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adamantyr

TI-99/4a disk-based CRPG

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I think so, yes. :)

 

I still have to do a bunch of engine testing, then craft all the planned content and test that out as well. And I still need to write a bunch of subsidiary programs, like the character creation system, game disk creation, title screen and music player, opening intro and endgame sequences... *sigh* Wish I was independently wealthy so I could just devote all my time to this!

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You may have discussed this earlier in the thread, but how will it be available?

 

Strict internet release, or will you offer up some physical version as well? Game map? Journeyer's log?

 

I wonder if anyone on here who, perhaps hypothetically, may or may not have an online store who (in the purely hypothetical scenario) might sell certain TI-related items from time to time might be willing to offer the game on a by-order-basis to game-hungry enthusiasts in a physical diskette format?

 

;)

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The game will be free to download via emulation. Manuals will be provided in PDF format. A hint book will also be available.

 

I also plan to have a limited release "box set" which will have fully printed manuals, a cloth map, and a copy of the game binaries on CD. I considered 5 1/4" floppies but I don't have the means to make them reliably and I figure anyone who REALLY wants to run on classic hardware could set it up themselves...

 

For the limited release I'd use a crowdsource option like Kickstarter to cover the cost.

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For the limited release I'd use a crowdsource option like Kickstarter to cover the cost.

 

Why don't you just take pre-orders here and elsewhere (getting the news posted on various retrogaming sites). No reason to give Kickstarter and a payment provider a cut of the money. It's not like you'll reach that many more people interested in something like this on those types of services.

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You're right Bill, that would be a better method. :)

 

It's a long way off at this point... I have to find an artist to do both manual and box artwork, find a box source, figure out if I can print on them or apply stickers, figure out how to make a nice cloth map (not doing photo transfer, lame!) And print the manuals on really nice faux leather embossed cover stock with golf metallic inlay. I could see the total cost to do even a 100 reaching $500 easily.

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You're right Bill, that would be a better method. :)

 

It's a long way off at this point... I have to find an artist to do both manual and box artwork, find a box source, figure out if I can print on them or apply stickers, figure out how to make a nice cloth map (not doing photo transfer, lame!) And print the manuals on really nice faux leather embossed cover stock with golf metallic inlay. I could see the total cost to do even a 100 reaching $500 easily.

 

If I were you, I'd talk to the guys that did games like Mr. Chin for the TI-99/4a, and see how many they ended up selling. For whatever reason, the market for TI homebrews seems a bit soft, although I suspect cartridge-based releases have sold much better. No matter how good the package, it might be a struggle selling even anywhere near 50.

 

With the above in mind, RPGs are a different beast entirely and there may indeed be greater interest than other types of games. I'd just be concerned over-estimating the pool of buyers since the TI homebrew market is still rather new.

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If I were you, I'd talk to the guys that did games like Mr. Chin for the TI-99/4a, and see how many they ended up selling. For whatever reason, the market for TI homebrews seems a bit soft, although I suspect cartridge-based releases have sold much better. No matter how good the package, it might be a struggle selling even anywhere near 50.

 

I believe they did one batch of 20 or 25 disks for Mr. Chin, and sold out pretty quickly. I'm thinking I'll need around 50 pre-orders for Alex Kidd before I'm doing a full-fledged release including manual, box, etc... If I can't get that I'll release it in the same way as Rasmus has done for his games, cartridge only.

 

Adamantyr, maybe we (and whoever else wants to do cartridge releases) should approach someone like collectorvision together about doing a few more projects for the TI, figure out how much it would cost, etc... I'm sure it'll be cheaper if we can pool multiple releases together.

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Well, my number of 100 comes from, naturally, 99... ;)

 

Fortunately I'm not interested in making a profit on it. For one thing, the musical piece I'm using for the intro is copyrighted. I got permission to use it from the rights owner (his daughter) but royalty questions would really complicate matters.

 

Also, if I tried to charge for it, I've no doubt that people will just pirate it anyway. I'm more concerned about unscrupulous eBay sellers trying to sell the game behind my back.

 

Once I finish the game I'll do some marketing to promote it, here on AtariAge and other places. If there is no interest at all in a limited release of tangible product I won't pursue it.

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I believe they did one batch of 20 or 25 disks for Mr. Chin, and sold out pretty quickly. I'm thinking I'll need around 50 pre-orders for Alex Kidd before I'm doing a full-fledged release including manual, box, etc... If I can't get that I'll release it in the same way as Rasmus has done for his games, cartridge only.

 

Adamantyr, maybe we (and whoever else wants to do cartridge releases) should approach someone like collectorvision together about doing a few more projects for the TI, figure out how much it would cost, etc... I'm sure it'll be cheaper if we can pool multiple releases together.

 

Assuming it doesn't need a 32K expansion, I think a cartridge release has a much easier shot at hitting 50 sold, particularly for a relatively high profile name like Alex Kidd. Since the RPG is not going to be cartridge-based and more DYI, I'd be concerned about expecting too many sales (which means needing to limit the initial investment in materials).

 

I also agree that it might make sense to form at least a loose partnership for these, as at the very least you can make sure these get "advertised" in the right places (here, Facebook, mailing list, and various other retrogaming and computer sites). Again, homebrew on the TI is a relatively new market and I don't think anyone really knows the actual size of active users (EDIT: meaning those who are interested in buying new games), or if most of them have even been reached yet.

Edited by Bill Loguidice

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Also, if I tried to charge for it, I've no doubt that people will just pirate it anyway. I'm more concerned about unscrupulous eBay sellers trying to sell the game behind my back..

There are relatively simple ways to add 'hidden' text to programs, so that it cannot be easily found or sector edited. In his manner, your copyright and other notices about purchases and fees would be terribly difficult to remove except by disassembly/debugging. Although after the fact, it might reduce some infractions for the unscrupulous.

Edited by InsaneMultitasker

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There are relatively simple ways to add 'hidden' text to programs, so that it cannot be easily found or sector edited. In his manner, your copyright and other notices about purchases and fees would be terribly difficult to remove except by disassembly/debugging. Although after the fact, it might reduce some infractions for the unscrupulous.

 

People wanting to play the game for free is one thing, I worry more about the ones who want to sell it for a profit, maybe trying to portray it as an authentic original "lost" game from the early 90's.

 

There is another factor there, which is that IF I charged money for the game, I would be expected to guarantee it's operation and maintenance. I'd have to provide it on 5 1/4" floppy disks for vintage users. I'd have to make sure it was compatible with ALL 3rd-party cards and peripherals. When you take money for a product, it's not just a business transaction, it's a commitment to guarantee quality and operation.

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I'm not usually a big gamer. I'll play the average game for a few hours after I get it, but then I usually go on to other things. Now every once in a while a game comes along like Road Hunter, Moon Patrol, Tetris, Parsec or Pole Position and keeps my interest over the long-term. This Alex Kidd game looks to be one of these games and just way too cool to pass up! :) I'm interested in the cartridge version because apparently it's the only way to hold all the graphics code for the F18A version... and I've wanted an F18A game for quite a while now. +1

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With regards to Alex Kidd-count me in for one!!!(there-just 49 more to go ;) ). I would also appreciate it if some of the older releases could get a re-release, I missed the initial run of Pitfall by Retroclouds, it would also be good to get Mad Marvin and Neverlander on cartridge.

 

Well, I can dream...................

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Adam,

 

I fully understand your concern about supporting the physical release. I would, though, Reeeeeallly love to see a stack of RoA diskettes next to a cloth map on my new computer desk. :)

 

I know I could make the disks myself, but some of my greatest memories in life have been awaiting a game release and getting the first copy on the release date. Mario 3 was the first of them, Grandia II for the DC, and most recently, Morrowind on the XBOX. Other than my childhood excitement for Mario 3 on my NES, RoA is by far and away THE game I have been waiting on with the greatest anticipation. A digital release will be great but, I have to be honest, I would be saddened if I could not order a boxed set of disks and manuals/map, etc.

 

:)

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Having done most of the release work for the TI homebrew cartridges to date, I can tell you that none of the new games have broken 50 copies yet. By far the best seller of all new cartridges so far was XB 2.7--there are close to 150 of those out there, so it is a useful metric to identify the probable maximum size of the current market for purchases. There are also about 60 of the 2048K games cartridges out there--so it is possible to break the 50 line with entertainment software. The others have sold between 10 and 45 copies total, although all of them continue to sell (more or less slowly), so these numbers are definitely not final.

 

On Neverlander, it is possible to get EPROMs from Hummingbird EPROMs, assemble a 128K Black board, put it into a cartridge case, and add a nice label (I made some of those a while back for fun). I even built one or two of the cartridges as complete objects for my own use, but I don't have the author's permission to make them for sale at this time (and I haven't asked him yet either), so I have not made them for anyone else yet. This service would be possible for the authors of any homebrew cartridge file out there, if they were interested in making them available (I usually put the assembled cartridges up on the Arcadeshopper site to make sure they are seen by the widest possible audience).

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Having done most of the release work for the TI homebrew cartridges to date, I can tell you that none of the new games have broken 50 copies yet. By far the best seller of all new cartridges so far was XB 2.7--there are close to 150 of those out there, so it is a useful metric to identify the probable maximum size of the current market for purchases. There are also about 60 of the 2048K games cartridges out there--so it is possible to break the 50 line with entertainment software. The others have sold between 10 and 45 copies total, although all of them continue to sell (more or less slowly), so these numbers are definitely not final.

 

I'm hopeful that a release that has the full treatment (i.e. box, professional label, manual) will garner more interest, but you're absolutely right that it's not a given to reach 50 units for any single piece of software. Having said that, for me, setting a kickstarter style minimum number of pre-orders is meant to mitigate that risk.

 

I was wondering though, are you and/or Arcadeshopper open to doing boxes, manuals, stickers, ... and the rest of the things that come with a full treatment release as well? I only mentioned collectorvision because they've done Mr. Chin, and do an admirable job of releasing the coleco homebrew games. If we can achieve the same kind of result with people in our community, that would of course be much preferred.

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Adam,

 

I fully understand your concern about supporting the physical release. I would, though, Reeeeeallly love to see a stack of RoA diskettes next to a cloth map on my new computer desk. :)

 

I know I could make the disks myself, but some of my greatest memories in life have been awaiting a game release and getting the first copy on the release date. Mario 3 was the first of them, Grandia II for the DC, and most recently, Morrowind on the XBOX. Other than my childhood excitement for Mario 3 on my NES, RoA is by far and away THE game I have been waiting on with the greatest anticipation. A digital release will be great but, I have to be honest, I would be saddened if I could not order a boxed set of disks and manuals/map, etc.

 

:)

 

I like that image as well, Owen! I'm just worried that I'd not have nearly enough 5 1/4" disks to do it, and I couldn't guarantee they'd even WORK. Most of the blanks I have are over ten years old, who knows if the low level format is still intact on them...

 

The game will ship (technically) on three 360K disks, and require a fourth one for a game disk. That means I'd have to have 300(!) floppy disks if I wanted to fulfill an order of 100. I'm pretty sure I don't have that many!

 

First I need to complete the game first anyway. :)

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I like that image as well, Owen! I'm just worried that I'd not have nearly enough 5 1/4" disks to do it, and I couldn't guarantee they'd even WORK. Most of the blanks I have are over ten years old, who knows if the low level format is still intact on them...

 

The game will ship (technically) on three 360K disks, and require a fourth one for a game disk. That means I'd have to have 300(!) floppy disks if I wanted to fulfill an order of 100. I'm pretty sure I don't have that many!

 

First I need to complete the game first anyway. :)

 

I still think 100 is overly ambitious for this market (more like 25 - 50), but in any case, any chance of being able to put all of those disks onto a cartridge? I think that would solve a lot of distribution issues and greatly increase the appeal and potential audience.

Edited by Bill Loguidice

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I still think 100 is overly ambitious for this market (more like 25 - 50), but in any case, any chance of being able to put all of those disks onto a cartridge? I think that would solve a lot of distribution issues and greatly increase the appeal and potential audience.

 

Not really, no. There's going to be over a megabyte of data, and while most of it is static, there is also data that is altered as the game goes on. (Roughly 10k of files, maybe more.) That means you'd have to have a disk system to save it, or some kind of persistent RAM along with all the ROM in the cartridge. As is, the TI console doesn't have the CPU RAM for the job; unless you required the user to have a 32k memory expansion it simply won't work.

 

The whole concept of a cartridge is you plug it in and it just works. If you can't have that, it's not worth pursuing.

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Also, I never thought I'd actually be able to sell 100 units. My thought is that I'd probably sell 20-30 and keep the rest in storage and parcel them out over long-term.

 

Another reason to get 100 is it's MORE than likely that to get the best possible deal on printing and creation of the manuals and box and all of that, you HAVE to commit to a fairly sizable minimum number. Most printing places I know won't do jobs under a certain quantity.

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Not really, no. There's going to be over a megabyte of data, and while most of it is static, there is also data that is altered as the game goes on. (Roughly 10k of files, maybe more.) That means you'd have to have a disk system to save it, or some kind of persistent RAM along with all the ROM in the cartridge. As is, the TI console doesn't have the CPU RAM for the job; unless you required the user to have a 32k memory expansion it simply won't work.

 

The whole concept of a cartridge is you plug it in and it just works. If you can't have that, it's not worth pursuing.

 

To continue playing devil's advocate for a moment, most new cartridge releases on the TI-99/4a require a 32K expansion anyway, and that hasn't proven an issue. Disk drives on the TI-99/4a are kind of a pain in the butt for obvious reasons, so I almost wonder if at this point there are more people with combo 32K devices in active use than people with disk drives in active use. In any case, my point is if the only reason you wouldn't do a cartridge release is the concern over 32K, I think that's less of a concern than people either still having or still wanting to work with disk drives.

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My primary concern is I would have to re-engineer the code for a cartridge. It's a considerable amount of work that I don't wish to pursue.

 

A big stumbling block there is the paged memory system you would have to use. I have not had to do that with my current set up. It would require a fundamental change to the code, breaking it up into modules, figuring out how it would access static data that is on a page, etc.

 

Basically, writing cartridge software is different from disk software on the TI. I'm also NOT a hardware guy, I don't even own a soldering iron. :)

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Well, it is possible to simply use the cartridge as a storage device, running from RAM and just loading from the cart as if it were a fast disk (even slightly easier, since there's no need for a DSR, it's just a memory to memory copy).

 

I did Mr Chin as disk for similar reasons, but I realized after the fact I could have just done a 'copy cart' and people would still have been happy. It felt like cheating at the time. ;)

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