The Amiga's Greatest Failures
We cannot fool ourselves any longer, the proof is before us; the Amiga community is crumbling and there is nothing we can do to prevent it. Even the most obsessed Amiga fanatics, from gamers to sceners, have surely doubted their machine at one point, more so now than ever before. So what made the most popular machine of the past deteriorate into the butt of jokes and constant sneering from PC users? One cannot offer a single explanation, it is the result of many failures and harsh competition which has shaped the future as we see it today.
It is without question that this was in fact one of the Amiga's major selling points. People realised that the entire Amiga software collection was available to them at the cost of the blank disks, all they needed to fund for this privilege was the expense of their own Amiga. By 1993 Amigas resided in millions of homes around the globe and schools were filled with Amiga disks, being passed from one pupil to another. Carboot sales and markets also bred their fair share of pirates, and the disk filled envelope became a regular feature at post offices worldwide. Where ever one looked, Amiga piracy was there, it was impossible to avoid. Ironically, the only place lacking Amiga gamers were high street game stores. The popularity of this whole counterfeiting sub-society was inevitably reflected in the profits of all game developers and publishers and many were forced to retreat; to a platform where software reproduction was difficult and their games could be sold at unreasonably high prices. They turned their attention to the consoles.
The Bankruptcy of Commodore
Due to their unsuccessful and unnecessary projects including the CDTV, A500+, A600, the CD32 and even PCs, Commodore made huge losses. Getting greedy, they decided that it wasn't enough to make money from existing machines with which people were already satisfied. They constantly pushed their research department beyond its financial limits in order to introduce a new format. They prematurely promoted the RISC Amiga, AAA chipset and the 1300, otherwise known as the fully working A1200, complete with 32bit blitter access. Unable to complete these projects, their ambitions exceeded their funds and they were forced into bankruptcy.
Because of this, many users and developers lost faith in the Amiga as a platform of the future. Though it didn't affect many hobbyists such as sceners, those with a profit to make weren't quite as content. Given the precarious situation of the Amiga, being passed like a grenade without a pin, from one company to another, many software firms, including major game developers, decided to play safe, transferring their efforts towards the more stable PC and console markets, in which sales were guaranteed.
The Desertion of Games Producers
For both of the aforementioned reasons, the flux of Amiga games ceased. Given that Commodore had marketed the Amiga as a games machine and little more, the faltering games market held severe consequences. The Amiga could no longer entice potential buyers with its upcoming releases because there weren't any, and its previous chart topping titles were far from tempting when compared to the majestic offerings of the SNES, PC and later the Playstation and N64.
Either way one chooses to look at it, the games market can make or break a platform. Most serious users of today originally purchased their Amiga for games purposes, before they later discovered its creative side. The lack of games acted as a clot in the Amiga's veins, putting a stop to new blood and new life within the Amiga community. With no new users, the future of the Amiga was left in the hands of existing owners.
Commodore's Bad Marketing
As the Amiga was seen as little more than a games machine, the serious user was left unaware of its technical uses and therefore they considered the PC as the only available choice. Microsoft had already begun their campaign of promoting their PC based software as the best for study, business and creative purposes. With offices everywhere stacked with PCs and Microsoft applications, the reputation of the PC had already been established. There was no room for another serious computer.
After ridiculing the PC for many years it finally struck back. Doom was a feat that the Amiga simply could not match, and PC owners played this advantage in the petty machine comparison war at every opportune moment. Attempts to emulate Doom on the Amiga did little more than prove the point of the PC user, demonstrating that the game simply could not be matched using Amiga technology, no matter how efficient the coders were in their attempts. With additional hardware, Doom on the Amiga eventually became possible. However, by this time the PC had ventured into new realms, a major advancement over Doom in the form of Quake; an engine which would never be matched on the Amiga, despite the additional power of the 030 and 040.
The era of texture mapping was born. The Amiga always held a steady lead when the trend of sprites and scrolling was in play, but with each progression in 3dimensional environments, the Amiga was constantly falling behind. This wasn't only a temptation for game players either, it held amazing opportunities for coders and artists wishing to create their own new world and impress onlookers in the process.
Microsoft Buy Outs
Microsoft splashed out a lot of money in order to destroy the Amiga. They bought out supporting companies and some very valued software. Their reasons were purely malicious, their only intention was to destroy the competition. One such example was the midi package Bars and Pipes. Seeing this program as a threat to their own software, Microsoft decided to buy the copyrights. Although they were now able to rip, re-package and re-sell Bars and Pipes with a Microsoft label, they chose to cease its availability to Amiga owners and do nothing more with the software.
(The above facts were based on unofficial conversations - Just covering myself against any law suits should the facts be incorrect.)
Console Price Drop
The constant success of the Playstation enabled Sony to lower prices on many different occasions, then in order to compete and to maintain sales, Nintendo followed suit in lowering their N64 shop price. When it is possible to view the latest extravagant breakthroughs for such a low price, one is less inclined to pay 3 times as much to see inferior and very occasional efforts running on their Amiga.
The growing success of PCs has done a lot of damage to the Amiga over the past few years. Many Amiga owners were seduced by the PC's graphics capabilities, others by the huge amounts of software available and many realised it to be the machine to unleash their creative dreams. As prices dropped, the average wage earner found that he too could afford a PC without causing trauma to his bank balance. Eventually it made more sense to buy a whole PC set up than upgrade one's Amiga, and that's what happened for many.
These days the PC holds advantages in all areas over the Amiga and is constantly growing. Unlike the Amiga, PC sceners get mass audiences admiring their work and overwhelming feedback. They are able to recruit new members into their group or work with a whole range of other sceners. The grass is most certainly greener on the other side.
Greed of Sceners
Sceners can no longer hope to be surprised by an unannounced demo release any more; the only time to look for them is following a party. The reason being is that demos are only released at parties. Perhaps it's a combination of coders wanting a reward for their efforts and that they get a live audience viewing their work; it all contributes to the ego of the scener. There are many consequences of party only releases, such as:
A. Limited activity and enthusiasm between big parties.
B. Low quality releases rushed to meet deadlines.
C. The release of completed productions being postponed until a party.
D. Lack of group collaboration as coders do not wish to share prize money.
E. Use of high specifications solely to win the competitions.
F. Cheating. Morals being cast aside in favour of money and glory.
Though parties have contributed to the success of the demo scene, they have become too commercial and traditional ethics are being cast aside.
Rising Amiga Specifications
Finally the Amiga has forced its users away by rising its standard specs beyond the expense the average hobbyist is willing to pay. Talented sceners have been pushed out of the scene due to the fact they cannot afford to participate any longer. Those wishing to use traditional methods are no longer credited for their work and those wishing to view traditional releases no longer have that option. At this point the Amiga user is left with a series of choices:
A. Upgrade - This will be costly and will only be a temporary solution, until the next specification is introduced. Furthermore, software is limited and one may feel they aren't getting their money's worth from their new upgrade.
B. Attempt to continue using one's current machine - This will suffice if one is only interested in IRC, diskmags and gfx/music releases. However, if one wishes to participate in modern demo making or wishes to follow scene developments, it is simply impossible.
C. Quit the Scene - Give up and forget about computers altogether. There are plenty of hobbies available, equally as enjoyable and less costly. Many have taken this option and therefore the Amiga scene is decreasing.
D. Buy a PC - The most logical choice. If one is willing to spend a lot of money investing in their hobby they may as well opt for a machine with more software, more users and an inexpensive future. They may be required to upgrade every so often, but the advantages of doing so will be instantly visible when one is watching the latest hi-res, complex 3d demo, playing the latest high spec game or even creating them.
Overall, the Amiga scene is breaking up. The scene is no longer a hobby one can take lightly, there are no casual options left.
These are just a few of the reasons the Amiga is no longer respected as a computer. Those wishing to reincarnate the Amiga have a great task ahead and those fat cats hoping to find profit in Amiga sales are dreaming of a reality which simply cannot exist.
Wade - ex-Scoopex
Comment from Ghandy:
I wouldn't see it so totally BLACK coloured. But trying to run some of the latest demos from TP9 I again had the impression that it's really time for me to upgrade again. Only one year after I had upgraded to an A 4000 with 68040/025mhz! It's better to commit suicide than to try to follow THE BLACK LOTUS's TP9 contribution "Rain" with my outdated hardware configuration. Or have you ever tried to watch an Embassy production without an 68060? Better let it be! To say it with Paolo's aka Modem's words: "These Embassy productions are fantastic to watch with an 68060 processor but otherwise they are not worth executing!" TBL's "Rain" also seems to be optimized for machines with the maximum power. Besides, I really ask myself why the heck nobody uploads any recent demos to Aminet!?? Isn't that still the premier source for demos after the falldown of ftp.amigascne.org, or have I missed something??
To support Wade's opinion honestly I also ask myself again and again if it would really make sense to investigate aprox. 1600 DM for a new motherboard (68060+PPC) or about 3000 DM for a completely new Amiga? I would get the latest wINTEL-shit-machine inclusive a good monitor for exactly that amount of money! Because of my "new" Amiga model I'm already not able to watch older productions like "Odyssey" or "Nexus7", which I loved so much. With the latest Motorola chip inside probably I would have to miss a lot more or am I wrong?! PPC doesn't give me anything!!! What does it provide?? I'm not raytracing-addicted and those crappy few ppc-demos from Venus Arts are so slow on that fantastic machine, a good coder could easily realise those 3d worlds on a plain 060! But the worst is, that I'm not at the bottom!! Absolutly not! What should people say that own a plain 1200 with 68030/50mhz or less??? Zerox of Gods for example has no chance to have a look at ANY present demonstration with his plain Amiga 1200, not to speak about his problems to work with Cupid's D.I.S.C source. No attack against Cupid, he's a very good coder and I'm sure that a present magsource needs more than two megabyte of RAM: but what should Frode aka Zerox do now??? Especially as his chances to get ANY hardware in his town or inside Norway is going down to ZERO! Maybe not 0 but what will the situation look like in two or three years?? I don't want to use my imagination to look into the future...
Also highly paradoxical and typical for us Amiga fans: The compo at Mekka & Symposium this year will be another democompetition with entries that at minimum half of all Amiga owners worldwide won't be able to watch!! The compomachine will be equipped with a 060+PPC card. Does one really agree to invest much, much money into a dead technology?? Does one really agree to pay the double prize for any extension card such as ISDN, gfx-cards etc.?? Even if we still have that fantastic "We're the Amiga family" feeling! Does one want to buy a PPC card only to be able to listen to MP3s without the totally slowdown of the machine?? Does one want to buy network cards for our machine that again won't be able to connect to ANY partynetworks???? The future of the "classic" Amiga series is more than uncertain, so asking myself why I'm still here, my answer is very personal and easy:
My friends are still here and until today, I have had a lot fun working with this computer and also working on scenerelated productions even if only a few of them come out during the whole year. And comparing diskmags on the "holy" PC and the "dead" Amiga, our mags are still far better. We must not have fears if people would try to compare us. But nobody from the PC world compares us as they simply don't know anything about the present Amiga Scene. So they surely also don't know what they're missing! ...and probably they'll never know that!!! No easy situation we are in, I would say, but we Amiga users are used to waiting. To wait for the release of the next Amiga model, to wait for the next bancrupt, to wait for the next good scenerelated production to come out. So god damn, let us wait what the new leading ship of Amiga Inc. will do and hope the best. Meanwhile we could concentrate on working on a comeback of the Amiga demoscene, what do you think? You have a different opinion? Come one, write me!!!!!
Ghandy of Darkage, Faith, Gods, Hugi