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Newsdee

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Everything posted by Newsdee

  1. I couldn't agree more with a few points made here on retro gaming. A lot of what we find interesting just won't transfer to future generations unless we somehow create a link or make things accessible. Nintendo is kind of doing that by shamelessly recycling their inventory. Their latest gimmick is to have figurines which unlock some emulated games with save states that you can play for a couple of minutes after loading. Like or hate it, it is an interesting way to make people directly experience parts of games they might never see (and conveniently point them to the full version). Carts/Discs have some charm as a way to select games to play... relying on the luck of what you'll find in a store, or choosing one on the shelf because you like a label. But for that to happen they have to be accessible to play; having them framed because its a super rare cart won't help. I guess there might be a niche to sell popular recent games on a cart, which could be done after the game is mature (think "game of the year" editions).
  2. Shhh don't let marketers get involved or they're going to start releasing one machine per core with the same innards
  3. The thing about FPGA code is that it's very modular if you design it to reimplement existing chips. You can also separate your "board integration" layer with the rest, so porting the core to a new board/bigger FPGA only requires changing that part. The part that is more difficult is if you port a core from a bigger board to a smaller one which might have less features to reduce cost (less logic gates, less internal RAM, etc). But this work is only a concern for developers. The end user just gets a core file to install on his box; usually by loading from SD or uploaded by USB.
  4. That's unlikely to happen (if anything because chips will get more.powerful and cheaper), but why is it a problem?
  5. I'd say FPGAs are where emulators used to be in the late 90s... lots of shareware/propietary implementations, with a (very) slow move towards open source. Some cores are open-source since the beginning (like MAME), others became so when the original devs got tired of actively working and opened them up to somebody else to pick up (like Final Burn Alpha). I do think the future is in OSS rather than closed solutions, but you can't blame devs not to want to work on something that, technically, allows anybody to use their work later without compensation. It's slowly changing because there are now FPGA platforms where people can develop for accepting some HW design limitations (e.g. MiST and Replay), and the fact that a few projects opened their code (minimg, 1chipMSX). There is also some (less obvious) collaboration going on, such as the people working on the MiST and Replay both fixing the same code for 68000 CPUs. These boards might be considered "homebrew" still, but they've come a long way and they're definitely worth digging into them, even just as a user.
  6. There's excellent open source cores out there. Unfortunately HDL is hard for most people (there seem to be much less developers than emulators) so we only get projects people are interested working on their own time (basically nobody's making money here except the FPGA manufacturers). Check out foft's Atari800 / Atari 5200 for a nice mature core that runs on many boards already.
  7. According to forums posts (so take it with a grain of salt) the MCC-216 took open source cores, did some adaptations without releasing the sources back, then never updated them once they became obsolete. I don't know about the open source part, but I can tell you there are much better Amiga (AGA) and C64 cores out there; both the MiST and Arcade Replay have Amiga AGA cores, and the TC64 has a much newer Amiga 500 core (plus an excellent C64 core with SID reimplementation). I love my MiST, but I'll still get a Zimba 3000 if it improves upon its design (say cartridge connectors, mature cores, HDMI out...). As long as the systems are open for development, I see them as complementary rather than competing products...
  8. The chip Kevtris mentioned is at least twice as big as the one in the MCC-216 (i.e. you can put more stuff inside). Should be fine.
  9. Makes sense. I suppose by default it could prompt for a mapper choice, so the user can try it without a specific folder structure.
  10. A folder per system is fine, but per mapper? That's going to be a pain for the NES. I guess it can all be upgraded later on though.
  11. Maybe they could revisit their strategy and sell modified Jaguar shells to mount other boards such as the RPi or an FPGA board. There's a kickstarter for Amiga 1200 molds that is doing that kind of thing on top of fitting original motherboards. But to be fair, I don't know how easy it is to retrofit mounting holes/pegs into an existing case.
  12. Yes, that's where there's a key difference. If I'm not mistaken it's open hardware (i.e. anybody could build and sell their own) and the cores are all independent open source projects. It is extremely easy to setup (all core binaries are provided ready for use), but technically you are just buying the hardware and not any promise that core X will have feature Y in the future. I suppose a retail product would have to clearly label which cores work well and have customer support ready to help people out. That's going to increase cost, even if you manage to make the hardware cheaper? In any case it's pretty exciting to see FPGAs are rising in public awareness. if unit costs go down enough, making cheaper generic devices will be possible.
  13. Let's do a kickstarter for a cardboard retail box and a preinstalled SD card for the MiST.
  14. Here you go. Sound and MBC2 compatibility is still being worked on, but it's promising. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDvGiZQMwEk Source is here on github if anybody wants to have a go...
  15. @Asbrandt: yes, you would present a common input interface that all cores map into, because you'd want to minimize pin usage of the FPGA (and it also gives a convenient central place to remap buttons/keys). The MiST does this by mapping from the DB9 and USB ports into a common SPI interface presented to cores. I suppose it's possible to allow direct connections if you have free pins on the FPGA, but those pins could be used for other purposes (such as audio in/out for example).
  16. The reason to dump and run is to apply patches to cartridges of the fly, which I find quite a fun feature on the Retron 5.
  17. The MiST has an ARM chip, it's used to program the FPGA on startup from files on the SD card (and later to switch cores at runtime).
  18. "Well, you know... Something that plugs to the TV and you put a CD in it and it play games with a gamepad a stuff... a playstation whatchamacallit."
  19. I have one of those, and yes it's exactly that. They can be used to stabilize VGA signal when it's not exactly 60fps. But you definitely don't need more than one, so why are there 2-3 lying around...
  20. That's a very good point. They could also offer guarantees / buy back provisions to recycle cartridges. Still I feel this hasn't been discussed clearly and their webpage is very vague (asking a bunch of details from developers as if they are making them a favor to publish on their system). I guess they are betting on having a captive userbase as leverage, but them they have a chicken and egg problem...
  21. I get the impression they missed something big here. Their business model (beyond selling consoles) seems to be to sell cartridges to developers, who would hope to sell enough to cover the cost. Nowadays publishers such as Sony, Steam, or hell, even Apple can probably give you a better deal by taking a percentage of what you actually sell. Which developer in their right mind would choose the risk to end up with unsold carts?
  22. The three systems are already in production and play all those games. Here's a few videos I captured with a MiST to give you an idea: PC Engine core (game: Super Star soldier) PC Engine core (game: Devil's Crash) Atari 2600 core (game: HERO) Atari 800 core (game: Allery cat) NES core (game: Kung fu master) Spectrum core (We Are Alive demo) Amiga AGA (game: Slamtilt pinball) Amiga AGA (game: Fury of the Furries CD32) Acorn Archimedes (game: Revolver) Colecovision (game: Defender) MSX (game: Carverns of Titan (homebrew)) MSX (game: Knightmare patched with SCC sound) Apple II+ (game: Short circuit) This is just a glimpse, and the cores aren't perfect. But their HDL source code is available and developers are slowly improving them (everybody's welcome to contribute).With each improvement compatibility increases and new games become available. So if we're going to have another FPGA system, IMHO it should feature something unique. Yes, very mature and optimized cores counts to that (and I'm sure Kevtris' NES core is better than the open source one), but given enough time one of the open source cores will catch up. Something like connecting cartridges would be a much better differentiator. I was skeptical about cartridges until I tried a Retron5 and yes, it is very fun to play the game you just physically put in the slot. Now they could just read the header of the ROM from the cart then load a ROM file from the SD card, for all I care. Edit: also note that I'm talking assuming a 200-300 USD price point. If Kevtris pulls off a lot of cores for at a much cheaper price then I'd be fine with less features. As system under 100 bucks reading SD cards only would probably sell very well even with only 8-bit cores.
  23. I'd like to see something substantially different to hardware that already exists. I'd say there are three serious contenders in the FPGA arena today: The Turbo Chameleon 64 started life as a C64 VGA upscaler and SD card adapter (emulating disks), and then grew to work as a standalone machine (i.e. without a C64). It has optional DB9 plugs via a docking station (sold separately). This also features a (propietary) C64 core with excellent SID implementation (to my ears compared to my C64 at least). Price-wise it's mid-range if you count the docking station, which also allows pluggin real Amiga or C64 keyboards. The MiST FPGA is open hardware and attracted a large number of open source projects, with many mature cores; it comes with a case, and features DB9, USB, and optional MIDI ports. It started life as a cheaper version of the Replay (not available at the time) to develop an Atari ST core, and more recently has received the first open-source implementation of the Amiga AGA chipset. It's the cheapest of these three (comes with a case already), and has very good developer support. The Arcade Replay boasts HDMI output and is designed to receive daughterboards e.g. for a 68060 chip or USB ports. It does not come with a case but fits mini-ITX format. It's the most expensive option of the three (if you count the case and necessary adapters) but it's probalby also the most upscale "no compromises" implementation. Unfortunately it's hindered by supply issues, about 100 exists but they struggle to build more quickly (whereas the other two above are widely available). Also has a very active developer community. I've omitted mention of other systems which seem to be clones of the above (with elss cores), or are limited to one platform. So what would I expect on a new machine that I'd be willing to buy at a similar price range ($200-$300)? First of all I'd expect it to be open to developers to port cores to it. It doesn't mean that Kevtris' cores must be open source; but that at least there is good support for third-party developers and some documentation/APIs for developers to use. While open source is not everybody's cup of tea, and open source cores are behind compared to proprietary ones, it nonetheless remains an important way to preserve these machines and their games/programs. Many of the guys involved collaborate to improve common elements (such as the 68000 code), benefiting everybody. Second is dealing with video - which is something Kevtris already touched upon. The three systems above have good video for most cores but not all modern TVs can cope with 50hz modes or non-standard timings in 60hz (especially outside of Europe). These are being worked upon on all three systems; in the interim they can be solved with an upscaler but needing a separate box for video is a problem if you don't already own one (they aren't cheap). Third would be cartridges. The Retron5 in spite of is flaws is fun to use by plopping cartidges in. That's probably not hard to do but I'd advise to support both direct connections (to use multicarts) and also a "dump and run the ROM" method. The second would be useful to apply patches on the fly, which makes running a lot of Japanese games very fun. Save states you can just get people to use an Everdrive (which supports it for some NES games), but backing/restoring save RAM would be needed to play games to completion. Fourth - wide USB support. That has been done for the MiST and it supports remapping buttons for maximum flexibility (e.g. map "Up" to a button to jump in some games, or map to keyboard macros). Many wireless dongles work as well (not all, just those that use common protocols). This is great because if DB9 is not enough you can just map anything (or use a USB controller board to connect an arcade stick / whatever you fancy). Other nice features to have in USB would be connecting an external hard drive, and support some of the more exotic peripherals (e.g. Retrode to get the SNES pads connected). Lastly - I'd recommend coming up with at least one exclusive core. Most 8-bit is widely available, TG16 has been done, Megadrive is around the corner (open source code exists), but not the Neogeo, the SNES, or any of the CD systems (PCE CD, Mega CD, etc.). Those will definitely get people's attention, even those who already own one of the other systems.
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