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:

  • Dragonflight (my contribution: game design, level design, graphics, project lead): The game that brought me into the biz. Might've been a huge hit when we'd managed to bring it out 1 1/2 years earlier. Still, a creative success.
  • Amberstar (my contribution: a bit graphics, some design input but not much): A fun, big RPG.
  • Ambermoon (my contribution: some game design, some level design, some graphics, project lead): A major creative success (also sold quite well).
  • Trex Warrior (my contribution: game design, level design, graphics, project lead): The game bombed commercially. Because it didn't fit into our CEOs new focus (Airbus should position Thalion as a sim company), it's been a stealth release (no ads, no PR, no nothing). But it was one of the few fun 3D games and was finished in time.
  • Wings of Death (my contribution: graphics): A great game, did the graphics in a very short time.
  • No Second Prize (my contribution: game design, some level design, minor graphics, project lead): Fastest 3D-engine on the ST/Amiga, Motorcycles, solid game play. What more could you want ;-) ?
  • Lionheart (my contribution: game design, level design, project lead): A major creative success, I loved this game. Henk Nieborg's gorgeous graphics, Erwin Kloibhofer's solid coding, great sound by Matthias Steinwachs and the rest just made one of the best Amiga games ever (IMHO).


Jurie Horneman about his time at Thalion
(taken from his website "
Intelligent Artifice")

On the 14th of January of 1991, I started my first day of work at Thalion Software. (Quelle)

Ever heard of Henk Nieborg?
This is the question asked by Jason Scott, the current guest blogger on BoingBoing. Yes, I know Henk. I worked with him at Thalion Software in the early nineties. He was there together with Erwin Kloibhofer to work on Lionheart, one of the best jump and runs ever on the Commodore Amiga (alright, so I am biased, but some people agree). I even shared an appartment with them for about a year in a small little town outside of the slightly less small little town which happened to be the centre of German game development (Gütersloh, I'm not kidding, every game company had an office there at some point). All the people there were two kids two cars kind of people. Except us.

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)

War story
In the early nineties I worked for Thalion Software, a company which was somewhat legendary in Europe on the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga platforms. Because it was founded by and employed many former demo coders (such as me), their games were known for their high technical quality. Around 1991 we were approached by Rainer Bopf, a colonel from the German air force, who had written an Airbus A320 simulator for the Commodore Amiga. To the extreme demo coders that we were at that time, the technical quality was, bluntly speaking, bad.

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
More war stories from the depths of time! My first job in the industry was main programmer on Amberstar, a big role-playing game by Thalion Software for the Atari ST. Amberstar was developed in a very interesting way. It was the brainchild of Karsten Köper, who before joining Thalion had developed a role-playing game called Mythos for Atari XL and Commodore 64. He had spent about eighteen months developing a set of editors in GfA-Basic, a very powerful Basic for the Atari ST that was quite popular in game and demo development. (Fun fact: Karsten is mentioned alongside Eric Chahi on the GfA-Basic Wikipedia page.) These editors allowed him to create data for any role-playing game in any setting - a bit like GURPS for computer role-playing games. Characters had attributes like "number of ring fingers", for potential sci-fi settings. So what I received when I started was a description of each screen in the game (typical for this kind of role-playing game, it was very GUI-driven), and a description of the binary data formats of the files that Karsten's tools generated. And that was it. I spent about a year writing a program on the Atari ST that could handle these files while Karsten created all of the maps, quests, items, etc. and the artists created all of the art (from, if memory serves, lists that Karsten made using his tools). The interesting thing was that a two man team based in Hamburg was doing the exact same thing for the DOS version. I met them at the start of the project, and I talked to them once during development over the phone (to discuss something I was doing in code that was, for once, not coming from the data), but that was the only contact we had. After a year, we had the same game for two different platforms. I'm still impressed that this worked out so well. Arguably it's an inefficient way of porting, since the DOS version required twice the programming manpower as the ST version, and the Amiga port was done the "traditional" way. But it still feels very different from any normal approach to game development. Of course, these days you can achieve the same effect using RPGMaker.

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 Hard Way
Innovating The New Niche Way

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


Had Ambermoon been released for the PC?

  • Erik "Lord Gütersloh" Simon führte am Thalion-Stand [auf der Computer '93] die Amiga-Version seines neuen Rollenspiels "Ambermoon" vor. Schickes 3D-Grafik-System, aber auf dem PC hätte man es damit gegen "Ultima Underworld" sehr schwer. Das sieht auch Thalion ein; die PC-Umsetzung soll deutlich verbessert werden und sich dementsprechend verzögern. Erst im Laufe des Jahres 1994 ist mit dem Amberstar-Nachfolger zu rechnen. (hl / PC Player 1/94)
  • No, the PC coders (Gino Fehr and Frank Ussner) got as far as doing the 2D parts and stopped. [...] They told me it was programmed in a mixture of ASM and Pascal! ( "Ambermoon for PC?")
  • Die PC Version war ca. 65% fertig als diese gecancelt wurde. (Karsten Koeper)
  • Thalion ist '94 das Geld ausgegangen. Ich kann ein Lied davon singen, war ich doch zu der Zeit mit der Programmierung von Ambermoon für den PC beschäftigt - dieses Game ist deshalb nie für den PC erschienen. Gruß Gino ( "Thalion (die Fragen kommen spät)", Antwort von Gino Fehr vom 03.06.1999)
  • Ich war einer der Programmierer von Amberstar/ Ambermoon. Ambermoon (PC) gibt es definitiv nicht. [...] CU G. Fehr ( "Amberstar, Ambermoon", Antwort von Gino Fehr vom 11.11.1996)
  • Als zweiter Programmierer von Amberstar für den PC muss ich Dir leider sagen, dass wir damals Ambermoon niemals fertiggestellt haben. Die Firma Thalion, die das Projekt geleitet und finanziert hatte, wurde zahlungsunfähig - tja, damals war alles noch recht "unprofessionell". Gruß Gino ( "Immer noch Ambermoon", Antwort von Gino Fehr vom 12.04.1998)


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 love. (Quelle)


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?

If I remember correctly, some guy comes up and jumps onto the broomstick, turning it into 1000 pieces.

Yes. OK, now which Thalion member does this guy resemble?

The demon is Erik Simon. Erik and I had different opinions than Karsten on how to build a fantasy world. Karsten liked to throw in lots of stuff, we liked things to be more... coherent? I’m not judging. Erik designed the forest moon, the broomstick was a thorn in his eyes (and mine), so Erik added that little bit of logic as a joke :-).

"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 splinters."


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 Zwerge. (Quelle)


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 "Trackloader-Version" veröffentlicht.


Magic Lines (Amiga)

Copy protection

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 verwendet.


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

  • Probably the first half year that I worked at Thalion I lived in Holger Flöttmann’s new place together with Nic "Nic of TCB" Thisell. Holger still lived at his parents and the old office at the Königstraße was used as regular office space. We needed some place to live, so this was the solution. Because we were supposed to have to move out to more suitable lodgings at any time, neither of us really ever properly unpacked. As summer 1990 approached, Thalion assumed new office space about 100 metres east in town and I moved out of this place and into the old office premises until I quit in March 1991. Nic had nearly finished "Enchanted Land" and opted to finish it back in Stockholm (holding the entire game ransom until Thalion paid up - a wise choice as the company was having the beginnings of financial trouble then).
  • As summer 1990 approached, Marc "Eclipse" Rosocha was growing more and more displeased with management, and in particular how management sought to curtail his artistic freedom. At one time, management picked Richard Karsmakers to be the producer of what would later become "Wings of Death". A task for which, within hours after being assigned it, Marc and Richard and sundry realised Richard was eminently unsuitable. But even after Marc's freedom had been restored, a seed had been sown in his head that would eventually lead to him leaving Thalion. In the months before leaving, he was angry a lot. (Quelle: Homepage of ST News)


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

  • The highscore tune of "A Prehistoric Tale" was actually ripped from Yngwie J. Malmsteen's "Icarus' Dream Suite Op. 4" which in turn was ripped from Remo Giazotto's "Adagio in G Minor" which was based on Tomaso Albinoni's work. (Quelle: Homepage of ST News)
  • Das Leitmotiv von Robbie Buchanans "The Chosen One" aus dem Film "Auf der Suche nach dem goldenen Kind" wurde von Jochen Hippel für den Resetscreen der "Cuddly Demos" übernommen.
  • "City Walk" aus dem Spiel Amberstar kann in Teilen eine gewisse Ähnlichkeit mit dem Musikstück "The days long gone" von Joe Hisaishi aus dem Anime "Nausicaä aus dem Tal der Winde" nicht verleugnen.



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)


Haben Sie eigentlich schon das 3D-System der Firma Thalion gesehen, das sogar auf 286ern und Amigas erstaunlich flott läuft?

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 - 1:00:06)


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:

  1. Except the first one, each track is made up of five 1024 byte sectors and one 512 byte sector, which allows to cram more data thanks to fewer inter-sector gaps.
  2. Tracks all have the same recorded number (ID field): 178. This number is obtained by using the $F7 format code, that orders the WD1772 to issue two CRC (control) bytes. Notice that the CRC of the ID field itself is correct.
  3. Each track has a special header in the pre-data gap zone. This header is obtained by using the format codes $F5 (address mark) and $F7 (CRC).

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:

  1. Contrary to what the doc states, the CRC register isn't preset to ones ($FFFF) prior to data being shifted through the circuit, but to $CDB4. This happens for each $A1 address mark (read or written), so the register value after $A1 is the same no matter how many address marks. When formatting the backup disk, Dragonflight writes a single $F5 (»$A1) in its custom track headers and expects value $CDB4.
  2. The format code $F7 may be used inside an ID field. The CRC bytes are added to the CRC, so that this is correct. This implies that at the receipt of $F7, the WD1772 saves the current value of the CRC (at least the lower byte), before it is modified by adding the upper byte to the logic.
  3. $F7 will trigger output of CRC only if the CRC is non null (Dragonflight track headers). Notice that the CRC is null if after a reset you output it:
$F5 » $A1 CRC = $CDB4
$F7 » $CD, $B4 CRC = 0
$F7 » $F7 So the 2nd $F7 is really written $F7 on the disk. In fact, a byte following $F7 isn't interpreted as a format byte, that's why the 2nd $F7 is written $F7, you can write $F5, $F6 the same way. (Quelle)


Dragonflight Kopierschutz

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

  • Disk 1
    Track 00.0 has classic 9 × 512 bytes sectors, all others have 5 × 1024 bytes + 1 × 512 bytes. All tracks have a strange A1 sync at the end of the ID and of the data fields. We need to look at the start of the track content. Here we can see that at the end of the ID field we have 14 0B. This is obtained by writing 00 29 A1 (hidden sync). When we look at the end of the data field we have the same sequence. Another interesting sequence is that at the end of the track - we have a long sequence of $F7 characters.
  • Disk 2
    Same tricks as on disk 1 are used and some more: All tracks on side 1 are using a bit width 5 % below normal (around 1900 µs) so they are longtracks with about 6550+ bytes.


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 verwendet.


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.

"Have a N.I.C.E. Day" war übrigens mein erster Titel, den ich nicht mehr komplett in Assembler programmiert habe (dafür komplett in C). Lang lebe der 68000er!

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)

  • Coincidence or what? Erik Simon, Thalion's designer of the RPG "Dragonflight", did not call his epic game after this, even though he was inspired by Pern - he had read the book in German, where it has a totally different name. (Quelle: ST News Vol 6 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 best." ( "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:

  • Der ST-Soundchip hat nur 3 programmierbare Stimmen, jedoch keinen Filter, keine Ringmodulation und auch keine einstellbaren Wellenformen. Nur mit Hilfe eines eigenen Synthesizer-Programmes ist man in der Lage, die Lautstärke eines Tones anhand einer eigenen Tabelle zu modulieren. Insgesamt schneidet der ST-Soundchip schlechter ab als der SID des C-64.

    Zum Thema digitalisierter Sound: Um einen ansprechenden Klang zu erzeugen, ist einerseits eine hohe Abtastrate (mind. 10 kHz), andererseits auch eine entsprechend gute Auflösung (mind. 8 Bit) nötig. Unter diesen Bedingungen benötigt jede gespielte Sekunde 10 KByte Daten, sodass ein kleines Stück von 10 Sekunden bereits 100 KByte benötigt. Softwarefirmen sind bestrebt, das Programm auch auf ½ MByte lauffähig zu bekommen, sodass nach Abzug des vom Betriebssystem benötigten Speichers (64 KByte) und nach Abzug von zwei Bildschirmseiten (Shapes sollen flimmerfrei sein) nur noch 384 KByte übrig bleiben (lächerliche 10 Sekunden belegen 26% des Speichers). So bleibt z. B. "Tonic Tile" nichts übrig, als einen kurzen Sample andauernd zu wiederholen. Außerdem benötigt das Abspielen erhebliche Prozessorzeit.

  • Der Bildschirmspeicher ist zwar zeilenweise orientiert und lässt sich sehr simpel manipulieren. Dieses Manipulieren geht aber nur in vertikaler Richtung so simpel, da im Speicherblock eben nur eine bestimmte Bytezahl verschoben wird. Auch das "einfache Verschieben" von 1,3 MByte pro Sekunde hat seine Grenzen, da sich die Zahl eben auf das reine Verschieben beschränkt und keine "organisatorischen" Dinge erledigt (Zähler und Zeiger anpassen, und auch der DBF benötigt 10 Taktzyklen). Des Weiteren soll die Animation nicht flimmern, d.h. innerhalb 1/50 Sekunde müssen die Daten verschoben sein (1,3 MByte/50 = ca. 27 KByte!!!). Aus diesem Grunde scrollt Goldrunner nur 2 Planes (!) und schränkt den zu scrollenden Streifen in der Breite stark ein (das Programm soll ja in der 1/50 Sekunde auch noch andere Dinge tun, siehe Taste [F10]). Noch viel schlimmer ist es bei einem horizontalen Scrolling, wo die Bits rotiert werden müssen! Hier hat der C-64 den großen Vorteil, dass die Verschiebung um 0-7 Bits hardwaremäßig gemacht werden und die Daten byteweise verschoben werden können. Mit der Begründung "Ein Scrolling in acht Richtungen ist auf dem ST nicht befriedigend zu programmieren" hat der Programmierer, der "The Last Ninja" auf den ST umsetzen sollte, das Projekt aufgegeben... (ASM 1/88, ASM-Feedback, "Zu A. Müller")


Assembler-Spezialisten gesucht

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

  • The convention song made by the best musicians around (Mad Max, Spaz and Chris of ULM) was going to be (as far as Big Alec knew) a kind of "Hip-Hop Mix". Mad Max and Chris of ULM started jamming on the MIDI-CD-amp-mixer-mini-studio setup and created some funky music with an initial total playing time of over six minutes full of lovely samples and sounds. All was made with the equipment of Chris of ULM:
    • Roland D-70 (30 voices)
    • Akai S-1100 (16 voice sampler, 16 bit, stereo, 44,1 KHz, a memory of a lot of megabytes - so lovely quality!) and of course the
    • Atari ST with Cubase (whose metronome sound nerved Big Alec)

    The track was available at the DF ICC #2 and via mailorder (PF 1316, 7737 Bad Dürrheim, West Germany. Enclose at least 15 German marks (inside Germany)/ 20 German marks (outside Germany) and, of course, don't forget to enclose a blank tape!). (Quelle: ST News Vol 6 Issue 2)

  • Important note: The ICC #2 mix on tape is available
    If you want your copy, write to Chris of ULM and send him £5. The music was edited by Chris of ULM and Spaz of TLB, the voices are from Manikin of TLB and others who were at the convention. The music is definitely worth to go into the charts. Get your copy now!
    (Quelle: Maggie #8)
  • Une excellente musique a été composée sur place, par trois personnes que vous connaissez bien: Mad Max/ TEX, Chris/ ULM et Spaz/ TLB. Durant presque huit minutes, elle est en fait la bande originale de la ICC 2; vous pouvez la commander à l'adresse suivante, en n'oubliant de joindre une cassette audio et 20 DM: Postfach 1316, 7737 BD, Allemagne. Chris/ ULM se fera alors un plaisir de vous l'enregistrer! (ST Magazine No. 54, Septembre 1991)
  • Für guten Sound sorgten nicht nur die zahlreichen CD-Player, aus denen fetziger Heavy Metal dröhnte. Chris of ULM brachte gleich eine komplette MIDI-Anlage mit. Das binnen kürzester Zeit komponierte Musikstück stieß auf anhaltende Begeisterung. (Quelle: TOS 10/1991)


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)


Holger Flöttmann

  • Holger Flöttmann begann schon 1986 als Grafiker bei Rainbow Arts, wo er unter anderem an den Grafiken zu "Bad Cat" und "Volley Ball Simulator" arbeitete. Nach Differenzen mit Marc A. Ulrich, dem Geschäftsführer von Rainbow Arts, verließ er die Firma jedoch 1989, um seine eigene namens Thalion zu gründen. Thalion baute er zu einem bekannten Softwarehaus auf. Die Produkte "Chambers of Shaolin", "Dragonflight" oder "Seven Gates of Jambala" haben noch heute einen guten Namen. Er verließ sie jedoch zwei Jahre später, als es aufgrund hoher Entwicklungskosten zu finanziellen Schwierigkeiten kam. (PC Games 5/93)
  • Holger Flöttmann, Ex-Thalion, hat das nach seinen Worten "sinkende Schiff verlassen, um ein neues Label zu planen." Nach Auskunft von Holger sitzt momentan nur noch Erik Simon im Büro. Wie wird es weitergehen mit Thalion? (ASM 11/90)
  • Gegendarstellung:
    In der Ausgabe 11 vom November 1990 der Zeitschrift "ASM Aktueller Software Markt" sind in dem Artikel "Neue CES in London. Test bestanden. Aber: Quiet, please..." auf S. 117 am Ende Tatsachenbehauptungen über mich aufgestellt, die nicht der Wahrheit entsprechen.
  1. Ich werde hinsichtlich meiner Arbeit für die Firma "Thalion Software GmbH" mit der Aussage zitiert, ich hätte das "sinkende Schiff verlassen, um ein neues Label zu planen". Dieses Zitat ist unrichtig. Richtig ist, dass ich hinsichtlich der Firma "Thalion Software GmbH" weder von einem "sinkenden Schiff" gesprochen noch in sonstiger Weise eine Einschätzung der Prosperität der Firma zum Ausdruck gebracht und keinen Zusammenhang zwischen meinem Ausscheiden aus der Firma "Thalion Software GmbH" und deren geschäftlichen Belangen hergestellt habe. Auch habe ich weder erklärt, noch plane ich ein "neues Label".
  1. Weiter wird als meine Information wiedergegeben, es säße bei der Firma "Thalion Software GmbH" "nur noch Erik Simon (Grafiker) im Büro". Auch diese Behauptung ist falsch. Richtig ist, dass ich zu keiner Zeit die Erklärung abgegeben habe, bei der Firma "Thalion Software GmbH" säße nur noch Erik Simon (Grafiker) im Büro. Dies entspricht im Übrigen auch nicht den Tatsachen.

Gütersloh, den 05.11.1990, gez. H. Flöttmann (ASM 1/1991)


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 Issue 2)


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 11.10.1993)


Thalion in the USA

  • Triad markets Thalion
    Triad Software Inc. of Pittsford, a privately-owned software publisher, said it will be U.S. marketer for Germany's Thalion Software GmbH. Thalion will spend more than $1 million over three years for Triad to launch seven Thalion software products in the United States. One is a North American version of Thalion's Airbus A320 flight simulator software, developed in cooperation with Lufthansa.
    (Democrat and Chronicle, 14.04.1993, Seite 20)
  • Triad Software in Pittsford has announced that it will manage the U.S. marketing for the German company, Thalion Software GmbH. Thalion will complete the North American version of its popular Airbus A320 flight simulator product, developed in cooperation with Lufthansa. Triad expects to begin shipping of the simulator in late April. (Democrat and Chronicle, 19.04.1993, Seite 18)
  • Michael Kamm was marketing manager for Thalion Publishing USA between May 1993 and November 1994. He was responsible for launching a line of European software titles into the US market. The product line included games and flight simulator software for IBM and Commodore AMIGA platforms. (Quelle)


Karsten Köper und GfA-Basic

  • Richard Karsmakers: When I worked at Thalion software - I keep on referring to that period of my life, don't I? - I worked closely together with the designer of large classic role playing games like Amberstar and Ambermoon, a guy called Karsten Köper.

    Apart from designing the games he also coded a game design utility, fully in GfA-Basic. He was quite a GfA-Basic expert and he taught me a lot of the tricks I know now. To cut a long story short, he used a development environment allowing him to quickly launch the interpreter, the compiler and various cross-referencing and debugging thingies. It was called "Weller Tools" and it was really nice. (Quelle: Homepage of ST News)

  • Richard Karsmakers: When you're programming in GfA-Basic, everything goes pretty smoothly. Things only go wrong on two possible occasions. The first is that you'd try to run version 3.6 or lower under MultiTOS - it doesn't work at all. The second case is that you've got a pretty huge program, say 200 KB or more, and you would want to compile it. No panic - it will certainly compile terrifically. The compilation speed will be stupefyingly slow, however. How come?

    I noticed the problem first when I was still working at Thalion software. There were two people programming in basic. Karsten Köper was programming this tremendously huge design system for role playing games. I was updating my fairly enormous virus killer in my off hours. The stupid thing was that Karsten's program compiled blindingly fast, within a minute. My source took over 230 seconds to compile, which basically gets down to over four times as much time for a file hardly larger (if not smaller) than Karsten's.

    I reckoned Karsten's programming simply had to be better. For starters he didn't use any GOTOs and that sort of unstructured stuff. I spent hours and hours reprogramming my entire virus killer so that eventually there were only one or two GOTOs left. The logics were baffling, at least to me. I'm no great programmer and not much of a mathmatician either. The speed increase was hardly dramatic - about 10 or 15 seconds. (Quelle: Homepage of ST News)