|Erik, it would be
cool to hear about other opinions about games you've
contributed to. What games are your faves and why, what
games are really the rotten eggs that never should have
been released; etc...
Erik Simon: Well, since Thalion was in the wild days of the games biz, we never had to release really rotten eggs. But we did release games that in hindsight were not really cool, e.g.: Leavin' Teramis, Seven Gates of Jambala, Enchanted Lands, Neuronics and a few others.
Most of them concentrated too much on technology and had an unfocused game design. Then, of course, there was Airbus 320. It was by far our most commercially successful title (around 100.000 copies sold), but it wasn't done in-house and from a gamer's perspective it was plain boring (not for the sim crowd, though). There was a hard lesson to be learned for me with this one.
And, finally, there are a couple of games that I'm looking back at with pride:
Jurie Horneman about his time at Thalion
Ever heard of Henk Nieborg?
They went off to develop Flink and Lomax for Psygnosis. Then Henk moved back to Holland and Erwin went back to Vienna. (Now I'm here in Vienna as well, working in the same company as Erwin again. It's a small world.) Henk is one of the fastest and most talented 2D artists I've ever seen. How many people do you know who can drive a rotating, complex object in less than a day? Or any of Lionhearts complicated animations? He's also a genuinely nice guy. He has his own website where you can see the quality of his work. Seeing him mentioned in this blog entry reminds me I haven't talked to him for a long time. (Quelle)
But our managing director at the time saw something in it. He made a licensing deal with Airbus, Lufthansa and Jeppesen, the company making the aviation maps used by actual pilots, and marketed the game as a serious commercial (ie non-military) flight sim, aimed at an older audience, who wanted their fantasies firmly rooted in reality. The game came in a heavy box filled with a big manual and aviation maps. It became a huge hit, so huge that the managing director at one point got up every two hours at night to feed the disk duplication machines which were running in his basement at home with fresh floppies. It became so huge that one weekend, the developers (us) had to come and help fill the boxes. So there we were, any of one of us top people in our respective domains, filling boxes (if you ever hear me saying that "I did pretty much everything you can do in the games business", I am referring to that weekend). If I recall correctly, the game sold over 250.000 copies, on Amiga and ST (and maybe PC), in the early nineties, mainly in Germany and the UK. There was even a players' conference in the UK.
One programmer, who is one of the most talented 3D engine programmers I know (he wrote the 3D engines for No Second Prize, Extreme Assault and Incubation), had to port this game to the Atari ST. I shared an office with him at the time. Do you know that Gary Larson cartoon with the devil showing the guy into a room in hell full of idiots with banjos, saying "And this is your room, maestro."? That's what that was like. It was heart-breaking.
That was my first experience with what I call the model railroad market segment. That (and all of the above) was not in any way derogatory, bitter, or sarcastic. It's a passionate group of people with lots of disposable income, and this game, with its realistic depiction of commercial air flight, spoke to their hearts. (Quelle)
Extreme data-driven development
on Ambermoon, Amberstar and Albion
We used the same system for Ambermoon, the sequel to Amberstar. Ambermoon was developed for the Commodore Amiga, but we kept editing the data on Atari STs. We made some changes to the underlying system. I came up with a couple of those changes - if I remember correctly I made some improvements to the conversation system. This time two people created the data for the game. Since we didn't have a network, this meant putting certain core files on a floppy disk, and whoever had the floppy could edit them.
At the end of '93 things were going downhill with the company and people started quitting. The remaining developers, me included, went to Blue Byte (actually we just changed the name on the door). In order to "quickly" deliver a game to them, we decided to make another role-playing game using the same editor system. This turned into Albion, and took two years and an enormous amount of crunching. (Careful readers may ask: "Hey, did you take key technology that represented years of development from one company to another?" The answer is: "Yes, we did. Yay the 90s.")
Everyone except me switched to PCs for development (and we got a network). Since the game was being developed for the Commodore Amiga, I was using that, until Commodore went bust and the entire project switched to PC and C (from 68K assembler which is what I'd been using since 1991). "But wait", you ask again, "you were using PCs, but those tools were written in a custom Basic for the Atari ST! How could that possibly work?" The answer is: Hardware ST emulators. Every developer who used the tools had a special card in his PC, and we switched from DOS to GEM and back. And to make things weirder: The emulator was entirely done in software - the hardware just contained a chip with the ST ROM (TOS) and perhaps a peripheral interface or two.
We made a lot of changes to the system for Albion, often driven by me, to allow us a lot more flexibility in our content. That flexibility was not always used by the scenario designers, which was a very valuable lesson.
After spending the first five years of my career doing extreme data-driven development like this, and being a designer as well as a programmer, I have a very special relationship to both data-driven development and hard-coding. I think I am now pretty good at creating data-driven systems, but I am also very aware of the advantages of hard-coding. Or, rather, mixing design and programming. (Quelle)
Innovation: Doing Things the
If you don't want to change how you work, think about embracing a new target audience. My first job in the industry was at a long-defunct German company that had the reputation, mostly among European 16-bit computer gamers, of making very technically advanced games. The team consisted of a who's who of the best programmers and graphic artists from the Atari ST demo scene (plus me). We made that limited machine, and its slightly sexier sister the Commodore Amiga, do things they were not meant to do, but which looked extremely impressive at the time.
So imagine my surprise when one weekend in 1991 I found myself hard at work, not in our office programming a game, but in a warehouse at our parent company's distribution centre, putting game manuals and flight maps into boxes. (When I tell people I've done everything in game development, I am specifically referring to that weekend.)
Our company had recently signed a publishing deal with a commercial airline pilot who had written an Airbus A320 simulator for the Commodore Amiga in his spare time. Since flying an A320 was his day job, his simulator was very realistic, and our managing director had seen its potential and set up partnerships with Lufthansa, Deutsche Airbus, and a company making official flight maps, which lead to all that stuff having to be put into all those boxes.
And a lot of boxes there were. Despite the fact that the game was written as a side project by someone who was not a hot-shot programmer working in assembly language, the game sold very well. Despite the fact that no one had noticed the niche, there were a lot of people who wanted an Airbus A320 simulator for 16-bit computers. Despite the fact that the game did not use any of the bleeding-edge 3D engines we had developed internally, it filled an unmet need and outsold most of our other titles.
Airbus A320 taught me to pay attention to things that people are fanatical about. Even today I look at racks of magazines - remember those? - for ideas, because if a magazine exists there are people interested in that subject, and that may be an untapped gaming market.
As an another example: consider that
long before Twilight became popular, the urban fantasy
and paranormal romance genres already had a massive
following and dedicated shelf space in book stores. In
games, even now, the only place you find that same
content is in hidden-object games. That looks like a
massively under-served niche to me. (Jurie
Horneman für GamesIndustry.biz)
Had Ambermoon been released for the PC?
Jochen Hippel Trivia
It may be of interest to some people, Jochen Hippel
(Mad Max) was sacked by Thalion some time ago - he was
too lazy for them. Which is why you don't see any music
made by him on Thalion games anymore... (Chris
Holland, März 1993)
I'm interested in your final point about coding for love rather than money. Is that why you all set up Thalion?
Niklas Malmqvist: Well... I don't
think that Thalion was started without any ideas of
making money, and I'm not sure what the reasons were that
other people at Thalion started working there. I do know,
however, that the reason Niclas Thisell and I started was
only because we thought it was fun. Another challenge if
you will. Niclas wanted to do a whole game as technically
advanced as he could (Enchanted Lands) and I... well... I
just thought it was great to work on games with old
friends from the demo scene. Erik Simon, Thorsten
Mutschall and I have been (and still are) great friends,
and working together on various titles was just great
fun. Of course we were a lot younger back then and didn't
have the worries of life on our narrow shoulders, so
money wasn't that important. As long as we could afford a
few Hawaii burgers at Kochlöffel in Gütersloh (that was
the most foul burger you can imagine - a real shit
hamburger which they added a pineapple ring to and called
it "hawaii" - absolutely awful). So to sum
things up - I would think that around 50% of the
developers at Thalion did it for love, and the rest went
about it as a regular job. There were also a few
administrative guys and investors working for Thalion,
and I find it quite hard to believe that they did it for
Trex Warrior background novel
Jurie Horneman: It might be best if that novel was to remain hidden... but at least I can say that I'm a "published author" - it tends to impress women :-).
I also wrote the story in the Amberstar manual. They had to double the amount of pages for that. It was a bit gloomy (I remember a disemboweling scene and a child being attacked by an undead bear) and probably very bad.
The stories I wrote for Amberstar and Ambermoon were long enough to cause the managing director to grumble about printing costs. (Quelle)
The Lionheart story was cute though. I came up with
pretty much every motivation I could think of why someone
would do what the main character does and crammed them
all into one four-page scene :-).
Texture-mapped 3D graphics
Erik Simon (of TEX and Thalion) was also here, showing off a new 3D filled vector game called: Trex Warrior, which looks superb! He also had some demos of a texture mapping routine which looked quite amazing and also fast considering what he was making the ST do! (Quelle: Maggie)
Stefan Posthuma: I have already seen something that left me gasping for breath and seeking the support of a chair: Erik Simon showed me the realtime zooming and texture mapping graphics that Thalion's Michael Bittner has done for a roleplaying game and they are... well... what can I say? (Quelle: ST News Vol 6 Issue 2)
Richard Karsmakers: I
remember, back when I was working for Thalion, Michael
Bittner was working on some texture-mapped 3D graphics,
i.e. 3D graphics not consisting of filled polygons but of
properly drawn graphics appropriately put in perspective
and such. On a standard ST his routines were of
acceptable speed, but only for use in slow-paced games -
roleplaying games and such. (Quelle: ST News Vol 9 Issue 1)
Jurie Horneman: The German company [Thalion] was for all means und purposes dissolved by the end of 1993. The German version of Ambermoon had shipped and the texts had already been sent for localisation. I had a contract with the UK office to produce the English language version, which I did. To my knowledge that version was never officially released, but it's gratifying to see that people can play it now. I was quite pleased with Ambermoon and I know some of the other team members were, too.
Does anybody know what happens when you take a broomstick to the forest moon in Ambermoon?
Yes. OK, now which Thalion member does this guy resemble?
"As you set foot on the green
world for the first time, something very strange happens:
A red-bearded demon, nine feet tall, appears in a cloud
of smoke and throws himself in a rage on your broomstick!
He looks at it in disgust and then smashes it into tiny
pieces. With a satisfied grin on his face the strange
demon disappears. The broomstick is just a pile of
Amberstar- & Ambermoon-Cover
Man sieht den Helden mit dem Amberstar, im Hintergrund die Feste Godsbane. Der Adler ist das wohl beste Transportmittel auf Lyramion.
Dargestellt wird eine Szene auf Morag, dem zweiten
Mond von Lyramion. Die Kreatur am Boden ist einer der
echsenhaften Moraner. Im Hintergrund sieht man das
Luftschiff, mit dem man zwischen den Monden und Lyramion
hin und her reist. Außerdem ist der Waldmond gut zu
sehen, auch "Grünes Juwel" und später
"Kire's Mond" genannt. Dies ist das Exil der
Single Disk-/ Double Disk-Version (Atari ST)
"Chambers of Shaolin", "Leavin' Teramis", "The seven gates of Jambala" und "Warp" wurden sowohl auf einer doppelseitigen als auch auf zwei einseitigen Disketten vertrieben.
Die doppelseitige Single Disk-Version von "Leavin' Teramis" und "Warp" enhält auf der zweiten Diskettenseite anscheinend die zweite Diskette der einseitigen Double Disk-Version (Seite 00 und 01 werden anscheinend nicht abwechselnd sondern hintereinander gelesen [Seite 00/ Spur 00-79 > Seite 01/ Spur 00-79]).
Des Weiteren wurden einige Spiele wie
beispielsweise "Chambers of Shaolin" sowohl als
"File Version" als auch
Magic Lines (Amiga)
This game does have quite an interesting loader - it loads all even tracks, then switches sides and starts reading downwards all uneven tracks! The protection was also quite interesting with a mixture of disk checking (flaky bit protection: It tries to read a track 64 times of which 50 reads need different data to succeed) and trying to guess how the cracker would remove the protection by counting words until an rts was found!
Hidden Grandslam intro
I found a hidden Grandslam intro in this game which had been disabled in the code! All Thalion's earlier releases were published by Grandslam, but Magic Lines was an unusual title in that it was not done in-house. The game was shown to Thalion first who went for the usual Grandslam publishing deal, but it was around that time that Grandslam stopped paying their bills and Thalion dropped the Grandslam deal. (Quellen: WHDLoad/ The Software Preservation Society)
Thalion and Atari's Falcon 030
Thalion are continuing their pro-Falcon
policy with a Falcon version of "Airbus A320 (USA
Edition)". Wether there are real improvements or
just a tweak to enable the ST game to run, like with
"No Second Prize", remains a good point to
watch. Significantly, there is not an A1200
version. You might like to read
an interview given by Thalion in the July edition of The
One (Amiga mag) and have a discreet chortle at the
comments made about the A1200 - a disaster for
implementing state of the art 3-D and texture-mapping,
according to them! (Quelle: Maggie #12)
What about the third part of the unfinished Amber trilogy? Are there any parts of the scenario? Graphics? Tales?
Jurie Horneman: Karsten Koeper, the main designer of Amberstar and Ambermoon, had long had ideas for a third game, which I believe he wanted to call Amberworlds. However, by the time Ambermoon had ended he had decided to leave the company. Thorsten Mutschall, who did a lot of the graphics on Ambermoon, and I had done some brainstorming sessions on a possible setting and story for a third game. However, when we moved to Blue Byte and decided to make another RPG, we started all over again together with Erik Simon. We could no longer really use the Amber setting, plus we wanted to do something else, in a different style. That became Albion.
Although the Amber series was fun, we wanted to do something a little tighter and deeper (than the Amber universe), which combined many quite different elements (witches, Egyptian elements, different planets, etc.). The Albion universe featured Celts, aliens and spaceships, but there was an attempt to explain how they got together...
Could you tell us what these stories were about, please? What happens in Lyramion after Ambermoon?
Jurie Horneman: I'm sorry, I know Karsten told me this at some point, but I forgot. I even forgot what Thorsten and I were thinking of ;-).
Diese Forum-Beiträge wurden mit
freundlicher Genehmigung des Thalion Software Webshrines
If you had the chance, would you like to finish the Amber trilogy and work on an "official" sequel to Ambermoon?
Jurie Horneman: Karsten Koeper, the creative guy behind the Amber trilogy, had a concept for a third title called Amberworlds. Personally, much as I liked working on it at the time, it's not really my kind of setting, so if I had the choice, I would prefer working on a different game. But if someone paid me to do so, I probably wouldn't say no :-). (Quelle)
Anecdotes by Richard Karsmakers
Wings of Death disk format (Amiga)
"Wings of Death" uses Atari ST tracks ($1400 in length instead of $1600 for standard tracks). (Quelle)
Inspirationsquellen von Jochen Hippel
Dieses Game haben wir bereits in seinem "Urzustand" in der ASM 10/1988 vorgestellt, jetzt aber gibt's eine überarbeitete Superfassung, bei der Vollprofis am Werke waren, nämlich die Jungs von Thalion!
Großes Können zeigten die Thalion-Programmierer besonders bei der Anpassung des Programms auf das ungeliebte Blitter-TOS. Nunmehr ist "Quiz-Master" auf allen ST-Varianten lauffähig, lediglich der Mega-ST fällt aus der Rolle. Besorgt hat diese Umsetzung Marc Rosocha, der sich schon bei der Umsetzung von "The Last Ninja" auf dem ST einen Namen machte. Hochwertig ist jetzt auch der Titelsound, denn der stammt vom wohl begabtesten Soundprogrammierer Deutschlands, nämlich Jochen Hippel. Was der gute Jochen da an Sounds aus dem mageren Soundchip herauszaubert, ist wirklich kaum zu glauben! Um das Ganze dann noch abzurunden, kreierte Erik Simon noch ein ansehnliches Titelbild, sodass bei "Quiz-Master" nunmehr vollends für Ohren- und Augenschmaus gesorgt ist - mal ganz abgesehen von der ideenreichen Umsetzung des Quizprinzips (wenn auch mit Anlehnungen...). (ASM 3/1989)
Ambermoon - Tracing the influence
Wie weit Sie Ihren Atari ausbauen können, zeigt der GIGA-ST, den sich ein Mitglied der Programmiergruppe TEX aus einem 520 ST+ zusammenbaute. Der GIGA-ST verfügt über Stereoausgänge für externe Verstärker, zwei Monitorbuchsen, zusätzliche Steckdosen, zwei bidirektionale parallele Schnittstellen, Anschlüsse für IBM- und Atari-Tastaturen und vier umschaltbare Joystick-Ports mit regelbarem Dauerfeuer. Zwei 3½-Zoll- und ein 5¼-Zoll-Laufwerk mit Hyperdensity sowie eine 32-MByte-Festplatte dienen als Datenträger. Außerdem sind eingebaut: Lüfter, Schlüsselschalter, digitale MHz-Anzeige sowie eine Trackanzeige, Hard-Disk-Verzögerungsschaltung, ein 3-Kanal-Stereo-System mit einem multifunktionalen Mischpult, Stereo-Peak-Anzeige, Automon, Hyperscreen, TOS-Umschalter, 40/ 80-Track-Switch und ein Systemparalysator, um die Arbeitsgeschwindigkeit des Prozessors stufenlos zu regeln. (ba) (ST-Magazin 12/1989)
Sie eigentlich schon das 3D-System der Firma Thalion
gesehen, das sogar auf 286ern und Amigas erstaunlich
Lord British alias Richard Garriott: Nein, noch nicht. Wie hieß die Firma?
Thalion aus Deutschland.
Lord British alias Richard
Garriott: Ich werde es mir noch ansehen! (PC Games 11/92)
Turrican und Thalion
Julian Eggebrecht: Wir
hatten ursprünglich mit Thalion geredet und die wollten
es [Turrican] dann doch nicht machen bzw. einer der
Thalion-Programmierer zu dem Zeitpunkt wollte es dann
doch nicht machen, worauf hin wir dann Thomas [Engel]
gefunden haben, der auch ganz talentiert schien. Und der
hat dann die Atari ST-Version gemacht. (Quelle: Spieleveteranen Podcast #62, 0:59:49 -
Udo Fischer about some technical details of...
The publisher of the game wanted us to make it run on all versions of the Atari, even the smallest Atari ST with 512 KB RAM and only a single sided disk drive.
To have as much memory as possible, the original game was developed to run completely without any ROM-TOS! All I/O, sound, keyboard and disk routines were written by myself. In this way the game could use nearly all of the 512 KB. [...] A special assembly switch changed the conditional assembly from using GEMDOS routines to direct DMA/ FDC controller programming.
[...] The final version only runs from disk! On the disks (with a very special disk layout [...]) I had as short filenames as possible not to spend to much space for the directory. During development I had three versions for the three supported languages and for each language two versions (one developer and one final version).
...the Dragonflight disks
The Dragonflight disks are composed of sectors which fill in the complete track (6 KB). So we have no gaps and can fill 960 KB on each disk (6 KB/ track, 80 tracks, 2 sides).
I also use my own directory structure in which small files can share one single sector (normally each sector is dedicated to one file). In this way the sectors are always completely filled with data (exept for the last one).
All three ATARI ST versions (German, English and French*) used the same special disk layout. This was a 'standard' track 0 of course (to be bootable), but the other 79 tracks were in the 'single 6k sector format' (only one sector per track, but with a size of 6 KB). Most disk monitors, investigating the disk layout, only analyse track 0 in which there is a 'disk description section' in sector 0. But the data in that section is only valid for track 0.
Normally you have 9 sectors with 512 bytes of data in each sector on one track. Between the sectors you have gaps and sector-header information. It is no problem to write 10 sectors on one track. There were special formatting routines which allowed 11 sectors per track, but depending on the drive speed, the last sector overlapped the first one...
Our track layout was quite simple: One sector per track but with 6 KB of data (which corresponds to 12 sectors with 512 bytes). Leaving away the gaps and headers there is enough space for 6 KB. In this way a double sided disk can hold 960 KB of data.
But (!): The standard FAT uses at least one cluster (2 sectors) for each file and each cluster can only contain one file. This means that a file of 1 byte length would occupy a complete cluster that is 2 sectors/ 1024 bytes.
Solution: Dragonflight has also an own directory structure, which allows multiple files in one sector. This is only reasonable for read-only disks! But that's the case for the original game disks. And this special disk format with the special directory layout could only be read by directly programming the floppy disk contoller which currently no emulator is able to handle correctly. By the way, the disks were created with the AMIGA, who had no FDC at all and who could write the raw data to the disk drive.
The disk layout was not primary for having a copy protection but to get more data onto the disk. The real 'copy protection' is done by some questions concerning the manual: You have to type in some words from the manual.
* The language selection was also done
with a simple assembly switch. I used 'language files'
and text numbers. In the program I only used the text
numbers and the 'printing subroutine' selected the
corresponding sentence from the text file, independent of
the language and the offset inside the file. (Udo Fischer)
Dragonflight backup disks
This game creates backup disks, that you need to play, with a very special format:
Techniques of points 2 and 3 seem to have been used for fun by the author. We thank him because after much head-scratching they give us some good insights into the WD1772:
Dragonflight wurde lange nicht
geknackt. Entweder sind die Leute an dem sich selbst
umschreibenden Bootsector gescheitert, oder an der
Entschlüsselungsmethode, die auf dem Trace-Vektor lief.
Bei der "Halfman"-Sicherheitsabfrage war dann
endgültig Schluss :-). (de.comp.sys.mac.soc
"Alte Viren?", Antwort von Andreas Franz)
Chambers of Shaolin Kopierschutz
Thalion & Art Edition
Published in 1991, Neuronics doesn't appear to be published by Thalion. It looks like it is published by some company called "Art Edition". The disk and the manual all have the standard Thalion Software GmbH logos on them, but the box isn't the standard Thalion box and says: "Copyright Art Edition. Im Vertrieb der United Software GmbH."
Erik Simon: "Art Edition" was a budget label of United Software. Neuronics was done by a freelancer, but Thalion's Thorsten Mutschall did completely new graphics, (Jurie Horneman designed the logo), we provided the music and produced the game.
Jurie Horneman: [Do you] see that big console on the lower left of the screenshot on the back? Thorsten drew everything behind that, then covered it with the console. He's like that.
In retrospect, the text on the back cover is highly original. Nobody does that anymore.
Diese Forum-Beiträge wurden mit
freundlicher Genehmigung des Thalion Software Webshrines
Michael Bittner Trivia
Ich habe 1989 bei Thalion als Programmierer angefangen, wo ich Titel wie "Warp", "Leavin' Teramis", "Trex-Warrior" programmiert habe. Ebenso habe ich an "Amberstar", "Ambermoon", "Lionheart", "Magic Lines" & "Airbus A320" mitgearbeitet.
Irgendwie war ich von Anfang an von 3D-Grafik fasziniert, bin aber leider nicht gerade ein Mathe-Genie, aber irgendwie gings dann doch immer. Das Programmieren habe ich mir selber beigebracht, so habe ich schon während der Schule angefangen alle möglichen Demos zu schreiben.
1993 habe ich mich selbständig gemacht, verschiedene Titel angefangen, aber rausgekommen ist in dieser Zeit nur "Iron Soldier" für den Atari Jaguar. Über seltsame Umwege hat es mich dann im Sommer 1996 nach Synetic verschlagen.
Für Hobbys ist leider nicht mehr viel Zeit, aber ich gehe sehr gerne ins Kino und schlage mir bei jeder Gelegenheit den Bauch voll, ansonsten versuche ich das Reifenprofil an meinem Capri möglichst flach zu halten. Bei der Polizei in Gütersloh bin ich inzwischen wohl schon ziemlich bekannt...
Urlaubsreif bin ich schon seit Jahren,
1990 war ich das letzte Mal im Urlaub, ich weiss schon
gar nicht mehr wie das ist. Achja, mein Baujahr ist 1968,
aber ich bin trotzdem der zweitjüngste im Team! Mein
sehnlichster Wunsch ist zur Zeit ein Programmierkollege,
der mich ein bisschen entlastet, und mit dem ich mich ein
bisschen über Skalarprodukte, Normalenvektoren,
Rotationsmatrizen und so ein Zeuchs unterhalten kann. (Quelle: Inoffizielles N.I.C.E. 2 FAQ - ©
Andreas Niehoff - V0.2 06.08.98)
Richard Karsmakers: When I look back at my period of employment at Thalion Software in Germany, I come up with mixed feelings. On the one hand there was great friendship and a lot of talent, and on the other hand there was commerce knocking on your door, commerce littered with individuals you couldn't trust at all.
One of the good things to come out of that period, however, was my colleague Erik Simon's advise to check out a writer by the name of Anne McCaffrey. At the time we were creating an entire concept world in which all future Thalion games would be put - a project that was axed not much later due to lack of funds - and McCaffrey's world of Pern was a most excellent example of such a world. I bought the first book of the "Dragonriders of Pern" series, a book by the name of "Dragonflight" (the game of the same name released by Thalion was a total coincidence, as Erik had read the German version of the book and had never before heard the English title). (Quelle: ST News Vol 9 Issue 2)
Wings of Death
"Wings of Death... ha, ha, ha, ha!", those immortal words from Richard Karsmakers greeted players in the intro tune. The in-game voice was done by Tim Moos (Manikin of The Lost Boys) because they needed somebody who sounded English enough for a professional game.
David Moss (Spaz), Tim's graphic artist
younger brother, told us: "We had quite a laugh
doing the voices for that game. We were both working
there [Thalion] at the time and they already had some
voices in the game, but as everybody who worked there was
German, their accents were terrible. In the end we both
recorded versions but it was decided that Tim's was the
"Thalion on Jaguar", Antwort von Stefan
Kimmlingen vom 23.03.1995; weitere Quellen: MyAtari magazine Issue 23, September 2002 + Maggie #7)
Sound und Grafik auf dem Atari ST
The Exceptions, Bad Dürkheim:
Ich besitze den K-Seka-Assembler Version 1.6. Leider habe ich bisher keinen Weg gefunden, Assembler-Routinen in GfA-Basic einzubinden. Mein Assembler kann offensichtlich nicht den reinen Objektcode auf Diskette speichern. Diesen benötige ich aber für das Basic-Programm. Wie wandle ich die vom Assembler gelieferte Programm- und Linkdatei in den Objektcode um? Welche Bereiche muss ich abtrennen? (Christoph Roth)
Da der Seka einen eingebauten Linker besitzt, müssen Sie die Programme nicht linken. Die vorhandenen Linker-Menüpunkte sind damit eigentlich überflüssig. Ein assembliertes Programm speichern Sie mit dem Befehl "wo". Es wird jedoch als normale ausführbare Datei gespeichert, mit GEM-Header und Reloziertabelle. Ein komplett PC-relatives Programm können Sie nicht speichern, da der Seka die Reloziertabelle in jedem Fall anlegt. Bei einem PC-relativen Programm besteht sie nur aus dem ersten Langwort, das auf die Reloziertabelle zeigt. Dies verursacht bei Startversuchen die Fehlermeldung "TOS-Fehler 35".
Um nun ein Assembler-Programm in Basic einzubinden, assemblieren Sie es mit den Befehlen "org" und "load". Dabei wird es direkt in den angegebenen Speicher geschrieben, auch an die Speicherstelle Null, wenn Sie nicht aufpassen. Das entstandene Programm müssen Sie mit dem Befehl "wi" speichern. Nachteil: Das Programm läuft nur noch in dem Speicherbereich, für den Sie es assembliert haben. Abhilfe: Ein PC-relatives Programm ebenfalls mit "org" und "load" absolut versehen, obwohl ja keine absoluten Adressen vorkommen. Dieses speichern Sie als IMG-Datei. Die entstandene Datei laden Sie dann mit "bload" an jede beliebige (freie) Speicherstelle.
Anmerkung: Der Seka hat sich als extrem
schneller Assembler gezeigt, der vor allem wegen seiner
Größe und der schnellen Verfügbarkeit von Debugger und
Editor benutzt wird. Allerdings hat er einen schweren
Fehler: Er verwaltet nur 64 KByte Symboltabellen. Bei
einem Überlauf treten unter Umständen lustige
Fehlermeldungen auf, zum Beispiel "Symbol nicht
definiert", obwohl es doch definiert wurde. Oder der
Seka stürzt beim Assemblieren mit einem Bus-oder
Adressfehler ab. Diese Fehler treten allerdings erst bei
zirka 11000 Zeilen Sourcecode (210 KByte) auf und hängen
natürlich nur von der Länge und der Anzahl der
verwendeten Symbole ab. Ein ähnliches Problem ergibt
sich beim Link-Puffer: Die Anzahl der global definierten
Symbole ist einfach viel zu klein. Für kürzere
Programme ist der Seka trotzdem ideal. (Udo von TEX (The Exceptions) - ST Magazin 8/89)
The Delta Force International Coding Conference #2 - Convention Song
TCB-TLB fax war
The TCB-TLB fax war was commenced during the time that Dave and Tim stayed over at Thalion to code "A Prehistoric Tale", summer 1990. We even got into some slight trouble with Thalion's managing director after he found out that we had been faxing to Sweden all the time.
This fax war mainly consisted of
hypothetical newspaper clippings of TCB being slaughtered
by TLB, TLB being locked in jail for said offense, some
rather rude artwork and more like that. It was a lot of
fun and beat hell out of trying to sleep in the damp
hotness of Gütersloh. (Quelle: ST News Vol 7 Issue 1)
The "Dragonflight" manual refers to Erik Simon having had a motorcycle accident and the highscore table of "A Prehistoric Tale" refers to "Richard Carcrasher". So, what are the background stories?
Richard Karsmakers: I
don't remember about Erik's thing, though I seem to
recall he had some back problems that might have been due
to a motorcycle crash earlier in life. I do know that I
had rear-ended another car a few months before the
release of APT. I had been fumbling with the CD player
controls and hadn't paid enough attention to the guy
before me in heavily congested traffic. The music was
"Rush", I remember. (Antwort
vom 29.05.2010 auf die Frage von Alexander Holland)
DevpacST Developer Version
At Thalion, everybody of course works
with the developer version [of DevpacST 2.23] that allows
cross-assembling to other machines, which unfortunately
needs the communication hardware plugged in as a copy protection dongle. (Quelle: ST News Vol 5
Produktivität von "Codern"
Mag ja sein, dass die "Coder"
was können, aber die Leute sind i.d.R. so dermaßen
spezialisiert, dass sie sicherlich Probleme haben,
später in "ernsthafte" Arbeitsbereiche
überzuwechseln: Zum Beispiel habe ich neulich mit zwei
Leuten von Thalion etwas Betatesting für ihr neues
"Ambermoon" gemacht. Der Programmierer von dem
Ding ist zwar IMHO einer der allerbesten Amiga-/
Assembler-Hacker, den ich je zu Gesicht bekommen habe,
aber ich musste ihm erstmal Enforcer/ Mungwall geben (hat
mich schon fast gewundert, dass er die Autodocs
hatte...). Von Caches wusste er auch nichts und er pustet
jedesmal den gesamten Source durch den
Assembler. "Ambermoon" enthält kein Byte aus
einer Hochsprache (abgesehen vom HD-Installationsprogramm
:-)). Das ist sinnvoll und notwendig für zeitkritische
Sachen wie das Texture Mapping, Grafikaufbau, etc., aber
es wird doch wohl niemand behaupten wollen, dass man in
Assembler schneller als in einer Hochsprache entwickeln
kann. [...] (de.comp.sys.amiga.misc
"Produktivität von 'Codern' (was: Re:
big-WoC-Festival)", Antwort von Torsten Klein vom
Thalion in the USA
Karsten Köper und GfA-Basic
At the Coding Convention, we also hope to get our hands on a new version of the ST TOS (TOS 1.7) that was made by TEX, TNT Crew and Level 16. It is very good, all Atari patches have been included and many more things have been added that now no longer require you to have loads of little programs installed in your AUTO folder. (Quelle: ST News Vol 5 Issue 2)