Amiga's New Future
It is not true to say that the Amiga is set to return in the way users might expect. The dream for most Amiga users since the demise of the Commodore was that in time a new Amiga computer and Operating System as revolutionary as the original would arrive. However, the strategy of Amiga Inc is more ambitious as it is their hope the Amiga experience will reach beyond its traditional audience. Through the Amiga Digital Environment the Amiga experience will reach users of all hardware platforms - workstations, games consoles, desktops, set-top-boxes, cell phones and personal digital assistants.
The announcement in March that Amiga Inc was working with Sharp to produce content for the Zaurus PDA and other new PDA devices shocked many Amiga users. The strategy seemed to be taking life. It has now become clear that Amiga users and developers can no longer ignore the new direction of the Amiga.
This week Amiga Flame gives you the users and developers an insight into the PDA market in order to better understand the role the Amiga is set to play. It is an appropriate time for such a look at the PDA market as the Series Zero Game Pack made up of games developed by Amiga companies such as Epic Interactive and Titan Computer are to be released to the PDA gaming public.
What are PDAs?
Personal Digital Assistants are handheld computers designed to allow users to keep essential information within easy reach such as in your jacket pocket. The PDA has traditionally come with software such as a scheduler, appointment calendar and address book but in more recent times they also provide users with access to the Internet and can connect to desktop computers. It is estimated that there are over 7 million active PDA users.
From its early beginnings the PDA has always provided its users with some simplistic games allowing users to play games perhaps on the bus or while waiting in a queue. As the technology behind PDA's becomes more advanced so has its capabilities with companies like Sharp and others believing that it could sustain a thriving games market.
Since the announcement in March that Amiga Inc were working with Sharp to produce content for their Zaurus PDA questions have been asked by users as to why Sharp would turn specifically to the Amiga developer community. Thomas Steiding of Epic Interactive perhaps has the answer; “I think Amiga programmers are a perfect fit for the PDA devices which are a bit underspeced at the moment. I think Amiga developers have a clear edge here, because they are used to deal with low spec machines more than windows programmers for example”. Sharp are not the only company to turn to another developer community for help as it has been reported that iFone has signed a deal with Infogames, the parent company of Atari which will allow them to remake Atari games to run on Java or EPOC based cell phones.
There are clear limitations when it comes to developing a PDA game compared to a desktop game. Even though Amiga developers are use to breaking the boundaries it is unlikely that a 3D game will be produced for the current PDAs. However, Thomas Steiding of Epic Interactive believes “now considered old-fashioned games like card, puzzle or simple shoot'em ups will celebrate a renaissance on these devices”. The possibility of making bigger and greater games for the PDA market cannot be discounted. Fleecy Moss, CTO of Amiga Inc praised the Zaurus PDA as “a very modern, high performance product” but also pointed out “their new range of products offer even more exciting possibilities”.
Amiga developers have been slow to react to Amiga Inc's calls for PDA content but attitudes have changed as developers learn more about the technological developments in the PDA world and the potential sales in such a market. Steven Haun of Edvision in an interview with amiga.org presents a positive picture for games developers, “It's a new market. Why not be the first on the block and to help change the way games are played on PDA's”.