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Alive 13

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.

Working Demos..

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.

Partial Success..

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..

Alive 13