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 Post subject: F8 fantasy console!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 3:23 pm 
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I'd like to share my new fantasy console, the F8!
Download
Source+documentation

I also have a preview video for my upcoming game on the console, The World of Tim!

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 Post subject: Re: F8 fantasy console!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 3:29 pm 
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My first reaction at hearing the outdoor music of The World of Tim: "Gonna take a sentimental journey"


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 Post subject: Re: F8 fantasy console!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 3:51 pm 
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So it's a 6502 with a video/audio/input interface that you designed? Like some parallel universe NES?


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 Post subject: Re: F8 fantasy console!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 5:49 pm 
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rainwarrior wrote:
So it's a 6502 with a video/audio/input interface that you designed? Like some parallel universe NES?

Well, basically, yeah.

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 Post subject: Re: F8 fantasy console!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 7:21 pm 
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I checked the video and it seems interesting. What I would like to know is:

- what is the specs of this fantasy console other than the cpu
- how is it different from the nes
- Would it be made someday into some real console
- what is the future goal, people making real software for it or just educational fantasy console

I may have more questions later once I put a list together.


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 Post subject: Re: F8 fantasy console!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 7:50 pm 
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The specs are here: https://github.com/FautenicOfficial/f8e ... r/spec.pdf

After some reading, here's my quick summary:

Very "NES-like".

4:3 display of square pixels (256x192)

Has CHR and PRG concepts (though with built in bankswitching mechanisms, 3 "mapper" modes). CHR seems to be mapped into the CPU memory space (dual ported?). There's 16k of main RAM.

Background layer similar to NES, with 16x16 attribute regions, and 8x8 tiles. There are 4 backgrounds of 1k (32x32 tiles) and a separate 256b block of memory for the attributes.

64 sprites. Mostly like NES except 2 bits of "size" to select 8 or 16 pixels for each axis. Not quite sure if the priority "masking" works the same way.

Audio has 4 channels, 12-bit freq, 4-bit volume, 1-bit duty, each can be square/triangle/saw/noise. (edit: corrected typo and omission)

Not sure if per-scanline raster effects are possible, but there seems to be a 4-way split screen mechanism? It refers to them as "quadrants", not exactly sure how this works but it seemed like you can divide the screen in half twice and have a separate scroll position for each quarter?

Couldn't seem to find a spec for the CPU speed? Does it just run as many cycles as it needs until it tells you to display a frame?


Last edited by rainwarrior on Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: F8 fantasy console!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 7:59 pm 
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Apparently there's a PDF with all the specs in the Github repository. It looks like an NES with a simplified architecture, that instead of having a separate VRAM bus, has everything is mapped in the CPU's addressing space.

It's cool to dream about such fantasy consoles, but this is so much like a real NES that I don't really see the point. The graphical limitations are almost the same, audio too, so I don't really see the appeal to go for this instead of making an actual NES game that can be run in a million different emulators on all platforms imaginable, including the real deal 80's console.


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 Post subject: Re: F8 fantasy console!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:02 pm 
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Quote:
4:3 display of square pixels (256x192)

How would this work on a TV? Extra-wide HBlank? Wrong aspect ratio? Out-of-spec scanline pitch?

EDIT: Ninja'd - now it sounds like I'm piling on... sorry...


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 Post subject: Re: F8 fantasy console!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:05 pm 
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rainwarrior wrote:
4:3 display of square pixels (256x192)

Yup.

rainwarrior wrote:
Has CHR and PRG concepts (though with built in bankswitching mechanisms, 3 "mapper" modes). CHR seems to be mapped into the CPU memory space (dual ported?). There's 16k of main RAM.

Yeah, there's no separate PPU memory like the NES.

rainwarrior wrote:
Background layer similar to NES, with 16x16 attribute regions, and 8x8 tiles. There are 4 backgrounds of 1k (32x32 tiles) and a separate 256b block of memory for the attributes.

BINGO! (Your FP is full!)

rainwarrior wrote:
64 sprites. Mostly like NES except 2 bits of "size" to select 8 or 16 pixels for each axis. Not quite sure if the priority "masking" works the same way.

Mhm. The priority bit determines if it's drawn in front of or behind the background. 1 is behind, 0 is in front.

rainwarrior wrote:
Audio has 4 channels, 12-bit freq, 2-bit volume, 2-bit duty, each can be square/triangle/noise.

Not sure if typo, but it's 4 bit volume and 1 bit duty. Oh, and there's a saw channel too.

rainwarrior wrote:
Not sure if per-scanline raster effects are possible, but there seems to be a 4-way split screen mechanism? It refers to them as "quadrants", not exactly sure how this works but it seemed like you can divide the screen in half twice and have a separate scroll position for each quarter?

Pretty much. This was done because I found it too difficult to render it at the scanline level, and also because I needed a way to do vertical splitting.

rainwarrior wrote:
Couldn't seem to find a spec for the CPU speed? Does it just run as many cycles as it needs until it tells you to display a frame?

It's fixed at 32768 cycles per frame.

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 Post subject: Re: F8 fantasy console!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:08 pm 
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tokumaru wrote:
Apparently there's a PDF with all the specs in the Github repository. It looks like an NES with a simplified architecture, that instead of having a separate VRAM bus, has everything is mapped in the CPU's addressing space.

It's cool to dream about such fantasy consoles, but this is so much like a real NES that I don't really see the point. The graphical limitations are almost the same, audio too, so I don't really see the appeal to go for this instead of making an actual NES game that can be run in a million different emulators on all platforms imaginable, including the real deal 80's console.

Hm, you do have a valid point. What do you suggest I do to make it stand out more?

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 Post subject: Re: F8 fantasy console!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:28 pm 
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@rainwarrior

Oh, I completely missed that ^^;; I checked the video and tried to find the main site hoping it would give a summary about it (the link with the zip file) but didn't think about checking the github files after seeing the 1 line README.md.

Thank you for pointing it out and for the summary.


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 Post subject: Re: F8 fantasy console!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 8:33 pm 
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Fautenic wrote:
rainwarrior wrote:
64 sprites. Mostly like NES except 2 bits of "size" to select 8 or 16 pixels for each axis. Not quite sure if the priority "masking" works the same way.

Mhm. The priority bit determines if it's drawn in front of or behind the background. 1 is behind, 0 is in front.

I was referring how on the NES if a "background" priority sprite has lower index than a foreground one, and of its behind-background pixels will end up cutting a hole out of the higher index foreground sprite. It's a very useful masking effect sometimes, but something that's not really intuitive behaviour.


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 Post subject: Re: F8 fantasy console!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 9:35 pm 
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Fautenic wrote:
Hm, you do have a valid point. What do you suggest I do to make it stand out more?

Maybe if it was more like the pseudo-consoles where modern retro-inspired games (e.g. Shovel Knight) run, it would make more sense for this day and age.

Modern displays are all widescreen, so it'd better to make proper use of the screen space. More background layers adds a ton of possibilities for effects and large objects. That combined with a window layer greatly reduces the need for raster effects. No need to be so stingy on the number of palettes either. In fact, doing away with the convoluted attribute system, which is one of the most hated aspects of the NES, would be a great idea. Using 2 bytes per tilemap entry would open up a lot of possibilities, like per-tile palette selection, more than 256 tiles for the background, tile flipping and more priority control, kinda like on the Master System or GBC, so still well within the realm of 8-bit consoles.

I would worry about improving the sprite system a bit too. The OAM could definitely be larger, also improving versatility. A few more bits per entry would really help in allowing access to more than 256 tiles, more palettes, and smooth scrolling at the top and left edges of the screen.

This would do away with most of the restrictions the NES has that annoy new artists and programmers, but still keep the feel of a real retro console, with period-accurate language and I/O systems.

Lots of palettes and a generous number of sprites could even satisfy those going for a look closer to that of 16-bit consoles, since it'd be possible to stack sprites and design backgrounds with less color repetition. A master palette better than the Master System's 6-bit RGB would really help too (maybe go with RRGGBBII or RRGGBBSS if you want to keep it 8-bit).


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 Post subject: Re: F8 fantasy console!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 11:20 pm 
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Normally when you make a Fantasy console it is to fix issues.

To which I would
give it 8x8 colour attributes.
allow interleave VRAM access during frame time
bump to the clock to 8mhz or so
Give it at least 16K
Give it options to change the waveform per channel

This way its a NES that people can write a decent game for in C, and not suffer from "static background" syndrome, and have more freedom in music. But still have it feel as if they made a NES game ;)


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 Post subject: Re: F8 fantasy console!
PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2018 11:26 pm 
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Oziphantom wrote:
allow interleave VRAM access during frame time
Give it at least 16K
Give it options to change the waveform per channel

It does do these 3 things.


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