
  • Floppy images
F10102 Cyborg (1992) (Alpine Software) (with testers)
  • v1.01 Complete (extending ADFFS to support on 32bit)
F10410 Plague Planet (1988) (Alpine Software) (with testers)
  • v2.10 Complete
Last edited by sirbod on Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:18 pm, edited 14 times in total.

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lurkio
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Re: Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby lurkio » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:02 pm

sirbod wrote:Thanks to Philip Hawthorne from Alpine software, JASPP have been granted permission to release all the Alpine Software titles ...

Please forgive the stupid questions, but can you give us a rough idea of when you think the disc-image of the ALPS support disc might be released? Are you waiting till the accompanying manuals/docs are found? (That might take a very long time..!)

Also, when you say that COPS is "Complete", what does that mean? Is it available to download? Where from?

Sorry I can't help supply any of the missing material. I'll let you know if I happen upon any of it, though I think it's unlikely that I personally will, as I know little about the Archie world -- my main interest here is in text adventures and hence ALPS.

:?:

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Re: Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby sirbod » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:43 pm

lurkio wrote:can you give us a rough idea of when you think the disc-image of the ALPS support disc might be released? Are you waiting till the accompanying manuals/docs are found? (That might take a very long time..!)

Titles are only release when the archive copy is complete. In the case of the ALPS support disc however, it can be bundled along with ALPS and released as a complete download at a later date when it's fully archived. It contains four utilities for squeezing adventures onto Floppy disc:
  • Compact - compacts Sprite files
  • Compress - compresses ALPS text files
  • Expand - uncompacts Sprite files
  • Convert - converts sprites to different screen modes (this was superseded by ChangeFSI)
lurkio wrote:when you say that COPS is "Complete", what does that mean?

It means the archive is complete, ie box scans have been combined into printable form, manuals/leaflets have been converted to PDF, floppies have been scanned and the JFD image created. It does not mean its necessarily ready for release as there's compatibility testing and any potential issues need to be fixed.

In the case of ALPS, it requires the Wimp so I don't need to test beyond RISC OS 4 and only up to StrongARM.

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Re: Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby lurkio » Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:04 pm

sirbod wrote:In the case of the ALPS support disc however, it can be bundled along with ALPS and released as a complete download at a later date when it's fully archived.

Please feel free to ignore my questions if you find them irritating, but do you have a rough idea when that might be?

Or, if the ALPS Support disc-image already exists (in whatever state of completeness), would you be willing to share it so we can have a play with it, even if it hasn't been extensively tested for compatibility, etc.? You never know -- we might even find some bugs or problems ourselves and thus contribute to the whole testing process for you.

:?:

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Re: Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby sirbod » Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:29 pm

lurkio wrote:Please feel free to ignore my questions if you find them irritating, but do you have a rough idea when that might be?

Ask away, not irritating in the slightest :shock:

Rough idea...well...I have to take my car for a service tomorrow 3 hours drive away so out all day, Thursday I have to find a birthday present for my brother, Friday I have to go to Colchester to get Christmas presents for the children, Saturday is my birthday so I'm out all day, Sunday I'd like to spend with my son, Monday I'm visiting the NHS for tests all day...so Tue is the first day I'll have a chance to look at the titles. I also have other things on the go, such as the Disc Error 23/SATA compatibility and trying to fix both my Iyonix, the Kinetic, the A7000 and the StrongARM RiscPC which are all in bits in front of me.
lurkio wrote:Or, if the ALPS Support disc-image already exists (in whatever state of completeness), would you be willing to share it so we can have a play with it, even if it hasn't been extensively tested for compatibility, etc.?

Please be patient, it will be released alongside ALPS when they're ready.

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Re: Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby sirbod » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:49 pm

Attached is the Impression->PS->PDF conversion of the Creator 2 User Guide, if someone with an original could confirm it's an accurate representation. I've assumed the manual is A5.

Impression reported the Greek3 font was missing, so I will need to create a revised version once I can locate a copy of the font. It's also missing the front and back covers, so I'm after scans of those as well.

EDIT: Revised version attached converted with the previously missing Greek3 font. It threw up some errors during conversion about 'hyphen' missing from the font, but appears to be okay.
EDIT2: Second revision attached with the missing 'hyphen' resolved and borders corrected.
Attachments
Creator II User Guide.pdf
(661.06 KiB) Downloaded 6 times
Last edited by sirbod on Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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daveejhitchins
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Re: Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby daveejhitchins » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:44 am

sirbod wrote:Saturday is my birthday so I'm out all day
In case I forget (ABUG!)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY for Saturday =D>

Dave H :D
Parts: UM6502CE, GAL22V10D, GAL16V8D, AS6C62256A, TC514400AZ, WD1772, R6522, TMS27C512, AT28C256
Products: ARA II, ABR, ATI, AP6, MGC, AP5 . . .
For a price list, contact me at: Retro Hardware AT dave ej hitchins DOT plus DOT com

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Re: Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby sirbod » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:30 pm

Thanks Dave.

Managed to get three hours in at the garage, whilst the car was being serviced. COPS and Cyborg are now complete and I've started checking them for 32bit viability.

Testing on virtual 26/32bit StrongARM threw up use of an undocumented Sound_InstallVoice call, which has now been confirmed and documented. There's possibly another issue with one of the Sound SWI's, as Sound_InstallVoice is triggering a Page Zero write. I also spotted an issue with paths, which I can hopefully fix in a boot script.

One potential issue is the disc protection on both titles, I need to confirm its passing and Cyborg writes to discs 1/2 if run from floppy, so that needs testing as well.

Plague Planet has run on modern hardware since ADFFS 2.61, so I just need to sort out the scans and PDF's.

I'm still after the red bits in the OP.

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Re: Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby sirbod » Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:50 am

To speed up the testing, has anyone successfully used ALPS on a physical StrongARM that could confirm definitively that it works without issue?

I managed to get a few hours in last night and now have COPS and Plague Planet complete and running on the Pi3 under ADFFS. COPS does require an update to ADFFS to work, which I'll make available as soon as I've also extended it to support Cyborg.

Cyborg relies on CFS, of which there's currently no 26/32bit neutral version available. I had a quick look at 32 bitting the Module to bundle with ADFFS, which given a few days work would be possible, but might violate Computer Concepts distribution clause. I've instead chosen to extend ADFFS to support FS/ImageFS extension Modules, as the stub code is already there and awaiting implementation.

ADFFS 2.63 core testing is near complete, so I'll publicly release the completed Alpine Software titles alongside the next ADFFS release.

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Re: Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby davidb » Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:07 pm

sirbod wrote:Cyborg relies on CFS, of which there's currently no 26/32bit neutral version available. I had a quick look at 32 bitting the Module to bundle with ADFFS, which given a few days work would be possible, but might violate Computer Concepts distribution clause. I've instead chosen to extend ADFFS to support FS/ImageFS extension Modules, as the stub code is already there and awaiting implementation.

So are you writing your own CFS decoder?

Out of interest, have you seen the archive on this page? It might be worth contacting the people at Xara to see if they might give you permission to redistribute a modified version of the module.

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Re: Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby sirbod » Sat Nov 18, 2017 1:24 pm

davidb wrote:So are you writing your own CFS decoder?

No, just adding support for FS/ImageFS Modules to ADFFS. If I planned to get the games running natively only 32bit, then CFS would need to be 32 bitted.
davidb wrote:Out of interest, have you seen the archive on this page? It might be worth contacting the people at Xara to see if they might give you permission to redistribute a modified version of the module.

It's that copy that I examined for 32 bit worthiness.

If you don't mind digging around and finding the contact eMail address on their site and PM me, I'll contact them to see if they allow the project to take on the source. It's trivial help like that, that would greatly speed up the project, as I'm so stretched. Which reminds me, must find contact details for Superior Software as well.

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Re: Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby vanekp » Sat Nov 18, 2017 1:38 pm

Superior Software you can find at http://www.superiorinteractive.com/ email support@superiorinteractive.com
or Richard Hanson at Superior Interactive:richard@superiorinteractive.com (owner)
Peter.

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Re: Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby sirbod » Tue Nov 21, 2017 6:29 am

sirbod wrote:adding support for FS/ImageFS Modules to ADFFS. If I planned to get the games running natively only 32bit, then CFS would need to be 32 bitted.

ADFFS has now been extended to support FS/ImageFS Modules, however CFS is implemented in a very strange way. Although it's an ImageFS on the face of it (files within files), its implemented as a full FileSystem and as a consequence has several issues:

  1. You have to explicitly tell it which other filesystems potentially have CFS archives on them (ie ADFS:4, SDFS:0 etc)
  2. It enters those filesystem Modules directly, bypassing FileCore/FileSwitch to access the contents of the CFS archives
  3. Applications access CFS Archives via an explicit filesystem path, eg cfs#hostfs::HardDisc4.$.Cyborg.!Cyborg.myCFSarchive
Point 2 is explicitly banned by Acorn, so I'm scratching my head wondering why it wasn't implemented as an ImageFS, but guess it was probably originally written pre RISC OS 3 and never switched to be an ImageFS.

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Re: Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby lcww1 » Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:30 am

sirbod wrote:To speed up the testing, has anyone successfully used ALPS on a physical StrongARM that could confirm definitively that it works without issue?


I’ve been running ALPS on a 233MHz StrongARM RiscPC with RISC OS 4.02 quite happily - I’ve not done a systematic test of all features, but so far everything has worked as expected......

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Re: Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby sirbod » Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:17 pm

lcww1 wrote:I’ve been running ALPS on a 233MHz StrongARM RiscPC with RISC OS 4.02 quite happily - I’ve not done a systematic test of all features, but so far everything has worked as expected......

Thanks, that's good enough for me as it's impossible to test everything. If I'm honest the only real way to be sure is to examine to code, but in most cases that's far too time consuming.

I'm after a few volunteers to check the contents and test COPS, ALPS, ALPS Support Disk and/or Plague Planet ahead of their public release. Please PM me with the ARM/OS version you're going to test them on. They should work on all machines, including ARMv7 under ADFFS.

Cyborg is going to be delayed due to the CFS issues, and I'm not happy with the manual PDF quality. I'm hoping Philip can locate the original Impression document by the time I've figured out a workaround for CFS.

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Re: Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby lurkio » Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:55 pm

sirbod wrote:I'm after a few volunteers to check the contents and test COPS, ALPS, ALPS Support Disk and/or Plague Planet ahead of their public release.

Presumably you only want testers with real hardware? I can only test in an emulator (Arculator under WINE on a Mac) at the moment.

:?:

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Re: Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby sirbod » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:19 pm

lurkio wrote:Presumably you only want testers with real hardware?

Yes, real hardware only as testing under emulation can give a false sense that something works. Been caught out by emulators one too many times :shock:

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Re: Wanted: Alpine Software titles for public release

Postby sirbod » Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:00 pm

With the exception of Creator 2 which is MIA and Creator, which requires scanning before I can sort out the PDF manual, they're now all in the hands of testers to confirm there's no issues.

Cyborg is the only one that doesn't fully work on the Pi, due to its reliance on CFS. At some point I'll look at patching CFS so it interacts with other file systems legally, instead of jumping directly into their Module entry points. Note that although the full game with the Arcade bits doesn't work, the Adventure itself can be made to run on a Pi when installed to HD, so its not all bad.

If anyone else would like to test them, please PM me.


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