Just ran a web based Spectrum emulator on my RaspberryPi zero and it seemed to work OK.
Can I have 1/2 million to add some tacky plastic buttons and a £50 touch screen?
Troubled Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ firm Retro Computer Limited has missed multiple product delivery dates amid lawsuits and very public infighting. Perhaps these modern-day shenanigans cast light on why the UK's 1980s game coding scene collapsed. What happened, and how did a straightforward gaming console project go so far off …
I agree; it's ridiculous that it's descended into this.
AFAICT, this isn't a hardware-based recreation of the original Spectrum design (e.g. using an FPGA). It's a software-based emulator running on some arbitrary modern hardware.
The case- apparently by original Sinclair designer Rick Dickinson- is well enough executed, but (unlike the first Vega's bizarre key-deficient parody of the original Spectrum) there's little connection in appearance beyond the rainbow flash and Sinclair logo.
I've said before that there must be countless Chinese manufacturers offering off-the-shelf handheld designs based on generic and well-supported hardware (i.e. that would run a Spectrum emulator under Android or Linux) that could easily be lightly customised to this end without the need to reinvent the wheel.
Now, to be fair, I later found out that they were planning on building this in the UK- which would be a good thing, but might make the above suggestion less workable.
And yes, I know from the article that the problems are primarily legal and interpersonal. Still, this seems like massively more fuss than it ought to have been- or is worth- for something that's basically just a generic handheld dedicated to running a Spectrum emulator you can already run elsewhere.
The Spectrum Next looks potentially more interesting (being an FPGA-based hardware recreation in a case that mirrors the Spectrum+) and something I'd maybe consider once- if- it became a commercial product at the right price, i.e. £100 to £125. That said, most people seem non-purist and happy to play old games on an emulated console, so it's even more ridiculous that the Vega+ is having so much trouble.
It's not just about the hardware. Wasn't there the promise of having 1,000 properly-licensed games included?
Some people will happily pay a bit extra knowing that they are being cleaner-than-clean legally, or because of the (admittedly minute) chance that some of the original authors will receive some sort of royalty.
Then again, paying for a product doesn't guarantee that the alleged royalties will be paid in an above-board manner, as Elite's "recreated Spectrum" (#) showed a couple of years back.
(#) Remember that? It was basically just a jumped-up Bluetooth keyboard that looked like a Spectrum, but only worked with their particular emulation app. A lot of people were rather unhappy when Elite withdrew the app support it relied upon, leaving them with useless rubber keyboards.
The Elite keyboards aren't actually useless - they're pretty much just Bluetooth keyboards with a funny keyboard mapping, so it's not hard to add support for them to other emulators. More details are in the Unofficial FAQ http://jorallan.livejournal.com/14976.html Disclaimer: I wrote the FAQ.
Backing any Indiegogo project is always a complete gamble and should be considered akin to putting money in a slot machine. Never use money you can't afford to lose.
I'm a backer of this project and to be honest, given the Sinclair branding I fully expected the finished article to be late and not entirely like the original advertising. Part of the charm really. So maybe I'll receive one maybe not. But not worth getting too angry about.
Look at you, posting on here your support of the project with your open minded and considered approach. And as for understanding the risk associated with crowd funding, well really. Far too rational, be away with you!
Don't you know your supposed to grab the pitchforks when these stories come to light, and chase down the foolhardy who backed such pipe dreams?!
[I'm glad I didn't back it but was sorely tempted. Decided to wait to buy one instead, a bit like that Psion 5 remake]
"Backing any Indiegogo project is always a complete gamble"
That's exactly what it is. Yet you still get people like the guy on facebook in this article complaining about how he "ordered a Vega +". No, he didn't. He invested money in a company in the hope that they would give him one as a dividend. The company is failing, his investment is likely lost. He gets nothing.
"He invested money in a company in the hope that they would give him one as a dividend."
Correct me if this is wrong, but as far as I'm aware, he's *not* actually investing in the company itself, since that would make it an investment attracting all sorts of legal regulations etc.
I assume this is why Kickstarter and Indiegogo seem to have people take the risk of contributing towards the development of a product that they might not see, yet don't share in the rewards if that product is a success.
" I assume this is why Kickstarter and Indiegogo seem to have people take the risk of contributing towards the development of a product that they might not see, yet don't share in the rewards if that product is a success. "
Actually, this is one area where Kickstarter and Indiegogo differ. If you are offering a physical product on Kickstarter, you must have a working prototype to show at the time of the campaign -- if you're soliciting funds for early dev work, you can't offer the final product as a reward.
Indiegogo have grown considerably since Kickstarter started refusing projects for this... which makes me hesitant to even look at a hardware project on Indiegogo, because they're far, far riskier in the end.
The problem seems to be that backers often believe the product exists, is ready for purchase, and is only unavailable because manufacturing needs to be funded.
It doesn't help that some some crowd-funded projects and media reports on those give exactly that impression.
People skip over the 'it's not guaranteed to happen' part and assume that it will. Despite numerous examples where it doesn't.
I imagine they think that's 'meaningless small-print' only put there 'because they have to' and does not reflect the actual situation when it very much does.
"It doesn't help that some some crowd-funded projects and media reports on those give exactly that impression."
As represented by every single crowd-funded project and every single crowd-funding site (as soon as you're out of their obligatory disclaimer section) ever. NOT A SINGLE ONE OF EITHER ever admits to the fact that you're basically leaving money in a brown bag on a bench in a public park hoping for some inexplicable reason to find $Reward in another bag when you come back $Time later, the amount of which has usually just been pulled out of the ass of someone with zero previous experience in any sort of product design or fulfilment. In fact the incredibly complicated rosters of what exactly you become entitled to receive for how much money and in what possible combinations are sending the exact opposite message. It's a store except for the aisles and shelves. Blaming the backers solely, for taking it at face value, is extremely disingenuous.
Even campaigns / sites that mumble something about "not an actual preorder" "campaign might fail" and so on do absolutely everything to nevertheless represent the affair as a somewhat uncertain but otherwise straightforward "give us X money to receive Y merchandise in return" deal. Quite unsurprising to be honest, considering that crowd-funding would be dead and a thing of the past within 24 hours if everyone started saying the truthful "please make a donation to us, we might send you something back in the astonishingly unlikely event of not having squandered (or straight-up embezzled) all your money on irrelevant things in the near future". Nobody ever says "gimme as much as you can so if whatever I think about making ever actually becomes a reality, it arguably possibly maybe does so sooner than otherwise".
So as far as expectations, yeah, you _should_ have your eyes open. But as far as the actual promises go, hell no, it's NOT free money with zero strings attached in any sense according to the deal being peddled, even if in practice, legally, that's exactly what it ends up being. And that won't change until the very first paragraph on the page of every single project on every crowd-funding website does not read:
"what follows below is the declaration of an intent by the project owner to reward you with something in exchange for your voluntarily offered financial support. There are not and there cannot be any guarantees that the intent is practical, feasible, or even genuinely honest - quite often it will fail to be one or more of the above - and there will be no consequences whatsoever for the project owner if they never even talk to any of you again after you pay them. Proceed knowing that you're paying someone you don't know for something they don't have."
Yes, this has a knock on effect on all indiegogo projects and the reason I backed away from the Planet Gemini Psion 5 recreation is because of stories like this, and the indiegogo page for the Gemini has words like "Concept Stage" and "*We are working hard to achieve the above technical specifications for Gemini.". The mockup uses a keyboard salvaged from a Psion 5MX and probably 3D printed other bits.
I have hope that the Sinclair Vega+ backers will get their gadgets though, as this is their second project and they eventually delivered on the first.
You do it at your own risk.
Sadly it seems a lot of somewhat naive younger (and not so young) people are learning this the hard way and that the rules of boring old finance don't magically vanish just because everything is being done via a some koolkid hipster web site. I would laugh but I do genuinely feel sorry for the lenders.
You do it at your own risk.
If you've paid by credit card doesn't Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act protect you?
My understanding is that credit card companies are equally liable to deliver the product, or refund you, as long as you spent over £100. But does that not apply to crowdfunded sites?
Just curious - nothing to do with wondering if the Gemini will go the same way or anything...
"My understanding is that credit card companies are equally liable to deliver the product, or refund you, as long as you spent over £100. But does that not apply to crowdfunded sites?"
The problem is essentially with the title of the post here - crowdfunding generally isn't a hard promise that you will receive and existing product, but rather an investment with the understanding that someone will do their best to produce a product. The Consumer Credit Act specifically says "any claim against the supplier in respect of a misrepresentation or breach of contract". If you pay for a product in a shop and then don't receive the product, there is a clear breach of contract and you can get your money back. If you invest in a crowdfunding campaign in the hope that there will be a product in the future, you would have to prove that the campaign misrepresented its chances of success or that there was deliberate fraud somewhere along the line in order to be entitled to anything. So the Act might protect you, but you're likely to have to go to court to prove it, at which point you may as well just take the offending party to court and not bother involving your credit card provider.
I can run up an emulator for most old consoles.
I often quite like StarFox64 on my android phone.
I had consoles when i was younger and kept a few for a while, but one or two games on an old classic and you'll be back on your PS4.
My money this year will go on a switch... its a real thing, i have actual people in real life whom i know and trust show me it. I can go to a store an buy it. It has quite modern tech (not opening that can of worms) and it seems quite good.
Even if it isn't, the idea of putting up cash for some aging retro gamer to try and relive their youth and squander the cash in the process just seems a little stupid to me.
You could probably run a spectrum emulator on an N-Gage... problem solved.
Case of the member berries.
"I had consoles when i was younger and kept a few for a while, but one or two games on an old classic and you'll be back on your PS4."
Nostalgia isn't all it's cracked up to be when the old memories are brought to life. Some of the old games hold up reasonably well, but many of those I loved back in the day are a disappointment nowadays. Yes, they were great at the time, even ground-breaking, but we had much lower expectations back then.
It's amazing the difference in graphics. I have got used to the changes without really noticing and going back to an old game it's amazing how bad the graphics I thought were brilliant before are, some games it makes them painful to play.
Still liking Age of Empires though, and there's not many games prettier than Homeworld.
--"Nostalgia isn't all it's cracked up to be when the old memories are brought to life."
... Tell me about it, I had this magical memory of life at 5 or 6 years old, playing a game called River Raid on my dad's C64. It was like the real thing, sitting on the sofa with the joystick just felt like I was actually in the plane. Shooting up tanks and helicopters, trying to not run out of fuel, needing a break to dry the sweat from the joystick when I made it to the next bridge. We must have spent many, many hours playing that game.
Then about 10-15 years ago I found VICE and loaded up a RR tape image. I think I lasted well under 10 minutes before thinking "WTF?" and going back to the Playstation.
I dare not go back to it now after this many more years.
There were these other two games called Beach Head (I & II) that I loved as a kid but never got round to trying on VICE. I think I'll just hold on to the memories instead.
I lost the will to read any further about a third of the way in. Not so much TL;DR, as too complicated, too many names dropping in and out, too much dodgy dealing and too many grown adults behaving like children.
Producing this console should have been technically simple. But the chances of it happening are zero in this boardroom chaos. Crowdfunding backers should say good-bye to their money and, if they really must indulge in a regular dose of nostalgia, use one of the many emulators available.
Most crowdfunded stuff that involves cases etc are going to run late. The people involved tend to be techies, good on the electronics side (HW and SW) but with no knowledge of packaging it up, And that is EXPENSIVE. You won't get much change out of £100k for tooling for injection moulding (if you do it properly), most people have NO idea of the costs of getting the plastic case for something right. Then add buttons, screens etc, and the fact you need to be able to manufacture on a production line, which is its own can of worms, and things rapidly get very expensive and time consuming indeed.
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Projects like this are pretty much just some peoples pet wants and likes.
They are never run properly - usually having someone at the helm that is halfway between a fanticist and a used car salesman ....
They always start with the best of intentions, but when the going gets tough - they dont have the will, the want or the "cahoneys" for seeing the project through - especially if its going to lose rather than make money.
EVERYONE ... and I include myself in that - wants to see this product work..... and the neysayers (the commentards just above/below this who mention about free software and a £50 touch screen) are the people who tend to delight at someone elses failure.
The biggest problem though is that there has been some sort of financial mis-management and a couple of directors that had a great idea, but dont want to lose any money - at all....even though its a distinct possibility on a project such as this.
I backed for the three colourful versions, intending them to be Christmas presents for myself and two brothers, all of whom played Speccy games together as children. Realistically I was expecting to play it for approximately 4 mins before reverting back to PS4.
The level of frothing rage on the comments amuses me, and makes me feel happy that I don't get wound up like that. As others have mentioned, many have missed the concept and risk involved in these campaigns.
Still hopeful something might be delivered!
Agreed. I would have made a fantastic xmas present for the wife, but her birthday is in July, so there's hope yet. Or there's xmas this year.
RCL's stance that they will refund anyone who wants out is commendable, but naive. They should have just said "crowdfunding!" and kept working. No point wasting energy on whiners. Better late than never.
Well done to The Reg for keeping it level.
Though you did blow it a bit - what on Earth has this got to do with the late 80's game scene?
I seem to remember that came about because basically all the bedroom coding talent finished school and then realised they were probably owed a competent wage to continue their efforts; hence the financial models of most software companies collapsed overnight!
In this case a lot of (us) developers offered up games for free on the understanding that the royalties portion of the sales would be going to Great Ormond Street. And some of us have a spare room to do the coding in these days... ;-)
Though on the point about the FUSE emulator, I don't see why notifying (or not) the originators of an open source product that you want to use it is relevant, so long as the terms are complied with.
I notice that the technical standard of 8-bit software (graphics in particular) improved *very* significantly over the decade, but particularly around the mid-80s.
Is this because larger companies started using the newly-released Atari ST and Amiga- and more dedicated artists- to more easily develop graphics for the 8-bit formats (#), along with possibly other cross-development tools? I'm assuming all this more team-based and equipment-intensive approach also forced a move away from the "bedroom programmer" approach?
(#) Since designing even (e.g.) mono Spectrum graphics would be easier with the mouse-based packages on the 16-bit machines than on the Spectrum itself. (Even if the 16-bit formats- especially the Amiga- were initially a bit too expensive to support many mainstream games in their own right).
Yes - but similarly the industry moved to teams working together under high-pressue conditions, with 16-bit development kits for 8-bit games paid for by the business and all the management overheads that go with running concurrent projects on tight budgets. The software houses repeatedly shrank and consolidated until there was pretty much only Ocean Software left. And later on the magazines were devaluing the market by competing to give away more and more complete older games (not just demos) every month.
A few homebrew coders like Jonathan Cauldwell just kept going, regardless. And there's been a resurgence in the last few decades using PC-emulation-based development tools. If you haven't seen a Spectrum game since 1990 you may be in for a surprise as to what's been achieved lately. I'll immodestly cite my own 'Buzzsaw+' as a title that has graphics that wouldn't look out of place on an Amiga, yet will run on a genuine original 48K Spectrum from 1983.
[ For avoidance of doubt, I am the primary author of Fuse ]
"Though on the point about the FUSE emulator, I don't see why notifying (or not) the originators of an open source product that you want to use it is relevant, so long as the terms are complied with."
Correct. This was an attempt to explain to people who might not necessarily understand the difference between free as in beer and free as in speech software that RCL did nothing legally wrong by not talking to the Fuse team before using Fuse in the Vega+. It didn't entirely work, but I think it helped.
"Though on the point about the FUSE emulator, I don't see why notifying (or not) the originators of an open source product that you want to use it is relevant, so long as the terms are complied with."
I think in this case it's being mentioned as part of establishing a timeline of events by witness testimony.
as has been stated, crowdfunding is a risk. a gamble. some you win, some you lose
and with that, I announce my own crowdfundng project: The Sinclair ZX Vega+++ Turbo Deluxe V2.0 Platinum Edition. - does everything RCL's one (apparently) does, but also takes your bins out, correctly predicts national lottery numbers, and makes the toast... £105 and you're in, with the added guarantee that it either will or won't get made. form an orderly queue.
Although it does not eliminate the risk it does cut down the risk of burning cash to often.
My personal rules for backing a kickstarter:
1. It MUST have at least one competent business member in the team, be it a person or partner company
2. It MUST have a working prototype. If all I see is claims and CGI videos then it does not get touched.
3. It MUST already have planned tool/manufacturing costs based on the crowd funded target. For kickstarter this is easy since the campaign either gets all funding or nothing. Not like the Indiegogo variable scamming. (I have no affiliation to either)
Any crowdfunded product that has not already been developed or prototyped is to much of a risk in my opinion and I would simply just wait for the product to hit retail. 3D printer kickstarters have made me so afraid of backing them I actually waited to see if the Trinus 3D printer was real and available for sale since it looked like a nice build.
Stick a RPi 3 in a box, run Fuse, use a real keyboard or wire up a Speccy keyboard matrix into one of the stupendously cheap arcade-controller extension boards. Done.
I love the Spectrum.
I love emulation.
A £25 copy of Spectaculator is my pride-and-joy, after my £30 registered copy of Z80/WinZ80 by Gerton Lunter.
They do everything the Speccy could do - and more - and even have options for nostalgic real-tape loading/saving (via the proper screechy audio, headphone cables or via WAV, TZX, etc.), TV scanline emulation, etc.
And then I bought a GP2X many years ago, and things like FUSE worked perfectly. A bit of controller config (and then realising you need a full keyboard for most Speccy games anyway) and you had this product - handheld, full-colour, console-like Speccy but that could also play ANYTHING else and even had GTA-clones written for it.
Honestly do not get the fuss. Buy anything that portable can run homebrew and they'll be a Speccy emulator for it.
But nothing quite beats a laptop with 1000 Steam games, all my work, VM's for programming, a full browser, and a Speccy emulator second-to-none with HDMI out if I need it. Hell, plug in my XBox360 wireless controllers and we all played Gauntlet on TV at a party a few months back. And I demonstrated loading from tape into the emulator, and playing a TZX out of the emulator into a real Speccy. It just worked.
If you spent any money on this, I really pity you.
A Nintendo DS could do what you want, and they're basically second-hand scrap nowadays:
I'm disgusted that you're continuing to perpetuate the utterly groundless smear that Indiegogo is Kickstarter with even lower standards and fewer safeguards.
I've no idea why their page was eventually shut down after they'd gathered $66,000. I'm sure they returned that all to the backers and didn't use "flexible funding" as a getout to spend it all on hookers and blow with no recourse for investors.
Perhaps they were they victim of a terrible person attacking them by explaining with well-reasoned arguments why their proposal wasn't even remotely plausible with current technology (and basically against the laws of physics) or that their videos and photos were just mockups and stock photos/footage, or that they created the (now-deleted) Wikipedia page describing the "credentials" of their own staff. What sort of cad would make well-reasoned criticisms like that?
I hope Indiegogo restore Bleen's page as soon as possible, so that they can reach their $225,000 goal needed to research and make breakthroughs in cutting-edge physics (on a budget roughly the size of a seatbelt in a US Air Force fighter) and *then* develop it into a workable product for the amount of money Samsung probably spend annually on Twiglets.
LEAVE INDIGOGO ALONE!!!!!!!!!!111111 :'-( etcetera...
A big thanks for posting a decent article on the ins and outs. Had got fed up of all the rumour, innuendo and name-calling.
As an investor - I had expected that with the cash raised there would be a good product delivered in reasonable time. It looks like that won't happen - although I still live in hope!
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There is no consumer protection for investments on a Crowdfunding site.
If you go through the small print, it is made very clear to you that you are not purchasing a physical item, but that you are investing a sum monies into research, development and manufacture (if required) or a potential product and that as a reward, you may be offered the item itself or other things.
This is no different from me going on AIM and buying shares in a Kazakhstan oil company, except that I may or may not get a physical reward at the end.
It's a stockmarket, you're an investor, and whilst your money wont go up, you might get a physical reward at the end, but your money may also go down, and you get nothing.
Euro Gamer : Direct quote from Suzanne
"we have never refused a refund"
Your argument is moot. Crowdfunding fails, its a given, RCL however have lost my confidence through lies and deceit and disrespect to their backers. I don't care if they release the Vega + and its perfect.. I dont want it.
I am not interested in a company of scum having my money, but the 'refuse to refund me'
There are three main groups for Vega + Discussion.
1) One that is offensive, where freedom of speech is so locked down folks in North Korea have started a fund raiser to help, yet where members of RCL post happily.. yet still ignoring requests for info. This is the (Democracy) group. I left this group voluntarily as I think the team from RCL are the most unprofessional people I have ever seen and do not wish to see their mud slinging and it sickens me that they have my money. RCL post updates here to approx 170 people.. whilst failing to provide updates on the Indigogo campaign and their own page as they get universal applause for admitting another days delay due to the goldfish needing feeding (sarcasm). Its where admins tell impatient backers to 'get over it' or liken asking for VEGA+ updates to waiting for someone to die to get a kidney.. its a strange place of extreme delusion
2) One that is sarcastic, bitter to RCL but for the most part good natured where people go to freely express their frustration and is actually the highest populated group for dedicated vega + discussion. This is fun and actually helps get over the sickening behavior of RCL to their backers
3) One which is for all spectrum fans (Spectrum for everyone), which does not activity promoted vega discussion but doesnt lock it down if it happens
NON of these are hate groups though.. apart from the first which shows a tendency to hate anyone who doesnt like being lied to by RCL
ALso, the one thing that needs to be screamed from the hilltops is the fact that RCL will reply to anyone who is subservient, but will ignore refunds, requests for updates etc.. i,e the stuff that matters which they have stated they never do
Most people should use an emulator on a modern system. In many cases it will be very close if not identical to the original.
Let's assume you're a retro nut and also a stickler for detail. In that case start with the original system, and buy modern add ons that improve the reliability or reduce the pain of the original system. Floppy/hard drives to SD cards. Ethernet cards. Multicart ROMs. Copy protection hacks (let's be serious, whilst some people would pay a reasonable amount for their favourite games, or a re-issue, most people won't buy old games at inflated prices off ebay).
Then add the ability to work with modern display systems, capture footage, save and restore state. Let it be possible to play the best of the past, whilst forgetting the pain of ten minute tape loading times.
Sometimes it's barely worth using retro technology (i.e. 3dfx cards) because they were succeeded by considerably improved hardware.
When are millennials going to learn the world crowd in anything is generally someone smarter than them getting them to do something for free or even worse give money so said smarter person benefits. A bit like religion without even having to invent the elaborate back story (all you need to say is quick invest in my perpetual motion machine) or go through the pageantry.
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