Atari ST - hard/software recommendations ?

Kev2442

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Hiya,
got a 1040 STE a few months ago, and it will soon be time for me to start using it. xD
I've tried to find what possible mods I could give it, but I guess asking you guys is a good start as well.
So here goes :

1) I know of the C64 Computer Saver. Are there equivalent PSU protections available for the ST and are they worth it ?

2) Do you recommend a method over another when it comes to storage ? As compatible PC floppy drives get scarce, and I don't really want to bother with those, what would be best ? I guess CompactFlash is the better choice, but do you know of something else maybe ? Or just good european sites to order it from ?

3) I've also heard of WHDLoad on Amiga, how does loading games from hard drive go on ST ? I've seen this, do you guys know of anything else ?

4) I plan on trying Cubase and classic ST games (Vroom for example). Any software recommendations ? Like homebrews or the few games which are superior on the ST (seems Frontier: Elite II runs better than on A500), or simply ones you have fond memories of.

5) As it is my first real (not emulated) non-PC computer, any other advice ?
 

Linux-SWAT

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Cubase on ST have the reputation of being flawless.
Back then, I wish I had one when the windoze PC version crashed at anytime.
 

levi

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Vroom is a good call; the amiga version sounds horrible in comparison (I assume the version I watched on youtube was enhanced for STe), and doesn't look any better to my eyes. I've not seen anything else that looks better on ST than Amiga, but I've not seen it running Frontier, so that may be another. And of course, if all you have is an STe and no Amiga, the comparison is slightly irrelevant anyway.

I don't know what the HDD possibilities are either, as I'm mainly an emulator user these days. I mostly used an Acorn Archimedes back then, and most games depended on the floppy being in the drive. Even when they did permit hard disc installation of most of the game, they still needed the floppy as the loader app was encrypted with a key loaded from an unused part of the floppy (I assume it was the same copy protection scheme they'd been using before, but simply tweaked it to load from the floppy drive regardless of which drive the local folder was on*).

* Actually, I'm pretty sure of that. I recall writing an automated decryptor for these games, and I recall it worked on some of the games that predated partial hard disc installation as well. It was quite clever stuff, written by Gordon J. Key, which xored itself using modified keys about a dozen times or more, opening up more and more of the code as it went.
 

Eight Bit

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I stille have a mega st with black and white monitor and harddisk somewhere... I used it for cubase a long time ago. Hmm.. Is it worth it to dig it up?
 
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Kev2442

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My phone is an antique running Bada, no Pandora either. Only a Pyra will do in my eyes !
Plus what's the point of emulation when you own the machine ?

Don't get me wrong, I love emulation and totally get the appeal of screen filtering or 4K rendering. I've been there and still am at times (mostly PS1 for PGXP).
But for me, retrogaming is the combination of both the software and hardware. Original controllers would be a good start for me, especially the quirkier ones like the N64.
I'm comfortable with a console hooked up to a CRT, but I don't really want to spend much on the carts themselves though, so linkers are fine with me.

It's a matter of choice, after all. Any hobby can get costly if you're getting serious about them.
Plus, I'd sooner buy a Neo Geo than a PS4. The Pyra will be here for emulating any platform I'm not interested in buying, or specific games like translations, or pricey games unavailable on an EverDrive).

Finally, I'll add that in this case, text adventure won't get any better on any platform. I'm more into Amiga than ST (probably my next acquisition) so that makes a game I'll run without missing much (maybe the sound ?).
Still, thanks for mentioning Frotz, I didn't know about it. ;)
 

levi

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Frotz and other Z machine implementations aren't emulators: they're interpreters. When you play that game on an ST or an Amiga or whatever, you're also using a Z machine interpreter to run them. It's the same game but the fonts are generally better on modern systems, but sure if you want to get the specific experience of playing that game on the ST then fine, do that; I just suggest that if it's completely new to you playing the same game on a more modern platform shouldn't be any worse and may be more convenient.
 

Kev2442

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I figured it was more like ScummVM. Actually, I see it more as an excuse to play another game on my ST, heh. I'll be able to change platforms anyway if I don't like it.
 

levi

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Actually, it's pretty much the same as ScummVM, in that SCUMM was the executable interpreter and libraries for Maniac Mansion and onwards, and ScummVM is a slightly less portable replacement for that that happens to be open source. Back in the 1980s where there were dozens of interchangeably incompatible systems out there, and developers and publishers decided that if they could abstract out the bit that runs the code from the game data files, they could port that once and forever after have access to mutliple markets with very little work.

An emulator on the other hand works at a lower level, needing to simulate the action of all of the processing units and ASICs that make up those systems clock tick by clock tick (or at least that's mostly the case - it gets a bit more fuzzy as emulators use more and more HLE) - or at the very least simulate the internal buses of the system, and most of the bits hanging off it like that. SCUMM and the original Z-machine abstracted away most of that gubbins as the way they were made, simplifying the act of going from machine to machine, so as long as you implement the interface between game logic and interpreter well, you're happy. It doesn't matter if the game loads quicker, or the fonts are better kerned or anti-aliased.

Of course, modern developments muddy the water slightly, with modern emulators supporting higher res graphics packs meaning they're actually simulating some conceptional graphics chip that does what it used to do but at much higher resoluitions, which pretty much puts you into HLE territory. That's not a problem for engines/interpreters like SCUMMVM or Frotz, although now I say that I wonder where the high res fan funded monkey island packs are.
 

Kev2442

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Well, I do know the difference between interpreters and emulators. What I meant was that I supposed it was version-specific : you get H2G2 for the ST, with ST fonts and sound, not a generic H2G2 in native res. So more like ScummVM which uses graphics and everything from the version you have. But this is not the case.
So anyway, any comment on the PSU/HDD ? Thanks for the link, I'm reading through some posts :)
 
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