[Coladam] Super ColecoVision/ADAM

Eduardo Mello eduardo at opcodegames.com
Wed Oct 24 15:33:35 CEST 2012


Jim,

Well, it was you that proposed a new sort of ADAM in your original message,
so I just expanded on the concept based on ideas I have for the CV2 or
whatever we call it.

Now, I understand your concerns, we have already discussed that and I think
you are being very realistic and have pretty good points.
However you might be super-estimating things a bit in some areas. Let me
clarify.

First, this isn't a 16 bit caliber console as you mention below. Not by a
long shot. As powerful as the V9958 may sound for example, it isn't an
Amiga killer, neither is it more capable than let's say a Sega Master
System. There is a 3rd chip in the V99 line, the V9990, now that is the
Genesis meets the Amiga on steroid, but we are not talking about it here.
Second, you are forgetting that all the new stuff can be used optionally by
new games, most of them with very little effort. The V9958 offers hardware
scroll, programmable color palette and 8 sprites per scanline. Those are
all features seriously missing in the original TMS9928, and are features
that could be used with little programming effort by any new game to create
an enhanced experience if the hypothetical new console is detected for
example.

Sound stuff is another thing that can be used optionally. In fact nanochess
is creating a new game that run on regular CVs and use the SGM second PSG
if it detected, for improved music.

That said, let's review your points...

> While I commend your incredible vision concerning this new and improved CV
> idea, I really do fear that there will be a VERY limited market for such
an
> item seeing as the retrogaming market for the CV, and especially the ADAM,
> is very small already. Even with full backwards compatibility with the
> current CV library and controllers (Roller Controller with it's odd-ball
> power adapter would have to be supported as well via an adapter or the
> inclusion of a compatible port on the new CV that would act as a
> pass-through to the new power supply), a greatly enhanced CV as you have
> listed out would probably draw the interest of only the hardcore CV fans
and
> a small amount of casual CV fans... especially in the price range of
> $150-$175.

You kidding me. People are playing almost $100 to get their CV refurbished
by Todd. Lot's of people...

> It's not so much that I am against the idea, so much as I would
> be very fearful of the amount of time and money that you would have to
> invest in such a project. It's a huge risk in my opinion, not the
> development of it because I am sure that you could pull it off, and I
> commend you for even considering it.
>
> Some things that come to mind concerning all the suped-up specs of this
> proposed new CV or CV2...
>
> - while all the spec improvements are awe-inspiring, without a library of
> games that take advantage of them and a group of programmers lined up to
> pump games out, it could be a tough sell except for the fact that it would
> function as a perfect replacement to the aging CV.

The big question how much it would cost to have an exact clone of the CV
produced, versus how much to have all those improvements. If the price
different is minimum, let's say, less than $50, then I don't see why don't
go with the improvements, if just because we can.

> I know you would have a
> couple game ready by the time of launch, but how many other programmers
> would be willing to write games for it especially seeing as there has only
> been one programmer to date, besides yourself, willing to develop a
MegaCart
> game in all the years that it's been available although 2 more (Nanochess
> and Mystery Man) are close to having their MegaCart games released.

Actually CollectorVision Mario Bros is also a MegaCart.

> Aside
> for the fact that the CV2 would be backward compatiible with the CV, I
would
> be very weery of purchasing it with only one person supporting it with new
> games that take advantage of it's enhanced hardware features. Even then, I
> don't know how interested I would be in these "improved" games seeing as
> they just wouldn't be the CV style and feel anymore, it would be more on
the
> lines of MSX2, Amiga, ST, Super NES or Genesis.

We surely don't get as far as Super NES/Genesis capabilities. But again
remember the enhanced features that can be used optionally.

> - If I or someone else wanted a vastly improved gaming system, wouldn't it
> be more logical to just pickup a SuperNES or Genesis at ridiculously low
> prices and then have access to either of those system's game libraries
which
> number in the 1000s. Most loose carts and even CIB can be had for dirt
cheap
> and then there is the option of using their versions of MultiCarts /
> Everdrives. Again, because of the easy availability of all these "newer
than
> CV" retro systems, it could prove to be extremely hard sell for a CV2. The
> main advantage the CV2 would hold is compatbility with all existng CV
warez,
> which leads me to believe that a more simple design concentrating on the
> improving the CV's main weaknesses of Video Output, Power Supply,
Controller
> ICs, overall aging of components, etc.would be the more feasible way to go
> either as a replacement board or as a new system.

A valid point, but we get again to the matter of total production costs. I
checked with my sources in China for example, and they are some of the best
out there, they can get you any NOS chip next day, and new V9958s are now
cheaper than TMS9928, actually half the price. Besides the V9958 has a much
improved RGB video output. So why would I pay more for something when I can
get some other that is half the price, has better video quality, more
features? Even if I don't touch any of the new features, it is still a
better buy option. Z80 is another example. It is much easier to get a PLCC
8MHz Z80 today than look for NOS 4MHz DIP Z80. So why don't take advantage
of that and have the option to double the CV Z80 speed by software, even if
it never get used. I understand your point if it was a matter of paying
more for stuff you are never going to use, but how about paying less for
stuff you are never going to use but still backward compatible?

> One example that comes to mind is the F18A by Matthew Haggerty. I guess I
> should re-read all the enhancements that it provides before using it as an
> example, but it seems to me that the only function it will ever provide
when
> installed in a CV or ADAM is improved video output via VGA. Will any CV
> programmers support it and it's enhanced capabilities especially seeing
that
> maybe ten CV owners have purchased one and I know with 100% certainty that
> there will not be any ADAM specific software written to take advantage of
> it's features especially seeing as I only know of one person, Tempest,
that
> has one.

We are talking about a VDP replacement that costs as much as an ADAM
itself, not a very good comparison I think. The cost/benefit ratio is very
low, as it solves a single problem at a very high cost.

> As far as the listed ADAM enhancements,  very cool to even consider them,
> but all of these proposed enhancements like 16Mb RAM, Ethernet, etc. would
> more than likely go unused. It's actually pretty awesome to even consider
> having such things available on the ADAM, but again, when it all boils
down
> to it, the average person in the retro scene just want to play games on
all
> this old gear, not perform any serious computer tasks, and any prospective
> new hardware should focus on making this a possibility. So what the ADAM
> World really needs most is an ADAMnet SD Drive like the one developed by
> Else a couple years ago but that uses a menu program to control mounting
and
> unmounting of Disk/DDP Image Files versus Else's method of using DIP
> Switches.

Don't tell you guys don't create new stuff for the ADAM? I mean, have you
been playing a half dozen Super Games for 30 years?
The V9958 80 columns text mode is exactly the same as the TMS9928, just...
with 80 columns. So applications can be easily ported. Don't you have DOSes
or anything? CP/M stuff?

> Whatever route you decide to take, I know the end result will be an
amazing
> product and I wish you the best of luck. Maybe I am just too cautious when
> it comes to matters like this or prefer to keep things simpler.

Well, thanks for the kind words. Again, I understand your points, I think
they are valid concerns. But if we can produce something that is better for
about the same price as it would cost to produce a clone (because no matter
if it is V9958, TMS9928, 4MHz or 8MHz Z80s, this is all very old tech, you
know), then I think it is worth a shot.

Eduardo


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