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DOUBLEDOWN Custom ColecoVision Controllers

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25 minutes ago, smurfbert said:

I think that you and Doubledown has done a fantastic job on this one. As long as you are ok with other people (at least me :) ) buying this, I would love to.

That's all up to doubledown.  I'm certainly OK with it.  I found and cleaned up the character graphics and logo, but I certainly didn't draw them myself.  And all of the design, drawing of the cubes, arrows around the stick, research about knob size, buttons and all of that was all doubledown.  He's got an eye for detail for sure and spent plenty of time here.  Not to mention remounting the stick in a perfect diagonal.  It's strange to me that the closest thing to this anyone has thought of before is the stick from Ultimarc that can rotate by lifting it up.  Q*Bert is my favorite classic game and no home port has been properly playable with available controllers.

 

I hope he numbers them, though, so I always know I have number 1 ;)

 

-James

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1 hour ago, mingus said:

That's all up to doubledown.  I'm certainly OK with it.  I found and cleaned up the character graphics and logo, but I certainly didn't draw them myself.  And all of the design, drawing of the cubes, arrows around the stick, research about knob size, buttons and all of that was all doubledown.  He's got an eye for detail for sure and spent plenty of time here.  Not to mention remounting the stick in a perfect diagonal.  It's strange to me that the closest thing to this anyone has thought of before is the stick from Ultimarc that can rotate by lifting it up.  Q*Bert is my favorite classic game and no home port has been properly playable with available controllers.

 

I hope he numbers them, though, so I always know I have number 1 ;)

 

-James

Yours is the **PROTOTYPE** and will be the one pictured on all manuals for this edition!

Edited by doubledown
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1 hour ago, doubledown said:

Yours is the **PROTOTYPE** and will be the one pictured on all manuals for this edition!

Awesome!  Part of me was sad for going with the super action instead of the donkey kong, but I really wanted the 4 buttons to make it more versatile.  This Q*Bert controller gives me the show piece so i feel better about that decision!  So thanks again and I can't wait to see the other secret ones!!!

 

-James

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10 hours ago, mingus said:

That's all up to doubledown.  I'm certainly OK with it.  I found and cleaned up the character graphics and logo, but I certainly didn't draw them myself.  And all of the design, drawing of the cubes, arrows around the stick, research about knob size, buttons and all of that was all doubledown.  He's got an eye for detail for sure and spent plenty of time here.  Not to mention remounting the stick in a perfect diagonal.  It's strange to me that the closest thing to this anyone has thought of before is the stick from Ultimarc that can rotate by lifting it up.  Q*Bert is my favorite classic game and no home port has been properly playable with available controllers.

 

I hope he numbers them, though, so I always know I have number 1 ;)

 

-James

Thank you :) Yes he is very talented. Q*bert is an most excellent game, and that is why I could not resist buying this joystick, to play it the proper way. So great initiative from both of you.

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36 minutes ago, Swami said:

Great looking Qbert graphic.

Agreed...was nice to make one that wasn't almost wholly black.  

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So I finally decided on, and ordered, the enclosure that I will use for my "currently in process" Spy Hunter Edition - Experience Controller (and if it works out, also for a Turbo Edition, and Expansion Module #2 Edition).  On the original quote I had received from the vendor they listed a lead-time of approximately 5 days, but now that I've actually ordered it, it has a ship date of 11/26/19...so it may be a while before I can finish that one.  

 

With that one on hold, I was able to get the control panel machined for my next Experience Controller last night:

 

IOACii.jpg

 

This controller is "Secret A" from my pre-order thread.  As it didn't need to be quite as big as my other Experience Controllers, I used Hammond's 17" wide enclosure vs. the 20" model I used for Defender, Mouse Trap, and Vanguard.  All other dimensions are the same (depth, and height, slope angle), just 3" narrower.  Hopefully I'll have this one finished up sometime this weekend.  

 

What's it gonna be?

Edited by doubledown

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5 minutes ago, NIAD said:

Front Line ???

I wish...but no.  Front Line requires one of these for the secondary control:

 

ogjset.jpg

 

They sell for about $250, plus I would need a controller (like an Arduino probably), and a couple of isolation relays to make it interface with the ColecoVision's controller port  As you can probably tell I'm already looking into this down the road.  

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1 hour ago, doubledown said:

This controller is "Secret A" from my pre-order thread.  As it didn't need to be quite as big as my other Experience Controllers, I used Hammond's 17" wide enclosure vs. the 20" model I used for Defender, Mouse Trap, and Vanguard.  All other dimensions are the same (depth, and height, slope angle), just 3" narrower.  Hopefully I'll have this one finished up sometime this weekend.  

 

What's it gonna be?

Star Trek - Strategic Operations Simulator?  :)

 

Edited by Pixelboy

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31 minutes ago, Pixelboy said:

Star Trek - Strategic Operations Simulator?  :)

 

Also no, and would also need a rotary controller to simulate the arcade experience.  A programmable logic controller (like an Arduino) which would be required to interface the Taito Front Line Rotary Controller could also be used in the same manner to provide the rotary controller needed for Star Trek: SOS as well.  I'll really need to look into this more at some point.  While I have some A-B PLC programming knowledge, I've not really looked into the world of Arduino yet.  

 

FYI the 1.1000" clearance hole w/4 screw hole mounting pattern on the left is for a joystick.

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7 hours ago, doubledown said:

So I finally decided on, and ordered, the enclosure that I will use for my "currently in process" Spy Hunter Edition - Experience Controller (and if it works out, also for a Turbo Edition, and Expansion Module #2 Edition).  On the original quote I had received from the vendor they listed a lead-time of approximately 5 days, but now that I've actually ordered it, it has a ship date of 11/26/19...so it may be a while before I can finish that one.  

 

With that one on hold, I was able to get the control panel machined for my next Experience Controller last night:

 

IOACii.jpg

 

This controller is "Secret A" from my pre-order thread.  As it didn't need to be quite as big as my other Experience Controllers, I used Hammond's 17" wide enclosure vs. the 20" model I used for Defender, Mouse Trap, and Vanguard.  All other dimensions are the same (depth, and height, slope angle), just 3" narrower.  Hopefully I'll have this one finished up sometime this weekend.  

 

What's it gonna be?

Rocky?

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1 hour ago, Swami said:

Rocky?

No...the Experience Controllers are created to replicate a specific gaming experience which cannot be achieved with an off-the-shelf ColecoVision controller.  As Rocky: Super Action Boxing was written & developed for the ColecoVision and the Super Action Controllers, they already are the Experience Controller for this game.  

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1 hour ago, doubledown said:

No...the Experience Controllers are created to replicate a specific gaming experience which cannot be achieved with an off-the-shelf ColecoVision controller.  As Rocky: Super Action Boxing was written & developed for the ColecoVision and the Super Action Controllers, they already are the Experience Controller for this game.  

Okay, but you could say that for any game that requires the Super Action Controller. Why are there 4 fire buttons on your custom controller then?

 

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9 hours ago, Pixelboy said:

Okay, but you could say that for any game that requires the Super Action Controller. Why are there 4 fire buttons on your custom controller then?

 

I in fact do say that for any game that was developed for the SACs, like the Super Action sports titles.  But while Spy Hunter and Front Line, which can make use of, or require the use of the SACs for game play, the SACs don't represent the true "experience" that the original game developers had envisioned/intended.  

 

Regarding button count, looking at my previous Experience controllers, Defender has 5 buttons, Mouse Trap has 4 buttons, and Vanguard has 4 buttons.  

 

1CK3vA.jpg

 

All will be revealed hopefully this weekend.  :grin:  I also may need to change the name of this new one from an Experience Controller to something different, as it won't be a true replication of the original layout due to my personal preferences.  

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11 hours ago, Pixelboy said:

Okay, but you could say that for any game that requires the Super Action Controller. Why are there 4 fire buttons on your custom controller then?

 

Then there's the inclusion of the keypad ... puzzling. None of the other "experience" controllers had a keypad.

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Wait... How about The Dam Busters? It could use the flight stick for which you showed a picture earlier in this thread.

 

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1 hour ago, Swami said:

Then there's the inclusion of the keypad ... puzzling. None of the other "experience" controllers had a keypad.

 

Very true, Defender only has options for 1 player or 2 player games so easily/faithfully reproduced with the P1/P2 buttons, Mouse Trap has the iconic illuminated volcano buttons, which I had to use, so I skirted the need for a keypad with the 2 pole, 4 position selector switch wired from the 8 keypad buttons to those two P1/P2 buttons, and Vanguard (like most modern homebrews) uses the left fire button for selections.  Maybe those 12 holes are speed holes...to make the controller go faster...potentially they're just the removal of material to make the whole thing lighter...who knows.  

 

1 hour ago, Pixelboy said:

Wait... How about The Dam Busters? It could use the flight stick for which you showed a picture earlier in this thread.

 

 

The flight stick previously shown is a legit, original, Zaxxon arcade stick...and I would never defame or besmirch the great legacy of Sega by using that stick for any else.  A Zaxxon Edition - Experience Controller is in the works...but not just yet.  Speaking of Dam Busters...which is incorrect by-the-by, I don't know that I've ever spent more than a few minutes or so playing that game, all in total.  I may have to sit down one of these days, read the manuals, and see if I can get through it.  

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1 hour ago, doubledown said:

 

Very true, Defender only has options for 1 player or 2 player games so easily/faithfully reproduced with the P1/P2 buttons, Mouse Trap has the iconic illuminated volcano buttons, which I had to use, so I skirted the need for a keypad with the 2 pole, 4 position selector switch wired from the 8 keypad buttons to those two P1/P2 buttons, and Vanguard (like most modern homebrews) uses the left fire button for selections.  Maybe those 12 holes are speed holes...to make the controller go faster...potentially they're just the removal of material to make the whole thing lighter...who knows.  

 

 

The flight stick previously shown is a legit, original, Zaxxon arcade stick...and I would never defame or besmirch the great legacy of Sega by using that stick for any else.  A Zaxxon Edition - Experience Controller is in the works...but not just yet.  Speaking of Dam Busters...which is incorrect by-the-by, I don't know that I've ever spent more than a few minutes or so playing that game, all in total.  I may have to sit down one of these days, read the manuals, and see if I can get through it.  

Be careful in researching dam busters. There is a review of the C64 version with some very potentially NSFW desktop backgrounds in the tutorial.:roll:

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1 hour ago, doubledown said:

Speaking of Dam Busters...which is incorrect by-the-by, I don't know that I've ever spent more than a few minutes or so playing that game, all in total.  I may have to sit down one of these days, read the manuals, and see if I can get through it.  

While it's not a favorite of mine, I feel Dam Busters is the kind of game that would benefit from a custom controller with a wide base in the style that you're doing these days. An elegant custom keypad button placement across the face of the controller base would make the game more immersive and enjoyable.

 

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I was looking through the Dam Busters manual on my PC here a little while ago, and yes with the possible constant keypad use (switching between aircraft occupants/positions ), I could see wanting better inputs for those vs. the dome-switch membrane keypads.  Although without much playtime on this particular game, I would need to actually check it out to see how often/constant the switching back and forth is to warrant the upgrade.  Additionally without it being commissioned by someone, I would have to have some affection for the game to want to make a bespoke controller it.  Experience Controllers aren't cheap!

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1 minute ago, doubledown said:

I was looking through the Dam Busters manual on my PC here a little while ago, and yes with the possible constant keypad use (switching between aircraft occupants/positions ), I could see wanting better inputs for those vs. the dome-switch membrane keypads.  Although without much playtime on this particular game, I would need to actually check it out to see how often/constant the switching back and forth is to warrant the upgrade.  Additionally without it being commissioned by someone, I would have to have some affection for the game to want to make a bespoke controller it.  Experience Controllers aren't cheap!

I played the game a lot when I was a kid (never could blow that stupid dam because I didn't have the manual) and believe me, you switch between screens constantly in that game.

 

But anyhow, it's not a big deal if you never get around to doing a custom controller for that game. Just saying such a custom controller would enhance the gameplay experience.

 

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So you're saying you didn't have the damn manual for dam busters, and no you're wrong...it is a big deal!  :grin: 

 

But it does bring up a good point, initially I was only considering "arcade" ports with radically different controls that can't properly be replicated with a Hand Controller, I should also be looking at the rest of the ColecoVision library for games that could be "enhanced" with a more sophisticated controller.  I would need a "catchy" name for them, but good food for thought...thanks.

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9 minutes ago, doubledown said:

So you're saying you didn't have the damn manual for dam busters, and no you're wrong...it is a big deal!  :grin: 

Well, I did make it to the dam I'm supposed to drop the bomb onto, but several "approach parameters" have to be just right in order for the bomb to hit the target, so you really need to read the manual to succeed. Otherwise the bomb bounces incorrectly and doesn't hit the dam. Dam Busters is a very good flight simulator, but the compact nature of the keypad doesn't help with the learning curve.

 

 

9 minutes ago, doubledown said:

 

But it does bring up a good point, initially I was only considering "arcade" ports with radically different controls that can't properly be replicated with a Hand Controller, I should also be looking at the rest of the ColecoVision library for games that could be "enhanced" with a more sophisticated controller.  I would need a "catchy" name for them, but good food for thought...thanks.

There aren't a lot of ColecoVision games that make sustained use of the keypad. War Games and Gateway to Apshai come to mind, but neither of those two games would actually benefit from a custom controller: The standard keypad is fine with the proper overlay inserted.

 

Aside from Dam Busters, the only games for which I could see a benefit in making a custom controller is:

 

1) Star Trek - Buttons for phasers, photon torpedoes, impulse power and warp speed would be cool, in addition to cool artwork.

 

2) Spy Hunter - This works only if the game is hacked to support the Expansion Module #2 instead of the Super Action Controller.

 

3) Aquattack - Again, the game would have to be hacked for a custom controller to make sense. A minor hack, but still.

 

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1 minute ago, Pixelboy said:

Well, I did make it to the dam I'm supposed to drop the bomb onto, but several "approach parameters" have to be just right in order for the bomb to hit the target, so you really need to read the manual to succeed. Otherwise the bomb bounces incorrectly and doesn't hit the dam. Dam Busters is a very good flight simulator, but the compact nature of the keypad doesn't help with the learning curve.

 

 

There aren't a lot of ColecoVision games that make sustained use of the keypad. War Games and Gateway to Apshai come to mind, but neither of those two games would actually benefit from a custom controller: The standard keypad is fine with the proper overlay inserted.

 

Aside from Dam Busters, the only games for which I could see a benefit in making a custom controller is:

 

1) Star Trek - Buttons for phasers, photon torpedoes, impulse power and warp speed would be cool, in addition to cool artwork.

 

2) Spy Hunter - This works only if the game is hacked to support the Expansion Module #2 instead of the Super Action Controller.

 

3) Aquattack - Again, the game would have to be hacked for a custom controller to make sense. A minor hack, but still.

 

Star Trek as an arcade port with radical arcade controls, was already on my radar.

 

Spy Hunter won't need the EM#2 once I'm done with this:

 

QQ5OtW.jpg

 

Additionally if it were reprogrammed to use the EM#2 how do you steer and deploy 4 weapons from a wheel with no buttons....use the keypad while steering the wheel?

 

Of the original 141ish ColecoVision games, 41 were arcade ports.  Of these 41 ports this is the list of games that had a control system "radically" different from a simple 4-way or 8-way joystick and 1 or 2 buttons:

 

Buck Rogers

Carnival

Centipede

Congo Bongo

Defender

Front Line

Galaxian

Gorf

Mouse Trap

Omega Race

Q*bert

Q*bert Qubes

Space Fury

Spy Hunter

Star Trek

Subroc

Tapper

Turbo

Tutankham

Victory

Zaxxon

 

Some are only mildly different like Gorf/Zaxxon - pistol grip joystick w/ trigger, Galaxian with 2-way joystick, Carnival with 2 buttons to move left/right vs. joystick, but the super radical ones like Defender, Mouse Trap, Spy Hunter...those are obviously the ones I focused on first.  Additionally there have been modern homebrew releases of arcade ports that may also have different control schemes I'll have to look into at some point.

 

I will say, when testing some controllers I built recently I was just playing through random games on my multi-cart when I opened up Brain Strainers, which ultill I loaded it, I had honestly forgotten what's its gameplay even was.  I knew it was an edutainment title of sorts, but forgot that "follow the leader" is basically Simon, so I had thought of making a controller using the buttons I used on Mouse Trap to make something resembling this:

 

yXzwQK.jpg

 

Although it would be more square/pointy due to the square buttons, and closely resembling how the image appears on the screen...like this:

 

uKwKkg.png

 

 

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