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OMNI console official thread

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My respects for all that you are doing. My interest in Project Omni is definitely piqued and I look forward to what all you have in store for us regarding the console design, controllers, games, etc. Best of luck!

Prometheus had a number of hardware features Phoenix doesn’t have. But It makes more and more sense to focus on OMNI going forward.

Here is the thing, homebrewing is getting more expensive because people wait more these days. Back in 2002, when I released my first game, packaging was very rare. Offset printing was almost unthinkable. Custom cartridge shell was unthinkable. I did all those things in 2002 and now people expect them.
So I thought about what would be next for me, and I came up with the sgm. It was an expensive project, but I did it, I created a platform inside a platform.
The final personal challenge was to create a full console. However that is an frightening expensive endeavor because people expect things, they expect profissional looking products now. The days of recycled cartridges and ink jet printing are over, unless you really don’t care.

Now for a console as I said we are talking about an insane amount of money and time. And investing that on a single niche group may not be enough to cover aforementioned investment. It doesn’t help either that by using an existing platform you don’t have many rights on anything, and it is even worse when the trademark owner is sort of as*****.

OMNI was a very hard decision for me, because by doing something totally new you have nothing to lean on. It may be risky, but I am taking the challenge very seriously. It could all fail in the end, but it could also work. And I am starting to see some signals it might work. Video games are my greatest passion, I have a day job and that puts food on table, but that isn’t something I love doing. So I can dream OMNI will work and maybe, just maybe, it will be successful enough for me to work on it full time. Something I have learned, never say never.




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Guys, we are now planning a full presentation of OMNI for late December. The full design, the specs, and of course the games. Until there things will go quiet, so please hang in the there with us as we work hard to move to the next stage. :)

 

 

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Guys, we are now planning a full presentation of OMNI for late December. The full design, the specs, and of course the games. Until there things will go quiet, so please hang in the there with us as we work hard to move to the next stage. :)

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Wow. That'll be like having 2 Christmases back to back. Can't wait!! Edited by insertclevernamehere
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I look forward to hearing more about your ambitions and hardware spec in December.

You've mentioned that you are planning on producing ASICs for the video and sound, but AFAIK have not talked about the CPU and whether that will be ASIC, FPGA, or off-the-shelf.


Thinking about what architectures were available in the 1980s, that *could* be appropriate for a modern 1980's-style console, I can think of ...

The HD6309 system would be an interesting choice as the best-of-the-8bit-generation processor, with some C-compiler support for modern programmers ... but the original chips are getting scarcer, and are 5V, which would probably be a problem with modern 3.3V-or-less ASIC chips.

The M32632 is a lovely modern FPGA implementation of Nation Semiconductor's delicious NS320xx architecure from the 1980s (http://cpu-ns32k.net/), but that is probably beyond your desired spec for the Omni.

A middle-ground is Zilog's currently-manufactured ZNEO/Z16F which is a cheap 16-bit microcontroller, and which uses a somewhat-updated version of Zilog's 1980s Z8000 architecture that was used in a number of arcade boards at the time, such as Namco's Pole Position.

But, with a love of the ColecoVision and nostalgia for the times, I suspect that you may have decided to go with a Zilog's eZ80 8-bit microcontroller chip instead, in order to keep Z80-compatibility.

I'll be curious to see which way your team's thinking has lead you, but I'm really hoping that you've gone for the ZNEO as a balance between CPU power and modern-programmability.

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I look forward to hearing more about your ambitions and hardware spec in December.

 

You've mentioned that you are planning on producing ASICs for the video and sound, but AFAIK have not talked about the CPU and whether that will be ASIC, FPGA, or off-the-shelf.

 

 

Thinking about what architectures were available in the 1980s, that *could* be appropriate for a modern 1980's-style console, I can think of ...

 

The HD6309 system would be an interesting choice as the best-of-the-8bit-generation processor, with some C-compiler support for modern programmers ... but the original chips are getting scarcer, and are 5V, which would probably be a problem with modern 3.3V-or-less ASIC chips.

 

The M32632 is a lovely modern FPGA implementation of Nation Semiconductor's delicious NS320xx architecure from the 1980s (http://cpu-ns32k.net/), but that is probably beyond your desired spec for the Omni.

 

A middle-ground is Zilog's currently-manufactured ZNEO/Z16F which is a cheap 16-bit microcontroller, and which uses a somewhat-updated version of Zilog's 1980s Z8000 architecture that was used in a number of arcade boards at the time, such as Namco's Pole Position.

 

But, with a love of the ColecoVision and nostalgia for the times, I suspect that you may have decided to go with a Zilog's eZ80 8-bit microcontroller chip instead, in order to keep Z80-compatibility.

 

I'll be curious to see which way your team's thinking has lead you, but I'm really hoping that you've gone for the ZNEO as a balance between CPU power and modern-programmability.

 

 

 

For now I will just say that it is important for us to be as authentic as possible, so that probably eliminates some of the CPUs you listed above.

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For now I will just say that it is important for us to be as authentic as possible, so that probably eliminates some of the CPUs you listed above.

Thanks for the kind, but firm, non-answer. :-D

 

My curiosity will have to remain unsatisified until your official presentation! ;)

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Quick update: we will be delaying the Omni presentation until probably around April. The reason being we are working on making this more of the true professional product, got a marketing guy involved. We are still very focused on our core audience though, no plans to make this the next Wii. In addition to that, the timing coincides with some trademark registration.

 

 

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Since we are delaying things a bit, I will start to blog here about development. One topic a week...

 

One thing that is important to me is that OMNI must be a cartridge based system. As a retro gaming fan, I like my games physical, and cartridges are very convenient and cool to look at and display. They are resistant, there is no loading time, they are mine to do whatever I want (sell/trade/borrow), no DLCs, no updates. Atari era cartridges were generally sized conveniently, until they became the size of cassete tapes or worse after the crash. I believe a properly sized cartridge should be about the size of the palm of your hand. They still look good at that size, but don't take a lot of space to store.

 

In addition to that, cartridges should be able to save content for convenience. From high score table, to settings, to save points, to user created content. Again, all virtually instantaneous, no loading times

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Controllers are an important component of any game system.

That said, what are you likes and dislikes about Atari era controllers?

 

 

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When I was a kid, I didn't know any better that my Atari 5200 controllers sucked. I just used them, you know? Now, of course, is a different story; I'm old, my hands tend to hurt and I'm a snob about controllers. I just bought an Eladdin Super CV, for instance, even tho' I have several functioning Colecovision controllers, because I can't stand any of them.

 

I find I tend to like arcade ball and stick type controllers, altho' I'm happy using gamepads. On shumps and the like, I find that I tend to do better with them.

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Controllers are an important component of any game system.

That said, what are you likes and dislikes about Atari era controllers?

 

 

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Atari era ones are pretty bad. I like the NeoGeo arcade stick the best. I know some games work better with gamepads. I think the nice thing is having a console support a simple controller interface with +5V and ground, so people can find/make whatever controller suits them the best. The PC Engine or Sega Saturn (model 2) controllers are the best digital gamepads if you are going that route.

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Arcade type controllers are usually more expensive to make, and may be not a good idea for more casual play. That said, I don't like the idea of the D-pad, because D-pads are synonymous with Nintendo in my mind. I may have a solution, but it needs more testing. However I think it is about time numeric keypads make a comeback.

 

Things I would like to ask you:

- What would be the maximum you would pay for OMNI? I know, hard to discuss at this point without showing more, but anyway, for a new retro inspired game system, brand new design, complete console with controller, brand new hardware, uses cartridge. You know my usual quality standards...

- What would you consider the required minimum number of games at launch to be interested?

- How important is a pack-in game?

- What kind of retro games you would like to see?

- Do you like the idea of improved versions of classics? If so, would you prefer improved versions of console games or improved versions of arcade games? Or 100% new titles?

- How important a feature "user content creation" would be for you? I mean, the ability for users to create their own games using a simple language directly on the console?

- How do you feel about branding? Would you like a well known retro gaming name behind OMNI? Do you prefer the Opcode name? Feel free to speak your mind here.

- How important is online on a retro inspired console?

- Anything else you think is important? Anything else in your wishlist?

 

Ed

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- What would be the maximum you would pay for OMNI?
Probably $300.

- What would you consider the required minimum number of games at launch to be interested?
Even one would be fine if it looks like a homebrewing/enthusiast ecosystem is possible.

- How important is a pack-in game?
Always been important to me. Even if it’s “Snail Maze”

- What kind of retro games you would like to see?
Text Graphic games, Roguelikes, Simple Shooters

- Do you like the idea of improved versions of classics? If so, would you prefer improved versions of console games or improved versions of arcade games? Or 100% new titles?
At my age I’ve collected and emulated to my content. New titles with old school fundamentals please!

- How important a feature "user content creation" would be for you? I mean, the ability for users to create their own games using a simple language directly on the console?
I think old school consoles but modern PC development tools is a HUGE advantage.

- How do you feel about branding? Would you like a well known retro gaming name behind OMNI? Do you prefer the Opcode name? Feel free to speak your mind here.
I’m a bit bias since I develop and publish my own games. New, original games and hardware please :)

- How important is online on a retro inspired console?
Not very. I’d be happy with firmware updates via SD card.

- Anything else you think is important? Anything else in your wishlist?
I think the “blue ocean” strategy is best with dream projects like this. No one is focusing on consoles that let gamers create games. Let the dreamers dream. Let the good games, bad games and first efforts come. I’ve heard “we are not the target consumer” one too many times. Let’s blaze our own path to fun!

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I liked the Classic Atari 2600 controller, in fact the Wico Bat Handle was in my opinion my favorite controller of all time. I still use one today.

 

Having said that controllers are funny beasts as I prefer gamepads because of multiple buttons. I think companies struggled to get another button on an atari joystick and still feel ok.

 

I remember using the Apple ][ Kraft Joystick that had 2 buttons but alas it was an analog stick that did not feel right at all.

 

I would love to see a gamepad with a system with support for an optional Atari / Wico / Arcade style controller as an option with the games supporting it.

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- What would be the maximum you would pay for OMNI? I know, hard to discuss at this point without showing more, but anyway, for a new retro inspired game system, brand new design, complete console with controller, brand new hardware, uses cartridge. You know my usual quality standards...

 

[grips03] $300

 

- What would you consider the required minimum number of games at launch to be interested?

 

[grips03] Depends on the game.

 

- How important is a pack-in game?

 

[grips03] don't care.

 

- What kind of retro games you would like to see?

 

[grips03] Remake of GI Joe or Pool of Radiance from Commodore 64 and I would buy the first day its out.

 

- Do you like the idea of improved versions of classics? If so, would you prefer improved versions of console games or improved versions of arcade games? Or 100% new titles?

 

[grips03] I like C64 games where they cannot be played without long load times. Remaking these games on console with fast load time is perfect.

 

- How important a feature "user content creation" would be for you? I mean, the ability for users to create their own games using a simple language directly on the console?

 

[grips03] I would like to see 3rd party support

 

- How do you feel about branding? Would you like a well known retro gaming name behind OMNI? Do you prefer the Opcode name? Feel free to speak your mind here.

 

[grips03] I love the Opcode name, use that.

 

- How important is online on a retro inspired console?

 

[grips03] zero

 

- Anything else you think is important? Anything else in your wishlist?

 

[grips03] Some C64 games use the keyboard. Would be great for your console to support keyboard.

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This one looked fun to comment on. Note I'm not fully behind a new retro console, so take my comments with a grain of salt.

Things I would like to ask you:
- What would be the maximum you would pay for OMNI?

$150

- What would you consider the required minimum number of games at launch to be interested?

6-8 - it would depend on what the games were, and what the future line up looked like, and how open development was. This is my personal sticking point with new hardware -- it's not useful without software. :)

- How important is a pack-in game?

Not important.

- What kind of retro games you would like to see?

A mix of remakes and originals. Wide variety of themes are important. I personally prefer simple space shooters and run-and-gun. ;) I don't really like ports, except from the "impressive you pulled that off" standpoint. :)

- Do you like the idea of improved versions of classics? If so, would you prefer improved versions of console games or improved versions of arcade games? Or 100% new titles?

I think a mix is healthy for business and portfolio. For preference I'd rather see new titles.

- How important a feature "user content creation" would be for you? I mean, the ability for users to create their own games using a simple language directly on the console?

Not important... but being able to make them offline, without needing to license it, would be important to me.

- How do you feel about branding? Would you like a well known retro gaming name behind OMNI? Do you prefer the Opcode name? Feel free to speak your mind here.
Not too important to me for retro-themed concepts...

 

- How important is online on a retro inspired console?
To me, it would be very close to being a deal-breaker if it was online. You'd have to severely impress online me that it was useful. I would have so many concerns about a new, online, retro-themed console. The first would be security. The second would be "why don't I just run a PI?".

 

- Anything else you think is important? Anything else in your wishlist?

Open dev, low resolution, simple sound system, restricted palette, scaling and rotation (haha, I know ;) )

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I think you need a "hook" or a reason for this to exist (or a reason to buy it).

 

For instance, the Atari 2600 has a paddle controller, the Wii has the Wii remote and casual games, the Vectrex has a vector display. It could be something else, like a dead-simple programming language, a simple way to play or share your own games... something that says, "this is something that isn't the same as everything else".

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I think you need a "hook" or a reason for this to exist (or a reason to buy it).

 

For instance, the Atari 2600 has a paddle controller, the Wii has the Wii remote and casual games, the Vectrex has a vector display. It could be something else, like a dead-simple programming language, a simple way to play or share your own games... something that says, "this is something that isn't the same as everything else".

 

 

I would normally agree with that, but sometimes the hook isn't a gimmick. First you must understand who is your audience. I am not going for the masses and casual. That is the flawed premisse with the Amico for example. Why would the casual care about Intellivision or Imagic games? Nintendo stuff usually works because the Nintendo fan base is huge, Nintendo games are part of the pop culture, they will buy day one no matter what and they will spread the word, show their friends, family, etc. That isn't going to happen with OMNI or Amico, we don't have a huge fan base. We only have a small core base, and if we alienate them with casual stuff that they don't care, chances are we are going to fail. I would say I want OMNI to appeal to a wide range of retro gaming fans, from Atari to SNES for example, but how would I create content that will appeal to such diverse audience? It would increase my target audience, but would decrease my chances of success.

I mean, let's suppose you are an Atari era fan. Would you be excited about a new console with exclusive versions of a bunch of classic games you have loved for decades? Probably. Now would a casual that never played an Atari or any other console from that time care? Probably not, especially considering that casual still have to buy a $150-$200 console to play those games. You want to cater to the casual, pre-crash stuff isn't the way IMHO. So for example, it isn't hard to see that most people that visit these forums would prefer a new system that is cartridge based. Then you say that you are going online only, you are alienating your core audience, those are the people who care about your brand. Those trademark holders they just don't get it IMHO.

But back on topic, we are in the nostalgia business. Even if it is new, it still needs to look, sound and play familiar in some way. Which doesn't mean we can't innovate. I have been nurturing the idea of a console where users can create their own content. I think it should be self contained, no PC or whatever required (although you would need a keyboard). Requiring a PC has a few disadvantages, especially when there is no emulator available for your target platform. The other reason is that using a PC detracts from the retro theme and authenticity (3rd party kits would be available for the developers out there). And of course it would be super cool to allow the user to share the content with others, especially when we have a capable hardware that isn't too limiting.

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I don't think I mentioned any gimmicks (at least not in my opinion) - it wasn't my intent to list gimmicks, at least.

 

You mentioned "a console where users can create their own content". That's something that's not readily available, so it's something that would differentiate it from other consoles. If there was a simple method to program and share and store games, that would be pretty cool.

 

My point in my previous post was basically was that if the console doesn't provide something different than what's already available, then it gets lost in the shuffle of a dozen or so other 8/16 bit consoles.

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I had to give my answers to these questions for sure!

Things I would like to ask you:
- What would be the maximum you would pay for OMNI?

$250 - $299

- What would you consider the required minimum number of games at launch to be interested?

4 - 6 Games would be a great start for me.. If they are great ones then you set a great precedent of quality..

- How important is a pack-in game?

Not vital to me if you allow game creation, I would rather see a few sample games and examples of "code in action" that we can change around and play and learn from.

- What kind of retro games you would like to see?

I like recreations of arcade games but for a system like this I would love to see lots of innovative games that "take chances" rather than just go with the standard faire.

Having said that I would love to some brand new or smartly reinvented classics (think Elevator Action Returns type games) and a few new ones that allow for party time games with friends.

- Do you like the idea of improved versions of classics? If so, would you prefer improved versions of console games or improved versions of arcade games? Or 100% new titles?

Yes either improved classics would be great, especially if they support multiplayer couch play. I also think bringing games that never made it to a home console would be amazing (e.g. Boogie Wings (Data East), Outfoxies (Data East)) Games that stayed in the arcade would be amazing to play on this system.

- How important a feature "user content creation" would be for you? I mean, the ability for users to create their own games using a simple language directly on the console?

I honestly think this is the most important feature for me personally. I love the idea of making games and having tool sets that support them. I think a great guide like the ones that came with the Commodore Vic 20 or 64 that teach commands step by step. I think something like Garry Kitchen's Gamemaker or the PS2 BASIC Studio or BASIC for Sega Saturn had the right idea. Tools that allow the beginner to code on the console or programmers to code on a PC (C, C++, ASM, etc) and move the code via USB or something to the console. Having built in support for sound, music, controllers, etc would be great.

If people were interested they can use a forum to share ideas, code and problems with each other for support. I can even see programming competitions like they have on the Spectrum, Amstrad, Commodore and other well know retro platforms.

- How do you feel about branding? Would you like a well known retro gaming name behind OMNI? Do you prefer the Opcode name? Feel free to speak your mind here.

It is not vital to me at all but I would personally like to see it branded to something like Commodore or Atari or something classic.

- How important is online on a retro inspired console?

It is not important to me but if you were to include home development adding support for budding and seasoned programmers to connect consoles to each other and over a network or though a gateway to play other players would be great. That is not to say that online gaming should be pushed but if a developer wants to go online they can at least support it. I personally would love to play other owners 2 player games online especially the arcade classics! Who knows what may or may not catch on?

- Anything else you think is important? Anything else in your wishlist?

I think really good documentation on pinouts, ports, programming and diagrams of necessary schematics would be amazing to help people interface new ideas to the system. The Commodore Amiga is awesome in my opinion because it allows for so much expansion as its main lines are documented and exposed in a card edge interface. I love the idea of making special controllers and devices to interface with my devices.

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I don't think I mentioned any gimmicks (at least not in my opinion) - it wasn't my intent to list gimmicks, at least.

 

You mentioned "a console where users can create their own content". That's something that's not readily available, so it's something that would differentiate it from other consoles. If there was a simple method to program and share and store games, that would be pretty cool.

 

My point in my previous post was basically was that if the console doesn't provide something different than what's already available, then it gets lost in the shuffle of a dozen or so other 8/16 bit consoles.

The crash was a sort of disruptive moment in gaming history. Gone was the US centric game industry, in was the Japanese centric. Lots of things changed quickly, little survived. Perhaps the most enduring Atari era character is Pitfall Harry, and even him hasn’t gone to far. That is what I think is most attractive about revising that era, so many opportunities. I don’t see 16-bit fans as OMNIs core audience because of the content, and I don’t see existing 16-bit consoles as a direct competitor again because of the content.

Someone said that, but third party support is paramount to make this idea work. There are so many games I can do myself every year, and i probably need a team with me, so I can properly cover all bases. 2 or 3 more people.

 

 

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- What would be the maximum you would pay for OMNI? I know, hard to discuss at this point without showing more, but anyway, for a new retro inspired game system, brand new design, complete console with controller, brand new hardware, uses cartridge. You know my usual quality standards...

 

[grips03] $300

 

- What would you consider the required minimum number of games at launch to be interested?

 

[grips03] Depends on the game.

 

- How important is a pack-in game?

 

[grips03] don't care.

 

- What kind of retro games you would like to see?

 

[grips03] Remake of GI Joe or Pool of Radiance from Commodore 64 and I would buy the first day its out.

 

- Do you like the idea of improved versions of classics? If so, would you prefer improved versions of console games or improved versions of arcade games? Or 100% new titles?

 

[grips03] I like C64 games where they cannot be played without long load times. Remaking these games on console with fast load time is perfect.

 

- How important a feature "user content creation" would be for you? I mean, the ability for users to create their own games using a simple language directly on the console?

 

[grips03] I would like to see 3rd party support

 

- How do you feel about branding? Would you like a well known retro gaming name behind OMNI? Do you prefer the Opcode name? Feel free to speak your mind here.

 

[grips03] I love the Opcode name, use that.

 

- How important is online on a retro inspired console?

 

[grips03] zero

 

- Anything else you think is important? Anything else in your wishlist?

 

[grips03] Some C64 games use the keyboard. Would be great for your console to support keyboard.

 

In fact you want a C64 GS with more game on cartridge. ;) (joke apart , i would love to have a console based on the C65 hardware ).

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