Once the new model of MSX comes out...

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Van zPasi

Champion (499)

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29-01-2016, 21:48

Kai Magazine wrote:

My opinion:
What is it?
A way to evolve the MSX and see what could/should have been if the firm continued, and also a way to preserve our beloved system a few years more.

But that "what could have been" is just speculation. We cannot really know. Ok, one can speculate, no problem with that.
And I fully agree that preserving point. That doesn't require anything beyond Turbo R, tho.

Kai Magazine wrote:

For who?
For me and all those who want to enjoy both the old software at a faster speed, and to develope new software with more capabilities, better graphics, etc.
An msx2+ with faster cpu, internal opl4 and v9990 would mean a new standard, and many developers (me for starters) would be very happy to create software for this new standard.

But that would easily lead to fragmentation. MSX user base is small. Introducing more fragmentation could kill the whole scene.

Faster speed (switchable) should be easy tho: the new design would probably be FPGA-based so "turbo speed" comes basically free. But software that would *require* that extra speed, I don't like the idea.

Kai Magazine wrote:

another way to see it.:
Nowadays, the top hardware you can have on MSX is:
-Turbo-R GT: 250-350 euro
-opl4: 100-120 euro
-GFX9000: 120 -160 euro (no longer manufactured)
-megaflashrom sd or similar: 100 euro

So this hardware amounts to 570 - 730 euro
If all this can be manufactured in one single machine and the cost is below 250 euro, it is an exelent way to have an "all-in-one" machine at a reasonable price.

That I understand. That would be cool. Except that GFX9000, although it existed it's rare and could increase fragmentation. Maybe cool feature, but don't write too much GFX9000-ONLY software please Big smile

Van ivke2006

Expert (78)

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29-01-2016, 21:51

Hi MSX friends, I normally only read here but I feel the urge to share my thoughts...it's quit some text..sorry :-)

Over the years there where lots of initiatives to create a new MSX compatible computer. But all these initiatives are either dead, not sucessfull or will never be very successful and my fear is this one will share the same fate.

if a new initiative pops up, there is always (of course) a discussion about the specs. Some just look in the past and want just a replacement for their 30 year old MSX maybe with SCC, MSX Music + Audio, OPL 4 etc...and others want at least a Zillion MHz MSX. Requirements regarding specs are important but very narrow minded (nerd perspective). No offense meant!

If we want to rejuvenate or resurect our beloved MSX platform (I have the impression that most of us would like this, or not?), even in a niche market, we should learn from the past.

There is obvious a lot of hard and software talent available in the scene and they are willing to put a lot of effort in creating new things but all attempts to create a new computer had or have the wrong starting point:

They never determine what the market proposition should be and there is no plan other then creating a piece of hardware!!
So basicly they don't look at the 'big picture'.

Some points to think about:

- What would be a possible and realistic (niche) market proposition? Look for example at V-tech or Arduino, raspberry PI, etc.. they created succesfully a new educational 'platform' in the crowded IT market.
- What would be success factors for the chosen (educational) proposition? Example (from my perspective :-) ):
* New cheap basic MSX hardware platform with high(er) performance, USB & network. (not perse a zillion Mhz but
powerful enough for some' modern' software development). SCC and other extensions are not relevant at this stage.
* A ' new' standardized OS (SymbOS for example)
* Support for 1-2 modern and easy Software Development languages. (like LUA (any idea how many apps & games
created in LUA are released each day? ) a new MSX platform could benefit from the vast amount of software
releases and would also be interesting for hobby software developers (please have a look at Coronalabs.com for
example they have a big home-brew scene)
* Digital Software distribution system (app store like..could be less slick). Advantage: Developers are able to
distribute their software cheap and easy and consumers have a lower threshold to buy software.

I can elaborate more but I think you get the point. Wink
It would be fantastic if a scene wide initiative would arise.
This scenario is possible if only the scene would unite and eventually start a kickstart or indiegogo project for the needed cash. :-)

Just my 2 cents..(maybe a few euro Wink )

Ivke

Ps. Of course it's not my intention to offend anyone. All respect to the MSX diehards who are working hard to create new MSX hardware and/or software!

Van zPasi

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29-01-2016, 22:10

ivke2006 wrote:

Over the years there where lots of initiatives to create a new MSX compatible computer. But all these initiatives are either dead, not sucessfull or will never be very successful and my fear is this one will share the same fate.

One Chip MSX and Zemmix Neo. Maybe not new but recreation, but there is nothing wrong with that IMO...

Raspberry Pi reminds me what MSX used to be. You can actually code with it. They use it in schools, like some schools used MSX and similar back in the days. And you can play games with it. Ok, it's less a games machine, but the cause for that is more commercial than technical.

Van Kai Magazine

Paragon (1418)

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29-01-2016, 23:15

zPasi, I understand what you mean, but fragmentation will always occur when someone creates a piece of software for a particular hardware.
It happens on any retro-compatible new generation console (gb to gb color, gb color to gba, gba to ds, ds to 3ds, 3ds to new3ds... Same with play station 1 and 2, and many others.
It also occurs on the MSX every time someone composes a song for moonsound only, or creates a demo for 2+ or turbo-r, or even for gfx9000.
It also happens when a game has only FM musics, and there are many msx owners who do not have an fm pac...
This fragmentation can also occur if I finally manage to convince a hardware genious to develope new gfx9000, as happened with the opl4 being manufactured today.
The initial fragmentation is unavoidable, but it must be redirected and educated as an incentive to adquiere this new hardware, and once enough (if not all) users have this hardware, it finally becomes an standard.
To put this optional hardware in a new msx prototype (so you can use it or not) is not bad if enough units are sold.
The more units sold, the more developers will risk creating new software for this new hardware, and new software incentivates the purchase of said hardware, so it is a snowball, but the snowball must gain enough initial momentum to start growing.
Anyway, if I ever find myself in the situation of creating an exclusive software for a particular hardware, I would also make a retro-compatible version for the old standard. That would be a good option to avoid fragmentation and also increase sales...
There are many options. We just have to explore them.

Van Kai Magazine

Paragon (1418)

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29-01-2016, 23:25

AxelStone wrote:

@Kai Magazine Are you sure that people is prepared to jump to another standard? Smile I think that nowadays MSX is able to do this jump simply making games oriented to hard disk. This means: great openings like Illusion City of MegaCD, great amount of graphical data... A plain MSX2 has still a lot to say Wink

After 30 years I belive it is about time. Also, this last few years have been filled with many new developements, both in software and hardware areas, the msx is regaining interest by old users, and gaining interest from new users as well.
My opinion is that now would be an exelent time, since the "retro fashion" has grown to the highest level I have ever seen.

Regarding the space that provides a hard disk, sd, etc. Yes, sure we can make beautiful demos, but no amount of space will give us a double layered multi directional scroll like the gfx9000 (among many other amazing features)...

Perhaps a good first step would be to develope a new batch of gfx9000 so it becomes semi-standard, and once enough games are released, a new msx could be developed and launched?

I would compromise to create several games for gfx9000 if someone dares to make it. I am sure other developers would too.

olp4 sales have boomed since the first video of Life on Mars was posted, and opl4 is not cheap. So, software helps sell hardware.

Any takers?

Van RetroTechie

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30-01-2016, 00:34

Kai Magazine wrote:

Regarding the space that provides a hard disk, sd, etc. Yes, sure we can make beautiful demos, but no amount of space will give us a double layered multi directional scroll like the gfx9000 (among many other amazing features)...

Like other old systems, a big part of their charm is in its limitations. Smile2 Working / playing with, and coding within those limitations. Like for ZX81, Spectrum, C64, Apple II, Atari 2600 etc.

I wouldn't mind an MSX with some limitations removed. Say a high-clocked CPU. Or CPU -> VDP transfer speeds upped. Extreme-speed VDP blitter. Cool Many more sprites on a screen line. Some extra screen modes. Maybe a DMA engine, or some memory -> audio device 'co-processor'. Some re-arranging of the MSX'es complex slot mechanism into an easier to use 'flat' memory space. Things along the lines of ZX Spectrum ULA+ efforts: enhanced features, but still compatible to existing software.

But as soon as you bring in entirely new IC's, and try to build a 'standard' with that, you get a new machine. And then you have to wonder what place that machine is supposed to take among existing gear. Question

And that's where ivke2006 hits the nail on the head. Low-end Arduino boards can be had for what, $3~4 a pop? And you have the RPi 2, a quad core 32-bit cpu, built in the millions with a large community & lots of software. You know how many 'RPi-wannabee' single board computers are out there today? Just a few years back perhaps a dozen. Today: many dozens. RPi-sized 64-bit ARM boards coming up around the $50 mark or less. In a few years from now: hundreds of boards like that. Shocked! What purpose ON EARTH would an über-MSX serve among all that? NONE. No matter how nice a machine it would be, or how well we'd know / love / program it.

A modern replacement for our aging MSX machines: yes please! Pick up a few enhancements along the way: why not! (if done cheap enough). But outside of that: dead on arrival.

Van ivke2006

Expert (78)

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30-01-2016, 10:14

Quote:

What purpose ON EARTH would an über-MSX serve among all that? NONE. No matter how nice a machine it would be, or how well we'd know / love / program it.

Well, I did a few IOS apps in the past using Corona SDK (LUA). The funny thing is that a lot developers (including myself) make less money by making a IOS (Android even worse) game then some of the developers in the MSX scene. Not because their apps suck but just because it's overcrowded. Some of them earn more money by releasing app on the Kindle then on IOS. Give them an alternative platform where they can sell 200-300 copies, they would be happy. This could be the spark the MSX scene needs to survive the coming years.

So as mentioned in my post above, If a new MSX platform would be developed with:

  • Cheap
  • Higher performance
  • Support of a modern programing language where a lot of home brew activities exist
  • Digital software distribution

It would be guaranteed more successful then the 1chip MSX or Neo Zemmix. You don't have to sell millions to create a successful niche market. All current + past attempts where fishing in the existing pool of users. We ' just' need to make the pool bigger.

Van erpirao

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30-01-2016, 15:39

later, this message of "if I'm crazy," I'll be a little more serious
MSX is true that the community is small, but so is that is very committed to the machine.
My idea for a MSX future ?, which was developed with the MSXVR a hard to "virtualize" all the capabilities of our system, but maintaining the "feeling of using a real MSX"
with respect to the processor, a Z80 (or compatible) is cheap nowadays, but back to get the stick in the wheel ... can put a "turbo z80" to 20MHz for example, but can switch to 3.57 in any moment.
separate issue is the "cpu century", if it is possible to maintain compatibility would make the curve progression was much nicer, but if it is not and high-level languages ​​are usasen, the progression may be even better.
RAM? minimum 4MB, but at least (in fact there is proof of a virtual Nestor Soriano MSX with 52MB !!!), if we take our limitations, one of the largest is the amount of RAM. (And we must recognize that today is almost more expensive 1MB to 1GB)
VDP? the 9958 is mandatory, but if possible than "the old 9958" a v9958 with 4MB open many doors for the use of the system as a primary platform * (I would explain this later)
the V9990? also if it is virtual or extended VRAM, but it would be even more interesting a "new" concept, as the V9978 being developed for MSXVR, although I think that is already developing a new specification must be ambitious (for example a VRAM addressing above 16MB) *

in sound no problems since there is almost unanimous: PSG + MUSIC (AUDIO close to) the OPL4? It's a great idea, but it would have to consider whether such a complex chip would cost to put (besides that could keep making runs)

SD storage ?, no doubt at least, with the possibility of external USB storage

and of course a powerful BASIC (but with certain limitations), and controllable (I do not want to imagine a basic list 1MB)

If quedase site and budget, a separate slot for future expansion, it would be nice ..
and of course ... quiet, no fans to make noise.
* Primary platform:
My idea for a new MSX is to replace as far as possible the PC, if a new MSX can watch Netflix, navigate albeit crudely, see and answer my emails, the truth is that only go on the PC for some video editing, on work, or some PC games (sorry Starcraft II love me)

I'm sorry I was so heavy

Van zPasi

Champion (499)

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30-01-2016, 18:04

RetroTechie wrote:
Kai Magazine wrote:

Regarding the space that provides a hard disk, sd, etc. Yes, sure we can make beautiful demos, but no amount of space will give us a double layered multi directional scroll like the gfx9000 (among many other amazing features)...

Like other old systems, a big part of their charm is in its limitations. Smile2 Working / playing with, and coding within those limitations. Like for ZX81, Spectrum, C64, Apple II, Atari 2600 etc.

Exactly. Pushing the envelope. It's amazing what people have done with this "obsolete" technology. And even that amazing gfx9000 is crap. Why to stop there, why not OpenGL 3 with shaders and everything?

Want more speed, better graphics - go and buy some goddamn $400 PC, if that's your idea of fun... Tongue

RetroTechie wrote:

I wouldn't mind an MSX with some limitations removed. Say a high-clocked CPU. Or CPU -> VDP transfer speeds upped.

I would. Soon there would be bunch of slow unoptimised games and utils, and when complained, the answer would always be "why don't you just buy the latest UberTurboMSX". Even the new software have to run on the old MSX hardware, that's the idea.

I could approve optional switchable "turbo" enhancements if the developers didn't make these the new requirements.

ivke2006 wrote:

Well, I did a few IOS apps in the past using Corona SDK (LUA). The funny thing is that a lot developers (including myself) make less money by making a IOS (Android even worse) game then some of the developers in the MSX scene. Not because their apps suck but just because it's overcrowded.

These days even the big studios must place their mobile games to "free-to-play". The days when you could put a game in the App store with a pricetag and just wait for the money, are gone. So you have to find some way to monetise that "free" game. But even getting people to download the game for free is not easy anymore.

Quote:

Give them an alternative platform where they can sell 200-300 copies, they would be happy. This could be the spark the MSX scene needs to survive the coming years.

I don't buy that. There already are niche markets you could sell those 200 - 300 copies.

I'm not totally against the idea of new MSX, but we must be very careful with that.

Van zPasi

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30-01-2016, 18:45

I think, what MSX was in the '80's, it was mainly a games console, which with you could also code and do some other "computing". For the high-end models, there was even professional use, but we've got other equipment for that now.

Nowadays we have more powerful games consoles, but usually they are one-purpose devices. You can't code with them. So, in my mind, the new MSX could be a retro-games console, but open for coding and hacking. It should be able to run classic MSX games, MSX-DOS, BASIC and all that familiar stuff. It could also have a "new mode" that gives more power and everything, but that should come cheap so the console could sell thousands. If it only would sell 100 or so, it just would fragment the MSX base.

If I should design such a device, it would contain three main parts:

  1. An FPGA
  2. A small ARM-based Linux computer, probably RasPI
  3. The familiar MSX connectors (like module slot) and then some (USB etc)

The FPGA would serve as MSX hardware (with Z80, mappers and everything). The ARM computer would be the *new* turbo mode. Four cores, OpenGL ES, a lot to play with. The rest is just software, open source. Most exists already.

I know the RasPI alone is powerful enough for the whole thing, but to make sure all the MSX hardware would be implemented without compromises the FPGA would also be there. It doesn't cost much anyway. And if you still want gfx9000, OPL4, whatever, it all could be arranged, no problem.

Seriously! Wouldn't that be Uber enough? Hannibal

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