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The STAR FORCE PI - Electronic Tabletop Mini-Arcade

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#51 StarForcePilot OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 23, 2015 2:57 PM

Tech is like lego nowadays, it's gonna get even more interesting and flexible in the future :)

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#52 StarForcePilot OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Oct 28, 2015 3:18 AM

And the website is LIVE! Check out www.starforcepi.com and see what this little device is all about. I've incorperated many suggestions made here and retrovideogamer.co.uk in improving the upcoming development, and hope this is reflected well in the STARFORCE PI website. But do let me know if there's some errors, if anything is unclear, or if something should be added/removed. Your suggestions have so far been very helpful:

 

SFP_icon_3a.png


Edited by StarForcePilot, Wed Oct 28, 2015 3:19 AM.


#53 san-d-2000 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Oct 28, 2015 12:33 PM

Love this project

#54 leods OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 30, 2015 4:29 AM

When People set the Screen to tate, how does the Software configuration work?

 

What will the operating System be?

 

Is there going to be a custom Interface to make selecting Emulators easy?

 

"Emulating arcade cabinets accurately on a system devoted to quality will help preserve the legacy of these games" What Emulators are you going to use? What do you mean by accurate?

 

Did you actually test a Sanwa JLF in the case already? To me it doesn't look like you have enough room there for it, but I might be wrong. Also, the JLF is a great stick for fighting games, but it's pretty bad for shooters and General arcade gameplay. Wouldn't it be better to go with a seimitsu for the higher Quality model? The seimitsu is much more similar to a Neo Geo stick, and I guess Overall that's what you're trying to emulate, and not a Street fighter cabinet, specially considering your machine doesn't even have 6 Buttons.

 

You're talking a lot about Quality here. What Speakers are going to be used? How good are the Arcade stick and Buttons of the "normal" model? some of the generic stuff out there is quite awful.

 

Your list of Systems supported include SNES, Dreamcast and many other Systems where many games can't be played with just 4 Buttons and a stick. What are the extra requirements to Play These games? What external Controllers are supported, what is needed to make them work, and how does the button mapping work?

 

How do you intend to Support game development for this System?



#55 StarForcePilot OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 30, 2015 1:53 PM

Thanks Leods for your rigorous questions, I hope you will find these answers adequate (I tried to be concise): 

 

Tate, OS, Interface:

Currently the prototype is running a RaspbianOS based frontend called PiPlay that supports multiple emulators (for a full rundown please visit www.piplay.org), but most notably MAME which is shown working on the videos I made. These are adapted images from Hartmut Wendt who is the engineer developing the arcade shield on this project. I have contacted both Shea Silverman (PiPlay) and Alec Lofquist (EmulationStation, www.emulationstation.org) for their impressions of the system and discuss the possibilities to adapt their frontends for the SFP and both seemed very enthusiastic. I gave a similar console description to Alec as the website and he gave the following feedback of some of the features:

 

'Changes off the top of my head that EmulationStation would need to support your vision:

* Support for rotating the screen. A few year s ago some users also claimed ES would crash with vertical screen setup. I don't have a vertical setup myself, so I have never been able to test this myself. New layouts for a lot of UIs would have to be made as well.

* ES does not handle configuring emulators. Notably, it doesn't do input configuration. I believe RetroPie has a fork of ES that has a hacky way of doing input configuration. This is important if you want to support dynamically adding external peripherals.
* EmulationStation's layout is currently designed for a 16:9 widescreen setup - it should be double-checked that everything looks correct on 4:3.
* Support for loading games from "cartridges."
* Adding a battery meter in the front-end would be nice.'
 
'... Input configuration support would probably take a month or two on its own (and need lots of testing). Support for rotating the screen would probably take close to a month and I'd need help from Nils, if he's willing...'
 
This is by no means a hard promise, but I made an internal screen mount that was easily adaptable to switch between horizontal/vertical, so I thought this was an achievable feature that could be developed in parallel to the Solidworks model development. Additionally, any original features developed in this collaboration would be open to the community and not exclusive to the SFP.
 
Accuracy
We'll be devoting part of our effort on optimizing popular open source emulators for the SFP with at least PiPlay and EmulationStation as supported frontends. We won't be developing a whole new interface from the ground up, but rather work with existing teams and see how we can make existing emulator suites a pleasing experience on the SFP. So button-mapping, tate configuration, ratio, input support will ultimately lie with the frontends and emulators themselves, but the quote was also meant as a general statement toward emulation as a whole.
 
Joystick:
The SANWA I used on the prototype had to be cut down a bit on the sides, metal plate removed, and there is a spacing hole at the bottom so the fighting stick has enough freedom to move as it was intended, but does fit and work well as can be noted from the video. I have broadened out the case of the system a bit in the 3D model of the final production model so we can fit the joystick in without any problem. I have a generic arcade stick on the original SFP, and it's fine, very little difference between that and the SANWA. We're going for a generic joystick and SANWA because the vendor we're buying our arcade buttons and joysticks sells these and we can get a deal, and to get this all under 200 euro, we need a deal. We're also adding the option of a Case only or Barebone system, so people can put their own joysticks and buttons in. We opted for a 4-button configuration because 6-buttons would mean a significantly larger case if we are to retain the 24mm arcade buttons, which increases cost and decreases portability. Or we develop our own smaller buttons, reducing the arcade authenticity, and increasing the cost of the unit significantly. The arcade shield developed by Hartmut Wendt will however offer 6-button support (you can buy the arcade shield separately as well for your own cabinet), but as mentioned, we'll be working with Alec & Shea to bring 6+ button input support to the system.
 
Quality:
With the sound I should really get the final component choices of the the engineer, but he's hard at work developing the PCB assembly right now and he'll come with a solution that's qualitatively high for the slated budget of the arcade shield. It will feature either an extra soundcard and/or a stereo option (2 amplifiers, 2 loudspeakers). As I mentioned, the generic buttons and joystick I used were great, but we have the option to upgrade for those who require a higher standard, or someone can build their own SFP from the ground up with just the case. With quality I do mean 'within a certain budget', if we could charge 299 or 399 we'd be able to be less conservative.
 
Game Development:
I have contacted NG:DEV-TEAM about bringing a title of theirs to our system, but they seem a little reluctant as setting their games to SD cards invites piracy, but it was a good discussion. Their NeoGeo titles would run perfectly well on the Raspberry Pi, and as the content and OS would be self-contained to a microSD card (I optimistically dubbed 'SFP Game Card') developers would retain full publishing control. So now we're hunting for similar developers that could be interested in bringing their game to our platform. But this would fall under 'stretch goals'; an incentive for developers would be getting retail-price for their games.
 
Additional:
The focus is to bring a solid piece of hardware to classic gaming enthusiasts - the money pledged and raised in the primary funding goal is for case & arcade shield development and production of the console. Additionally, we will work together with existing developer teams (games/emulators/frontends) in optimizing their software for our platform if they are interested in working with us. But our stretchgoals will determine the level op financial support we can give to these teams.
 
I hope this answers most of your questions, and I'm happy to discuss more in further detail.
 
Cheers!

Edited by StarForcePilot, Fri Oct 30, 2015 2:03 PM.


#56 leods OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 30, 2015 2:20 PM

 

 
I hope this answers most of your questions, and I'm happy to discuss more in further detail.
 
Cheers!

 

 

Yep. Very well answered. I'll just say in the Webpage you put up some things seem much more "plug and play" than they really are. Some People are not really good at reading between the lines and might not understand exactly what's being delivered.

 

Of course for the hobyist who know how to operate a pi (and it's not really hard to do I guess) this should be a great buy if they like the form factor. But this seems like it might be lacking a bit in user friendlyness for the People who might be thinking of just putting some roms in an SD Card and Play games just like that.

 

But if you do solve the Software Interface this should do great. Me personally I don't find it too bad to Need to configure every single Emulator by itself. It's still something you do once and are set to go. That in itself shouldn't be a Problem. What could get annoying is reconfiguring every time you plug in a Controller.

 

Also the way you Phrase makes it seem that your System somehow emulates better than the average Emulator box, when it is actuallyjust your average Emulation box, but in a much nicer box.

 

I think your Project is nice. I don't think it's for me. But I'd rather see a more realistic aproach to what it is, because I do think you don't Need to embelish it. You seem to have something People will want, but if you are too optimistic on what you'll deliver some People will buy your pitch and might be disappointed later.

 

But yeah, really Looks like you've done a good Job on developing the case. I obviously asked about Fitting the Sanwa stick because I know them, and some of the Renderings and Pictures clearly wouldn't fit an unmodded stick. But you are getting your Hands wet and testing things. That's very reassuring.



#57 StarForcePilot OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 30, 2015 3:17 PM

Thanks Leo, it's these open interactions which help steer the development of the system. Plug-and-play is still very much the ambition though, I was being sincere on the website that I'd like people to be able access and alter their system without needing to solder or follow wiring schemes, and to have a game interface that is clean and simple, not laden with tweaks and options, and directly configured to use our controls. And yeah, configuring input controllers every time you plug them in is totally unacceptable. We've booked 3-4 months on case development with a draftsman & his team if we achieve funding, so this time I hope to work in parallel with Hartmut, Shea and Alec on the software interface(s). 

 

I'd like to think the SFP won't merely be a nicer emulation box, I'm working hard to make it a system apart from the usual emulation handhelds, but we shall see how it pans out :)

 

Thanks again for the feedback!



#58 Reaperman OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 31, 2015 12:31 AM

 

Joystick:

The SANWA I used on the prototype had to be cut down a bit on the sides, metal plate removed, and there is a spacing hole at the bottom so the fighting stick has enough freedom to move as it was intended, but does fit and work well as can be noted from the video. 

 

So it's open at the bottom?  It's not a bad thing at all to give some form of easy access to the base of the stick, so users can switch 4/8 way gates without having to take the whole thing apart.   A lot of the classics really don't work well with 8-way sticks.  Heck, a couple of my neo geo games don't work well in 8-way, which is a shame, since US arcades tended not to use sticks that converted, so we just had to suffer.  Neo Bomberman and Neo Mr. Do are the ones that come right to mind.

 

It could also give people easy access for changing ball/bat tops, or access to the switches.  No matter what you pick for gear, there are people with opinions on spring tension and actuation force who may want to change parts out.  

 

It's a feature that's not really going to appeal to most of the target market, but *if* it can be done easily, why not?


Edited by Reaperman, Sat Oct 31, 2015 12:51 AM.


#59 StarForcePilot OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 31, 2015 2:21 AM

There is a hole in the bottom for the joystick to move through, but it won't be big enough to really do any internal reconfiguration. However, the joystick will be connected to the top shell, and the top shell is easily unscrewed with only 6 screws and 1 plug (connecting buttons, joystick & sound to the base). But you can easily change the ball top without opening it up, though :) I've added a few picture to show how the stick is seated in the concept, you'll notice that the case is a little broader than the prototype (ignore the rickety 3D construction, it was a quick mockup for the tooling company):

 

12189475_630183103790935_424972130190510

 

12194549_630183160457596_398575093857982

 

12186510_630183110457601_787163767500979


Edited by StarForcePilot, Sat Oct 31, 2015 2:33 AM.


#60 leods OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 31, 2015 3:01 AM

I hope you do get enough funding to make the System a seamless plug and Play experience. That's going to be pretty cool.

 

I don't understand the 3D render you'Re showing though. Can you fit and unmodded Sanwa JLF int hat? or would People have to mod the stick? The case seems so shallow, even with a hole it feels like it's not enough. But maybe I'm just misjudging the dimensions

 

Also be careful that if the stick sticks out too much out the bottom that might be a Problem if People want to Play with the System on their lap or a not very flat surface.

 

Is it possible to make the bottom of the unit a screw in sheet of metal, like most arcade sticks are? That makes it way easier to just take it out, fidle with controlls, and screw it right back in. Also makes the System more bottom heavy, which adds tons of stability. Feet could be rubber pads screwed into the plate. Like make the feet be the 4 screws that attatch the bottom to the unit. Just an idea. Not sure how feasible it is, but I'm pretty sure, with the experience I have with arcade sticks, that it would help.



#61 StarForcePilot OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 31, 2015 3:46 AM

Cheers mate :) The lower transparant plate of the joystick, and the top metal plate are removed, leaving a reduced height that wedges snugly between the top and bottom case shell, adding an added stability to the joystick besides just the 4 screws (check the very messy 1st prototype controls below :P). The few people that tried the SFP on their lap didn't seem to notice the stick, but it's definately something to keep an eye on. I would've liked to add a metal base to the unit, but the current unit is about a kilo with rubber feet, which is nicely stable on a desk. However, I fear the production line device will be quite a bit lighter, so then we need to consider how to weigh it down, and a baseplate is a good option (it's more a cost issue really).

 

11822702_600918683384044_601384615126987


Edited by StarForcePilot, Sat Oct 31, 2015 3:48 AM.


#62 leods OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 31, 2015 5:56 AM

So that answeers another question I didin't make, but crossed my mind: In your design right now the bottom of the console IS the restrictor plate right? Do you consider maybe making it square or at least octogonal?



#63 StarForcePilot OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 31, 2015 1:19 PM

You know what, that's an excellent point: I hadn't even considered it to be honest! On the first prototype the base is the restrictor, which means it's essentially free moving as it's round. On the second prototype there's still a square, flat plastic restrictor plate there. So we'll keep this in, good eye! What else should I look out for? Needless to say I've never had the highest quality standalone controllers :P


Edited by StarForcePilot, Sat Oct 31, 2015 1:22 PM.


#64 Reaperman OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 31, 2015 1:29 PM

You know what, that's an excellent point: I hadn't even considered it to be honest! On the first prototype the base is the restrictor, which means it's essentially free moving as it's round. On the second prototype there's still a square, flat plastic restrictor plate there. So we'll keep this in, good eye! What else should I look out for? Needless to say I've never had the highest quality standalone controllers :P

Square plate's the best one for it to come with, IMO, since it can rotate to a diamond shape to provide 4-way control.  It's a nice option to give people out of the box.

 

I also run octagon on my main japanese stick, but my guess is that the few people who have preferences for it will already have the inserts to do it, or won't mind spending the $3 for one.


Edited by Reaperman, Sat Oct 31, 2015 1:35 PM.


#65 StarForcePilot OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 31, 2015 1:52 PM

I agree, I found this page that was very revealing -> http://www.slagcoin....estrictors.html

 

circle_gate.pngoctagon_gate.pngsquare_gate2.png



#66 leods OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 1, 2015 1:46 AM

Just so I understand. The Renderings you showed some Posts ago are still sorta the "old" model.

 

If you can have the restrictor in there just leave the restrictor that Comes with the stick and call it a day. People know how to Chance that.

 

I don't think you can just turn a square gate in a sanwa stick to make it 4 way. It might sorta work, but won't be the same as having a 4-way restrictor in there. But if you have experience witht hat that'll Count more than mine, cause I never changed gates on my sticks. (I like the standart square gate)

 

If there's one more Thing I can say is that Sanwa Buttons are ridiculously sensitive. They can be irritating sometimes. You just rest your finger on the button and get distracted, and it would activate. There are some Buttons that are less sensitive. But that's only something for the "premium" models.

 

Oh, that just made me remember. I see in the original prototype you bent the contacts to fit the Buttons in. Just be Aware there are some Buttons that are even taller, specially the screw in Buttons.

 

And of course, it's nice to have the solder free socket things at the end of the wires, so People who don't want to solder can still swap parts in the unit.



#67 StarForcePilot OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 1, 2015 11:51 AM

We'll probably do that; leave as much of the components unaltered, it's also easier in assembly. The internals will also all be plugged, clicked or screwed down so users can easily access and change all the parts, and the buttons we'll use will be the same as in the prototype, so pretty shallow.

 

Getting back to the games, I currently have a microSD card with a few cool arcade games, but I've rigged it so it autostarts R-Type II with mame4all directly. Seeying as microSD cards are dirtcheap, I can just have a 1-2gb microSD card for each game optimized to work on the SFP without going through emulator menus etc. and put it in a cool case with some neat artwork around it. It'd be easy and pretty cheap for developers to bring their games to an attractive physical medium at a price competitive to digital only version. As a proof-of-concept this already works, as can be seen in the videos, but this is thinking more long term of course. First thing is bringing the STARFORCE PI into production.

 

Thanks again for tips on the arcade sticks, Leo, also thanks to Reaperman :)

 

12182714_630533527089226_582311359733849
 

12194880_630533607089218_355478457499167

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Edited by StarForcePilot, Sun Nov 1, 2015 12:07 PM.


#68 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 1, 2015 12:40 PM

I always like to show this pic. On here is everything "DOOM" related, manual, original disks, box scan, ads, articles, patches, wads, mods, and levels..

IMG_0002.JPG

 

I always have to wonder why SD isn't more adopted for classic gaming usage than it is?

 



#69 Reaperman OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 1, 2015 1:32 PM

I don't think you can just turn a square gate in a sanwa stick to make it 4 way. It might sorta work, but won't be the same as having a 4-way restrictor in there. But if you have experience witht hat that'll Count more than mine, cause I never changed gates on my sticks. (I like the standart square gate)

 

 

The only 4-way gate I know of for their stick is the square one rotated.  It's got a notch designed specifically for rotating to that angle.

 

Spoiler



#70 leods OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 1, 2015 2:22 PM

 

The only 4-way gate I know of for their stick is the square one rotated.  It's got a notch designed specifically for rotating to that angle.

 

Spoiler

Thanks. I didin't know about that one. Since most of my experience with sticks is on shooters and fighting games, in many years I never heard anyone talk aobut this. Now I know.



#71 StarForcePilot OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Nov 2, 2015 1:29 AM

I always have to wonder why SD isn't more adopted for classic gaming usage than it is?

 

 

It is used by emulator handhelds like NeoGeoX and AtGames, but only as a container for multiple games, so there's no real enjoyment of the individual game, just a huge list of games you mostly won't play. But NintendoDS and PSVita use their own proprietory version of SD cards for individual games, and that seems to work fine as a replacement for the oldschool oversized, expensive carts. SD-cards are just very easy to hack as well, so it invites piracy a bit too much. But I think if you put real work into the artwork and presentation, and keep the price low enough, it could work. We shall see :)



#72 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 5, 2015 3:14 PM

I've been waiting some time for a new 8/16-bit console to come out that encourages people to develop for it.

 

This machine looks like it'll be pretty awesome.

 

What would really be mind-numbing is if some of the classic developers actually started writing titles for this (of course, you'd likely have to get to a certain size of user-base before they would jump on board). As game development goes though, the big developers could mitigate some of the risk they take in the long and expensive development cycles needed for the new consoles by developing 8 and 16-bit games "on the side".

 

I think phones have proven that the old-skool games are still successful. And yes, people can latch sticks and buttons onto their cell phones. Problem is, many people junk their phones for newer ones quite frequently. A console that had a 'standard' spec outlined for it would allow for a machine that people could develop for over the long-term. If the goal is to have 8 and 16-bit style games, then that standard should remain sufficient. Of course, that wouldn't restrict people from upgrading the unit if they wanted to.

 

Personally, the modular aspect would be more about keeping this machine running by being able to repair it easily and less about upgrading it to a faster spec. If it works well 'out of the box' then I'm be happy just using it as is.

 

My hope is that this will be an easy-to-use machine and that getting games onto it and running will be simple and quick.



#73 StarForcePilot OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 6, 2015 5:02 AM

You hit the nail on the head, Nebulon, I have very little to add to this. The interpretation and potential of the system is captured perfectly in your post.

 

The idea behind the modular design is two-fold: modders can buy an empty shell and use it to build/mod their own system, and those who want an all-in-one gaming system will be able to replace/repair parts easily, and upgrade the PCB without changing the general interface (which you referred to in your post). Ease-of-use and instant playability will indeed remain central to the gaming experience and development.

 

Thanks a lot for the post, I'll definately use some of your wording in future discussions.



#74 StarForcePilot OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 7, 2015 3:51 AM

For a cool €199 (£145/$220) you're entering the Ultimate Dimension in Portable Arcade Gaming! You can see we're going for over-the-top taglines straight outta the 90s. But how do we justify this pricepoint? Check our little infographic:

 

12182974_632122950263617_409326437163343



#75 StarForcePilot OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Nov 10, 2015 6:38 AM

Good News Everybody: NG:DEV-TEAM is on-board! This means that if we reach our stretchgoal, everyone gets a FREE GAME! We still have to negotiate which one, but all their games are winners :)

 

lasthope.jpg







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