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StarForcePilot

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  1. I agree, I found this page that was very revealing -> http://www.slagcoin.com/joystick/restrictors.html
  2. 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
  3. 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 ). 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).
  4. 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):
  5. 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!
  6. 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!
  7. 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:
  8. Tech is like lego nowadays, it's gonna get even more interesting and flexible in the future
  9. Absolutely, in fact the entire system will be developed around a plug-click-or-screw assembly, meaning that users can replace and upgrade virtually any part of the console with just a screwdriver. I want to make it as painless and modular possible. This is why we'll also sell barebone systems (no RasPi, no battery, so this already knocks off 40-50 euro from the price) and empty cases, so people have the option to build their own system.
  10. Well, whether you’re a proponent of original hardware or emulation, I hope that I can make something that’s fun and affordable. Something that, if you’d find it under the Xmas tree and open it up, you flip out with excitement There are cheaper solutions (AtGames, GCWZero, NeoGeoX) and there are more expensive solutions (NeoGeoAES, OpenPandora, BartopMods); I’m going for something in between pricewise, a little different and hopefully a lotta fun.
  11. The price point for a STARFORCE PI is firmly at 199 euro, which equates to about 220-225 US dollar, and 145-149 British pounds, depending on the exchange. I would have liked to make it a little bit cheaper, but developing & producing injection molding tools and arcade shield PCBs from the ground up is damn expensive :/ Not to mention adding a decent sound amp & speakers, the microswitch controls, a RasPi, the videoscreen, battery, adapter, then 8% goes to Kickstarter, some money also goes to the European WEEE Directive, EMC certification and CE testing. Finally we need to add assembly and testing, so there's a lot of stuff going on before you get a device. I will outline these costs on the website and kickstarter though, so people can have a clear perspective on development cost of such a console. Hartmut has some contacts with a tooling company that's giving us a deal, and he's building and designing the PCB assembly himself, and I've built 3 SFPs to see if we can have a solid working prototype to present, which you saw in the videos, so that all saves a bit of money. But we'll probably not make money on this for a long time And that's cool, we all have dayjobs, we're not in it for any immediate return, we just like the idea of creating an awesome gameconsole
  12. Btw, Kevtris' upcoming Zimba 3000 is in a whole other league than the STARFORCE PI, from the descriptions I’ve read it’s a very impressive adaptable console based around the much debated Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) over on the RetroVGS threads. We're however going for pragmatic, fun, all-in-one system that is mostly off-the-shelf components which are robust and easily replaceable. The enclosure and arcade shield (interface between RasPi/Video/Audio/Controls/Power/etc.) are the only proprietary components we will develop. But I’m also buying a Zimba 3000 if it ever comes out, especially if he’s going to add a NeoGeo core to it
  13. That's hell of a plea, Keatah, well put, but I think Reaperman came back on most of his statements after his original comment. But I agree wholeheartedly, especially in terms of arcade gaming, emulation is the only way to preserve these system, not as some rotting old PCB at the Smithsonian, but played by a whole new generation of gamers that can see what an old-school 16-bit should play like, and is freely available by the community. That’s why we’re not going make a dime on classic games nor will we bundle them with the system, unless it’s specifically licensed to us. We’re dedicated to building solid hardware for a good arcade experience, and rather than building our own emulator suite, we’re going to support existing dedicated teams of emulator builders and frontends. The dream goal is new 16-bit style games: to convince developers to proof-run their retrogames on the STARFORCE PI before sending it off to the Mobile/PC platforms (where the money is). A couple thousand SFP gamers are hardly going to affect the bottom-line, but they will offer some great feedback on your game. I think emulation will always fall short of the real experience unless you recreate every aspect of it. Not just a smooth running game with accurate sound, but the CRT monitor, the microswitch feedback, the speaker crunch, hell even the ambient lighting and the fact that you're standing in a loud, dark environment contributes to the nostalgic experience. I had an MVS when I was a bit younger that I picked up for a few hundred bucks and it stuck out like a sore thumb in my room, because the context was all wrong. So, that's why I modeled the STARFORCE PI on the electronic tabletop games of the 80s, rather than the actual arcade cabinet which most modders go for. I think it's sufficiently different to give a fresh experience to classic games. But, besides selling a fully-loaded system, we'll also be selling components, barebone system, upgrades and cases etc. So people that need to get closer to that final 5% can do so with their own configuration
  14. Happy Back to the Future Day! We'll start our STARFORCE PI Kickstarter on 15th of November - Welcome back, Marty! Check out our little tribute:
  15. Yeah, we're allowing boths options really, native configuration will be 4:3 as I described in previous post, but someone could take the 4:3 window off, flip a switch back to 16:9 if they want, it should be fairly flexible. I generally don't like ingame overlays like those, as it has the same luminosity as the game. If it's a physical sticker you place as a frame and gets ambient lighting it's fine, but otherwise it's a distractor. I'm gonna play Ghost 'n Ghoblins now, you inspired me
  16. Cheers for that, AverageDavid, we're thinking along the same lines. I commented on this on retrovideogamer.co.uk a few days ago, check it: 'The arcade controls are going to be good; they’re components that come straight from a full sized arcade cabinet, so it’s excellent, even in the first iteration of the SFP. With the video screen we have a problem: we can’t get a decent 4:3 ratio screen for our system for less than 50 euro, and that’s just too expensive. This ratio is just not popular anymore, so we have to be clever. Firstly, we’re going with a 16:9 screen that’s cheap, and configure the emulator suite we’re using right now (PiPlay) to 4:3 ratio, running at 320x240 resolution. The unused part of the screen will likely have some light bleed through, giving these distracting black bars on the side. I hate these. So we’ll cover them up with a 4:3 plastic window that sits on top of the screen. Secondly, the screen will be relatively deep behind the magnified window, and will be slightly tinted, so it deepens the black on the screen, without affecting the colors too much. The magnified, sunken effect also goes a long way with the arcade vibe, it’s really a nice feature that seems slight, but during gameplay is very enjoyable.' Additionally, I'm building the screen mount in such a way, that users can open up the SFP and fix the screen into either vertical/tate or horizontal position, so topdown and side scrollers can be played in the correct orientation. Should be good!
  17. It allowed me to better explain the motivation behind the system, Reaperman, so your comment was excellent and much appreciated. A lively debate about this scene is just what I need to better focus the campaign and development of the console. I’m loosely designing the system along the lines of Gameboy creator Gunpei Yokoi’s philosophy of Lateral Thinking of Withered Technology: ‘take mature technology which is cheap and well understood, and find new ways of using it. Toys and games do not necessarily require cutting edge technology: novel and fun gameplay are more important’. Hence the use of relatively cheap, replaceable, off-the-shelf components and building the case and arcade shield around it. And still, developing a device like this is crazy expensive, so I hope I can convince people to pledge money needed to bring this into reality. We shall see, we’ll be announcing the Kickstarter date on 21st of October, so we can hopefully get Marty McFly’s endorsement In the meanwhile, we’ll bug people on twitter, techblogs, facebook and forums to pay attention, and hopefully we can get the word out there.
  18. Regardless of the possibility of derision, Keatah is right: it is great that emulation is more important and prevalent than ever. I don’t think that the corporate gaming landscape of the early 2000s was ever interested in porting old games to their modern system via a physical medium, because it wouldn’t be profitable to do so and there wasn’t enough time between modern hardware and oldschool systems for people to buy into the nostalgia scene that’s currently going on. But now that it has, interest in these games have surged and prices of cartridges & systems have increased. In parallel, more indiedevs are popping up to make 16-bit style games and bringing a great creativity to a forgotten genre. And I’d argue this is in part due to emulation platforms, allowing us common folk to explore system and games we know nothing of. A lot of these emulator teams are tiny as well, with community involvement to develop it further; it’s really a labor of love and should be acknowledged as such. Also, it took me a long time to configure my emulation frontend to an acceptable level, and it still kinda sucks, so I think you would have to be an extremely naive gamer to think that emulated games play exactly as they did. And those who do think that, don’t matter, as they will play 1 or 2 games on the toilet, and forget about it. For those companies exploiting the retrogaming hype, by ripping off code from small open teams and giving no acknowledgements (Hyperkin allegedly), that is absolutely reprehensible. And I’m guessing you were referring to the NeoGeoX with licensed emulation; that was the sole reason for me to build this. I thought if the company behind the original hardware can’t even be bothered to make their own games palatable, I’ll make my own goddamn device and do it right. However, barring our different views, I agree with your last point: it’s close enough, but not perfect. If the gold standard of gaming is the original hardware, with original carts and peripherals on an appropriate TV/Monitor, then I’m striving for silver with STARFORCE PI. BUT! Ideally, I would like this to become a platform for NEW 16-bit style games. This is why once we have hardware production going, and we make a little money on it, my share will go into 3rd party emulation support and new games. If we can get enough pledges, I’d even like to bundle the system with 1 original game. It doesn’t have to be exclusive to the SFP, but it does have to work perfectly on there. But such is the dream J
  19. Alright, we've got a handle on construction cost now, and it is damn expensive to build something from the ground up! I mean, I knew it wasn't going to be cheap, but dayamn. Nevertheless, I've made a preliminary layout on how to finance the campaign, and keep this 199 euro cap in in place. But this means that preliminary research & development is done, and it's looking good! We have a few things more to discuss, but I think we will be able to bring our development plan and project platform to KickStarter pretty soon. In the meantime; if you have arcade insights or feedback, we'd really appreciate it. We're bringing some very cool extra features to the system, so it's time to put your Xmas money aside to pledge for some Ultimate Arcade Gaming.
  20. It may just be me posting on here for the moment, but putting this chronologically is helpful, so I'll keep doing it until I have the SFP website/blog up and running I have an addendum on the original thread post. I was thinking a little beyond the STARFORCE PI as a simple emulator system, and posted it on facebook. I thought you guys may have some insights on this as well: "Dreaming BIG: brace yourselves, this is a long post. Our primary focus with the STARFORCE PI will be to bring you an attractive, modular design, with good arcade feedback and solid internals. Play it wherever you want, and access the multiplayer options of classic arcade games. Rather than developing our own emulator suite, we'd support existing ones to bring you a great experience, tailor-made for the SFP and easy to use. It seems attainable, so we're doing everything we can to make it a reality! But beyond bringing you a glorified emulator system (and we are going for Glory here), we're hoping to extend the platform into licensed and original arcade games. One could argue that the confounding nature of having every SEGA game ever made on a cheap 2gb USB stick practically means that we attribute little value to the games, and the overwhelming choice keeps us from exploring them. As those impressive rows of cartridge cases with cool artwork have been replaced with a single, daunting list of titles, some of us are left with a nostalgic longing to an attractive, simple physical medium. So besides preparing custom SD card trays, stickers, inlays, booklets, decals for existing arcade games that have been forgotten by time and publishers (see mockup below), we'd like to focus our stretchgoals to SOFTWARE! Specifically, original 16-bit style games or licensed older games adapted for the SFP. And because the RaspberryPi runs entirely off an SD card, a developer would be able to determine their own content and protection of their SFP Game Card, and even publish it themselves. It wouldn't be exclusive to this console, but if it wants our 'Nintendo Seal of Quality' sticker on there, it would have to be a cool game in a nice package at a fair price - just like the STARFORCE PI."
  21. And it's a good moment to show the 3D renders I finished for the preliminary cost estimation of tooling, case development & production. Check it: Additionally, following someone's comment on Twitter, I thought I'd make an internet-appropriate decal option on the render. Size comparison & customization: I'll keep you updated on the progress, and I'll prepare a presskit & website update after we've confirmed the viability of the project as Kickstarter appropriate. Cheers!
  22. Cheers guys. The device is pretty small, so I don't think it would be appropriate for bars and the like, though I'd like to see a big Hell's Angel behind it. But I see no reason why it couldn't be bolted to a surface through the feet, it's something I would do when we start displaying the units at expos I think. On the batteriy: currently it has an off-the-shelf 3000mAh battery with a recharge circuit that cuts out the power input when the battery is full. Nevertheless, on the prototype I added a physical switch on the bottom to disconnect the battery completely when switched on, and allow only adapter input to power the device. I've sent this off to the engineer and he would develop a little more sophistication to the cut-out protocol. But the battery is protected against overcharging anyway, so that's not going to be a problem. What we would potentially do is offer the device in various configurations: a barebone shell, shell + arcade controls, shell + controls + screen, etc. Also, the option would always be to open up the device and take out the battery. The focus is a 'click or screw' modular design, in which you can remove, replace or upgrade internal parts (take out the battery, change buttons, custom decal the shell, even rotate the screen to tate mode (vertical)). As for dual joysticks, there is a spatial limitation to the actual device so we wouldn't be able to add it, but there are two USB ports available so you can just add a controller. And I haven't really thought about the possibility to emulate game & watch tabletop actually, it would be interesting, though much like vector graphic emulation on a normal raster screen, the emulation would be quite unconvincing. My personal drive is to bring actual full-sized arcade games to the system, with the NeoGeo standing model in terms of interface and games, but it should be pretty flexible. There's a video at the top of the thread, but check out this different video to give a size context of the STARFORCE PI (also features using the SFP as an arcade controller when using HDMI out): Thanks for the feedback, it's very constructive.
  23. Just finished making the 3D model for production estimation. Should be good!
  24. Fair point, but 199 euro is the upper threshold price point. This means that if it's more expensive than 199 euro per unit, I would abandon making a production line of the device and perhaps develop kits instead. Ideally, I'm striving for a lower price point, but I think a cut-off price is necessary to keep myself from overextending the project.
  25. Glad you guys like it! Some very helpful points, especially on keeping 4:3 aspect ratio, I'll have to discuss this with the engineer and see if we can switch out the screen or make it so that it would be easily upgradeable. By no means will this replace an actual arcade system or real consoles, those are the gold-standard, and this little device is not going to convert a purist. But that's okey, it's rather a sincere approximation to arcade & console gaming for a manageable price. Hopefully this will outweigh some of the limitations.
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