Aranym Demo Testing
"One.... Two.... Three....
Aranym, as we all know is a virtual 68040-based high end Atari clone. In
spite of the makers not wanting it to be associated with being a Falcon
emulator, the TOS 4.04 option leans it toward that direction. Even on the
Aranym website, we are greeted with such things as Double Bobble and Apex
Media being able to run being hailed as great achievements, and these are
surely the epitome of computing, Falcon 030 style?
So if the makers can take such a schitzoid approach to their creation, it is
entirely logical for us to take a look and see if any demos made for the
original Falcon can run on here too. here are their stories.
These tests are carried out in an extremely unscientific way. That is, on
the Mac version of Aranym (MacAranym), which has the emulated 68040 cpu but
no JIT compiler to use the host machine's full speed, as for the X86
version. It is running as v.9.3 with quite a tasty and fully featured Mint
set-up, and fVDI desktop, not to mention a hi-res truecolour mode. The host
machine is a modestly specced Mac Mini, running at 1.25ghz by the way.
In fact it might be as well to ask if anything wll manage to work at all
under those conditions?
There are some common factors which will pre-identify a better chance of
success, even before we start. For example, there is a better chance if you
are running a small demo without a soundtrack. Bearing that in mind, some
4ktro's seem to do better than average here. On the other hand, you can
definitely forget trying, if your target production is a DSP based demo. So
no 'Hmmm' demo or 'Sono' just yet! Firstly we start with those lucky
productions that succeeded in working under these conditions.
The most sensible option was to start with something which should be
guaranteed to work 'out of the box'. That is, the sadly neglected "GEM Demo"
concept. This took three common Dead Hackers demo effects from the late
nineties, and managed to get them to work within a GEM window. I remember
screenshots of this being used to benchmark a Hades '060, and GEM Demo was
most ideally suited for accelerated machines. So how was it going to get on
with an emulated '040 machine with a hi-res truecolour desktop?
The answer is yes, but there is some strangeness with the placing of the GEM
windows, as if these are moved too far right, then you don't see the effect.
In fact, only half the window is showing the demo anyway. The colours of the
effects within the window aren't quite right either. These all look like
issues with the fVDI.
As you can collect frame rate statistics, I did, so on my Mac Mini, which
was multi-tasking iTunes, and this article with it at the same time as
running MacAranym, a single bumpmap ran at 95-96 fps, adding a Bumpmap and
tunnel, lowered it to around 46-46 fps. The bottom line dropped to a still
respectable 30-33 fps, with all three effects running simultaneously.
That was the easy part, it was time to move onto some more exciting and
unpredictable productions, where there was no reasonable chance that
anything at all could run. Happily, we were surprised quite a few times.
The Place to Be 5 Invite. This was an Amiga inspired (converted?) procession
of 3-D objects of increasing complexity. This ran rather well, especially
concerning the speed of the 3-D, including the most complex objects, which
included a 3-D model of a cow! It was a fair bit quicker than the standard
Falcy, which tended to turn those parts into a slideshow mode. A common
theme for just about all these demos, with one exception, that there was no
sound or music of any description. The exception, I'll come across in due
Mystic Bytes 'Fury' 4ktro, from QuaST 98 party ran, if a little strangely.
It defined a 320 x 200 window, but only used the top half of this, the
bottom hald filled with random junk. The effects ran very quickly indeed. At
the end, MacAranym crashed and quit.
BSE positive by TNB, an old friend from the Symposium 96 ran. This was
unsyncronised, ran through its set programme, with 1 minute 27 seconds still
showing on the timer at the bottom of the screen, where this would have come
down close to zero on an unexpanded Falcon.
We did well with another couple of 4ktro's from the 1997-tastic
'Siliconvention' party. Both the mighty 'Bugblatterbeast' by tSCc, and
'Tutensuppenzauber' 4k from TNB ran. Ok, the first one wasn't strictly a
Falcon demo, and it ran way too quickly, but they worked!
w00t! We have some CT60 stuffs next!!
It's not only standard Falcon '030 stuff that Aranym can run. We found some
CT60 productions which also ran on here as well!
Possibly because they were part-authored on Aranym, the 'Episode 666' and
'Acid Tear' 4ktros from Dead Hackers Society both ran. You may recall that
they also worked on my Centurbo 2, and were a natural early candidate for
checking out on here. They ran noticeably slower than on my CT60, the time
frame for each effect seeming to stretch out for quite a long time, but the
smoothness of the indvidual 3-D objects was still respectable, certainly
quicker than on the CT2.
With this new light of discovery still burning, I tried Earx's 'Scape'
4ktro, voxel landscape rampage. This ran too, again slower than I'm used to
on the '060, but at a better framerate than the slideshow on the CT2.
I even got as far as running Deez's original spinning globe benchmark intro.
This was originally written on Aranym, which may explain why it ran on here.
The only downside is that it does not exit cleanly from my MacAranym setup,
and it does not record its benchmark score at the end as it is too busy
taking down MacAranym! Otherwise it could have been useful to compare it
with the CT60 score.
I tried other CT60 demos, but various factors prevented them from running,
probably because most of them have an '060 detector routine to stop them
trying to initialise on 'incorrect' hardware. If not that, then they come
with a soundtrack powered by DSP, whether this is a modfile player, MP2
streaming audio, or even Ace Tracker replay.
Whilst staying with the Dead Hackers, I gave a few of their other
productions a go as well. The Error in Line 3 intro, which you all recall as
a 'Hmmm' demo take-off on the ST ran nicely. It even managed to run on my
LCD screen under Aranym, when it refused the screen mode from my Falcon! As
for some of their other productions, we'll refer to the next section.
I'm moving onto a random mixture of new and very old demos, in no specific
order. For example, I tried a very early demo, one of the very first I got
which is '3DTT', something converted from the ST or TT and not at all Falcon
specific. This is happy to run, but it does so in the 'wrong' screen mode
without correcting itself, so the video output on Aranym is garbled. A
possible cure may be to start up Aranym in ST-low res!
An early Black Scorpion Software demo, which was mistaken for an in-
development game by ST-Format back in the day, was their SNES-impersonating
'Mode 7' Speeder demo. I got lucky with getting the version without sound,
as this works very nicely in a window on my Mac desktop. There is some
awkwardness with the keyboard/mouse, but I can get it to fly eventually. A
possible piece of Falcon demo trivia comes up here, I think this 'small'
verson of the Speeder demo was able to run on the tiny handful of 1 meg
Falcons out there?
And for no good reason, we're trying the classic grand-daddy of all Falcon
demos on here. Yes, the 'Terminal Fuck-up' or 'Termfin' demo by Sanity! And
it works! Okay, it's not quite at full speed, I'd say about 50 percent, but
it clearly runs. Like most other demos, there's no sound, and it crashes the
whole Aranym application if you press space to exit.
With a sudden lurch, we're back almost to the present, as we try out Damo's
Falcon verison of the 'Grimey' demo. Sure enough, the overall non-standard
nature counts in its favour as it works here. There is broken sound,
waitaminute, IT HAS GOT SOUND!! All the other demo's silent, and Aranym as
it currently stands has XBIOS compatible sound which seems to reject the
rest, I'm not even sure if it emulates the YM2149, come to think.
And then back almost to the beginning, and prehistory of Falcon demos. I
manage to find some of the early animations which were used to show off the
Falcy in 1992-3, before the arrival of a proper demo scene. The 'Birdy Show'
animation runs, I think that probably the other early animation demos would
work as well.
And yes, the classic if cliched Brainstorm Walking bird animation does as
And to round up things in this section of the article, something I'm not too
sure that is wanted here. I tried the Dildo Fatwa 'Elvis' demo, the rather
comic-book 'Charcoal the early years', and the recent 'We Dreme of Atari'
and all ran here, but without sound of course.
There were quite a few entries here as well. A lot of demos were willing to
go, but didn't quite make it. The Lazer Symposium 96 classic 'Gurkesalat
4ktro started up. We got one very rapid flypast then Aranym died. This demo
seemed to have a lingering aftertaste as Aranym didn't reboot correctly on
the first attempt afterwards.
I tried out some of the Dead Hackers classic '4' series 4ktro's, starting
from their Orneta '97 winner. I didn't get very far in general, but got a
start-up 'countdown' on one of the 4k's where it was precalculating
The New Beat Developments 'Flu' 4ktro was fondly remembered as a tidy and
flawless production. So it proved at first on here too, as the title
sequence ran, but then the demo hung...
On a fairly related note, I had a go with a couple of not so unknown
diskmags. The Maggie shell started, and got as far as the introductory
splash screen for issue 28, but stopped just short of initializing the main
menu. It was a similar story for the two random issues of Alive that I tried
as well, as we got a longer than average look at the introductory picture,
but got no further.
One which should have been a no-no was the NoCrew Aggressive Party 2 demo,
which is heavily DSP-based, but managed to display the opening screen before
it realised that!
I tried a few early demos, figuring I'd have a better chance here. The Opium
'Chrome' demo started up, partially displays, and then crashes Aranym.
I found that the Respectables Cebit '93 demo error checking, specifically
the RGB monitor detect worked as it should have done, and refused at that
point! This was also the case for the 'Warum' demo from Lazer.
There is still an unresolved question over the Revelations 'Psychosis
slideshow. A beautifully featured start-up and options screen appears. At
this point, the suckyness of my MacAranym's keyboard handling prevented me
from finding out any more. Other people with other set-ups may get further?
Remo's 'Coffeine' demo posts an RGB warning, ignores it, starts up and then
Another early demo, the Moving Pixels TGA slideshow, manages to display a
start screen (in a strange resolution) then gets stuck.
My guess is, in this category, that a lot of things hang when the DSP audio
engine is invoked. Apparently Aranym includes DSP emulation as part of the
hardware emulation, so what is going on?
That'll do Donkey, that'll do....
Well that certainly was an interesting trip into the realms of strangeness.
At least some Falcon demos are able to run on Aranym, even on my set-up,
which is extremely unfavourable to software made for a plain unexpanded
1993-vintage Falcon which often accessed hardware directly. With that in
mind, it may be possible to improve even on these results in various ways.
1. Try an Aranym set-up which is closer to a plain unadorned Falcy, with no
Mint, or fancy fVDI desktop. It was amazing I got as many as I did to run
with all the extra gubbins present.
2. It would be interesting for someone to try these out on an x86-based
Aranym. I suspect that MacAranym is not quite there in some respects, but
without experience of the alternatives, I can't tell. There was an issue
with keyboard handling on some demos, also when trying to get fullscreen
mode from the options menu, MacAranym fell over!
3. Ultimately, there will need to be more substantive steps to get a version
of Aranym closer to the classic Falcy '030. An Emulation of 68030 cpu,
rather than 68040 could help. There would also be a need for a workaround or
patch for the most common DSP modfile and audio players, as this would
hugely increase the success rate. And ultimately, a full F030 emulation with
a properly emulated MC56881 DSP would be nice.
As always, if anyone has anything of interest to add to this text, let us
CiH, for Alive Mag, June '06..