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jamm last won the day on September 25 2020

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  1. I don't know anyone who expects Atari in any current incarnation to compete with the Big 3 or even thinks they should try. If there's any confusion about that it's been due to Atari's own mis/communication. All the negativity I'm aware of comes down to two simple issues: 1.) Whether there's a place for VCS2020 that makes sense beyond nostalgia given its feature set and price. 2.) How Atari has mismanaged the project on nearly every front.
  2. I think there's more to it. Of course all consoles are computers, but "it's only a PC" means there's nothing to differentiate this piece of hardware from the ubiquitous hardware that so many people already have at home and/or work. The effect of that is that it narrows the reasons to buy said console. Since there is nothing unique about the hardware, it means it's solely up to the software to make the console a worthwhile platform. The only way to make the software really compelling is to provide experiences I can't get elsewhere. But if the hardware is "just a PC", what do I do in software that I can't deliver to a much wider audience on regular PC's? While I think it's theoretically possible to deliver a compelling console experience using nothing more than commodity PC hardware, I think it's telling that (almost) no one has succeed with that formula. (The most successful and closest to "just a PC" was the original Xbox. Microsoft's deep pockets let it get some really good software like "Halo". This was before Steam came along to give PC's a greatly simplified and more console-like game deployment experience, of course.) If you don't differentiate in hardware, then you've reduced (more likely eliminated) your ability to differentiate at all. "...like that somehow invalidates it or it's some form of cheating." I don't think of it as cheating, but I think it's lazy... it shows that the creator either isn't serious about creating a sustainable platform, or they don't understand why consoles exist. The end result is the same either way. (Again, this assuming they don't deliver something unique in software, but I've yet to see anyone ever accomplish that without some differentiation in hardware.) Consoles continue to exist because they deliver a different experience from what most of us already have ready access to. If you're just selling a PC without a keyboard, you're going to have a really difficult time delivering anything unique.
  3. If that’s the easy path, I’d hate to see what the hard one entails.
  4. I'm curious what convinced you to spend money on VCS2020. Looking at their web site right now and pretending I know nothing about how the project has been mismanaged to date, I really don't see any reason to buy this thing outside of plain nostalgia for the logo. Based on the site, here's what they're selling: "Built for today" with a list of current PC tech standards (HDMI, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc.) "Born to be different" because it can boot Windows "Play", "Stream", "Connect" - basic stuff every device sold in the last decade can do So... why buy this? Does it deliver a library of classic games that aren't available elsewhere? Does it provide a better experience playing classic games? Are there interesting new games inspired by classics available or on the roadmap? Really, the only thing they mention that has any potential to make this interesting beyond just having a neat box is the "Create" bit: "Develop new TV-based games and apps for yourself, your family, or to share with the Atari VCS community." At least in concept, that would be an area where VCS2020 could differentiate itself and provide a feature that isn't bog-standard on every watch, thermostat, and refrigerator in 2020. You'd expect a system that highlights "Create" as a fundamental feature to provide documentation, software, or even an expected roadmap to providing this functionality, but it's never again mentioned on the web site. Atari is doing nothing for the retro computing or gaming scenes. Here's a couple of retro-related products I'm actually looking forward to. In both cases, I'd say the companies involved are genuinely contributing to the health of and excitement for the retro scene, although they're going about it in different ways. Analogue Pocket Panic Playdate
  5. Has anyone ever gone into detail on what's being shown in that VCS2020 group photo with the motherboard in the foreground? That doesn't look like a PC layout, and I can't identify what those six wide ports are up front. Is it even related to the VCS2020 design?
  6. I would only be interested in a new Atari console if it were an actual console purpose-designed for playing games and bringing something new to the table. As Nintendo has shown, you don't have to compete with Sony and Microsoft as long as you provide your own take on console design. Of course, Nintendo has the considerable advantage of arguably the best games IP in history... The console would have to avoid the mistakes of Ouya while filling some new niche not current covered by the big three. From what little I've read, Amico is trying to do something like that, which I can respect even if I have no interest in what they're offering. Anyway, first step would be for someone who actually cared to get ownership of the Atari name. Next step would be for them to be both competent and determined. I have no expectations of this happening with Atari, unfortunately.
  7. Sure, but can cheap hardware released way back in 2014 play classic games from the Atari Vault? Oh, wait...
  8. I'm still pissed that anyone would dare mention VCS2020 in the same breath as the venerable Lynx. <Mostly joking...> Not only was the Lynx a proper console by every definition of the word, but it had very tangible connections to the Atari lineage! It was designed* by two guys who worked on the Amiga (R. J. Mical and Dave Needle) after prompting from Amiga's co-founder, David Morse. Hopefully I don't have to explain how the Amiga was connected to Atari. Its multi-chip design had obvious inspirations from the Amiga and the Atari 8bits before it - all part of what one might call "the Jay Miner family". If Atari had had better management over the years and not lost all its excellent engineering talent in the late 70's, the Lynx is very much what they would have produced in-house. Never soil the sweet memory of the Lynx again! * The only aspect of the VCS2020 hardware one might described as "designed" is the case. The stuff inside the case is strictly a PC.
  9. Yep. Of course you're going to use as many off the shelf parts as possible, but all consoles (from Atari and all other vendors) have had some kind of custom bits or tweaks to make them better suited to playing games than those off the shelf components would otherwise be on their own. The same was true of the PS4/Xbone, which are largely similar to PC's, but have customizations in them that give them extra gaming chops than we'd see in PC's at their price points. This is even more true with the latest PS5/XSX. There's nothing of the sort in the VCS. It's just a low end PC.
  10. The Lynx was a unique system that had a unique library of games. It was purpose-built as a game-playing device with hardware specifically suited to that purpose. The VCS is an Atari-badged PC that runs Linux ports. If you simply looked at its parts list or schematics, you'd never know is was meant as a game-playing device. The VCS doesn't meet the definition of a console, in my opinion, Atari-branded or otherwise.
  11. The Artificial Intelligence that creates most of the content in these forums. You don't think all this crazy talk is coming from actual humans, do you?
  12. Credit where credit is due: They're actually getting this thing out to people a couple of weeks earlier than I expected. The software is obviously not done (as expected), but at least it's not vaporware. Also, whoever they hired to come up with graphics for the UI did a pretty nice job. I hope they got paid decently. At the end of the day, it's a cute, low-spec PC with a custom launcher to boot into, so I don't foresee anything interesting to talk about. No interesting custom hardware features (unless you count the lights on the classic controller), and no exclusive software. So the only fun now will be in wagering how much of the system gets finished/fixed before they totally abandon it. Or maybe how long it'll be before they stop responding to support requests. Anyone want to make some guesses? (Counter to the nice graphics choices they made in the UI, the red, white and blue "Atari VCS" branding - particularly on the packaging - strikes me as really cheap in a K-Mart "blue light special" kind of way.)
  13. Good news! I was able to get an early screenshot of Cyberpunk 1977 (CP77) running on the new VCS! Note that this is an early development shot -- the final version may lose a little detail here and there in order to maintain acceptable performance on release hardware.
  14. I appreciate the many months of prep work being put into this initial shipment. A lot of companies just receive stuff to ship and ship it out practically right away, not dedicating the considerable time and resources such shipments deserve. But that's not Atari. It just means things will go absolutely smoothly once things actually start going out the door.
  15. It's just a question of name recognition. Very few 80's game titles still have name recognition among current-generation players. Unless you're a game historian or well into your 40's, "Adventure", "Haunted House", and "Cloak and Dagger" are just nouns to you. If you're going to make a new game, it makes little sense to tie it to an otherwise meaningless name like that. While the concepts and gameplay may still have value, you'd be better off using a more evocative or unique name (e.g. "Silent Hill"). In order to be valuable, the name had to have a continuing presence among a significant percentage of the audience over the decades. There are very few games from the 80's that have had that kind of presence for the last 40 years. Tetris and Pac-Man are a couple of the few examples that come to mind. I'd argue even the really huge hits from the 80's have low recognizability among most current players. Tempest is a rare example of a game that has been remade/upgraded a few times (thanks, Yak!) and had some success, but even that has a pretty niche audience. Asteroids, Missile Command, Defender, Joust and Battlezone are some of the most successful games from the era, but do those names have any meaning to the average game player under 30? As foundational as Pong and Breakout were, does a kid these days recognize those names, and will their attention be held for more than 15 seconds by any modern game based on such simple mechanics? I think the most valuable thing Atari has going for it is the name "Atari" itself and its logo. It's remained present over the years and is still recognizable to players and non-players alike. Despite everything, it still has a cool retro factor that nothing else really has. The success of the VCS campaign was due to the Atari name and the retro look of the device. Atari didn't promise any specific new games, or show any software we don't already have access to. Everyone got excited because it was "Atari", and that was enough for many people. The smart thing to do would be for Atari to become a publisher for new games from small/indie development teams. That would have real value, as being associated with "Atari" would give your game an immediate boost in recognition. Of course, in order to be successful as a publisher, the Atari name would have to be owned and managed by people who knew and cared about what they were doing. That's something we haven't seen in decades.
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