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Geek Culture / The Story Of The ZX Spectrum.....In Pixels.

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Dead Pixel
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Posted: 22nd Feb 2015 17:52
Hi all, Not sure if this has been posted before, but anyway.....

.....whilst looking through the latest edition of Retro Gamer in my local newsagent I saw an ad for The Story Of The ZX Spectrum In Pixels.

[href] https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/47744432/the-story-of-the-zx-spectrum-in-pixels[/href]

The Speccy was my first computer and the very first game I ever played on it was a demo of Rasputin which came free with Your Sinclair magazine.

I have no affiliation with the book, just wanted to let you all know about it.

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Van B
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Posted: 22nd Feb 2015 20:48
Ahh, I remember that, weird kinda 45 degree angle to it, but some nice graphics for the time. Never did understand it.



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Dead Pixel
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Posted: 22nd Feb 2015 22:33 Edited at: 22nd Feb 2015 22:44
It was quite a difficult game to play, I remember it taking me a long time to complete the full version of the game.

It was coded by a guy called Paul Hibbard and published by FireBird which was the software arm of British Telecom.


http://www.birdsanctuary.co.uk/sanct/s_intro.php

http://www.birdsanctuary.co.uk/rasputin/i.php

Found this on page 8 of the guestbook.

Quote: "
Paul Hibbard - 1:11am 14 Apr 2008

Hiya, Wonderful job you're doing here Richard...very sad Anyone know the whereabouts of Tony or Anita as it would be great to here from them. Good luck all. Paul Hibbard
"


I think I'll fire off an email to him for a a chat about the game if he's interested.

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Van B
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Posted: 6th Mar 2015 12:45
I plan to have another go soon... I like to go back and try and get through all those games that annoyed me as a kid.

Actually, just got a Speccy +2a (black one) - the plan is to convert roms into MP3 files and replace the tape deck with a built in MP3 player, so it still has to go through the traditional load routine and the tape buttons will operate the MP3 player. It's tier 2 of my retro shelf - tier 1 is an Atari ST, now I just have to find a C64 and an A1200 that doesn't cost the earth

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Clonkex
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Posted: 9th Mar 2015 01:03
Quote: "the plan is to convert roms into MP3 files and replace the tape deck with a built in MP3 player, so it still has to go through the traditional load routine and the tape buttons will operate the MP3 player."


Brilliant idea!

Van B
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Posted: 9th Mar 2015 14:22
Ohhh, lots of modding this weekend...

External audio hack, breaking the track (nerf) on the auxiliary sound.
Reverse engineered the joystick ports to accept standard joysticks.
Internal line-in added for MP3 player.
Converted about 150 games from World of Spectrum to MP3 (using WinTZX).
Power switch added.
Tested MP3 loading on android tablet and works great - happy days!

Now I'm just waiting on an MP3 player to arrive, so I can get it all fitted into the datacorder area. Luckily there is quite a bit of space there, working on a Speccy is a luxury compared to modern devices, you can even solder stuff without needing a microscope

Now we have the speccy hooked up to my monster speaker setup - neighbors were being a pain on Saturday, so all day Sunday we treated them to the adorable tweets and warbles of a speccy loading. Reminded myself how rubbish I am at Manic Miner, how difficult some shooters were (Zynaps), and how much I love playing Bruce Lee with my brother. But mostly it's surprising just how much I trully missed the Speccy - it seems crazy to spend so much time playing a 30 year old system while expensive gaming rigs, consoles, tablets, a mame cabinet and an embarrassment of peripherals sit idle. I'm glad I decided to stick to the old loading regime too instead of just buying an SD card reader, even with MP3 rather than tape, it's part of the experience IMO to have to wait a few minutes on loading. I've got by on emulation for too long, the real machines are infinitely more fun to mess around with

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Dead Pixel
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Posted: 10th Mar 2015 00:46
Quote: "But mostly it's surprising just how much I trully missed the Speccy"


Well if that's the case, Van B, I would definitely recommend the book to you. My copy arrived during the week and I'm really pleased with it. There's no mention of Rasputin in it, but there's lots of other great games covered and interviews with the developers. The games section of the book devotes two pages to most of the titles covered and all the major publishers of the day are represented so there's bound to be something of interest in it for you. One game I was pleasantly surprised to see included was SpellBound - a title I spent hours playing, but never managed to complete.

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Clonkex
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Posted: 10th Mar 2015 02:08
Quote: "a mame cabinet"


We're going to build one of those! Going to be RPi2-powered, if it's not too expensive. We actually bought one of older models of RPi more than a year ago to do this project but never got around to it and the Pi got absorbed as an internet hub thing.

Van B
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Posted: 10th Mar 2015 09:37
I will be looking into it, this stuff fascinates me . When I was growing up, my neighbor was Roy Carnell, who made a handful of adventure and RPG games really early on, and wrote a really great book about programming RPG's on the speccy... that and old magazine type-in games is what broke my brain and made it impossible to be anything other than a programmer

Clonkex, The Pi2 should be much better for MAME - I just use an old laptop, as I have a front end made in DBPro, kinda like a virtual arcade thing but designed specifically for the button layout on the cabinet. If I was using a Pi2, I'd get a USB keyboard controller - expensive but really the best option for MAME, as it allows for more 'keys' to be pressed at once.
My Pi is headed towards one of these things:


The little megadrive is just the right size for a Pi, and those controllers are very straightforward for wiring to the Pi headers, so it'll be a mini megadrive with 2 controllers and all the games. I have 2 USB SNES controllers too, so it'll have the SNES games as well. The megadrive controllers are actually pretty good which is rare for these plug-n-play TV games, as good as the originals I'd say. That thing comes with Cannon Fodder, Sensible Soccer and Mega-Lo-Mania, great games, but it can do so much more

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Clonkex
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Posted: 10th Mar 2015 13:05
Quote: "Clonkex, The Pi2 should be much better for MAME"


Are you saying the I need something better than a Pi, or that the Pi2 will be better for MAME than the original Pi? #ambiguous

Quote: "If I was using a Pi2, I'd get a USB keyboard controller - expensive but really the best option for MAME, as it allows for more 'keys' to be pressed at once."


We actually already have the controls - two arcade joysticks and two sets of 2 (or was it 4?) buttons, IIRC. They're USB and, IIRC, just send keyboard inputs. We also want to add a real trackball for games like Marble Madness (although it might nearly be easy enough to just strip an old ball-mouse and paint a billiard ball).

Quote: "The little megadrive is just the right size for a Pi, and those controllers are very straightforward for wiring to the Pi headers, so it'll be a mini megadrive with 2 controllers and all the games. I have 2 USB SNES controllers too, so it'll have the SNES games as well."


What emulators do you plan on using? AFAIK Gens and SNES9X are Windows-only. I'd like to be able to plug controllers into our MAME cabinet to play Mega Drive and SNES games as well I 'spose I could just google it...

Van B
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Posted: 10th Mar 2015 13:44
The Pi1 was a little slow I found - it's great for SNES and MD games, but most MAME games I tried really struggled. MAME just isn't very optimized for Pi I'm afraid, but the Pi2 should be more suited to the job. So yeah - don't bother with MAME on a Pi1, wait and get a Pi2 or one of the other devices and see what the options are then. Unless of course you happen to have an old laptop with a broken screen, then things are much easier to setup on that than a Pi and it's a great way to recycle.

My Pi is already geared up with emulators, just using some multi-machine setup that I downloaded... took ages to set it up but the emulators are really good - I will have to check it to see what they are exactly. The SNES controllers I have are fairly cheap and nasty - I'm sure you get better ones, but really all you'd need is a couple of USB ports - if you have 2 controllers for MAME through USB already, grab a 4-way adapter and use that, then the SNES controller could be plugged in, and maybe even provide 2 extra player controls for MAME - for games that are much better with more players, like Gauntlet, SuperSprint, Rampage, Simpsons etc.

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Clonkex
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Posted: 11th Mar 2015 04:23
Quote: "Unless of course you happen to have an old laptop with a broken screen"


Actually, we have an old Core 2 Quad PC with a GTS 250 in it that my sisters used before they all ended up with laptops. I'm now wondering why we decided to use the Pi in the first place... OH that's right, it was because we didn't have a spare PC at the time and the Pi was a very cheap computer. Well... why spend money on a slower, more difficult to use Linux-based computer when we already have an excellent Windows based PC?? That means I could easily write a custom interface for it in DBPro or AppGameKit! AND my brother just pointed out that we have a spare i5 processor and supporting motherboard (with dud ethernet port), so it'll be super fast for a MAME machine!

My brother said we already bought a coin slot mechanism. Well that's good. Means all we have to buy now is the trackball. And obviously all the expensive MDF and glass pane for the display

Van B
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Posted: 11th Mar 2015 11:13
Sounds ideal - plus by making your own front end, you can use more than just MAME, like have roms load up in the emulator you specify. I was planning on having more emulators than just MAME on my cabinet, but ended up going the hardware route instead for extra nostalgia. Just let me know if you need any advice with using MAME with your own front end, DBPro does co-operate pretty well but I'm sure it took a bit of faffing to get right, not as much faffing as it took to figure out how to use the MAME XML file though.

Sounds like you and your brother have a cool project to be getting on with

I am the one who knocks...
Clonkex
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Posted: 11th Mar 2015 12:46
Quote: "Sounds ideal"


Awesome!

Quote: "Sounds like you and your brother have a cool project to be getting on with"


And Dad! We're all doing this together

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