October 1988 MAGazine Volume 4 Number 10

Table Of Contents

Calendar of Events for October

Saturday, October 8, 1988 - 1:00 PM - The general meeting will be held in Jenning's Hall in Room J-2 Located on the campus of State Technical institute of Memphis. Charles Williams will be demonstrating two programs for us, Rocket Ranger and DiskMaster, Michael Wallace will show us the latest version of QRT a real nice ray tracing program. If you like what you see in QRT you won't have to wait long to try it out, because David Head will have QRT available on a library disk for the October Meeting.


Graphic's Contest

Graphics SIG Chariperson/Don Lockard

Are you looking for fame, fortune and the admiration of your fellow computer users. If so, then I am pleased to announce the contest you are looking for! The graphics special interest group, along with the Memphis Amiga Group is sponsoring a graphics contest. The contest rules are very simple.

Original artwork only, this could be hand drawn with a paint program. A digitized picture of a painting that you have done. Or a derived artwork from Sculpt 3D or similar rendering program.

Pictures that would not qualify would be a digitized painting from an art book. Or a picture you downloaded for a bulletin board.

Ok, now that covers the rules, now for the fame and fortune part. The winner of the contest gets a free year extension on your membership, a $20.00 value, and a wall certificate from the graphics sig. All pictures submitted become public domain and will be used in a future club art disk.

To enter, just bring a disk with a copy of your picture or pictures to the general meeting, or mail a copy to:

Don Lockard
Route #2
Alamo, TN. 38001

Please attach a label with your name and the program used to produce the picture. You will receive a blank disk to replace your disk. Everyone that enters will also receive a free copy of the art disk at the January general meeting.

The contest winner will be determined at the December general meeting.


Memphis Amiga Group
Box 381462
Memphis, TN 38183-1462

MAGazine is published monthly by the Memphis Amiga Group (MAG), a nonprofit organization offering assistance to fellow Amiga owners and those interested in the Amiga. Membership in the Memphis Amiga Group is available for an annual fee of $20 per family. Memphis Amiga Group Officers for 1988 are:

Dr. Alan Schwartz
(901) 755-6622

Vice President
Todd Rooks
(901) 373-0198

Scott Hudson
(901) 794-8914

David Head
(901) 377-7568

MAGazine Editor
Edward Bilson
(901) 794-2936



What's New on the Boards

by Howard T. Duck

I found myself with some spare time today and thought I'd take the opportunity to write a short article for the newsletter. There have been a lot of good public domain and shareware programs making the rounds of the boards lately. It seems to me that back in 1985 when the Amiga was brand new, everyone got very excited about public domain and shareware programs. Now that there is so much commercial stuff out, though, many people seem to be ignoring the software available to any Amiga owner with a modem. Here are a couple of brief reviews of some programs I've found worth looking into.

Tiles is a public domain program from Todd M. Lewis. Although it looks a bit different because it uses fewer bitplanes, it is essentially a clone of the commercial program Shanghai from Activision. Like its expensive cousin, Tiles is a solitaire game in which the player tries to remove all of the tiles from the screen by watching available pairs. While Shanghai uses Mah Jong tiles, Tiles uses pictures of everyday items like telephones, teapots, and pennies. The starting pattern is identical to that of Shanghai. Shanghai calls it The Dragon, in keeping with the oriental motif of the Mah Jong tiles. Tiles doesn't call the pattern anything. Indeed that is the author's biggest failing. Tiles comes with zilch documentation. If you weren't familiar with Shanghai you might have trouble figuring out what the game was all about. Of course those familiar with Shanghai will be surprised by the streamlined mouse commands. With Tiles you only have to click a tile once to select it as the first part of a pair, and another tile once to remove the pair. If the second click is on a tile that doesn't match the first, then the first is automatically deselected and the second tile is chosen as the first tile of a pair. This is much better than the Shanghai method. But Tiles lacks the many options that Shanghai has such as a two-player challenge mode. About the only feature Tiles offers is the opportunity to reverse a move or moves by clicking on the empty area that surrounds pile. (I just stumbled on this; as I said, there were no instructions.) Tiles also doesn't reward a win with an animation as Shanghai does. Still, I liked Shanghai enough to buy it and Tiles is a good enough copy that I would recommend either one to someone who likes computer strategy games. In fact, because Tiles isn't copy protected and will easily multitask, I find that I have played it rather than Shanghai ever since I downloaded it.

Popman is a shareware program. At least that's what the author calls it. That means that the author thinks his work is so good that he wants to sell it to you. But rather than going through normal commercial distributors, the author uploads the program to a bbs and includs a message asking he user to contribute a small amount (usually ten or twenty dollars) if the user likes the program and intends to continue using it after trying it out. In this case, though, Popman's author David Ashley doesn't trust the user to send the amount he is asking. Mr. Ashley has uploaded only a demo version of his program and requested a potential user to send $20 to him. I fail to see how this differs from the methods employed by the commercial software houses (Shanghai was advertised this way) except that Mr. Ashley will likely sell a lot less product because his program is a lot less visible than if he had a distributor like EA. Anyway, Popman looks a lot like an old C64 game called Jumpman and indeed I saw it described as a Jumpman clone on one of the pay services. That is wrong. Popman is a Lode Runner clone. Lode Runner was a great little game distributed by Broderbund several years ago on most of the popular 8-bit machines. In it, you are to guide your tiny character around a brickyard maze, climbing ladders, moving hand-over-hand across bars, gathering up treasure (in Popman its balloons you pop), and avoiding the enemy (here they are deadly clowns) by digging temporary holes in the brick floors. The game is partly arcade, you have to have some skill with a joystick to keep out of the enemies' grasp, and its partly a puzzle, you must figure out where to dig to get at some of the balloons that are buried. Its really hard to explain just why this game is better than Jumpman or some other run-around-and-gobble-the-dots-while-avoiding-the-ghosts game without having the game in front of you to demonstrate. That's why you should download Popmandemo from you local bbs and see for yourself. My only complaint about Popman is that its considerably harder than Lode Runner. Perhaps its more like Broderbund's Championship Lode Runner, the sequel that followed Lode Runner's huge success. If you order Popman, Ashley promises you'll recieve over 60 frustrating screens and an editor program so you can make even more puzzles when you finish his. You may need to start making your own right away, though, because Ashley's puzzles start getting hard with screen two!

I guess I should review a utility. All I've done so far is talk about games. But I'm not in the mood to discuss something serious like Sunmouse or GOMF. Hmmmm... well ok, I'll compromise. How about a utility that's fun to watch. Perhaps you need a screen blanker. You know, one of those little programs you stick in the startup-sequence that sits around and waits till you haven't touched your keyboard or mouse for a few minutes then puts up a blank screen to protect your monitor from burnout, just in case you've absent-mindedly walked away and left it on. Well there's a screen-blanker out for people who abhor blank screeens. Its called Pyro. It works like most other screen-blankers. You use a commandline like: RUN PYRO number (where "number" is the number of tenths of a second you want pyro to wait before activating itself; 50 is the minumum). The difference is that when it jumps into action, pyro puts up a cute little fireworks display rather than a blank screen. Touching any key or moving the mouse will shut it down and return you to whatever you were doing before. Typing ctrl-leftAmiga removes Pyro from memory. As these things go Pyro is cuter than the competition. Other than that I can't say much for it. Sunmouse and many others offer more features but of course the take up more room.

Well I guess that's about all I have time to write about right now. If you are interested in these or any other PD/shareware programs, you can download them from The DUCK Pond at (205) 822-0956 or (901) 761-3729.


General Concepts in Ray Tracing

By/Mike Wallace

QRT (Quick Ray Tracer) is a public domain ray tracing package that allows an Amiga user to generate very good ray-traced pictures. You must be familiar with CLI, and have a working knowledge of geometric shapes and three-dimensional cartesian coordinates. I didn't say you had to be an expert in the field of geometry or algebra! You can learn what you need to get started; or ask someone. I'm sure you can find someone in the MAG group that will be happy to assist you.

The QRT package comes with one-hundred pages of good documentation that includes examples (that work) and three programs that must be run from CLI. They are called:


This program reads SCRIPT files that you create and generates a 348,000 byte computer independent file that can have 16 million simultaneous colors.


This program reads the 384,000 byte computer independent file from QRT and creates a file that can have up to 4,096 simultaneous colors for the Amiga. This is the limit of colors for the Amiga if you don't have the half-bright chip.


This program reads the 4,096 color file from QRTPOST and does two functions: 1) displays the ray-traced picture on the screen, and 2) writes an ILBM (Inter-Laced Bit Mapped) file that can be viewed by various public domain 'IFF viewer' programs.

Another public domain program called 'SCRIPTOR', not part of the QRT package, is useful for generating most, if not all, of the script file that QRT expects. SCRIPTOR can be run from an ICON. SCRIPTOR has gadgets that you click on and you will fill in the answers to the questions that it asks. When you exit the SCRIPTOR program, the script file will be created. The script file is a free-format text file that describes the picture you are going to create. You can always create/edit the script file with you favorite editor. Three elements are required in QRT to generate a picture.

They are: 1) a scene, 2) a light source, and 3) an observer. If you think about it, these are the same elements that are used in photography. These three elements will be discussed as they pertain to ray tracing.

A scene is made up of one or more primitive objects (sphere, ring, parallelogram, triangle, or quadratic). Each object is assigned physical characteristics (color, mirrored, transparency, etc).

A light source is required to generate the 'rays' that illuminate the objects. That is where the term 'ray tracing' comes from. Approximately 128,000 rays are traced in a from the light source to the objects in a picture. If the physical characteristics of the object can reflect light, then the ray will 'bounce' off the object and continue. There can be multiple light sources in a scene and the color of the light sources can be altered. The default color of the light sources is 'white'. The distance the light source is away from the objects determines the intensity of the light on the object.

The observer is the location in the scene where the objects are viewed from. Think of the observer as being a camera. The size of the objects in your picture is governed by the distance the camera is from the objects. If you don't aim your camera in the right direction, your picture won't have any objects in it. I know, I have done this a few times.

QRT has the most readable script files that I have seen. Some other ray tracing packages have a very cryptic language for entering the data that describes the objects for a scene. The script files of QRT allow the user to put comments throughout the file. This can be a great help when you have to remember "Was this triangle part of this object... or this object?" in a script file.

Generating any ray traced picture with a ray tracing algorithm is very time consuming, but this is the fastest one I have used. It normally takes 2-3 hours to render a picture with a minimum of objects and light sources. I have spent 12-24 hours to render the same type of picture with other ray tracing packages.

The only feature that I wish QRT had would be a preview mode. This preview mode would allow you to see a wire-frame or rough view of the scene prior to spending all the time rendering the pictures. I have spent a lot of time generating pictures just to find out that the camera was too far away or pointed in the wrong direction.

QRT will run on a 512k Amiga system with one drive, but you cannot make use of the RAM disk to store your 384,000 byte file. You might ask, "Why does the file need to be stored on a RAM disk anyway?". The reason is that your floppy drive will run continuously for 2-3 hours as the 348,000 byte file is created. I am fortunate enough to have a 1 megabyte of memory on my Amiga. I will describe the steps that I follow to generate a ray traced picture using a RAM disk.

For this example let's say our picture is called 'TEST and the QRT package is in DF1:.

  1. Use SCRIPTOR to create a script file called TEST.QRT. (.QRT is the normal extension for the script files.)
  2. Get into CLI.
  3. Set the STACK to 40000. (STACK 40000)
  4. Connect to RAM: (CD RAM:)
  5. Run QRT by entering: DF1:QRT <DF1:TEST.QRT > TEST.OUT (Notice the use of '<' and '>' which redirects files.

TEST.OUT will contain some statistical data for the scene when the rendering is complete. If the syntax of the script file is correct, the program will run for a long time.) The name of the 384,000 byte file comes from the name in the script file. Normally the extension of the 384,000 byte file is .RAW).

  1. Copy the RAM:TEST.RAW (384,000 byte file) to a floppy disk in case something goes wrong.
  2. You are now ready to run QRTPOST by entering: QRTPOST RAM:TEST.RAW RAM:TEST.TMP (The .TMP extension is a requirement for RAY2).
  3. Delete TEST.RAW from RAM: (This is done to free up some RAM/MEMORY)
  4. You can now generate the picture. You enter:RAY2 TEST (Notice you don't enter the extension. RAY2 looks for .TMP. The picture will be generated on the screen and a file called TEST.ILBM will be generated on the RAM disk.)
  5. Copy your finished picture to a floopy from the RAM disk.

Since the Amiga is a muti-tasking machine, you can do other things while step 5 is running (AS LONG AS YOUR APPLICATION DOESN'T USE UP A LOT OF MEMORY). I usually start up step 5, turn off the monitor (not the computer), and go to bed. I can check the results when I get up in the morning. QRT is a great way to learn about ray tracing. Use your imagination, spend a little time and effort and you will be amazed with the results. A special thanks should be given to the authors that generate great public domain software like QRT.

Happy Ray Tracing!

Rocket Ranger

By the Unpaid Amigan

Rocket Ranger combines several different game skills into one game. It is a strategy game and an arcade game with some world geography and luck thrown in. The strategy requirements are good and challenging while the arcade sequences are the best for this type of game. Music, sound effects and digitized voices are the best.

The story line is inspired by the 1940s Saturday matinee science fiction movie serials with villain, hero, kidnapped scientist and beautiful daughter. In this story, you are a scientist working at Fort Dix, New Jersey in 1940 when underground scientists from the future contact you. It seems that Germany, with the help of some new technology, won World War II before America could intervene. These freedom loving scientists from the future Nazi ruled world have developed a time machine that can only send objects back in time. They send you weapons to help you defeat the 1940 Nazi war machine and keep them from winning the war and ruling the world of the future. In 1940 Germany began using a high flying zeppelin fleet along with a newly discovered material called lunerium to take over the world, country by country. Lunerium is a versatile material that can be used to make both rocket fuel and bombs. Lunerium is the key to defeating the Nazis and winning the game.

Suddenly on your desk materializes a rocket pack, radium pistol, a wrist monitor, a decoder wheel and an instruction manual. You must use these weapons of the future to defeat the Nazis. You must become Rocket Ranger!

As the game opens you receive your rocket pack, other futuristic devices and a message that America's top scientist and his daughter have been kidnapped by the Nazis and are being taken to Germany by zeppelin. You can intercept them over the Atlantic if you hurry. At this point, I recommend a visit to the War Room where you are given command of five secret agents to infiltrate nations around the globe to try to discover where the Nazis have their secret bases, rocket factories and stores of lunerium. The agents are the key to finding and acquiring lunerium. They also are needed to locate the five rocket parts necessary for you to assemble your own rocket. Once you have collected the five rocket parts and enough lunerium to fuel it (500 units), then you can fly to the moon and hopefully cut off Germany's source of lunerium, putting the skids to their war effort. It's important to move your agents around so that they can report back to you. You need a steady supply of lunerium yourself to power your rocket pack. Should the Nazi zeppelin fleet take over all of the countries, then the game is over, you lose. You can slow the fleet's progress by assigning agents to first infiltrate and then organize resistance efforts in the individual countries.

After an agent infiltrates a country, he reports back to you. At this point you can either leave him there and change his orders to organize resistance (important in slowing the Nazi war machine) or you can move him on to another country, looking for much needed lunerium and rocket parts (important to winning the game). Try to hit some kind of medium between the two. Be careful, the Nazis occasionally discover your agents and execute them.

You must be at Fort Dix in America to check the War Room and get in touch with your agents, but most of the countries you must visit are across the Atlantic, necessitating lunerium guzzling trips across the ocean.

You fly from country to country by transferring a specified amount of lunerium from your on-board storage chamber to the rocket chamber. The rocket pack is self-navigating, but you must transfer the proper amount or you'll go to the wrong country or fall from the sky. This information can only be obtained from the secret decoder wheel that materialized on your desk (came in the game package). In this way they have clearly worked the copy protection scheme into the game itself (the disks are not copy protected).

The arcade sequences are very good. The first you'll probably encounter involves taking off with your rocket pack from Fort Dix. Simply click the joystick button in time with the steps of running Rocket Ranger and push the joystick forward when you hear a series of beeps. Most sequences involve Rocket Ranger (that's you) flying through the air, radium pistol at the ready. Your view is from behind Rocket Ranger. All action is controlled with a joystick in port 2. You fly through the air shooting at Nazi fighter planes. When trying to rescue Dr. Barnstorff and his daughter from the zeppelin that's taking them to Germany, you shoot at the gondola underneath, avoiding their exploding missiles and trying not to hit the gas filled zeppelin. If you successfully hit the gondola, you enter the steering compartment where you find the scientist and his daughter. You talk with them, trying to convince them that you are there to rescue them and not a member of the Nazi crew. If you convince them that you're a good guy, you pilot the zeppelin back to America. If you can't convince them, Dr. Barnstorff pulls a gun on you and you are forced to jump from the zeppelin.

If the Nazis succeed in getting the Dr. and Jane to Germany, you still have a chance to fly to Germany and shoot your way past the fighter planes and get taken captive where you try to talk your way out of the hands of the Gestapo.

Other arcade sequences involve blowing up anti-aircraft bunkers as you fly over them at night, shooting it out against a fortified jungle temple to get lunerium and a fist-fight sequence against a Nazi guard to obtain parts to assemble a moon rocket. At least these are the sequences that I've encountered so far. There are additional sequences that I'm still trying to get to. I'm eager to find out what happens when I finally do manage to steal all five rocket parts and enough lunerium to get me to the Nazi moon base. Maybe next month you can write an ending to this review.

Rocket Ranger is Cinemaware's latest game (what they call an interactive movie). I think it is their best yet, even considering their Three Stooges movie-game. The price is about $50 retail and $30 to $35 from the mail order houses. It will run on a 512K Amiga but 2 disk drives are a must, unless you're into lots of disk swapping. These Cinemaware releases keep getting better and they mix up the game play so that each new game isn't just new artwork and sound effects over the same old game format. Personally I'm so impressed with them that I'm planning on buying their next release too.

Christmas Video

Graphics SIG Chairperson/Don Lockard

The graphics special interest group wants YOU for a christmas video. If you are interested in helping with this project please see me at the general meeting.

More Than Just Rumor

by The Unknown Amigoid

Well, I guess I'll have to apologize at least in part about my comments a couple of months ago regarding Zoom from Discovery Software. I had a chance to try it out again in the comforts of my own den in normal room light and with my stereo system hooked up and it seemed a lot better than I remembered. The first time I didn't get a chance to see the "titles", that is, the opening animated sequence. Its very cute. Indeed, the whole game is cute. Perhaps my first impression was tainted by the hype that Discovery had released. I expected something truly superior. My first "review" made it sound gosh awful and that it is not. I still think its not worth the selling price, though very few computer games are.

Now that you've seen me apologize for an opinion, rush to your nearest newsstand and buy a copy of the October Amazing Computing. There you can read letter after letter of complaint about The Bandito and his (her?) "Roomers" column. I thought it was veeery interesting.

You might also want to peruse Jerry Pournelle's column in Byte, where he says F/A 18 for the Amiga would be his favorite game if he could just figure out the danged copy protection wheeel.

And now that its after the September 15th deadline for Amiga World's Treasure Hunt contest, I guess you don't care to know that the treasure is buried at the Mark Hopkins hotel in San Francisco.

The MAG Trading Post

Hosted by Ed Bilson

If you've got a computer-related item to sell or if you're searching for something for your computer, send a description of what you want to sell or trade or buy to The MAG Trading Post c/o the club's post office box. Here are this month's offerings:

FOR SALE: ADC 300/1200 baud external modem, uses Hayes AT command set including S registers, internal clock gives time and date from AT command, internal speaker with volume control, status lights, $75. Call Ron @ (205) 822-0950.

FOR SALE: UNIX PC (AT&T 7300), multitasking, multi-user, 20 M hard drive, 512 k floppy drive, 1 parallel and 2 serial ports, hi-resolution monitor, IBM/MS-DOS compatible (8086) card with hercules graphics emulator, 1200 baud modem (two phone lines), use windows/mouse or keyboard/command-line interfaces (like Amiga workbench and CLI), C compiler, utilities, word processor, other software, manuals, $2000. Call Audrey @ (205) 822-0950

FOR SALE: MIDI interface, 2 outs, 1 thru, 2 ins, switch for pass thru to modem or printer, fits on serial port, works with Deluxe Music and Sonix or any sound/music program supporting standard MIDI protocol, $40. Call Tom @ (901) 353-2294 and specify A500, A1000, or A2000 model.

FOR SALE: Set of 2 remote (radio controlled) joysticks, $20. Call Jerry @ (901) 794-2224

FOR SALE: Cables made to order. Call Tom @ (901) 353-2294

Membership list of the Memphis Amiga Group as of October 1, 1988


Andrews Freddie L. Memphis TN 38128 MAY 89 61
Barr Marc J. Memphis TN 38104 NOV 88 41
Bilson Edward Memphis TN 38115 JAN 89 19
Bowers William Memphis TN 38119 MAY 89 62
Breu Joe Memphis TN 38115 AUG 89 68
Broughton Kevin W. New York NY 09223-5366 JAN 89 55
Buford Matt Southaven MS 38671 JUN 89 65
Buford Tim Memphis TN 38118 FEB 89 23
Burns ******** Keith ************* Cordova TN 38018 SEP 88 12
Campbell Terry A. Horn Lake MS 38637 AUG 89 69
Cervetti Michael Cordova TN 38018 JAN 89 58
Crichton Robert J. Jr Millington TN 38053 SEP 89 71
Davidson Al Memphis TN 38125 AUG 89 5
Doss ********* Leonard *********** Memphis TN 38119 AUG 88 9
Echols Steve Memphis TN 38116 DEC 88 49
Gray Bobby,Vickie,Terre Brighten TN 38011 May 89 24
Grimes Tim McLemoresville TN 38235 NOV 88 46
Harris ******* Mike ************** Millington TN 38053 AUG 88 6
Harruff Richard Cordova TN 38018 AUG 89 69
Harvey Eugene Memphis TN 38126 NOV 88 47
Head David Memphis TN 38134 JAN 89 21
Hoffman Dr. Walter K. Memphis TN 38122 AUG 89 67
Hooker Bill Memphis TN 38135 NOV 88 42
Hoover J. Michael Barlett TN 38134 DEC 88 52
Hudson Scott Memphis TN 38115 JUN 89 30
Jasmer Jerry Millington TN 38053 SEP 89 70
Jefferson Tom Bartlett TN 38134 NOV 88 45
Jennings Ron Carson CA 90746 MAR 89 27
Johnson ****** Richard *********** Memphis TN 38127 SEP 88 38
Jones Tom Memphis TN 38128 AUG 89 8
Karpov ******* Victor ************ Memphis TN 38115 OCT 88 39
Kiss Sean & John Memphis TN 38118 FEB 89 25
Kligel ******* Joe *************** Memphis TN 38128 SEP 88 11
Lendennie Dianne Collierville TN 38017 DEC 88 50
Lloyd William D. Memphis TN 38116 NOV 88 40
Lockard Don Alamo TN 38001 AUG 89 7
McCalla ****** Ron & Audrey ****** Hoover AL 35226 AUG 88 1
Nichols Steve Memphis TN 38115 NOV 88 44
Presley Daniel Southaven MS 38671 JAN 89 56
Reese Warren E. Smyrna TN 37167 DEC 88 48
Robbins James Barlett TN 38134 JAN 89 57
Rooks Todd Memphis TN 38128 MAY 89 64
Russell Shane Memphis TN 38134 JUL 89 66
Schechter **** Robert ************ Bethlehem PA 18017 SEP 88 36
Schwartz Dr. Alan Memphis TN 38187 AUG 89 3
Smart Timothy G. Memphis TN 38111 MAY 89 63
Stewart ****** Jerry ************* Paris TN 38242 SEP 88 34
Stockton Mark Cordova TN 38018 DEC 88 51
Thomas Roland Millington TN 38053 APR 89 60
Thomason Tom KMCAS HI 96863-6059 NOV 88 43
Vineyard Charles W. Memphis TN 38118 AUG 89 10
Wade ********* Norman ************ Memphis TN 38104 SEP 88 13
Wallace Michael S. Marion AR 72364 SEP 89 35
Walp Len Memphis TN 38128 DEC 88 53
Weatherall Broadus & JoAnne Memphis TN 38111 JAN 89 22
Williams Charles Wilson AR 72395 AUG 89 37
Witt Patt Memphis TN 38111 JAN 89 54


Dr. Alan Schwartz President
Todd Rooks Vice President
Scott Hudson Secretary/Treasurer
Ed Bilson MAGazine Editor
David Head Librarian


Tom Jones Sound
Don Lockard Graphics
Keith Burns Hardware
John & Sean Kiss Business