A month ago I finished my second prototype of a cool little mini-arcade, powered by a Raspberry Pi, housed in a reimagined 1980's tabletop, with fullsized arcade buttons and joystick: the STAR FORCE PI. I'm currently exploring the possibility to bring this system to a crowdfunding platform, and could use some feedback from some old-school gaming enthusiasts. Check out the attached picture of the finished Star Force Pi prototype, dubbed 'Stormtrooper', and read on:
WHY I MADE THIS:
I was tired of playing emulated games on the PC with a inappropriate controller, and I was disappointed with options like the NeoGeoX. If you get an arcade mod bartop, they're usually 9inch screen models, expensive, pretty bulky and not portable at all, and a full-sized arcade is just not an option for me. Those iCade's are crap, and handhelds don't quite deliver the same experience. So, I bought a 1984 GrandStand Star Force game, and I stared at it for a month before I decided to go ahead and build my own mini-arcade. I bought an Arcade Kit from hdhardsoft.de, added fullsized arcade controls to it, and it worked! Very well actually. To finish it, I made a video, a poster, a box and a quickguide for good measure and put it onto Facebook and people seem to love it. Originally I was going to make an how-to instructable, but it would mean sacrificing perfectly good tabletop machines for the shell, and that seems such a shame. So, I thought maybe I can build it into something that people could buy via Kickstarter.
WHAT'S MY PLAN:
I first made a prototype to see if I could do it, then I made a second one to see if I could make it more functional and desirable, and I just finished a third one to send off to the engineer (Hartmut @ hdhardsoft.de) of the internal arcade kit I used so he can develop a custom shield to sit onto the Raspberry Pi inside the mini-arcade (he's on-board, getit). This production piece will be the model for eventual tooling. I've also asked a 3D animator to make some mock-ups of custom housing and started emailing with a production company to get a per-unit-price estimate, so I can have all the elements ready before I go to Kickstarter and detail the plan: a modular mini-arcade that's portable, easy to use and easy to develop for. It's focused on emulation classic systems first of all, but if it gains a decent-sized backing, I want to extend into gamedevelopment (not personally, but in support of developers):
- The first focus is a solid device, with off-the-shelf components, built into a customizable shell, with full microswitch arcade feedback, good video and stereo sound.
- The second focus will be to regain the cartridge culture, by approaching developers (NV-DEV:TEAM specifically) and asking if they'd like to bring their game to the Star Force Pi in SD-card form. Of course, this will include cases, manuals, decals etc, in much the same spirit of the TurboGrafX HuCard.
- The third focus would be on connecting two Star Force Pi's together and play two player games on two devices. Street Fighter II. Head-to-Head. Awesome.
WHAT WILL IT DO:
Anything it is able to do on the current Raspberry Pi really, we just add the peripherals, put it into an attractive package and at the very least allow you to make your own magic. Actually, that's a bit simplistic, we'll be discussing with the engineer and the creator of PiPlay for a Star Force Pi specific emulator package, who's already providing support for Hartmut's arcade kits. The nice thing is that software is entirely on the SDcard, which means developers control their own content and upgrades, as do you. We'd just be supplying templates for the casing and artwork. Additionally, there's HDMI-out and USB-in on there as well, so for multiplayer, or ScummVM games that need a larger screen sometimes, you can connect it to a monitor and use any USB controller/mouse/keyboard on it.
I think a fully functional Star Force Pi with power adapter, in packaging, pretty box and fun manual should not exceed 199 euro. It's a psychological pricepoint, anything beyond that would just feel like a rip-off. I spent between 250 - 300 euro on the build, but this can be brought down with a production series.
So that's why I'm here! I'm a guy that grew up with Sega, wishing he had a NeoGeo, and am now at the age I can afford one, but can't have 12 systems hooked up and hijack the TV or PC everytime I want a quick game of Splatterhouse! With the Star Force Pi I have my own little desk unit to game directly: no fuss. What do you think? Would you want one? What could we do better? What should I look out for and take care off? I'm just a guy with a screwdriver that wanted to play Metal Slug with proper arcade controls and was small enough to carry around - how can I best share this with other retrogamers?
Check out the first video I made showing the 'Stormtrooper' prototype:
Edited by StarForcePilot, Sat Sep 26, 2015 11:12 AM.