AquAbyss on Amiga 3000
This week saw the release of a new commercial Adventure game for the Classic Amiga called AquAbyss by developers Aged Code, which is delivered over the network your Amiga and utilises network game functionality as well!
First of all, I am sorry that I haven't been able to post any blog entries for a while. I was overseas for most of September for work, and this month has been crazy busy also with a number of global projects I am currently focused on for work.
Addressing the elephant in the room first, it seems the choice of delivering the game installation itself over the internet has caused a lot of feedback from the Amiga community on social media, with many pointing out most Classic Amiga systems don't have internet access (unless people bought these upgrades for their systems).
As someone who upgraded my Amiga 1200 (and other systems later) to be internet connected in the mid to late 1990's and all of them by the 2000's, the hardware and software has long been available to do this, even from Commodore themselves via the A2065 Ethernet Zorro card.
From my perspective, this online requirement is no different to buying modern games or applications online via Steam, PlayStation Store, Nintendo eShop, Microsoft Store, AmiStore (AmigaOS 4 systems), etc.
Like it or not, internet is the method of directly distributing and installing applications and games (and updates) in 2022, and which means that full sized boxed new game releases are getting very rare now, and why local game shops like EB Games are mainly selling gaming related soft toys, t-shirts and collectables nowadays...try to find a boxed PC game anywhere in 2022.
That said, I love getting new boxed games for my Amigas, C64, Intellivision, Mega 65 and other systems as well, as you would know if you follow my blog regularly. I am a huge supporter of new software, delivered as boxed products or electronic versions. There is room for both kinds of product releases on the Amiga.
Ultimately it is up to the developer how they choose to make their game available for sale.
This can work with the A1000 too, but needs a modification before you connect it due to the port pin out being different to every other Amiga. I have not tried it on the A1000, so please proceed with caution and follow the instructions!
I show this on my blog connected to my ACA500 with a 030 accelerator board fitted, that was fitted to my Amiga 1000 a while ago.
Classic Amigas able to run with a PiStorm added to them already have wireless internet access bridged via the Pi.
Vampire accelerated Amigas like my A1200 can also implement network solutions via the (optional) Ethernet module. Vampire 1200's are available from here with the optional ethernet module.
Even though I have shown above it can be done in 2022 for any Classic Amiga system, I understand some people choose not to do it, don't have the real Amiga systems, or can't afford to get the upgrades.
Note: I also realise that FPGA Amiga systems like Minimig, Mister and A500 Mini don't currently have the ability to go online, but who knows - that might change!
If you don't want/can't afford to upgrade to have your Amiga system online but still want to try out this game, you could always run Amiga emulation on a modern PC/Mac/Pi 400 system to download the software, and then transfer it to your Classic Amiga hardware later on via USB, CF card, ZIP disk, serial cable transfer or some other method. Doing this means missing out on any updates or online features of course.
With the move of new games towards always connected functionality, it is clear AmigaOS is playing huge catchup in this area. We shouldn't just be reliant on platform obscurity and our internet router firewall rules protecting our Amigas...
Ok, let's move on from the network stuff and back to the game!
Running the installer program from the ADF provided, you can choose German or English.
You can then choose the destination drive and folder - you can also tell the installer to ignore the disk size, which is helpful if you are running an older AmigaOS that doesn't read the partition sizes correctly.
Having chosen the path to download and install the files too, the installer then verifies that the ID and key are authorised from the internet before proceeding. All good.
At this point I couldn't help noticing the message that the internet server configuration is a Commodore 64 running GEOS!!! Seriously?
It now updates as Connected. You can also set it to only be used for updating the software, and not for high scores, internet save games or chatting functions.
You can choose to play in Sandbox mode where you can explore freely with no specific tasks or story to follow, or play the story mode.
Reflecting on it, the story mode explains the game world and how to navigate things well enough, so perhaps the manual is not so important.
The main areas of the Market, Shipyard, Police Station, Bar and Dock have icons on the game screen that you can select to move between them. As the game starts we are in Paris.
It quickly becomes clear that your father has not come to meet you and Albert as planned. So, Albert takes us around the town to unlock clues as to what might have happened to him.
You can interact with the characters with a number of different sentence options which get additional clues and/or information needed to progress.
We then move to the bar based on hunches from Albert to see if we can find out some more about where the player's father has gone.
After some more conversations, Albert goes to find some more clues and asks you to stick around the bar. You can speed up time as needed. For example, if a meet up is planned for a particular time.
I won't spoil the story line too much, but a conspiracy regarding the player's father is uncovered, and Albert and yourself become targets and have to flee the city.
The submarine has to be kept at a certain depth, depending on the depth of the destination city we are travelling to. Submarines have limited depth, which means not all cities are accessible until upgrades are done, or additional deeper range submarines secured.
I was initially confused about the controls for the submarine, as I am not familiar with ship coordinates to know which way I was supposed to be going!
Needless to say, I stuffed it up and guessed the wrong way. I think using coordinates is a difficult way to control the submarine. I used to suck at ship navigating games on the Amiga (Ports of call springs to mind), so it doesn't surprise me too much!
I quickly failed by going the wrong way, and I was quickly caught by the police we were fleeing from.
The graphics are excellent, with a lot of attention to detail. Considering the game works on on-AGA Amiga systems, they are very good indeed. Music is nice too, and doesn't get annoying.
You just have to get close to the coordinates and the map will tell you you are nearby. As long as your submarine can go to the depth of the city, you can enter it, as Albert explains.
Albert then deserts you to go into hiding in Old York, and leaves you to it, and you are left to find your father on your own...
You can get drilling equipment for getting resources when on the move between cities, follow other traders and get contracts to deliver goods. You can also buy/sell goods based on which resources a city produces to make profit.
There are upgrades at the Shipyards, but the first submarine you get can't fit them, and anyway, you need more money...upgrades vary in each city.
You start with one submarine. You can upgrade it or trade up for other ones, but you can only have one submarine at a time:
I talked to the Policeman at the Police station, but initially I had nothing much to talk about! The graphics are certainly pretty though.
I then moved to the Bar, where I can talk to everyone there, learning their names, roles, and getting information that can help me.
Initially everyone is "Guest", but as I talk to them more, buy them food/drinks, or help them with information they want, it unlocks more information that helps you progress.
Also, offering drinks/food affects the trust level to you, and their willingness to help you with other questions.
Some people require me to have more experience before they will tell me anything...
Moving to the map, you can arrange a voyage to travel to another city. You have to ensure you have enough fuel for that, and I suspect you need to have some cargo contracts in place to earn money to progress further.
Clicking on the city name gives you some status information about how you are travelling in the game:
You can mouse up to the top of the screen to save your game - Note that the game auto saves anyway, and can do a cloud (remote) save, meaning you can continue the game from AquAbyss installed on another Amiga!
I then look through the items I can buy, and try to focus on the items that the city is producing itself, since that is the way to make profits selling to other cities you visit.
If you move the mouse to the bottom of the screen, a menu comes up allowing you to see tasks you need to complete from other characters in the game, your current items, and network chat.
This menu is very helpful, as it is easy to see at a glance what items you have, and to read/respond to network chat messages from other players that are online.
The network chat is a great feature of the game, and allows players to talk to each other while playing the game.
I could even talk to the server admin and other online players to get some answers to some questions to get me a little further in the game.
You can see which players are currently online at the same time, and also switch the view to the online global leaderboard to see how you are ranked compared to the other players who are playing the game.
It is clear I have a long way still to go to reach the level of some of the players - 33 cities to discover just to catch up to Sordan!
Once there, I sell my goods I bought in Paris, and buy up some of the local specialities in Hamburg.
The prices are shown for the cities you have discovered, which helps you to make a decision when buying/selling items.
Nipping back to the online network chat, I asked some more guidance and was told about another town called Old Danzig.
More cities discovered of course opens up more trading opportunities and people to meet, more tasks and more progression in the game.
Don't forget to refuel your submarine before setting off though - you don't want to run out of fuel on the way!
I look wistfully at the submarine upgrades, which I have to earn a lot more currency before I can buy. When I want to do that, I have to sell my old one, as you can only have one submarine.
With the upgraded submarine, you can get a grabber and drilling devices to allow you to get resources from the seabed when travelling:
If you run out of fuel while moving around, if you have enough money, you can call an SOS service to get you out of trouble and supply some fuel where you are stranded.