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Apple II as a demo platform

category: general [glöplog]
Out of curiosity, I've taken a look at the prods for Apple II.

Wow...possibly the most least impressive demos I've seen.

Anyways, my first computer I used was an Apple II+, and yes, I'm well aware that the Apple II has VERY crude graphics hardware. But does anyone think that more impressive effects can be extracted from the II? There are some quite impressive demos for the ZX Spectrum, though its graphics hardware is also quite crude as well.

I think I've also noticed that the Apple II with a green monochrome monitor doesn't seem to be very capable of, say, different shades of green. It appears that the color capability is more of a hack, as what shows up as a solid color on a color monitor, shows up as a series of vertical lines on a monochrome monitor, all in the same shade of green.

Overall, it seems pretty hopeless as a demo platform, but the challenge still intrigues me. Though still, the best scrolltext I've seen implemented on it moves at about 1fps, and that demoscreen had no sound at all. I suppose I could get the best results on a IIc Plus at 4MHz, but I'd consider it cheating.

Any thoughts?
What kind of thoughts are you looking for?

Even though speccy's graphics hardware might be crude it has a more powerful processor and more RAM than the Apple ][.
added on the 2008-11-04 08:13:36 by Sverker Sverker
Hey IconoclasST, that's a machine which deserves at least one good demo :) You've got room ! Only one crappy stuff....

The Apple II seems too limited to be fun, the Apple IIe is far better, some colors, 64Kb, 6502/1MHz, you don't need more :)


Must have to do with the fact that that Apple II was only popular in the USA :)
added on the 2008-11-04 11:03:35 by kb_ kb_
Apple II has quite interesting hardware it seems.. perhaps not the best for demos, but certainly different. Maybe some interesting hardware abuse is possible.

The reason for the stripes on monochrome screens seems to be the way it encodes colour data in high res mode - there's some info in the wikipedia entry here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_II#Apple_II
added on the 2008-11-04 11:23:57 by psonice psonice
Sound will probably be a problem, as the only device is a speaker that can only emit clicks when you poke something at his address. You have to poke at the right frequency to make some notes or 1-bit samples.
And i believe everything in the apple ][ is hacky like that. Good luck for your demo :)
Quote:
Must have to do with the fact that that Apple II was only popular in the USA :)


Popular... not sure... I remember to have some friends in France owning an Apple II (at least their parents) but for sure it was more expensive than a ZX, an Oric or a so good TO7 =)
If I were to do a demo (not saying I will for sure), then I'd definitely be using an Enhanced IIe, with a Mockingboard to handle the sound. My theory is that it might take some of the stress off of the 65c02, freeing it up for other things. However, I'd have to make the jump from Applesoft BASIC II, to assembly, and if I want any decent musics, then I suppose the first thing I should make is a decent IIe/Mockingboard tracker.

If it looks too discouraging, maybe I'll make a lame Beagle Basic demo and then go back to fiddling with the ST.
I forgot to add, maybe I'll have to settle for something in the form of Masters of Electric City's Atari demos...text modes only. (Or at least, that's what it seems like they do). I have managed to write a few progs for the II+ that combine text and graphics modes before, but it really wasn't a big achievement. Are there any decent guides out there on 6502 assembly?
The mockingboard is using one (or two) AY/YM chips as you can find on ST, CPC, and many others. So, you will not need to write a tracker, just make the music on another computer and code a player :)
Yep, don't start to write a tracker ! You will consume all your motivation only on that project, if the mocking baord is based on a YM chip, yep that's easy, take a good madmax ST tune or ask somebody to compose one. Coding a player is not that difficult (don't start with that).

And yes, learn 6502 assembly, no other choice on such slow processor if you want to do something nice.
=> http://6502.org/
=> http://www.atariarchives.org/mlb/

I'm sure C64/Atari XL/Oric guys will point you to good tutorials to start...
...and btw, the oric is also using an AY chip, so you can probably steal a player routin from them with minor adaptations :)
Shazz: I remember that when I decided to buy the Oric, the approximative price of 6502 based machines was the following:
- Oric: 2500 FF
- Atari 800 XL: 3500 FF
- C64: 4000 FF
- Apple II: 11000 FF

Explains why I choose the Oric (I had to work during the summer in the fields to pay the machine, and it was all I could afford)

:)


added on the 2008-11-04 19:12:20 by Dbug Dbug
Eh eh thanks Mickaël :) So my souvenirs are not that bad :) But I did not know you was so old :) I remember a day of 1982 when my father came back with our first computer, a nice Oric Atmos :)
I still have it but I lost the Peritel to Antenna adapter... :(

Dbug, remember Tsunoo Rhilty ?
http://boutillon.free.fr/Underground/Deplombage/Interviews/Tsunoo/Interview_Tsun oo.html

Sorry I'm offtopic :)

So yes, the Apple II was not that affordable... but what a nice gaming machine, Conan, Rescue Raiders, Choplifter...
It's amazing how much of a markup Apple put on the price of the II, when the C64 and Atari 800 had capabilites that far exceeded it, minus 80-column text.
Apple 2 GS is cool. I mean similar but not so powerfull samplesynth like GUS + 4096 colors and 65816... I think best Apple 2 ever build...
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That's one of the best, the other being the IIc Plus. The IIc Plus runs IIe software faster than the IIGS. IIGS emulation is an absolute pain in the ass though.
@iconoclaST: The Apple II series had much worse graphics hardware than the Spectrum. Full-screen plasmas are possible on Spectrum because it's essentially a customizable textmode (ie. tile-based). Apple II however had a very strange memory layout, plus slow memory. There was a "sprite" capability (look up shape tables) but using that was the equivalent of writing a demo in interpreted BASIC...

The IIe could gang memory together to get 16 colors at 560x192, but it was a wacko 64-to-1 memory interleave that was crazy hard to program for. No raster interrupts, no sound device... anything at all on that machine is a miracle.

I've toyed with the idea of writing a demo for the IBM PCjr (it's actually slower and worse than the original IBM PC) but, like Shazz correctly stated, I have started a tracker first (got to have a music system) and that's consuming all my time :-)
added on the 2008-11-05 07:30:17 by trixter trixter
Quote:
Wow...possibly the most least impressive demos I've seen.

You haven't seen a lot of TRS-80 Model I demos yet, apparently :-)
added on the 2008-11-05 07:44:10 by havoc havoc
It really does seem discouraging :(

Perhaps the "Apple II Demo" that is already posted is the best it can do...
However, would I be incorrect in saying there are better demos on worse platforms?

As it is, I have enough fear of trying to make a sine scroller for it.

I suppose that overall, it just shows that Atari really did do well at "Power Without The Price."

Maybe I'd be better off making a PET demo.
Early PET models seem to be just as underpowered gfxwise as other 1977 homecomputers. I'm pretty sure it's possible to make a cooler demo for such systems than what already exists, but it's rather questionable if a traditional demo approach will work (50hz animation seems out of the question, so scrollers, starfields, etc look awful by definition). Maybe a somewhat different approach could work.. have a look at this for example.
added on the 2008-11-05 08:31:48 by havoc havoc
have a look, as in, watch the entire thing, not just the screenshot :)
added on the 2008-11-05 08:33:09 by havoc havoc
Well...all I see from running it is a still screen, and a short music...if this is the approach you have in mind, then I can code something like this in about an hour, if that, in Applesoft BASIC II. Is there something I'm missing?
http://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=51809 has to be the best prod I've seen so far... two voice musics, scroller, and starfield, double hires graphics...but terrible framerate... I'm impressed they got this much out of a II.
The best is that you don't loose time if try. You can always turn to other 6502/6510 :) platform without loosing all your knowledge.

By other hand, you have all time you need to understand your new toy. Nobody is pushing you with continuous version changing. That make you sleep better.
added on the 2008-11-05 13:31:24 by Aeko Aeko

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