This is an update for the previous post, where I added a FlashFloppy Gotek and an external control box to control it which you can read here: http://www.karios.gr/?p=1003
I’ve removed the initial box and replaced it with a modified 3D printed box, which allows me to fix it perfectly and firmly on top of the Amiga 1200 and also to have the OLED screen in front as well as 3 control buttons on the back (previous, select-eject, next). The modification of the 3D model was done by Tasos (thanks Tasos) to fit the buttons as well as the screen. The original box, without the holes for the buttons, was found here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2701629. The modified version can be downloaded from https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2791237
It works great AND it looks great now. I think this project is complete!
Took me a couple of hours to do a proper rewiring but it works great as you can see below:
Back in the 90s, the dream was to get all the games for my Amiga 1200 and be able to choose what to play anytime. Easier said than done, we are talking about a time before the internet even existed, and games had to come on floppies, so even space wise this was an impossible task. Flash forward to today, even after the Amiga stopped being manufuctured and sold in the late 90s, people kept coming up with new ways to upgrade and enhance their experiences on classic Amigas. One of them came in the form of the Gotek floppy emulator, which can replace the floppy drive of the Amiga with a USB loading system. The Gotek comes with 2 buttons (the up and down buttons) and a 3 digits screen.
My Gotek came with the Cortex firmware which worked like this:
You had to provide a special SELECTOR.adf in the USB stick, which you run by holding both buttons. This allows you to assign ADF files to numbers and then load them by selecting them with the up and down button, and seeing their numbers on the 3 digits screen. The problem with this system is that you had to remember which number corresponds to which adf and if you needed a new adf file, you needed to go through this process again.
But there is a better way! I found out an awesome firmware, called FlashFloppy (which can be found here : https://github.com/keirf/FlashFloppy) which adds some awesome functionality, including being able to traverse through directory structures to better manage your ADFs. You can find instructions on how to flash the new firmware here:
I used a FTDI FT232RL USB to TTL Serial Adapter Module 5V and 3.3V For Arduino G3 off Ebay to flash mine.
I also 3d printed a mount to be able to mount the Gotek inside the case. If you have access to a 3D printer, you can find the model here:
Next thing was to replace the 3 digits screen, with a full AMOLED little screen, which is supported brilliantly by the FlashFloppy firmware. I used a 0.91″ IIC I2C SPI128x32 White OLED LCD Display Module For Arduino PIC off Ebay. The little screen looks awesome and it’s detected by the firmware automatically. It shows the name of the current adf as well as the current track and sector while a disk loads.
I used a longer cable and drove the cable off the back of the Amiga. At this point, I could already use the Gotek but it looked bad and I still had to use the side buttons to control the Gotek.
We can do better right? I used a small plastic semi-transparent box from my Samsumg headphones and hotglued the screen inside.
I also opened 2 holes and stuck 2 momentary buttons. I soldered wires below the Gotek, at the original buttons points, so i could use these buttons while being able to use the original buttons if needed.
I also drove these cables below the Gotek and out the back door. I then connected them to the buttons I had on my external control box.
And here is the result. Works great AND looks great:)
So VR is here, and this time it will not be like like the 80s, or so we are told:) Actually, it is kinda true, since the technology was just not there during that time and the results was for VR to die out fairly soon back then. It was not only that the display technology made people wear something like a CRT TV on their faces:
but also the sensor, 3D graphics and algorithm research did not allow us to pass the threshold that actually fools the brain in a convincing way. This time around, all the pieces seem to finally fall into place so using the Oculus Rift or Vive of today actually accomplishes this goal with today’s technology, which means that if upon launch the technology is already here, there is a bright future for the platform.
There is a but there. The technology is one thing, the adoption of the new platform is another completely. At the moment of writing this, you need a fairly expensive gaming rig to meet the minimum requirements for VR gaming on top of the actual headset cost. This means that this is a pretty expensive platform to get into and to make things worse there just aren’t any “must play” games out there that would justify the high cost of admission. Most of the software is actually bite-sized “experiences” and the deeper games could actually be played on a normal monitor like always.
Like any new platform, there is the circular problem of user base and software availability. Game devs will make games, if there are customers to play them and the customers will get on board if there are games to play. This is why at the point there is a high-risk gold rush happening, with developers that believe in the medium to want to be there when mass adoption finally occurs. Another path some studios are taking is creating special versions, or simple updates to existing games to support VR. This works well on only a few titles, and namely titles that assume players are sitting on the same spot in the virtual world anyway (such as driving, space or flying simulators) since VR game design differs significantly from other platforms when it comes to handling motion. Best practices of VR game design dictates that the user must not move much and have full control of the camera view using head tracking in order to avoid nausea and dizziness due to view-movement differences. It is still work-in-progress and some games are trying alternative approaches to movement, such as teleporting to new fixed spots or fast-dashing to fixed spots (like Doom seems to be doing) with more or less success.
Like I said, it’s still uncharted territory and very interesting from an experimenting point but since things settle down, risky from a market point.
I personally believe that products that will make VR mainstream in the end will not be the Rift or Vive but rather Playstation VR or Project Scorpio VR. The reason is not technical, I am pretty sure that PS VR and … errr… PS VR (damn, Project Scorpio is also PS), will have lower specs than a good gaming rig (they always do) but they will also provide an affordable entry barrier for a larger amount of people to actually experience VR games. And this is important, since it will break the circle I described before and make more game devs make decent VR games. Of course, if the VR hype does not die down (and the consoles VR will help there) VR on the PC will also become affordable in time (a GTX 970 for example, which is now the minimum spec for both the Vive and the Rift, has already become VERY affordable due to the introduction of the 1060, 1070 and 1080 from Nvidia) which will eventually make VR gaming on the PC a no-brainer.
So in conclusion, I personally believe there is a future in VR gaming, but it will take a few more years. The wow factor is definitely there, I’ve never seen anyone try a VR headset and not come out impressed by the experience, but the market is very limited. I chose here to to focus on VR gaming and not VR applications which is a whole other discussion altogether. So if you feel lucky, go on and make your VR game, there are lots of incentives from stakeholders to do so and some investors are actually actively betting on the success of VR. But if you want to play it safe, just wait a bit longer so that you actually have an audience for your game.
And I am already amazed by the general direction Microsoft is taking with Windows. I just finished watching the keynote and one thing is absolutely clear to me: Microsoft is pushing hard and in every direction to make the new platform (Windows 10) the dominant and unquestionable leader in worldwide computing. Let’s count the way it’s doing that:
-Making it a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. That’s a first of course and it makes perfect sense. Take everyone on the same page and a potentional user for universal apps (more on that later). By the way, MS keeps mentioning that W10 is a free upgrade for the first year, and they still haven’t clarified this in a big way but I am pretty convinced that this means that if you upgrade during the first year it’s free for ever and not that it’s free only for that year. That wouldn’t make any sense.
-Getting people with Android and iOS development skills on board by allowing the reuse of the same codebase they already use (Java and C++ for Android and Objective-C on iOS) to create Windows apps. By the way, we will have to get used to saying Windows apps from now on since from the looks of it, Windows is one platform and it just happens to run on different devices, small, big, with or even without screens.
-Making writing universal apps actually worthwhile for developers. They are actually trying to make apps more visible (although i get the feeling that they need to try harder on that front), but being able to run the same app on every conceivable screen (or even as a hologram ffs) is huge. And on top,of that, I was really impressed with the idea that the phone is just a PC trapped in a small form factor is awesome. This is of course, a more clever iteration of the Windows RT fiasco, but it makes sense this time around, since nobody expects running desktop apps on your phone, but running the same universal apps on a bigger screen using the phone is just brilliant, so well done there.
-The wow factor called HoloLens. Although I had seen the previous demo about 3 months, I could not believe my eyes with what they demoed today. The though that kept going through my head was “they cannot really have pulled this off and be so casual about it”. But they did. And they were! And universal apps are still part of it as is Windows 10.
So overall what impressed me today most was that the vision was, for once, coherent and focused. They want everyone to use Windows 10 in all of their devices and universal apps will be what people run on that. Everything else was there to support this vision and I loved this. Win32 apps running in isolated space as universal apps? check. Universal apps using every web technology, iOS and Android codebases? check and check.
There are no excuses now. When did Apple become the boring one?