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Linux-Based Gaming Handheld To Rely On Low Material Cost, Indie Apps

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the race-to-zero dept.

Handhelds 137

dartttt writes "Robert Pelloni and his team are working to develop an indie handheld gaming console, the 'nD,' which will run a number of indie games. The device will support 2D games only, and will run a custom-developed, embedded Linux firmware. It will have its own Game Store, which will allow users to download games. The SDK will be released soon, and is based on open source gaming standard SDL. Developers are being told that they can actually start making and compiling games on Windows, Mac and Linux using a 320x240 resolution."

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137 comments

'bout time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36590400)

Sounds pretty sweet. I've got a couple of handhelds that have Linux on them, so it'll be nice not having to do the work this time around.

indie is so gay (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36590416)

yay, indie!

Excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36590418)

I'm actually working on a project right now that would be perfect for this thing. I was actually making it for the Pandora [openpandora.org] but since it's inherently a fairly low-tech title it should work on this thing just fine.

Re:Excellent (1)

hamburgler007 (1420537) | more than 2 years ago | (#36590600)

The problem with pandora is it is too damn expensive. You can buy 2 netbooks for the price of the pandora ($500 US). If they can get the price lower I would gladly buy one.

Re:Excellent (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 2 years ago | (#36590894)

Isn't $500 the premium upsell jump-the-line price? I thought they were $300-$330 when I ordered them (two years ago :-P) and hadn't gone up.

Re:Excellent (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591506)

They don't have any other price, evidently. There's no more pre-ordering. If I had to wager a guess, I'd say they may be making to order at this point...

Re:Excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36590924)

{different AC here}
Yeah, but I can't put two netbooks in my pants pocket. Highly portable devices have always commanded a premium over the same performance in a less-portable package, and the Pandora is comparably priced to equivalent smartphones. True, it doesn't have a GSM radio, but it's also much lower volume, so I think it's pretty much where it's expected to be.

The big problem with the pandora for me is that it's barely available, huge waiting list, etc. (last I looked into it, anyway), or I'd already have one.

Re:Excellent (3, Informative)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591426)

It's all about volume, not portability (Smartphones are a bad example to compare to because the prices are artificially inflated to prop up the scummy cell business model).

Near as I figure it, they kitchen-sinked the engineering of the thing with all the wizz-bang features of 8 years ago, then took too long in getting it out, so now it's just a another portable game system that costs more than any two of its competitors. Combine that with the lack of big-title support, the ever-increasing smartphone saturation and, in some cases, memory of the nightmarishly bad hardware used in its spiritual predecessor (GP2X), and you end up with not a bang for the buck as a gaming machine.

Failing that, you can look at the handheld computer angle of it. Again, the price is too high, and for many of the same reasons: the pocket-sized IM, SSH client, email-checker, VLC remote, etc... All filled better by smartphones now. If Pandora could beat them on price, they might have something (although it would be a hard sell since that would still put it up against the iPod Touch), but clearly, they can't.

So their target market is pretty much shorn down to the geek who has the disposable income to afford one, the desire for a conversation piece/genital extension, and the lack of creativity to come up with anything better to do with that $500.

Re:Excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36592118)

Smartphones are a bad example to compare to because the prices are artificially inflated to prop up the scummy cell business model

No, they aren't. Smartphones are sold by companies with no direct ties to cell phone service providers. Additionally, many countries have similar prices for cell phones, but completely different cell business models than in the US. Furthermore, it's entirely possible to get cell phones without going through the service providers - say, off Amazon.

It's an extremely competitive market and price is one arena in which they're competing. Suggesting they artificially inflate prices to help out US service providers is absurd and suggests that you are talking about something you have no real understanding of.

Re:Excellent (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#36592220)

You must be joking. You honestly believe that the smartphone market would be more than a small fraction of what it is, and experiencing the growth that it is, if there was no carrier subsidizing and the full price of the phone was part of the initial outlay? Hell no.

The fact that you CAN get them full price without a provider (and Amazon is another bad example, since most of the time, they also offer it with a carrier contract and aforementioned subsidy) is irrelevant. What is relevant is how many of them ARE purchased that way, and I'd hazard to guess that outside of a small niche with a lot of slashdot overlap, relatively few of them are.

They may be competing in price with each other, but they're not remotely concerned with competing outside that arena (which is not to say they should be).

That said, it still holds to my point. Modern smartphones do everything the Pandora does, and usually better, for about the same price on the barrelhead, or less with a contract.

Re:Excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36592926)

That said, it still holds to my point. Modern smartphones do everything the Pandora does, and usually better, for about the same price on the barrelhead, or less with a contract.

Have you looked at the Pandora? Full-size USB ports (i.e. thumb-drives without carrying a dongle everywhere like for my N900), real gaming controls. I can't fathom why you'd think a modern smartphone would serve as well as a game machine or general-purpose computer -- their _only_ advantage until 6 months ago was cellular data access (not to discount that -- it's certainly important), and now some of them (which mostly still cost significantly more) have some extra horsepower, while they all have tremendous disadvantages in the controls department.
I can't claim to speak for the entire target audience, but I'd definitely not have bought my N900 if I could have bought a Pandora at list price, shipped within days.

And as for buying standalone vs. with a contract -- everyone but some US carriers are wrapping the price difference into that contract, it's not like you're actually getting it cheaper that way. (The US carriers, with the exception of T-mobile, just wrap the phone price in either way, and take it as a bonus for themselves if you buy your own phone. Which disgusts me to no end...)

To compare mobile phones with the Pandora and some other devices you say they aren't competing against...

  • Netbook
    $300
    1.6GHz Atom
    6 hour battery life in use (a little more if idle)
  • Ultraportable PC (Fujitsu U820)
    $1000+
    1.6GHz Atom
    5 hour battery life in use (a little more if idle)
  • Typical smartphone:
    $500
    800MHz-1.2GHz ARM
    6 hour battery life in use (lots more if idle)
  • Pandora
    $500
    800MHz ARM (rated 600MHz, but everyone I've heard from is overclocking at least that far, mostly 900-1100MHz)
    10 hour battery life in use (lots more if idle)

You pay more than 3x as much for the UMPC as the netbook despite similar capabilities, why? There's a couple extra features (GPS, FM transmitter, 1280x800 screen), but mainly because it's smaller -- high-density display costs more, smaller battery requires ULV CPU which costs more, more complex mechanical build to fit everything in costs more. Miniaturization adds real cost, even if you're not actually pushing any technology limits. And yes, lower sales volume, but....

You said "It's all about volume, not portability", but to me, the low volume is clearly *because* of the cost increase from portability -- only a fool would deny it exacerbates the price difference, but it doesn't cause it in the first place. You see, ~50% of people who've seen my U820 have asked me where (and how much $$) they can get one -- after they hear it costs too much, then they start poking fun at the tiny text on-screen, or the even-crampeder-than-a-netbook keyboard. To me, that implies they would move comparable volume to full-size netboks if the price matched (+ a reasonable bit for the added features, or by making them optional.)

Then the smartphone: it has ~half the screen pixels, ~half the CPU power, and costs ~half as much as the UMPC. (Both have GPS, ~VGA front camera, FM transmitter.) It additionally has a cellular radio, rear camera, and FM receiver for that cost, but it also sells much higher volume. To me, that looks like they are priced pretty competitively... unless you'd say the UMPC is also a bad example, similarly overpriced to prop up somebody's business cartel, but I don't know what business that would be.

Finally the Pandora, with similar specs to the cell phone, except no GPS, no rear camera, somewhat less CPU (and possibly less RAM), and OTOH more + better controls, is hitting the same price point, at much lower volume. So IMO it's competitively priced WRT smartphones (not that we were really disagreeing on that), and transitively to UMPCs. (Again, about half the specs, half the price -- even though it's at even lower volume than UMPCs.)

Re:Excellent (2)

MtHuurne (602934) | more than 2 years ago | (#36592136)

May I suggest the Dingoo A320 [wikipedia.org]? It's cheap, it's powerful enough for 2D games, it can run Linux and it is actually available. Or if you want something more powerful but also more expensive, the Caanoo.

The nD looks nice on paper, but if you've followed the Pandora story you'll know it's far from easy to get a device produced, especially if you've never done such a thing before. Also the $10 price point does not sound very realistic to me.

Re:Excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36592168)

May I suggest the Dingoo A320

I was going to suggest exactly the same thing. My Dingoo A-320 with Dingoo Linux works very well as a handheld gaming/emulation device. It also has applications available for it to play pretty much any kind of audio file imaginable and a fair share of video formats as well, not to mention stuff like the PDF and text readers.

It's the GP2X all over again. (2)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#36590430)

Maybe this one won't eat batteries...

Re:It's the GP2X all over again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36592520)

"...and through the power of marketing we can harness your imagination to sell you products for more than their true value because you will believe they do more than they actually do."

-- The nD commerical starting about :53 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDOoAw_YajU&feature=channel_video_title

Now go check out the thorough treatment the inventor gets on Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob%27s_Game

You are looking at a sociology experiment. This is only going to get worse until the public nets are unusable. I like my little walled gardens better anyhow.

I've developed something even better... (3, Funny)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#36590442)

It consists of a 4 x 13 orthogonal matrix of 2d symbolic tokens. With these, one can play an almost limitless variety of games - even 3D ones! People are free to develop their own games. No batteries or source of electricity needed, it runs off of mechanical energy provided by the player(s). It can be produced for less than $1, with very low tech (no chip fab needed).

I call it "cards."

Re:I've developed something even better... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36590480)

Ever play 52 card pickup?

Re:I've developed something even better... (2)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591010)

Does it run Linux?

Re:I've developed something even better... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36591188)

OB: Beowulf

Re:I've developed something even better... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36591482)

Of course. Whenever it's used the operating processor can arrange and interpret the media to emulate any operating system very very very very slowly. Memory and processor upgrades are available by handing the deck to a smarter friend.

Pandora (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36590492)

Maybe I'll get this once I actually receive my Pandora [openpandora.org], though this only costs 1/25 the amount...

Dingoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36590514)

For all their pretty comparison tables throwing around the word "sorta" I'd rather spend that 10 bucks repairing the right shoulder button on my dingoo.
Curse you Mario Kart!

SDL... :( (5, Insightful)

Prune (557140) | more than 2 years ago | (#36590520)

It's unfortunate that a library as bloated and weakly optimized as SDL is becoming a "standard". I started using it a few years back and then, after I was not happy with the performance, I looked at the source and noticed gems such as, under Windows the fact that SDL_SemWait() was always calling WaitForSingleObject() (which is every time a kernel call with huge switching overhead) and had no atomic read-write-modify fast-path. I'm reminded of a comment on gamedev.net by someone that "SDL killed my parents" and it struck a note of harmony with me despite the overdramatization. Look, if one is writing for games, one should be striving for efficiency. SDL is too big and tries to do everything; jack of all trades and master of none. For example, instead of using an SDL event queue, you should be using a lock-free, cache-optimized queue such as https://sourceforge.net/projects/mc-fastflow/ [sourceforge.net] Similar points go for other areas of the framework. The best policy is to find the best libraries to use for each domain within your project. Here's a fantastic highly optimized math library for games, for example: http://www.cmldev.net/ [cmldev.net] For some areas, it may even make sense to roll your own, such as writing custom synchronization primitives which can beat what's provided by the OS/threading libraries: see http://locklessinc.com/articles/ [locklessinc.com]

Re:SDL... :( (5, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#36590630)

Here's the thing - SDL is easy. It's easy to pick up, easy to use, and easy to debug. And, surprisingly, most indie games don't stress the hardware to anything resembling a limit. Even the 3D ones - my two-year old laptop can max out Magicka. So optimization isn't usually a problem.

Sure, if you find that it is too slow, using something more optimal, or even rolling your own, might make sense. But what was it someone once said? Is not premature optimization the root of all evil?

Re:SDL... :( (4, Insightful)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591204)

Here's the thing - SDL is easy. It's easy to pick up, easy to use, and easy to debug. And, surprisingly, most indie games don't stress the hardware to anything resembling a limit. Even the 3D ones - my two-year old laptop can max out Magicka. So optimization isn't usually a problem.

Sure, if you find that it is too slow, using something more optimal, or even rolling your own, might make sense. But what was it someone once said? Is not premature optimization the root of all evil?

Ease of use is more important than optimization for indie games. If a programmer has years of experience making games why wouldn't they just make games for the PC or for something else? But when a programmer is just starting out the last thing they will want is to have to deal with assembly and all the hardcore shit. What is more important is that the indie games are fun, the frame rates can be optimized in the sequel.

The kit should make developing games as easy as possible because if one thing has changed since the 1980s golden era of game development its that the process has become so goddamn complicated that you need 20 or 30 experienced programmers to write a decent game while in the 1980s you only needed one programmer. We need to go back to only needing one programmer to write the entire game, and we need to make the graphics engines as templates which can be reused by many different linux developers which means BSD license.

Re:SDL... :( (2)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591586)

Actually, the coding hasn't gotten too much more complicated. You can pull off a decent-looking game with 3 programmers (and a licensed engine) - 1 for "real" programming, 1 for shaders and other visual stuff, and 1 more for AI and gameplay stuff. Even the big-shot engines support Linux - Unreal Engine does, as does Unity. Source (the engine) is partway there - it has OS X support, which means an OpenGL renderer, but no Linux. Idtech is "ported but not supported" - it compiles, and it sometimes even works, but there's no guarantees. And there's plenty of free ones - the previous idtech engines (Quake III engine) are GPL, there's Sauerbraten, and many more.

The problem with modern games is the art. Doom, for instance, had one programmer, one artist and two level designers. Nowadays, you need dozens of artists, because instead of a handful of sprites or a solid-color mesh of 100 polygons, you're dealing with a 100k-poly model with about a dozen different 1024x1024 textures layered on it.

I did a brief, unscientific glance at things (because I'm too lazy to do a full count). Looked at the last 10 developers on Valve's staff roster. Two programmers, a writer, a translator, a game designer, and five artists (2 3d artists, an interface designer, an animator and a mixed level designer/3d artist/animator). That seems about in line with what I've seen of things - over twice as many artists as programmers.

Re:SDL... :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36592704)

Even the big-shot engines support Linux - Unreal Engine does, as does Unity.

Last I checked Unity doesn't support Linux, and a bit of googling seems to support that. Has this changed?

Re:SDL... :( (1)

smash (1351) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591942)

Its also fairly cross platform, and actually available and reasonably well tested on said platforms.

As the above poster implied: Unless you are running into performance problems, use the most de-bugged, easy to use code you can. Maybe even prototype with SDL, then optimize the hot-spots that you find with your profiler?

There's no point optimizing the crap out of some function to save 15% of the cycles on it when it counts for 3% of your execution time, for example - saving 15% of 3% isn't worth your time.

SDL could be the only weakness (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591080)

This sort of indie system will be made or broken by the ease of development and by the power of the development kit.

If SDL is hard to program for, then I might think twice. If they are going to go with SDL then they need to make it work with as many programming languages as possible. If I can program for this thing in Python, Perl, Ruby, Basic, C, C++, or whatever works for me, and it can connect to the development kit or SDL, then there will be plenty of games to choose from and it will be much easier for me and others to develop games for it.

However if they make it so it's only programmable in C, and the tools are hard to deal with, then forget about it.

Re:SDL could be the only weakness (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36592138)

Frozen Bubble is written in Perl and uses SDL. PyGame (sic?) uses SDL. You're probably good.

The failure is that it's a "framework". (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36591972)

Frameworks are a software design anti-pattern well-known at thedailywtf.com.

The problem with them is, that they are anti-modular. You have to use the whole framework, as using just a part drags in the rest anyway, and in the end, you end up using it as a platform.
At which point it becomes the inner platform anti-pattern, even better known at thedailywtf.com.
That is, when the abstraction is all but a limited shoddy copy of the platform below, offering no advantages. The best example of this ever, is Typo3 and TypoScript. A bad template language platform, implemented in a just as bad template language platform (PHP). FAIL. ^^

From my experience, I noticed, that nearly 100% of those things called "framework", are things that should be avoided.
Works for me.
I just go find a small library, with a proper interface instead, that becomes part of MY system, instead of the other way around.

Re:The failure is that it's a "framework". (2)

MtHuurne (602934) | more than 2 years ago | (#36592260)

SDL is actually pretty modular. You can tell SDL_Init() which subsystems you want to use. For example, you could use SDL for video and input, use libao for audio and use pthreads for threading.

Re:SDL... :( (1)

MtHuurne (602934) | more than 2 years ago | (#36592182)

For most games, SDL is good enough. If you're going to be pushing thousands of custom events per seconds through the queue, it should be optimized. If you're just going to process button presses, SDL's event queue implementation is not going to be the bottleneck. And if you're targeting a device with only 1 CPU core, you're probably better off running the entire game on the main thread rather than doing lots of fancy multi-threading.

Re:SDL... :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36592552)

If you'd bothered to actually look at the recent SDL trunk, you'd see most of your concerns have been addressed.

Re:SDL... :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36592580)

"I looked at the source and noticed gems such as, under Windows the fact that SDL_SemWait() was always calling WaitForSingleObject() (which is every time a kernel call with huge switching overhead)"

So you fixed it and submitted a patch... right?

The thing is, SDL just works. The alternatives don't. Those of us who want to just install Linux and get to work without a lot of fuss are growing tired of all these theoretically superior but perpetually broken technologies foisted on us by elitists. *cough*PulseAudio*cough*

Re:SDL... :( (1)

inglorion_on_the_net (1965514) | more than 2 years ago | (#36593658)

Can someone who has worked with both comment on how SDL compares to Allegro [sourceforge.net]? I used Allegro a lot back in the day to develop games that would run on DOS and Linux, and I've always been happy with it. SDL, I only have cursory experience with, and I've always found it harder to get up to speed. However, this is a long time ago, and seeing all the attention SDL has been getting, I imagine it would have improved a lot. How do they compare nowadays, in terms of developer effort, run-time efficiency, amount of code you need to install, and platform support?

Well, I'll give it a shot (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#36590544)

I've been working on a game for a while. It's had a Linux port since version 0.0.4. Sure, right now it's all command-line (not even ncurses), but I'm planning to add graphics in the release after the next one. It shouldn't be too hard to design the UI to work at 320x240, although I'll probably have to make it a different design than the PC one - 320x240 is a far cry from the 960x540 I'm currently designing for (960x540 will pixel-double to 1080p, the most common PC resolution, and will generally scale well to other resolutions).

I'll give it a shot but what profit model ? (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36590978)

Are we talking about streaming games? cartridges? cds? downloads?

I'll make a game or two if I can make a dollar or two.

Re:I'll give it a shot but what profit model ? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591072)

Not a concern for my project - it's free, open-source. I'm not even asking for donations. Mainly because I'm worried that if I start profiting from it, I'll get sued into oblivion - the list of copyrights being fairly used at the end of the readme is longer than some of the code files, and some of those have a history of not giving two craps about fair use. As far as I'm concerned, the game is just my resume - when a game dev I'm trying to get hired by says "so what can you do?", I can point to it and say "This."

But, from what I read, the console will be app-store only - no SD card slot, no streaming. Just copy the data into the 2GB (base model - there'll probably be more expensive options with more space) internal flash. The terms of the app store are already set - 90% of the gross goes to the developer. Which seems rather reasonable. No word on what apps will be approved, or if approval will even be needed, but it's open-source, so I think the restrictions will be "no blatant warez, no illegal games, and no malware".

Re:I'll give it a shot but what profit model ? (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591246)

Not a concern for my project - it's free, open-source. I'm not even asking for donations. Mainly because I'm worried that if I start profiting from it, I'll get sued into oblivion - the list of copyrights being fairly used at the end of the readme is longer than some of the code files, and some of those have a history of not giving two craps about fair use. As far as I'm concerned, the game is just my resume - when a game dev I'm trying to get hired by says "so what can you do?", I can point to it and say "This."

But, from what I read, the console will be app-store only - no SD card slot, no streaming. Just copy the data into the 2GB (base model - there'll probably be more expensive options with more space) internal flash. The terms of the app store are already set - 90% of the gross goes to the developer. Which seems rather reasonable. No word on what apps will be approved, or if approval will even be needed, but it's open-source, so I think the restrictions will be "no blatant warez, no illegal games, and no malware".

That could end up the position for some of my games as well, but alternatively if you can make a profit and you don't need to breach copyright assuming there aren't software patents all over the place, why not? It could even be open source and you could still make a profit if they come up with the right scheme.

Re:I'll give it a shot but what profit model ? (1, Troll)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591706)

Here's the thing - pure open-source games will never work. Not just "will never" - can never.

The bazaar works well for programming. It works well for logical, scientific stuff - you can have an open-source telescope design, or an open-source car, or an open-source operating system. But it works less well for art stuff - I have yet to see an open-source novel, or open-source sculpture, or open-source opera. I've sort-of seen an open-source character, but that's about it.

Games are a weird thing. They're art - not just legally, but philosophically. Designing the gameplay itself is an art, just as writing a poem or painting a portrait is an art. It's something that needs a real artist in charge. The bazaar model doesn't allow that, especially when almost everybody thinks they know how to do it, but almost nobody actually knows how to do it. It's really one of the areas where the cathedral model works better.

Here's how it should be - a hybrid of the two. The engine is open-source, community-developed. Put it up on Sourceforge, let the bazaar do its thing. Make it read gameplay data from something modular (this is a good idea anyways, but extra-important here). Store levels as XML. Write the game-specific code (how weapons work, how movement works, etc.) in Python or Perl or Lua. Store the art assets in PNGs and .Blend files or something. Take all those, the stuff that turns the engine into a game, and wrap it inside a compressed archive. Wrap some light DRM around it if commercial - nothing much, just enough to make piracy more difficult than getting the game. The game data becomes the game - that's the part that gets sold, gets copyright protection. The good games will use the cathedral model for this - dozens of skilled, dedicated people, with minimal outside control, led by some visionary. Or just one focused guy in his basement. There will probably be a bunch of bad, or at most decent, games made using the bazaar model as well. They'll be decent, maybe even some good free fun, but they won't be the Good Games. Maybe they'll serve as tech demos of the engine - showing how well it works and so on.

That's how I'd like to do it. That's how I think it will work best.

PS: I'm not worried about software patents. The issue with my game is that I'm parodying/satirizing/whatever a bunch of major companies, and using a lot of product names and such. Trademarks, really, are more my problem than copyright or patents. I'll probably submit a story on the game when I make a proper website for it and all, hence why I'm being vague about it.

Re:I'll give it a shot but what profit model ? (1)

smash (1351) | more than 2 years ago | (#36592006)

The bazaar works well for programming. It works well for logical, scientific stuff - you can have an open-source telescope design, or an open-source car, or an open-source operating system. But it works less well for art stuff - I have yet to see an open-source novel, or open-source sculpture, or open-source opera. I've sort-of seen an open-source character, but that's about it.

It is even flawed for some programming tasks. I agree for some programming it is ideal, but in other areas (eg, UI design) where consistency counts, having a dictatorship with one clear vision of how the UI should work is better. Which is why we have the current state of the Unix desktop constantly playing catch-up in terms of consistency and ease of use.

Re:I'll give it a shot but what profit model ? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#36592362)

As opposed to?

When you compare GTK (Or QT) based applications to most Windows applications you will find that *Nix apps are pretty consistent.

The biggest barrier to UI design isn't intuitiveness or consistency, it is the fact that most people don't like to change, so anything that is different is naturally going to be "harder" to use, even when coming from a broken UI.

Re:I'll give it a shot but what profit model ? (1)

smash (1351) | more than 2 years ago | (#36593278)

The QT example merely proves my point. The toolkit was originally made by a small, paid team with a coherent vision of what they wanted to achieve. GTK is an exception, but even that has had large amounts of resources and paid full-time developers thrown at it in recent years by redhat and others.

Before QT and GTK, the unix desktop was a collossal cluster-fuck of things as basic as OK/cancel buttons being on different sides of the dialog box. Don't get me wrong, there is and was some very powerful and useful software available, but the small "polish" things are what is missing.

And gnome's removal of features to simplify things is kinda missing the point. You don't need to totally remove everything, just make it logical and consistent.

Re:I'll give it a shot but what profit model ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36592066)

Store levels as XML

Y U HATE developers?!

What are "illegal games"? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591618)

so I think the restrictions will be "no blatant warez, no illegal games, and no malware"

But what are "illegal games"? Would StepMania be an illegal game? (See Konami v. Roxor.) Would Quadrapassel be an illegal game? (See Tetris v. Biosocia.)

Re:What are "illegal games"? (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591850)

I'd say no child porn (those exist), nothing that's blatant and inexcusable copyright infringement (an obviously-cracked version of someone else's game), and nothing that would be "hate speech" - so no "KKK presents: N****r Killing: The Game". The games that would be illegal not because of some game-specific law, but because of something that applies to everything. The kind of law where possession itself is deemed criminal.

Bob's Game (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36590562)

This will probably turn out as well as Bob's Game.

Re:Bob's Game (1)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591354)

Exactly. People need to consider the source before getting too excited.

It could be great. It could be lolzitrollu.

Re:Bob's Game (1)

zhazam (2315520) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591786)

More likely, faced by the amount of work you actually have to do to create a decent, competitive video game platform, he'll claim it was a joke all along.

This could be so nice for tinkering (2)

Vario (120611) | more than 2 years ago | (#36590606)

We can only hope that this device or a different version of it gets a small GPIO connector for the connection of external sensors, devices, etc. With a $10 device with display and a 400 MHz cpu is really incredible in my opinion. After looking into Arduino, Beagleboard and similar inexpensive and relatively easy to program and use boards I am still looking for something that already comes in a case, is more powerful than an AVR and has a builtin display.

Almost all test and measurement devices that I currently use in our research laboratory have much less computing power which limits their capabilities and increase their price quite a bit. A couple of years ago developing embedded applications looked like black magic to me, fiddling around to save a few bytes, using a lot of tricks to get it done somehow but today you can easily throw a much more powerful processor at the problem and instead of tuning you can just program in whatever language you like and it will probably be fast enough.

If they can keep up to their announced sales price I will order a couple as nice presents another couple to take apart.

Pandora (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36590744)

Nobody mentioned Pandora yet, is it so dead even /. had forgot about it?

Re:Pandora (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36591704)

It's probably so expensive that "even /. had forgot about it." The cost in country is more than $600. I bought a tablet from China for half that price.

FTFY: (1)

the_fat_kid (1094399) | more than 2 years ago | (#36590746)

I think that the official "fixed that for you" for this one should read:

Linux-Based Gaming Handheld doomed to the dust bin, swap meets

sorry.

Does it have a GPU? (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 2 years ago | (#36590866)

Even 2d acceleration of some sort? They harp on having a faster CPU than a DS, but that doesn't really matter that much for fast fun 2d gaming; pushing pixels is what matters.

The Pandora might be a few hundred bucks, but I think I'd rather have an open handheld computer than an open handheld gaming system.

Re:Does it have a GPU? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36590948)

Even 2d acceleration of some sort? They harp on having a faster CPU than a DS, but that doesn't really matter that much for fast fun 2d gaming; pushing pixels is what matters.

At 400 MHz you could emulate all the 2D acceleration of a Super NES. Consider that Doom and Doom II ran on one-tenth of that.

Re:Does it have a GPU? (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591054)

RIght, it's in a class to emulate some of that stuff. But if this is going to take the 16-bit style of gameplay "to the next level", even 400MHz will start to be pretty weak once you're pushing giant layers of transparency around with the CPU. And at low resolution, alpha and antialiasing are very important.

why not just use vectors? (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591374)

vector graphics or SVG can't work?

Re:why not just use vectors? (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591502)

Um, adding in vector graphics & SVG would make things even more resource-intensive, but there's no reason they wouldn't technically _work_. Plus, those bring in even greater need to deal with antialiased graphics at those resolutions, with the additional issue of doing the antialiasing in realtime instead of prebaked in your bitmap graphics.

Without a modern GPU in it, I seriously doubt the SoC they use will have hardware OpenVG-ish vector support. That tends to be more related to 3d hardware than 2d, and basic 2d acceleration tends to be related to bitmap caching and pixel-for-pixel blitting which would help even less in dynamic vector situations (rotation, scaling, masking, colorspace transforms, etc).

Re:why not just use vectors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36591738)

I'd rather write a full-blown 3D-engine on a 400MHz device than a SVG-parser.

Re:Does it have a GPU? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591290)

At 400 MHz you could emulate all the 2D acceleration of a Super NES.

Not very well. The GP2X had 2x200 MHz chips and the SNES emu on that was a disaster. I abandoned dicking with it once I got a CFW for my original-model PSP that let me run emulators on it.

Re:Does it have a GPU? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36591414)

He said "emulate all the 2D acceleration of a Super NES", not "emulate a Super NES".

How many MHz did StarCraft need? (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591768)

The GP2X had 2x200 MHz chips and the SNES emu on that was a disaster.

The Super NES has two CPUs that need to be kept in cycle-for-cycle sync all the time, or some games will fail. (Back then, synchronization was more primitive than modern mutexes.) Some games even used a third CPU on the cartridge. But in a native game, all the game logic can be compiled to native code or at least to JITable bytecode. Nor do native SDL games need to emulate the weird bit-planar tile format that Super NES games use. Answer me this: How many MHz did the original StarCraft need?

Re:How many MHz did StarCraft need? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#36592110)

100 MHz on PC, but I doubt that's relevant since we're talking about the SNES, which never had Starcraft, so I don't follow your point. If you were just talking about the number of cycles for the graphics output itself, then okay, since I don't know how squidgeSNES used them, and read it as you discussing emulation, I can't say.

Re:How many MHz did StarCraft need? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36592682)

I ran it just fine in Windows 2000 on a 300MHz Pentium II with 64MB RAM.

Re:Does it have a GPU? (1)

dadioflex (854298) | more than 2 years ago | (#36593346)

The Pandora is about fifty times more expensive than this imaginary ten dollar device and is only SLIGHTLY less imaginary having taken it's first pre-orders almost three years ago and STILL having un-filled orders. The official forum has become a hive of unhappiness, accusations and angry (hardware) developers, well developer. But if you want drama it's probably on a par with Pelloni.

16-bit? (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#36590910)

I guess when they say 16bit they mean the video color depth or something. Last I checked Linux won't run on a platform that is not at least 31-bit (yes I do mean 31)

Re:16-bit? (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591538)

I think they're referring to the 16-bit era of gaming, SNES, Sega Genesis, Turbo Grafx (sp?), etc. As in expect that level of gameplay & graphics.

It's too early.. (1)

TomHeal (2261306) | more than 2 years ago | (#36590950)

to tell if it will actually be made. It looks like a concept at the moment. I'd want more detailed information about it's components before getting my hopes up.

Will I be able to buy one with cash? (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36590974)

Will it be possible to buy one of these without having to go online? A lot of kids' parents won't let the kids spend their allowance online; they have to spend it in a local brick-and-mortar store because only a local brick-and-mortar store takes cash.

Sound like a great ... (1)

jsnipy (913480) | more than 2 years ago | (#36590986)

... to take roms on the go

Re:Sound like a great ... (1)

rekenner (849871) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591350)

But a PSP can do that ... and play PSP games, too. And I doubt that thing will play PSX games - Where the PSP can.

Re:Sound like a great ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36591402)

But the PSP doesn't cost $20, like this is supposed to.

number of comments to this story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36591252)

will equal the number of units of this thing sold, if it even makes it to market.

Evolution! (1)

takad (1946206) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591254)

Evolution doesn't necessary move forward!. In a time where 3D Dominates and Immersive virtual Worlds manifest ; we still see 16-bit 2D "SDL" LowRes Game Consoles Emerges! Or it's just the proof that Evolution is a continuum, and wherever there is a potential or Innovation isn't Fully Exploited, There would still be Evolution to happen. Or this maybe a message: "Don't mess with us Businessmen, Escaping Forward, will soon drag you backward" Or I'm just taking things too seriously!

Re:Evolution! (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591590)

Evolution is about survival of the fittest. It is not necessarily survival of the most complex or the most "advanced". Sometimes the fittest in a niche isn't the most complex item in that niche. Sometimes simple, robust, and quick to reproduce accurately makes a more competitive offering. If they can actually get a reliable $20 device out that plays decent games, it should reproduce pretty quickly.

Pandora (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36591660)

http://openpandora.org

Idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36591730)

Who the hell keeps reposting this garbage? Take a look at Digi-Key. The cheapest 320x240 screen out there is $30, ALONE. Bob (Bob's Game, remember?) is a fucking insane clown who's angry at the world because Nintendo (rightly) thought he had a snowball's chance in hell of actually adhering to an NDA.

Not to mention why you would write 16-bit games for a 32-bit microprocessor.

There is already a market (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591790)

There is already a market for just as expensive and less powerful systems. Go into any WalMart, Target, or Toys R Us. You will find a dozen or so video game systems that cost between $15-$25. They will have one game hard coded in them, and people keep buying them. Why? Because they are disposable toys, and I doesn't take a huge amount of play for it to have been worth the price. The companies website is right. You CAN lose it and it would be OK. It is only a $10 toy after all.

Hopefully, they won't just stick to hand helds. Give us a unit that plugs into the TV also.

Re:There is already a market (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 2 years ago | (#36592218)

Have you ever plugged a 320x200|240 noninterlaced 4:3 signal into a modern HD television? I'd rather look at the little native-resolution, native-aspect builtin screen. :-P

Re:There is already a market (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#36592804)

Yes I have. No it doesn't look like Blu-ray, but with the proper filter, it can be fine. Especially for $20.

tell me why... (2)

smash (1351) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591846)

... as an end user, i should care about a device that can only play 2d games, when i already have a smartphone capable of openGL, that I carry with me everywhere already?

Unless this offers something my smartphone doesn't (incredible battery life, better games, etc) there's no way it is going to end up being carried around with me. Which means its not going to work as a mobile gaming platform.

I like the prospect of an open gaming platform as much as the next guy, but unless you get a decent market onboard it is going nowhere.

Re:tell me why... (2)

phaggood (690955) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591966)

> i already have a smartphone So do I, and the battery life already sucks so much ass that people across the room butt-pucker when I walk in. That and I've got a nine year old boy and no way in HELL do I want him to start looking at my x-hunnert dollar Android like it's a gameboy.

Re:tell me why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36592318)

Unless this offers something my smartphone doesn't

What, you mean like proper controls?

Re:tell me why... (1)

smash (1351) | more than 2 years ago | (#36593244)

If the games are written to make use of touch, control isn't a problem. Sure i can't play the same type of game with a touchscreen, but is that enough to justify carrying around some extra piece of hardware, when the point of portable gaming is merely to keep me amused when I'm waiting to be somewhere else (in transit) or waiting for someone briefly when I get somewhere?

Re:tell me why... (1)

Fritzed (634646) | more than 2 years ago | (#36593644)

>Unless this offers something my smartphone doesn't (incredible battery life, better games, etc) there's no way it is going
> to end up being carried around with me. Which means its not going to work as a mobile gaming platform.

Buttons.

Lots of ambition with nothing to back it up (1)

zhazam (2315520) | more than 2 years ago | (#36591930)

Seems like "bulk discount" is being thrown around to mask the fact that it actually does cost more than $20 to make a console like that.

The costs mentioned in the "commercial" are most likely bulk deals, i.e. for companies that can afford to order these parts in very large quantities. Even if Robert could order a large enough quantity to reach this cost, he'd need to find someone willing to assemble the consoles for cheap enough.

If it, in some freak occurrence, actually got released, it would most likely have a price point along the lines of $150 - $200 - at which point people realize that consoles like the Dingoo already allow homebrew development at a much lower cost ( $60 - $70 ).

Before you get excited... (4, Interesting)

Soluzar (1957050) | more than 2 years ago | (#36592148)

Please note that this gentleman is probably not entirely sincere. He's been running a hoax about "Bob's Game" for years now. It's pretty entertaining stuff, intended as entertainment rather than deception, but it would be foolish to assume that he's got any plans to actually follow through on creating this handheld.

Did they mean $100 (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 2 years ago | (#36592240)

$10 for 400 mhz CPU and a 320 x 240 screen seems a little too cheap, but if so I want one. At $10 I could sell my game and the console at a profit.

What's the fucking point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36592248)

period.

Idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36592626)

I know nobody reads TFA, but if you watch the second video at about 56 seconds it says this:

  "Through the power of marketing, we can
harness your imagination to sell you products for more than their
true value, because you will believe they do more than they actually
do."

Scam.

It's called due diligence, slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36592858)

Congratulations, Slashdot, you just fell for a viral marketing campaign for Bob's Game. Do you really think it's that easy to come out of absolutely nowhere and make something that competes with the offerings of major corporations like Nintendo and Sony for well below cost like that? Get real.

Which games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36593154)

If it has Civilization, Risk, Monopoly, Chess, etc, I'd buy it! As long as I don't have to do things like tar and make or yumm, I'm okay.

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