Jump to content
Blazing Lazers

RCA Studio II GOLD MINE! An interview with the Studio 2 Production Manager!

Recommended Posts

So depending on how purist some people are...it might be an idea to re-dump the north American release so that all the USA games are actually the US titles. It would also be interesting to compare the rom files.

I am willing to lend a Math Fun cart as well for dumping if needed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As chip8 developer and admin of http://www.chip8.com that also covers the RCA studio II i tried writing a cross-assembler for chip8 to S2. A very hard job to do (especially since the sprite drawing is done so differently). I managed to get it working but it is too slow to be usable.

I develop for a lot of classic gaming systems (coleco, vectrex, odyssey2, commodore, sinclair , sega and more. See http://www.revival-studios.com for more info).

 

If there is enough interest i am happy to provide high quality homebrews for this system. Please register your interest at info (@) revival-studios .com

Edited by superogue
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi. I am the bloke who wrote the Space Invaders cart about 10 years ago.

 

My old website is at http://www.robsons.o...udio2/index.htm which contains various S2 things including the three homebrew games I wrote (Invaders, Pong and Combat) and their source.

 

Please feel free to include them on any multicart or similar (though I've never tried them on a real Studio 2) and any content therein, view them as public domain software.

 

Invaders is about as much as you can do. The system can't, for example, move the invaders individually, it's just too slow. What it does is remove all the bullets, scroll the whole of that bit of the screen and draw the bullets back again. Any game which involves lots of moving sprite objects that aren't fixed on byte boundaries is going to struggle because of the enormous amounts of bitshifting required (why 8080 Space Invaders has dedicated hardware to do this I guess :) ). Fundamentally the problem is there is no fast 16 bit shift in a 1802 ; you have to do GLO R4; SHR ; PLO R4 ; GHI R4; RSHR ; PHI R4 repeatedly which is horribly slow.

 

Actually the big mistake, IMO, was the adoption of the 64x32 pixel format. Not the 64 across bit, but the 32 down. The 64 bit across is more or less mandated because you have a CDP1861 but if they'd used a 64x48 or even 64x64 format it's much easier to make the graphics look better in that space (I once designed a VM 64x48 mono games system running on an AVR8515 and those extra 16 pixels make a huge difference). Apart from the RAM shortage problem (64x64 => No user RAM) you can do it in software.

 

There is also a circuit diagram for a cartridge dumper which runs off 2 74 series chips (SIPO and PISO shift registers) and connects to the parallel port (which I have built and tested and works) and a multicart (which I haven't built and tested). The thing to remember about the multicart is you have to return the ROMCS line to disable the internal ROM as cart images go over the 1k built in games not into open space.

 

Far better for a modern cart reader would be to use an Arduino to drive the lines and send the ROM image back through the serial debugging port.

 

The hard bit is the anti static. You have to stick two dowels up the holes in the cart sides, to shift the metal comb off the connectors. This is why an S2 has those big sticky out metal bars :)

 

I've also extracted the Studio 2 ROM (using the open collector/second system approach the OP describes) and disassembled the Chip 8 interpreter bit of it (first 768 bytes)

 

For those lunatics amongst you, I've just uploaded my latest project which allows a stock Arduino Uno/Due to become a Studio 2 using a keypad, buzzer and a couple of resistors - generates composite video on the fly and emulates the 1802, gives some idea how slow an S2 actually is :)

 

It's in the files section http://dir.groups.ya...macelf/messages under ProjectVIP (it does a Cosmac and Elf as well)

 

Comments:

 

BassGuitari : Chip 8 games do not run on the S2. Whilst they look very similar, and the interpreter for the S2 is pretty similar they are incompatible - and it isn't just a matter of converting them either :) The graphics system is completely different, and some of the registers have special uses. I think when the S2 was being designed it was found that the DRAW system that Chip-8 uses was simply too slow and that the Sprite system (in the S2) was an attempt to speed it up by caching the bitshifted graphics so you didn't have all the shift/rotates that are required.

 

The other problem is that an S2 is designed for ROM based games whereas Chip 8 ones are in RAM, so storage could be in the middle of the program or code could be self modifying.

 

You could convert them, probably, from the original source but automatically would be a challenge.

 

Lee's Rocket is in the EMMA02 Software archive (and probably other places) and he tells me he is working on other stuff, including (supposedly !) chess :)

 

You could theoretically make Chip8 run on an S2, though you would run into problems with any code that stored variables in mid program or was self modifying, and almost every game stores variables in RAM after the program, which requires yet more unreliable hacks :)

 

ToyMailMan:

 

Virtually nothing can be done with s2 sound. That decaying squawk (caused by the Electrolytic Cap in the 555 circuit) is all it does. You can have a long one or a short one. You could theoretically modulate it as is done in Channel F's Pacman homebrew but it would be interesting, especially as you couldn't display anything at the same time because the CPU has to be interrupted to generate the video a la ZX81.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BTW. I do have a Studio 2 if someone wants a test bed for a multi cart. As I am in the UK it is not a great deal of use (postage might be a problem ?) plus the Arduino one is easier to set up :) It is slightly modified (switch built in to disable 1802) but I think it works.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BTW. I do have a Studio 2 if someone wants a test bed for a multi cart. As I am in the UK it is not a great deal of use (postage might be a problem ?) plus the Arduino one is easier to set up :) It is slightly modified (switch built in to disable 1802) but I think it works.

 

If I can get my hands on the game 'Pinball' would you be able to do the dump for me (us)? Would save me on postage..as I am in the UK too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@paulrobson: Your RCA II emulator for the Arduino is EXACTLY what I've been talking about in my previous posts! If the sound and second keypad support were added in people could make their own NEW RCA IIs!!!!

Under development :) The sound does actually work, though it's a stable beep, not the warpy sound :) Awaiting delivery of a couple of 3x4 keypads, once that's done it's not much work to fix it up.

 

The hard bit oddly is loading the ROM images in - at present you'd have to recompile it with modified ROM image.

Edited by paulrobson
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I can get my hands on the game 'Pinball' would you be able to do the dump for me (us)? Would save me on postage..as I am in the UK too.

 

I've dug out my old cart dumper. You can have that (save you worrying about where your rare cart has gone). Problem is I am now on Linux and the old s/w is for DOS, so I can't test it, it is a parallel port basher - don't know how that would work in newer Windows ?

 

It does come with a Tennis ROM to test it with though that has been decased. It's a right rats nest of wires but it looks okay. It's the same design as on my old website.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've dug out my old cart dumper. You can have that (save you worrying about where your rare cart has gone). Problem is I am now on Linux and the old s/w is for DOS, so I can't test it, it is a parallel port basher - don't know how that would work in newer Windows ?

 

It does come with a Tennis ROM to test it with though that has been decased. It's a right rats nest of wires but it looks okay. It's the same design as on my old website.

 

Ah, I'm on Linux too and I've not had a parallel port in years. Probably have to find some old PC somewhere to use, not sure from where tho.

Edited by TLD1985

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, I'm on Linux too and I've not had a parallel port in years. Probably have to find some old PC somewhere to use, not sure from where tho.

Well, I can probably put together a DOS machine with a parallel port. Between the three of us, we might have something worthwhile. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I can probably put together a DOS machine with a parallel port. Between the three of us, we might have something worthwhile. :)

 

I need to get my hands on the cart first of all... but always good to have back up plans. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I need to get my hands on the cart first of all... but always good to have back up plans. :)

 

If someone can get this cart reader working they're welcome to keep it or for it just to be passed round as needed :) I can understand someone who has (say) the Bingo cartridge not being keen on sending it to someone they don't know well.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This thread is so awesome. It's a bummer that CHIP-8 was a dead end (it does explain why nobody's done ever done it, though, ha), but there are still a lot of cool possibilities for this ugly duckling of a console!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If someone can get this cart reader working they're welcome to keep it or for it just to be passed round as needed :) I can understand someone who has (say) the Bingo cartridge not being keen on sending it to someone they don't know well.

 

Well the European bingo is more common than the fabled American cart.... but it is still quite rare... not seen a single photo of it... but have read it being in a few people's collections.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This thread is so awesome. It's a bummer that CHIP-8 was a dead end (it does explain why nobody's done ever done it, though, ha), but there are still a lot of cool possibilities for this ugly duckling of a console!

 

I agree! This thread is very exciting and I have high hopes that we can get some cool games within the limits of the RCA Studio II. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As chip8 developer and admin of http://www.chip8.com that also covers the RCA studio II i tried writing a cross-assembler for chip8 to S2. A very hard job to do (especially since the sprite drawing is done so differently). I managed to get it working but it is too slow to be usable.

I develop for a lot of classic gaming systems (coleco, vectrex, odyssey2, commodore, sinclair , sega and more. See http://www.revival-studios.com for more info).

 

If there is enough interest i am happy to provide high quality homebrews for this system. Please register your interest at info (@) revival-studios .com

 

I am a huge fan of Revival Studios' games on other classic consoles and I think it would be awesome if they started producing high quality homebrews for the RCA Studio II. I already emailed in my interest, and encourage everyone else to do the same. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found this post from 3 years ago in the group:

 

http://dir.groups.ya...mac/message/208

 

Don't know if it is still possible to contact this person... but he sounds a useful contact for the missing Eur/Aus games!

 

I'm going to try e-mailing him.

 

Thanks for contacting me about this discussion. I've been collecting various un-dumped games for obscure systems the past several years. While the Studio II games are a little simplistic, even for the era, it's definitely historically interesting as the second system with interchangeable ROM cartridges. I've had quite a bit of success in finding games for the Studio II and clones. I've had considerably less success in actually getting them dumped. This has appeared to me to be a lost art. A website even had schematics for a cartridge dumper, but when I sent the instructions and some carts to Guru – a prominent MAME dumper – he was unable to reproduce it. He was at least able to dump the Toshiba Visicom BIOS, so that is now supported in MESS. I'm glad to hear that fauxscot has had better luck. Hopefully the clone carts won't be any more difficult to dump, since those account for most of the missing ones.

 

Here is a list of the clone cartridges I own. The Mustang ones (plus the system itself) are on loan to Guru and not quickly accessible, but hopefully I can get them back here without too much trouble.

 

Mustang 9016 Telespiel-Computer (German clone of RCA Studio II) and 4 carts on loan to Guru: Mathematische Spiele, Konzentrationsspiele (Memory), Krieg der Sterne, Flipper

 

9 carts for Soundic MPT-02 Victory (another Studio II clone): Bingo, Biorhythm, Concentration Match, Grand Pack, Gunfighter/Moonship Battle, Math Fun, Pinball, Speedway/Tag, and Star Wars

 

1 cart for Toshiba Visicom (Japanese Studio II clone): Baseball/Sumo Wrestling (CAS-130)

 

I've already made a number of scans of carts, boxes, and instructions. Give me a little time and I can upload them to MediaFire.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This entire thread is filled with awesomeness! :) Now, time for another revelation:

 

In the midst of the reasearch that led to me findng fauxscot and connecting him to the community here, I also stumbled upon a source for more of the games, the guy who wrote the article here:

 

http://www.fruitlesspursuits.com/2012/02/video-game-system-i-trashpicked-from.html

 

Some guy not only found a Studio II and many games (including the Demo cart, and possibly Bingo as well), but actually wrote an article about it, appropriately enough on a website named Fruitless Pursuits ;). I'm in contact with him already, and he indicates that although he had a mold infestation and that his house was hit by Hurricane Sandy, some of his Studio II stuff might still be intact. Before you all can jump to it, he's looking into that for me. You'll all know more when I do, but I can at least confirm the (hopefully not just onetime) existence of another Demo cart, but that it also had a box as well, in this case white.

 

I'll also share another avenue I've been pursuing: Andy Modla. The hardcore amongst us here will recognize him as being the programmer of several of the Studio II games. I've been able to contact him as well, and asked him specifically about Bingo. By his own admission, Bingo WAS in fact among the games he did program for the US Studio II, though he indicated he did not know if it was released or not. Yet more circumstantial evidence for US Studio II Bingo's existence. Beyond that, he indicated that he did not program all of the US Studio II games, to say nothing of the various foreign releases. This opens up another possible avenue for finding out more knowledge: locate the programmers of those other games. I'm looking into it , but I encourage others to do the same.

 

The rapid progress that has been made with this thread is amazing- I started out trying to track down (or at least prove the existence of) Bingo, and within weeks we may finally be getting all of the foreign games preserved and a multicart from the man who made the systems in the first place, as well as a source for system repairs, to say nothing of the chances for new homebrews or even entirely new Studio II systems. I'm very much eagerly looking forward to what results from all this! :)

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A website even had schematics for a cartridge dumper, but when I sent the instructions and some carts to Guru – a prominent MAME dumper – he was unable to reproduce it.

 

Odd, the only one is mine and it definitely works. Dumping RCAS2 carts is not difficult, you have an address bus to write to (8 bits) one to read from (8 bits) and some lines to tweak (TPA to set the upper address, MRD to read the cartridge). I suspect the problem was the PC interface :(

 

The wierd thing about it is that S2 ROM carts have the address decoders built in, unlike almost everything else which has a chip select line which is decoded in the console/computer, if you send it the wrong address values it doesn't respond. If you want to try again put me in touch with Guru and we can almost certainly figure it out between us - dumping the BIOS ROMs is much harder than dumping the carts.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am a huge fan of Revival Studios' games on other classic consoles and I think it would be awesome if they started producing high quality homebrews for the RCA Studio II. I already emailed in my interest, and encourage everyone else to do the same. :)

 

I'm taking up the Studio 2 again for a bit, what sort of things would people like ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm taking up the Studio 2 again for a bit, what sort of things would people like ?

Nothing I particularly want, but just thinking about it in general...

 

I was looking at the Microvision library as a potential source of lo-res inspiration:

 

One game I keep thinking would have been a part of the original library is a Blockbuster/Breakout style game.

Without the overlay, Connect Four might be a bit of a challenge, but the S2 does have superior resolution. :)

The Mindbuster cartridge has a couple of variants that look like they could work on the S2. The Lights Out style game would probably be the better choice: http://www.atari2600land.com/microvision/mindbuster_inside.jpg

 

(http://www.atari2600land.com/microvision/)

 

 

 

Outside of the Microvision catalog:

Checkers might be workable.

Tic Tac Toe?

Mastermind?

 

I like the Space Invaders clone, but that's been done.

Tetris, as mentioned by someone else would be fun to see.

 

I wonder if one could pull off a crude form of the Atari 2600 favorite "Kaboom". (Though, I expect to hate playing it with buttons instead of a paddle. Same thing goes for my other favorite, Circus).

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm taking up the Studio 2 again for a bit, what sort of things would people like ?

 

Tetris, as others have said here. Sudoku. Chess, perhaps. A submarine game that has you looking up through a periscope. Something involving a look similar to the patterns drawn by the built-in program. Maybe a breakout or Warlords game might be possible as well. Perhaps even a lightgun addon/modification might be possible at some point. More than anything though, I'm as much interested in simply seeing what might be possible with the Studio II hardware as I am in actually playing whatever is made. Heck, I can even imagine there being some sort of contest or challenge to see who can get the most out of the Studio II hardware.

Edited by Blazing Lazers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

One game I keep thinking would have been a part of the original library is a Blockbuster/Breakout style game.

 

 

This.

 

Adaptions of '70s-type arcade shooters like Air-Sea Battle or Sea Wolf seem like they could be doable candidates (maybe).

 

Some kind of Bomber-type game would be cool, like Blitz or Canyon Bomber or some take on those styles of games. I'd say a port of Scramble but I doubt the S2 could handle it.

 

How about a simplified take on Defender where you just move up and down and shoot stuff in waves of increasing difficulty? I guess I'm kind of thinking something in the vein of Rear Guard on the TRS-80.

 

Or a maze game? Every system in the '70s had a maze game.

 

Honestly, anything new at all for the Studio II would be great to see.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The theory I have had for a while is that Bingo was indeed made to the point of demoing but the studio II was scrapped before it was released in the USA.

 

Then when it's rights were sold abroad.. the bingo game was sold too.

 

Now one of the questions is.. were the other foreign games also originally programmed for the Studio II?

 

 

Most of the unique foreign games are in multiple (around 4) colours, so if this was true it may suggest that they were actually going to be "Studio 3" games that was suggested at the beginning of this thread.

 

Interestingly 'Biorhythm' when played in a foreign clone WILL display more than two colours... you can try it out on the emma02 emulator. So was this also a 'Studio3' game? It's one of the only studio2 games to actually have colour programmed within it.

 

School House II: Math Fun also displays more than 2 colours... but I only have the mpt02 dump to go by...

 

studio3.png

Edited by TLD1985
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...