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OMNI super 8-bit opcode

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#1 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:01 PM

This is technically the ColecoVision forum, but since this is where the Opcode sub forum is, I will post it here regardless.

 

OMNI is our new 8-bit console under development. We have a clear mission, to celebrate the Atari era of gaming. So why a new console then? Well, because I believe the Atari era was one of the most, if not the most, fun period in video gaming history, and many of games produced during that time are true classics. However the technological limitations of the era, while charming to many of us, isn't as appealing to later generations, and truth is, Atari era gaming hasn't been enjoying the the same following and status as the subsequent eras, like the NES era. Perhaps part of the reason is because none of the old companies survived (at least not in any share that remotely resembles their former selves), unlike Nintendo and Sega that are still around, riding on the retro gaming fever. But perhaps another reason is because younger people think that you can't possibly have any fun games with such primitive graphics. So our goal is to produce something that could be enjoyed by not just old timers like us but NES and SNES fans alike. 

 

We started assembling a team of notables: Ted Mayer, the designer responsible for the Intellivision II and III looks, is designing OMNI console, controller and cartridge. Ed Averett has licensed us many of his original Odyssey2 games (and is supervising our work).  Ilija Melentijevic, a well known pixel artist, is taking care of our graphic assets. And we have the very talented team in Brazil taking care of the hardware. 

 

So what is the current status of the hardware and games. 

 

Hardware:

 

After the great response we got during RWX, it became clear we were on something big. So we rediscussed our original plans to use off-the-shelf components produced during the 80s. While they certainly make the console look and sound truly 80ish, they would be a big problem down the road in case the available stock gets depleted. So we came to the hard decision of replacing those old chips with custom ASIC parts we are now creating. Those new ASIC will offer custom tailored graphic and sound, can be produced at hundreds of thousands if necessary, and offer digital audio and video right out the chip. We have hired an expert guy with years of experience in designing custom ASICs and he is now creating OMNI's video/audio chip based on our specs.

Ted is now hard in the work designing our custom controller. We will hopefully have something to show about that soon.

 

Software:

 

I am personally working on a couple of OMNI games, with help from Thomas and Ilija. Ilija is doing an outstanding job with graphics as expected, and we hope to show something soon. We plan to offer 6 games when OMNI is finally released.

 

More details about specs and games will be discussed as the project progress.

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#2 Ikrananka OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:08 PM

Does the new ASIC A/V chip have a cool name?  Apart from output resolution and frame lag that's the most important consideration  :-D



#3 dj_convoy OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:11 PM

It's certainly interesting, but, as always, the games need to sell the razor blades.or whatever. Call me mildly interested until we see what kind of games we can realistically expect.

#4 killersquirel OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 20, 2018 3:01 PM

I'm extremely interested in this. In fact I'm more excited about this than the PS5 and next Xbox. What I'm hoping for is a machine that will hopefully have a lot of arcade game conversions of 80s arcade games. With the ability to save your initials and high scores on the cartridge would make for a killer arcade/home console. 



#5 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 20, 2018 7:51 PM

Does the new ASIC A/V chip have a cool name?  Apart from output resolution and frame lag that's the most important consideration  :-D


Not yet actually. For now they are just SVDP and SPSG (good reason for this one). I guess all my creativity went on creating the specs this time. :P


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#6 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 20, 2018 7:52 PM

It's certainly interesting, but, as always, the games need to sell the razor blades.or whatever. Call me mildly interested until we see what kind of games we can realistically expect.


And I completely agree, software is king.


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#7 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 20, 2018 7:53 PM

I'm extremely interested in this. In fact I'm more excited about this than the PS5 and next Xbox. What I'm hoping for is a machine that will hopefully have a lot of arcade game conversions of 80s arcade games. With the ability to save your initials and high scores on the cartridge would make for a killer arcade/home console. 


Thanks for the kind words. Hope to make you happy soon. :)
What kind of arcade games would you be interested in? Early 80s, late 80s? Scramble or R-Type?


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#8 imstarryeyed OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 20, 2018 8:30 PM

Opcode I am in for sure.. do you have a guesstimate timeline for when it will be available? Late 2019? 2020?

 

I am hoping you will allow home developers a path from BASIC to ASM / C to encourage game creation on the console like the C64/Apple/Atari computers but also allow C and ASM and maybe Python for more power programming.  Custom tools that allow for simple, straightforward sprite, 3D model creation, backgrounds, music, sound would be amazing if possible.

 

Looking forward to seeing what games will be and look like too..

 

I have been hoping for a neo retro console that will have an audience and developers alike..  I'm with killersquirel, in that I am way more interested in this than any new overpowered, same ole same ole system playing the same 4 or 5 genres of games with years after their titles. (madden 19, COD 4, Assassins Creed 6, etc etc)

 

Well, whatever you decide to do I am sure it will be cool and fun!

 

Can't wait to hear more about it.

 

Good luck with it!


Edited by imstarryeyed, Sat Oct 20, 2018 8:31 PM.


#9 phoenixdownita OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:29 PM

Hi OpCode, given the switch to proprietary ASICs, do you think you could share what chipset you were initially targeting ?

 

As an aside, would the ASICs still try to recreate a "mostly 80" kind of a setup (minus the warts) or you now have more freedom and maybe even if you decide to stick to 2D only support (I don't know if that's the case) you can actually go the way of 1K sprites, 20 levels of parallax, rotations, deformations, scaling etc... etc... a cross between a NeoGeo and some of the Sega Super Scalers so to speak?

I confess I know very little of sound chips, I can only think about something along the line of an N64 (100 polyphonic voices etc...etc....), I think after that as in the DC, PS2, OGXB, NGC they already stopped counting simultaneous voices etc...



#10 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:19 AM

Hi OpCode, given the switch to proprietary ASICs, do you think you could share what chipset you were initially targeting ?
 
As an aside, would the ASICs still try to recreate a "mostly 80" kind of a setup (minus the warts) or you now have more freedom and maybe even if you decide to stick to 2D only support (I don't know if that's the case) you can actually go the way of 1K sprites, 20 levels of parallax, rotations, deformations, scaling etc... etc... a cross between a NeoGeo and some of the Sega Super Scalers so to speak?
I confess I know very little of sound chips, I can only think about something along the line of an N64 (100 polyphonic voices etc...etc....), I think after that as in the DC, PS2, OGXB, NGC they already stopped counting simultaneous voices etc...


Let me start with the second part: we are Atari era fans focused. I don’t have to do research to know what most fans want (unlike some trademark holders trying to enter the retro gaming space) because I have been a fan myself and have been around fans since Ataris, Intellivisions, ColecoVisions and Odysseys were still the only videogames you could buy. That said, we are indeed 2D, and we are still “mostly 80s” as you put that, not “hundreds of millions of sprites” and internet. We are still aiming at sub $200 for a very niche console complete with controller and a possibly a game (in cartridge format, no digital bs). We are still Atari era fan oriented, although games from that era have always been family friend by nature.
And our controllers will still have buttons, no touch screens, no motion sensors, thank you.

That said, I am still holding my cards close to my chest for the time being. But things I can tell you is that our new VDP kept most of the features of our old off the shelf VDP, while our new sound chip is mostly a complete redesign (using a single efficient synthesis method for all 8 channels). VDP is clocked at 12MHz while sound runs at 4MHz. But because we employed a lot of optimizations and very efficient memory access, bandwidth is quite high, so the general capabilities and performance is comparable to chips running at twice that speed. That is part of the fun of designing chips, you can do things your way and do things right. Having an elegant design is more important than brute force in my book.


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#11 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:06 AM

Opcode I am in for sure.. do you have a guesstimate timeline for when it will be available? Late 2019? 2020?
 
I am hoping you will allow home developers a path from BASIC to ASM / C to encourage game creation on the console like the C64/Apple/Atari computers but also allow C and ASM and maybe Python for more power programming.  Custom tools that allow for simple, straightforward sprite, 3D model creation, backgrounds, music, sound would be amazing if possible.
 
Looking forward to seeing what games will be and look like too..
 
I have been hoping for a neo retro console that will have an audience and developers alike..  I'm with killersquirel, in that I am way more interested in this than any new overpowered, same ole same ole system playing the same 4 or 5 genres of games with years after their titles. (madden 19, COD 4, Assassins Creed 6, etc etc)
 
Well, whatever you decide to do I am sure it will be cool and fun!
 
Can't wait to hear more about it.
 
Good luck with it!


Thank you so much for the kind words. Glad to hear someone other than me cares about what I am doing. :)

Yes, making the system accessible to everybody is a goal, especially considering we are a very niche system.

While we don’t plan to connect the system itself to the internet, we do plan to offer some way for user to share self created content.

And yes, we plan to offer an easy to learn language or tool to allow users to create their own games. Considering the system specs, that would make for a very unique platform that is nor intimidatingly powerful neither so underpowered that it is too limiting.


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#12 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:11 AM

One idea I had, but it is just an idea for now, is to include a potpourri sort of game with OMNI. The Odyssey2 pack-in game had 3 games. In Brazil, the Intellivision came packed in with Triple Action (which in my opinion was a better showcase than poker & blackjack). And of course the VCS had Combat, which could count as sort of 3 games too. How about that?   



#13 VintageGamer74 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:44 AM

@opcode This sounds awesome! I'm a fan of 80s technology and this is something I would definitely buy! Hope this sells like hot cakes. Good luck!!!

#14 panzeroceania OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:49 AM

Will be at pgre in about an hour with my brother, very excited to talk about Omni with you



#15 Ikrananka OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:19 AM

Just read the announcement and features of the Intellivision Amico and wondered if it would compare at all to the Omni.  The answer is a resounding no - and thank goodness.

 

What a ludicrous set of features and the restrictions around only "non-violent" games being allowed on the system is hilarious.  Oh and no ports allowed either.  As someone on the Digital Press forums put it, "do they only intend on this being sold in Christian book stores?"

 

I'd buy 100 Omni consoles before I'd ever buy one of the Amico consoles - that is even if the Amico isn't just vapourware.



#16 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:35 AM

Just read the announcement and features of the Intellivision Amico and wondered if it would compare at all to the Omni.  The answer is a resounding no - and thank goodness.
 
What a ludicrous set of features and the restrictions around only "non-violent" games being allowed on the system is hilarious.  Oh and no ports allowed either.  As someone on the Digital Press forums put it, "do they only intend on this being sold in Christian book stores?"
 
I'd buy 100 Omni consoles before I'd ever buy one of the Amico consoles - that is even if the Amico isn't just vapourware.


Awesome, just put you in the wait list for 100 OMNIs. Thanks for your patronage!! :D


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#17 Ikrananka OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 21, 2018 11:37 AM

Awesome, just put you in the wait list for 100 OMNIs. Thanks for your patronage!! :D


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:-o



#18 AtariLeaf OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:01 PM

Oh man there's so much cool hardware being made for us it's an embarrassment of riches. I'm gonna go broke and happily so. :)

#19 TPR OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 21, 2018 1:28 PM

But perhaps another reason is because younger people think that you can't possibly have any fun games with such primitive graphics. 

 

This is VERY true!  I have friends who will come over to the house that will want to play random Steam games where the gameplay is really no different than some Atari or ColecoVision games, but won't touch those because "they are old."  Even though the gameplay is nearly the same thing damn thing!

It will be nice to have a system that offers something "new" while still being classic.

 

Is this the purest definition of "Old Made New?" 



#20 jblenkle OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 21, 2018 1:46 PM

Is the OMNI system still ColecoVision compatible or has it evolved into something entirely different?



#21 imstarryeyed OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:22 PM

Thank you so much for the kind words. Glad to hear someone other than me cares about what I am doing. :)

Yes, making the system accessible to everybody is a goal, especially considering we are a very niche system.

While we don’t plan to connect the system itself to the internet, we do plan to offer some way for user to share self created content.

And yes, we plan to offer an easy to learn language or tool to allow users to create their own games. Considering the system specs, that would make for a very unique platform that is nor intimidatingly powerful neither so underpowered that it is too limiting.


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A shame I can only hit the LIKE button one time!  If we can play games from gifted programmers and then let us try our hand and share you have created the modern recreation of the C64, Atari, Apple era of fun today.

 

I love the idea of tools to help the beginner but as you grow more and more powerful ways are available to you to do more..  I always believed that is the way to create great game programmers, now great retro programmers.

 

Sharing graphics, sprites, tips, techniques and code snippets that allow the users and creators and makers of the device share ideas and concepts via forums or online newsletter.

 

Some development on the system, powerful development on a PC connected to it or via USB or Wireless/ network would be super!

 

Again whatever you decide I am sure it will be great regardless of how extensive it may be, will be awesome.  Hey no harm in wishing haha!

 

 

One idea I had, but it is just an idea for now, is to include a potpourri sort of game with OMNI. The Odyssey2 pack-in game had 3 games. In Brazil, the Intellivision came packed in with Triple Action (which in my opinion was a better showcase than poker & blackjack). And of course the VCS had Combat, which could count as sort of 3 games too. How about that?   

 

I love the idea you have here, it really honors the tradition of those systems and makes the statement of where you are trying to go with this!



#22 NIAD OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 21, 2018 4:22 PM

Is the OMNI system still ColecoVision compatible or has it evolved into something entirely different?

The Omni will be it's own system... no compatibility with other game systems.

IIRC the Prometheus is Opcode's vision of a ColecoVision compatible game system and last I read, wouldn't be considered for release until 2020 at the earliest so as not to compete with the Phoenix and vice versa.

The development of the Omni will be interesting to watch but sadly, not for me

Good Luck Opcode, in all your endeavors.

#23 panzeroceania OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:36 PM

Just got home from prge. I looked all over for your booth, it was in their pamphlet but couldn't find you anywhere. Was a bit disappointed as the Omni was the main reason I attended the show



#24 opcode OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:00 PM

Just got home from prge. I looked all over for your booth, it was in their pamphlet but couldn't find you anywhere. Was a bit disappointed as the Omni was the main reason I attended the show

 

 

Oh, I apologize for that. Actually I announced in a couple of places that I had cancelled attendance weeks ago. Reason for that was given above. After RWX in early September it became clear to us that OMNI had more potential than what was allowed by the existing dead stock of old chips. The head of our hardware team knew this guy who is a chief engineer in a chip company, and he agreed to help us design a custom AV chipset. In addition to that, he can get the chipset produced as ASICs, so fairly low cost and high volumes. So because of that, it didn't make sense to show the existing boards, because that is no longer what you will eventually get. Or worse, attending just to show a powerpoint presentation...



#25 krslam OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:05 PM

Would have been nice if you chose a name that hadn't already been used:
https://en.m.wikiped...tainment_System





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