Kickstarter Alert: A Gameboy That Plays Any System You’d Ever Want To Emulate

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I have probably tried almost every possible platform imaginable for Emulation. From PCs in the 90s, to the iPaq, PS2 hacks, things like the GameKing and multi-format consoles. One thing I have always wanted was a one-stop, high-performance handheld that I can take with me.
  
RobotLovesKitty might just deliver it by creating the Game Kid. Powered by the Raspberry Pi’s RetroPie emulation project wwith a 3D printed Gameboy like case that is capable of running NES, SNES, Sega, Playstation 1, Nintendo 64, , x86 PC, Amiga, Sega Genesis, Turbo Grafix 16 and about 20 other formats. Theres a few weeks to go and only the higher tiers are left, so you’ll have to drop a few more bucks for a glow in the dark one, but you don’t want to miss out on this thing! Pledge for yours today, they’re going fast!

 

 

For those not aware, the Raspberry Pi is a full powered computer thats about the size of a credit card. The potential for this thing is amazing, but this is the implementation of it that has most caught my eye.
  
I, for one, am super hyped that it runs the SCUMM emulator. The possibility of playing some classic SCUMM games while I’m on the road just sounds like the greatest thing ever.

 

 

Here’s a full list of what RetroPie can run, so probably the GameKid will be able to play most if not all of these:

 

  • Amiga (UAE4ALL)
  • Apple II (LinApple)
  • Atari 800 (Atari800)
  • Atari 2600 (RetroArch/Stella)
  • Atari ST/STE/TT/Falcon (Hatari)
  • Apple Macintosh (Basilisk II)
  • C64 (VICE)
  • Amstrad CPC (#CPC4Rpi)
  • Final Burn Alpha (RetroArch/PiFBA, RetroArch/FBA)
  • Game Boy (RetroArch/Gambatte)
  • Game Boy Advance (GpSP)
  • Game Boy Color (RetroArch/Gambatte)
  • Sega Game Gear (Osmose)
  • Intellivision (jzIntv)
  • MAME (RetroArch/mame4all-pi, RetroArch/mame4all)
  • MSX (openMSX)
  • PC – x86 (rpix86)
  • NeoGeo (PiFBA, GnGeo)
  • Nintendo Entertainment System (RetroArch/FCEUmm)
  • Nintendo 64 (Mupen64Plus-RPi)
  • TurboGrafx 16 – PC Engine (RetroArch/Mednafen/pce_fast)
  • Ports
    – CaveStory (RetroArch/NXEngine)
    – Doom (RetroArch/PrBoom)
    – Duke Nukem 3D (eDuke)
  • ScummVM
  • Sega Master System / Mark III (RetroArch/Picodrive, Osmose, DGen)
  • Sega Mega Drive / Genesis (RetroArch/Picodrive, DGen)
  • Sega Mega-CD / CD (RetroArch/Picodrive, DGen)
  • Sega 32X (RetroArch/Picodrive, DGen)
  • Playstation 1 (RetroArch/PCSX ReARMed)
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System (RetroArch/Pocket SNES, snes9x-rpi)
  • Sinclair ZX Spectrum (Fuse, FBZX)

 

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GameJolt’s Gameboy Jam 4 Now Open For Voting

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.12.10 PMGameJolt holds a cool tournament every year where you get 7 days to design a game from scratch using no pre-created assets. The Gameboy ones are favorites of mine. Most of the games can be played directly in a browser and really take me back. I posted a few screenshots from ones I particularly liked. I won’t post the names since I don’t want to influence the voting however.

This year’s entries are really good. Some of them go far beyond what could really be done on the gameboy, but they still retain some of the feel of the classic low-color classic. Some entries have a nice gameboy color feel and a more varied palette. For me, the ones with good 8bit tunes really stood out. There’s a lot of entries but take some time to check them out, you’ll find some favorites and be sure to take a quick moment to vote!Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.10.25 PM

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Plogue Chipsounds Gameboy DMG Wave Channel Tutorial

gbA while ago I had some requests for how to use the DMG wave table in Plogue Chipsounds. I just finally got around to putting it together. Although its hard to get the exact same sounds you can get in LsDj when it comes to using the wave channel, you can get a pretty good approximation.

Many of the cool sounds you get out of LsDj come from the start and end point and speed settings for filtering. These help you get those “blarg” (that’s what I call them) sounds and some of the really noisy, buzzy Gameboy sounds that have come to define its sound.

Chipsounds doesn’t have the start/end/speed setup like LsDj but you can get the same effect using the wave sequencer. Here’s a few settings to get you started. If you haven’t learned the wave table in Chipsounds, read this first.

Select the DMG-CPU preset and the Wave channel of course. Pick a Wave Channel preset to start with. We will customize it later.

Set PMode to one fo the following options:

  • PWM – A more subtle pulse modulation effect.
  • PWM+Copy – This causes the distorted “blarg” sound and is the most in-your-face modulation.
  • Modulo – More subtle, almost gives you an Atari SID sound.
  • Seek – Turns the modulation into an arpeggio-like effect.
  • Trunc – Another subtle effect.

blarg

The next step is to build a Wave sequencer table that turns the PWM ratio up or down. This is CC2, as you can see in the photo, you can increase it in small steps with a very fast speed to get some smooth sounds.

Youc an also use CC29 to change the Pmode mid-table as well as VPOS (CC28) to further change the effect.

The wave channel setup greatly effects the sound. The more you squish down your wave, the more you will hear the effects. Here are some examples:

 

 

The “Blarg” Mouth Sound

A very flat wave shape. Wave table increases the PWM Ration by 5 in 1/96th increments.

blarg

Jagged Lead – Often hear in Chipocrite and Bit Shifter’s stuff.

Wave Shape is rather jagged and odd. PWM Ratio moves up and down mostly in 1/48th increments. You can turn on looping for a real fun sound with this one.

bitshifter

Trashy Bass – this is a very distorted and fun one.

CC28 VPos starts at 1 and PWM Ratio climbs, VPOS jumps to 127 after a few increments increasing the distorted sound and giving it a slower attack feeling.

trash

Squirt – A real subtle one I like.

Same as Trashy but using modulo instead of PWM+Copy for the PMode. A bouncy fun Atari-like sound.

squirt

Hope that helps. Just experiment from here and you can get some really epic sounds out of this module.

Studio Dustmop Releases NES Cartridge Star Versus

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 1.44.29 PMA while back we did an article about the first video games of all time. Studio Dustmop just released a authentic NES cartridge that mimics one of these early games “SpaceWar!”. While the price is a bit steep, the gameplay video shows a promising and exciting 1 and 2-player game modes, complete with modifications and various arenas with different features. One arena even seems to have some slick faux multiparalax scrolling! The in-game tunes don’t disappoint either. Its definitely a nostalgic rush just seeing the demo so far.  I’ll definitely be getting my hands on a copy as soon as possible. You can purchase your own copy here.

8-bit Mac Terminal Email Client

Just another little retro-fitting experiment here. By using some terminal settings plus Alpine, I am now checking my email in style.

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 8.15.36 AMLike most linux/unix things, there’s about 10 ways to do anything. Here’s a the simple way:

1. Install Mac Ports

2. Follow these instructions to install alpine and connect it to your account (example shows gmail). Thanks to Kenneth Anguish.

3. Modify the terminal settings to use the font of you choice, colors and transparency. I used Ocean settings with some transparency added and the emulogic font that looks like the NES letters.

New Studio

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Some Common Questions About Doing Music Full Time Answered

bscPicThis is a compilation of some common questions I’ve answered for various people over the last few years.

  1. How long have you been at this, and did you have a “big break” or sort of tipping point where then the gigs started coming to you? Or would you say it was more about persistence searching games out and steadily upping the ante?

I’m not sure I ever had a big break. But what happened was I slowly gained clients little by little. I took a “dealer” approach, if someone came to me and said “I need 2 songs and I only have $100” I said, “SURE! No problem” and gave them the best 2 songs I could make and told them what it SHOULD have costs, this made them very grateful. If they wanted something next time I said ‘well, i know you had a budget on your last game so i wanted to help you out, but you’ll need to pay full prices now…I have literally had a guy ask for 1 chiptune song for $30 and have that turn into $2000 worth of songs after a successful kickstarter a couple months later.

So yeah i guess it’s about steadily upping the ante. I still don’t think I’m like a super pro. As you saw in the article my plan is more “avoid a full time job” and “live off the internet” than, make music my career, although that was the dream on the inside of it.

  1. Would you say geographic location is still a major contributing factor in business?

It would be if you wanted to do like film scoring, but I only have 2 local clients, i’ve never even talked on the phone with most of them, my big spenders are in the U.K. and Japan oddly enough.

  1. Is game composition your day job, or are gear and other business expenses covered by other means of income (day job etc.).

It has been my only day job for stretches of months. Right now it’s about 50% of my day doing music and 50% doing programming and database admin stuff. They both make about the same money in the end, but the programming keeps me through dry spells with no music work. In the times that I did ONLY music, the time spent marketing (instead of other jobs) helped me get new clients and I’d imagine if I marketed myself consistently, I’d always have enough work only on music. I should also add that I live very simple. I don’t have big debts or spend luxuriously. You probably couldn’t do this with a mortgage and kids.

Also if i took boring sound jobs like podcast editing/recording cleanups, I could have a regular 20+ hours of work, but its so dull i’d rather program.

  1. What are your views on percentage based payment? I know you’ve written about pricing elsewhere, but have you or would you pass on a gig because the developer did not

Well, I’ve made like $600 off % based payment in the last year, so, no. I’m not a big fan. I do take the risk if I think a game has potential, but usually, I prefer up front payment and let them keep the rights. I’ve taken some flack from other musicians on this. But do you really want to pay less and hear the same song in another game? If I cared about the game I was making, I wouldn’t.

  1. Do iTunes or something like CD Baby/Tunecore really help your exposure and provide earnings on the side for game composers? I saw that some of your stuff is up there but was hoping to hear about this?

The CD Baby album is actually my client’s. He put it up. I sometimes make a deal with my clients who can’t pay much to retain the rights to their music and sell it myself. It does not bring in major money, just a steady trickle and definitely gets me some exposure.

  1. Do you retain rights to your music, or does the company? How do composers like Danny B, C148, and Disasterpeace post their stuff on bandcamp/keep it in their name? (I have a client who wants to retain bandcamp exclusivity for tax purposes?)

Well, there are different ways and schools of thought on this. Most people want to retain the rights. I have something in my contract saying I have the right to display it in my portfolio and sometimes for people who can’t pay full price, I ask for the rights to sell the music as a soundtrack of their game, but I havent made much off doing that.

  1. The one thing I’d probably hate having to answer, just, how do you get well-paying and sure-to-be-finished game composition jobs? Or any composition jobs? 

See the article on that one. If a game is nonexistent, I charge full prices in case it never comes out.  i.e. you’ll see a “Cannoncraft” score out there by me, it never came out.  i market myself constantly, troll kickstarter, email little obscure gaming companies. msg folks on facebook etc. just keep hammering away and build your clientele.

  1. Does it change when you do music 8 hours a day for money?

When something you love becomes your job it can lose some of its magic. I was surprised to hear even career musicians who have years of experience and giant fan bases say things like that in interviews.

The articles mentioned are all here: Index to Life As a Freelancer Series On VideoGameDJ.com.

Parks and Rec’s Cones of Dunshire Kickstarter Has 10 Days Left

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 7.00.29 AMParks and Recreations Ben Wyatt is a great nerd character, becoming completely lost in his hobbies are various points in the series, much like most of us real-life geeks. His magnum opus to nerdity is his “punishingly intricate” table top game, Cones of Dunshire. It appears to be mocking Settlers of Cat’an but looks to be about ten times as complex. In the show, it becomes a surprise hit on the Internet and with his complexity-loving buddies at Tilton and Randomski Accounting Firm. The show’s finale even shows it’s sequel Winds of Tremorrah, which is supposed to be even more insane.

Well, some fans who just don’t feel that the current table-top games and RPGs are hard enough to learn, are running a kickstarter to have Cones of Dunshire made, for reals! They have about 10 days left, so, if you’re into that sort of thing, help them out!

GameChops Releases SpinDash Fan-Made Sonic Remix Album Today

If there is one Sega game soundtrack we will remember forever, without a doubt it’s Sonic the Hedgehog. The bar was set high by the games original tracks and every game that followed pushed the envelope without changing the amazing core formula. Game Chops’ awesome new Spindash album has some amazing reimagined versions of some of the most beloved Sonic tracks from various games in the series.

The album starts with a tease of a starlight zone remix, playing those lovely and familiar first three notes before juxtaposing into a pretty sweet Hydrocity Zone remix by Coda. Personal favorites for me personally include a remake of Sonic CD’s Stardust Speedway that recalls everything that is amazing about Daft Punk. My all time favorite Sonic track is the Marble Zone from Sonic 1, and Absrdst’s glitchy remix does not disappoint. Cutman himself puts a minor key harmonic change on the Starlight Zone classic to give it a erie middle-eastern flavor.

I admit I did not know some of the tracks from the newer sonic games like Sonic Colors and Knuckles Chaotix, but the remixes made me want to check out the originals. I highly recommend picking up this awesome album today!

Plogue Chipsounds Wave Table Explained

Plogue Chipsounds works great with its presets. But that wave table can really throw you off if you’re new to the tool. This should will help you learn how to use it to create classic sounds and also show you some great examples along the way.

Wave Sequencer Settings

fade-inSync – This determines if the steps that happen in your wave table are in time with your MIDI tempo or the tempo specified in the BPM.

BPM – Set’s the internal BPM of the controller. It can be overridden by clicking Sync.

Vel – Check this if you want the notes playing to respond to the velocity (how hard you hit it) of your keyboard or midi notes. If you uncheck this, notes play at full volume. Usually you want to uncheck this for realistic NES sounds.

Loop start – Once the entire wave table plays through, this tells it where to start looping (if at all).

Rel Start – If you don’t want to start at the first command the first time through, put the step value in here that you wish to start on.

We will cover Sequence settings in a future tutorial.

The Table

Let’s start by looking at what each feature is for and the options under each one.

T – The T column is for tempo. This controls the length of each sequence of commands and notes that you play. For example, if you make two wave table items with T = ¼, when you play the note, the commands will execute starting from when the midi event (or keyboard hit) is detected and then the second command will kick of ¼ of a note later. Check the Sync checkbox to have it get it’s tempo from the MIDI environment (aka your song’s tempo). You can also put T=0 which means you want to change something about the upcoming note but not actually have it count time for this command. We’ll see how this works in the examples later on.

Type – The type column explains what each step will actually do. They are defined of the following:

Null – Nothing happens, use this to leave a gap or a delay of a certain time before the next command executes.
CC – Control Channel – You use this to change things like the vibrato, expression (volume level), filter cutoff ect.
NoteOn / NoteOff – These do what you’d think, they tell the note to play or not to play. You can use this to make gaps, echoes and arpeggios.
Pitch – This will take the note up or down the amount you specify in the Evt1 column. It is used for making arpeggios.
KS – Keyswitch controls which of the channels of the default chip you are using, you use this to change from pulse1 to pulse2 to triangle, to noise. This can create some interesting effects that would be hard to do in a real tracker but not impossible for the chip to play.
Evt1 Column – The settings here depend on the type you’ve selected. For CC it’s the selection of the note property you wish to change. It will give you a drop-down of valid choices based on your type. For pitch, it is the amount of up or down steps you wish to go.

Evt2 Column – This column is usually the value of the change For example, if you select Type CC and Evt1 = 1 (which is Pitch LFO Depth aka Vibrato) Evt2 tells the system how much vibrato you want to be added to the note at this point.

Some examples will explain it best. We will explain what happens at each step in the process.

Echo

echo
0 – The note plays for 1/64 of a whole note.
1 – The note is turned off for 1/48th of a whole note.
2 – The note is turned back on but at a lower volume (evt2=61)
3 – The note it turned off again.
4 – The note is turned on again at a much lower volume (evt2=20)

The 64th and 48th notes give it the offbeat echo effect that we commonly hear in music.

Looping Staccato Arpeggio

arp-loop0 – The note is turned on and plays for 1/64th.
1 – The note is muted for 1/64th.
2 – The pitch is stepped up 5 half-steps. Since T=0, this is done before the next note plays.
3 – The next 5 half-step higher note plays for 1/64th.
4 – The note is turned off for 1/64th.
5 – The pitch is changed to +12, since T=0 it’s done before the next note plays (no time passes)
6 – The note is played an octave above the original for 1/64th.
7 – the note is muted again.

Loop start = 2 – the sequence goes back to step 2 until the user lets go of the keyboard or the MIDI note ends.

Increasing Vibrato

vibrato-fade0 – The volume (CC=11) is set to 127 (evt2=127)
1 – The vibrato (CC=1) is set to 0. No time has passed, nor has a note played.
2 – The note begins to play for ¼, each time a key is pressed, steps 0 and 1 execute with no time pass before this step.
3,4,5 – After 1/8 the vibrato (CC=11) is increased slightly.
6 – The volume (CC=11) is decreased slightly.
7 – The vibrato reaches its maximum of 8 here.

Make sense? It’s really about setting up a series of steps that happen in a finite space of time. Do it right and you can really get some sweet sounds of out this unit.