Sean's Technology and Writing Blog

Issue #3 of Amtix out now

20 March 2022


The third issue of the revived Amtix magazine is now on sale, including two features I've written.

Amtix was originally a magazine for Amstrad CPC computer owners published in the 1980s. It was a sister publication to Crash (for ZX Spectrum users) and ZZAP (for Commodore 64 owners). All three were published by Newsfield Publications, and featured a focus on games, and distinctive cover artwork by Oli Frey. Amtix ran for 18 issues before it was merged into Computing with the Amstrad.

The first three issues of the revived Amtix magazine

The first three issues of the revived Amtix magazine

Now Fusion Retro has acquired the rights to Amtix (as well as Crash and ZZAP) from Future Publishing, and is publishing Amtix quarterly. The magazine reviews new Amstrad games (and there are quite a few coming out), has regular columns on computer art and adventures, and takes a nostalgic look at the original run of Amtix and games from the 80s. There's an A5 full-colour print edition and a PDF version, and it's also available on Readly, a kind-of Spotify for magazines.

For issue 3, I've contributed two features. The first is Top of the CPC Pops, looking at pop music in Amstrad games. Follow the link and you can not only read the article, but also hear the music, with 8-bit renditions of tunes by Michael Jackson, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Jean-Michel Jarre, and more.

The second article is an overview of speech synthesisers, including an interview with Richard Hanson from Superior Software, who made the Speech! software. This article includes a listing called "Doctor, Doctor!", which enables you to have a conversation with your Amstrad. Most chat programs, such as my Javascript chatbot, attempt to analyse what you say and give an intelligent response. With "Doctor, Doctor!" there's no typing required. It pretends to listen and says something random in reply when you tap a key. To use this program, you need to have a speech synthesiser. I tested this with Speech! but it should also work with speech hardware. You can extend the program with lots more phrases. As I said in the article, it's only fun if you actually talk aloud.

If you want to paste the code into your emulator rather than retyping it, you can copy it from here: 1 REM Doctor, Doctor! From Amtix! CPC.
2 REM by Sean McManus – www.sean.co.uk - February 2022.
10 READ maxi:DIM answer$(maxi)
20 FOR g=0 TO maxi:READ answer$(g):NEXT
30 hello$="What would you like to talk about?":|SAY,@hello$
40 CALL &BB06:WHILE a$<>"B":|SAY,@answer$(INT(RND*maxi))
50 a$="":WHILE a$="":a$=UPPER$(INKEY$):WEND
60 WEND
70 bye$="Goodbye. Nice talking to you!":|SAY,@bye$
80 DATA 12,why,tell me more,how do you feel about that?,indeed
90 DATA intreeging,why do you say that?,oooh,quite
100 DATA do continue,hmmmm,is that right?,interesting,really?

It was a great experience writing these articles, not only because I found the topics interesting, but also because it gave me a chance to try writing in a freeform consumer magazine style which I haven't done for a while.

You can subscribe to Amtix here using Patreon. Patreon bills monthly, but Fusion Retro cancels the bill in months when no issue is published, so you only pay quarterly, when an issue is published. You can choose a PDF or a print subscription. To order the current issue in print or any back issues, visit the Fusion Retro website.

Play my Amstrad games in your browser and read my programming tutorials here.


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