Speccy hardware tricks - Sinclair

This is a discussion on Speccy hardware tricks - Sinclair ; One of the things that always amazed me back in the 8-bit days was the way people managed to stretch the hardware of their computers to do things that weren't invisioned by the original designers of the systems. The C64 ...

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  1. Speccy hardware tricks

    One of the things that always amazed me back in the 8-bit days was the way
    people managed to stretch the hardware of their computers to do things that
    weren't invisioned by the original designers of the systems.

    The C64 hosts quite a number of examples of this: sprites in the border,
    playing sound samples, even simpler things such as sprite multiplexing
    probably wasn't on the original hardware feature list.

    I was similarly impressed some years earlier by the "high res" graphics that
    appeared on the ZX81.

    Are there similar hardware tricks like this for the Spectrum?

    The only one I'm aware of was the ability to play multiple sounds through
    the original Speccy's beeper -- as seen (and heard) in Wham! The Music Box
    and various games such as Exolon. Are there others?

    Did anyone ever find a way of getting the Speccy to display more than two
    colours in a character cell?

    --

    (O)enone



  2. Re: Speccy hardware tricks

    "\(O\)enone" did eloquently scribble:
    > One of the things that always amazed me back in the 8-bit days was the way
    > people managed to stretch the hardware of their computers to do things that
    > weren't invisioned by the original designers of the systems.


    > The C64 hosts quite a number of examples of this: sprites in the border,
    > playing sound samples, even simpler things such as sprite multiplexing
    > probably wasn't on the original hardware feature list.


    > I was similarly impressed some years earlier by the "high res" graphics that
    > appeared on the ZX81.


    > Are there similar hardware tricks like this for the Spectrum?


    > The only one I'm aware of was the ability to play multiple sounds through
    > the original Speccy's beeper -- as seen (and heard) in Wham! The Music Box
    > and various games such as Exolon. Are there others?


    > Did anyone ever find a way of getting the Speccy to display more than two
    > colours in a character cell?


    Yep, done in much the same way as the commode's "sprite multiplexing"
    With exact timing and an interrupt routine the colour of a line of screen
    can be changed before the next scanline begins.

    Look up "rainbow processor"
    That's the most famous demo of the ability, but several games did use it on
    their intro screens.
    --
    __________________________________________________ ____________________________
    | spike1@freenet.co.uk | "Are you pondering what I'm pondering Pinky?" |
    |Andrew Halliwell BSc(hons)| |
    | in | "I think so brain, but this time, you control |
    | Computer Science | the Encounter suit, and I'll do the voice..." |
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  3. Re: Speccy hardware tricks

    On May 22, 10:00 am, spi...@freenet.co.uk wrote:
    > "\(O\)enone" did eloquently scribble:
    >
    > > Are there similar hardware tricks like this for the Spectrum?
    > > Did anyone ever find a way of getting the Speccy to display more than two
    > > colours in a character cell?

    >
    > Yep, done in much the same way as the commode's "sprite multiplexing"
    > With exact timing and an interrupt routine the colour of a line of screen
    > can be changed before the next scanline begins.
    >
    > Look up "rainbow processor"
    > That's the most famous demo of the ability, but several games did use it on
    > their intro screens.


    Clever things done on a Spectrum:

    1. Rainbow processor, as you say. This could give 8x the usual colour
    resolution in a single character cell: i.e. paper and ink colours
    could be defined per row of a character space (1x8 pixels) rather than
    per character (8x8) within a restricted screen area.

    2. 'New colours' were achieved in Gyron by rapid flickering between
    two normal colours to create new blends. (This actually didn't work
    very well, but you could see what they were trying to do: a nice try
    that didn't quite come off.)

    3. Multi-channel sounds. Lots of games had two or more channels of
    sound. Agent X was the best example, with (if memory serves me
    correctly) five simultaneous sound channels plus percussion effects,
    with glissandi and multiple waveform effects. It was a remarkable
    piece of work (even if it was so quiet on a real Spectrum that you
    could barely hear it).

    4. Speech. Leaving aside speech synthesiser add-ons like the Fuller
    Box, a few Spectrum programs had digital speech, and Quicksilva's
    Speakeasy allowed users to record and play back speech on their
    Spectrums themselves.

    5. Plotting in the screen border: the earliest example I can think of
    is Aquaplane, which extended the sea and sky into the border around
    the screen area (i.e. a steady two-tone border at a precise height).
    More ambitious examples were Dark Star, which had a UFO shape plotted
    in the border above its high score table, and Starion from Melbourne
    House, which had a clever countdown timer that printed huge numbers
    over the full screen, including the border.

    6. Fancy loading routines. The Spectrum was the best machine I know
    for having inventive cassette loading routines written for it. The
    most ambitious loaders had complex animations going on and, in a
    couple of cases (whose names I can't remember), mini-games that you
    could play while waiting for the tape to load.

    That's all I can think of right now, but it's enough! :-) It was
    amazing what people managed to do with the Spectrum.


  4. Re: Speccy hardware tricks

    On 2007-05-22, Richard Hallas wrote:

    > 5. Plotting in the screen border: the earliest example I can think of
    > is Aquaplane, which extended the sea and sky into the border around
    > the screen area (i.e. a steady two-tone border at a precise height).
    > More ambitious examples were Dark Star, which had a UFO shape plotted
    > in the border above its high score table, and Starion from Melbourne
    > House, which had a clever countdown timer that printed huge numbers
    > over the full screen, including the border.


    ISTR that "Vectron" also used it, I quite liked vectron, a 3D maze
    game with tron style "recognisers" wandering around it. I can't quite
    remember what it used the borders for though but I think it did quite
    interesting stuff in them.

    --
    Blast off and strike the evil Bydo empire!

  5. Re: Speccy hardware tricks

    In news:slrnf55fh4.lqu.news06@desktop.tarcus.org.uk,
    Ian Rawlings typed:

    > On 2007-05-22, Richard Hallas wrote:
    >
    >> 5. Plotting in the screen border: the earliest example I can think of
    >> is Aquaplane, which extended the sea and sky into the border around
    >> the screen area (i.e. a steady two-tone border at a precise height).
    >> More ambitious examples were Dark Star, which had a UFO shape plotted
    >> in the border above its high score table, and Starion from Melbourne
    >> House, which had a clever countdown timer that printed huge numbers
    >> over the full screen, including the border.

    >
    > ISTR that "Vectron" also used it, I quite liked vectron, a 3D maze
    > game with tron style "recognisers" wandering around it. I can't quite
    > remember what it used the borders for though but I think it did quite
    > interesting stuff in them.


    Vectron used the border at the title screen - a maze design using blue
    character squares on a black background that stretched into the border. It
    was also one of the only titles that utilised the ULA "Snow Effect" to
    perform a rather groovy (if very short) screen wipe when you lost a life.

    D.



  6. Re: Speccy hardware tricks

    "Richard Hallas" wrote:

    > 5. Plotting in the screen border: [...]


    The cleverest examples of this are in scene demos such as NMI 3 and
    Pondlife. Both of those manage to scroll a coloured message in the
    border (machine timing permitting!).

    Eq.



  7. Re: Speccy hardware tricks

    On 22 May 2007 02:22:06 -0700 da kidz on comp.sys.sinclair were rappin'
    to MC Richard Hallas:

    > 4. Speech. Leaving aside speech synthesiser add-ons like the Fuller
    > Box, a few Spectrum programs had digital speech, and Quicksilva's
    > Speakeasy allowed users to record and play back speech on their
    > Spectrums themselves.


    There were a few programs which allowed you to record samples and play
    them back, using the tape input which, of course, was designed for
    loading games only.

    > 6. Fancy loading routines. The Spectrum was the best machine I know
    > for having inventive cassette loading routines written for it. The
    > most ambitious loaders had complex animations going on and, in a
    > couple of cases (whose names I can't remember), mini-games that you
    > could play while waiting for the tape to load.


    One of the Joe Blade games I think had this.

    Chris


    --
    +-------------------------------------------+
    | Unsatisfactory Software - "because it is" |
    | http://www.unsatisfactorysoftware.co.uk |
    | Your Sinclair: A Celebration |
    +- http://www.yoursinclair.co.uk -----------+

    DISCLAIMER: I may be making all this stuff up again.

  8. Re: Speccy hardware tricks

    On May 22, 9:56 am, "\(O\)enone" wrote:
    > The C64 hosts quite a number of examples of this: sprites in the border,
    > playing sound samples, even simpler things such as sprite multiplexing
    > probably wasn't on the original hardware feature list.
    >

    A lot of programming techniques on the C64 were "tricks" only in the
    sense that they weren't mentioned in the pathetic documentation.


  9. Re: Speccy hardware tricks

    Matthew Smith wrote Manic Miner. Chris Young wrote:

    >> 6. Fancy loading routines. The Spectrum was the best machine I
    >> know for having inventive cassette loading routines written for
    >> it. The most ambitious loaders had complex animations going on
    >> and, in a couple of cases (whose names I can't remember),
    >> mini-games that you could play while waiting for the tape to
    >> load.

    >
    > One of the Joe Blade games I think had this.


    Yep, a couple of Players games featured a Pacman game while loading.

    This wasn't exclusively a Speccy phenomenon though - I remember
    playing a Space Invaders clone while waiting the customary 13 hours
    for the C64 version of Ghostbusters to load.

    Lee

    --
    2006 Unclear Research Ltd

  10. Re: Speccy hardware tricks

    Matthew Smith wrote Manic Miner. Dunny wrote:

    > In news:slrnf55fh4.lqu.news06@desktop.tarcus.org.uk,
    > Ian Rawlings typed:


    >> ISTR that "Vectron" also used it, I quite liked vectron, a 3D
    >> maze game with tron style "recognisers" wandering around it. I
    >> can't quite remember what it used the borders for though but I
    >> think it did quite interesting stuff in them.

    >
    > Vectron used the border at the title screen - a maze design using
    > blue character squares on a black background that stretched into
    > the border. It was also one of the only titles that utilised the
    > ULA "Snow Effect" to perform a rather groovy (if very short)
    > screen wipe when you lost a life.


    Didn't Vectron also have the first scrolling message in the loader,
    and an early example of a five-channel Tim Follin *cough* "tune"?

    Lee

    --
    2007 Unclear Research Ltd

  11. Re: Speccy hardware tricks

    On 2007-05-27, Lee Prince wrote:

    > Didn't Vectron also have the first scrolling message in the loader,
    > and an early example of a five-channel Tim Follin *cough* "tune"?


    I'll see if I can find out, as I'm just adding a spectrum emulator to
    my media box in the lounge, looking forward to playing Knight Lore on
    a 47" screen, shame I can't get some decent dot-crawl going on it,
    perhaps some liberal application of booze might help.

    --
    Blast off and strike the evil Bydo empire!

  12. Re: Speccy hardware tricks

    On 2007-05-27, Lee Prince wrote:

    > Didn't Vectron also have the first scrolling message in the loader,
    > and an early example of a five-channel Tim Follin *cough* "tune"?


    Yep, the instructions to the game scroll across the top line of the
    screen while the game loads, and a two-digit countdown counts off the
    number of kilobytes left to load, then once that's down to 00 then the
    maze picture extends into the border quite impressively. Once you
    press a key a Tron-inspired ditty plays. Then you forget all the keys
    and sit there while your ship bounces off the maze walls.

    --
    Blast off and strike the evil Bydo empire!

  13. Re: Speccy hardware tricks

    On 22 mei, 10:56, "\(O\)enone" wrote:
    > One of the things that always amazed me back in the 8-bit days was the way
    > people managed to stretch the hardware of their computers to do things that
    > weren't invisioned by the original designers of the systems.
    >
    > (O)enone



    TV Game by Weird Science Software http://wss.sinclair.hu

    It's looks like PONG with the paddles moving in the border:
    http://wss.sinclair.hu/tvgame.php




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