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FPGA Based Videogame System

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Poll: Interest in an FPGA Videogame System (482 member(s) have cast votes)

I would pay....

  1. > $100 (41 votes [8.51%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 8.51%

  2. $100-149 (68 votes [14.11%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 14.11%

  3. $150-199 (140 votes [29.05%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 29.05%

  4. $200-299 (132 votes [27.39%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 27.39%

  5. Sky's the Limit (101 votes [20.95%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 20.95%

I Would Like Support for...

  1. 8 bit era games (404 votes [45.96%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 45.96%

  2. 16 bit era games (404 votes [45.96%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 45.96%

  3. Blip (71 votes [8.08%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 8.08%

Games Should Run From...

  1. SD Card / USB Memory Sticks (420 votes [54.90%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 54.90%

  2. Original Cartridges (303 votes [39.61%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 39.61%

  3. Hopes and Dreams (42 votes [5.49%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 5.49%

The Video Inteface Should be...

  1. RGB (186 votes [19.00%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 19.00%

  2. Composite (156 votes [15.93%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 15.93%

  3. S-video (89 votes [9.09%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 9.09%

  4. Component (128 votes [13.07%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 13.07%

  5. HDMI (420 votes [42.90%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 42.90%

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#51 Asbrandt OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 10:49 AM

Feature creep.. Keep it under tight control.

The SID was mentioned because it's been notoriously difficult to nail down a reimplimentation of it on FPGA but that's being worked on still, if I recall correctly.

I could be mistaken, but it appears to me that Kevtris is focusing on console hardware, leaving home computers to projects such as the MiST, so the SID's difficulty would be irrelevant here anyway.

EDIT: In my opinion, this separation of goals is a good thing, even if you're paying more by buying two separate projects, there's more focus on the quality of each core this way.

I do hope he can pull off 16bit stuff, although I'd imagine the CD addons might complicate things.

Edited by Asbrandt, Mon Sep 21, 2015 11:01 AM.


#52 Algus OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 11:14 AM

As we see from this topic lots of different people have lots of different ideas as to what they want.  I think the poll is the right approach and I will be interested to see you develop an actual project proposal from the suggestions and ideas herein.   For me if it is "just" a retro-game player (IE for NES, SNES, etc.) I would want a small box with 2-4 controller ports (USB so we could use our PC logitech controllers, etc?) and an HDMI connector.    The front end would just handle the SD card and I could load the games I want.   Ideally targeting N64-PS1 as the high end of what it could reproduce.    

 

This would be a great travel device for me as I'm the "retro gaming guy" amongst my friends, since I still have all my stuff from when I was a kid, but carting around a system, controllers, and a huge stack of cartridges is a pain in the ass.  

 

I basically use my PC as described above right now but that also cost $1200 and does a lot of things besides having an instant-startup easy front end.   Plus I don't really like to unplug it from my desktop setup to take to a friend's house.

 

If it is to play new game, I imagine something quite similar (ie a small box) that reads the games from SD card.   But at this point we are getting dangerously close to OUYA territory.   Being able to purchase and own the installers or games in the style of GOG and load them onto my own physical media would be very appealing to me.   Then I could use my PC to build my own archive and not be dependent on this proposed console's network capabilities.

 

This kind of thing seems like a hobbyist unit that only might ever sell a few thousand devices.    Even OUYA, which was arguably quite successful for what it was, was only selling a few thousand copies of its most popular games.  The audience for this stuff is just not very big.  



#53 Greg2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 11:23 AM

I feel like a major mistake with RVGS was the ongoing reveal of (conceptually) what they were looking to feature in the console.  Don't come out with the wish list until you know you can actually deliver them.  To me an SD interface is a deal breaker.  Why bother having hardware cores without it?  All the rest I think will make some happy and some angry, that's just the way it is.



#54 Asbrandt OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:17 PM

I don't feel as though this thread is a wishlist thing so much as Kevtris looking to see if there's a financially viable balance between the price people are willing to pay and the questions of carts/sd, hdmi/analog, and how much people want the 16bit stuff.

Out of curiosity, Kevtris, is any of the addon hardware of the 16bit era out of reach here, and is the PCE hardware well known enough to be implimented at all?

Edited by Asbrandt, Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:18 PM.


#55 PikoInteractive OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:39 PM

At 150 USD running NES, SNES, GBA, Genesis, SMS, you would be competing against the Retron 5. and I am very very sure that would make Hyperkin come to you and offer you to carry and distribute your console, or buy your design out.

 

But probably would have to be a console with embeded cart readers for those platforms and not adapters.



#56 TheRedEye OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:45 PM

Voted "sky's the limit," which has been true for me and your FPGA box for about a decade now. I've often considered asking if you'd slap together a prototype for me on commission! 

 

I recommend at least an optional analog out, because competitive/speed run playing of classic games still depends on zero input lag on CRTs. Some of these guys are literally pulling off frame-perfect tricks, which I suspect would be impossible on an HDTV. Plus, I still play on a CRT myself, and my specific use case is that I want to replace original hardware you support with one compact box.

 

Also, in general, I just feel like the more solutions we have for hardware-accurate simulations over true RGB the better. Right now, for example, there is no perfect solution for Game Boy Color over RGB, Game Gear is a pain in the ass, this is probably literally the only time that anyone will ever bother getting the Supervision to run over RGB, etc. 

 

Side note: Have you ever thought about making a good RGB to HDMI upscaler? Right now the only viable candidate is the Micomsoft Framemeister at $400-ish, and there is absolutely a demand for a better solution.



#57 Asbrandt OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:52 PM

Lightgun games are another reason for optional analog output.
Although I am curious to know if a linedoubled output to a VGA monitor would still function for lightguns, or if the 1 line of latency (is that even correct?) is still too much.

EDIT: For my part, I would be happy with my purchase if I paid $300 for a unit with the analog addon and just SD card loading, given the currently listed capabilities, as this would replace a handful of systems I currently possess -and- I could give systems I always dismissed as "too retro for me" a chance as a bonus.
Doubly so if linedouble output to 31khz RGB is an option, as I rather like the CRT PC monitor I use for 480p systems.

Adding 16bit stuff is where I start caring even less about the asking price.

EDIT2: As for pricing/competing against the Retron 5, I feel that's not really fair nor a good idea here as this is a project for those who don't mind sacrificing the real system "feel" for improvements like HDMI, overclocking, etc (are save states a possibility?) but aren't willing to sacrifice on minute technical aspects like current software emulation does.

Edited by Asbrandt, Mon Sep 21, 2015 1:45 PM.


#58 marshallh OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:52 PM

I have seen this thing in person.. I can assure you Kevin is not over-promising. You should see the jig he built for analysing Gameboy at the cycle level. He basically re-made a gameboy onto perfboard with logic analyzer probes attached to every single pin on there. HIs 2600 core exposed bugs in several existing Atari emulators.

 

If you have doubts about the level of tweakability you can expect, just look at some videos of the Hidef NES setup menus.



#59 CatPix ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 2:17 PM

Lightgun games are another reason for optional analog output.

With today's tech, you can have a LED based pointing system like the Wiimote ot the earlier Philips CD-i Gun, that need no analog/CRT displays.



#60 elmer OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 2:19 PM

Everyone here definitely has their own "sweet spot" in what they're looking for, and it's very interesting to see.

For myself, I'm another old game developer from 8-bit/16-bit/32-bit era that's having fun playing with the old machines again and remembering when it was all still "fun".

I already have an Altera DE2-115, but would happily sell it off to buy your board which looks to be targeted at just the kind of things that I want to do.

From my POV, I'd like the system to be powerful enough to do 16-bit machines (PCE CD, and X68000 are desired targets), and I'd want there to be some way of getting debugging information back out of the board.

Ethernet would be perfect (and could also be used to send updates to the SD-card without wearing out the socket with continual insertions/removals), but something as simple as a 5V/3.3v serial port would be good enough to get critical debugging info out.

Apart from that ... just HDMI, and analog Audio for outputs, and some way of attaching 2 6-button controllers for inputs.

The rest would be best as add-ons (which is probably the case with the Ethernet, too).

I don't know what RAM layout you're planning for, but I hope it would be flexible enough to keep the "CPU" and the "VDC" on separate RAM chips, if the bandwidth requirements need it (possibly X68000).

Good luck with this, I hope that you get enough interest to decide to move forward!

#61 Kosmic Stardust OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 2:43 PM

With today's tech, you can have a LED based pointing system like the Wiimote ot the earlier Philips CD-i Gun, that need no analog/CRT displays.

Nonono... CRT is the only way you can ever play lightgun games.

 

Not sure about the previously mentioned 480p line doubler. I suppose such implementation has potential to work, although any console that relies on H-scan timing would likely be inaccurate.



#62 tcdev OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 4:38 PM

Everyone has their own set of requirements and the longer this thread goes on, the more varied the responses are going to be. Of course no one response is right (except mine) and none are wrong, although the odd response does exhibit a lack of understanding on some finer technical points (not a criticism, not everyone is an electronics engineer).

 

IMHO Kevin you need to go ahead with your own vision and take a gamble on the uptake. Otherwise your design is at risk of being diluted into something no-one wants.



#63 grips03 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 5:15 PM

Call it the Kevtris 3000, but Zimba 3000 is pretty cool too



#64 PlaysWithWolves ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 5:33 PM

 

IMHO Kevin you need to go ahead with your own vision and take a gamble on the uptake. Otherwise your design is at risk of being diluted into something no-one wants.

 

 ^---This---^

 

I'm sure you've thought about it enough to know what you'd like.

Well, unless you can make it modular/extendable so people can just make what they want. :lol:



#65 CGQuarterly OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 5:57 PM

Just voted.  I said $200-299, but really it just depends on what it offers.  $300+ wouldn't be a deal-breaker depending on what you got.  The more cores the better, but I voted for 8 and 16 bit.  If there were a way to get it to do Amiga games, that would be amazing.  In my opinion it definitely does NOT need to use actual cartridges.  SD card would be great.  As far as video signals, I personally would REALLY REALLY like it to output 15 khz RGB along with HDMI.

 

Thanks!



#66 Nutsy Doodleheimer OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:16 PM

I would pay $150-$200 for this. Maybe more pending on what features it has. I want to see 8 bit and 16 bit. Atari 2600, Intellivision, Atari 8 bit, C64, Odyssey 2, Colecovision, NES, Atari 7800, Master System, Genesis, Turbo Grafx 16, SNES, and Neo Geo AES. I also want it to be on an SD card than cartridge. More easier to download the roms instead of getting carts it's more convenient and less of a hassle. I truly like to see HDMI support and play it on newer televisions.

#67 BigO OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:24 PM

(the poll threw me for a brief instant. technically, the first option of > $100 overlaps all of the same territory as the following choices. then my brain said, "oh, they meant < $100. k. got it")

 

(oh, and "Blip"...heh)


Edited by BigO, Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:25 PM.


#68 kevtris OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:29 PM

Thanks a ton to everyone for your replies so far!  It's been extremely illustrative for me.  I will now try to clear up some of the finer details.

 

All controllers will use USB and there will be 4 USB ports ideally.   This will allow for game controllers, keyboards, and mice.  

 

I had huge plans for doing all kinds of computers on here as well.   C64 is pretty much done-  I have made an FPGA SID player!   This includes 90% of the C64, because it runs every single SID file (yeah I tested all of them) and you have to run the BASIC ROMs and such.  For "realSIDplay" files, it actually boots the C64 OS and waits for the blinking cursor before faking typing in SYS nnnn or RUN depending on which type it is (ASM or BASIC).

 

The FPGA SID I have done includes a real analog filter that closely models the real chip.  The SID HDL code is 100% complete and fully debugged and even supports lots of the weird things people have come up with like high quality samples using the PWM, enveloper, and other weird crap.  And it handled the "looped noise" effect as well.   The only slight fly in the ointment is the filter is external analog hardware so I wouldn't be able to include this filter on my system.

 

Atari 5200 is notably missing because it's really a rebadged Atari 8 bit computer.

 

The mysterious lack of computers is due to my up until now lack of keyboard/mouse interfaces.   I have great plans to add all sorts of computers.   Emulating the floppy drives is also a big pain in the ass (especially the devil known as the 1541).

 

Some people have wondered how the actual game loading works.  It works like this:

 

You dump a directory onto the SD card that I provide on my website,  and then put ROMs and what not on it.

 

The FPGA bitstream ("program") is automatically pulled off the SD card and loaded into the FPGA to reconfigure it for the system you're attempting to run.   It's all 100% automatic to the user and everything "just works" ™. 

 

If I provide cartridge adapters, the adapter will automatically configure the system and pull the proper bitstream off the SD card to make it "just work".

 

I was going to support saving your saved games to SD card, and I am on the fence about save states-  because this is "real" hardware, it makes doing save states quite difficult.   I might provide it on some things but I can't guarantee it. 

 

Re: do light guns work on 31KHz VGA scanline doubled video?  In some cases it does!   I modified my NES zapper gun to double its sense frequency from 15KHz to 31KHz, and duck hunt played OK though range seemed to be reduced some.  I could probably increase this range but didn't try too hard.   I wanted to see if it worked, and it did.

 

When I release new cores (or update old ones) all you'll have to do is drop the new stuff onto your SD card and plug it in and you're good to go.     Speaking of new cores, these are my goals for the project:

 

SNES,  Genesis, and Neogeo (and TG-16).    I want to do other cores as well but I will feel like I accomplished something with those three.   I also have a chubby to add super acan, believe it or not.  I don't know why but it seems like an awesome challenge to me.  I also own 3 of the damn things I paid 99 cents for :-)

 

I also want a huge galaxy of computers too.    This new hardware I came up with is the key to getting all of these cores going.   

 

tcdev:   thanks a bunch for helping explain the wonders of FPGAs.   I like your work :-)



#69 Greg2600 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:29 PM

I vote 100-150.  I paid in that neighborhood for the Ouya, but I wouldn't like to go higher, not unless it had USB HDD support as well as wifi or ethernet.  Would be great to have it interface to a central matching service for multiplayer gaming. 

 

The possibility of a light gun over HDTV solution is VERY intriguing!  As for computers, MSX/MSX2 I think would be one to shoot for, as the 1chip's cost a fortune!  Only USB controllers, nothing wireless?


Edited by Greg2600, Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:37 PM.


#70 Reaperman OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:47 PM

I first heard about atariage while chasing around the fan forum of another fpga game project and though it vanished, I've wanted an fpga-based system ever since.  System replication on a whole different level is very attractive to me.  Absolutely yes, I can get behind this.

 

I'm most interested in 8-bit systems, since a lot of my 16-bit systems already come with RGB out that I can pipe into the framemeister and get darn fine HD from.  There are some 16-bit systems that still need help--lynx comes to mind, but it's mostly it's the 8-bit systems that come with low-quality video and 'creative' controller choices that could really use the modernization most, IMO.  

 

Suddenly, I'm kind of glad this RVGS mess happened, if this is the result.  Sharp, beautiful gamegear in hd?  Oh the wonder!  

With your current list of 'currently done' systems, you are already my hero.  Don't make me beg...


Edited by Reaperman, Mon Sep 21, 2015 7:07 PM.


#71 TheRedEye OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 6:55 PM

Kev, I meant what I said in that email, I will totally send you my Mega Duck + games if you want to get stupid. Would go great with the A'Can, they're Taiwanese siblings.

 

Question: Are Sega CD and Duo theoretically possible? There's no current disc-less solution for either of those platforms.



#72 Tarzilla OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 7:02 PM

Thanks a ton to everyone for your replies so far!  It's been extremely illustrative for me.  I will now try to clear up some of the finer details.

 

All controllers will use USB and there will be 4 USB ports ideally.   This will allow for game controllers, keyboards, and mice.  

 

 

I would prefer that there be more native support for original controllers:

Atari 2600 controllers, paddles

Many systems like the Intellivision, ColecoVision and Bally Astrocade have unique controllers.

 

I don't want to have to buy something like this:

http://www.intellivi...e/interface.php

just to play Intellivision or ColecoVision games that require the keypad.

 

As well, there is really no viable alternative to the Intellivision 16 position disc controller in the usb world.

 

SD cards are great, but I have many Homebrews that the rom has not been released, I'd want to plug in the cart and play. It isn't an either/or thing, I want the SD card also...



#73 Asbrandt OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 8:13 PM

I have great plans to add all sorts of computers.


Well this is surprising news, I was prepared to buy both this and the MiST without any complaints.
I guess I should hold off on that now unless there's something major you are hesitant about.

However, this does bring up an important question; How do you intend to handle PAL dominated platforms such as the C64 and Amiga via HDMI?

#74 mosaic OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 8:19 PM

I stopped lurking after two years just to vote!

 

(Awww, where did my old user icon and post count go?! Boo-urns!)


Edited by mosaic, Mon Sep 21, 2015 8:19 PM.


#75 frankodragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 21, 2015 8:27 PM

Just a suggestion:  For the Atari 7800, there are newer games that go higher than 128K such as 512K and even 1MB.  Plus there is also high score and Atarivox support. 







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