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RETRO VGS Sees Immense Social Media Backlash as Crowdfunding Project Begins

Carl Williams writes, "The RETRO VGS is to be a new gaming console that hearkens back to the early days of gaming, before on-line capabilities, before patches and in app purchases seeped in. Many of us remember this as the days of the 32-Bit era (Sega Saturn, PSOne, Nintendo 64) and earlier- more fondly at about the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis era. The RETRO VGS is taking this seriously, it is not just lip service, as the medium for the games is cartridges, not CD-ROM, not DVD’s, not downloadable over an Internet store. This may sound like one of the stupidest things ever but for many, it is an exciting event. The team behind the RETRO VGS are giving gamers the chance to speak with their dollars via an IndieGoGo campaign. The real question is, will enough gamers speak? As with most things, there is a quite vocal group on social media that are speaking but they are not speaking with their dollars."

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brighthand1064d ago (Edited 1064d ago )

I have a bachelor's in Business and I'm doing a Masters in Computer Science. Having studied operations's management, supply chains, distribution channels etc on the business side, and then onto application programming, information technology and basic circuitry on the CS side, I can say that the project is worth the price, but it is not immediately clear why to the regular consumer.

It doesn't help that the Retro Team has opted to be transparent, which means that they show all of the regular changes that occur in a product's development as it evolves into the product that they want, which to the regular consumer appears to be flip-floppy unstable and (rightly so) unreliable information -even though every product undergoes these changes before hitting the market; its just that this time, the consumer is being shown this side of the business.

Their current campaign description lacks the information that -especially early adopters- need before dropping cash on them, like what the exact specs for the processor is.

The presentation doesn't do enough to emphasize the competitive advantage: what differentiates the rvgs from the rest of the indie consoles (believe me, that fpga + ARM combo will be a retro gamer's and developer's paradise if it could come to market). As a result, the regular consumer only sees "just another retro console" that they THINK is overpriced and trying to compete with the big three modern consoles (not the case).

These guys have good intentions and a good pedigree (they are industry greats from the golden era of gaming: the 90s), with a lot of experience under their belts in their respective fields. If they got the capital, they would surely deliver (perhaps after some delays I think), but that capital may be hard to come by due to the lack of clarity necessary to foster consumer confidence in their product.

I'm backing it, and many others have already. I just wish the rvgs team remedied the issues that are preventing others from seeing what we backers are seeing.

triverse1064d ago

I agree with most of your points there. Most of my problems with this idea would be gone if they would just tell people what hardware is running under the hood- CPU, RAM, VRAM, etc. We see none of that. Back in the day gamers knew what was running under the hood of the SNES years before it was ever released in Japan, same thing for newer consoles like the Saturn, Dreamcast, etc. You have to pick something definite and run with it, otherwise not only do fans have no idea what you are making but neither does developers who are supposed to be making games for it.

If they had a working prototype to show off the "range" of games this thing is capable of then it would also shut people like me up. If they had a video of a protoype, with verified specs (none of the Nintendo 64 shenanigans at an E3 with an SGI workstation under the table and a fake N64 on top). In the video show off their pack in title, Tiny Knight (which is not all that impressive but I have stated many times in my articles on this console, you cannot really judge based on the pack in title) versus the most graphically promised game, Gunlord both running on the hardware then that would also shut up a lot of people. Hell, I would be pushing people to back this thing rather than cautioning them.

I worked in the area of gaming magazines, and online, and have to call in a bit of fault with your logic. Just because someone was capable of doing amazing stuff in the 90s, while with a company that was damn near writing blank checks to make things happen, doesn't mean they will produce similar results today on a shoestring budget. I have experienced this repeatedly when trying to work with many industry vets in the journalism world and in following games as they develop.

Sure, some are able to still perform miracles but most can't. It was more than just them. It was a lto of money, it was the right team members, it was access to amazing R&D departments. Stuff they no longer have access to.

brighthand1064d ago

Yeah, some definite specs and a working prototype would probably have sent this campaign well on its way by now.

Good point about the resources, but I think in this case they have at least that part locked down. Since they are dealing with hardware from "simpler times," while operating in an age where hobbyists can design boards using software, and have companies print them off, it is probably the easiest part of the process, after printing shells from ready-made jaguar molds.

I think the biggest challenge will be dealing on the software side, where they have to get the code to accommodate their entire ecosystem, as well as facilitate a wide range of development environments - and that, I believe, will take far more time than maybe people are expecting. At least they won't have to worth with network infrastructures, servers, and all the other baggage that comes with modern systems.

devwan1064d ago

Good intentions do not guarantee a good product. Their treatment of kevtris (via Atari Age forum, the guy they made only a verbal contract with to offload money in return for us of his FPGA cores) was shocking. Basically they ignored all his hardware/design/pricing ideas and concerns and instead began throwing everything but the kitchen sink at it to make some mythical "future-proof retro" thing. They then cancelled a skype meeting with him as "we're not even sure if we're going to have an FPGA anymore" that itself came about as a result of the *HUGE* backlash on social media to their proposed $350 price tag.

What you see as being transparent, I see as making it up as they go along.

The fact is, the $1.95m target WILL NOT allow for all the old console simulation via FPGA - that is the next tier at $3.8m! Currently at $60k with only 151 people signed up for a console (the other 19 backers being donations of $10 or $25 Wii/U 3rd party controllers).

Sure, if by some miracle they reach that secondary target, they might well be able to afford to throw money at the problem and have 3rd parties implement the various cores they would require to meet the demands of customers and their own promises... but it's physically impossible in the time frame they have outlined.

brighthand1064d ago (Edited 1064d ago )

"treatment" of Kevtris? They let him go because he cited his own project as evidence of the team's incompetence. Maybe the team WAS too incompetent to come up with a working prototype, but there is also the possibility that Kevtris created a false equivalence in which people were lead to believe that one person making a simple fpga exclusive board means that a team of three could have created a (possibly far more complex) fpga + ARM fully functional consumer-grade home console prototype on a similar shoe string budget. Lets also not forget the years that it took Kevtris to get to that point, and that perhaps a possible reason why the team needed a lot more money was to accelerate the prototyping process, and condense years of R+D into months. Neither you nor me can say for sure, but nonetheless there is now a cloud of suspicion needlessly cast over a team of guys who seem to just want to move ahead in delivering their dream, and just needed the capital to do it.

Secondly, the team was free to ignore Kevtris' suggestions on how to go about building the hardware because his part in the project was just to build the cores for ONE COMPONENT on the board. I looked at his project, and it DOES look pretty cool, but it is not the same thing that the retro guys are trying to build. Kevtris' suggestions were good for making HIS project the best it could be, but some of them, such as using sd cards (volatile memory unsuitable for lasting physical media storage), and allocating output processing to the fpga (would restrict system resources for actual games processes), along with cutting out the ARM (just a few off the top of my head), would have greatly compromised the intended functionality of the retro console, along with some of the quality (he was suggesting outsourcing to China), and the overall "return to the glory days of gaming" vision that the retro vgs embodies. So while Kevtris' project is cool, it is not the same thing as the rvgs, and him presenting it as the working, superior version of what the retro team is trying to deliver is disingenuous.

As mentioned above, the team's lack of details and communication, and lack of prototype is killing the deal for a vast majority of the target audience -and understandably so. But to cast them as a bunch of swindlers as is being done in those forums, and then coming onto their facebook page to inject that spin directly into their campaign is a bit base.

p.s. it sucks that the actual device that we want, with a fully capable fpga comes at 3.9 million, which I think at this point is impossible to reach. And I myself want to back this but not if there is the possibility of getting an inferior version of the console if we end up only meeting the minimum goal.

triverse1063d ago

@Brighthand I have to agree with you on many points. Have you seen the comments by the RVGS team where they are stating Kevin was let go because he was developing a system to compete with the RVGS? Some Orwellian history editing going on here.

This is the type of action that is casting that shadow of doubt on this whole thing.

brighthand1062d ago

@triverse That would be news to me. I've read Mike's post where he mentioned that that Kevin's system does -not- compete with the rvgs, and even explicitly states that Kevin, had he not "thrown them under the bus," could have gotten paid by them AND launch his own project, with no fear of the two projects affecting each other.

source: http://atariage.com/forums/... (2nd post down)

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