RPC Games Compatibility List

This is the Acorn Risc PC PC Games Compatibility List. This new html version of the list is based around the original html conversion which was performed by Mike Enderby. The list is maintained by Max Palmer and now contains a good deal of the data from Daniel Shimmin's other PC list. Any information concerning the data contained in these pages should be sent to me, Max Palmer, by email.

This list is accurate as of 29/09/96.

You can go direct to the relevant section by using one of the highlighted index points given below.

1.0 Introduction and Disclaimer

This list is intended to provide a guide to the compatibility of a number of PC games with the assortment of RPC PC cards available. It must be stressed that this list is always somewhat incomplete. The information given within it should never be taken as an absolute guarantee of compatibility, i.e. you buy your games at your own risk. This list will be updated as and when I obtain further details and amendments. In short, if you find a mistake or can fill in a gap then tell me. I always appreciate any new bit of information.

1.1 Sources of Information

This list was put together with the help of a number of corresponding users. Unfortunately, these people have now become far too numerous to be able to mention them all, but I would like to thank them for their help. I would also like extend particular thanks to Mike Enderby and Daniel Shimmin for their help which has been invaluable. Out of interest the list also incorporates information which has been picked up on the newsgroups and the PC games mailing list which is run by DarcMan. The list should hopefully be available from a number of www sites. Currently the main supported sites include :-

Neil Bingham and a number of other people should also receive regular updates of the list for their sites, although I can't recall the url's.

There is also now a text version of this list. If all goes well it should become available from a variety of ftp sites. It is simply an edited version of this html file, exported as text.

If you have any further information regarding the content of this list (particularly inaccuracies) then can you let me know. There are a number of obvious omissions which I would like to eliminate. These are included at the end of this list along with some hints and tips. My contact email address is mjp@phastr.soton.ac.uk

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1.2 Other Lists

For those of you with www access there is also another nice list concerning software compatibility at :http://www.cybervillage.co.uk/acorn/pccard/.

A large amount of the games information there is shared with these pages, however, both sites contain useful information and undergo constant updates so it's definitely worth keeping an eye on both sets of pages.

There is also a PC games mailing list which is run by DArcMan of Archimedes World fame. It's been very quiet recently so I'm not quite sure what the status is. Details can be found on Mike's site.

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1.3 Format

In order to break up the mass of information I have sorted the games into various categories. Due to the variety of sources I use to obtain this information the level of detail concerning individual games will vary dramatically. In circumstances where information has been obtained from more than one source it is also possible that conflicting comments will appear. Please remember that this may arise due to the use of different hardware and also because people's opinions are never the same, especially when it comes to playability. It has also become apparent that the software version of both the emulator and the game can be crucial as to whether or not it runs. Please bear this in mind.

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1.4 Major changes since the last list was produced.

This list is now maintained as an html file, not a text file. A plain text version of the list is also now available. Although the information contained within the list is mostly about games, it also includes comments on a variety of subjects which appear towards the end of this page. These include the exciting developments which have occurred in the realm of joystick support, the new !PC software called PCPro and of course the speculation about StrongARM. Often, many of these tips are taken 'as is', so I have not had an opportunity to verify them - be warned. It is fair to say that most of this information is therefore presented in good faith. I hope you find it useful.

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2.0 The list

Click on the section of the list you wish to view.

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3.0 Improving things - What's needed ?

Although the above list covers a number of the more popular games, there are still some glaring omissions that I would like to remove as soon as possible. In addition, I would like to see a number of the games present in the miscellaneous section reclassified. If you spot a game in there and know where it should belong then please give me a shout. Also, with VESA support now present in !PC v2.01 I would love to see a few of those old games retested.

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3.1 Some general advice on how to improve things

As far as I can tell there are a number of things you can do to improve the compatibility / playability of DOS games on the PC card. These include,

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3.2 Other comments

Benchmark Software - The DOOM Test

It should not be all that surprising to learn that when the PC card first came along, one of the acid tests levelled against it was whether or not it could run Doom at any reasonable speed. In fact, Doom provides a facility for benchmarking itself. This may be done from DOS by typing the following. Please note that you need to be aware of the screen size Doom is running in when performing this test.

When the demo finally finishes it will provide two bits of information, the number of gametics and the number of realtics. To convert these numbers into a frame rate you simply need to divide the gametics by the realtics and multiply by 35. To help to complete the picture the following table gives an indication of the range of speeds that can be achieved.

 586 Card gives : Doom 1.9 [610] 3.1fps Max Size, 13.2 Min size : [710] 3.9fps Max Size, 15.9fps Min Size.

ESP MIDI Software Emulation
There is now some software from ESP that allows you to emulate MIDI on the PC card. Price is *around* 40 pounds but contact ESP for more details. It's called the ESP Midi Synthesizer and is very good if gossip is something to go by. Be warned though, it's going to put an additional load on the ARM chip and has RAM / HD requirements that should be taken into consideration.

ISA Adaptor
Apparently work is going well on this project and comments have been spotted which suggest that simulated DMA access might be fast enough for 16-Bit sound card to work effectively. I'm not sure what the current status of the project is but Atomwide may be able to help.

Joystick Support
There have been many improvements in this area since the last list appeared. The original support module produced by Dan Simms is now available from a number of WWW sites. These include Mike Enderby's site and also the Alpeh1 ftp site, in the 3rd party directory. In addition, Mike Cook wrote an article on the subject in a recent Acorn User (about 4-5 months ago). As if that were not enough, a module also appeared on a recent Archimedes World cover disc, so check that out. I can't remember the exact months of the magazines, however, both were fairly recently (i.e. 1996). All in all though it looks like we should be well catered for in this area.

Letterboxed modes
Once in a while you will find that a game seems to run ok but all of a sudden reverts back to running in a window in the Desktop. This occurs because the game needs a screen mode which is not available in the Monitor Definition Files for your monitor, (these live within your Acorn !Boot directory). To cure this problem you need to define the appropriate mode. Helpful hints can be found on how to do this on a number of sites. For example try here.

New cards
Acorn are now offering faster cards with the new ASIC which gives better memory transfer performance. Although the speed of most games are generally limited by the DOS driver speed, and hence you ARM chip, rather than the PC processor, the upgrades are well priced if you trade in your original card (SX33). Cards available are the new DX66, DX100 and 586 (not a Pentium) at 100MHz. Aleph1 also offer cards and CJE are now doing their own 133MHz 586 cards. Check with the various parties for details.

It is possible you may experience a number of problems when upgrading a card from an SX33 to a faster version. First and foremost is the fact that the card might crash more often than your old one. This was particularly true of the first batch of new cards which could experience conflicts with the ARM processor. As said before, these type of problems should be a thing of the past, however if things do look much worse than before it might be worth getting in touch with Acorn, apparently they have been very helpful with regard to this issue so hats off to them. It is also possible that you might experience problems with the sound emulation. If this does occur you could try checking to see if your external cache is set to write through in the advanced configuration menu of PCConfig. If it isn't (it will probably be set to Auto-Configure) try setting it to write through. Be warned though, I haven't a clue what exactly this is doing so use this tip at your own risk.

Playing games over a network
A number of games support network play these days. This can be great fun and often enhances the playability of a game immensely. At the time of writing I do not have much information to be able to expand on this area, so if anyone can provide some details then that would be great.
Geoffrey Khoo recently wrote to me about some network games he has tried. This is roughly what he said,

I have tried out the Terminal Velocity demo, Duke Nukem 3D and Doom 2 over a network, and can report that they certainly work. However:

- DOS NE2000 network drivers must be loaded first (any PC ones)
- Duke Nukem 3D, runs OK stand alone, but over the network, it is fairly slow, and you get slaughtered often while trying to sight on your opponents.
- Doom 2 runs at a reasonable speed, as long as it is in a small screen, with low detail set.
- Terminal Velocity runs excellently, and you can actually be competitive against others with real PCs (once again, using a small screen.)

The latest word on StrongARM is as follows.
PCPro apparently does work with a StrongARM but has graphics emulation problems. This occurs with the DOS VGA emulation. The problems occur because self modifying code has been used to deliver the maximum possible speed with ARM 6 and 7's. Now, this may have speed implications as the self-modifying code was there for a reason and can't be used on a StrongARM (due to the way it caches things ?), so any speed up that may occur might not be as big as we might have expected. As soon as Aleph1 get a StrongARM card then they'll start to tackle the problem. Essentially, the offical word on the current version of PCPro is that 'it is not completely compatible', however, a compatible version will be produced as soon as possible and will be a free update for PCPro owners. This should take about 2-3 weeks if all goes well (grin).

VESA Drivers
Version 1 !PC has no support for VESA drivers, however, support for VESA 1.2 has now been added to the new version of !PC, namely v2.02 (PCPro). The state of play in terms of compatibility at the time of writing is as follows. Note there has been only minor improvements in v2.01 to the VGA emulation (in terms of speed).

New tested or re-tested VESA games. Please check the list to see if they work ok.

Win 95 logo - Direct X
Apparently there is a move towards writing games that run within Windows 95 using the DirectX graphics driver API. Unfortunately, there are problems with these drivers with respect to ARMDRV and as a result the DirectX games will not run. Note, if the game has a WinG driver option use this as the game could run fine using these older drivers. Apparently Aleph1 are looking into this problem so fingers crossed.

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3.3 And Finally

The basic gist of all this is that if you really want to play games on the PC you need a 'real' PC. However, the Acorn card is good enough if you're lucky or if you go for a less demanding game (at least until we get better Dos graphics drivers or know more about the StrongARM situation). Also keep supporting the RPC native games as this is the only other alternative most of us have at the moment. I will continue to try and program games for the RPC, so should you. Remember, if you have a good idea for a game you want to see programmed then why not try posting to c.s.a.g. You never know, something might come of it - it's always worth a try.

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