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David Brunet



Interview with Moya Jackie
(Interview conducted by David Brunet - September 2011)

Here is an interview with Moya Jackie, also known as "Cammy" in the Amiga scene.

Moya Jackie - Hello Moya. Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi everyone, my name is Moya Jackie and I'm 26 years old. I was born under the shadow of the largest rock in the world, Uluru, in a small desert town called Alice Springs right in the center of Australia. I now live on the Gold Coast with my cat Black Magic. I have been deaf since birth and although I wear hearing aids so I can listen to music and hear sounds, I generally have to rely on lip-reading and sign language to communicate with people in real life.

I also like reading science fiction and fantasy novels or comics, watching good TV shows like Fringe, Arrested Development and Farscape and going for nature walks. I love animals too, especially cats! Sometimes if I'm lucky, the Magpies or Butcher Birds that I feed tasty grated cheese will sing outside my front door.

I love playing retro video games, especially Amiga games. After playing games for ages on my CD32, I wondered if I could make my own games too since I had plenty of ideas for designing my dream games. At first, I had no programming knowledge at all so I couldn't start coding a game from scratch. I did some research online and in Amiga magazines and luckily I came across a game editing program named Backbone that allows you to make overhead shoot'em ups as well as side-scrolling platformers without having any coding skills.

Last year, I decided it was time to learn how to program and eventually settled on the AmigaE language since it is suited for making software as well as games. Dynamite and EvenMore text viewer are two examples of classic Amiga Workbench games and programs coded in AmigaE. Another reason for my choice of the AmigaE language is that I will be able to recompile my code for the next generation Amiga platforms (AROS, MorphOS and AmigaOS 4) using the PortablE language. So far I have started coding some small utilities for classic Amigas as well as a small game.

- You're also known as "Cammy". I think you choose this pseudonym because you're a fan of the Street Fighter series, but it seems you have also a big resemblance with her, isn't it? :-)

When I first saw Super Street Fighter II I was inspired by Cammy, here was an arcade game at last with a blonde girl character to choose, and she has some cool moves and combos that are really fun to watch. Cammy is also a character that loved cats, never missed an opportunity to be cheeky and has a mysterious past.

When I was 19, I decided to dress up as Cammy for my first ever convention costume. I knew this character inside out and I figured I looked enough like Cammy to be able to pull the costume off. The cosplay seemed successful and quite popular at the convention and online, so ever since then I have just been known as Cammy on the net. I also plan on cosplaying as other female Amiga game characters like Maria from Giana Sisters or Manx from Shadow Fighter for an Amiga Game Girls Calendar 2012 to try to raise money for Amiga software and games development.

Moya Jackie

- When and how did you discover the Amiga?

I never really grew up using Amigas as my main computer. My dad brought home a few used Apple Macintoshes over the years from where he worked, which we used as our home computers. I really loved video games but only got to play them at the arcades or occasionally on a console in the shops, until I got my CD32 which was my introduction to Amiga games. Over the years I collected nearly all the games that were available, but I wanted to get more out of my system. I had read in magazines about lots of really great Amiga games that never made it to the CD32, and got a chance to try many of them on some compilation discs I found on the Internet. These collections inspired me to take my CD32 the next step further and I upgraded it with an SX32 with 8MB RAM and a 2GB Compact Flash drive. One of my dreams is to someday own a CD32 with an SX-32 Pro accelerator (or perhaps an ACACD32 if Jens Schoenfeld ends up making them) which would make it the ultimate Amiga games machine for me.

One day in Australia, a new TV show aired based on a book called "Finders Keepers" caught my attention. The main character in this series is lucky enough to have entered a contest where the major prize to be won was a brand new computer. The people who were making the show at the time used an Amiga 2000 as the computer model. When I saw the Amiga running Shadow of the Beast on the TV show, I really wanted to play this game which I eventually did years later when I finally had an Amiga of my own.

- What are your Amiga configurations?

Although a 10MB CD32 with a colour-coded A2000 keyboard was a nice system, after using a friend's 030/50-powered A1200 I just had to get one of my own. I started off with a rather yellowed A1200 with failing capacitors and a DKB 1202 card with 8MB RAM and a FPU. My current development Amiga is a nice, white A1200 fitted with an Indivision AGA and a Cobra 030 accelerator with 64MB of RAM. I have other Amigas including an A500, an A600 with an A603 and an ACA630/30MHz accelerator installed. I also have an Efika 5200B running MorphOS 2.4 and a cute red netbook running AROS (Icaros Desktop 1.3).

Moya Jackie

- What are your favorite activities on Amiga?

Although I enjoy playing games any moment I have to spare, I find myself coding AmigaE more than anything these days. I usually have SabreMSN, WookieChat and IBrowse running while I code, so I can keep in touch with my Amiga friends and watch over the forums for any recent developments or people who need help. Emulation is something I enjoy on the Amiga, occasionally I have a quick go of SimTower, Warcraft 2 or Links Pro Golf through ShapeShifter, or sometimes fire up AmiMasterGear which emulates Master System games quite well on my 030/28Mhz A1200.

I also love listening to mods with EaglePlayer or soundtrack MP3s converted to .wav format with SongPlayer on my Amiga 1200. Some of my favourite mod tracks are "Viking Guitarist Ghost" by Nooly and "Cortouchka" by Moby. I also love the music from the games Agony, Lionheart and Shadow of the Beast 3 and a whole bunch of other Amiga games. I think it's fantastic that we can try playing most of these ourselves to test our skill in Tracker Hero.

- Apart the Street Fighter series, what are your prefered Amiga games? (and why)

On my AROS netbook, I like to play BOH as it's such a tough yet fun challenge trying to solve each mission. There are other games for AROS that I play from time to time like Eternal Lands which is a fantasy MMORPG, the Doom and Quake ports and Open Tyrian which is an awesome looking old-school feeling shoot'em up.

On the A1200 I play Tracker Hero which is a new Guitar Hero clone for AGA Amigas that has also brought some great new music to the Amiga mod scene including "Animated" and "Oops!" by Nooly. I also have a go at Total Chaos AGA sometimes which is a turn-based strategy game with some cool spells to try out on your enemies.

On my A600, there's Fightin' Spirit (I can't resist playing this brilliant looking arcade style beat'em up), Lionheart, Ruff 'n' Tumble, Brian the Lion, Fire and Ice, Cannon Fodder, Sim Ant... and plenty more games I like!

- What are your prefered video games? (not Amiga related)

Lomax and the Adventures of Ralf are the two games that get played the most on my Playstation. I just love Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on Playstation, it's a stunning example of improved 2D graphics combined with a fantastic story. I also like Ico on PS2, a 3D platform adventure which is also made by the same team who also made Shadow of the Colossus, another of my favourites. The creator of those games was also an Amiga user. My brother had a Nintendo 64 and a Game Cube growing up so it gave me the opportunity to play newer 3D games like Donkey Kong Country and Goldeneye. As much as I love playing on all those consoles, I still fire up my Amiga more often for the games.

- As a fan of Street Fighter 2, what do you think about the port of this game on Amiga? And in general, what do you think about ports of arcade games on Amiga?

I suppose the original OCS version of Street Fighter II was alright back when it came out, it had large fighters and all the moves and levels from the arcade game, though it suffered from poor controls, even in 2-button mode. The next ports of Super Street Fighter II were a lot more playable, but the graphics suffered a lot in the conversion, the fighters end up being small and the stages have a widescreen look to them. At least the gameplay was perfect, with intelligent single-button and 2-button controls, as well as full arcade-style 6-button controls in the AGA version. Super Street Fighter II Turbo, which I play on the CD32 looks amazing, and the music is perfect. It has parallax floors and the full size sprites from the arcade. But although it has the same 6-button controls as the arcade game, it plays really badly, and isn't helped by the bad framerate and choppy animation, which makes the game almost unplayable.

- The website Amiworx (www.amiworx.de) have published a new version of Super Street Fighter II on Amiga. What do you think about this kind of "rework"?

I think it's awesome! Boo Boo and Viddi of Amiworx have done a superb job of improving the original Super Street Fighter II graphics. It was a big task to tackle but they did it well. :) And since this version of the game never came out on the CD32 I am delighted that these guys managed to get the game to run in the CD32's 2MB RAM, which all previous attempts at failed.

They also released a side-scrolling beat'em up game called Ambermoon Arcade. This game was made using Backbone which is a game maker program with a graphical user interface that allows you to make overhead or side-scrolling platformers. They even went one step further and put together a nice professional looking package with a printed DVD cover and CD cover inserts too. The game and the extras are free to download too so be sure to check Ambermoon Arcade and Street Fighter II AGA DX out! I hope Amiworx keeps developing for the Amiga, it'll certainly be interesting to find out what they are working on next.

- In late 2009 and 2010, you organised the "Annual Festive Amiga Game Making Competition". Where did you get the idea? And what is the goal of the competition?

The idea for the competition came about as a result of a discussion on the forums about the lack of active game developers within the Amiga scene. Some people pointed out that other retro systems including the Atari and Commodore 64 had a lot more games being developed than the Amiga. I thought that a new game-making contest with the focus on creating classic Amiga games would be hopefully be a good way to encourage people within the Amiga community to start producing their own games for the Amiga scene too.

- Are you satisfied with the results? What could be better and what do you plan for next competitions?

The first competition I held in 2009 had seven new games made which I think was impressive considering the contestants only had two weeks to make their games. It motivated me to organise another contest the following year but there were only a total of three entries this time. Hopefully the competition inspired some people to keep making games for the Amiga.

I'm considering making the next competition focus on all the Amiga platforms - AROS, MorphOS and AmigaOS 4 entries will be included and judged separately by a committee. The reason I chose to focus on the OCS/AGA Amiga platform specifically for the previous competitions was to ensure enough people would be able to play them either on a real Amiga or through UAE. The next competition will also be started earlier to give the competitors more time to work on their games.

- Apart the Amiga game competition, do you have other Amiga related projects?

One of the many Amiga related projects I am helping out with is beta-testing a new Workbench 3.1 distribution pack that Adam "Rebel" Dawson and I have been working on for a while. It's aimed at more expanded Amigas such as 020+ and uses an optimised 16 colour palette designed by Adam Dawson. My role includes beta-testing the latest GUI graphics created by Adam Dawson and programming new Amiga software to be included in the pack too.

I'm also working on a webpage with a list of links to websites that work well in AWeb and IBrowse, for people who want to browse the web on their classic Amigas.

I first started learning how to code in AmigaE over a year ago since I really wanted to be able to develop my own games and software. The first program I've coded with AmigaE is called "Spare Desk" which is a public screen program that uses Adam Dawson's 16 colour palette and keeps the pens locked so they don't randomly change. This will be useful for running programs such as IBrowse, AWeb and AmIRC on a separate screen.

Moya Jackie

Another one of my projects is titled "Meow" and it is a pop-up notification system using ARexx similar to Ringhio (AmigaOS 4) and Growl (Mac OS X). The main interface for the program is finished, the next step will be adding the ARexx code so that programs with an ARexx port can use Meow for event notifications. Meow will also be ported to AROS and MorphOS once it's ready. I also recently started coding a graphical interface in MUI for RocketTool which is included with the USB stack Poseidon. RocketTool controls USB missile launchers which you can buy online and use with AROS, MorphOS or your classic Amiga if you have USB hardware such as a Subway or Deneb card.

One of my dreams has always been to make my own adventure game. Since I have no experience with programming games, I asked another coder, SamuraiCrow if he could help me out with coding a text adventure game. Thankfully he agreed to help with regular classes on IRC, covering Object-Orientated Programming which AmigaE supports and will be essential for the adventure game engine we're creating. Once the engine is finished, it will be able to do graphical adventures as well as text adventures.

A few years ago, we started to make a short platform game demo called "Halloween Nightmare" in Backbone. I uploaded the one level demo to Aminet as a Halloween present for the Amiga community. It took us just under one month from the game concept to finishing up the final touches on the demo. It was one of my first attempts at making an Amiga game, and I used Backbone since I didn't know how to code back then. I wanted to do better with the level design for the demo but we ran out of time to polish the game further.

Over the last few years, we have been developing Halloween Nightmare more by expanding the story, characters and gameplay beyond what's in the demo. However, since I'm only a beginner at programming I can't tackle the challenge of coding the game engine as we plan for this platform adventure game to push the limits of the AGA chipset. Backbone will only be used for designing the levels initially until we find an Assembly coder who is willing to take up the challenge.

- What is your opinion about Amiga NG systems ? (AROS, AmigaOS 4, MorphOS)

The more choice there is out there for everyone, the better! AROS is steadily improving and in the last few years it's been maturing to a point where the operating system is usable by everyone, not just developers. I have recently started exploring MorphOS now thanks to the new Efika 5200B I was kindly donated.

- What do you think about Commodore USA and the probable new machines with "Commodore" and "Amiga" label?

I'm not really interested in anything that Commodore USA are selling.

- What do you think of the today's Amiga community?

I feel very thankful that the Amiga is still continuing to evolve today with different hardware and software configurations available that all share a part of the Amiga history. It's truly too great a legacy to fade out as the passionate users in our community are proving now.

- Are there advantages to being a woman in a mostly masculine community? :-)

I'm not sure if being a woman is an advantage at all in the Amiga community, if anything it can be a disadvantage as it seems to annoy a few guys who see the Amiga as a hobby for men only. Overall, people have been pretty friendly towards me and I've made some interesting friends from around the world.

- What is the situation of the Amiga in Australia?

There is AmigaManiac's store which is based in Melbourne sells some really awesome Amiga hardware such as S-Video Adapters, ROM Switchers, CF to IDE adapters and more. His website is at www.amigamaniac.com and he also does Amiga repairs. There are still regular Amiga meetings being held in Sydney and two more in Melbourne as well. I live too far away to attend those meetings unfortunately. I would like to try and go to one of them someday if I ever get the chance to visit Sydney or Melbourne again.

- You have the last word...

The recent progress made in the Amiga community has been amazing with new software such as ScummVM finally ported to ECS/AGA/RTG Amigas thanks to Novacoder, AMC by Phoenixkonsole, the free release of PFS3 Filesystem and the recent MUI-OWB port by kas1e, Fab and others. There has been new and exciting software in development for AROS such as Quick Videos, the easy to use GUI-based video editing software. On the classic Amiga gaming side, we have MEMO which is a memory card game that pays tribute to classic Amiga characters and a new HAM8 3D RPG in development called "Quests of Nargoth". There's just so much more I could mention too, and I'm really glad that people are continuing to develop for my favourite system. I'm also excited by the prospect of the Natami which I hope to own someday.

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