June 1992 MAGazine Volume 8 Number 6

Table Of Contents

The JUNE General Meeting of the Memphis Amiga Group will be held Saturday, JUNE, 13 from 1:00 pm until approximately 3:00 pm in the New Auditorium on the campus of State Technical Institute at Memphis.

The Art Contest:

From the Presidents CLI

by Brian Akey

This month is the start of the club's art contest. After my opening announcements, I'll start showing the 3D animations; after all the art-work has been shown, we will then vote on the best three. Next, 3D stills will be shown and voted on the same way. So bring the best work that you have. After the contest when we split into groups, we will look into the best ways to present art and animations by using Amigavision, Deluxe Video3, and others. So get the art work out of the closet so we can see who has the best stuff out there.

After Reviewing the clubs by-laws, the officers decided that we should update the by-laws to keep them in pace with the changes that have been made over the years. So if you have any recommendations on what you think should be changed or kept the same, in the by-laws; come to the meeting so you can voice your opinion.

Notes From the Editor

by Larry Evans

This marks my fifth magazine since I took over as the editor. I have tried to make improvements such as: adding a list of all the local Amiga BBS's, and by making the magazine available to local vendors for advertisements. The money made by the ads will help our club, so lets support those who are paying for the ads. Another job I am working on is to get support from some major companies like Gold Disk, GVP, and Soft-logik publishing Corporation. I have already talked to all of them and I am expecting more information in the mail on how they will help out our club. GVP has already promised to send some demo tapes on some of their new products plus a little more. I will keep you updated on my progress.

Also, this month we will be making some changes to the clubs by-laws, so members are encouraged to read the enclosed copy of the by-laws and voice your opinion on what should stay or go. Have a good month and my the sun shine on you.

Meeting Schedule

1:00 Start Meeting
1:15 Disk of the month
1:30 Break
1:45 Contest begins
2:15 Break
2:30 Split into groups
3:00 Meeting Ends

MAG Meetings

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

There will be an officers lunch meeting at GRIDLEYS in the formal dining room beginning at 11:00 am Saturday, JUNE, 13 (before the general meeting). For more information call Brian Akey at (901) 377-1093.

Memphis Amiga Group Officers for 1992

President
Brian Akey
(901) 278-6354

Vice President
Donnie Webb
(901) 363-8025

Secretary
Raymond Ginn
(901) 353-4504

Treasurer
Micheal Cervetti
(901) 386-2584

Librarian
Ken Winfield
(901)383-1828

MAGazine Editor
Larry Evans
(901)383-1828

MAGazine Printing & Distribution
Terry A. Campbell
(601)393-4864

Hardware Rentals

Frame Grabber - $6.00 per week
Super Gen - $6.00 per week
(Hardware rentals are for Members Only)
A variety of Amiga specific videotapes are also available, from the club's
hardware library for $3.00's a week.

Disk Sales

MAG library and Fred FISH disks are $2 each.
($5 each for non-members)
Quality blank disks with labels are 65 cents each.
($1 each for non-members)
For all this and more contact club librarian
Ken Winfield (901) 382-3339
OR see Ken 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 full name and address information, updates, or changes to:

Larry Evans
5754 Riverhead Ave.
Memphis TN. 38135

For Sale

Atari 1040st with many disks. $250.00 or best offer. Call 383-1828.

Incomm Turbo 4800 baud modem, can be upgraded to 9600 baud. $50.00 firm. Call 385-1967 ask for Charles

Amiga 500 with 1 meg of RAM, and 1084s Monitor all for $575.00. Also, F-19 Stealth Fighter for $27 and Deluxe Music Construction Set for $35. Call Mike at 386-2584.

Your Classified AD Here

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

Larry Evans
MAGazine editor
5754 Riverhead Ave.
Memphis TN. 38135
(901) 383-1828

SPENCE'S TRADING POST

has changed their name to

VIDEOSPEAK SYSTEMS

Authorized Amiga Dealer, With Full
Service and Repair By A Certified
Commodore Technician.

WERE WE CAN MEET OR BEAT MAIL ORDER PRICES!

Blizzard Turbo memory board A500
Replaces three expansion boards in one! 8MB Raem Board processor/accelerator
and kickstart switching board. Full 14.18 mhz using 2 meg memory! $239
with 0 ram Installed.

Drams 256k x 4, 80 nanosec
Just $4.85 each.

Parnet kits
Fast transfers and safe networking with two amigas. Cable adaptor and software
just $24.95

Commodore 1950 multisync monitors.
Only $349, while supply lasts.

Amiga Trackball
$49.95

Video Director
$139.95

Understanding Imagine 2.0
A complet Imagine reference guide for $29.95

OPEN Monday - Saturday 10 am till 7 pm
Come out poplar Ave to US highway 72 turn right out 4 miles to
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799 HIGHWAY 72 EAST
COLLIERVILLE TN 38017
853-4401 VOICE
853-4804 BBS 24HRS

COMPUTER THIRD REICH

A review by David McClanahan

Title: Computer Third Reich
By: Avalon Hill Games/Thalean Software

As an avid strategy wargamer, I have been enjoying Avalon Hill board games for some years. I have owned a board version of Third Reich since 1977, and consider it to be one of the best of the genre. It was therefore with high expectations that I undertook to play-test the computer version and give this review.

For those unfamiliar with the Third Reich game, let me begin with a brief description. The game is a strategic simulation of World War II in Europe, featuring several scenarios starting in 1939, 1942, and 1944, as well as a campaign game that begins with the invasion of Poland and ends with the ultimate defeat (or victory) of the Axis forces of Germany and Italy. Forces of all the major powers (Great Britain, France, USSR, United States, Italy, Germany) are represented, as well as those of minor countries (Belgium, Norway, Finland, Spain, etc.), including those that did not actually participate in the war (enabling players to engage in a lot of "what if"). The game pieces represent all major types of forces, including infantry, armor, air force, navy, and replacements, as well as partisan forces and units for strategic warfare (submarines and bombers). Up to six players may play, presenting opportunity for diplomatic strategizing as well as military.

The map is divided into three separate "fronts", the Western, Eastern, and Mediterranean. On each front, the player controlling each country may elect to conduct an offensive, to wear down the enemy by attrition, or to pass (basically a pause and regroup option). The actions a person may perform with his forces on each front is determined by the option selected. The possibilities include air drops by paratroops, counter-air strikes by air forces, naval transport and invasions, armored warfare (complete with blitzkrieg-style encirclements), and more. Air forces may aid in attack or defense of ground forces or make attacks on naval fleets; opposing fleets can intercept naval missions, resulting in naval combat; replacement units "soak up" losses due to attrition. There is even a random "historical variation" element, so that every game is different (what if Hitler was assassinated, for example). The game is well-balanced, and the strategy is guaranteed to challenge even the most cerebral of antagonists.

So much for the board game. The limitations of the computer version become apparent with the opening menu. The only play options are two-player human vs. human or human vs. computer; no allowance is made for modem play or multiple human players. Although the rulebook states that there is a "play-by-mail" option, the need for both players to have inputs during combat means that a single game turn could take weeks to complete (as well as allowing your opponent to replay each turn as many times as he likes until the desired results are achieved). There is a speed control setting, which makes the cursor move faster or slower during the computer's turn (a dubious option). There is no setting for difficulty; the computer will be just as smart each game (as will be discussed later). There is also an option to allow the players to bypass the unit deployment limits (for example, the requirement that France must station troops in North Africa in 1939).

The game interface is best described as "rinky-dink". All functions are controlled through the mouse; there are no keyboard shortcuts. There are also no pull-down menus. Control of screen display, including scrolling of the map, is accomplished by clicking on boxes at the bottom of the screen. This quickly becomes a tedious operation. On the positive side, the map is well done, and exactly duplicates the mapboard from the board game. It can be viewed full-screen, or the screen can be split into top and bottom windows to show two different parts of the map (or half map/half information screen). However, view is restricted to only a small portion of the map at a time. There is no option to allow a reduced scale full-map view.

Play of the game is basically the same as the board game; however, a person who is accustomed to the original will notice many small differences. These include the handling of naval interceptions, air combat, Axis minor allies, and paratroop airdrops, to mention a few. The most annoying difference is that the combat results from counterattacks are determined differently, giving the defender an advantage. Several features are missing entirely, such as partisans, naval transport, and beachheads. Although these deletions will make no difference to a person who has not played the board game, they have a profound impact on strategy and are indicative of the faulty adaptation of the game to the computer. All in all, it looks like the programming was done by someone who had never actually played the game, and who was equipped with a rulebook with every tenth paragraph missing.

Because of the lack of a modem-play capability, it is about useless as a human vs. human game; a person interested in playing Third Reich would be better off buying the board game (which costs half as much). It is even worse as a human vs. computer game. The computer is not just stupid; it is mind-bogglingly stupid. While it seems capable of some degree of logic in combat tactics, it possesses no strategic sense and does not appear to be programmed for any sort of coordinated planning. What is worse, it makes the same stupid moves over and over, due to the lack of a difficulty level control.

There appears to be a routine that requires every computer-controlled power to declare war on at least one minor country per turn, regardless of whether or not it has a capability to attack that country. When the computer selects the attrition option on a front, it never performs attrition combat, no matter how strong it is. When the computer takes losses from attrition combat, it removes expensive armor units when there are replacement units available. When the capital of a computer-controlled power is captured (which results in the defeat of the country, if it is not recaptured), it does not even attempt to recapture the capital. The list goes on and on.

While it was somewhat enjoyable the first time I played (who doesn't like to win an overwhelming victory?), boredom soon took hold. By the third attempt, the most fun was derived from trying to guess what sort of silliness the computer would try next. However, a person who has not had experience with the strategies involved might find the game a challenge for a short time. It is doubtful that anyone would enjoy the game for long, however, due to the deficiencies in the programming.

The programming appears to have been hastily completed and not adequately tested before marketing. I have managed to complete two games, out of six attempts at playing. Those two games were completed only because I saved the game in progress regularly and was able to restore to the previous turn when the program malfunctioned. The worst problem is that the game sometimes locks up; the mouse pointer moves on the screen, but clicking the mouse button has no effect. When this occurs (usually during combat phases, particularly when selecting naval and air units to take losses), the only thing that can be done is to reset the computer. Other bugs include the disappearance (for no explainable reason) of naval and air units from the map, said units never to be seen again; and the annoying habit the computer has of turning control of its forces over to me at inappropriate times, such as when selecting the computer's losses from attrition combat.

My overall evaluation of this game, on a scale of garbage (worst) to gold (best), is low-grade unrecyclable trash (somewhat less than garbage). I would not recommend this game to anyone under any circumstances. I would not even recommend it to people I don't like, as the sales might encourage the publisher to produce even more.

Please note that the low quality of this game should not be taken as indicative of the Avalon Hill Game Company overall. Avalon Hill has a long, successful track record with strategy war games, and their board games remain, in my opinion, the best. And, if you play the board version of this game and are looking for an opponent, look me up. But bring your lucky dice; you'll need them.

Boomerang Gameware

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Latest Amiga software in stock.
Can supply any Amiga peripheral on request.
Will match or beat all mail order prices on hardware.
Plus many of the Amiga European magazines are available
$5.00 off any purchase of $20.00 or more, with this coupon.

Store Location:
4986 Park Avenue
Memphis, TN 38117
(901) 683-3100

Store Hours:
10am - 8pm Monday thru Saturday
1pm - 6pm Sunday

Ray Tracing - Patience, Hard Work, and a Lot of Time.

By Mike Wallace

Have you seen 'The Juggler'? This was the most incredible animation seen on the Amiga 1000 in 1987. It's still impressive today, but a lot of software has come and gone since then. I started with a shareware product called DBW Render 1.0 and learned the basics of what ray tracing was all about. The basics consisted of:

  1. understanding how a point is represented in a three-dimensional coordinate system,
  2. how to create an object for a set of primitive objects,
  3. how to place an observer in a three-dimensional ray tracing world and make the observer look at the object,
  4. position a light source in a three-dimensional ray tracing world.

These are still the basic elements of any ray tracing software package. All of the public domain / shareware ray tracing software packages do not have a graphical user interface for creating objects. Because of this, beginners not wanting to spend a lot of money getting started in ray tracing, may not enjoy the hard work that is required to create objects. I was either dedicated or stupid. I did spend a lot of time using the trial and error approach to generate my first pictures. As you can guess, it was a chrome sphere on a black an white checkerboard floor with one light source. My Amiga 1000 and I created this amazing picture in only four hours. Don't laugh, ray tracing can take a long time depending on the complexity of the world you create. The worst case I have seen was 13 hours to generate a single picture. Other public domain/shareware packages that I have used are QRT, DKB Trace, and Ray Shade. The are all good, but no graphical user interface. You create objects by entering text into an ASCII script file. I have tested Ray Shade and the result of some of the pictures are better than Imagine.

My first animation was done with QRT and called windspinner. I set up a eighteen disks and had various members of the Memphis Amiga Group help me render the frames for me. Each of the frames ran from 11 to 13 hours. After all the frames were rendered in HAM, I encountered my first problem with animations (each frame of the animation had a different palette). The program MAKEANIM used the palette from the first frame for all the remaining frames when building the animation. A friend had PIXMATE and converted each of the frames to use the same palette. This first animation was a success.

I decided to bite the bullet and buy a commercial program. I did some research and a program called OPTICS looked pretty good. Are you saying, I haven't heard of that software? I tried the software, and it crashed, and crashed and the company quit by the time I tried to call them. This was a hard lesson for me. I never will buy another product before I see it working Turbo Silver was the next commercial program I bought. It had a graphical user interface and creating objects was fun. The same company, Impulse, created Imagine. This is an outstanding program that I use all the time. Imagine requires a lot of time doing trial and error to learn all the features.

When you see one of those great 'mind-boggling' pictures that look incredible, you can be sure that the creator was a patient hard working person who had a lot of time to learn about ray tracing. If you are interested in ray tracing, check out one of the public domain/shareware products, ask me questions. The hard work will pay off when you generate that first picture of a chrome sphere on a black and white checkerboard floor with one light source.

You are hiding in the bushes with your gun
ready to fire. You hear someone walking
towards you; they are getting closer and closer.
Then they stop. You think you have been
spotted. In the confusion you jump up and fire
your rifle, one hit - two hits, both of your
enemies have been shot dead center mass.
But why are they smiling? Because they are
playing..

PAINT WARS AT THE JUNGLE

This is no computer game, this combat is for real.
Come experience for yourself, the feel of combat
as you destroy the enemy. Also, we have 3 fields
available to play on, to increase your enjoyment.

For more information call
756-4075
Open every weekend from 10:00am till dark.

"FROM THE SECRETARIAL POOL"

Welcome to the Secretarial Pool. Last month we had a great meeting with our main topic on structured drawing programs. We showed some really good demo programs such as X Cad and Dyna Cadd, Other demos included a good unix simulator called Minix, a couple of P.D. games, and an excellent 5 disk animation called Odyssey (you really need to add this one to your personal library); IT IS MOST EXCELLENT!. I would also like to take a moment to thank Ed Bilson for bringing some very large full color posters, he printed up at work with a totally rad computer and a top notch plotter, (would you expect anything less)? Thanks again Ed! Hey members, don't forget, the art contests begin this month. June's entries will be 3D animations and 3D stills. Time is running out so get started. Oh yea, there will be awards for contest winners. You know, I do like to gossip, so from now on I will tell you all that happens in the officer meetings:

  1. There has been a motion to amend the current MAG bylaws,
  2. We are powering up our club 500 so much that we have to buy a larger power supply to keep up with it all,
  3. We bought the prizes for the upcoming contests,
  4. If you or someone you know would like to advertise in the MAGazine the cost is $5.00 per 1/4 page, $10.00 per 1/2 page and $20.00 per full page, so send all advertisements to Larry Evans.

As I draw this article to a close, I would like to thank the forty members who showed up at our last meeting and look forward to seeing more of you at our June meeting where the main topic of discussion will be PRESENTATION programs, such as Amiga Vision and Deluxe Video. Again, be sure to have your art entries for the upcoming contest with you, because it starts this month. This is your secretary, sunning and swimming in "the Secretarial Pool".

COMMODORE Amiga 600

The following specifications are taken from Commodore brochures distributed at the recent CeBit show in Germany, and are publicly available. The A600 was unveiled to the masses at that show by Commodore Germany, and has also been announced over NewsBytes by Commodore Netherlands. Commodore U.S. and Commodore U.K. have not yet announced whether or not they'll be marketing the 600 in their respective countries.

Amiga 600:

This machine could be a Sega/SuperNES killer if marketed at about $250-300, and enhanced by an ad campaign comparing it against the game machines, like the old C64 vs. Atari VCS commercials. Commodore Germany says the price will be the same as the A500Plus. However, look for a rapid drop, as (1) Commodore usually drops prices on new machines considerably after a few months, and (2) the surface-mount construction and smaller, keypad-less case should make it much cheaper to produce. This is either the best idea since the C64, or the best idea since the PLUS/4. Commodore's marketing department will make that decision.

Amiga BBS Boards

Phone number Title Location State Baud
901-664-6882 Anonymous BBS Jackson, TN. 9600
601-393-9290 Thunderbolt Horn Lake, MS. 2400
601-781-9049 Dew Drop Inn Walls, MS. 2400
901-761-3729 Duck Pond Memphis TN. 2400
901-358-1920 FANTASY GRAPHICS #1 Memphis TN. 2400
901-353-5278 FANTASY GRAPHICS #2 Memphis TN. 14.400 V32bis
901-366-1076 Rocky Horror Bbs Memphis, TN. 2400
901-373-3023 Mongoose's Shadow Node 5 Memphis, TN. 9600
901-377-8628 The Uptown Bus Memphis, TN. 2400
901-382-5972 Mongoose's Shadow Memphis, TN. 2400
901-382-7316 Mongoose's Shadow #2 Memphis, TN. 2400
901-837-7104 Dark Castle BBS ??????? TN 2400
901-753-0457 Amiga Pitts Collierville, TN. 4800
901-753-0463 Amiga Pitts Collierville, TN. 19200
901-872-1928 Fitzpatrick Fireplace!!! On the map... TN 1200
901-853-4804 VIDEOSPEAK BBS MOSCOW USA 2400

Changes or Corrections

Please help me get accurate information on all BBS's. If you know of a BBS that we don't have complete information for, or a BBS you would like to add to our list, please let me know. Send full name of BBS, location, phone number, baud rate, updates, or changes to:

Larry Evans
5754 Riverhead Ave.
Memphis TN. 38135

FROM THE MIDNIGHT REVIEWER

Product - A320 Airbus
Publisher - Thalion Software

Now here is something that you don't see everyday a Passenger Airliner Simulation. A320 is basically a flight simulator for the Lufthansa and Deutsche A320 Airbus aircraft. One of the things that makes this Simulator nice is that the manufacturers of the aircraft actually helped design the game. And boy did they put detail into the Sim, the programs comes with 1 data, 1 Simulator disk, 1 200 page Pilot's Manual, 1 200 page ILS Approach Charts Manual, 2 Official Jeppesen route charts and 1 nice poster of a actually A320 cockpit. The area that the Sim covers has over 80 airports and covers 10 countries in Europe. I have never seen a more true to life Sim on any computer system, and they get an A+ for the engine sounds. You start out a trainee trying to earn your wings, as you get better the computer takes some of the computer aided flying away, therefore the game gets harder. Once you earn a promotion you have to keep it, if you land wrong get of course the computer FAA will demote you in a heartbeat. Before you can even take off you must set 3 Navigation computers, number of passengers, amount of freight, amount of fuel needed and enter your destination. Sound is very good, graphics are good and speed is Ok but would like to have seen more ground detail. No Outside views, for the long boring flight between airports, and not enough options to hold interest. Then the bad part, NOT HARD DRIVE INSTALLABLE, and to top it off the Sim disk is copy protected (BOO!) I also must mention the only version I could find to buy was a PAL version, and with my machine in PAL mode it runs fine. If you are a serious flight Sim lover run out and buy this one, but be prepared to spend countless hours learning how to fly it.

Midnight rating.... 86

Midnight has spoken...