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Everything posted by Wonderdog

  1. And hopefully able to keep the vram access mechanism the same as the X16 spec.
  2. I still reckon the X8 could be a really cool devices if the video memory access mechanism could be modified to work just like the X16's will for code consistency, then functionally its just a cut down Memory + sound hardware version of the X16, but otherwise identical in operation. I think that's something I'd buy for <$100.
  3. There is no way in my mind that an X8 at anything like $250 would be an attractive prospect. I think that the path forward for any crowdfunder mechanism needs to be a straight forward, single option for the DIY X16p kit (with keyboard and chuck in a free copy of PETSCII Robots) priced and targeted to ensure that it covers some of the sunk cost, and achieves a minimum quantity to make an intitial production run viable. Maybe a limited quantity of preassembled kits available (#'s capped at however many Dave can put together himself without going insance, and charged at an appropriately high premium). No case, no variant pledge options, no X8 etc. KISS. The X8 obviously isn't the computer Dave wanted to create for himself - but its a mechanism to claw back some funds, and could be a great device for many people. It could be a success if launched on its own at the right price - but diluting an X16p kickstarter by adding the X8 would be a mistake IMO. The X8 only needs to exist until design/production of a lower cost/ready to go surface mount X16 or X16e exists, as these would supersede a lot of its end user appeal. On the other hand, if the X8 is just used as a temporary mechanism to claw back some funds and bolster development of the X16, then orphaning it as soon as it achieves enough sales to dig the X16 out of the hole would be a pretty cynical move towards buyers - either it stands on its own two feet and serves a longer term market purpose, or don't bother. It's a tough situation.
  4. I think the harsh reality of economics are at play. Supply issues and cost increases related to chip fab constraints aren't going away anytime soon, which along with the logistics, practical and cost overheads of buying/storing/shipping the intial X16p mean the likely price of the kit is rocketing, which will weaken sales overall (and the device needs some economies of scale to break even). My guess is that without the safe, low risk income from sales of the X8 the X16 might never become a reality - (certainly not the surface mounted or embedded versions need to reach a price point and critical mass of sales). There is a very, very niche market for a totally DIY solder it yourself product costing $500+ (once the bundled custom keyboard, cost of a case and PSU, shipping and taxes etc are taken into account). Even less for one if you need to spend another $150+ to have it hand assembled for you. Releasing the X8 would incur almost zero financial risk (its already developed, works, and the parts aren't nearly as constrained as the X16 BOM, it can be produced locally etc), could likely be sold for comfortably sub $100 (including a load of margin to pump in to the big boy X16 development and de-risk the jump to a surface mounted version), would demonstrate that the X16 line-up isn't vaporware (in terms of a physical product seeing release), and would get a near identical (if constrained) version of the VERA platform out there in v1.0 form to encourage developer and tutorial writer efforts. And that's before considering that the X8 (with its constraints) might be a device a lot of people might actually want.
  5. I'll take your word on the potential logic capabilities - the detail is way beyond my puddle deep level of technical understanding It would be odd from an ecosystem perspective for the X16p/c not to have straightforward backward compat with X8 native code though - as the X8 feels like be a great way to help people get their hands on something tangible to start work on X16 (specifically 65C02+VERA) compatible software - of course it would have to fit inside the constrained RAM window etc. but it seems like that headstart and the confidence of having some hardware out in the wild would be very helpful to the overall X16 project as a whole (both in terms of audience confidence in the long term prospects, and as a way to bring in some money). Emulators are great, but prone to change and still leave the eventual device feeling ephemeral - a lot of people are put off developing or writing tutorials for a device that may never appear! I get the impression that the main bones of contention with the X8 are the risk of developer ecosystem fragmentation, and the risk of "poaching" sales from the X16. If the X8 code is directly backward compatible, then ecosystem fragmentation is a lot less of an issue, and the selling points I'm hearing from those opposed to the X8 are that they really want the X16 increased capabilities (RAM, Sound chips, expansion etc) and physical formfactor (chips on a board) for their own ends, rather than any need for everyone to have access to those features - as I can't see anyone paying the mortgage selling X16 software anytime soon - so I just dont see what releasing a code compatible, cut down device in the form of the X8 is taking away from those hardcore X16 users.
  6. This is the single most important technical differentiation for Dave and the team to consider I think. In fact, I'd go so far as to suggest deliberately crippling the X8 and forcing it to use the same 4 byte register loading process of the x16 design rather than using the 256bit window to maintain documentation and code consistency between the two. After that, the capability differences are largely related to how much RAM and VRAM is available, and how many channels of sound - so backward compat with X8 software could be much more easily maintained on the x16. This isn't as crazy as it might sound - as I'd assume a similiar intentional nerfing would need to occur with the eventual FPGA based x16e (which would also be capable of using the window as everything is in the FPGA), as otherwise it would require/offer software capabilities equally different to the kit/surface mounted x16's. Seems wierd to suggest reducing the theoretical capabilities of a device to maintain forward compatibility - but lets be honest here, nobody is interested in the x8/x16 for their absoloute power - not when you can buy a quad core RPi with 4gb of ram for $30, so a minor performance loss is worth it to simplify the development process for software across the two, and minimise any refactoring or different tutorials/documentation needed.
  7. The uncertainty of eventual sale quantities of the x16 (and given that each stage needs to be successful to fund development the next, more affordable/mass appeal version) is the main reason that launching the x8 as an interim release makes such good sense to me - its practically no economic risk to Dave and the team to launch it. Right now the appeal of an expensive, kit form X16 has got to be very limited (and needs more work before it's ready for prime time). Given the increase in component prices, need to bundle the keyboard (to claw back the 50% down sunk cost and I presume, minimum order placed there) then making a decent enough mark-up to fund further development without going so high as to drive off too many of the already limited pool of buyers, there needs to be something to sell to keep the lights on. Worst case the X8 doesn't sell well and so makes them no money for the X16 development, but as its already a completed, known good device ready to launch at a very low per unit manufacturing price point, then even with a few hundred sales it is likely to provide funds for the finalisation of the X16 device prototypes and also cover some of the teams existing sunk costs - making the eventual X16 kits that much cheaper to get out of the door (and so selling more, and snowballing up to developing the refined versions which can reach a wider audience, meaning more interest all round). I don't see there being any way they will sell 4 figures of units of the X16 kit (given the price/hassle narrowing the market significantly), and without some money to work with, a splash kit release and pile of unsold keyboards might be all there is to show for it.
  8. Back in the 8 bit era, I'd have kiboshed any attempt (c16, plus4, c128) at diluting the market for, or generating pointless internal competition to the C64 line, instead focussing on miniaturisation / optimisation of the chipset to reduce costs to keep it a profitable super budget line. Creating a plugin addon for existing devices aimed at upgrading the video capabilities of the C64 architecture, without having to sell a whole new device to existing users or breaking backward software compatibility (think proto-VERA on a cartridge). Bundle this with new c64 devices, sell it as an addon to existing customers, and eventually integrate it onto a c64U (c64 upgraded) board to lower costs and make that the new default model (functionally identical to a C64 classic with expansion). With 8 bit lifetime extended somewhat due to existing users buying our expansion module in droves, software developers feverishly working on upgraded versions of software leveraging the new capabilities, shift all internal development over to a true 16 / 32 bit successor built out of MOS derived IP, rather than rely on Motorolla. Acquire Hi Toro and merge them into Chip R&D. Aim for something much more akin to the A500 out of the gates, rather than as late, cut down A1000. Attempt to recreate the success of the C64, but getting the most powerful device into as many users hands as cheaply as possible, leveraging vertical production integration. Work with productivity software developers to get their tools onto the C2048 (or whatever we end up calling it). Offer the same device in multiple desktop form factors (to satisfy home users and corporates users, but maintaing 100% software compat). Perhaps buy Atari before Jack
  9. Exactly. Low risk, predictable margin device to get Commander hardware of some form in peoples hands to raise awareness, confidence, start tooling development/refinement and of course, raise funds for further development of the more niche / fancy fully custom product.
  10. I wonder if the spec of the X8 (before all the scope creep, supply chain realities and development challenges of the X16) was pitched in 2019, whether people would be complaining about the percieved spec compromises vs the x16. The stated X8 spec (other than a lack of expansion connectivitiy) seems to be right on the money for anyone interested in a more modern, better documented and less quirky implementation of the capabilities and compromises inherent to the the golden ages of development in the 8 bit era. Also - I often wonder if Dave would have been better off all along reversing the original development and rollout plan, i.e. by starting with the launch of a cheap, easy to produce FPGA based core product with enough capability to encourage community buzz, tooling development and initial games built on the the core VERA and 65C02 functionality (and the added benefit of being able to correct or append any glaring logical hardware or Kernel code issues easily after devices were in the wild), and then offering the physical version (with a real 65C02, RAM etc) for those who wanted to tinker with hardware hacking and expandability afterward once the big bugs had been ironed out on the FPGA based devices. Does anyone really expect that they'll make a living out of selling X16 software? If not, and if the goal is to develop software for personal enjoyment / use, why does it matter if a proportion of the community can't your code on their "base" 128k devices? If the goal is to sell software, the X8/16 don't seem like the smartest platforms to target, and for anyone who is interested enough in what you're doing, the cost and hassle of a full fat X16 kit shouldnt be a blocker right?
  11. Subjectively speaking, most of the features Dave mentioned that would be lost from the X16 spec vs the X8 (IEC drive hookup, Yamaha chip, expansion slots etc) don't personally bother me - and don't get in the way of the capability I am actually interested in. The RAM limitation is equally a relatively minor issue for me, as working around the limitation (like the good ol' days) seems like part of the fun If level/music data etc can be swapped in and out from the SD card on demand at good speeds (the way some large games could when using disc rather than tape could back in the 80's to get around such ram limitations) then there's a still a heck of a lot that can be done in 64+64k. The Sprite and layering capabilites of the VERA being maintained are the big draw for me. Not sure about the 256 byte memory windows stuff, I'll defer that to brighter minds than mine to assess. Overall though - I'd much rather see an X8 appear at an impulse buy cost, without any soldering requirement, and be available to order imminently - that can be priced with enough overhead built in to generate some funds to complete the full through mounted component X16 development - my worry is that without some compromise and mechanism to bring funds in to complete remaining X16 development, it will never see the light of day beyond a few very expensive kit sales.
  12. If the formfactor / ports on the X8 could be layed out to line up with the outputs on an RPI, you wouldnt even need to design/produce/distribute a custom case for it.... I wonder how much would it cost (up front investment) to get the X8 from where it is now to an out of the door product in an RPI footprint, preferably with a version of the getting started with programming in assembler (tailored to the X8, maybe with a load of PETSCII robots samples!) guide?
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