Sunday, 20 January 2013

GCW Zero rants

So, it's going very well now, after the upgrade of the hardware specs, a sudden spark of bids that I cannot explain came because for me the additional ram and storage is not very important but cool anyway. The biggest thing would be an upgrade of the LCD. Although I am used with 320*240, higher resolutions would be interesting to code demos and see how they perform. But not entirely necessary for the gamepark/dingoo community. I think another thing that is missing is a touch display, maybe only important if you want to properly play ScummVM or specific touch games I liked from my Caanoo. But anyway, you can't have anything and any change on the LCD might need more time redesigning the hardware, writing drivers and more costs too. As my latest favorite homebrew handheld was the Caanoo, it will fill like I am missing something, even though most software didn't make use of it.

Many argue that the resolution and memory was such a put-off, also the absence of a second analog stick. As I am coming from the gamepark/dingoo communities where even 64MB were enough for emulation I don't get the feeling that 256MBs are few. The first edition of Raspberry Pi had 256MBs of RAM. If you see the specs of many later or even modern game consoles, you will be surprised at how little RAM they had. One argued that indie devs won't optimize their game and 256MB would be too few. Well, if you have seen the quality and scale most of the homebrew games, they are very basic 2d stuff and they already played well on the old 64MB devices. Quake 3 needs 64MB Ram. Who is going to write such a big title on GCW? Even PS3 had 512MB ram, with the GCW spec updates we are up to par.

I think the resolution can be more put-off, it's one of the specs that actually never changed since GP32! Yes, the 800*480 of the Pandora would be a great asset, but I am personally content with what it is and for me it's like a more powerful Caanoo where finally the community gathers again. I know there are chinese android devices more powerful and cheaper than this, but those are released as new models, they have not a concentrated community (they do have the android market, but not the feeling of a specialized community coding stuff for exactly a single one handheld). As for the resolution, did you know that your Nintendo DS has 256*192? Just like my Spectrum 48k! And the games were awesome!!! We just don't realize it because the screen is small. Graphics looked so cool with the 320*240 resolution in all the past handhelds. Little problem for some emulated hardware that sometimes use higher resolution modes (SNES has higher resolution modes (512*240 and some interlaced), PSX has a 640*480 iirc, even my beloved Amstrad CPC has 640*200 in Mode 2 and goes way more with overscan screen). Those are rare cases though and I think I have still enjoyed some Mode 2 screens on a CPC emulator on Caanoo already. Maybe a higher resolution would be handy with web browsing, though this is not the main reason for buying the GCW0 (I just bought a Google Nexus 7 tablet for that).

As for the second analogue stick? Sorry, I am not into XBOX/PS3 FPS games, I am not gonna play modern FPS with this device (I would prefer mouse and keyboard controls on PC), I mostly liked the ports of PC fps on such device as a technical achievement rather than something I would play. And to tell you the truth, especially old FPS like Doom or Quake played well enough even in my GP32 with only two fire buttons on the right! Or so I think..

I guess the GCW0 is for a specific kind of people who already understand what the machine is meaned to be, who know the history of the open handheld communities from gamepark/dingoo times, and want something new with a strong community, for emu/homebrew gaming and retro game programming too. At first I was afraid this kickstarter would fail because there are few homebrew fans out there who would distinct this from your average android handheld (and the lame Neogeo-X who just has publicity and is the same chipset as GCW0 I learn, but locked to play only 20 Neo Geo games, overpriced too) but I see the reality is different, the support is great and hopefully this will live for long.

Maybe if this is successful enough and the creators want to go for a GCW1 then we might see a higher res and touch screen (which is the only thing that would be a big up to me right now) but let's see this one first develop a great community, might make me want to go back to coding something new for this device instead of just ports of my old demos. I'd like to make a game..

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