The main Acorn stand towered over the rest of the show, like some giant spaceship coming in to land.
Beneath its proud crown lay various interesting bits and pieces, including a small games arcade, featuring some networked machines playing Quake and a couple with The Fourth Dimension's Drifter. The origin of this version of Quake was not made clear, but several Acorn employees "thought" that it originated from TBA Software. TBA later confirmed that this was the case, claiming it to be a port by one of the TBA Software partners, Martin Piper, based on iD's original source code. The game was running at varying frame rates of around the 10fps mark, but Piper claimed that this was a "horrible" version that would eventually be replaced by a version based on TBA's new TAG3 3D-graphics library. Piper also stated that no license was required to release such a version that did not use any original iD code, but that such a release would require the user to purchase a copy of the PC version of the game in order to extract the required game level files. Confusingly, various reports published on Usenet have alleged contradictory information from his mouth. See the TBA stand report for more details.
Acorn's port of Java was on display on their stand, running an impressive Spectrum emulator! This was not the only mention of emulators by Acorn at their show, with Chris Cox's and Peter Bondar's talk on "The Future of Acorn" stating that a games emulator will soon be available, allowing you to run lots of famous games natively on the Acorn platform. More details were provided by the Show Guide and copies of "Acorn Times" on the Acorn stand, which stated that "over 1500 games written for one of the market-leading games machines" would be playable, and that this would mean "you will soon be able to run the world's leading 16-bit games on Acorn platforms, at speeds you've never seen before". This last "at speeds..." bit must surely be marketing waffle, for why on Earth would you want to run an arcade game faster than it was supposed to run?
The same publications also go on to warn us to "Stand by for news of one of the world's favourite multi-player games, soon to be sending tremors through an NC near you". This would appear to be a reference to either Quake or Doom, although if so then this would appear to contradict Acorn's earlier reluctance to consider games with "long download times" for NCs. Perhaps these are now aimed at corporate intra-nets rather than the home-based use envisaged previously.
Some people with excellent taste on the Acorn stand - reading these web pages!
of the main attractions on the stand was a prototype version of the new Risc PC 2.
The technical specifications and so forth have been widely discussed in the
comp.sys.acorn.misc newsgroup and
are given on other web pages (such as at the Acorn Cybervillage), with this being one part of the stand that was
never short of visitors swarming around it. Almost every IC on the motherboard had been
hidden behind a labelling sticker, allowing people to stand next to the machine and read
them out in order to try and make themselves sound technically knowledgable...
All Acorn personnel on the stand were wearing black boiler suits replete with large Acorn logo on their backs. Whether this was an improvement on last year's combat gear is debatable, but it certainly made them very obvious, so to this extent at least they were very successful. The stand was generously populated with staff, all of whom seemed keen to chat about all things Acorn, even if they weren't all experts on every single aspect - which seems fair enough!
Other technologies on the stand included Acorn's new LAN TV, a client and server solution that provides access to video on demand across any industry-standard network. This enables on-demand access to MPEG2 digital video across a LAN (local area network), making LAN TV ideal for use within a corporate intranet, especially as part of an entertainment system (in a hotel or on a cruise ship, for example). The significance to Acorn gaming of all this is that it shows a firm commitment and involvement on Acorn's behalf in the provision of entertainment systems, which in turn should engender the production of native Acorn games. Hopefully these can spill over into RISC OS releases! An example of this is the 3D game that Oregan are developing for StrongARM NetStations, under the name Insomnia Studios, which has a budget in excess of £500,000 - but this will be released for RISC OS machines only if somebody else opts to publish it; Oregan won't be publishing it themselves.
The Starship Enterprise (left) was the perfect place for the speech recognition technology (right)
You could queue to watch technology presentations inside the bowels of the space ship
This web space provided by DoggySoft Ltd.