Playing games on oldie in 2018 'Oldie' bere is mostly Atari ST, but most of written here stays for almost every oldie
As we know, retro computing is in. Lot of people like to play old games,
some from nostalgic reasons, but even younger ones do it. Some even
making new games for very old HW. Of course, in many cases it runs on
emulators. But right thing is real HW, that's what people usually say.
Well, unless it becomes too expensive, to troublesome. Today, some
oldies may be very expensive to buy - like Atari Falcon in good shape.
And keeping it in working state may cost too. It is just very old, and
failures of HW are not rare. Mechanic parts tend to make most problems
- what would be floppy drives. And of course, disks too.
That's why many people went floppy less way - using hard disks, or now
rather Flash cards with adapters, HW floppy emulators (also Flash card
based), like Gotek, HxC . And those ways have it's problems too -
mostly SW is that, what is just not made to run from anything other
than floppy + copy protections.
Here we may talk about preferred ways of some user circles:
1: Those who say that playing only unmodded original is the right way,
and most reliable way to have no problems, missing parts, graphic
corruptions and like during play. We will come back to them in further
text couple times. Now just: that way may be pretty much expensive, and
even time consuming. Even if you have lot of originals, many of it will
not work now, with 30 year old disks. So, need some specialised floppy
copy device, then hunting images online, etc.
2. People which tend to play old game cracks, mostly on so called menu
disks. Crackers often packed it, and then multiple games can fit on
single floppy, Not copy protected, and images are online. Easy to write
on floppy, or use with emulators. But there are downsides too: slow
depacking makes start times longer. There is lot of not well tested release, so
may fail, especially at later stages. And of course, there are TOS
version imcompatibilities, which are present with originals too, just
more. And what annoys me are diverse messages, intros at starts,
corrupted pictures, and you may see sometimes in middle of game
3. Owners of some mass storage want to play from it, of course. So,
adapting, transferring games for hard disk usage became one of popular
retro activities. In case of Atari ST it is often very hard. Because
copy protections, code what accessing directly HW, so floppy controller
too, and like.
But most of better games is already adapted. The benefits: most
comfortable, fastest way. No need to swap disks/images in case of multi
floppy games. There are extra things like exit to Desktop, game state
saves. Bad: needs more RAM, more testing, may be problems with
some hard disk driver SW and too optimistic users, who set it to load
some resident SW after boot - despite it is told that it makes problems.
Latest way became popular especially when Flash cards appeared, so
after 2005. Now, capacities are huge. On single card can put
practically all games for some oldie (if they work) . It is reliable,
it is easy to make backup(s) on PC, etc.
Now, I want to present something what may be considered as extended way
#3 : Virtual Floppy and Raw Image Access. For mass storage users, and
especially for thosw without floppy drive, or problematic drive and
So, no need for floppy drive at all. You can use floppy image files
stored on Flash cards/hard disk, and they will appear as drive A: and B: .
It is possible to change images during work, by pressing NumPad # key.
So, 9 images for and and 9 for B. They must be selected first by util.
That way is not really good, must say - may be very timing sensitive,
and even not working with some SW. But without extra HW is not possible
Much better way is to create larger images, and copy there all files
from multiple floppies. And it is possible to use very large pseudo
floppy images - up to 32 MB or even more.
But what with SW on floppies where are no regular files ? Copy protected SW ? Well,
it is possible to run with pseudo floppy images too, and with low RAM
requirement. RIA - Raw Image Access code in TOS ROM helps in it. It is easy usable low level hard disk access code, what may replace floppy access code in game. I already modded some games (their hard disk adapts in some cases, in other cases did it from scratch) : Potsworth & Co. Dragon's Lair (7 floppies) Kristal Warhead Great Giana Sisters All they are in 1 image
files, and require no more RAM than when running from real floppy. Some
even less (Warhead). Speed is of course much better. Game save/load goes in image too.