Readers Write


Issue 28

Jul/Aug 87

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Dear Page 6,

As a reply to recent letters that enquire why there are no Atari versions of certain games, I have some information that many Atari owners might like to know. Late last year I was asked by English Software to do a title page for COMMANDO (Elite Systems gave English Software the job of writing it). I completed the work and got paid for it but since I have heard nothing.

I have an idea what might have happened. Either of the companies pulled out of the contract and then sold the game to Mastertronic who released it under the name of Gun Law, with new scenery and game play but keeping to the basic idea.

Maybe this happens to other games?

D. Clapson, Bournemouth



Dear Page 6,

I have a suggestion for you for an article/program in Page 6. How about someone doing a business graphics program with options to display statistics as horizontal/vertical bar charts, line graphs and pie charts? It should have an ability to add text to the screen and, of course, be compatible with the 1029 printer! There may be a use for some statistical analysis too?

J.D. Collins, London

That should be reasonably easy to write. Who is going to write it then?



Dear Les,

Having owned an 8 bit system for over 5 years, I decided to stay with Atari and buy an ST. I went along to the recent Atari Show armed with my Access card and after checking the prices on offer I bought a 1040ST and Philips 8833 monitor from a company called Gultronics.

My delight lasted less than 24 hours at which point the monitor decided to call it a day so I phoned the company and was told that I could have a replacement as long as I paid the carriage to return 11kg of monitor to them by courier! This I refused and after nearly a week it was agreed that a replacement would be sent. More phone calls and no monitor. I finally gave up and contacted Access who will make Gultronics collect the goods at their expense, which they had previously refused to do. I also contacted Atari who said that Gultronics, who seem to be at every Atari show, were not an Atari dealer so there was nothing they could do.

By the time you read this I hope to have a working system and hope that the company I purchase it from have a slightly better customer relations attitude. I would recommend that other readers use a credit card when purchasing goods as, at least, you get some backup if not satisfied.

N.J. Leonard, Bournemouth.

Would you like me to come to Gultronics' defence? If you were discounting so heavily that you made only a few pounds profit on each item, you couldn't afford to provide a good after sales service either. The lesson is that you get what you pay for and by shopping for the cheapest price you take risks. I am sure that the established Atari retailers who charge recommended prices and provide full after sales service will have little sympathy. Many struggle to stay in business because of sales lost to the discount merchants and often end up helping out users with problems on equipment bought elsewhere. There are one or two good mail order Atari dealers and many good Atari retailers. Support them. You may pay a little more but you can then expect, and will probably get, the after sales service that should be provided.



Dear Page 6,

I would like to congratulate you on the quality of your magazine. The 8-bit section is particularly good but I have one criticism. Some adventures reviewed by Garry Francis do not have any real distribution in this country and, as a result, will be played only by a small handful of readers. This seems a waste of Garry's talents. I appreciate that Garry has to get many of his adventures from the US but nevertheless feel that he should pay attention to what is available over here.

The ST section is also good, although it seems to rely heavily on reviews. The ownership of the ST seems to be split between 'users' (the majority) and programmers. I am about to buy an ST and will join the latter category. Programmers seem to get short shrift from the magazines. If the magazine included more tutorial type articles of an advanced nature (not just copied from reference books) then the balance would be restored.

I hope your bear these comments in mind when preparing future issues.

Malcolm Bremer, Dagenham

Thanks for the input. Constructive criticism is always welcomed. I feel that one of the strengths of Garry Francis's column is the fact that he does cover some of the more obscure adventures, adventures which readers here might otherwise never know about. NO other U.K. magazine has covered the harder to find adventures and few, if any, cover any adventures in such depth. In many cases Garry gives you details of a supplier in the U.S.A. and there is no reason why you cannot order from them, it is just as easy and safe as buying from many U.K. mail order companies, particularly if you use a credit card.

I tend to agree with your comments about the ST section, it is heavily dependent on reviews but the problem is finding writers for the 'programming' side of the ST and finding subjects that will be of interest to more than a small minority. I hope that the series beginning this issue on using GEM with C begins to redress the balance. As always we are happy to consider any well written articles on programming for any Atari machine.



Dear Page 6,

I have recently bought an Atari 800XL home computer. I am totally in the dark about computers, programming etc. I enjoy playing games but my friend says you can store information on cassettes from history notes to how my favourite football team did on Saturday. Is this possible? If so, how can I do it?

Trevor Carolan, Dublin

You can certainly use cassettes to store any kind of data, the only restriction is that you cannot access the data randomly as you can from disk. Unfortunately there are not many commercial programs around that support cassette storage for data and few 'user' programs. You will almost certainly need to learn a little programming and write a simple routine yourself. The book Your Atari Computer is one of the few with a whole chapter devoted to the program recorder and this gives full details on how to use the cassette for data storage and gives a sample mailing list program. An expensive book but, and I will keep saying it, one that every owner should invest in. Perhaps we could do a small tutorial in First Steps or elsewhere on using the cassette. Any interest?



Dear Les,

Well, it is the day after the pilgrimage to the Atari Show and I must say it was the best one yet.

I was very impressed with Atari's presence and with them 'delivering the goods' with the Mega ST's and laser printer and the two PC models. I enjoyed the Atari promo videos and as the American patter enthused about the reborn company I felt a strong sense of pride in being an Atari owner and part of something that is gaining strength and momentum around the world. I feel that the next few years will be as exciting and innovative as the late 70's and early 80's if you upgraded to 16k you were probably doubling your RAM as well as your overdraft! Atari are now proving that leading edge technology does not cost a fortune and 'power without the price' is a reality and not a promise.

Paul Hanson, Brighton

Ah, but did you actually see that laser working? I remember the PCW Show last year when the 2080ST and 4160ST were shown as well as the blitter and an 80 column card for the 8 bit machines. Some mutate, some get left behind. Never did see that CD ROM. Yes it will be exciting and innovative. Let's hope it will also be productive!



Dear Page 6,

I am disappointed with PAGE 6's lack of competitions. It seems the only competition I have ever seen was the 100 programming competition and the Readers Poll. Could you not possibly consider printing a few competitions each month, e.g. Graphics Contest, Programming Contest, DLI Programming etc.?

Graham Stewart, Dublin

P.S. If you do not print this letter I will definitely withdraw from buying PAGE 6.

I am disappointed in the lack of response when we do have a competition. Six entries for the programming contest you mentioned? It seems that there is no real interest in competitions that require some effort. And where was your entry, anyway?



Dear Page 6,

At the recent Atari Show I picked up a leaflet on the Atari stand promoting what Atari describe as the 130XE GAMES Computer.

Come on Atari, what are you up to?

Don't get me wrong, I don't think playing games on a computer is any less of a valid use than any other. I enjoy playing games, as I am sure most users do, it is however certainly not the only way to use them. Some computers have the image of being educational tools, witness the BBC (nice BASIC, shame about the machine), overpriced and underpowered, but it sold because people could kid themselves that it would help their children's education.

I am sure that most of us users of the Atari 8 bit machines have had to endure comments along the lines of, 'Atari? They are only for games aren't they? I have a Commodore .. Spectrum .. Amstrad etc.'. We could disagree but somehow the myth endured. At least we could be smug in the knowledge that we knew that we had the best machine available, a fact that even Atari didn't seem to realise. Over the last few years, a great deal of first class 'serious' software has become available and I had begun to think that the Atari 8 bit line was being taken seriously at last.

Now along comes Atari promoting a GAMES computer. I don't think it will help them sell machines to describe them in this way. Are they downgrading the 8 bit line in favour of the ST range? If they are, I think they are wrong. The ST is a superb machine, but it is nowhere near as easy for the beginner to learn how to program as the 8 bit range is and, more importantly, not everybody can afford an ST. At around a hundred pounds, the 130XE has to be the best value home computer today, so, come on Atari, advertise the fact and tell people EVERYTHING it can do and about the enormous range of ALL types of software available. Maybe then you will sell as many machines as deserve to be sold.

Allan Knopp, Colchester

Quite right! With the myth of the 'games machine' Atari managed to get the smallest share of the UK market of any of the major manufacturers. Stories are legion of customers walking into various stores and saying 'I want something for education/ word processing/ business, what is the Atari like? It looks good value' only to be told by the salesman 'That's just a games machine, sir, take a look at this Commodore/ BBC/ Amstrad etc.'. Is that what Atari want? I can't believe it. Mind you, maybe it is so ingrained now that Atari themselves believe Atari means 'games'. A recent press release advising that the ST was to be sold in Smiths stated, and I quote,' The high performance ICON driven games machine sells for 399'!!! Meanwhile, downstairs at the Atari Show, an American TV commercial is running showing a 130XE with products like Synfile +, Atariwriter and the like! What can you do? Throw up your hands in despair, and carry on doing Atari's PR for them I suppose.