[Acorn Gaming]

Acorn Gaming

about Acorn Gaming

Until 1999 this site was known as 32-bit Acorn Gaming - since then it's been just plain Acorn Gaming - and is the longest-running regularly-updated Acorn world-wide web magazine in existence. As of June 2001 the site has been online for seven and a half years!

...the design

[First site logo] Relaunched in February 1999 in its current design, Acorn Gaming is now in its fourth major design since its original launch in November 1993. Unfortunately I haven't kept a careful record of all the different stages, but the initial site logo was a larger version of the small one shown on the left here. At this time Acorn Gaming was hosted at the University of Warwick (http://www.csv.warwick.ac.uk/~csuod/). There were three different contents page designs used at that site, but all three retained the logo shown here.

Then, in the summer of 1996 the pages moved to http://www.doggysoft.co.uk/gaming/ following the kind offer of free web space by DoggySoft's Andrew Clover. To coincide with this I redesigned the entire site through from scratch, and the current version still owes something to this design, although the actual layout is now completely different. Based on a pale pink texture of my own design the pages achieved the objective of being bright and unique whilst not detracting from ease of reading.

[Old logo #2]
The second design of title page logo

At Easter 1998 Oaktree Internet Services observed that this site was using up more bandwidth than any other site on their server (where the DoggySoft site was also hosted) and they kindly offered to sponsor these pages through the provision of my own domain name and space on their server. I kept the same site design across the move, although I slowly added bits to the site (notably in late 1998 a download and large emulation section).

As time passed it became clear that more and more Acorn users were using more powerful browsers and thus it became practical to make use of some more advanced HTML features - in particular tables, which allow much more control over the layout of pages. I slowly added use of tables to the site in a non-critical way, ensuring everything would degrade gracefully. I was also able to use larger graphics on the site due to the fact that the average connection was substantially faster than it had been just a couple of years before.

I therefore embarked on a brand new and ambitious design at Christmas 1998, which was completed and put online in February 1999. The site was intended to appear fresh and bright and gave me the ability to copy big stories and major updates across all pages. In particular I removed the out-moded 'contents page tree' design of the site and replaced it with a far more 'flat' layout. It is no longer necessary to return to the contents page to travel around the site, with a bar across the top and side of each page providing relevant links.

Most recently, in June 2001 the company who now owned Oaktree Internet, IS4B, went into liquidation and so the site had to leave Oaktree. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be offered free space on his personal server at Argonet by Richard Goodwin, who now very generously hosts the entire Acorn Gaming site for me.

...the construction

When I first redesigned the website in its current layout it was built from source files using a utility I wrote myself in the programming language Perl. I built the pages at home using a RISC OS port of Perl for testing purposes and then uploaded the source files and rebuilt the site online at Oaktree. This site building utility linked files together but didn't auto-generate HTML - all the pages on this site are hand-written by myself, and I've never used any page design utilities. This allows me to be completely aware of exactly how everything works and I try hard to ensure that no matter what browser you're using the pages will remain readable. If there are any problems please do let me know!

When I moved the pages to Richard's server, I lost the ability to login and run my Perl script so I changed the site to use a single PHP script which parsed my source files for the site and returned a HTML page - and so this is the site you see now! This is actually quite convenient because I can run a local test webserver on my PC at home and test the site instantly without having to rerun Perl after each modification - I've given up running Perl on my Acorn because it is just too slow, taking at least half an hour to build the entire site!

...the timeline

November 1993
The pages go online at Warwick University
Summer 1995
Layout and structure revised; some consistency of style added
Christmas 1995
Removed a now far-too-long 'summary page' of Acorn games and replaced it with a database section, built from a data file by a C++ program I wrote
July 1996
Pages completely redesigned from scratch; every single graphic changed
January 1998
News layout completely revised to use bulletin points rather than a long, rambling article encompassing everything that had happened in half a year
April 1998
Pages move to their own domain at acorn-gaming.org.uk
November 1998
Brand new emulation section replaces the overlong single emulation news page. Also a brand new downloads section
February 1999
Old design thrown away and a new one started from scratch; built from data files using a Perl utility I wrote
June 2001
Pages move to Richard Goodwin's server at Argonet; Perl utility replaced with live PHP script which parses my site source files

...the slightly-outdate technical waffle

The pages are now completely based around table support, which basically all browsers now cope with except some very old ones, or those intended for very basic (such as text-only) displays. In a text-only case the graphic alignment won't look odd because there will be no graphics, and everything should look okay. In the alternative ancient-browser case analysis of my log files from the previous site design indicate that almost noone ever used my alternative non-table pages where provided; in any case the pages should be perfectly readable - it wasn't just a random choice to put the bar down the right of the page but in fact a deliberate decision to ensure that non-table users would only have the repeated stuff appear at the very bottom of the page. I've put line breaks into the tables so they should all be fine without tables support; if I've made any omissions please let me know.

The only real display problem will be with those using Acorn's Browse. It doesn't bother flowing text around images (unless you do something nasty with tables, which stops the text looking good if you resize the window) so if you see any images with a single line of text next to them then they're probable wrong; they may even be aligned incorrectly. There's not much I can do about this primitive behaviour.

I have tried not to make overly excessive use of graphics on these pages, and in general I have attempted to minimise file sizes wherever possible, although nowhere near to the same extent as I used to. Although there are a fair few images on every page note that there are lots in common across pages, so fetch one page and the rest will be faster.

I used to worry about the fixed-palette 256-colour modes of 32-bit Acorn computers, but no longer. Most net users have machines with better video modes, and the palette in low-colour modes on non-Acorn machines is different anyway.

...the please contribute bit

Whilst these pages are written in my spare time (when I have any), I am always trying to improve them and really do welcome constructive suggestions; or just praise is always nice! Please do feel free to email me (Gareth Moore) about anything at all to do with the site. If you would like to write an article or review a game then please do get in touch!

...the credits

Throughout the past few years several people have helped me by providing information or review copies for these pages. As of a few years ago these included (in no particular order) Warner Interactive Entertainment (Fire and Ice), Andy Southgate (Oddball), Kevin Bracey (Zip 2000 and Angband), Matthew van Delden (Pinball), Max Palmer (original PC games compatibility list), Daniel Shimmin (current PC games compatibility list), Ian Jeffray and the rest of the Paradise team, Tom Cooper (DarkWood and lots more), Peter Otterman (Proposal), Steven Singer (Bloxed), David Jeffries (Stryker's Run III), Martin Piper (TBA), Geoff Holland (Generation Design), Billy Kotsias (Fantasia games), Dane Koekoek (Werewolf Software), Graeme Richardson (Nevryon, Spobbleoid, Enter the Realm etc.), The Datafile (Emotions, Flying High and Wizard Apprentice), The 4th Dimension (Drifter etc.), Chris Joseph (Kindred Software and Drifter and second Eternal Destiny review), Jan Klose (Artex Software), Andrew Rawnsley (R-Comp), David T Johnston (Super Snail 1 & 2) and Robert Templeman (Eternal Destiny). Many thanks also go to David McEwen for his regular and detailed provision of news on and copies of his emulators. Thanks also to Craig Brown for updating my !CPC information once, and an absolutely huge amount of thanks to Alex Card for providing me with very comprehensive StrongARM compatibility information and answering all my resulting questions! Thanks as well go to Stuart Halliday for introducing me to the image tag 'hspace='! Apologies to anyone I have omitted (and I know there must be some - I haven't updated this list for a few years!) - contact me and I'll add your name to this list if you like.

Thanks too to the hundreds of people who've emailed their comments on the pages, and those who've provided updates to the database of commercial games details. Those who've contributed specific items are, of course, also credited where those items occur. Special thanks to Chris Joseph for the Drifter and Eternal Destiny reviews. Many thanks to David Sharp for reviewing some freeware games and for his general comments, and to Rey Cobham for permission to quote a news-posting of his. Thanks to Graeme Richardson and Jan Klose for agreeing to be interviewed, and to Rob Smith for the Monolith information, now replaced by my hosting of his Monolith pages. I would also like to thank Steve Mumford and Graham Nelson for their complimentary coverage in Acorn User magazine, and also Ian Jeffray for his superb WebGif2 utility used for all the transparent GIF images on these pages - it's an excellent application. I've also used Peter Hartley's wonderful InterGif (now on version 6), which lets you create optimised GIF animations. I am also indebted to Andrew Clover for his kind provision of webspace free of charge on the DoggySoft website for almost two years, and of course also to Jon Ribbens and James Ponder at Oaktree Internet Services for the free provision of the web space the pages now use, and not least for them kindly paying for the domain name for me! (acorn-gaming.org.uk).

I guess I had better also thank Acorn Arcade for the competition since early 1998, too - I think their site complements Acorn Gaming nicely, with surprisingly little overlap.

Last but not least, thanks very much to you for reading these web pages! You are one of hundreds of thousands!

Please read and respect the copyright message and disclaimer. Thanks!

...this page last updated: 25/6/2001...
...back to the top...


PC card

Welcome to Acorn Gaming, the longest-running Acorn web magazine in existence.

For the latest news take a look at the News, Emulation and Previews sections.

For reviews check out the Reviews, Free games, Database and Overview areas.

For free downloads look at the Download, Links and Emulation sections.

For compatibility details consult the Database and Features.

Full Tek review now online - finally!
Any comments on Acorn Gaming? Send me an email!
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©Gareth Moore 1993-2003

Acorn Gaming is a completely independent publication and has no official connection with any company