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    It is the one piece of good news that stands out in an otherwise grim Quebec fall. Video game developer Ubisoft Entertainment SA will invest $373-million over seven years and create 500 positions in Montreal. In a province that added a dismal 5,000 jobs in the past year, this private investment provides some comfort. But the change in fortune has a price for taxpayers, and it is not cheap. The Parti Québécois government is extending its already generous aid to the video game industry http://universe-journal.com/. The payroll tax credits, which can reach 37.5 per cent of an employee’s salary if the title that he or she is working on is also offered in French, are no longer limited in time. Quebec used to wean video game producers off the tax break three years after a title was released.


    This is a reflection of a trend that is changing the video game industry’s business model. Cheap or free online games that cater to a community of players are increasingly popular, be they one-hit wonders by independent producers or spinoffs of big gaming franchises. But video game producers need to use the insight they gain from players’ every moves to tweak their games on an ongoing basis. With this constant update, they can maintain the players’ interest and trigger so-called micro-transactions within the game. As the small transactions add up, the big money is made.

    This trend also explains why Quebec is extending its tax credit to the new trades of the game: community and network management specialists, business intelligence analysts, mathematicians and the like.

    It is only fitting that Ubisoft would be the first company to profit from these new rules. In Quebec, the French multinational is the one that got the ball rolling in 1997. Its lobbyist, the late Sylvain Vaugeois, convinced then Finance Minister Bernard Landry to grant Ubisoft generous tax credits in a bid to transform the province’s traditional manufacturing base into a creative economy. But local companies who envied the deal protested loudly, so the PQ bought peace by offering incentives to all the Quebec-based producers that qualified.

    The program proved wildly successful, and even the Liberals, who had denounced it while in Opposition, kept it when they arrived in power, even if they reduced the scale of the payroll tax credit in 2003.

    The video game industry now employs 7,400 people in the Montreal area, according to TechnoCompétences – Ubisoft alone accounts for over a third of them. When other Quebec studios are factored in, the province employs half of the Canadian video-game industry, which gave work to 16,500 people in 2011, according to a survey by Nordicity for the Entertainment Software Association of Canada. These workers, a little over 30 years old on average, earn around $72,000 per year.

    There is one drawback, however. Quebec’s success has fuelled the video game’s arms race. Provinces such as Ontario, American states, as well as European countries, like the United Kingdom namely, have sweetened their financial aid in recent years to attract these highly qualified, high-paying jobs. And the province has responded in kind.

    One can only congratulate the Quebec government for staying on top of the latest industry developments. According to Denis Langelier, media and entertainment tax practice leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, no other province has been as amendable, even if some video game producers complain that Quebec bureaucrats are too finicky in the way they administer the incentives on a daily basis.

    But at the same time, one cannot help but wonder how far the province will go to nurture its video game industry.

    The current program cost taxpayers $128-million in Quebec’s last fiscal year. And from now onward, with the exception of the people who help with distribution, anybody who just so much as touches a video game will earn a subsidized salary, for as long as they are employed on that game. How much will this end up costing Quebec taxpayers? At Monday’s press conference, none of the ministers present were able to provide a figure or a cost-benefit analysis.

    And that is ignoring the direct subsidies that Quebec started throwing like a bunch of cherries on top of the cake. Ubisoft, which declared a net income of €66-million in its 2013 fiscal year on sales of €1.26-billion, received a $9.9-million subsidy this time around.

    If only Quebec were in good financial shape. The latest figure released Friday indicates that the province’s deficit has reached $1.8-billion in its first trimester. Despite the PQ’s promises, balancing the books for the year now looks elusive.

    At some point for the gaming industry, having a critical mass of schools, great talent and studios in a single city with affordable rent should be worth something. At some point for Quebec, enough should be enough.

  1. So lately I've been playing crap like Wii and Minecraft but now I'm leaving Minecraft behind and not gonna play wii so much and instead I'm gonna get out the 2600 and play my games again cuz I haven't played them in a FEW MONTHS. I'm also gonna have to play donkey Kong on my 2600 cuz I got it in June and STILL haven't played it (which is pretty sad :( .) That's all for now so SEE YA! :D

  2. Realizing the pattern -


    It seems like every time I stop collecting for whatever reason and choose to sell my video games whether I have to for money, just do it because I run out of space, or get some wild idea that storing everything digitally will be better for me in the long run I get this urge to start up again half a year later. It's like an impulse to buy things I am familiar with and remind me of good times. Those shiny golden Zelda cartridges for the NES; those colorful front covers and labels on any game; those neatly organized bookshelves just filled with items - they all "speak to me" in a figurative sense saying "we missed you, take us back please."



    Nostalgia -


    Some people look at nostalgia as a gloomy thing but for others it brings us joy. It depends on whether that nostalgia can be satisfied by getting those lost things back or not. For us who find nostalgia in gaming, music, movies, collectible toys etc. it's easy because most of the stuff can be found again. If our nostalgia is caused by longing for a person or pet we miss that is not as easy to deal with.


    If you think about it some of us collect because we feel nostalgic about the good times we had on a game system. It could be possible that years down the road, former collectors might become nostalgic simply about being game collectors in general if they miss the good times hunting for games they want.


    My memory is usually very good and detailed when it comes to my main interests so I get nostalgic about various points in time during my life instead of just one. Due to that fact it seems I am just quicker to snap back. It gets me thinking everything would have been better or easier if I never got rid of anything in the first place. Some of it just couldn't be helped when the adults in my home sold things at yard sales when I was a child or reclaimed gifts they had given to me because I stopped using them.


    Rebuilding, and tips for the new collector so you don't make my mistakes -



    The main thing I could tell myself I should have done differently was to save up a lot more money and buy the games and systems much more slowly. I'm still only 26 so I should have years to save up money, buy back what I liked and do a better job at using everything I buy. There is a sense of relief that many of the items have not changed in value much over the years; only a select few.


    Once you realize you want to collect games again in a different way, you tend to want to do a better job. You tend to want to keep things cleaner and more organized. Besides budgeting money and only using a percentage of leftover money each month after bills for collecting, there are additional steps I now realize will be necessary to make this nice:


    1. Set up storage space, display space and play space -


    Number one if you are going to collect something is to make sure you have a place to put it. In this case, the higher your ceiling the less cluttered the collection will seem. Your significant other will be more concerned about clean floor space to move around in than how tall you make your shelving system(s). It makes sense because we can walk around in a room, but we can't walk on the walls and ceiling. Make sure your type of storage is safe to use, sturdy and secure so your prized game collection will not fall on the floor in the case of an earthquake (right now, it looks to me like metal rack shelving will be easier to disassemble in case of a move, weigh less and have a sturdier footprint than wood). Another good idea is to use measurements or mock-up units the size of the items you are collecting to use as placeholders for when you do acquire those items. That way you will have the right size storage shelving at the start and not have to destroy and replace, sell and replace, or modify your unit later on. Knowing you will be able to hold everything you are looking for will ease your mind and make it so you do not have to worry about running out of space. Figuring this out ahead of time will also help you determine exactly how you want to display favorite or special items for all to see. Take note of odd-sized releases that will need their own unique display configurations (i.e. Earthbound and Mario Paint for SNES, Aladdin Deck Enhancer games for NES, Sonic & Knuckles cartridge only and so on). It is also wise to leave a little bit of extra room with a bookend of some sort in case a homebrew release you might be interested in or an unknown old rare game is discovered (as is the case with Atari 2600 sometimes), unless you would rather keep extra rare items like that in a separate place.


    2. Keep the storage, display and play spaces clean -


    This might be hard sometimes, especially when resisting the temptation to place items that do not belong onto the storage rack. If you use wood, you'll have regular dusting to do. If you use grated metal racks with a cardboard or plastic layering, not so much. If you want to leave systems hooked up those will have dusting or cord management to deal with as well. As long as you keep your storage area clean and in some kind of order, your significant other shouldn't be bothered about it or nag saying "this place is a mess." It helps distinguish the difference between a collector and a hoarder and you won't be accused of being the latter if you don't like that particular title. If you can find a way to keep things uniform it will look that much nicer.


    3. Buy or make protection for fragile items -


    If you are going to collect mint or very good copies of easily damaged items such as cardboard boxes it is wise to buy plastic box protectors, extra manuals, and spare cartridge/disc only play copies of the games to avoid damaging the boxes, cartridge labels, disc play sides, and pages of the manuals. Most of the time these extra parts only cost a fraction of the price you pay for a mint game so in theory if you can afford a mint complete copy, you can easily throw a few extra dollars down to protect your item from damage. Otherwise might as well buy one in "Good" or "Acceptable" condition to start with. Most of the time, the cheapest thing to buy separately is an instruction manual. If you don't find it necessary to buy extra game systems or cartridges just to keep a box from getting damaged, then the next best thing is to just always keep these things out of their boxes in a separate spot to minimize opening and closing the boxes. You only risk wearing out the more common part of the item that was intended to be used. Keep casually used, shared items separate from the mint complete storage section to prevent others in the household from messing up your good stuff. It's best to keep the shared games / play copies closer to your play setup.


    4. Create a checklist of your collecting goals so you can highlight or check off items as you go -


    For this step I use a digital checklist in Wordpad. That program allows me to add any new entries to the list and arrange them any way I want. I can highlight things in any color so I can color code its status according to my custom definitions. Years ago I used to print physical lists of all games for a system and highlight those as I bought games. Keeping a checklist will prevent you from buying multiple copies of the same thing by mistake if you don't want them. You can include everything that is available or you can set a smaller goal by only adding entries for games you want to play. If your checklist is digital you can always place new entries in between others whenever you find out about a new game you find interesting. Just remember to update your checklist and place the new item on your storage shelf as soon as you can so you don't forget about it and leave a mess somewhere else in the home.


    5. Set up some kind of rule to prevent yourself from straying from your goal -


    Maybe you don't want to pay over a certain amount for any game, or maybe you only want to collect or buy what you want to play. You can always buy random games to try but not count them as part of your collection or even give those games an entry in your checklist. My main rule this time around is to only try to get a collectible condition copy for games that I have completely mastered. This makes it so I actually enjoy everything I collect and defines everything I have that I haven't played through as a part of my backlog section rather than my collection. It separates my favorites from the stuff I just bought because it looked good, was cheap or came free in bundles and lots. It also gives me a direction to aim my collection funds for the month. People who want to collect everything probably won't have this same setup and will probably buy the first thing they see that they don't have like I used to, but it works great for me. If I want to buy something that costs more than my collecting budget per month, I can always choose not to spend my max and carry over the leftover funds to the following months.

    You can always make different kinds of rules for different systems or game types too. If you love RPGs or platformers you can give yourself an exception to always buy those complete, or buy all of that game type even if you haven't played all the games. You can choose to buy every Atari game you come across, but put restrictions on what kinds of Playstation 2 games you buy. Just tailor it to your interests and the possibilities are endless. You can even place restrictions on buying games for one system until your collection for a higher priority system is complete, then lift those restrictions for the next system. The rules you make for yourself are just to keep yourself focused so you don't give up.


    Conclusion -

    I believe these tips will help keep anyone from feeling overwhelmed by a collection or placed into a situation where they have to give something up. Being prepared, responsible, clean, organized and self directed is the path to success as a collector. Don't take too risky gambles - they are usually not worth the chance of losing everything and starting over.

  3. ...a přestože to už skoro vypadalo, že nic nestihneme, zase máme s MaPou příspěvek. Původně jsme plánovali už od jara, že uděláme něco většího, ale jak se blížil termín, uskromňovaly se i naše plány a nakonec jsme za posledních 20 srpnových dní usmolili variaci na známé téma. Nechci zatím nic prozrazovat, ale můžu říct, že MaPa měl docela dobrý nápad, jak pozměnit jednu klasickou hru a vlastně tak trochu převrátil způsob, jakým se hraje.


    Na své si přijdou fandové spousty barev, neboť jako obvykle ždímáme z atárka, co se dá (přes 20 barev na řádek), spousta DLIček, podbarvení přes PMG, dokonce i změny barevných registrů uprostřed řádku, no prostě klasický mapovsko-pgovský přístup, usilující o maximalizaci wow-faktoru :-)


    Hra je už prakticky hotová, ladí se poslední řádky kódu, pilně nám to testuje Solaris a přidal se i Fandal, takže nemám obavy, že by se něco pokazilo.


    Co se týče našich ambicí na umístění v Abbuc compu, byl bych letos poněkud střídmější - nemám ten dojem, že bychom vyrobili zrovna herní pecku. To jsme si ale před pár lety mysleli i o Ocean Detoxu, a zasvěcení vědí, jak to dopadlo :-) Na druhou stranu, neděláme hry, abychom vyhrávali soutěže, ale protože nás to baví a rádi rozšiřujeme knihovničku nových her pro náš milovaný systém. Takže nepohrdneme ani třetím místem :-)


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    I lucked out on a 1200 on Friday. Purchased as 'faulty display', showing incorrect colours. Done every test I can think of and spent a good while looking at the board and measuring signals and components and I cannot fault it at all. There seems to be an ever increasing number of people selling things on EBAY as faulty when they actually work fine.

  4. blog-0486417001372514660.jpg

    I purchased these from a friend who needed $$ a long time ago - I have no idea what they are worth and cant find much online about them. The majority of these the batteries have died. The Ms Pac Man Pen game does work and is actually kinda neat. I have instructions for a few of them but no boxes


    Sold as is.


    $25 plus shipping for the lot.

  5. blog-0822724001370994657.jpgOk, so you are looking for an item on Ebay. Here is my personal opinion of what kind of things you should look at before making a selection. The first thing that is most important is the Feedback. If a seller has a good feedback rating of close to 100% then they are probably safe to buy from. But I would take a look at that seller by clicking on their user ID (their Ebay name) That will bring up their profile and show you how many sales they have had in 1 month, 6 months and the last 12 months. Take a good look at the numbers. A person that sells 1000 items per month is a lagitiamate business which likely has employees and moves enough product to make me comfortable with them as a seller. A person who has 1000 feedbacks or transactions in one month and has one or two bad marks (negitives or neutrals), is not so bad. One or two transactions with an issue out of 1000 is not too bad. Perfection is always what I strive for and excellence in customer service is what we all as sellers desire. But we are human and sometimes a mistake is made. When that happens Its more important to me to see what they reply to under their bad mark. A seller that doesn't respond to a negitive mark or responds by blamming the buyer is likely not going to be your first choice when choosing a seller for the item you want. Simply stated.... You order and item and want that item on time with no issues. You expect to get what you pay for. I can completely respect that and I feel that most sellers are good and would do the same.

    However; If you see a seller that has less than 50 transactions per month, I would be a bit concerned. My first concern is how fast are they going to ship my item. If they have that little of activity then it tells me that this is a person with a computer that has something they are just trying to get some money out of. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but I would definately look into them or try to contact them and just ask a polite question reguarding the item. See how professional they are and how fast they respond. Of coarce if a person like this has less than 50 transaction per month and you are seeing more than 1 negitive or neutral per month..... My advise would be to move on. There are normally many sellers who have the same item for possibly even less. Which brings me to my next point.... Navagation.

    When you look for an item on Ebay, simply type in what you are looking for in the space provided. For example if I am looking for the first Mario I would type in "Super Mario Nintendo NES". The click buy it now if you want to make the selection right away or place a bid if you want to gamble a bit and try to get it for a bargain. Now choose the option in the upper section of the left side of the screen above the search results. You will see a box that allows you to select options like "best match" "lowest shipping first" ect. ect. Choose "lowest with shipping first". After you have done that you should see the item that you want for the lowest price first. This is how you know you are getting the item for the lowest price.

    The next thing I would check for is the little star next to the listings. If there is not star and no "Top Rated Seller" logo I automatically check those profiles before making selections. Though EBays "top rated seller" rating is a status that may or may not have any berring on how good a seller really is.... In my opinion I try to choose sellers that are top rated. Just as a precaution that I am going to get my item on time and that it will be what they describe.

    Sometimes you will run across a bad seller, and this brings me to my final point. There are some bad apples on Ebay. This is why I offer these simple solutions to help you make an informed decision before you put your money out there. Even though Ebay does have a good buyer protection policy and a great "trust and safety team". There will always be those crooks out there that are always looking for something for nothing. And just being careful in your selection of a seller is a good start.

    To sum it all up.... Shopping on Ebay can be a very good experience no matter what you have heard. The Biggest thing is making sure that you read the seller's item description and not just the product details. READ THE FINE PRINT...... we all know what that means. Some sellers sell games that are pretty bad and only offer a stock photo. Which is another point... Stay away from stock photos. An actual picture of the exact item you are getting is always a plus. And if you do that and make sure that you know what you are shopping for, then your experience on Ebay should be a positive one. And when it is not..... try contacting the seller. Most of us are honest business people who take great pride in our customer service. Good and Honest sellers want to help you and will take time out of their busy day just to help you to make you happy.



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    blog-0592687001370992562.pngI know what your thinking.... Atari? did't that go out with the 80's. Any possibly your right if your the younger generation. But, for me Atari is still cool. See I remember being a young kid playing in the creek chasing crawdads and snakes through the woods. I remember the days before cell phones tablets and electronic devices. I was born in 1977 which was not all that long ago, but to some of you.... I must seem like an old man. lol. When I was about 6 or 7 my entertainment was GI joe and Legos. And though they still exist... Most people are stuck on the Xbox or some other gamming device. I can vividly remember the first time I saw my cousin playing something on a TV. It was interesting to me. It was a smurf crossing a river with a snake in it. And you, actually control what is happening on the TV. That was too cool, and unheard of back in those days. I did not know what a video game was as they were relitively new at that time. A year later my Dad - who was struggling to support us as a family- found an Atari 2600 system at a yard sale. It had 32 games and 2 controllers and a set of paddles. He gave $30 bucks.... which seemed like alot at the time. And to me....... that was the coolest thing ever.

    So, I enjoyed my Atari for years. I had so many games for it its not funny. And I can remember going to Toys R Us and getting a new game every once in a while. Paying $20 plus for a game which seemed like highway robbery at the time. I'm sure my parents weren't happy every time I asked for a new game. The years went by and the games got better and the systems as well. I'll never forget the release of Nintendo NES, Super or Genesis. I played those systems for years. They actually still work after 35 years. Unlike your new systems that are overpriced and burn out within a year or so depending on how you treat the device and how often you play it.

    As I get older and the gamming world keeps expanding, graffix keep getting better and the Mario craze is evergrowing, I find myself reminded of the good old days. The days when you could just put a game in the slot, turn the console on and play. No waiting, no loading. Though the graffix were basically a bunch of squares that make up some charector that somewhat resembles what it is supposed to be. To me, that is classic and for me the Atari is always cool. Not everyone will agree and not everyone still has a VCS 2600 still hooked up like me. I play it every day as well as many other systems from that era. And as we sit here talking about it, I feel an urge to try to beat my score on Burgertime for the Intellivision II. Gotta Go.... Let me know your thoughts.

  6. blog-0299581001370984514.jpg#1 Taz

    #2 Stampede

    #3 Donkey Kong

    #4 Super Mario Bros.

    #5 Frogger

    #6 Plaque Attack

    #7 Galaxian

    #8 Pole Position

    #9 Snoopy & the Red Barron

    #10 Yars Revenge


    Hard to name the top 10 since there are so many other good titles that I still love to play. For instance I still love Defender, Berzerk, Midnight Magic, Ms. Pac Man, Jr. Pac Man, Kangaroo and Warlords. Oldies but goodies to me.

  7. blog-0854450001370968299.jpgOk, so.... We all know how bad the controllers are. I buy and sell vintage video games and accessories. When I started out I sold just about any joystick or any other accessory that a person would want or need. But then I quickly learned that the Atari 5200 controllers were consistantly bad. Someone would buy a working 5200 controller from me and then about a week or so later complain that the item did not work properly any more. After some research, I soon realized that this is likely going to be the problem with this item every time I sell one. So I stopped. I still have nearly 20 of these controllers and few actually work properly. Who knows how long they will actually work.

    I guess that the main problem is basically the way that they were made. It has been my experience that the plastic pad inside of the controller that carries the signal to the motherboard seems to corrode and end up becomming the main reason that the buttons or numbers end up not working after some time. You can get new guts for the controllers which will likely fix them... but they are not super easy to install. Not too bad of a small project if you are handy with this kind of thing. Moreless; the new parts for the controllers seem to be a better quality of material than what was availible at the time that the 5200 was released. But that is just my humble opinion.

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    Well, I decided to open up my first Atari blog ... the first of many I hope.


    A bit about me, I am an Atari enthusiast from Knoxville, Tennessee. I started with an Atari 600XL in 1984, progressed to Atari ST and Amiga computers, and eventually even released my own iTunes album of 80's inspired synthpop music, all created using an Atari ST computer. I then caught the emulation bug and got back into retro Atari programming.


    Well, I found out recently that a guy named PacManPlus is programming a platform game for the 7800 called "Bentley Bear: Crystal Quest" and he needed someone to do POKEY music for his game. I used to mess around with POKEY stuff back in the day, so I thought I'd give it a go. It has been a real adventure so far for me, considering I haven't even messed with chip music in about 25 years. A lot to re-learn.


    For those who have forgotten, Bentley Bear was the protagonist in the Atari arcade game "Crystal Castles", quite a fun game. I noticed the original arcade game had bits of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite in it, so I decided for this project, I would stick with the classical music theme as well.


    Currently, I have music for 3 levels done, plus title music and end level music. Unfortunately, I seem to have hit a snag. The problem: I want to use 16-bit POKEY sound for the title music and end level - defeat boss music. For those not in the know, the POKEY chip has 4 sound channels by default, but one of the drawbacks is that you can't get really good bass sounds out of it. One way around this is to combine two channels, which gives you 65,536 frequency settings to choose from (instead of the normal 256), by setting a value in the AUDCTL register. Using this method, you essentially have a 9-octave range for your music now.


    In practice (and in the emulator) this works awesomely. The title music has a definite Nintendo quality to it. Unfortunately, this is proving hard to work on the actual 7800 hardware, PacManPlus is reporting that the bass track seems not to be playing when it is called. It may be a problem with the emulator, maybe the POKEY is laid out differently on the 7800, there may be a coding issue, but it's been a real mystery. Anyone who has ever programmed sound on the 7800 POKEY, if you've got any suggestions, I'd love to hear them! I'd really love to stick with the 16-bit sound for this music, I think it would really lift the quality of the game.


    Time to go ... wish me luck. :)

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    Hi everyone I'm proud to present the MidiBox TIA Cartridge!


    This is the first FULL midi synthetizer based on the TIA chip and cartridge cased.

    This is a DIY project, the firmware is opensource.


    It was not easy. Not because of the technical issues, just bad karma.

    In 2011/2012 I made a working firmware and a manager under Max/MSP.

    Because of personal reasons, I put the project on hold.


    End of 2012, I received a message from Eptheca who asked me the status of the project.

    With his help we decided to print 3 PCB’s. Unfortunately during this period, the hard drive of my computer suddenly decided to leave me, and I lost all my work: ((

    I sent the drive to Shanghai to try to recover my data, but of course my disc was one of the non-recoverable 10% (always this bad karma).


    So now we had the box and the electronics but nothing to put in it.

    In February I decided to rewrite everything but it took me some time.




    We've now got a new firmware and the application to manage the box.


    I am inspired by the version 1 MB-SID.

    I kept all the features of this engine.


    I improved the management of banks, I dedicated two envelopes to the voice of the TIA which is free, and a few small details that might please you.


    Here is the features of it:

    • 1 dedicated envelope for each voices(so 2) with optional non-linear curve and Sync which can be assigned to Amplitude and pitch. 3 specifics Mode to mix Modulation matrix and this env
      Env+Mods, Env*Mods, Env+(Env*Mods).
    • 2 additional envelopes with optional non-linear curve and Sync which can be assigned to Amplitude and pitch.
    • 4 additional LFOs with different waveforms and Sync which can be assigned to Amplitude and pitch.
    • Pitch Bender
    • Portamento/Glide function with Optional "Constant Time Slide".
    • Delays
    • 1 Arpeggiator for each voice(so 2) with optional Sync.
    • Poly, Mono and Legato Mode
    • Separate keyboard zones for each voice (key splitting) allows to play voices separately
    • Extended Mode for keys(all note reponse) or non extended with offset and length.
    • 1 velocity response for each voices (so 2) with optional CC assignment
    • Free controller assignments to Modulation Wheel and Aftertouch
    • LFOs, Envelopes, Arpeggios optionally syncable via external MIDI clock (one for each;)
    • Bankstick support (4 banks of 128 sound patches per stick, up to 8 can be connected) so 32 banks.
    • And much more.

    Coming soon:

    • wave and CC sequences which allow more percussive sounds (Wavetables) with dedicated banks.
    • Drum or Fx Kit Presets with dedicated banks.
    • 8 Analog I/O
    • 4bit sampling ;)
    • Atari 2600 Joystick and Video touch pad support.

    IMG 0215 2


    There's no CS on the cartridge version, but there's enough room in FW to add it. If someone wants to create it, you are welcome. This firmware is only for 18f4685.


    You can add MB-Link too if you need it, PORTA.0-7 and PORTB.0-3 share 8 I/O on the AUX connector.


    No CS; but I designed a Max/MSP Application (windows and Mac compatible):

    MidiBox-TIA Standalone Manager



    And it has iDevice support(sorry for those who boycott Apple products):

    MidiBox-TIA iOS surface control



    I'm trying to finish a Max4Live version, with a common file between both applications that will retrieve the names of banks, patches and all parameters without having to open the input of the midi track and make a CC request (there's no SysEx in Ableton Live).


    Now i suppose you want to hear it:



    Voilà!!! smile.png

  8. Game Played: OutRun

    Difficulty: Pro


    Final Leaderboard Round#3








    Season Standings as of Round #3











    Round #3 Participants: 6

    Total Participants: 9

    Scores Submitted: 11

    Total Score: 61,766,680

    Most submissions, Round #3: jblenkle (3)


    Most First Place Wins: NIKON (2)


    jblenkle challenges classicgamer_27330 for second after a good finish on OutRun. Meanwhile, NIKON cements his lead on the #1 spot.

  9. blog-0153746001367892793.jpgSo I decided to purchase a modded Atari 7800 from Best Electronics and I thought I'd do an unboxing of the package. I'd never dealt with Best before (though I'd heard good things from other members here at Atari Age) so I was unsure of what I was getting myself into. Part of the reason I want to do this unboxing is to show exactly what I received from Best and maybe it will help other posters decide as to whether or not they want to deal with this company.


    So what exactly did I order?


    1. Atari 7800 w/composite mod and OS mod

    - The composite mod adds composite audio and video in place of the original R/F a/v solution

    - The OS mod includes a BIOS skip so that 7800 games boot right away, adds 7800 Asteroids as a default game if the unit is powered on without a cartridge inserted and includes some PAL compatibility

    2. 5 game "Dented Can" Special

    - This set of games includes Ms. Pac-Man, Ballblazer, Joust, Galaga, and Robotron. The games are still factory sealed but were damaged in their original shipping so all of the outer boxes have dents and crushes. As such I got them at a nice discount ($7/ea or $35 total)


    This entire package set me back just under $200 (console, games, and shipping). I believe it was worth the money but I will let some of the pics do the talking.


    The Best Treasure Chest


    So without having actually opened anything, I can already tell you that the way it was shipped to me was awesome. A couple sturdy layers of cardboard, liberally taped in Atari branded packing tape. Now every USPS sorter from California to Arizona that handled this knows that something awesome was coming to me. I don't know how much time Best spends on packing but I can definitely say the box is cool, as far as shipping boxes go.



    Opening the Box


    After pulling out the trust box cutter, I opened the thing up on three sides (now it has a lid!) and here's what I found inside. A healthy layer of biodegreadeable packing peanuts with some flyers and adverts on top. These flyers look ancient! I don't know what kind of computer/printer setup Best has but if I had to guess from these flyers, they're still using Atari STs over there. Included are some brochures with game lists, some news articles, and copies of awards Best has won.



    Best Documentation


    One of the brochures is a listing of Atari 2600 games that Best carries. Its a nice list that's easy to read and comes separately from the listings for 5200, 7800, and Jaguar games. There wasn't a Lynx listing though. To be honest, I haven't gone through most of this stuff yet (just thumbed it really) so I'll have to sit down later and take a closer look at it.



    BP Pro Sticks


    So when you order, you get your choice between a pair of PB Sticks or Pro Sticks. I went with the Pro Sticks as they include a grip that I thought would be nice to have. Two fire buttons on the left and right and one on the top of the stick. I believe these sticks have been resealed as there is only the controller inside as well as a part of the box that can be folded open to display on a rack. Both sticks were in great shape though.



    Sealed 7800 games


    So I got six games. The five games I mentioned from the "Dented Can" special plus a copy of Jinks. I've not played that one but I'm told by the 7800 forum that it stinks. We'll have to see about that. The Jinks box is in noticeably better shape than the discount games.


    7800 Dented Can


    You can see here that Ballblazer got it pretty rough. The box is smashed shut at the bottom. Fortunately the top part where the game is remains in good shape.


    Boxed PSU


    The PSU is brand new and boxed as you can see here. Best was apparently a licensed Atari repair business at one point and a huge part of their stock are replacement parts like this. Its actually nice to know there's a place to go to get Atari branded PSUs as I need to pick up another for my 2600.


    7800 PSU Unboxed


    I've got the PSU unboxed here. It was tightly wrapped in bubble wrap which is off to the side now. Black on black is not ideal (I guess I should have taken a better pic) but I can say the PSU looks brand new. It's in great shape. Dunno if this is a repack or not but I'm very happy with it.


    7800 Owner's Manual


    Included is the original 7800 instruction manual and Atari 90-day warranty card. Best continues to honor the original factory warranty which is pretty cool because I think if I wrote to the address printed on the card, I wouldn't get a response.


    Refurbished Best 7800


    And here is the main event. The console is unboxed unfortunately, but completely refurbished and restored (not to mention the mods I mentioned above) and has been resealed in plastic to help protect it. I don't know what Best's setup is like - if the machines sit sealed like this at their warehouse or if it was sealed before being sent to me - but I definitely like how the package arrived. Now, let's open this thing up.



    Best 7800


    The console itself is flawless. No marks of any kind on the front or pack. A little wear around the bottom label with the serial number and the warranty void stickers on the back look a bit rough. You can tell the console is old but other than that it is flawless, in perfect shape. Everything works and feels right. I'm pretty sure I am in love already.



    Composite Mod


    Here you can see the composite mod replacing the original R/F a/v outlet. The cable is long which is fantastic as the short cord on the pro-stick means I want the console next to me while I'm playing.


    Best Packing


    I really can't get over how well this was boxed. I had to scoop most of the peanuts out and into a trash bag so as not to make a mess pulling everything. Here you can see a pair of pads at the bottom of the box. The 7800 was resting on these for extra cushion during shipping. Very well done. It was also tightly wrapped in bubble wrap (which I did not take pictures of) that was actually a little difficult to remove. I'll take difficult to remove bubble wrap over broken console any day though!



    Packed Away

    So with everything unboxed, I decided to repurpose the shipping container into a storage bin. Since I only cut it open on three sides, the top pops open like a chest now. I'm sure it'll wear out after awhile but for now it makes a good container. I opened all the games and took out the cartridges and manuals. The manuals I'll keep inside the shipping box but outside the game boxes so I don't have to smash those anymore just to flip through the manuals. The actual cartridges are all sitting with my 7800 now.


    Now that I've unpacked everything, LET'S PLAY SOME DAMN GAMES


    Joy Ride


    When I originally asked about Best Electronics, @Trebor mentioned that Best's composite mod was a little dull. Unfortunately, I find this to be the case. I broke in the 7800 with a game (well ten games) of Joy Ride by our very own Cybearg. Playing on my Harmony of course. For those who haven't checked it out, Joy Ride is an awesome game where you're driving a motorcycle down the oncoming lane in heavy traffic. You have to avoid crashing into the other cars. Each lane has different colored cars at different speeds. The bottom lane is GREEN but as you can see in the pic, it looks blue on the 7800. I found this to be the case on the Harmony cart bios as well where everything had a blueish hue instead of green. Some other games I played didn't seem to have this issue



    Asteroids 2600


    2600 Asteroids looked ok for instance, though it was definitely darker. And yes I should have taken a shot when more stuff was on the screen hahaha. I also played A-VCS-Tec Challenge, another favorite homebrew of mine. It looks and sounds just as awesome on the 7800 as it does on the 2600.



    Ms. Pac Man


    First actual 7800 game I played was Ms. Pac-Man (right after Joy Ride actually). I'll be honest, I haven't played this one much. I've played the heck out Pac-Man but I never really owned a version of Ms. Pac-Man. It is shocking how much better the game becomes when there are multiple mazes. Needless to say I had a great time. I know the pic is bad from afternoon sun but unfortunately the image quality was a little dull and blurry. It was an upgrade over my 2600's RF for sure but it was not as sharp as I was hoping from a composite mod.


    I did have one problem playing Ms. Pac-Man though THE PRO-STICK CONTROLLERS ARE TERRIBLE!. I don't really like the 2600 controller because I'm afraid it'll come apart in my hand when I'm yanking on the stick. The pro-stick feels almost identical to that, except the grip makes me feel like I'll have an easier time of tearing it apart. The controller creaks in my hands and the top-mounted fire button is not nearly as useful as I thought it would be. Holding the base is still annoying. After a bit of gameplay, buying Euro 7800 controllers shot to the top of my list. I love the system so far but these controllers blow.


    Anyway, soapbox done.



    Asteroids! 7800


    So one of the awesome things about the OS mod that I got is that if a cart isn't inserted in my 7800 when it is powered on, Asteroids starts. Asteroids is pretty much my all-time favorite 2600 game so I thought this was a great deal (plus it means I have 7 games instead of 6). It looks incredible. There's no doubt this would have been a system seller for me if I'd been old enough in the Atari Age. I still need to play it some more but I didn't like the handling quite as much when I got into it. I found myself going back to 2600 Asteroids (which I played after this as you can see above). Still, I'm very excited that this was included with my system.



    Vault Assault


    Ok, it's time for one last game. Surprisingly, Vault Assault is the only homebrew I own (notwithstanding the stuff on my Harmony cart). It is a good game but relies on twitch gameplay and sessions are short (to the tune of 3-4 minutes). I'd rather have it on Lynx than a console to be honest. I'm going to give it a spin however.



    Vault Assault


    ...and the results are not good unfortunately. If you look in the bottom right of the screen, you'll see an enemy ship. That ship isn't supposed to be there, it is supposed to be directly under the base. Now it can still shoot at me and hit me and I can still shoot at it by navigating down and firing but the graphics mess up whenever I do it. It doesn't break the game but it is awkward (the other enemy ships are fine). So Vault Assault is still playable on the 7800 but it definitely doesn't seem to be fully compatible. This isn't a huge dealbreaker as to be honest this one doesn't get a lot of play time even though I like it. Still, I hope I don't find to many other homebrews that don't work right. I've got an order for Dungeon and Toyshop Trouble and I'd like to play both of those since I bought the 7800 to replace my 2600.




    The entire process from ordering the unit to receiving it took approximately six days. When I initially emailed Best, they replied to my sales query by confirming some of my order requests. Once we had settled on all the merchandise I was going to order, I paid via PayPal and it took Best about a day to accept payment, pack, and ship the 7800. Fortunately I live close (they are based out of San Jose, CA and I am in Phoenix, AZ) so shipping time was super short. Best was easy to work with and provided good service though buying from them was definitely a new experience (or should I say OLD experience?) as I am so used to modern conveniences like shopping carts, automated orders, etc.


    The price I paid for all my goodies was a bit high ($194.97 - the Harmony Cart and 2600 games I already owned) but I think the price was right given the excellent shipping, quality service, and condition of the hardware. I'd definitely recommend them in the future and will be turning to Best to round out my collection of 7800 accessories and probably to buy more games from them.


    If you're hesitant to order from Best because of the amateur (or should I say antiquated?) look of their website or their older ways of doing things, I can definitely say it is totally worth the trouble to email them your sales inquiry and talk it out. This is a great company to do business with.

  10. Here you go.. This time looking back at the first ten years of Lucasarts..


    (see full entry for the link)



  11. After a long gap, here's the last (or possibly penultimate) part of the 1200XL upgrade story. In the last part (well over a year ago), I'd fitted VBXE and Stereo Pokey, and finished the PBI and power mods. Since then I've added Ultimate 1MB and one of Dropcheck's excellent GTIA PAL adapters. This means that the 1200XL is completely "PAL" in the very strictest sense. Legacy video output now works on my 1084S monitors, and for hard disk storage I've been using Ultimate 1MB/SIDE (in PBI mode), and latterly SIDE2 in the same configuration.


    Of course, SIDE blocks up the cart port, so I figured I'd use the IDEa HDD interface which has been lying around here for two years or so looking for a home as an internal storage in the 1200XL. Previously, I'd mounted the 50-way PBI connector on the IDE itself on the back side of the PCB, resulting in the correct pin assignments for a straight IDC cable to the back of an 800XL. I had also replaced a few other headers on the IDEa for convenient and sturdy placement of an IDE to CF card adapter.


    Surprisingly enough, the IDEa is very stable indeed when used with the highly upgraded 1200XL - even with a SIDE2 cartridge simultaneously connected (and with the U1MB / SIDE PBI enabled, data transfer between partitions on the IDEa and SIDE works without error). So I finally got around to fitting the IDEa inside the 1200XL this evening...


    I decided to run another 50 way ribbon cable straight off the back of the PBI connector I'd already fitted. This seemed the neatest solution. The ribbon cable doubles back under itself so that the IDC connector has the correct orientation. The soldering was rather tricky, but the thing fired up first time when I turned the machine on. The most time-consuming part was separating the strands of the ribbon cable and poking each individual wire through the already dense bale of wires leading to the PBI connector from underneath the 1200XL's motherboard.


    Anyway: here are a few pictures of the finished article.




    The IDEa is secured on three corners with plastic pylons bolted to the motherboard.




    An overview of the now rather crowded 1200XL mainboard:




    The only minor (but fun) job left to do is to connect up the HDD activity LED header on the IDEa to one of the programmable LEDs on the 1200XL's keyboard.

  12. I'm republishing an article with the Kind permission of John Chandler who if you were into the Amiga or still are may be a name known to you sometimes by the name "metaljoe" . I thought it would be useful to look back considering here we are with looking knowingly at the failings of the Company that owns the Atari Brand making the same mistakes again. Those of us that were into Atari's or Commodore's of various types were part of why those systems were successful, both Company's missed that the real enemy wasn't each other but the growing "wintel" dominance.


    It can even be seen with brands such as Ubuntu moving away from the very thing that made them successful the "community" to be more corporate and profit orientated. For the reader what is "community" it means different things to different people, what does it mean to you? Anyway on with the show:



    This Is Reality Control


    Author: John Chandler

    Published on: February 7, 2001


    As some of you probably noticed, there wasn't a January article. However, I'm pleased to present an exclusive this month on an interesting piece of hardware under development.


    If you want to buy a standalone PowerPC based system, you're going to have a real job to find one that isn't Apple-branded. After Apple demolished the CHRP PowerPC market, the only affordable way to get hold of a PowerPC-based machine these days is through Apple. IBM's PowerPC Open Platform (POP) development is on the horizon, but it seems to have been staying there for some time - the demand is around, particularly with a surge in interest in PowerPC on Linux, but the hardware supply isn't. More significantly, there's nothing quite like an A500 or A1200 around - the consoles are slowly getting there, the STBs could be getting there, but it's just not quite the same as yet, there's a niche looking to be filled.


    So it's likely to be of great interest to find that a start-up company has taken the initiative in developing an affordable, entry-level PowerPC platform. Better yet, they appreciate the value of open-ness and there's some fringe benefits the Amiga community might want to take serious notice of. The company is Ideas2Reality, and the PowerPC platform under development is the RealityStation.


    The RealityStation provides a platform which encapsulates an almost A500-like approach. Compact, affordable, reasonably expandible and with enough processing power to handle everyday tasks and probably a bit more besides. The platform is aimed at being equally at home serving in simple application environments, such as a STB, or as a more general-purpose computer - plus the modular nature allows third-party developers to customise for a broad range of markets. The initial system has a separate keyboard, though I2R are looking into a "docking" system which means the keyboard could be either separate or attached to the case.


    The specs are listed below, but remember we're talking an A500-style system:


    - PowerPC @ 200 MHz


    - graphics system (OpenGL compatible)


    - 5x USB ports


    - 2x Firewire ports


    - 16 MB FlashROM


    - DVD drive


    - optional hard disk


    This is actually a very neat, useful system - and at the expected price of around £300 it provides a valuable and affordable entry-level system. It may also be bundled as part of some broadband ISP or STB packages, lowering or likely negating the cost. It should also be noted this is just an initial version - if all goes well, more powerful and expandible systems will follow.


    Operating system support will initially be QNX RTP or a custom multimedia version of Linux, backed-up by SDL API extensions. The SDL API will mean more to programmers than general users, the API will provide developers with a portable environment - combined with some additional tools this "middleware" layer is aimed at making porting software between different operating systems as smooth as possible. There's a link on SDL at the bottom of the article.


    However, and here's the interesting part for the Amiga community, there is no reason why it can't run anything else - Ideas2Reality will even provide open documentation on the platform for third-party developers. In fact, when I asked them if something like MorphOS might be seen on the platform, "We're looking into it!" came the excitable reply. Good news indeed if it goes ahead. The AmigaDE would seem to be another likely candidate, given public support, and even the open-source AROS could well benefit from running on the system: developers, take heed! I2R have said that their intention is for some OEMs to adopt the system and brand it with their own choice of OS.


    Of course, having interesting hardware is one thing, buying said interesting hardware is another thing - getting hold of non-PC/Mac hardware can often be a chore and I2R in combination with the Phoenix Platform Consortium are attempting to ensure this is not going to be the case with the RealityStation. I2R's distribution process will involve a combination of routes, and they will be selling them direct to OEMS and ISPs, as well as through retail outlets and places such as video shops. Smaller companies can also licence the systems, perhaps customised, and sell them too.


    The mention of Phoenix is a deliberate one, as you'll be aware from previous articles I'm a keen supporter of this developer consortium - particularly in their endeavours supporting developments with both the AmigaDE and QNX RTP. Ideas2Reality has been one of many developers to tap into the organisation for resource contacts, advice from the developer community, and a direct channel to QNX. It's allowed them to extend their resources and survive the perils of being a small company in a large world.


    So, is all this vapourware then? After all, haven't we heard talk about low-cost PowerPC hardware or new motherboards that could support things of interest to the Amiga community? Well, I can't convince everyone so I'll pass along the facts and allow you all to make your own judgement. The prototype system is being developed in conjunction with Coventry University in the UK (I2R are neighbours) and should be ready by the end of March. Shipping dates have not been confirmed, and I2R are (quite wisely) reluctant to disclose more information at this time - other than to say progress is good. The main issue is that of available developer time (I2R are a small start-up remember) which may be solved through the support of organisations such as Phoenix. Funding appears to be less of an issue, though money definitely speeds up the time to market - I'm sure any investors would be more than welcome.


    I for one wish the project well - it encapsulates a decent platform, and I2R have the right idea in ensuring the hardware will be publicly documented, meaning developers can support the platform with the minimum of fuss. Far too often great hardware is available, but the manufacturer has opted to make it almost a sealed box. Anything which allows a greater degree of user and developer choice has taken the right road.


    Ideas2Reality: http://www.ideas2reality.co.uk/


    RealityStation: http://www.realitystation.co.uk/


    (The above two sites are under development, so don't expect a great deal of information on the RealityStation at present - I'm sure I2R would appreciate feedback though)


    SDL: http://www.devolutio...m/~slouken/SDL/


    (My thanks to Bernard Giltrap of Ideas2Reality for his assistance with the article)

  13. Where are they today?

  14. I stumbled upon this site one day when I was trying to find minimalist game design contests.




    Javascript programs with <= 1K of code. Some with amazing graphics and the few games some have decent gameplay. One even plays Spider Solitaire. Another is a gravity game where you fire a rocket from one planet, and try to land it on another using gravity of the various bodies to guide it.


    Now the data on many of these exceeds 1K. So it's not CODE + DATA <=1024 but still, some really amazing stuff. I can't help but try to share this find with you.

  15. Okay, so I've been doing some comparisons between the two consoles, to see what I can do to fix them. I'll just list what I've found here.


    I have two units, one I will call stiff (because the switches are stiff) and the other loose (since the switches are.. you know)


    So Stiff has the following anomalies:


    Anything bright and blue hues will bleed. a lot. a little on the right and a lot on the left. This makes the copyright text on Yar's revenge almost unreadable.

    On Centipede's title screen, the Blue section of the centipede (the N) is very blurry. the copyright text and ATARI letters are blurry as well, shifted left.


    All reddish hue seems to be fine. There is a little ghosting on bright white (visible in B&W mode on Video pinball). the Purple colors are also "bordered" with ghosting.


    The first stage of Jr. Pac Man has a little noise in the olive/brown maze part.

    On the right side of the blocks on Super Breakout, there is a little bright white line there.



    Loose has this:

    Jr. Pac Man stage starts off GREEN! After a few minutes, the colors slowly come back to normal. very strange.

    There isn't any fuzz in the signal, that I can see.

    Kool-Aid Man does NOT WORK.... Well, it does sometimes, but on occasions it will go mental and not show the score, and the player just bounces all over the walls. Very weird.

    There is a little ghosting on greenish hues on this one, some on the blue, but it will go away (!!) after a few minutes.



    Most of these issues aren't very critical, other than some of the bleeding, Stiff is in great shape! I would, however, like to remedy some of these things.

  16. BlogO

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    I got really frustrated yesterday with the amount of classic gaming stuff in my closet and workshop. I never did find what I was looking for.


    I realized as I moved box after box out of the way that A) I rarely play with this stuff and B) nobody in my life shares the interest so C) what's the point?.


    I'm thinking it might be time to dump all but one 2600 console. Do I really need 3 spare 2600s and about 100 extra controllers in various states of repair, a partially functional Odyssey2, 3 or 4 Colecovisions, several Intellivisions, a Vectrex, an SMS, an NES, a 5200 plus a bunch of parts, an XEGS, a Virtual Boy, a broken Channel F, an RCA Studio II, a bunch of Game Boy, GBC, Game Boy Pocket, etc.


    Might just be time for a purge. Maybe. Something to consider for the new year...

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