Interview: MathMagical Software

posted in: Miscellaneous | 0

MathMagicalIn recent years, the MathMagical Software Company have been a regular face at RISC OS shows and a source of continual software development. Here’s an interview by the RISC OS Blog with Martin Hansen from MathMagical Software:

ROBlog: I’m sure many people are aware of your recent release Iconizer II, and how the finished product required five weeks of full-time work. What were the hardest and most time consuming areas of Iconizer development?

Martin Hansen: I’m a fairly competent coder of BBC BASIC, and the RISC OS desktop WIMP which meant that those aspects of Iconizer where covered with the first version. However, I realised that what it really needed was a powerful engine to drive the key iterative routine along. This certainly meant writing it in Assembly language which I’d not done before.

The existing BBC BASIC routine in Iconizer I used floating point arithmetic, and I’d read that as RISC OS emulates such calculations in software, the speed increase in moving from BASIC to Assembly Language can be minimal.

I found a way to code the routine using double precision integers with a separate bit for the sign; plus or minus. RISC OS loves integers; it chews through them as fast as any Mac or Windows computer.

It was a lot of coding to see if an experimental idea would work, and I came very close to giving up on it a couple of times. However, it’s done, and my understanding of ARM assembler is much better because of it.

Now that your multimedia application Flicker has been confirmed as compatible with the ARMini and BeagleBoard computers, what are your plans for its future?

It’s got a lot of possibilities. At the moment I see it as a device to attract artists and musicians to RISC OS. An article has just gone up on RISCOScode, Music revival for RISC OS, that gives an idea of the direction I’m taking with it.

There’s a lot of interest in retro-computing, and I’d like to capture some of the old artistic things that folks did with their BBCmicros and Acorn Archimedes computers, and let them know that, via RISC OS, those endeavours are valued and have a future.

Sticking on the subject of your two premier applications Iconizer and Flicker, has the up-take of new versions from customers exceeded your expectations?

I exhibit at many of the RISC OS shows. I’ve always made enough to cover costs, and sometimes even make a small profit. However, I do it because RISC OS computers are such a delight to program. (I’d not have said that when fighting to get Iconizer II working !)

And finally, what do you have in store for the MathMagical Software Company in the coming few months?

It was tough getting two applications updated for the start of this year. I’ve got a major new project in mind but it’ll not be done until next year.

Thanks Martin, looking forward to see future developments.

MathMagical Software, although not confirmed yet, are likely to appear at the upcoming RISC OS London Show in October. You can download RISC OS friendly videos of MathMagical’s presentations at the 2009 and 2010 RISC OS London Shows from here and here.

Their premier applications, Iconizer and Flicker are now fully BeagleBoard and ARMini compatible, as a little celebration, MathMagical have announced that Flicker is available for half price until the 1st of November. For information regarding Iconizer II (article), Flicker and the MathMagical Software Suite visit the official MathMagical Software website.

It’s Doom, but recession-proof

posted in: Games | 0
36810-Doom_[U]-4Jeff Doggett has made available version 1.10 of his Doom port for RISC OS, this new version has added support for FreeDoom game (WAD) files, a game based on the Doom engine but with the primary aim of creating a completely free Doom-based first person shooter. If you’re unfamiliar with Jeff Doggett’s RISC OS port of Doom, it’s built from the Linux Doom sources and has many features that are not present in other Doom ports for RISC OS.Some impressive features include the ability to choose levels, modify gameplay (no monsters, no unhealthy floors, monsters infight etc.) and change screen modes, the latter is the only way for many users to play RISC OS Doom on modern monitors.

Jeff does stress however, that this new version is not 100% stable when playing FreeDoom game files and is subject to some bugs and crashes.

I hadn’t played previous versions of Jeff’s port so I was pleasantly surprised when first playing it, there was minimal set-up involved as you simply drag the WAD file you wish to play over to the Doom icon patiently sitting on the iconbar and hey-presto, you’re shooting baddies.

The range of levels that will play with Jeff Doggett’s !Doom surprised me too, as well as supporting FreeDoom levels, it also supports all WAD files for Doom,  Doom 2, Ultimate Doom and the thousands of user-created levels that are floating around on the internet.

Now back to FreeDoom, it’s currently in an Alpha stage and has many features missing, for example some monsters and other sprites are replaced by placeholder images, some levels are missing and some levels have no music. But you can’t complain, afterall, it’s free!

You can download this shiny new version from Jeff’s website, please note that in order to play official Doom 1 and 2 levels, you must own the registered game files, alternatively you can download the Shareware Doom 1 game files from here.