See https://twitter.com/RetroRacing/status/ ... 7229830147 for the release announcement and download link.
I'd be really grateful if you could share with fellow STE fans through tweets, FB posts, YT vids, live streams and so on. We want to get this out to as many STE fans as possible!
Below is some background information for the benefit of those less familiar with the history of this project:
Lotus STE is an adaptation of the original Lotus 1 game that makes use of the additional hardware in the Atari STE. Put simply, it's a major graphics and sound upgrade from the original game!
This improved edition has been created by:
- Graphics: Jonathan Thomas (chicane on Atari-Forum, @RetroRacing on Twitter)
- Sound: Jamie Hamshere (junosix on Atari-Forum)
- Loader: Grazey/PHF (@Grazeyphf on Twitter)
- Masteries on Atari-Forum for the initial version of the PCM sound mixer;
- Defence Force/Dbug for code reviews and performance improvement suggestions;
- Steve of AtariCrypt for relentless enthusiasm;
- Metalages on Atari-Forum for discussion around engine noise;
- Marko Latvanen (@maraka77i on Twitter) for extensive and exhaustive beta testing.
The game requires a minimum of 1 Meg of memory, and either an STE, or an STFM equipped with the Blitter chip.
Feature set in detail
We're not going to lie - the Amiga version is the best version of this game available and has provided a heavy dose of inspiration for us. We've not tampered with the core gameplay in any way as you can't improve upon perfection! However, you will see and hear the following improvements:
- The road is rendered by the Blitter chip and features much more graphical detail than the original;
- All roadside scenery and cars are rendered by the Blitter chip and move smoothly side-to-side (as opposed to jerking along in 16 pixel increments on the original);
- The background mountains are rendered by the Blitter chip and scroll smoothly side-to-side (as opposed to jerking along in 4 pixel increments on the original);
- The sky features a colourful gradient of raster bars making use of the enhanced STE palette;
- The road and roadside colours are refined to make use of the enhanced STE palette;
- A sampled engine noise and sampled sound effects are present. You can even have music, engine sound and sound effects simultaneously;
- Provisional support for Mega STE running at 16MHz (hold Shift on boot to enable).
Users of STFM machines equipped with a Blitter chip can also enjoy the game, with the following compromises:
- The colours used in the sky gradient are reduced due to the limited palette in the standard ST model;
- No sampled engine noise or sound effects are available.
For those interested in the technical nuts and bolts, this is an open-source project, with the source code being available at GitHub. We encourage people to clone and build the project, and contributions are always welcome!
How did Lotus STE come about, and how has it evolved over time?
Jonathan has always been a fan of the Lotus games, with Lotus 1 always being his favourite in the series despite the technical advances of the later games. He owned and played the game on his Atari ST back in 1990, but it was only recently that he discovered the dramatic difference in quality between the ST and Amiga versions.
Like many people, Jonathan was disappointed with the uptake of the STE hardware by software publishers back in the 1990s, and wondered in the late stages of 2019 if Lotus might be improved through use of the STE hardware. He used the experience gained during his previous project (Atari STE Pole Position) to prototype a few modifications to the game, but encountered technical challenges working with the STE hardware and shelved the project on the assumption that it was not workable.
Many discoveries were made by the Atari community regarding best use of the STE hardware (and particularly the Blitter) during the course of 2020, and Jonathan picked up the project again in late 2020 with a fresh set of ideas. The code was reworked to overcome the previous challenges, and the community at Atari-Forum showed enthusiasm for the project. Masteries at Atari-Forum provided software to play multiple channels of audio on the STE's DMA hardware, and Junosix built upon this work, adding variable rate playback code to support a sampled engine sound. The pace of the project has picked up massively since Junosix joined the project, with daily improvements to the sound side of things being contributed by Junosix, and Jonathan replacing existing graphics routines to make use of the Blitter. Following this period of hard graft, we've arrived at a point where we feel that we have a initial feature set that we can release to the public!
Steve is the owner of the AtariCrypt website, and has been chronicling recent updates to the code with a series of articles and videos. He also covers a wide range of other Atari ST games and productivity software on this website!