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Your Guide to AmigaOne

The final preparations are being worked out which will see the next generation Amiga known as AmigaOne make its official debut. Bill McEwen outlined in his latest Executive Update that there is a need to now properly plan, budget, and order for the production of the AmigaOne. To determine how many Amiga users want to get their hands on the new Amiga they want users to purchase a $50.00 coupon from the Amiga Anywhere Shop. This coupon will entitle you to $50 off the price of AmigaOne/ AmigaOS 4.0. However, before Amiga users bust open their piggy banks I thought it would be appropriate to provide a guide to AmigaOne, so you'll better understand the gains of becoming an AmigaOne user.

In contrast to the A1200 which had a 020 processor, the AmigaOne has a 600Mhz G3 PowerPC processor. According to Alan Redhouse, CEO of Eyetech, “some PPC experts reckon it is likely to deliver several hundred times the performance of an 030/50 with many applications”. What other features you want with your AmigaOne such as lots of Ram, hard drive space, a CD-Rom Drive/ Writer or even a DVD Drive is up to you. Eyetech or your local Amiga dealer will put together the AmigaOne system you want, one which either suits the size of your wallet or reflects your desire have a machine of your dreams.

AmigaOS 4 will be the final step from the 68k based Amiga hardware up towards a PowerPC based Amiga system. In OS4, the main change will be that Exec, the Amiga OS's kernel, is completely rewritten from scratch to run natively on PowerPC. This means that instead of emulating this vital functionality, it's completely native, and thus will deliver the best, fastest possible solution for OS4. Along with Exec, there will be a powerful 68k emulator that will enable old 68k-based software to run on OS4, even if there is no 68k CPU present anymore. A lot of other modules will also be PowerPC native in OS4, including such vital components like intuition, the Amiga's graphical user interface, and most of the real time-critical parts, like some devices and drivers. One of the major enhancements is the inclusion of a USB stack that will allow Amiga users to use USB devices such as keyboards, mice and joystick, as well as scanners, printers, and digital cameras. In a recent interview Ben Hermans of Hyperion stated, “All of the developers are top-notch people with a proven track-record of developing Amiga software and I've found all of them to be quite professional and dedicated. They organise themselves as we all have a common goal: the rebirth of the platform”.

The AmigaOne fits in well with the overall strategy of Amiga Inc as it will become one many platforms to benefit from the AmigaDE. Although Amiga Anywhere will not be included with AmigaOS 4.0 it will be added in a future upgrade planned for AmigaOS 4.2. This means that Amiga users just like Windows and Linux users will be able to play the AmigaDE range of games and serious software. Later the AmigaDE and the AmigaOS will merge fully.

It is unfortunate that most of the media attention has focused on AmigaOne and AmigaOS 4, as developers efforts to exploit the capabilities of the machine and the operating system have as result gone unnoticed. There is much to be excited about when it comes to AmigaOne software; for gamers there will be conversions such as Sudden Strike and new original games such as Dafel: Bloodline, while for serious users there will be titles such as Realsoft 3D Version 4 and Audio Evolution 4. To wet your appetite I have provided below some details on these AmigaOne titles.

Sudden Strike is set in World War II and offers carefully planned Russian, German, French, American and British missions. The developers have said that, “The fantastic depth of the game, the infinite tactical possibilities and the excellent game-play outshine anything ever seen to date”. The game features great maps with up to a 1000 units in each scenario. Units are composed of all types such sniper/ explosive experts, submachine gunners with grenades, tank destroyers, assault guns and armoured cars, Tiger, Panther, long-rage howitzers, Katyusha rocket launchers, trucks for transporting infantry and towing artillery, aircraft for landing troops, bombing and reconnaissance, anti-tank mines and more. To add to the realism there are “real” explosion sound samples used along with realistic gun simulations. Scenarios can be played out in different types of terrain and during winter and summer seasons. In multi-player mode there can be up to 12 players and 4 teams. Sudden Strike is without a doubt one of the best-looking World War 2 strategy games I have ever seen.

Dafel: Bloodline mixes the old Zelda type game to modern Beat'em ups with good old RPG characters, speech puzzles thrown in for good measure. The game centres around a character named Dafel and the quests he has to complete. The in-game animations will be 3D modelled while the in-game graphics have been drawn skilfully by hand. Dafel: Bloodline uses Pagan Games own Full Sensual Gaming sound system that mixes atmospheric CD music to sound effects and has sophisticated AI routines, so the game will always play differently, even if you completed it once before.

Realsoft's critically acclaimed and highly advanced 3D modelling and rendering package, Realsoft 3D Version 4 is also coming to AmigaOne with Hyperion still working on the conversion. Realsoft's Managing Director Vesa Meskanen commenting on the announcement last year said, “The success of our 3D product line started on the Amiga platform. This opportunity to port our latest product generation back to Amiga is therefore very welcome”. Realsoft 3D is a full featured modelling, rendering, animation and simulation software tool. Its predecessor, Real 3D, originated on the Amiga and was renowned for its powerful and innovative tools. According to Ben Yoris, former PR Manager of Hyperion, “Realsoft 3D is designed to meet the requirements of today's 3D artist who requires extreme performance through an easy to use, productive user interface”.

Audio Evolution 4 is an audio hard disk recording system primarily aimed at musicians who want an easy-to-use multi-track recorder for home-studio applications. It's based on the AHI system by Martin Blom, which makes it possible to run Audio Evolution on every modern soundcard designed for Amiga computers. Audio Evolution also offers a versatile mixing desk including individual channel and master level display, mute, solo, panning, subgroups and PPC real-time effects. Besides that, full mixer automation gives you mixing possibilities only limited by your imagination. Also the timeline display with its marker system for fast positioning in the song, locators and punch in/out features saves you precious time in your recording session.

Alan Redhouse, CEO of Eyetech recently stressed to Amiga users the historical significance of the development of AmigaOne pointing out that it is the first new Amiga system to be designed for nearly a decade. The AmigaOne will provide users according to Alan Redhouse, “an upgrade and transition path from the Classic Amiga hardware and OS, the AmigaOne and OS4 will provide the sort of levels of performance only previously dreamed about by Amiga users. So as well as impressing existing Amiga users we also expect the AmigaOne to produce some real head-turning and jaw-dropping amongst the Windows-using fraternity”. It's decision time for Amiga users, if this guide to AmigaOne has convinced you that you got have one, then go to the Amiga Anywhere Shop and purchase a $50 coupon.

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