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We are readying our next release of newly developed Odyssey hardware and games: OdysseyNow Game Pack 2! The largest focus will be on hardware, as this will contain the most consequential hardware add-on in the Odyssey’s history. It will make new games possible, as well as have a major impact on many existing games. We call it the English Splitter.

 

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In the original Odyssey controller, three knobs and one button control every aspect of the player spots and the ball. The problem is that the human body only possesses two hands, and thus we can operate a maximum of two knobs simultaneously. This affects every Odyssey ball game, as the hand and brain must “switch gears” from controlling the Vertical knob to controlling the English knob (ball spin). This gap of time involved slows down the games. One of the greatest Odyssey ball games, Volleyball, is terribly hindered by this: there just isn’t enough time to lunge after the ball, hit it, then switch to the English knob fast enough to direct the ball over the net and then down into the opposite court. As a result, the game has to be played on a relatively low ball speed.

 

The English Splitter is a device that plugs into your controller socket (there’s one for the Left and one for the Right; each is electronically equivalent but physically different). Each English Splitter is connected by a cable to a special English Controller, which contains one knob and one button. The Splitter also contains a duplicate controller port into which you plug your original controller. Thus when both Left and Right Splitters are plugged in, you will have four controllers in total. Each Splitter contains a switch that turns the English Controller on or off. When on, it takes over control of the English knob from the main controller (turning the main controller English knob will have no effect, but turning the knob on the English controller will give that player full control over ball spin). When the Splitter’s switch is turned off, full control is transferred back to the main controller. This way you will never have to plug and unplug your controllers and Splitters in order to instantly switch between classic and split modes.

 

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In addition, the yellow button on each English Controller allows the holder of that controller to serve the ball. This makes it possible for a single player to, for instance, return the ball to their own side without requiring possession of the other player’s main controller. This can be used in the original game Submarine or the OdysseyNow game Tannhauser Gate, for instance, to greatly ease gameplay.

 

The English Splitter system can also be used to multiply the number of players from 2 to 4. Any ball game can now be played with 3 or 4 players, with English control transferred to a second player on each team.  It can be used to great effect in nearly any ball game.  Our new version of Volleyball, Team Volleyball, makes full use of this capability:

 

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Note: This image is a simulation.  Our game comes with a half-height overlay.

 

In addition to Team Volleyball, this game pack includes Danceoff, a new ball game that is meant to be played for the duration of one pop song. It involves attempting to “knock” the opposing side’s dancers off the dancefloor. This game can be played 2-player, but when played with 4 players using the English Controllers, it becomes a team dance in which one player defends the team’s dancers while the other goes after those on the opposing side. The dancers are plastic chips that are physically stuck to the overlay and removed as they are defeated. Before the game begins, players may either choose a pattern for their dancers to occupy or randomly generate their positions with two included, color-coded dice.

 

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The third game included in this game pack is a reproduction of the rarest of all original Odyssey games: Soccer. Soccer was only released as a bundled game with some European releases of the Odyssey. Because the Odyssey did not do well in Europe, and not many sets have been preserved, the game is almost impossible to find. We have lovingly reproduced the overlay, instructions, and dual-wheel scoreboard in all of their detail, allowing this game to be played by a new generation. Note, however, that our scoreboard is 85% of the size of the original. We had to made it slightly smaller to be cost effective to produce, and to fit in our tube box. The overlay is reproduced with filled-out corners for a rectangular shape, to better fit more contemporary televisions. However, the original rounded contour is preserved as a thin line in the overlay, so players may cut out the original shape if they wish.

 

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The English Splitter sounds deceptively simple, but inside it is anything but: the unique analog nature of the Odyssey makes simple pass-through circuits impossible, and multiple versions of this device failed before a year of development finally lead to the breakthrough (specially implemented diode logic) that made it possible. It is also very time consuming and expensive (using obsolete, discontinued components) to manufacture, or we would be able to make more and charge less!

 

In order to get the most out of Team Volleyball (or even regular Volleyball), this Pack comes with a Wall Height Adjustment kit. This is an optional upgrade. It requires two solder points on the Odyssey’s motherboard, and some hot glue for the final adjustment pot. It is an easy upgrade to perform and comes with fully illustrated instructions. When used with the Team Volleyball overlay, you can adjust your wall height to exact spec. Most Odysseys are well out of spec for wall height, which can greatly diminish this game.

 

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This game pack confers a couple of advantages to Tannhauser Gate, for owners of OdysseyNow Game Pack 1. First, you can adjust the height of the open gate with the Wall Height adjustment. Second, the Scan player can utilize an English controller to return their ball without needing to reach over and utilize the Explore player’s controller.

 

We have several more amazing games in development that make special use of the English Splitters. Those will appear sometime in the future.

 

Because our last game pack sold out within a few hours of being posted, we’re trying to manage this release a little more equitably, in two tiers. The notice for the first 10 copies will be posted in the OdysseyNow Facebook group (only), to give that community the best chance of picking these up.  We're letting everyone know this in advance, to give you time to join that group and turn your notifications on so you are ready.  Once those copies are gone, we'll post elsewhere (such as in this forum). At that time, anyone who wants one will have to let us know (very briefly) why/where/who. We'll give it a few days to ensure that more people will know about this in time, then select the homes we think will be happiest, and then process payments. This will also help us get to know more of you better!

 

We will produce only 15 of these sets in total.

 

Stay tuned to the Facebook group for orders to open soon!

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/odysseynow/

Edited by zhorton
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This is so cool! Hoping so bad to get a set!!!

Amazing work you guys are doing! :)

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21 minutes ago, stupus said:

This is so cool! Hoping so bad to get a set!!!

Amazing work you guys are doing! :)

Thanks so much, stupus!  I appreciate the feedback!

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Here's the first production prototype of our reproduction Soccer scoreboard.  It works great, with spinning wheels for both players.  We learned that we need to score the fold lines for cleaner edges, but otherwise this is final.  I'm really pleased how well this turned out, as it is a key component of the 1973 Soccer experience!  

 

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On 11/27/2019 at 5:54 PM, Flojomojo said:

What an amazing labor of love. I won't be buying, but reading about these achievements is really great. 

Thank you Flojomojo!  It is indeed a labor of love.  A team of five people worked on this for a year to make it possible.  It was so much more difficult than we imagined at the beginning... but worth it in the end to understand the Odyssey controllers as a system and be able to interface with that system to dramatically upgrade the console.  A crazy project, for sure!

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