December 1991 MAGazine Volume 7 Number 12

Table Of Contents

The December General Meeting of the Memphis Amiga Group will be held Saturday, December 14, from 1:00 pm until approximately 3:00 pm in the New Auditorium on the campus of State Technical Institute at Memphis. Don't forget to fill out the survey at the door, you might win the door prize.

The time, date and place of the Video SIG meeting will be announced at the General Meeting on December 14.

From the President's CLI

by Brian Akey

This month we have to nominate the officers for 1992 and next month we will vote on those officers. With Ken Winfield unable to make all the meetings next year, we need to find someone to be treasurer. I'm glad that Ken has been treasurer this year, he has done a great job and I hope he can continue making disks for the library. Charles Williams is talking about having someone else take over the editing job of the newsletter and the diskMAGazine. He has done a great job and I think he is irreplaceable. Hopefully one of you will prove me wrong on that and step forward to become newsletter editor for 1992. Charles has been with the group for years and he has helped out more times than I can count, so he has more than enough reason to take a year off. If you have a laser printer (not really necessary) or a calculator (pencil and paper will do), think about becoming an officer. There are benefits that make the job rewarding.

I would like to thank everyone who has put their ideas in the survey. I am reading what you have to say. Some of the suggestions include: CAD demos, educational software demos, and more programs for beginners. If you want something don't be afraid to ask.

The demos for this month will be programs that you use day in and day out. These include: Prowrite, Transwrite, Deluxe Paint, and more. If you have a program that you would like to show to the group, please bring it to the meeting this month.

In addition, we will have our annual Christmas animation contest with a prize for the best animation. You will be the judges.

Don't forget to have some nominations in mind for officers for 1992.

Special Icon Issue

Don't miss this issue of MAGazine. Practically the entire issue is devoted to part one in a two part series for beginners on ICONS, written by Kevin Hopkins.

On this month's diskMAGazine

I thought I'd seen the last of them, but we do have the latest issues of AM Report, 14-17; more Imagine help text for the "heavily into ray tracing" crowd; the latest Vaporware column on general computer news from Apple Pulp news letter; a classic 1989 conference from the (now defunct) People Link on-line service with Jay Miner, father of the Amiga; and some helpful bonus hints with EA's game The Immortal.

On Amiga hardware, there's a press release on the Rambrandt color card, and information on an updated motherboard for that old A1000 you just couldn't part with, from Phoenix.

In keeping with the main article for this month, in the drawer are some WB2.0 style icons.

MAG Meetings

The Memphis Amiga Group (MAG) holds general meetings the second Saturday of each month in the New Auditorium on the campus of State Technical Institute at Memphis (see map at left).

There will be an officers lunch meeting at Gridley's in the formal dining room beginning at 11:00 A.M., Saturday, December 14 (before the general meeting). For more information call Brain Akey at (901) 278-6354.

For information on Games SIG meetings and activities, call Mike Amos at (901) 377-1093.

Hardware Rentals

FutureSound audio digitizer kit - $1 per day
FrameGrabber OR SuperGen - $4 per day
(Hardware rentals are for Members Only)
A variety of Amiga specific videotapes are also available
from the club's hardware library.

Disk Sales

MAG library and Fred FISH disks are $2 each.
($5 each for non-members)
Quality blank disks with labels are 65¢ each.
($1 each for non-members)
For all this and more contact club librarian
Bill Bowers (901) 360-0003
OR see Bill at the next MAG general meeting.

Changes or Corrections

Please help me get accurate information on all members. If you know someone on the members list that we don't have complete information for, please let me know. Send all name and address information, updates, or changes to:

Charles Williams
13 Lake Drive
Wilson, AR 72395

Memphis Amiga Group Officers for 1991

President
Brian Akey
(901) 278-6354

Vice President
Donnie Webb
(901) 363-8025

Secretary
Shelley Franklin
(901) 682-0417

Treasurer
Ken Winfield
(901) 382-3339

Librarian
Bill Bowers
(901) 360-0003

MAGazine Editor
Charles Williams
(501) 655-8777

MAGazine
Printing & Distribution

Terry A. Campbell
(601) 393-4864

FOR SALE

Getting a 2000; selling my A500 with 1 meg RAM and a negotiable amount of software. Will accept any reasonable offer. Call Mike Amos at (901) 377-1093.

Upgraded to Dpaint4, selling Dpaint3 - all original disks & manual only $25. Call Charles Williams at (501) 655-8777 or see me at the December meeting.

Your Classified Ad Here

Free of charge to members
Call, write, or see in person

Charles Williams
MAGazine editor
13 Lake Drive
Wilson, AR 7295
(501) 655-8777

Classified Ads will run for one issue of MAGazine and then, if you want your AD to run again, you will need to get in touch with the MAGazine editor either at the meeting, by phone, or by mail. Thank you for your continued support.

Icon Basics

from Kevin Hopkins, CUCUG

What we're going to do here is introduce the beginning Amiga user to the wonderful world of icons and maybe provide a little something for the more advanced Amiga user too. There's some useful information in chapter 4 and 5 of the "Introduction to the Commodore Amiga" that came with your machine, but seeing as how nobody reads the manuals, we'll just jump in here and try a few things.

First things always being first: what is an icon? Well, anyone who has seen a Macintosh, an Amiga, an IBM running Windows, or the venerable C64 or C128 running GEOS, knows what an icon is. Icon: A graphic image that represents a computer object (disk, program or file) and with which you can in some way manipulate that object. "OK then, so why did Commodore call them .info (dot info) files instead of .icon files? It's the same number of letters for the filename." The answer is that icons are not just graphics representations. There are several different kinds and they contain things: information, commands. They aren't just pictures; you can actually program the things if you want to. More on that later, but again - first things first.

Types of Icons

As the parenthetic part of the definition suggests, there are different types of icons. On the Amiga there are five icon types: (1) DISK, (2) DRAWER, (3) TOOL, (4) PROJECT, and (5) GARBAGE. (If you do a hex dump on one of these icon files, location 0030 will hold one of these numbers. If you don't know what a hex dump is, don't worry about it. I won't mention it again.) A DISK icon is exactly what you would expect it to be - a representation of any disk you put in your drive. It's also your gateway to your root directory, that is the main director of your disk. A DRAWER icon is your doorway into a subdirectory. (If you were a C64/128 user and you had a 1581 drive, it's kind of like a partition on your 1581 disk.) A TOOL is simply another name for a program - click on a Tool and it'll run the program of that name. A PROJECT icon is a little more complex - actually it's a smart idea. A Project icon is the one used for, say, the text file you just wrote with your word processor. Inside that icon is a section called Default Tool, which is a way for the Project icon to remember which text editor you used, so that when you click on your "project," first your editor will be run, then your text file will be loaded into it, and you're ready to go again. A GARBAGE icon is your friendly little trashcan where you toss out programs and things you don't want any more. Really, though, the Trashcan is just a specialized Drawer (as is a Disk icon, if you get right down to it). If you drop an icon onto the Trashcan, it's just moved into that subdirectory. To physically delete the things you've placed in the Trashcan, you have to use the Disk menu item: Empty Trash. If you wanted, you could get rid of an icon item immediately by choosing the Discard menu option under Workbench, but if you do that there's no getting it back - it's gone. More on menus in a moment.

The Structure Underneath

I just mentioned a similarity between GARBAGE, DISK, and DRAWER icons. That's because they are constructed in a very similar way. You don't really need to know how to do this yourself, but it might help ou understand the way icons act if you know the pieces that go to make them up and which pieces they have in common. Amiga author Betty Clay as discusssed the data structure of icons in an article entitled "Info About .Info" in the Transactor for the Amiga, Volume 1, Issue 2, in which she said:

The "xxxx.info" files - those representing Drawers, Tools, Disks, Projects, and Trashcans - have some structures in common, but there are variations according to type. For each of them, the file begins with a 'DiskObject' structure. Drawer, Disk, and Trashcan Icons have a 'DrawerData' structure next, which defines the Window that is opened when the Icon is double-clicked. Following that is an 'Image' structure to define the appearance of the Icon, followed by the actual graphics data for each bitplane in the image. Icons that have two images - for their selected and non-selected states - have a second Image structure and bitplane data after this. Finally, the 'Default Tool' and 'ToolTypes' strings follow, if any. This is the general form for standard Icon files in the current Workbench release.

Note that the DrawerData structure is not present in a Tool or Project icon. The article also mentions that icons are actually Intuition Gadgets that Workbench manipulates and that icons are always Boolean Gadgets (the kind you click on).

The Menu Options

By this time you're probably thinking "This all very fine, but how am I going to tell which kind of icon this thing is? They all just look like little pictures to me." Right you are. Time to introduce you to the Workbench's Menu options.

Get yourself to the Workbench screen and push down on your right mouse button. You'll see three column titles appear on the upper left of the screen: Workbench, Disk, and Special. Holding your right mouse (Menu) button down, run your pointer up to the Disk column. Two options appear: Empty Trash and Initialize. If you had previously selected the Garbage Can icon (clicked on it once so it was highlighted), you could now delete everything in that special directory just by lowering your pointer down the Disk menu column, still holding your mouse's Menu button down, until it's over EmptyTrash, which would become highlighted, and then simply releasing the Menu button. (Remember this Menu option selection process. You'll need it from now on. Yeah I know you probably already knew how to do that, but we have to cover all the bases.)

Let's go exploring and find out what kind of icons we have. Click once on any icon you like. Then do a Menu select on the Workbench column, selecting (What else!) Info. This will provide you with a window to peer inside that icon (dot info) file. Near the upper left of the Info window you will see, in all capital letters: TYPE and right next to it will be printed what type of icon you have selected. Easy, huh? You can exit Info in three ways: (1) click on the close badget just like any other window (it's that box with the dot in it in the upper left corner of the window), (2) click on QUIT in the lower right, or (3) click on SAVE in the lower left (use this one only if you make changes you want to save).

Do an Info on a Disk icon and notice its DEFAULT TOOL:SYS:System/DiskCopy. This is how the Amiga knows how to copy one disk onto another when you drop a disk icon onto a another disk icon. It calls up the program DiskCopy from your System drawer. There's other information there too: total number of blocks, the number used, the number free, the size of each block in byes, which indicates whether the disk is a regular or Fast File System disk.

Do an Info on a Drawer icon. Note the STATUS. This lets yu know about four of the major protection bits. (There are eight, as of now.) If you click on DELETEABLE, it switches to NOT DELETEABLE and, if you save that change, you've just protected that directory from deletion.

Do an Info on a Tool icon. (Preferences in the Prefs Drawer is a Tool.) Note the COMMENT field. I have found it very valuable to comment programs I have on my work disks with such information as what version of the program it is, which club disk or dowloads disk I've got it's documentation and original archived on, or even a description of what the program does. It should be mentioned that you have to use the CLONE option of the COPY command to maintain the date, comments and protection bits of your original file when you copy it from the CLI. You'll lose your comments if you do a Workbench style file copy. Just so you know! Another thing to note inside a Tool icon is the STACK field. By entering the number of bytes of memory you want a program to have to use as its stack you may help a program that has been giving you mysterious problems. If a program doesn't have enough of a stack, it may gag at the most unexpected times. This field sets the stack for Workbench launched programs. For CLI launched tasks, take a look at AmigaDOS's STACK command. Do an Info on a Project icon. (CopyPrefs in the Prefs Drawer is a Project.) Note TOOL TYPES. The text editor I use on my Amiga is Matt Dillon's DME. Now this editor allows you to define the size of the window that is opened up when you call it. From the CLI this is accomplished by typing something like:

DME textfilename -l0 -t11 -w640 -h189

The same can be done with your Project icon. DEFAULT TOOL takes care of calling the program. The name of the icon takes care of calling up the right file. and by using TOOL TYPES you can pass to the program the arguments defining the window specifications. This is done by entering each argument into TOOL TYPES, one per each line, only. (If a single item can have multiple values, vertical bars can be used to separate them, but this is rarely done.) First click on the ADD box. Enter ARG=-10. The ARG has to be in all caps, as do any of the other TOOL TYPES commands you will run across. After you've entered your first argument, click on ADD again and enter the next argument, repeating this procedure for the remaining two arguments. Once you're finished, you can look over your handy work by using the up and down arrow gadgets to check on the TOOL TYPES you have entered. When you're satisified with everything, click on the SAVE box at the bottom of the Info window. (In past versions of Workbench - pre 1.3.2 - this has been buggy. You may have to try SAVEing a couple times, but it will finally take.) That done, the next time you call up your project, it will open with the window you defined. Remember, however, that the arguments are determined by the program you are calling and are not the same across different Amiga applications.

To see other examples of TOOL TYPES, do an Info on the InstallPrinter of Cmd icons in the Utilities drawer or the Pointer, Printer, or Serial icons in the Prefs drawer of your Workbench disk. For a hands-on example, look into UtiliMaster on CUCUGAMI.09.0888 which makes extensive use of ToolTypes to set that programs parameters. It even has a separate program, UmUtil, to help you program its icon. For further information concerning icon programming seek out the excellent text file Manual (release 2.5) for Pete Goodeve's program Xicon.

Before we leave INFOing Project icons entirely and having mentioned dowloaded programs, have you ever downloaded something, click on its icon only to be greeted by nothing but that annoying orangish flash which is Workbench's quaint way of telling you something went wrong? And WB's drag bar reports "Error while opening somefile: 205" and you think, "Oh no, I must have gotten a corrupted program." Take a look at that icon with Info. More than likely it is a Project and what Workbench is telling you is that it couldn't find the DEFAULT TOOL the Project icon told it to look for. Look at that entry. You may even have the program it wants (or a viable substitute), but the icon has the wrong PATH to it in DEFAULT TOOL. If so, it becomes a simple matter of correcting the DEFAULT TOOL entry and getting your new download to work.

The Binary Behind The Magic Dot Info and the Boys

So much for the sort of text based side of icons. Dot info files also contain other kinds of information. Things like: window size and position, icon position within a window (determined from the upper left-hand corner of the window), and the actual graphic information for the icon picture (both unselected and selected).

Hang on to you hat. We're now going to take a closer look at the .info files as they exist out on your disk. We'll use your Workbench disk as our playing field. Why? Because everybody has one.

Open up a CLI (double click on SHELL) and type LIST. Here you have your root directory. You should see a file called Disk.info, another called Utilities.info, one called Shell.info, and one simply called .info. Now type LIST UTILITIES. This will get us into the Utilities subdirectory. There you will see Clock.info and another one of those .info files. By doing these two commands we can see examples of our four main icon types. (The fifth, Garbage, is a special case which we'll already dealt with.)

Disk.info Disk icon file
Utilities.info Drawer icon file
Clock.info Tool icon file
Shell.info Project icon file

"But what about those two .info files? Are they the same thing?" No, they are not. You'll notice .info's weren't mentioned in our general structure discussion, because they're quite different. An .info file is placed in each directory by the system when you enter it using Intuition's icons and it contains a simple text list of the icons to be found within that directory's window. Do a TYPE .INFO and a TYPE UTILITIES/.INFO to see what I mean. You'll get a little binary header stuff first, but the names are clear enough. These .info files are invisibly maintained by the system. They can grow or shrink. Simply renaming a file will change their size. Keep this in mind when you're thinking of packing "just one more program" on that disk. You should leave a little space for your .info files to flex.

Take a closer look at your LIST of the root directory. Notice that you have a C directory but no C.info file. Do a LIST C. You see it is a directory full of files, but none of them have associated .info files and these is no plain .info file within the C directory. "What does this mean?" It means, for all intents and purposes, Workbench doesn't know the C directory exists. With the use of a specific path reference in Default Tool, the icon system of the Amiga can reach into the C directory (or anywhere else the CLI can go) but that will happen invisibly to you as the user. The new Workbench 2.0 will address this problem of .info-less items, but for now, if it doesn't have a dot info file, it's invisible and 'you can't get there from here'. To illustrate this, if you were to enter the command DELETE UTILITIES.INFO, the Utilities drawer would seem to disappear and you would no longer be able to get into it to use any of its programs by way of "Point and Click", no matter that the programs inside the Utilities Drawer do have icons. You've taken a link out of the chain. In a way, that's what you Workbench's Empty Drawer icon is there for - to provide you with a way of making drawer icons for drawers that need them, like the ones you make from the CLI. To fix the problem created by our illustration, just drop the Empty Drawer on the RAM disk, click RAM to get at Empty, Rename Empty to Utilities using the Menu option under Workbench, then drop the drawer back onto your Workbench disk.

"So if the .info file contains a list of names (in text) of the files having associated .info files in a given window (including drawer, tool, trashcan, and project), what do the other files contain?" Well, Disk.info contains window size information for the disk's initial window: its root directory. A Drawername.info contains window size information for its subdirectory. A Toolname.info or Projectname.info contains the positioning for its file icon within its window, keying off the upper left-hand corner of that window, as do Disk.info and Drawername.info. All four also contain the graphics data for its particular icon picture.

Disk.info

Of the four principal icons we are now dealing with, a few words need to be said about the Disk.info file (the disk icon, if you will) as it is a little different from the others. It is rather generic in its conventions. Every disk has to have an icon for Workbench to have any purpose at all - a disk CAN'T be invisible - so if your disk doesn't specifically have a Disk.info file in the disk's root directory, the system will provide your disk with one. As an added bonus, you also get the default window size contained in that icon. As long as you don't physically change the default settings of the window, the Disk.info file won't be written to disk, but if you do, it will.

Now, if you have your own disk icon with its own graphic, the Disk.info file has to be placed in the root directory of your disk. It has to be named Disk.info (capitalization isn't required) for it to be detected and displayed by the operating system. Otherwise, you will get the system's default icon. In any other directory or with any other name, it will not be displayed. You do not give it the specific name of your disk, in the manner you would a project or tool .info file. Every disk icon no matter its size, graphic, whatever ... every disc icon is named Disk.info. By giving it the generic name "Disk.info" you are allowing the O.S. to find it and then place the label of the disk under it when it is displayed on the screen.

Sizing and Positioning with Snapshot

Fine and dandy. Now we only have one more subject to address before we play around with a few icons. That topic is window dressing. There are two parts to this issue: window sizing and icon positioning. As mentioned before, all four xxxx.info types contain the positioning information for its file icon within its window, keying off the upper left-hand corner of that window. (1) How do you, as a user, get the window, opened up by a disk or drawer icon, to be the size you need to show all the icons you've put in it? (2) How do you take an icon and put it in a particular place in a window and get it to stay there? ... You need to know how to SNAPSHOT them with the SNAPSHOT item in the Special Menu column of Workbench.

To size a window you click on either your disk icon or drawer icon. Using the sizing gadget (the thing that looks like a figure eight in the lower right hand corner) of the window to the size you want. Then, using the drag bar along the top of the window, drag it to the position on the screen you want it to be. (Both sizing and dragging are accomplished by clicking the left mouse button on the particular gadget and holding the button down while you move the mouse.) Once you're satisfied with your window's size and position, you are ready to Snapshot it. To do this you must make sure that the disk icon or drawer icon that parented your window is in its "selected" mode. Remember the window size information is stored in the Disk.info or the Drawer.info type file back in this window's parent directory, not inside the directory the window has taken us into. (Disk.info in the root directory is the only exception to this blatant generalization). Once you have your window-generating icon selected press the Menu button on your mouse, select the SNAPSHOT option in the Special Menu column, and let it go.

To position an icon within a window is a very similar process. Select and drag the icon to where you want it. Make sure it is in its selected mode and SNAPSHOT it as above. You can do more than one icon at a time by holding the shift key down on your keyboard as you click select the icons you want to Snapshot. Position each one of them then shift-click them all to get them to stick. And, should you ever wish to unstick an icon, you can do that simply be copying it to a different window or device. You may also use a utility like "FreeIcon", which appears on CUCUG'S Icon Disk #1.

Now you may have noticed that I said all xxxx.info icons can be positioned within their window. You should know this does include Disk icons as well. "But isn't the Disk icon on a screen, not a window?" No. The Workbench "screen" you see with icons on it is actually what is called a Backdrop Window. This is a special type of window which no other window can be opened or pushed behind. So, if you want your disk icons to come up in a specific place on your "screen", you can Snapshot them just like any other icon and they will act accordingly.

One other note about positioning icons, a drawer icon in particular. Have you ever been moving a drawer icon around, trying to line it up with some other drawer icons, get it in the right place, released it, and it disappears?! Gone!! Oh NO!!! Everything in the entire drawer GONE! Well...not really. Sometimes Workbench gets a little sensitive about moving icons. It mistakenly thinks you've dropped the icon on another drawer and it obligingly copies the whole drawer inside that other drawer. It's your guess at to which one it thought you were moving toward, but look around. It'll be there somewhere. Just make sure it's not in the Trashcan!

Things the computer remembers

When sizing a window or positioning icons, some confusion can be caused by the computer remembering qualities of a disk that it is still using, that have not been written to disk. You may resize a window, but forget to Snapshot it. You close it; you open it again; it opens to your resized dimensions because the OS remembers it as long as you haven't cleared off its parent icon one window back. In the case of a root directory, you'll think everything is hunky-dory. But, you take the disk out; its icon disappears; you put it in again later and the window will open to its old, pre-resized dimensions, and you won't know what went wrong. You have to Snapshot it to make your changes stick. Similarly, when rearranging icons, you can get them just the way you want them. Close the window; open the window again and they've gone right back to their old positions. You have to Snapshot them to update their dot info files.

Playtime

OK, playtime. Let's start in RAM: ie, open up a CLI and CD to RAM: Take a totally blank disk, that is:

FORMAT DRIVE DF1: NAME TEST NOICONS

CD to DF1: Run SID, DiskMaster, or simply type LIST DF1: to check it - empty right? OK, click on the disk, then close the window that was just opened. LIST again. You'll see a 16 byte .info file has been put on your disk. This is a footprint left by Intuition to let you know it was there.

Open the disk again, stretch the window but don't Snapshot it, then close the window. LIST again. No change, right? Now, open the disk again, stretch the window and Snapshot it. Close the window. Check the directory again. Now you have a Disk.info file (306 bytes).

Pop your TEST disk out of the drive. It's icon is still on screen, right? CD to RAM: and, as if by magic, the icon goes away. This shows the system holding on to in formation until IT is done with it. Put the TEST disk back in. Open the disk's window. It remembers your stretched window because you Snapshoted it. Close the window. Now from RAM: where you still should be enter DELETE DF1:DISK.INFO. Once the drive light goes out, pop the disk out. The icon goes away. Put TEST back in. Open the window. Guess what? The system brings up your initial "default" window. This pretty clearly shows that the Disk.info file contains window size information.

Now that we're back with a default window, stretch it into a new shape and Snapshot it again, so we can get a new Disk.info file. OK, close the window. This time DELETE DF1:.INFO. Do a LIST DF1: Only Disk.info there, right?. OK, just open the window and then close it. Do a LIST DF1: and voila, .info is back.

Now lets play around with a drawer and its icon. Issue a MAKEDIR DF1:CUCUG. Do a LIST DF1:CUCUG on it. It's empty, right? Open your disk window. What's this? You can't see your CUCUG directory. But it's there; you just did a successful LIST on it. Close the disk window. Do a LIST DF1: See, CUCUG is definitely there. Here you can graphically see (or not see graphically) some of the integrations that remains to be done between the Amiga's text based CLI environment and its icon based Intuition user interface. You can give a FORMAT command with a NOICONS argument so that no Trashcan will be put in the root directory of the disk you FORMAT, but you can't add an argument to the MAKEDIR command to get icons or not get icons. You have no choice: you don't get an icon. There are PD programs that address this problem (SID and MKIDIR, to name two), but hopefully Workbench 2.0 will fix this.

We can fix the problem here ourselves by issuing: COPY DF0:EMPTY.INFO DF1:CUCUG.INFO

Notice that just by changing the name in the copy command we are effectively renaming Empty.info to CUCUG.info. Now open your TEST disk's window. You may have to use the sliders along the right edge and bottom of the window to find the drawer icon, but it's there. Click on the drawer, then close the drawer window and close the disk window. Now do a LIST DF1:CUCUG of the CUCUG directory. Another of our 16 byte .info files is now there. These .info files will grow as the number of icon bearing files in the root or drawers increase in order to keep track of them. Remember the .info file contains a text list of the files in that window. Simply renaming a file with a shorter or longer file name will change the size of the .info file.

For our final experiment LIST DF1: Four files are shown (.info / CUCUG / CUCUG.info / Disk.info). Do a COPY DF0:DISK.INFO DF1:DISK.INFO (DF0: being your official Commodore Workbench disk and DF1: being our TEST disk). LIST DF1: again. Four files are still shown (.info / CUCUG / CUCUG.info / Disk.info). Nother appears to have changed, right? We still have our white disk icon for TEST on the Workbench screen. Pop out the TEST disk. Afer its icon disappears, put the disk back in. We now see our new disk icon with the same old label, TEST. Simple, but these gyrations exemplify how the Amiga's icon system works.

This beginners series on Amiga Icons by Kevin Hopkins will conclude next issue.

From the Midnight Reviewer

Product Flames of Freedom
(Midwinter II)
Publisher Microplay
Type Action Simulator
AmigaOS 2.0 Compatible
Hard Drive Installable

So you loved Midwinter, or could never figure it out, well here's the sequel, and if you had a tough time with the first wait till you play this one. Flames of Freedom may very well be the biggest game I have ever seen on the Amiga, Over 40 islands and 20 vehicles leave you with lots to do and see.

You're given one of dozens of missions to complete, a mission may include assassinating an island's leader and blowing up a radar installation, or dozens of other targets. Some of your tools are Helicopters, Hovercraft, Jetpaks, Tanks, and many more. The graphics are fair and the still pictures are quite good, however the 3D graphics need work. All views are from inside the vehicles only. I like the outside views myself; maybe Midwinter III will have that. The Manual is good and gives a fairly good description of game play and a good feel for the interface. You have only a certain amount of time till "The Bad Guys" launch an all out attack on your home island. The idea is to conquer as many islands as possible before the attack, the more islands on your side the more troops for your army. The maps in this game are quite detailed and look good. The best effect is when you are in one of the several subs available in this game, the underwater effect is really good. The oceans always have nice big waves and are fun when you are in a small boat.

The computer is tough, even on the baby level, but the computer lets you live long enough to get a good feel for the game play. The hard drive installation routine is a joke (per normal) if your drive isn't named dh0: it can't figure out what to do. The answer, after about a half hour, is to install it wherever you wish then assign dh0: to that directory. If you liked Midwinter you will love this one. It has almost everything that a sequel should have, and IF game play was better would be one of the best of the year.

* * MIDNIGHT RATING ... 87 * *

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR. MIDNIGHT HAS SPOKEN..........