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Drsoren24

is the 7800 necessary?

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9 hours ago, TailChao said:

The difficulties we had with coverage and vast indifference by most retrogaming communities did more to indicate this relationship isn't worth pursuing than any number of cartridge sales.

Does this mean you won't be creating new games? I hope not.

 

Honestly, I think not going for the whole Indiegogo or kickstarter "crowdfunding" thing harms general awareness and interest.

One thing crowdfunding is very good for is gauging interest in your game idea. This would be especially useful for an original game. It shows a general interest in who is willing to say they want the game AND put their money where there mouth is. (lots of people with show enthusiasm about a project, but then when you do the project, there's a whole list of excuses for why they can't buy it)  I absolutely do not like the idea of providing financing for a project that may or may not come to fruition, but that is with physical products.  With software you can set the limit to when the game becomes viable and if you hit the limit, there is sufficient interest and if you don't, then it doesn't cost anyone money and you know there isn't really much interest in your project.

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2 hours ago, DrVenkman said:

So here's an interesting angle for 7800 fans - the original design (and both of my current examples) sport the infamous, never-used Expansion Interface.

Problem is, not all the 7800s out there have it.

 

12 hours ago, zzip said:

Pokey would have been better than the built-in TIA, but I think it really needed something better than Pokey.   Pokey was showing its age mid-80s.

Wasn't the POKEY still being used in arcade machines?

 

From what I can tell, the POKEY was a pretty good sound chip.  Is the NES's sound chip that much better?  Is it better at all?

 

It seems to me the TIA wasn't well utilized in 7800 games. Some of 7800 ports are outright headache inducing (Donkey Kong and Jr, for instance).  But some are not that bad.   I wonder if some of these games could have their sound re-done and have it sound much better.  Pitfall II sounds great, though I am not sure if the DPC chip is more powerful than a 7800 in that dept)

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33 minutes ago, Asaki said:

 

 

GameShark, mostly (which was, obviously, unauthorized). There were a few games, like DOOM, where you could serial link two consoles together to play multiplayer.

Dunno if there was anything else.

 


The only other thing I can think of is the device that used it to let VCD format discs play on the PS1 but it wasn't well received on this side of the world cause next to nobody in North America ever used VCD in the first place.

SUPER RARE* Gamars PSx-003 VCD Player - Password Movie Card ...

Game Enhancer Canada - Home of the PSX Gold Finger (2M)

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14 minutes ago, christo930 said:

Problem is, not all the 7800s out there have it.

You obviously missed the part where I mentioned that it was a feature of the original design. Hence, it was part of the whole system concept created by GCC when they sold it to Atari/Warner Communications. Had the 1984 system launch occurred under Warner, it’s pretty much guaranteed that there would have been work to get the Laserdisc system ready to demo by the following Winter CES and probably a number of games to in work to demo on it. In that alternate history, every 7800 sold would have had that interface - it wouldn’t have been deleted as a cost savings by the penny-wise/pound-foolish Tramiel team. 

 

But again, as I stated above, that timeline never occurred.

 

Instead, Atari Corp. (not Atari, Inc.) haggled with GCC and Warner for 6 - 8 months, totally missed the deadlines needed to get the system to market in 1984 as planned, skipped a full ‘85 launch and by the time they decided to try, the NES had beaten them to market and captured a new cohort of kid-gamers that Atari missed out on. Then they gave up on GUMBY, didn’t subsidize 3rd party publishers with cheap POKEYs to include in their games, half-assed the marketing, etc. 

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5 hours ago, SmittyB said:

I'm just going to chime in here to rightfully give credit to Argonaut who don't get enough recognition for the SuperFX and only got an unlubricated shafting from Nintendo for their efforts.

Red Dog for Dreamcast All the way!  Wait that's OT.  Uh...maybe PacManPlus can do a retroengineered 7800 version of RedDog for 7800.  :D

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, christo930 said:

Does this mean you won't be creating new games? I hope not.

Nah, nah - I'm working on some things but can't make any promises if or when they'll happen.

 

 

1 hour ago, christo930 said:

Wasn't the POKEY still being used in arcade machines?

Yes, but these were usually Quad Pokeys - four times the Pokey for four times the channels!

 

  

1 hour ago, christo930 said:

From what I can tell, the POKEY was a pretty good sound chip.  Is the NES's sound chip that much better?  Is it better at all?

I'm of the opinion that the NES is more in line with what you'd want for 1983 - 1984. There's good waveform diversity, the dividers are accurate enough to hit most notes without the need for paired channels, and it can stream DPCM. Consumer device wise it's a pretty big step over everything but the SID.

 

But it's also not made by Atari, and eh...

 

 

1 hour ago, DrVenkman said:

But again, as I stated above, that timeline never occurred.

Instead we got the alternate timeline, where it shipped in 1984 and the 7800-CED upgrade followed in late 1985.

Wait...

Edited by TailChao
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58 minutes ago, DrVenkman said:

Had the 1984 system launch occurred under Warner, it’s pretty much guaranteed that there would have been work to get the Laserdisc system ready to demo by the following Winter CES and probably a number of games to in work to demo on it

Was it going to be laser disc system specifically designed for the Atari 7800, or just a compatible unit with a cable?  The laser disc stuff was actually released in Japan for the MSX.

 

1 hour ago, DrVenkman said:

Then they gave up on GUMBY, didn’t subsidize 3rd party publishers with cheap POKEYs to include in their games, half-assed the marketing, etc. 

Yep. They managed to do virtually everything wrong.  He should have tried to focus the company more.  They didn't have the money to be doing a bunch of things.

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8 hours ago, TailChao said:

 

10 hours ago, christo930 said:

Does this mean you won't be creating new games? I hope not.

Nah, nah - I'm working on some things but can't make any promises if or when they'll happen.

 

🙂

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10 hours ago, christo930 said:

Wasn't the POKEY still being used in arcade machines?

The ones that did used multiple POKEYS,  that would allow them to use it in 16-bit mode and still have enough sound channels.   But I'm not sure it was still being used in arcade in 84,  it was around that time that Atari was shifting to 16-bit arcade machines.

 

10 hours ago, christo930 said:

From what I can tell, the POKEY was a pretty good sound chip.  Is the NES's sound chip that much better?  Is it better at all?

Based on the sounds/music I heard from 8-bit games/demos.   The Pokey usually had a harsh quality to it compared to other chip that even the best music composers couldn't completely overcome.   I don't know much about the NES chip so I can't compare that,  but what I think Atari needed at that point was a chip with more features along the lines of the SID.  They had the AMY chip in development, but that never really saw the light of day.

 

10 hours ago, christo930 said:

It seems to me the TIA wasn't well utilized in 7800 games. Some of 7800 ports are outright headache inducing (Donkey Kong and Jr, for instance).  But some are not that bad.   I wonder if some of these games could have their sound re-done and have it sound much better

There's a number of 7800 games that have Pokey versions, and the Pokey version always sounds better than the TIA version.  Pitfall II I think had special hardware in the cart on the 2600 to get four channel sound (I forget the details).  I can't think of many other 2600 games that had great sound, there where plenty of game that got unique sounds out of TIA.  That made 2600 sound and visuals kinda iconic.  But to hear 2600 level sound effects paired with 7800 visuals just feels embarrassing to me.   So there's no doubt to me that Pokey is a step-up from TIA.  I just think by the mid-80s a next-gen sound solution was really needed in that console.

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1 hour ago, zzip said:

There's a number of 7800 games that have Pokey versions, and the Pokey version always sounds better than the TIA version.  

I don't think anybody is going to dispute that, given that TIA uses much the same sound generation techniques as the basic POKEY functionality, only coarser in frequency resolution. Even in the least capable hands, the finer frequency resolution is going to improve things on the POKEY side. But TIA certainly could have been pushed much harder.

 

As @Synthpopalooza has been demonstrating in the forums for a while (and demonstrated in this thread) POKEY is capable of all kinds of nuanced sounds, beyond the harsh square waves. I think a POKEY+TIA combo built into the 7800 would have been a viable option at the 7800's release date... TIA on it's own wasn't excusable, though.

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Posted (edited)

The surface has barely even been scratched on what POKEY can do.  I'm sifting through 65,536 frequencies right now for yet another undocumented setting.  So many possibilities. 

 

Again:  POKEY plus TIA is a Ricoh 2A03 slayer ...

Edited by Synthpopalooza
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2 hours ago, RevEng said:

I think a POKEY+TIA combo built into the 7800 would have been a viable option at the 7800's release date... TIA on it's own wasn't excusable, though.

I've been seeing this recommendation come up for years, either to drop in a Pokey or merge it with another chip, and it's very odd to me. Not because of some personal vendetta against Pokey, but from an engineering standpoint it makes no sense.

 

You wouldn't want to drop a Pokey in as-is since the keyboard features are extraneous and it's a honkin' 40-pins and takes up board real-estate. If you're going to add an audio generator to either the TIA or Maria - why copy Pokey's design as-is with all those limitations? You could have something which follows the same principles but is vastly improved (i.e. Mikey). Now that we're seeing the use of FPGA or CPLD Pokeys in cartridges, why not go for a Pokey Plus outside of arbitrary authenticity points?

 

Hmm...

In the end, "which sound chip is best sound chip" is a religious argument and we should all probably be banned.

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13 minutes ago, TailChao said:

In the end, "which sound chip is best sound chip" is a religious argument and we should all probably be banned.

I don't have an opinion on what the "best" chip is.  Just that by the time the 7800 was developed and released,  TIA was very outdated, and even Pokey was showing its age.   The 7800 deserved something more modern, even if it was a third-party sound chip rather than an Atari-developed one.

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Depending on the projected lifespan and cost of the console, the TIA may have been the best option despite it being nearly a decade old.

 

And would there have been enough cpu power to manage a more feature-rich sound chip?

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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, Keatah said:

 

And would there have been enough cpu power to manage a more feature-rich sound chip?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Defender_2600
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29 minutes ago, Keatah said:

Depending on the projected lifespan and cost of the console, the TIA may have been the best option despite it being nearly a decade old.

 

And would there have been enough cpu power to manage a more feature-rich sound chip?

 

A more feature-rich sound chip might actually require less CPU power.   For instance, I'm not an expert, but I seem to recall that if you want to do different wave forms on the pokey, you have to code that yourself and push that data to the sound chip, eating CPU cycles, while something like SID has wave-forms in hardware.   The C64 and NES ran off the same 6502 CPU as the 7800, and the C64 was clocked lower, so this shouldn't be an issue.

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1 hour ago, TailChao said:

I've been seeing this recommendation come up for years, either to drop in a Pokey or merge it with another chip, and it's very odd to me. Not because of some personal vendetta against Pokey, but from an engineering standpoint it makes no sense.

 

You wouldn't want to drop a Pokey in as-is since the keyboard features are extraneous and it's a honkin' 40-pins and takes up board real-estate. If you're going to add an audio generator to either the TIA or Maria - why copy Pokey's design as-is with all those limitations? You could have something which follows the same principles but is vastly improved (i.e. Mikey). Now that we're seeing the use of FPGA or CPLD Pokeys in cartridges, why not go for a Pokey Plus outside of arbitrary authenticity points?

 

Hmm...

In the end, "which sound chip is best sound chip" is a religious argument and we should all probably be banned.

Because POKEY was there and ready, rather than them developing something new. If I had my druthers they would have stuck in a chip with FM synthesis. But in a "why just TIA" discussion, POKEY seems like a no-brainer alternative; it's the minimum Atari should have done.

 

Most of those 40 pins are for functions the 7800 has no need for, so yes, the chip is a little bigger, but would it really impact the board all that much over some other chip? Genuinely asking, but given it doesn't add a whole lot of space to POKEY carts, it doesn't seem like it.

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That flashing blue area at the top of the YM2151 Zanac demo, is the CPU (measured in scanlines) the 7800 is using to drive the 8x FM voices. It's a very small proportion of CPU in any one frame. I'm looking at adding more features and flexibility to the XMYM tracker (e.g. loading patch changes mid-track) but the 7800 will be able to handle it.

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Going into left field here.

 

I've always wondered what the 7800 would have been like if Atari didn't want backwards capability for 2600 games?

 

Maybe 2 pokey chips for sound. Use the PIA chip for joystick inputs and memory expansion? 

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Posted (edited)

Atari 7800 Pac-Man ( 320 horizontal pixels, TIA sound)  VS  NES Pac-Man.


7800 Pac-Man ( 4:59 )

 

 

NES Pac-Man

 

 

Yes, the 7800 is absolutely necessary. 😁

Edited by Defender_2600
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A lot of incredible effects can be had on double POKEY.  Been thinking about jacking one onto my developer XM to test out things .. 

 

Example:  The opening Defender sound can be made by using all 4 POKEY channels, set to 16 bit, and a hi pass filter on the second to modulate the first.  :)

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1 hour ago, TailChao said:

I've been seeing this recommendation come up for years, either to drop in a Pokey or merge it with another chip, and it's very odd to me. Not because of some personal vendetta against Pokey, but from an engineering standpoint it makes no sense.

 

You wouldn't want to drop a Pokey in as-is since the keyboard features are extraneous and it's a honkin' 40-pins and takes up board real-estate. If you're going to add an audio generator to either the TIA or Maria - why copy Pokey's design as-is with all those limitations? You could have something which follows the same principles but is vastly improved (i.e. Mikey). Now that we're seeing the use of FPGA or CPLD Pokeys in cartridges, why not go for a Pokey Plus outside of arbitrary authenticity points?

 

Hmm...

In the end, "which sound chip is best sound chip" is a religious argument and we should all probably be banned.

 

The recommendation comes up because IIRC at some point it was actually part of the 7800 design. POKEY was originally made for the 8-bit computer line (hence the PO and KEY) but was then used in the 5200, a bunch of arcade games, and two 7800 cartridges. Of those later applications, none used KEY and only some used PO. So there is ample precedent for using POKEY without needing those features.

 

But you’re not wrong. An audio-only (or audio+paddle) version presumably would have saved a lot on manufacturing across a lot of products. The time to do this would have been 1980 or 1981, when its sound capabilities were still relatively sophisticated. Unfortunately, by then Kassar had already laid off the R&D staff.

 

PokeyOne, as I understand it, was created primarily as a replacement part for arcade machines. It gets used for 7800 cartridges because it’s available and some of those games were already written for POKEY. Pokey Plus is an interesting idea, but at this point it seems like YM2151 will become the standard for advanced sound on the 7800.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, zzip said:

A more feature-rich sound chip might actually require less CPU power.

Yes of course. I was in the PC frame of mind where each successive soundcard wanted more and more cpu power.

 

But whatever. The 7800 version shown in the above vid seems better, both sound and graphics wise. Maybe it sounds a little harsher and the intermission isn't as nice sounding as the NES. But overall the 7800 looks and sounds more arcadey. Is that a word? Fuck it, it is now.

 

Edited by Keatah
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Going back to the original design of POKEY... there is an obscure setting which was originally used on the 8-bit line for cassette I/O functions, called Two Tone mode.   How it works is, you silence channel 2, set SKCTLS register to $8B, then the frequency carrier is in channel 2, and channel 1 modulates it.  I have of course used this effect in demos to make some very nice saw waves and distorted guitars.  Unfortunately POKEYOne leaves out this functionality,  tho I do believe PokeyMax implements this fully.  This is yet another tool in POKEY's bag of tricks.

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Personally, I like the current Yamaha plus POKEY design of the XM.  Both are suited to different types of sound, but both also have an arcade legacy too.  Plus, one can always drop in a cheap AY sound chip for $4 onto a 7800 cart and still get arcade quality sound too ... or indeed any chip which can make sound.   The 7800 was designed specifically with these capabilities in mind.

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