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Team Pixelboy News Bulletin - January 15th 2020

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Bonjour to all ColecoVision fanatics! :D

 

It's already time to post an update on a number of things, the main topic being the Asteroids Controller! If you voted positively on the recent Asteroids Controller poll, you'll definitely want to keep reading this news bulletin!

 


ASTEROIDS CONTROLLER IS A GO!

 

The poll clearly demonstrated that there is sufficient interest in the Asteroids Controller to produce a limited run, so we (doubledown, Mystery Man and myself) are going to team up and get it done! It's an exciting project for us, but unfortunately, Mystery Man is rather busy at the moment and he won't be able to get started on programming the Asteroids game (for ColecoVision) right away.

 

But anyhow, let's go over the final specs of the controller and its pack-in game, and then review what is going to happen next where pre-ordering is concerned.


FINAL SPECIFICATIONS OF THE ASTEROIDS CONTROLLER

 

We will offer two variants of the controller, which we like to call the Asteroids Upright Edition - VVG Enhanced Controller and the Asteroids Cabaret Edition – VVG Enhanced Controller. The first features the full-color artwork from the upright arcade cabinet of Asteroids, while the other is in black and white, and features the artwork of the "cabaret-style" cabinet of Asteroids, with some woodgrain decoration applied on the sides of the controller for added nostalgia.
  
As the proposed Asteroids controller is designed to replicate the look and feel of the arcade cabinet, it will feature five buttons, plus a sixth button for extra ColecoVision compatibility. All buttons will be leaf-switch push-buttons (GGG CLASSX push-buttons with True-Leaf Pro switch upgrade) and will be of matching size, style, color, and layout of the original arcade cabinets. The buttons will be wired as follows:
  
- ROTATE LEFT = Joystick Left
- ROTATE RIGHT = Joystick Right
- HYPERSPACE = Joystick Down
- THRUST = Joystick Up
- FIRE = Left trigger button
- (Unmarked sixth button) = Right trigger button

 

Below are some pictures of the controller. As you can see, the unmarked sixth button is red on the Upright Edition and black on the Cabaret Edition, and the main white buttons are placed high on the controller's surface, in order to provide sufficient resting space for the player's palms and wrists. We feel this is an important ergonomic comfort factor, especially for long play sessions.


Asteroids Upright Edition - VVG Enhanced Controller

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Asteroids Cabaret Edition – VVG Enhanced Controller

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The controller will come with the black velcro cable wrap that you see in this last picture of the back side:

 

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The controller's enclosure will be a Hammond Mfg. 14.00" x 8.25" black aluminum, sloped-top housing. While we feel the enclosure looks (and for the most part feels) very nice, we believe it falls short in two aspects, namely its assembly and its weight. The enclosure itself is constructed as two "c-shaped" powder-coated aluminum forms, assembled with four #6 sheet-metal screws on the bottom side; two along the front edge, and two along the rear. The concern we had with this is that nothing supports the upright sides from flexing outward (creating an unsightly gap) and nothing supports the large, flat, top surface from bowing downward. To remedy both of these issues, and to give the controller a more solid feel overall, we will install two steel angle braces which will connect the sides of the enclosure to the underside of the top surface. Additionally the steel braces (one mounted on each side, and running front to back) nicely bump up the "bare" enclosure weight from 2.36 lbs (1.07 kg) to 3.15 lbs (1.43 kg). Lastly, we will ditch the manufacturer's assembly screws, and new #8-32 machine screws will be used for the housing assembly. All of these modifications strengthen, and beef up the enclosure to our quality standards, but do require additional hardware, and add approximately 1 to 1.5 extra hours to the overall build/assembly time of each controller.
  
The surface artwork will be photo-quality inkjet printed (with photo inks) on premium photo paper (Epson or HP depending on availability), then dual-side, heat-laminated, with 5 mil glossy laminating media with UV protection. So unless someone were to scratch or stab the controller's surface with a sharp tool/knife/keys purposely and/or maliciously, it should last indefinitely.

 

The controller will feature a 10-feet cable with a new DB9 plug (not recycled from another controller) and as stated earlier, a velcro cable wrap will be included to facilitate storage. Four adhesive backed round rubber feet will also be placed under the controller for improved stability.

 

The price of the Asteroids Controller has been set to 150$US, for both the Upright and Cabaret editions. This is for the controller itself and does not include the extra price of the pack-in game.


ABOUT THE PACK-IN GAME

 

While the poll showed that people would prefer a multi-cart that includes Asteroids and several legacy ColecoVision games hacked to be fully compatible with the Asteroids Controller, it was decided that the pack-in game cartridge will contain only Asteroids. There are a couple of reasons for this:

 

1) It is preferable to have a box specifically for Asteroids because then I can sell the game as a complete-in-box stand-alone product to anyone who wants the game but not the controller. So everyone will get the same game (with the same box, manual and cartridge) regardless if they purchase the Asteroids Controller or not.

 

2) The price of the pack-in game is unknown at this time, but having only Asteroids on the cartridge will help to reduce this price. The controller by itself is already pretty expensive.

 

It is already 100% certain that Asteroids will require the Super Game Module, because we want to avoid a flicker-fest on the TV screen. With the added RAM of the SGM, we'll be able to implement a tile-based rendering engine for the asteroids and ship/alien projectiles (instead of sprites) which will reduce flicker to a minimum, and provide a much better gameplay experience.

 

It is not clear yet if we will include extra features (shields instead of hyperspace, color graphics, etc.) but there's a good chance such features will make it in the final release candidate of the game.

 

We still want to do the multi-cart (with hacked versions of Carnival, Omega Race, Space Fury, Star Trek, Victory, and perhaps more) but as a digital ROM file only. We figure most ColecoVision owners who will purchase the Asteroids Controller already have an AtariMax SD cartridge, so they can use that to play the multi-cart ROM file, and we can sell this ROM file for a much lower price compared to manufacturing an actual cartridge.

 

The Asteroids controller will be compatible with the Atari 2600, Atari 7800 and Atari 8-bit computer versions of Asteroids (and will be compatible with several other games as well) so the ColecoVision pack-in Asteroids game will be completely optional at pre-order time.

 

By the way, the box for the Asteroids pack-in will be a two-piece solid box, just like the boxes of the Team Pixelboy Budget Series released a few years back. Such a box is stronger than the cardboard boxes I usually use for Team Pixelboy titles, and this will be a good thing when shipping the pack-in game together with the Asteroids Controller in the same shipping box.


PRE-ORDERING AND PAYMENTS
  
The project will follow this general time line over the course of 2020:

 

1) Starting now, I will record initial pre-orders from all interested customers without requesting any advanced deposit. Within a few days of posting this news bulletin, I will contact (by e-mail) everyone who has recently communicated with me regarding the Asteroids Controller poll. In the mean time, if you're one of the people who positively voiced his/her interest in the Asteroids Controller poll, now is the time to contact me (at pixelboy at teampixelboy dot com) to place your official pre-order. You may also pre-order the ColecoVision Asteroids game only, without the Asteroids Controller, if you wish.
  
2) Mystery Man will program the Asteroids game for ColecoVision (this will likely take several months) and once it has been properly finished and beta-tested, all customers who placed a pre-order will be contacted, and will be asked to send a deposit of 50$US directly to doubledown as part of their order confirmation. With the money collected, doubledown will order parts and get started on assembling the Asteroids Controllers.

 

3) Once all controllers and pack-in carts are ready to ship, I will notify customers and ask for remaining payments (including shipping fees). doubledown will take care of shipping controllers and pack-in carts directly to all customers, once final payments are confirmed.
  
If you have any questions, feel free to post them in this thread, and we'll try to answer them to the best of our ability.

 


CHANGES TO THE MYSTERY MAN COLLECTION

 

Aside from the Asteroids Controller, there are other things I want to mention today in this news bulletin: Pre-orders for the Mystery Man Collection have been very good so far, but I believe it will be a little difficult to find buyers for all 85 copies of each game. So with Mystery Man's accord, I have decided to reduce the number of manufactured copies of each game, and also to add one game to the collection, namely Monaco GP which is an SG-1000 port like the others. I will likely add Monaco GP to teampixelboy.com next week-end.

 

So now the produced quantities will be as follows:

 

- GP World : 60 copies
- Mikie : 60 copies
- Monaco GP : 60 copies
- N-Sub : 60 copies
- Sega Flipper : 50 copies
- Sindbad Mystery : 60 copies
- Star Jacker : 60 copies
- Zaxxon II : 90 copies
- Zoom 909 : 60 copies

 

This adds up to a total of 560 copies of these games, together with 120 manufactured copies of Asteroids. There is still time to pre-order the games of the Mystery Man Collection, but I should remind everyone that once all these copies are pre-ordered and sold, no more copies will ever be produced. Same goes for Asteroids, once all 120 copies will have been sold.

 


This concludes this Team Pixelboy News Bulletin. We now return you to your regular forum activities. ;)

 

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The only detail of note I wish add to Pixelboy's post refers specifically to the  Asteroids Cabaret Edition – VVG Enhanced Controller. While the wood-grain side art does in fact add a flavor of nostalgia to this edition...it is cabinet correct:

 

a9Y6ck.jpg

 

The full-sized Upright Cabinet featured full color side art, but as the sides of this enclosure are much smaller, nothing even close can be reproduced.  Fortunately the simple wood-grain is reproducible in scale, and adds a bit of flash to the otherwise blandish Cabaret Edition...and it's my personal pick!

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Suggestion: if Asteroids is going to be the only pack in games, include both Asteroids and Asteroids Deluxe versions on the same cart.  This keeps your original idea for a multi-cart albeit only two games.

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11 minutes ago, 128Kgames said:

Suggestion: if Asteroids is going to be the only pack in games, include both Asteroids and Asteroids Deluxe versions on the same cart.  This keeps your original idea for a multi-cart albeit only two games.

Has original Asteroids as a hidden game. Unfortunately, Deluxe won't work with this controller since shield/hyperspace are 7800 controller button 2. As Pixelboy alluded to earlier, asteroid rotation is a little choppy even on the more technically powerful Atari 7800.

 

 

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26 minutes ago, 128Kgames said:

Suggestion: if Asteroids is going to be the only pack in games, include both Asteroids and Asteroids Deluxe versions on the same cart.  This keeps your original idea for a multi-cart albeit only two games.

It's something I'd like to do, of course, but doing all those rotating asteroids and "death star" heat-seeker things would probably be very hard to implement.

Edited by Pixelboy

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53 minutes ago, Pixelboy said:

Aside from the Asteroids Controller, there are other things I want to mention today in this news bulletin: Pre-orders for the Mystery Man Collection have been very good so far, but I believe it will be a little difficult to find buyers for all 85 copies of each game. So with Mystery Man's accord, I have decided to reduce the number of manufactured copies of each game, and also to add one game to the collection, namely Monaco GP which is an SG-1000 port like the others. I will likely add Monaco GP to teampixelboy.com next week-end.

 

So now the produced quantities will be as follows:

 

- GP World : 60 copies
- Mikie : 60 copies
- Monaco GP : 60 copies
- N-Sub : 60 copies
- Sega Flipper : 50 copies
- Sindbad Mystery : 60 copies
- Star Jacker : 60 copies
- Zaxxon II : 90 copies
- Zoom 909 : 60 copies

It should also be noted that Zoom 909 is more elaborate than Buck Rogers Planet of Zoom. IMHO, it includes a better boss battle and a whole new level type as seen below. Mystery Man also tweaked the control scheme of the overhead view to be more controllable than the original.

 

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25 minutes ago, Swami said:

Has original Asteroids as a hidden game. Unfortunately, Deluxe won't work with this controller since shield/hyperspace are 7800 controller button 2. As Pixelboy alluded to earlier, asteroid rotation is a little choppy even on the more technically powerful Atari 7800.

 

I didn't even know about the 7800 homebrew version of Asteroids Deluxe.  This controller will however work with the official Atari 7800 release of Asteroids.  

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25 minutes ago, doubledown said:

I didn't even know about the 7800 homebrew version of Asteroids Deluxe. 

It’s a good homebrew and contains the original Asteroids game too.  It’s hidden, but easy to find. The manual provides an excellent hint.

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From what I've seen, I'd guess a different manufacturer, but yes a very similar enclosure.  Then to stiffen the up enclosure, and for added strength (plus a nice little bit of extra weight), I add 2 steel angle braces inside mine.  

 

For those wondering how this controller plays...simply amazing...obviously, I feel it's a real game changer (pun intended).  I got the first one wired up and tested last night...my Cabaret Edition (**PROTOTYPE**).  After testing the wiring, I think I played 1 game each of Space Invades Collection, Gorf, Omega Race, Carnival, Smurf: RIGC, and 1 or 2 others just for test purposes.  There is just something so satisfying about finger slapping arcade leaf-switch push-buttons, especially as your fire button(s), vs pressing the side button(s) of a stock hand controller.  The buttons mounted high on the play surface as they are, allow for total and complete hand/wrist/palm support (zero fatigue), and all of the buttons can be easily reached/activated without having to overstretch your fingers, or re-orient your hand(s).  I'll have to dig out my 2600 copy of Asteroids and give that a run tonight on my Expansion Module, or take it up to my XEGS and try it on that.  

 

I sincerely believe that those who purchase this controller as a "arcade authentic" controller option (or simply a unique alternate controller option), will be exceptionally pleased with it's feel and performance. 

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45 minutes ago, doubledown said:

From what I've seen, I'd guess a different manufacturer, but yes a very similar enclosure.

At least for the Kickstarter, Edladdin ended up having to custom design their housings and have them made by a local metal shop.  They were originally going to be stock housings from Hammond Manufacturing.

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/edladdin/super-arcade-controllers-and-adapters-for-colecovi/posts/1630415

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17 minutes ago, Ikrananka said:

At least for the Kickstarter, Edladdin ended up having to custom design their housings and have them made by a local metal shop.  They were originally going to be stock housings from Hammond Manufacturing.

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/edladdin/super-arcade-controllers-and-adapters-for-colecovi/posts/1630415

That solves that.  We are purchasing the stock Hammond enclosures, and I'm personally doing all of the machining myself.  

 

15 minutes ago, Ikrananka said:

I'm curious, what is the control board that you're using for these controllers?

There is no internal PCB, just the cable wiring directly to the push-buttons, plus the 2 necessary diodes for simultaneous 2-button CV support.  So technically you can play Tutankham with this controller.  

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5 minutes ago, Tron Unit said:

Interested in a copy of Zaxxon II

Please send an e-mail to pixelboy at teampixelboy dot com regarding any pre-orders. This includes the Asteroids Controller, by the way, and if you do contact me, please remember to specify which model (Upright or Cabaret) you want, and if you want the pack-in game or not.

 

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41 minutes ago, Pixelboy said:

please remember to specify which model (Upright or Cabaret) you want, and if you want the pack-in game or not.

 

Is both an option?  😂  

 

Collect them all...trade 'em with your friends.

 

Would somebody seriously only buy 1 Asteroids controller and make some sucker friend sit there with a Coleco Hand Controller...some friend you are!

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7 hours ago, doubledown said:

There is no internal PCB, just the cable wiring directly to the push-buttons, plus the 2 necessary diodes for simultaneous 2-button CV support.  So technically you can play Tutankham with this controller.  

Well that's good news - nice and simple.  So am I right in thinking that this will also be 100% compatible with the CollectorVision Phoenix?  Has it been tested with a Phoenix?

Edited by Ikrananka

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Just now, Ikrananka said:

Well that's good news - nice and simple.

I have preordered both, via the email process, because doubledown makes amazing controllers that are both great to game with and great to show off as show piece controllers - the price is also very reasonable and fair. Very much looking forward to adding both to my collection - thank you to both TP and doubledown for joining forces on this super cool project - very excited! 

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28 minutes ago, Ikrananka said:

Well that's good news - nice and simple.

Agreed, no internal witchcraft to fail or cause issues...plus it helps with the overall cost.

 

29 minutes ago, Ikrananka said:

So am I right in thinking that this will also be 100% compatible with the CollectorVision Phoenix?  Has it been tested with a Phoenix?

It absolutely should be compatible, and I was planning to test tonight or tomorrow, depending on time.  

 

27 minutes ago, CanadianTenor said:

I have preordered both, via the email process, because doubledown makes amazing controllers that are both great to game with and great to show off as show piece controllers - the price is also very reasonable and fair. Very much looking forward to adding both to my collection - thank you to both TP and doubledown for joining forces on this super cool project - very excited! 

I just assumed everybody was ordering both!  Who the heck would only order 1 controller, when your console has 2 controller ports!?! 

 

You're welcome...and thank you.

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So for the sake of "due diligence" I tested the Asteroids Controller on my Phoenix tonight and there were no issues, including playing Pac-Man Collection which can suffer from console lock-up with certain controllers.  

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very good 😉

Looking forward to marathon on one.

 

Can the buttons easily be rewired to other inputs?

Edited by TB-303

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8 hours ago, TB-303 said:

Can the buttons easily be rewired to other inputs?

"Easily" is a relative term, but for most people's definition I would say no.  The cable plug and buttons are discreetly wired, so you would need to open up the enclosure and de-solder/move/re-solder existing wiring. 

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12 hours ago, doubledown said:

So for the sake of "due diligence" I tested the Asteroids Controller on my Phoenix tonight and there were no issues, including playing Pac-Man Collection which can suffer from console lock-up with certain controllers.  

Excellent news - thanks for testing.

 

One thought occurred to me yesterday.  The default control scheme for the game itself looks to be quite awkward if playing with a stock CV controller.  How about an option in the game to use the Asteroids Controller control scheme or an alternative that is better suited to a stock CV controller.  In the latter case I would think that the the second fire button and the keypad would come into play for thrust and hyperspace.

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