The Platform Less Travelled By

Matt Barton's picture

Mark's segment this month was about platforms and how they affected us. How did having a Spectrum instead of a Commodore 64 affect your outlook on gaming and computing? I would also wonder how only having a console (such as the NES or SNES) compares to having a home computer (such as the Amiga or DOS).

In my experience, people who had no computers or only DOS machines (not gaming rigs) tended to favor consoles for gaming, whereas those with more multimedia-capable machines (such as the Atari ST or Amiga) tended to prefer computer games. This of course began to change in the EGA and VGA era, when PC gaming became more competitive or even superior to more games-centric platforms.

To answer Mark's question, I'd have to imagine that I had either grown up with a game console and no computers, or went with Atari over the Commodore machines. That's very interesting. I know one big deal about the ST was all the MIDI capability, so it's likely I would have gotten into that and perhaps ended up with a MIDI keyboard. Who knows, perhaps today I'd be a decent musician and have knowledge of how to read music and what have you. I'm sure I would also have adored Dungeon Master. I'm guessing I would have been a big fanboy, too, despising Commodore more and more as they fought against my beloved 800 or ST. I bet the Lynx and Jaguar would've been a big deal for me, too.

Here's the video by Marlinlee that Mark was talking about. This guy is great.

clok1966
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I didnt use it alot for

I didnt use it alot for typing up stuff, but I used Textcraft and WordPerfect (but when you pirate you can use anything). I must admit I was very, very lucky with Virus, never had a bad one, few in some pirates stuff, but was quickly eliminated.. I think the fact I worked with uch questionble stuff fromt he start had me leary and I watched close. I think alot of the problems with disks in the amiga days was if you where a gamer, those guys banged on the Hardware pretty hard.. the disk light (yes, just turning it on and off) on a 500 could change music in a game and alot of guys used it. I know some aftermarket Disk Drives that fixed this problem could make games not work simply becuase of it. Heck i can remebr a few games that wouldnt work if you ahve 4 Disk Drives attached.

some strange littel facts... im sure you die hard Amiga guys know um

Mad Dog Macree (laser disc game in arcades) used amiga hardware.. as did all the games in arcades by that company.
Babylon 5 used one to make the special effects (only the first couple seasons) i think Max Headroom did too(but that may not be a great one to point out :) )
UHF (wierd al) used one to make the Dire Striaghts parody in that movie.
Nasa used um to track Satalites up till the mid 90's, primarly as they didnt break down
one of the most sophisticated Ultra Sounds machines in the early 90's used amiga hardware.

Matt Barton
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I had a lot of trouble with

I had a lot of trouble with viruses and corrupted disks. I'll never forget the "lamer exterminator" virus that wiped about about half my collection. It could survive a system reset, and you'd just start getting disk read/write errors and not know why. Needless to say, if I ever met the author of said virus, that person would no longer be a problem.

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Bill Loguidice
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Word processing was

Word processing was definitely the Amiga's bane. I had no ends of issues with things like Final Copy. Such a shame... It definitely suffered for productivity apps, though of course Deluxe Paint and the video editing stuff was top notch. Of course, there is nothing quite like modern word processing. Every system suffered a bit back then, though certainly not to the degree I (and apparently many of us) suffered on the Amiga.

Otherwise, my equipment was reliable.

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Matt Barton
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I hear you, Mark. It's so

I hear you, Mark. It's so easy to forget how unreliable the Amiga really was when it came to certain things. Even running a simple, non-WYSIWIG word processor (in my case Scribble!) was a nightmare--constant, random crashes, corrupted disks, etc. I learned to make redundant backups and save every few minutes (no auto-save, mind you).

I don't know to what extent hardware or software was to blame, but those crashes make me shiver to this day. You just never knew when that thing was going to give you a Guru Meditation error, and there was no recovery.

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Mark Vergeer
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My computer path

70s Pong / Odyssey2 / G7000 / G7400 Videopac
80s C64 / MSX / ZX Spectrum (parallel machines gifted to me and such) / NES
90s PC-XT (8088 Intel) / SNES / 486 SX-25 -> 486DX2-66 -> 486DX4-100 -> AMD K6-II -> Pentium III 650 / Apple LCII, LC III / Amiga 500
00s Pentium IV 2.0 / G4 -> Core2Duo / MacBook

I've been using MS-DOS, Windows 3.x, OS/2, BeOS, Linux, Windows95 (from early betas) to Windows 7 and from the 90s onwards always Apple Macintosh for the serious work. My windows machines most often were gaming/emulation machines. Still are for the most part.

My experiences with my Amiga weren't that great, I had a couple of hardware failures and the disk drive got repaired numerous times. It is again in a broken state today :(

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Bill Loguidice
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I'm not too surprised we're

I'm not too surprised we're heavily weighted towards past Amiga users here, Clok, since I think you would classify all of us at minimum as knowledgeable enthusiasts. Let's face it, those in the know back then got Amiga's, because we knew it was the most impressive (we educated ourselves), and there were really no negatives to having the platform until the very early 90's (when its games were no longer the best and it was falling too far behind in quality productivity apps). To me, there would be no other logical choice for us all back then.

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clok1966
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Kind of amazing we all had

Kind of amazing we all had Amiga's. I was heavily into a "computer club" in the late 80's early 90's we had about 100 members, maybe 20-40 regualars. We used to meet once every 2 weeks at a local computer store that "hosted" us. I was one of only 2 who had amiga. I hate to say it, but i WAS a fanboy back then.. and im sure I annoyed the heck out of IBM boys back then. I would say about half the members where more intersted in non gaming things.. but the ones who where interested in games we did impress them.. We brought the amiga 500 in one day (the owners of the IBM based store where somewhat unhappy) and showed then what it could do. it was a bit unfair as I had a QVC (?) external box with more ram, and accelerator (basicly made it 33% faster) and HDD, it was a souped up 500. It was impressive for those who cared about games. I do believe I convereted a couple guys. We got a AMIGA and APPLE store (yes they where both the same shop) about 89 ish. I used to head there and pore over the Fred Fish disks for hours and make copies of stuff.

that may be my one computer sale regret. I sold My original amiga 500 when i picked up a 3000 (which I still have) I never got even remolty the same use out of it, i seem to rember the workbench version puked on alot of older games :( I know i was a HUGE pirate back then (almost out of need, not greed) as there where hardly any place to get NEW games.. sure all the stores had the big name games.. but nothing new. Im sure the Amiga's low user base in my area dictated that alot. I hooked up with a "warez" group and was soon cracking (only about 2-4 releases to my name) The problem with availbility is soon you get games you had no interest in. I had 100's of amiga games.. A freind bought my 500 and all my games for a few hundered bucks back in the old days... he stil has um and I drool a bit when i see that old machine, good memories.

I truley think the AMIGA shapped my thoughts on hwo system should work. I loved my vic-20 and C-64, and the TI994/A had some impressive hardware (and nothing else), my Apple IIe, and Atari 400/800 where all fun.. But when I got that AMIGA and found out i could "hack" it so to speak.. make it faster, add on more then just memory and floppy drives ... multitask.. that one may be the biggest.. download and game! wow it blew me away.

Rob Daviau
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Great topic.

Indeed, I do not do a lot of response tags but I agree this was a great topic. I was definitely the AMIGA FANBOY back in the day but I wondered what all the fuss was about ATARI COMPUTERS, surely they could not be better, had I missed something all these years? Did I make the wrong decision initially?

My response came pretty late but here is the video relating my point of view and experience on the topic:

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Bill Loguidice
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Yeah, I would say once VGA

Yeah, I would say once VGA and SB sound started to become commonly supported specifications, it was the end for the Amiga, since it no longer had a clear graphics/sound advantage. Prior to VGA becoming a well supported standard, though, the Amiga was the place to be for gaming. AGA was too little, too late, as it merely more or less matched what was happening on the PC side with VGA, rather than exceed it, and Commodore really would have needed something special to stop the bleeding.

To my mind (and we've been over this a million times), Commodore should have pushed its compatibility with PC DOS systems (and to a lesser degree, Mac), MUCH more aggressively, and jumped on standards much more quickly. For instance, the Amiga was VERY late with getting hard drives and later on, late with getting CD-ROM drives. Commodore was in a position to do what Apple does these days, and that's say to hell with everyone, this is what we're going to give you and you're going to like it because it's for your own good (meaning, like what Apple did with removing floppy drives, adding lightpeak, etc.). That's the advantage that an underdog has that Commodore failed to do after their early Amiga innovations. They were always behind the curve thereafter. With a few exceptions, there was a similar situation with Atari and the ST series.

Of course again, losing out was probably inevitable. Perhaps the only viable answer for both Commodore and Atari was to go the Tandy route and embrace creating PC compatibles more aggressively (both Commodore and Atari DID produce PC compatibles, but never really had their hearts in it), perhaps even trying to create their own Tandy-like graphics/sound standards. Like Tandy, when that no longer became viable in the face of VGA/SB, they could have gone to straight up PC compatibles with industry standard parts (perhaps with funky cases or other value-adds to distinguish themselves). While Tandy eventually sold out their PC compatible business, Commodore and Atari could still in theory be around today, being similar to what a Dell is like.

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Matt Barton
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I had similar feelings about

I had similar feelings about the 1200, Bill. We'd just bought an Amiga 3000 right around the time the 1200 and 4000 came out. There were rumors (read: lies) that there would soon be an official Commodore upgrade option to AGA. That never materialized as far as I know. The same sort of thing was said about the CD32; oh, soon Commodore will have an official CD-ROM drive so don't sweat.

Anyway, I toyed with the notion of buying a 1200 or 4000 instead of a Gateway PC. Looking back, I made the right choice, but it would have been interesting. There were a few nice AGA-only games. Still, it didn't make sense to invest and become dependent on a dying platform, and I don't regret it. If anything, I regret moving from an Amiga 1000 to an Amiga 3000. It would have more sense, in retrospect, to skip the 3000 and go directly to a DOS machine. That would have set me up well for the Doom and LucasArts era, and, assuming I added a CD-ROM, Myst and the like. It seems to me that anything really exciting on the Amiga was over by 1990, and all the action was on the PC platform.

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