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John Chow Seymour

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Everything posted by John Chow Seymour

  1. My goodness, this comes as a shock. He was always an interesting person to chat with on this forum.
  2. Oddly enough, I've seen those (recommended to me by some-or-another online store's algorithm). They do look very attractive. On the other hand, where do those colors come from? Why are some of the PETSCII characters colored differently than others; does it mean something or does it just look cool? It's like the designers got confused and tried to be nostalgic for two different things at once.
  3. My first home console was a 2600, specifically the "Sears Telegames" model. It surely was an odd time in retail history when a company thought they could sell more units by letting the Sears department store put their store brand on onto their video game system. Sears was truly the Amazon of their day, NA's largest retailer; if you could get a product in Sears it was your ticket to success. But the 2600 sold better than even Atari expected; turns out they would have done just fine even without Sears' help. My favorite game was probably Joust, as a kid I played against any neighborhood kid whom I could coerce into playing against me, and when none were around, I played against the computer. Another favorite was Adventure. Most games back then just got harder and harder until they weren't humanly possible anymore. But Adventure was a story with a set of puzzles and mazes to solve, and an ending - you could "beat" the game. And I did! It was the first game I ever "finished." We had Pitfall and Asteroids, both of which I know are famous, but I did not enjoy either one of those. I got an NES for Christmas when I was 6 years old, and set it up next to the Atari - and continued to play both for several more years. I think the arrival of the SNES is what finally caused me to pack the Atari away.
  4. The way I see it, the craziness of the parts market has put a lot of retrocomputer hobbyist projects on hold. The Ultimate C64 is unobtainable indefinitely due to the FPGA price. The Mega65 is taking second-round pre-orders, but I doubt they're immune to the FPGA price problem either. Not sure how this one will shake out. The DE-10 Nano for the MiSTer is available but getting hard to find, and going up in price TheC64 (and mini) are available if you're content with a Linux system running an emulator (most people on this forum, even those who bought a TheC64 for the games, probably also want to work outside of emulation at some point). The X16 is in limbo for a number of reasons not necessarily related to the parts market, as I'm sure you're all aware. But Stefany has specifically designed the Foenix Jr. to be obtainable even in the parts crunch; all the parts are currently sourceable at a price that can keep the system under USD $200; the initial target is under $150. A key part of this is the much smaller (and still sourceable) FPGA, which is possible because (1) the CPU is an actual 65C02 and not in the FPGA (unlike the Ultimate and Mega) and (2) it runs a trimmed-down but still capable version of the "Vicky" FPGA found in the bigger Foenix machines.
  5. And have you bought (or pre-ordered) one of the larger 65C816 Foenix systems? (Just out of curiosity.) As I posted elsewhere, my money's in for a Gen X, production of which is now back on track so I should receive it in a few months.
  6. Here's the link. The bidding ends some time tomorrow. Even you're not intending to bid, (hey, it's only USD $300,000 as I post this)... the write-up is quite thorough (which is rare for eBay, I know) and actually makes a nice read . It's full of pictures from throughout Apple history and goes into detail about this specimen's provenance. I didn't know that there are people who track how specific Apple 1s have changed hands, and have given them nicknames, not unlike the way Stradivari instruments are handled these days.
  7. Don't forget, in addition to the physical keyboard, you'll also need all the 'soft' components: the NES has no character ROM and no concept of a text interface, so your first task after getting that keyboard going would be to draw yourself a font (or steal one) and work out a system for placing characters into both screen memory and file memory, handling line breaks, handling backsapce, etc. With the NES's PPU being optimized for sprite tiles rather than characters, it'll be an uphill battle. That's not to say it wouldn't be a fun, geeky thing to do, as several of you have said.
  8. I'm not sure what the BASIC interpreter would be for - I don't know of any NES games that run on a layer of BASIC. Then again, I suppose there are cases where you could use BASIC as a tool to create resources (sprites, music?) for the eventual ML code to access. Having an ML interpreter right on an NES reminds me of using my PE6502 kit computer. It boots into WozMon, which is sort of a bare-minimum OS, but also has an ML assembler onboard called Krusader (link to the manual). Sine the 2A03 is 6502-based it may be possible to get Krusader onto our hypothetical keyboard-enabled NES. Development in 6502 assembly on a 6502 for that same 6502 is, in my opinion, a fun challenge. You need memory space for the source code, for the assembled version of the code, for any data the assembled version draws on (strings, etc.) and for Krusader itself, all in a single 64k address space; and it's up to the programmer to manage all that manually. Working on the PE6502, I found myself coding low-level utilities that let me do simple things like "create a new string and save it at a given memory address". Once that tool was tested and working, I could delete the source code for it to free up space but continue to use the assembled tool as I continued to work on the project. These additional constraints are not ideal, but that's kind of the point of taking on the challenge of developing on-system. And yes, we could get around the space constraints with RAM expansions (on our hypothetical NES, not on the PE6502). I'm not sure what @Cyber is up to, but good luck! It sounds like fun!
  9. I haven't watched the video above yet, but the last time I read about this, converting your PS2 to a Linux box meant that it could never play PS2 games again. You couldn't really develop "for the console, on that console" in that case, then. But, I guess you could develop for PS2 Linux on PS2 Linux!
  10. Atmel EEPROMs, wow. They're usually like, $11 or $12. And even at the crazy prices below, they're still going fast; look how few are left. The pic is from Digi-Key but it's about the same over at Mouser. Time to take my chances on some sketchy ones from China via eBay. Usually I don't, but I mean, look at the alternatives.
  11. Oh, yes. I really like the 3DS form factor, and I often wish there were good ways to do more with it than play games. Having a 3DS-form factor device that is also a viable productivity tool is a kind of pipe dream for me. I don't even know how you'd accomplish that. I got into SmileBASIC for a while - a BASIC you and code and run directly on the 3DS - but in the end, typing away with the stylus on that tiny on-screen keyboard was just a drag. (There's a version for Switch now; I wonder how that is.) Alas, no USB-to-3DS adapter ever materialized (not even sure what port such a thing would plug into). There was a peripheral keyboard for the DS that went into slot 2 (the legacy game cart slot), but it only worked with the typing tutor game it came with, and of course slot 2 was removed on DSi models and later, long before SmileBASIC was released. You were so close, Nintendo! @Tatwi's idea to have the handheld hook right up to a keyboard and screen for development is great. I'd settle even for just a keyboard.
  12. So, I came across this recently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROR1NQE-2DY "VisionBASIC", a compiled BASIC for the C64. Note that to write and compile programs in VisionBASIC you need extra RAM - but it's compatible with many forms of RAM expansion, not only vintage solutions like old REUs or the SuperCPU, but also modern ('retro') gear like the Turbo Chameleon or either of Gideon's "Ultimate" producrs (the cart, or the Ultimate C64 itself). Or even just in an emulator. ....but, crucially, you don't need the extra RAM to run programs compiled with VisionBASIC. So you can use it as a developer, but still distribute your work and expect it to run on stock C64s.
  13. It all looks great, thanks for sharing. I see you have some spaces in your space bar! That was probably a good way to handle that, given the circumstances. I actually rather like the look of that 'calculator' style case. I probably wouldn't like typing on it... but visually, it sure looks cool.
  14. Calgary is truly the Ft. Worth of Canada. Both are even nicknamed "Cowtown"! Anyway, I only lived in North Texas for about 2 years... just long enough to get my Master's from UNT. Does that let me be an honorary usergroup member?
  15. Hmm, a moddable pocket system. What kind of mods are you imagining?
  16. I wish setups like this were available on more consoles, because the sound capabilities of the GB are really not my favorite. When I have nostalgia for chiptunes, it's really more for the NES, but the NES's architecture apparently makes it hard to do this kind of thing. A Japanese guy going by MatsukeN (on YouTube and elsewhere) has his own setup for accessing NES and SNES sound but whatever he did to get that setup isn't easily packaged and sold.
  17. Thank you Tom, but I don't think @Yazwho was asking what MIDI is. I'm guessing they were asking what a MIDI-IN port is doing on a GameBoy. No, it was not a thing at all back in the day. MIDI to GB is a relatively recent thing. I do it via an adapter called a Teensyboy, which lets me send my MIDI into the GB's "GameLink" cable; along with a cart called "mGB" which lets you interpret the incoming MIDI. With that setup, you can basically control your GB's sound chip with an external DAW or even with a keyboard. Fun times, and it costs a lot less than an Analogue Pocket (though the A.Pocket has a ton of other cool features, of course). So, there are basically three cartridges that let you do chiptunes on a GameBoy (all unofficial, modern creations--none were available back in the day, or licensed by Nintendo) - at least, on the first-gen GB or GB Pocket. "mGB" as I mentioned above is for external MIDI control. "Little Sound DJ" (LSDJ) gives you a tracker interface on the GB itself. And then there's Nanoloop. To be clear, this exists as a cartridge for any (first-gen compatible) GameBoy, it's not unique to the Analogue Pocket. When I first looked at Nanoloop a few years ago, I was unimpressed. What I saw back then could not fairly be called a "portable Pro Tools in your Pocket," despite what Analogue's own ad copy says. It seemed more like a toy. If repetitive 4/4 music is all you want to compose, it might be fun, but, I decided to pass. Now, it's possible they've improved or expanded nanoloop since I last looked, so by all means check it out for yourselves. The pocket seems cool. I really did consider getting one, but ultimately decided to continue giving my vintage GameBoys some love, and save my money. It was a close decision, though.
  18. Quick, someone with photoshop skills make a "Washington Commander X16" logo. Bonus points if you can get the butterfly logo onto a football helmet. (Context for those outside the US: an "American Football" team in the US recently changed its name to the "Commanders". Considering they decided to make the announcement on Groundhog's Day, I thought they were going to be the Washington Groundhogs! This is better though.)
  19. The AY-3-8910 was first released in 1978, but Yamaha did not begin making its own version (the YM2149) until 1983. During that period, the AY-3-8910s (or variants) made by GI (or other licensees) were used in many arcade games, and also in the Intellivision, Vectrex, and in Apple's Mockingboard--all before Yamaha's involvement. This suggests that the AY-3-8910's trajectory might have continued regardless of whether Yamaha had chosen this or the SID. I had wondered if Yamaha adopting the SID might have delayed their digital-FM synthesis work, but it seems that this was a separate stream of development. Yamaha had licensed Chowning's FM synthesis technology from Stanford way back in the 1970s and released the first commercially viable version of it, in the form of the DX7, in 1982 - the same year the SID (& C64) debuted, and a year before they started making the YM2149. So it's also likely that Yamaha's hypothetical choice of SID over AY-3-8910 would not have disrupted or delayed its FM synth development progress either, which of course, eventually dominated the market. So, we're looking at a period more or less in the mid-80s for most of the hypothetical changes to have taken place. Other than certain arcade boards or home systems sounding more... SID-ish, perhaps one interesting thing to imagine would be that Yamaha adopting the SID instead might have spurred competition between them and GI, or perhaps with Roland if they had licensed the AY line instead. The resulting development race might have improved sound or lowered costs during this period. Of course, one other fun hypothetical consequence to imagine is that it might be easier to get quality SID-replacements today, if the technology hadn't died with Commodore.
  20. He makes reference to an earlier project by Tom 7 aka 'suckerpinch'; that is a video I happened to see a few years ago. It was pretty entertaining and I'm glad to be reminded of it again; here's a link to it for your convenience. It's nice to see that someone has picked up where he left off.
  21. If something I do on one of my modern systems causes a crash (or, more likely, it crashes on its own, heh) then the process of shutting down / restarting can take several minutes. On an 8-bit device, just flip the switch on and off, or hit the 'reset' button if your device has one, and you're right back where you were (usually, staring at code wondering what caused the crash). A family member gifted us an iPad recently -- no one in my household had ever used one before. After four days of attempts, we have yet to successfully get it associated with an Apple ID, which means we can't connect to the store to get any software on it, etc. It's always some new problem: it's supposed to send us a verification code but doesn't, or a mysterious "Cannot login to Apple ID due to a server error", or any number of other things. It was frustrating at first but has now become so rediculous as to be amusing to us. My C64, by comparison, immediately lets me do whatever I want when I turn it on. (So did the Apple ][ I had as a kid.)
  22. It is in many ways! I like python a lot and use it for all kinds of things. I'm an advocate for the use of python by professionals whose expertise is something other than programming. (I won't go on about that here.) But, I did once try to make a game with it once and it was pretty awkward. At that time, I was using the PyGame module to handle graphics. My takeaway from that experience was that Python is not a great environment for game coding. I wonder if anyone has made a module for Python to handle graphics like an 8-bit system would? With a pixel-based understanding of the screen, art assets in tiles, etc. (It's entirely possible someone's made this already and I just haven't heard). As for the PicoSystem, it's a pretty cool little thing, and I'm shocked that they got the price down to only £58.50.
  23. I quite enjoy soldering. I may be looking forward to soldering the X16 kit more than I am to programming for it. SMD were never meant to be soldered by humans, and I am amazed every time I see a video of a human doing repairs by hand on tiny SMD leads.
  24. The graphics for Dragon's Lair were made by an animation studio full of people trained in 2D hand-drawn cel animation. Even if it is possible to 'hijack' the X16's sprite system to try and show frames of cel animation instead of moving sprites, no one here is likely to have the humanpower it would take to create animation like that in the first place. That said, I'm interested in that VIC-20 version; I'll have to search for that. I wonder why someone would port that... the game didn't exactly have good gameplay, it was only really known for the animation. I used to be involved in the SmileBASIC community, back around 2015 or so. This is a commercially available BASIC implementation for the Nintendo 3DS (via the eShop) made by a small Japanese company; I think there's a Switch version now too but I don't have a Switch yet. Anyway, all the user-generated code was available online, and there was a Japanese user who 'ported' - as in, rewrote from scratch in SmileBASIC - all of Megan Man 2. Besides the fact that this was illegal (and kept getting taken down then reuploaded under a different name), MeganMan 2 / Rockman 2 was already available in the eShop for the exact same device. But the reason it was so interesting, and so popular, was that it served as a masterclass in how to code a platform game in BASIC. So lots of us were downloading it and studying how this guy coded it. But, anyway! If the question is, ...then I think the answer is an enthusiastic 'yes'. I can't think of any downsides to doing that. Even better if the engine(s) and libraries are a coordinated community effort rather than one person's labor of love.
  25. So far, when I answer by saying "This call is being recorded for fraud prevention purposes, is that okay?" I get either (A) They immediately hang up. (B) "No sir, it's not being recorded." to which I reply "No no, I'm recording it to prevent fraud" after which they hang up. (C) [BY FAR the most common] the computer-controlled message-spewing system has no idea how to respond to that, and so it cavalierly proceeds to tell me I promised them a $35 donation six weeks ago. I usually respond by saying "It's taped to the back of a tortoise, he'll eventually wander your way."
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