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Stephen Moss

SgM Electrosoft announcement

GamePad Survey  

17 members have voted

  1. 1. From what you have read about the GamePad so far would you...

    • Purchase a GamePad upon release even if you were not that keen on the accompanying software
      2
    • Purchase a GamePad on its own in anticiation that supporting software will eventually be released
      8
    • Have no intreset in purchasing a GamePad either at all or if vibration mode is not supported
      7
  2. 2. What would you be prepaired to pay for such a controller for the Jag

    • £30-40 (roughly $60-80)
      16
    • £40-50 (roughly $80-100)
      1
    • £50+ (roughly $100+)
      0


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Well it has been an interesting three years for me what with starting this company and being involved in organising the JagFest UK. There has been a steep learning curve to negotiate and I admit mistakes have made, I am only human after all.

In an attempt to avoid these mistakes in the future I will now be taking the necessary time to write a clear reply that hopefully can not be misinterpreted or misunderstood when responding incoming mail, be it acknowledging receipt of an order or answering a general query so please be patient if you do not hear from me immediately, however as with snail mail items can occasionally go astray in cyberspace so if you do not receive a reply after seven days please try contacting me again.

Speaking of mail going astray, to try and reduce the risk of customers orders being permanently or temporarily diverted on route all orders for hardware will now require a signature upon arrival at its destination, inevitably this will mean higher postage charges.

I have also learnt not to put time and finances into a project just because a few people are generous enough to give it praise and enquire upon a release date without doing a little market research first. With this in mind I would like to announce that at present I have no intention to produce more Multi-Taps, once the original 10 production units are sold although that may change if there is enough demand for them (see http://www.sgmelectrosoft.co.uk/hardware/hardware.htm for more details).

 

Overlays:

While I will continue to manufacture Jaguar overlays, all overlays produced by me are now exclusively available from 16/32 Systems only.

This decision was taken for two reasons, first it allows people to purchase the overlays from the same source and at the same time as they purchase game software, especially when purchasing second hand cartridges where original overlays may have been lost. Second, it allows me more time to work on both new and existing Jaguar hardware projects. Images of the current range of overlays will remain on my website for viewing and I am sure will be added to the 16/32 sytems website over the comming weeks.

 

Now that is over with, I hope you will find this a little more interesting…

 

What new and existing projects am I working on?

As some people will have seen at this years JagFest UK my latest project is a bank switching Jaguar controller that for now I am calling it a GamePad although I am open to other catchier suggestions. Essentially it is a converted PlayStation controller that plugs directly into a Jaguar, I have provided some more information in a Q&A format and a link to a draft copy of the controllers technical reference at http://www.sgmelectrosoft.co.uk/hardware/gamepad.htm

 

While I appreciate that there is a certain chicken and egg situation going on with the controller/software once you have read the information I would be greatful if you could vote in the poll so that I have some idea of the amount and type of interest in the GamePad.

 

Thank you for your time.

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Interesting project.

 

I would be interested if developers would include the special features of this pad in their future products.

 

£30-40 (roughly $60-80) is for me maximum.

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I think I'd like to hear more from folks who have tried a working prototype. I like the idea of an alternate controller, but frankly I don't think the PS1 controller was all that great.

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I think I'd like to hear more from folks who have tried a working prototype. I like the idea of an alternate controller, but frankly I don't think the PS1 controller was all that great.

 

I agree with that, it was not the best (I found the S Saturn pad much better) but it could bring interesting new possibilities for the Jag :)

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Maybe if a decent game that uses it was released. Otherwise I'm quite happy with my current jaguar controllers.

 

So I miss a fourth option in the vote.

 

But I'm also not to happy about the PS1 controllers, most of them do not work well in my hands. Is it one controller that you are rebuilding, or an adapter so we can choose our own controller? And what is the limit to the small motor about? Isn't it possible to add a power connector for a small wall adapter if power is the problem?

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I would only buy this controller if there was at least 1 very good cartridge based game released at the same time as the controller.

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This may be a somewhat daft question, but will games like BattleSphere Gold be able to use the analog function of the Gamepad?

No it won't, the analogue control on BattleSphere was written to use the analogue to digital converters (ADC) fitted into the Jaguar, however as Atari started to create more controllers like the VR headset they clearly decided that a different approach was needed and so decided on Bankswitching as the standard method for inputting extra data. As a result of this they stopped fitting ADC to Jaguars and so I am also using Bankswitching to output the analogue data because...

a) it is in line with Atari specifications

b) it is the only way of using analogue control that will work on any Jaguar as opposed to relying on the pot luck of having a K series Jag with the ADC fitted to play an analogue compatible game.

But I'm also not to happy about the PS1 controllers, most of them do not work well in my hands. Is it one controller that you are rebuilding, or an adapter so we can choose our own controller? And what is the limit to the small motor about? Isn't it possible to add a power connector for a small wall adapter if power is the problem?

The cable and PCB of the original controller is replaced but everything else is retained. The problem with building an adaptor are...

a) It is far more difficult to do as you have to include the protocol for commumicating with the original controller which is not always easy to impliment or find information on if you are not a main stream publishing house and then chop it up and rearrange the data before outputting it to the Jag in the bankswitching format.

b) It is not easy to find a source for the appropriate connectors, you can't just order them from Farnell.

c) If, as you say, you want to source you own controller how would the developer know which controller you would be using? Consequently the adaptor would have to have sockets and driver software for a number of controllers.

d) It is far easier to read and manipulate the button and stick inputs directly, plus not having to include code to read the controller in it original format means that there can be no issues with software licencing, also adaptors starts to make peoples setup untidy as you have boxes plugged into boxes for example Jag-Team Tap-adaptor-controller.

 

As for adding another power source, batteries are not really feasably in my opinion as you would have to keep taking them out for replacement or recharging. As for a power socket there is no room inside the controller, it would have to fit where one of the motors is situated and probably stick out of the end of the hand grip facing you so you are still restricted to one motor anyway, I had already considered these as a possible solution for the Dual Shock 2 motor issue and although I have not yet discounted them there are a number of issues to resolve. There would also be problems fitting a power socket securely due to the curved shape of the hand grip as they normal use a nut for fixing, plus there is also the problem of another cable trailing about and for some people the layout of their room may mean that the power cable is not long enough to reach their sitting position.

 

I agree with that, it was not the best (I found the S Saturn pad much better)

Lets look at this for a second, I am not familiar with this controller but from a quick look on the internet it appears to have only 6 buttons (excluding the D-Pad). Subtract 3 for A, B & C and two more for Pause and Options and that only leaves you with one extra button for programmers to make use of without resorting to converluted combinations. There are a number of Jag games that require more than that, Cybermorph, BattleSphere, HoverStrike and Iron Soldier to name a few.

I realise that the PlayStation controllers are not to everyones liking but then some people say the JagPad is uncomfortable - you can't please everyone. I though it best to use a controller for one of the more popular systems as it means the system and therefore the handsets would be in reasonable supply for some time although I had not expected there to be so much variation between models. I also thought it provided the best options/flexability for programmers as it has a good number of usable buttons when compared to some others (5 extra buttons excluding D-Pad and accounting for A, B, C , Pause and Options).

If anyone has a controller for another system they don't mind sacrificing I will have a look at it and see how easy a conversion is, I am not saying that I will swtich from using the PlayStation controllers myself but I may be able to provide instructions for say converting it to provide analogue output for BattleSphere and a Jag fitted with an ADC.

 

I hope that has provide a sufficient reply to your questions and perhaps an insight into the problems and large number of issues that are involved and need to be considered when trying to develope new hardware.

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I agree with that, it was not the best (I found the S Saturn pad much better)

Lets look at this for a second, I am not familiar with this controller but from a quick look on the internet it appears to have only 6 buttons (excluding the D-Pad). Subtract 3 for A, B & C and two more for Pause and Options and that only leaves you with one extra button for programmers to make use of without resorting to converluted combinations. There are a number of Jag games that require more than that, Cybermorph, BattleSphere, HoverStrike and Iron Soldier to name a few.

I realise that the PlayStation controllers are not to everyones liking but then some people say the JagPad is uncomfortable - you can't please everyone. I though it best to use a controller for one of the more popular systems as it means the system and therefore the handsets would be in reasonable supply for some time although I had not expected there to be so much variation between models. I also thought it provided the best options/flexability for programmers as it has a good number of usable buttons when compared to some others (5 extra buttons excluding D-Pad and accounting for A, B, C , Pause and Options).

If anyone has a controller for another system they don't mind sacrificing I will have a look at it and see how easy a conversion is, I am not saying that I will swtich from using the PlayStation controllers myself but I may be able to provide instructions for say converting it to provide analogue output for BattleSphere and a Jag fitted with an ADC.

 

 

The Saturn pad had 8 buttons (you forgot the L&R) and I don't count the Start and Option buttons

It has been re-released for PlayStation 2, as you can see on this picture :

 

http://www.dcslinks.com/catalog/images/p2_saturnpad.jpg

 

When I said I found this one much better, I was speaking about the feeling in hands :)

You are right, you can never please everyone.

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Well, I'd have to check out the actual controller on a PS1 to see if it fits my hands. As soon as you know exactly which one you use a post with a suitable link so I can go to a shop and try it out would be nice.

 

Another thing that you should keep in mind is the STE/F030 computers, as they have the same connectors as jaguar. I am quite sure that a cool controller with force feedback would appeal a lot to that crowd, and they have plenty of coders around that probably would love to hack their favourite games to use it.

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Well, I'd have to check out the actual controller on a PS1 to see if it fits my hands. As soon as you know exactly which one you use a post with a suitable link so I can go to a shop and try it out would be nice.

Finding them is shops is not easy these days which is why I announced its development so that people who wanted to could source their own in second hand stores or on e-bay now for conversion at a later date. I purchased the last 15 I could find new and I did a lot of searching online for people who still stock new PS1 Dual Shocks so if anyone know of a retailer who still stocks them please let me have their details.

However if you want to know how they feel in the hands all those I have appear to be the same size and shape as the Dual Shock 2 for the PS2 the differences are in the internal build and circuit design.

Another thing that you should keep in mind is the STE/F030 computers, as they have the same connectors as jaguar. I am quite sure that a cool controller with force feedback would appeal a lot to that crowd, and they have plenty of coders around that probably would love to hack their favourite games to use it.

I had not forgotten that as I own a Falcon myself and I have now l posted on that forum as well.

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From feedback/discussions I have recieved following the announcement of my GamePad analogue controller development it would appear that a few people would prefer an adaptor over my conversion and that several other people have been looking at this problem in various degrees but so far without either the necessary time or skills required to get one to a working prototype and so it may end up as a combined effort. Personally I still think that the modification route is the more elegant and practical solution, however there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches.

Now that the main development on my controller modifiction is done and we now know that an analogue controller is possilbe that way I have time and new information to allow me pursue some preliminary investigations into the feasibility of creating an adaptor for PlayStation controllers. If I was able to produce an adaptor both the adaptor and conversion options could be offered unless there is a clear preference for one or the other.

 

What would an adaptor mean with regards to my existing GamePad draft technical reference?

If produced by a third party I would hope that they will make the control and bank data compatible with my conversion so that any software written can use either, if I were the one to produce a working adaptor a couple of minor changes would be required as follows…

 

1) Team Tap support would probably be removed.

I included it in the original spec as it was possible to do so and allows multiplayer analogue games, multiplayer analogue game will still be possilbe just limited to two players per Jag or more via a network.

Some people have raised concerns that if Team Tap compatibility remains some people could connect four converted controllers to a Jag port potentially damaging their Jaguar (should be ok but I specified a maxium of 3 just to be sure) leading to all kinds of finger pointing as to who is to blame so I am strongly considering removing it in any production version of the controller modification anyway.

 

2) The output would be the same as would the use of Socket 1 and 2 Row codes for reading the controller and motor control. The exact function of the Socket 2 motor control codes may need to be changed for compatibility between both converted controllers and adaptors depending on how motor control is performed by the controllers original hardware.

 

3) Working purely from the controller information I have the timings between issuing a Row 0 control code and reading the Row 0 data may need to be increased from 200uS to about 800us to allow time to read all the data from a Dual Shock 2 controller which if adhearing to the Bank Switching specs/methodology as specified by Atari would mean it may take 2-3mS to read all three banks. How does that timing sound to programmers, ok, too long?

 

At this time I can not see that any other changed would be required.

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