The Retrobox Gospel (Blog Post, Ashens Style)

(Warning, the following is the Retrobox announcement told in my own words and in the style of Stewart Ashens.)

Greetings everyone, How’s it going? I am estatic that there is finally going to be a community project on making the ultimate Linux Game Console without screwing up the Retroarch Recipe that made it so fantastic and awesome!

What? You never even read about it in the blog? Let me give you a quick little rundown on what is going on in my own words:

Squarepusher always wanted to take the concept of an Open Source Console and make it into a reality a long time ago. However, due to unexpected Kickstarters that took the concept and twisted everything that made retroarch so good, “Squares” isn’t very happy about the corruption. This is where the announcement comes in and we should also talk about the various Hineous Horrors that we at the “Open-Source, Libretro and Emulation community” just love to loate so much. My tone as I am even mentioning the subject of the Hienous Horrors is a mix between Astens and The Great Clement (When on the subject of Sonic '06.) the tone and personallity will continue as the topic is ongoing.

First of all the problems that inspired the Retrobox are no-brainers if you’re in the Open-Source community and use Retroarch for the majority of your time. There isn’t a platform that is open to Retroarch without using a Jailbreak, Root or Hack. And even if the system is open for that then you also have to take in consideration the amount of Processing Power needed in order to Stabily play the games in Real Time. Android is an example of how such an system have so many bottlenecks that prevents games from unleashing the full power of the system without breaking it that even game developers are starting to speak out about the situation. Then you got Gabe’s “SteamOS Entertainment System” that seems to be the perfect canidate for Open Source development, but keep in mind that Gabe is a business man and he might change what is allowed and what’s not to suit the business needs. Also you got X11 being a real preformace taxing core and SteamOS is less ambitious that what Squares is going for.

And to top off the list of reasons why this project is being developed, the consoles that are already in the market are either Android dependent and thus fall flat on the face (OUYA along with the usual blokes that follows) and/or are being run by enturpenuers who’s main pirority is the same as Mr. Krabs. (Regardless of how much passion is put into the whole thing if such a concept exists in these greedy punk’s logic.)

Tone and Personality goes back to my usual remix of Ashens’ personality

I can imagene what your reactions are when it comes to the console makets. “Oh great. I spent all that money on a Kickstarter and it could very well wind up as a big fat dud that may as well be one of the many footnotes in the history of indie gaming.” and you are catching on very well. But here is where the hero that I personally am backing with all of my heart. (I am with Squares’ moral code as well, that’s why I am preaching the gospel of Retroarch.)

I now present for your Dectitation, the Retrobox Project! And oh what a marvelous project we got in our hands.

Retrobox’s goal is to make ARM/x86 factor boxes of all varities into plug-and-play game systems powered by libretro, striving for the most optimal conditions possibles while keeping minimal packages installed other than the libretro cores needed, with interfaces powered entirely by gamepad and the optional keyboard and mouse, making sure that the distrbution is free and open source and all while setting an example on how game consoles centered around the libretro API should be.

In other words

Figure out a way to turn ARM/x86 small form factor boxes (from Intel NUCs all the way into XBMC boxes) into plug-and-play game consoles powered by RetroArch. Have a free open source distribution that is very lightweight. Strive for the most optimal conditions possible – ie. DRM/KMS mode, no X11, minimal packages installed in this distro other than what libretro ports/RA actually needs. Make this a ‘Proof of Concept’ for what a game console centred around the libretro API can be. Plug-and-play – can be operated with a gamepad entirely, keyboard and mouse are entirely optional.

And yes, it will be an open-spec console where it will be like the 3DOs and VCRs back in the day where anyone could make their own box. Remeber my mentioning of the Retroarch Recipe that makes the whole thing awesome? I will indulge the recipe to you

The Libretro Quality Formula

Ingredients: Many different Operating Platforms Portability A wide range of Hardware Open source code (That means that anyone can contribute improvements) A Good Moral Code with lots of Moral Rules Lots of Tender Love and Care with Passion and Feeling

Preheat compiler to 400 degrees farenhent and have the hardware at the ready. Mix your Moral Rules with the Moral Code for 1 to 2 minutes Next take your open source code and stir with the portability and Operating Platforms for about 2 to 3 minutes until they are smooth Then add in a Worthy Moral Code and put it into the Non-Commercial License and mix that with the batter of Portability and Platforms for about 3 more minutes Pour the Code you’re going to bake into the hardware pan and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Then let it set for 2 to 4 minutes and then take it out of the oven. Now you have a Cake-styled project that is Retrorach, cortesy of the Retroarch team, Rachel Ray (Okay not really.) and Chef Excellence

Chef Excellence: an Excellent Gaming Experince

Right, now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about how retroarch is fit for this kind of project. For Starters, the User Interface is all operated by the controller, which is a huge step up from the point and click User Interface that everyone else used. Squares and his team stuck to their guns and maintained this path because in the long run, it is supposed to be like a “Game Console Platform” all unto itself. With Retrobox that concept will become a reality and it will make things even more convient. The API is plug-n-play portability that is needed for the game controller abstraction called The Retropad. (And beleve me, you do not get any more convient than all of your favorite controllers being compatible. Saved a lot of Headaches too.) Retroarch is second-to-none when it comes to optiomal Audio-Video department, and it is also one of the few projects that aims for certain Best Practices on Linux such as ensuring that everything can be run from DRM/KMS instead of depending on X11. (And the Audio/Video department along with the Shader Subsystem makes for a Great Console don’ t cha think?) And Besides, people are already doing these retroarch boxes anyways. The obvious demand is there and the need to bring sanity to the ARM Boxes and to have everything ready right out of the box. There’s a slew of work when it comes to fiddling with the boxes is alot of work, especially when you need decent/passible preformace. (They have the last part of this paragraph as a “May as Well” goal.)

Tone and Personality goes back to that of Ashens and Clement (as if the topic was Sonic '06.) And what would life be without opposition in all things? Like I said, I follow Squares’ moral code when it comes to this kind of stuff. I hate the “Scams” that the greedy liars put out in hopes to make a quick buck and Squares feels the same way. So there will be NO Kickstarter, No IndieGoGo, None of that Tat going on. It would be morally devistating to make money off of something that is pirmarily used to run emulated video games that are from copyrighted and trademarked consoles made by commercial companies which discontinued said consoles long ago. If anyone wants to make a quick buck from “Retro-game-stuff” they can go ahead and try it. Me, Squares, and the Libretro Community? We’re going to stay on the higher class and out of those potental legal quagmires. (“Tee Hee, You said Quagmire!”) Clears throat The ramifcations will be huge in the long run and we will not have any part of it. So Crowdfunding? Count Us Out.

Tone and Personality goes back to the Ashens Remix So far we are going to run the Retrobox Project from our own personal finances and the hardware that we already have. So that why we want you to support this endeavor. Hardware stuff will be the only thing that Squares will need to make the project have the fullest potental and it will be the only be for the parts that are needed so this doesn’t turn into another way profittering. Also Retroarch WILL NOT be only about emulation and Squares keep stressing that point. The main thing that retroarch must do is to evolve into it’s own games platform. Yes, Indie Titles, Emulators, Virtual Reality and Rich Multimedia applications all competing for the same user attention. (So Expect a lot of stuff not related to emulation at all but just as exciting.)

Of course since Retrobox is an Open-Spec Console, Emulators don’t sit on the bench like they would when it comes to a typical video game console. This is what will make Retrobox Different and Unique - The Freedoms is in the hands of the user and the platform holder doesn’t get to dictate what the people can and cannot do with the system. But I can also hear you saying “Hey man! What about all of those bells and whisles that the other guys are putting on their systems?” Don’t worry, we will see features that the Slimeball Kickstarter projects are promising (Slimeballs like Ignition and Gamertopia) such as NES-Remix styled gameplay, Netplay Comm-bat, Leaderboards and a whole slew of other stuff that will also work with every Retroarch platform. That way every Retroarch Port can play online together with the Retroboxes all the same.

But again, I hear the whiny “What about the standardization that will help you and us?” Don’t worry because there will be a number of ways that the Retrobox can be standardized. There will be a “Retro Preformace Level” that will go from 0 to 15 (Maybe even higher) that will be introduced to range from Very Low Teir to Top Teir (Such as Say… A Steambox?) All the cores have to to is to look at the level at runtime, compare it to the performace level on the box in question and determene whenever or not the blasted thing will run it at full speed. If it can’t then it will display a warning. The Console will also be about Libretro ports using the Libretro API, therefore we can gut anything that isn’t needed and call them “Has-bens!”

And also there is the belief in Zero Dependicies and Keeping Everything as Lightweight as Possible. For you see the cores are also designed with the Zero Dependicies mindset and everything that a Libretro Core needs are bulit right into it so it isn’t necssary to ship a buttload of packages (all of which can be potental dependicies and that will be a whole lot more to mantinance) into the main Distrbution. So that means if a core needs something like libusb then it is bulit right in. If SDL is needed, either the SDL Specific code is removed entirely or SDL gets bulit in. Zero Dependicies and making sure as much as possible is contained in the same libary will keep the game console model sustainable. And by keeping the API limited to just Libretro, it will basically be no different to any other retroarch console port that has been done in the past (PS3, Xbox 360, and what have you) only this time it will happen to all of the commodity software that is around.

But like any open source project, this will need a lot of time, Community Support (the more hands on deck the better) Dedication and the Will to see this project to completion. Not going on the Sleaze-ridden Entrepernuer route may put us at a large disadvantage but don’t worry, Risks are part of the fun and I think that you guys can see through the empty promises that most of the other projects anyways. We always had a Consistent Track Record so far and We are not going to compromise the core values that we tried so hard to maintain.

So when will it all begin. The announcement was sort of a Jump-the-gun but Squares had to say something because he saw a lot of “Johnny-came-latelys” trying to make a buck for themselves and trying to fill a gaping gap in the market. But we should let all those punks know that something big is coming up, ready to destroy those so called “Accomplshments” and leave the sleaze-balls to eat our dust and bite our shorts. Hopefully people have gotten wise at this point and they don’t buy into another Ouya. Then again, given the obvious BS associated to Kickstarter-led “Game Consoles” and the empty promises and the “Double-talk” (and most importantly, the amount of cash they can swindle) you can never know.

The project will Shift Into Turbo after Retroarch Version 1.1 is released. Marks off “Make Power Rangers Reference” off the list. if any of you would like to help out in any way possible then please go to the article that is at the start and find the email address to send your inquries and the like. The Retrobox project is being started mainly because we feel like it and not out of any sleazy attempt to “Get rich Quick” or whatever incentives that are inside those sneaky enterpernuers’ heads. Hopefully, our attempt to keep things real and not to branch off into the entrepernuer delusion will be apperciated by Endusers, developers and platform holders alike.

There you go, a whole essay on the Retrobox project. If you need to spread the word then please do so. It will be apperciated and it will be the awesome Open-Source Project that will be backed. Thank you very much for reading this and I shall see you again next time. Until then… [Continue?]