2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

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limi
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2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by limi »

A little-appreciated fact these days — or even back in the day — was Amiga’s support for local multi-computer games via a nullmodem serial cable. This was a cheap (and easy to make) cable that let you connect two Amigas to play networked games on two Amigas at the same time, and was supported in quite a few of the most popular games on the platform.

This would effectively double the amount of players in a given game, and also added an incredible new dimension to games that were better played full-screen.

Some of my favorite examples:
  • Skidmarks (8 simultaneous players! Racing game)
  • Gravity Force (2-player, cave flyer)
  • F16, Mig 29, Fighter Duel, and Falcon (2 players, 3D dogfight)
  • Firepower (2 players, tank arcade game)
  • Lotus Turbo Challenge 2 (4 simultaneous players!)
  • Populous 1 & 2 (2 simultaneous players, the original "god game")
  • Powermonger (2 simultaneous players, the follow-up to Populous)
  • Red Baron (2 simultaneous players, WWI flight "sim")
  • Stunt Track Racer (2 simultaneous players, 3D racing game)
  • Vroom (2 simultaneous players, 3D Formula 1 racing)
Other null-modem capable games

Minimig sits at around 35% logic utilization on the MiSTer, so in theory, it might be possible to run two Amigas at the same time, just like with the GBA core.

Inspired by the excellent work done by Robert Peip (FPGAzumSpass) on the 2-player GameBoy Advance core — both with split screen and HDMI+VGA showing different computers — I was wondering if anyone more knowledgable than yours truly could comment on the feasibility of making a core that did the same on the Amiga side?

Many of the Amiga’s very best multiplayer games would be unlocked with such a core — and even if you are dedicated enough to own a real Amiga, it’s rare that you own multiple ones, and it’s a hassle to set up the cabling to make multiplayer, multi-Amiga setups work.

In addition, if you use the Amiga for music, this would give you two PT-1210 decks in one box!

Here’s a couple of simulated examples of how a split-screen version of the Amiga core would look — can you argue with the greatness of 4-player Lotus 2?
4xLotus.png
4xLotus.png (905.98 KiB) Viewed 11966 times
…or the mayhem of 8-player Super Skidmarks?
8xSkidmarks.png
8xSkidmarks.png (1.6 MiB) Viewed 11966 times
(these are both assuming 3× scaling factor that would result in 1920×768 rendering, although it might not be possible to make this happen as not all games are 320px wide, but 2× would also be great — and of course, if it supported independent output to analog + HDMI like the GBA core, none of this would be a problem)
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Re: 2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by bazza_12 »

Lemmings also offered this option :)

Lotus looks amazing as a four player game..
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Re: 2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by movisman »

Hi Limi,

This is a really interesting post. I'd be highly curious to know whether something like this is actually possible. I remember successfully getting Super Skidmarks linked between me and my brother's Amiga many years ago (as well as Lotus 2 and Stunt Car Racer). Was great fun and felt really advanced at the time!
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Re: 2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by bbond007 »

Somewhat related:

I have done some testing with two MiSTers connected via TCP modem or UDP connection.

Several of the games you listed I've tested and work perfectly well, except I've never gotten any version of Lotus Turbo challenge working.
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Re: 2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by limi »

bazza_12 wrote: Sun Aug 15, 2021 5:53 am Lemmings also offered this option :)
I adore multiplayer Lemmings, but that can be done today since it didn’t use a nullmodem, but rather split screen with two mice connected to the Amiga. It’s one of the most chaotic gaming experiences ever, I highly recommend it to anyone that hasn’t tried it 😄

From a developer diary:
We tried this as well, and I actually coded up a Null-Modem cable routine up, and even got a mouse moving around on Dave's machine, being controlled by me on mine. However, since the Amiga could have 2 mice plugged in, Dave decided to go with the split screen option instead.
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Re: 2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by FoxbatStargazer »

Actually does dual USB mouse work on mister? You don't seem to configure them like you would a joystick.
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Re: 2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by ToothbrushThreepwood »

FoxbatStargazer wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 2:39 am Actually does dual USB mouse work on mister? You don't seem to configure them like you would a joystick.
No. Multiple USB mouse inputs are currently merged to one, unfortunately.
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Re: 2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by LamerDeluxe »

Played so much four player Lotus at school that I still saw the moving road on my way home, really fun.
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Re: 2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by bazza_12 »

LamerDeluxe wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 6:00 am Played so much four player Lotus at school that I still saw the moving road on my way home, really fun.
I was like that with Twintris, I'd to got to bed dreaming of how the pieces would fit together.. I was totally obsessed with it.. A few mates and I used to play it to death, I happened to mention the dream thing to one of them and he said 'oh I thought it was just me!' haha!.. It gives me a great nostalgia hit when I play it now.
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Re: 2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by LamerDeluxe »

bazza_12 wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 7:04 am
LamerDeluxe wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 6:00 am Played so much four player Lotus at school that I still saw the moving road on my way home, really fun.
I was like that with Twintris, I'd to got to bed dreaming of how the pieces would fit together.. I was totally obsessed with it.. A few mates and I used to play it to death, I happened to mention the dream thing to one of them and he said 'oh I thought it was just me!' haha!.. It gives me a great nostalgia hit when I play it now.
Haha, nice, a friend of mine had the same thing with Tetris.
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Re: 2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by kolla »

After spending weeks non-stop animating in DPaint, at some point all my dreams had the DPaint toolbox and menus present, and any sort of obstacle in my dreams I wanted to script my way around with arexx.
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Re: 2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by LamerDeluxe »

kolla wrote: Tue Aug 17, 2021 12:58 pm After spending weeks non-stop animating in DPaint, at some point all my dreams had the DPaint toolbox and menus present, and any sort of obstacle in my dreams I wanted to script my way around with arexx.
Hahaha, that is amazing. I've used ARexx for scripting graphics operations between different applications, so powerful.

I remember when I worked on low poly cars and later on buildings, for a game at work, I would keep transforming my environment into low poly meshes and limited textures.

Later on, when having to work with a terrible racing game level editor, I was dreaming about untangling geometry at the inner side of the corners.
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Re: 2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by limi »

Let’s keep this thread on-topic 😄
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Re: 2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by caffeinekid »

Amiga uses 35% of the Cyclone V, so it might be possible to do two player, but four player probably wouldn't fit unless some trickery was done?
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Re: 2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by limi »

Four player only requires 2 Amigas in the case of e.g. Lotus 2, and the same for 8-player Super Skidmarks :)
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Re: 2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by Caldor »

Oh, did not consider Populous had this option. Could be fun to try to play in network.

Might there be a way to connect two MiSTers or a MiSTer and an Amiga to get this working?

I think some core got it working with one output through VGA and the other through HDMI instead of having to use split screen?
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Re: 2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by bbond007 »

Caldor wrote: Mon Dec 20, 2021 1:34 pm Oh, did not consider Populous had this option. Could be fun to try to play in network.
Might there be a way to connect two MiSTers or a MiSTer and an Amiga to get this working?
Somewhat off topic, but this capability has existed for several years...

Populous works even cross platforms/cores. I never made a video though - I thought I had...

Knights of the Sky --> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TH1GDu2Da9A

Battle Chess (Minimig vs Atari ST cores) --> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDWlSjPu5p
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Re: 2-computer split-screen Amiga/Minimig core?

Unread post by limi »

Yes indeed, if you have two MiSTers (or original hardware), you can do this today. But would be incredible to have the ability to do it on the same device showing on a single TV/monitor. 😄
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