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aaron1677

BupChip better than POKEY? Finally a new audio solution for the 7800?

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I know this has been discussed some in the Rikki & Vikki thread, but I feel like it deserves it's own thread.

 

This is HUGE! For as long as a lot of us can remember, POKEY has been the only solution. But in playing Rikki & Vikki, I can't help but feel like this is the best sound that I've ever heard on the ProSystem. And the fact I didn't have to harvest a chip out of Ballblazer makes it that much better!

 

I suppose the question is - why didn't more 7800 games using this same method for audio? And can future homebrews use the BupChip? Is it new? Clearly, the 7800 WAS capable of great audio (typically the biggest knock against it), as R&V sounds incredible.

 

Anyway, happy Friday everyone!

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I'm not the developer but pretty sure I can answer those questions:

 

1) Yes (better than Pokey)

2) Yes (can be used in other games)

3) and Yes (is it new)

 

icon_razz.gif

 

Of course, any chip is only as good as the musician that creates music for it. Some of the sounds are also TIA there, which creates a unique blend for R&V. Here's hoping we get more like it in the future (I would be down for a re-issue of Bentley Bear's Crystal Quest with BupChip support)

Edited by Shaggy the Atarian
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Bear in mind, BupChip is a NewThing!. Neither it, nor anything really like it, was availabe in 1984 when the 7800 was designed, and until the recent years of the 21st century, dedicated music-playing microcontrollers like those use for games like RIKKI & VIKKI either didn't exist or were just too damned expensive.

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Bear in mind, BupChip is a NewThing!. Neither it, nor anything really like it, was availabe in 1984 when the 7800 was designed, and until the recent years of the 21st century, dedicated music-playing microcontrollers like those use for games like RIKKI & VIKKI either didn't exist or were just too damned expensive.

 

Yeah. The idea was still always there to have other chips though. GCC originally intended to have a better, cheaper chip called GUMBY to use in carts but it was in development when the Tramiels took over and got killed.

 

The XM kind of explores the idea too with its Yamaha chip from the era.

 

I do like the idea that a new chip solution is available. With all the different POKEY homebrew projects, they are so scarce now.

Edited by DracIsBack
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Yeah. The idea was still always there to have other chips though. GCC originally intended to have a better, cheaper chip called GUMBY to use in carts but it was in development when the Tramiels took over and got killed.

 

The XM kind of explores the idea too with its Yamaha chip from the era.

 

I do like the idea that a new chip solution is available. With all the different POKEY homebrew projects, they are so scarce now.

 

Yep, of course. Pretty much every serious 7800 fan has alt-history nerdgasms over what might've been had GUMBY come to pass, but so far as has ever been determined, "GUMBY" was just so much snake oil GCC was selling Warner-era Atari's management to keep 7800 development funding coming.

 

But regarding options to use in place of increasingly-expensive POKEY chips, I asked myself in a thread over a year ago.

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Yep, of course. Pretty much every serious 7800 fan has alt-history nerdgasms over what might've been had GUMBY come to pass, but so far as has ever been determined, "GUMBY" was just so much snake oil GCC was selling Warner-era Atari's management to keep 7800 development funding coming.

 

Now I think that's silly, to be honest. And this comes from two-odd decades of product planning in software and hardware.

 

As far as I can determine *NO ATARI 7800 fan on Atariage" was ever involved in any roadmap discussions between Atari, Warner, and GCC, where prioritization was done. Nor were they involved in any feature spec discussions, designs discussion, contractual negotiations or anything else involved in a complicated business arrangement like this. So how are they "determining" this, exactly?

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Now I think that's silly, to be honest. And this comes from two-odd decades of product planning in software and hardware.

 

As far as I can determine *NO ATARI 7800 fan on Atariage" was ever involved in any roadmap discussions between Atari, Warner, and GCC, where prioritization was done. Nor were they involved in any feature spec discussions, designs discussion, contractual negotiations or anything else involved in a complicated business arrangement like this. So how are they "determining" this, exactly?

 

Careful with use of the selective use of the "quotation marks" - you're implying something I didn't actually write.

 

What I *actually* wrote was "so far as has been determined." If you've got evidence that has never come to light in the last 35 years, by all means let's bring it out of the archives and dusty filing cabinets! Where are the design documents? The chip schematics? Films of pre-production prototype silicon? You know, along with the stuff archivists like Curt actually *do* have for the non-vaporware products, plus all the stuff he has on all the myriad *other* stuff Atari, Inc. tossed around and never actually produced. He's got photos, design docs, specs, memos, engineering notes and memos, etc. for a blue-million weird and hardly-known bits of never-built hardware, including plenty of stuff on the 7800 (MARIA, the never-released High Score Cart, the keyboard module, etc.). But next to nothing has ever turned up on GUMBY, by anyone anywhere.

 

You can believe it was a real, functioning piece of hardware if you like in the complete absence of real evidence. I have drawn my own conclusion.

Edited by DrVenkman
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These days we could just have an MP3 decompressor, or anything else pump audio directly into the system. Limitless possibilities.

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These days we could just have an MP3 decompressor, or anything else pump audio directly into the system. Limitless possibilities.

 

It's very funny you mention that.

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Careful with use of the selective use of the "quotation marks" - you're implying something I didn't actually write.

 

What I *actually* wrote was "so far as has been determined." If you've got evidence that has never come to light in the last 35 years, by all means let's bring it out of the archives and dusty filing cabinets! Where are the design documents? The chip schematics? Films of pre-production prototype silicon? You know, along with the stuff archivists like Curt actually *do* have for the non-vaporware products, plus all the stuff he has on all the myriad *other* stuff Atari, Inc. tossed around and never actually produced. He's got photos, design docs, specs, memos, engineering notes and memos, etc. for a blue-million weird and hardly-known bits of never-built hardware, including plenty of stuff on the 7800 (MARIA, the never-released High Score Cart, the keyboard module, etc.). But next to nothing has ever turned up on GUMBY, by anyone anywhere.

 

You can believe it was a real, functioning piece of hardware if you like in the complete absence of real evidence. I have drawn my own conclusion.

 

Well, if you want to come to a negative conclusions about a company and there motives because you haven't personally seen evidence, i can't stop you

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These days we could just have an MP3 decompressor, or anything else pump audio directly into the system. Limitless possibilities.

 

Kind of like this proof of concept? :grin:

IMG_5648.mov

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Professor needs a Dig Dug lesson!

:P

 

And that right there don't need no XM either. Fuck the Yamaha chip.

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Seems I'm late to my own party.

 

Of course, any chip is only as good as the musician that creates music for it. Some of the sounds are also TIA there, which creates a unique blend for R&V. Here's hoping we get more like it in the future (I would be down for a re-issue of Bentley Bear's Crystal Quest with BupChip support)

Anything is possible, our tools and documentation have been released if other developers would like use or to build upon them.

 

 

Bear in mind, BupChip is a NewThing!. Neither it, nor anything really like it, was availabe in 1984 when the 7800 was designed, and until the recent years of the 21st century, dedicated music-playing microcontrollers like those use for games like RIKKI & VIKKI either didn't exist or were just too damned expensive.

Definitely.

 

Rikki & Vikki's cartridge was designed based upon what components are affordable and obtainable now. We needed to ship by a certain day and meet a $59.99 price point, the microcontroller helped us to do both of these.

 

I'm convinced most of the game's content could have made it through unscathed if it was developed in 1989 - 1992 under good conditions, to the point that most players wouldn't notice the changes. But the hardware implementation would be extremely different.

 

 

I do like the idea that a new chip solution is available. With all the different POKEY homebrew projects, they are so scarce now.

I'd word it moreso that it's the first time a solution has been used in a shipped game on the 7800. There's been many options available over the years (especially on other consoles), but they're not usually brought to release.

 

The YM2413 is still a good option - and is what I was originally considering to use for Rikki & Vikki before we settled on the BupChip.

 

But in any case I don't think we should be pulling POKEYs anymore.

 

 

These days we could just have an MP3 decompressor, or anything else pump audio directly into the system. Limitless possibilities.

You can do this, yes - but there are some advantages to using scripted music in games and many of these decoders require a large number of support components.
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I'm convinced most of the game's content could have made it through unscathed if it was developed in 1989 - 1992 under good conditions, to the point that most players wouldn't notice the changes. But the hardware implementation would be extremely different.

As a proof of concept (I guess?) here's a version of Discomfort Dispenser for the N163/NES. Stereo is added afterwards and this is not emulating the awful 15khz multiplexing noise that the N163 had, but there were other similar wavetable systems that would have worked fine as a solution that were in use at the time.

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/e19xufggwtj4ocz/rv_misery_c_nes_n163.mp3?dl=0

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Well, if you want to come to a negative conclusions about a company and there motives because you haven't personally seen evidence, i can't stop you

 

It's hard not to come to a negative conclusion concerning GCC's motivations. They were the ones who claimed to Warner that they couldn't fit a POKEY onto the 7800 motherboard but coincidentally they had the skills and know-how on creating a cart-based sound chip that would be more powerful than the POKEY and cheaper to manufacture. And after Trammel Technologies bought the assets of Atari Inc's Consumer Division which then became Atari Corp, it was GCC who refused to accept payment from Atari Corp for the 7800 - insisting Warner pay them instead - and then they refused to Atari Corp selling the 7800 for $59.99 at Christmas 1984 because it would've cut down on their potential per unit profit vs. the original $149.99 MSRP. Consequently, they delayed the 7800's release until early 1986 which allowed Nintendo to walk in backwards while saying they were leaving into the North American video game industry market and take over with their monopolistic business practices. GCC thus cut their own throats and doomed this industry to Japanese domination ever since...

Edited by Lynxpro
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It's hard not to come to a negative conclusion concerning GCC's motivations. They were the ones who claimed to Warner that they couldn't fit a POKEY onto the 7800 motherboard but coincidentally they had the skills and know-how on creating a cart-based sound chip that would be more powerful than the POKEY and cheaper to manufacture. And after Trammel Technologies bought the assets of Atari Inc's Consumer Division which then became Atari Corp, it was GCC who refused to accept payment from Atari Corp for the 7800 - insisting Warner pay them instead - and then they refused to Atari Corp selling the 7800 for $59.99 at Christmas 1984 because it would've cut down on their potential per unit profit vs. the original $149.99 MSRP. Consequently, they delayed the 7800's release until early 1986 which allowed Nintendo to walk in backwards while saying they were leaving into the North American video game industry market and take over with their monopolistic business practices. GCC thus cut their own throats and doomed this industry to Japanese domination ever since...

 

With all due respect, LynxPro, you weren't there. Unless I'm mistaken, you weren't the business development manager negotiating the business arrangement between Atari, GCC, Warner, jack Tramiel or anyone else. You certainly weren't the one who set the roadmap between any of those companies. Didn't personally mediate any contractual disputes, know what was brought up or not between any of these parties or any of the strategies any of them really used.

 

And to be fair, neither was I. A couple people have some tidbits bit it's still pretty vague.

 

This is why it bothers me when people come to these conclusions about who was right or who was wrong in this circumstances. You weren't there. End of story. It's all fanboy speculation, more or less so why make personal judgements about the personal reactions of people in personal situations that you weren't personally there to witness.

 

 

 

 

. They were the ones who claimed to Warner that they couldn't fit a POKEY onto the 7800 motherboard

 

Where? I'm delighted to be proven wrong, but that just seems like you speculating based upon fanboy rumour mills. Perhaps you have a source from Steve Golson where he gives his side of the story to share? Where he talks about this in detail?

 

 

 

then became Atari Corp, it was GCC who refused to accept payment from Atari Corp for the 7800 - insisting Warner pay them instead - and then they refused to Atari Corp selling the 7800 for $59.99 at Christmas 1984 because it would've cut down on their potential per unit profit vs. the original $149.99 MSRP.

 

Right but again - see above. You weren't involved in the business negotiations, unless I'm mistaken. And you weren't involved in mediating contractual disputes. And you weren't involved in knowing what each party pulled.

 

It has been identified that there was a problem, but how do you know they were at fault? How do you know Jack just didn't try to throw the whole thing out and tell everyone else to forget their existing arrangement so he'd win and everyone else would lose? Maybe you're right, but again - why install blame when you weren't there and walking in their shoes?

 

 

 

Consequently, they delayed the 7800's release until early 1986 which allowed Nintendo to walk in backwards while saying they were leaving into the North American video game industry market and take over with their monopolistic business practices. GCC thus cut their own throats and doomed this industry to Japanese domination ever since...

 

Except for the fact that it's not as simple as that and it has been documented. It's been documented that even if the contractual stuff was sorted out, Atari still had a mess of a company to deal with. The industry was still in shambles. They still had to deal with not having a game division that needed to be built. They still had a retail market against them. They still had Nintendo locking up all the games. This is so not limited to GCCs mistakes.

 

I can appreciate speculation, but the whole "armchair CEO " thinking and judging from people who were never there to begin with is kind of silly, IMO. I get that it's human, but it's kinda mean to start judging people's personal motives on things you weren't personally there to witness.

 

Anyway I've said my bit on this.

Edited by DracIsBack

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Then there's that story about the manager of the 7800 project back in 1984 took Jack to the warehouse where all the 7800s were ready to go and Jack said: "Get your junk out of here, we do computers now!"

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Can it perform arpeggios? Like the music by Jeroen Tel, Tim & Geoff Follin?

In its current state, not directly. Any arpeggios you hear in Rikki and Vikki are manually put in as notes. There isn't an arpeggio macro or setting. But since it's software-based, it could be added in the future.

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Seems I'm late to my own party.

 

Anything is possible, our tools and documentation have been released if other developers would like use or to build upon them.

 

 

Definitely.

 

Rikki & Vikki's cartridge was designed based upon what components are affordable and obtainable now. We needed to ship by a certain day and meet a $59.99 price point, the microcontroller helped us to do both of these.

 

I'm convinced most of the game's content could have made it through unscathed if it was developed in 1989 - 1992 under good conditions, to the point that most players wouldn't notice the changes. But the hardware implementation would be extremely different.

 

 

I'd word it moreso that it's the first time a solution has been used in a shipped game on the 7800. There's been many options available over the years (especially on other consoles), but they're not usually brought to release.

 

The YM2413 is still a good option - and is what I was originally considering to use for Rikki & Vikki before we settled on the BupChip.

 

But in any case I don't think we should be pulling POKEYs anymore.

 

 

You can do this, yes - but there are some advantages to using scripted music in games and many of these decoders require a large number of support components.

 

 

So what are the costs with this chip? How much would it add to the price of a game assuming something like AtariAge doing the manufacturing of the boards so that the chips could be bought for a scale of more than 1 game, though obviously they won't be ordering them by the 10s of thousands.

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