The idea of an odd gaming console

hauke

New Member
Jun 22, 2019
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Hi guys,

i was thinking a while about a gaming console, which would be a retro like gaming platform on a modern hardware. Not like emulators emulating everything, it is mixed with limited hardware capabilities of real and slow hardware.

The idea is a result of some memories from the past. I like a few things from the past which are

* Quick boot times (from roms)
* Limited game dynamics, optics and sound
* The unrealistic digital look of artwork
* Low level coding (what i never did, but i want to. I did only some basic when i was young)

My idea is to emulate sound and graphics with a Rasperry Pi and let a dedicated MCU control the "virtual chips". On the Pi would run a Linux system. My idea is to connect the MCU to the Pi by GPIO to simulate a kind of bus to send and receive commands. The Pi can flash the MCU or maybe write into a SRAM and then reset the MCU and the MCU will run the code. Games can be also stored on floppy (which would be loaded by the Pi to the MCU) and on a ROM cartridge (which can be directly accessed by the MCU but also graphics and sound data can be read by the Pi).

The Pi would also contain a kind of IDE with and sprite editor, tracker and a font editor. This would be accessible if a keyboard is plugged in. The IDE is displayed in a high resolution mode (overlay).

There could be also a community feature like achievements and multiplayer. This all could be handled by the pi and would be simplified and transparent to the MCU.

The graphics would be limited. There would be a graphics mode with just 480x270 Pixel (what makes 4x4 Pixel on FullHD) and two text modes. Just 256 colors and limited sprites. The renderer would not just output the graphics, it would add some effects to make it look like on a CRT.


This is just an wired idea. I never saw something like this. I don't know even if this can work. I can't code in other languages than golang (a little) and typescript (my daily work). I am just a web developer. I have been put a little summary of the idea and a data flow diagram to a github repo: https://github.com/owja/odd

Would be nice if some people could comment my idea, what do you think about it?

Greets
Hauke
 

cml37

Moderator
Staff member
May 19, 2019
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Interesting! I guess my immediate thought on any gaming console is that once you get the console established, you'd have to start working on getting games developed. Any thoughts there?

But, that said, expanding your knowledge by diving into a project like this would be a GREAT way to gain some additional skills... no reason why you couldn't list a project like this on your resume once completed!
 

hauke

New Member
Jun 22, 2019
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The idea is to make it compatible to hardware you can find on the marked. Like if i would choose a Arduino based MCU and a Raspberry PI, then someone only needs to wire them together and install the OS on the Pi. Sure it would nice if there is a assembled product people could buy for less than 100 Euro, but I could not take the risk. But it will be open source. So maybe someone could build and sell it. :)

The main idea of the platform is that programmers could use it as an all in one. Like a C64 or Atari 800, just turn on and start coding. Even people who never did it before. No installing of software, no need for setting up the programming environment. That's what the (really integrated) IDE is for. All you need in one place, even the documentation with examples, sprite editor and music tracker. It would be perfect if this would be a product you could buy, unbox, plug in and run, but like mentioned before, that is impossible for me. I even have no idea jet how to start coding such a big project ;)

I would even build in a way to publish software to a store. So people can share their games and even sell it. You will be able to share and sell a game on a floppy, ROM cartridge and/or digital over the store. And source code could be shared with some kind of git integration and a registry. I had this in mind since the first time i thought about it, because I for myself like the old big boxes but like the comfort of platforms like Steam too.

The question is I think is, if this is interesting enough for the people to use it. Or better is it interesting enough that people would put some work into such an project. I am sure I can not handle it completely alone. The thinks I am able to do, like the network related stuff and the IDE itself are not the first thing i have to do. The first thing i have to do is the most hardest for me: Letting a Raspberry Pi talking to a Arduino and more important to find a way how the "virtual chips" could work and get accessed over GPIO. :D
 

hauke

New Member
Jun 22, 2019
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Not far away but not really the same. I heard first time of it today, and sounds interesting. But my concept is more a mix with modern features with retro gaming. Old games would not work. It is not emulating a whole system. It only does a kind of emulation for graphics and sound, the main game logic of the game runs native on the dedicated MCU. The graphics output will get some post processing. One of the main features is the integrated IDE and tools for building games like sprite editor, music tracker, publishing and git integration. And it integrates networking, so online multiplayer is a thing. Networking, user management, achievements and controller input are accessible by an API, so the programmer does not need to care about. It is abstracted away from the game.

I wrote in a more detail in my github repository.

An idea of what i mean with post processing and graphic effects can be seen in the game kung fury street rage:

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