FB Lookback

I added a few posts from Facebook that came from discussions with people on forums & FB/twitter posts, and it shows various angles of the project which may be interesting.

Join the conversation at facebook.com/starforcepi, or for a more in-depth discussion, find us on Atariage and Retrovideogamer!



FB Lookback: Meet the Makers

So now it seems we’re really going for a full-fledged system on Kickstarter, it’s appropriate to introduce ourselves before you fork over your hard-earned cash!

The very talented Harmut Wendt has been instrumental in helping me build the STARFORCE PI prototypes, with an excellent little arcade kit and great technical support via his website hwhardsoft.de. He happily obliged to design a brand-new arcade shield for the console and further develop the system with me.

And I’m Marcel J. de Haan, designer of the SFP, but primarily: a gamer, old-school, kid in the 80’s, teenager in the 90’s, had a MegaDrive, always wanted a NeoGeo. But who can afford a NeoGeo or full Arcade cabinet, honestly, even now!? After trying multiple emulation solutions (NeoGeoX, AtGames, PC, Android) and being disappointed in all of them, I looked for decent bartop mods, but they’re like 300-400 euro and cumbersome. So, I built my own tabletop arcade that is portable, with true arcade controls, a real 80’s vibe and affordable (relatively). So convince your friends to support us: the STARFORCE PI is coming!


FB Lookback: Video

It’s pretty expensive and difficult to get 4:3 ratio screen these days, so we have to be clever. Firstly, we’re going with a 16:9 screen that’s cheap, and configure the emulator suite we’re using right now (PiPlay) to 4:3 ratio, running at 320×240 resolution. The unused part of the screen will likely have some light bleed through, giving these distracting black bars on the side. I hate these.

So we’ll probably cover them up with a 4:3 plastic window that sits on top of the screen. Secondly, the screen will be relatively deep behind the magnified window, and will be slightly tinted, so it deepens the black on the screen, without affecting the colors too much. The magnified, sunken effect also goes a long way with the arcade vibe, it’s really a nice feature that seems slight, but during gameplay is very enjoyable.

Additionally, I’m building the screen mount in such a way, that users can open up the SFP and fix the screen into either vertical/tate or horizontal position, so topdown and side scrollers can be played in the correct orientation. Should be good!


FB Lookback: Gameboy Philosophy

I’ve been getting some great feedback on AtariAge & Retrovideogamer, and I feel some of this would be good to repost here.

We’re loosely designing the system along the lines of Gameboy creator Gunpei Yokoi’s philosophy of Lateral Thinking of Withered Technology: ‘take mature technology which is cheap and well understood, and find new ways of using it. Toys and games do not necessarily require cutting edge technology: novel and fun gameplay are more important’. Hence the use of relatively cheap, replaceable, off-the-shelf components and building the case and arcade shield around it.

The tentative pricepoint I’ve mentioned of 199 euro for a fully loaded STARFORCE PI may be a bit too expensive for some people, but we’ll be offering base components as well! Then at least people that don’t want an all-in-one system can just get the SFP case to build their own game device, or just buy the arcade shield and connect their own screen, speakers, RasPi, joystick, buttons, etc. Hell, if you don’t need the battery in there, and you have your own rasPi, that’s 40-50 euro you’ve already saved!

So we’ll add some flexible reward tiers to our Kickstarter campaign, but our primary concern is an all-in-one gaming platform. Game On!


FB Lookback: Production Cost

We’ve got a handle on construction cost now. We’ll go into detail on this a little later on, but this means that preliminary research & development is done, and it’s looking good! We have a few things more to discuss, but I think we will be able to bring our development plan and project platform to KickStarter pretty soon. In the meantime; if you have arcade insights or feedback, we’d really appreciate it.

We’re bringing some very cool extra features to the system, so it’s time to put your Xmas money aside to pledge for some Ultimate Arcade Gaming.


FB Lookback: Dreaming BIG

Our primary focus with the STARFORCE PI will be to bring you an attractive, modular design, with good arcade feedback and solid internals. Play it wherever you want, and access the multiplayer options of classic arcade games. Rather than developing our own emulator suite, we’d support existing ones to bring you a great experience, tailor-made for the SFP and easy to use.

It seems attainable, so we’re doing everything we can to make it a reality! But beyond bringing you a glorified emulator system (and we are going for Glory here), we’re hoping to extend the platform into licensed and original arcade games. One could argue that the confounding nature of having every SEGA game ever made on a cheap 2gb USB stick practically means that we attribute little value to the games, and the overwhelming choice keeps us from exploring them. As those impressive rows of cartridge cases with cool artwork have been replaced with a single, daunting list of titles, some of us are left with a nostalgic longing to an attractive, simple physical medium.

So besides preparing custom SD card trays, stickers, inlays, booklets, decals for existing arcade games that have been forgotten by time and publishers (see mockup below), we’d like to focus our stretchgoals to SOFTWARE! Specifically, original 16-bit style games or licensed older games adapted for the SFP. And because the RaspberryPi runs entirely off an SD card, a developer would be able to determine their own content and protection of their SFP Game Card, and even publish it themselves. It wouldn’t be exclusive to this console, but if it wants our ‘Nintendo Seal of Quality’ sticker on there, it would have to be a cool game in a nice package at a fair price – just like the STARFORCE PI.