A look at R-Comp’s Doom Trilogy re-release – Wolfenstein included!

posted in: Games | 0

A while back I was thrilled to see R-Comp delving into their back catalouge of RISC OS games by re-releasing Final Doom for modern RISC OS machines, and at a reasonable price too.

Andrew and the team haven’t stopped at Final Doom, the Pling Store now features the Doom Trilogy for modern RISC OS 5 computers – including the Raspberry Pi!

Based on R-Comp’s original ports of Ultimate Doom and Doom 2 – the pack includes the main Doom trilogy (Doom 1, 2 and Ultimate) as well a number of official expansions and other additional levels.

Thrown into the mix is the RISC OS version of Wolfenstein, which is not natively supported by modern (32-bit) RISC OS but it does work well under Aemulor. A Doom-engine version of Wolfenstein is also provided, which will run natively on modern RISC OS.

What is Doom?

In case you’ve been living in a cave or under a horrificly oppressive regime over the last two decades, you’ve most likely come across Doom in some shape or form, from the various games to the poorly-received 2005 movie. Doom is a series of first-person shooter games developed by id Software. It focuses on the exploits of an unnamed space marine operating under the auspices of Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC), who fights hordes of demons and the undead in order to survive.

Along with Wolfenstein 3D, Doom is considered to be one of the pioneering first-person shooter games and was one of the first titles to bring 3D graphics, network multiplayer and third-dimension spatiality to the masses.

What’s new in this re-release?

Much in the same veign of their Final Doom re-release, a lot of work has gone into the music. Several different soundtrack options are available, including a new high quality digital soundtrack (optionally) in place of the MIDI.

The game supports a sizeable array of add-on PWADs and user-created levels. Network multiplayer is still present in this release and is compatible with newer 32-bit RISC OS systems, including the Raspberry Pi.

Doom is now fully compatible with Titanium and other systems that require RGB/BGR colour swapping, meaning that this release will run on anything from a battle-worn RiscPC to a an ARMini, TiMachine or Raspberry. It also seems to run well under RPCEmu emulation.

The games pack is priced at a reasonable £14.99 price point – which considering the original price upon release all those years ago was £32.50, it’s not a bad deal.

What’s the advantage when compared to FreeDoom?

RISC OS has had many ports of Doom over the years, most notably the excellent FreeDoom, ported to RISC OS by Jeff Doggett. So naturally you might be thinking, why should I throw £15 at a game that I can play for free?

While it’s a fair argument, for the £14.99 price you can’t really complain if you take into account that all the level files are included – as opposed to having to source them yourself (legally!) in the case of FreeDoom and other free ports of the game.

There’s no setup like you have with the free options, which require sourcing WAD files and placing them in a location the game is expecting the file to be in – plus the game does appear to be a lot smoother and far less buggy than other versions out there. The R-Comp version also has networking support, which I don’t believe is available with any other port for RISC OS.

If you look at what’s included in return for your cash – Three Doom games, a whole host of additional levels including official expansions, Wolfenstein 3D and a Doom-powered version of Wolfenstein, it’s really not to be sniffed at.

The Doom Trilogy can be purchased as a £14.99 download from R-Comp’s Pling Store. If you do pick up a copy and/or if this review’s made you crave a Doom session then I highly recommend you check out Martin Bazley’s RISC OS made (using Deth) WAD files, the ones I’ve tried have all been very well designed.

OBrowser: A RISC OS front-end for the Otter Browser engine

posted in: Software | 0

A little while back we took at look at the various web browser options available to RISC OS users, Otter Browser was one of those under the spotlight and for the most part I quite like it.

Otter Browser focuses on being visually appealing and feature rich over performance (although I haven’t had any major issues with speed or stability). Otter comes with a built-in password manager, bookmark and add-on manager as well as content blocking and spell checking tools. It has quite a customisable GUI, which allows the majority of the way it looks to be modified.

Ported to RISC OS from Linux by Chris Gransden and Lee Noar a few years ago, it has won over many as being a good technical achievement it, but in its current state iy has very little integration with the RISC OS enviroment – for example, the look and feel is not in-line with the operating system, it’s lack of an iconbar icon is a good example of this.

Richard Brown and Andrew Rawnsley of RISC OS Development Ltd have now announced a new front-end application for Otter, called OBrowser. This front-end brings the browser in-line with what you’d expect from a RISC OS application. It displays an icon on the icon bar, where you can configure several options including closing the application.

A nice addition is its ability to drag and drop handling any necessary parsing of a file before passing the necessary elements on to Otter Browser.

RISC OS Developments have made this available as a semi-commercial product, but with the express message that the aim of charging for it is not to make profit but to help fund their work – which involves things like helping overhaul RISC OS TCP/IP networking stack. OBrowser is now available in return for a donation to RISC OS Developments’ work – suggested donation levels are hinted to in RISC OS Developments’ press release:

“We suggest two levels of donation – if you’re just using it on one system, and want to make a smaller contribution – 40ukp.   If you’d like to use it on more systems, and/or can afford a larger donation – 80ukp.  You’re welcome to offer more, but that’s down to how you feel about RISC OS Developments and what you can afford.” says Andrew Rawnsley.

“Please only consider our OBrowser CD if you’d like to support our RISC OS Developments work, and/or the enhancements shown above seem worthwile.

We need to stress that the prices mentioned reflect funding RISC OS Developments’ work, rather than OBrowser itself, which was always a bonus item for [RISC OS Development] Shareholders. Indeed, Investors do not need to buy this CD, as they can already download OBrowser free of charge.”

While OBrowser does not add any additional functionality to Otter Brwoser per say, it does turn it a far more polished RISC OS application. It has a proper iconbar icon for a start. It global clipboard, drag and drop and all the things you’d expect from a browser on the RISC OS desktop.

If you look at the browser choices we had on RISC OS five years or so ago, it’s a breath of fresh air to see such a resurgence in the amount of decent and usable browsers on the platform. Otter Browser and in-turn OBrowser being one of them. Javascript JIT support was enabled back in April, meaning that a number of websites that were previously not accessible on RISC OS, are. Google Maps, Gmail, speed test websites and most banking and online shopping sites should now work, although patience is required as performance is not always the best with the ports in their current states.

OBrowser can currently only be sourced directly from R-Comp – contact via email or telephone is best, although Andrew has advised that OBrowser is likely to make an appearance on the Pling Store soon.