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About GameStation
Frequently Asked Questions



Questions


0. 
What happened to the original XGameStation with the ARM7 and FPGA?

1. 
What is the XGameStation Micro Edition?

2. 
How much does it cost, and what does the kit come with?

3. 
Why shouldn't I just go buy a NES/Dreamcast/XBOX/PC/Amiga/etc.? I can develop games for them too.

4. 
Why didn't you do [whatever] in the hardware design? It would have been way faster/smaller/more powerful that way!

5. 
How much knowledge of engineering and programming do I need?

6. 
I'm a programmer and have never built anything, will I have to?

7. 
What age range is the XGameStation Micro Edition Kit intended for?

8. 
Is the Kit everything I need to develop for the XGameStation Micro Edition?

9. 
Who designed the XGameStation Micro Edition and why?

10. 
What can the XGameStation Micro Edition hardware do? How powerful is it?

11. 
Can I get Linux for the XGameStation Micro Edition?

12. 
I don't see a hard drive or disk drive, how can I save my games and programs?

13. 
How many games are available for the XGameStation Micro Edition?

14. 
Are there plans for emulators for systems like the Atari, Apple or Commodore 64?

15. 
I've heard about languages like DarkBASIC and BlitzBASIC. Will the XGameStation support these?

16. 
I want to make games for the XGameStation Micro Edition and sell them, is there any licensing involved with software I make? Do I have to pay any royalties?

Answers


Q: 
What happened to the original XGameStation with the ARM7 and FPGA?

A: 
Nothing, we finished it, but after completing it, we realized that the system was much too complex for our first product. Our goal with the XGameStation concept was to teach hardware design of game consoles and make it fun. The original XGameStation was so complex it would be overwhelming for most people, hence, we decided to simplify the design and make sure that the unit kept its retro roots while at the same time being easy to understand and cost effective to manufacture. Thus, we decided to create 3 different product lines; the XGameStation MICRO Series which is our first product line releasing now, the XGameStation MEGA Series which is our second product line and will release sometime in the future if interest is still high enough for such as advanced system with higher cost, and lastly, the XGameStation MOBILE Series which will feature extremely small designs that run on low power and have LCD screens with them in hobby form; however, at this time only the XGameStation Micro Edition and its variants are going to be released, we will see how they do and take it from there. Our large survey group from around the world were 100% unilaterally happy about the more simplified XGS Micro Edition, so we are taking "your" advice and keeping it simple!


Q: 
What is the XGameStation Micro Edition?

A: 
The XGameStation Micro Edition or "XGS ME" is a kit. Originally, Andre' LaMothe wanted to write a book on hardware design, and what cooler way to teach it than by developing your own video game system? The XGameStation Micro Edition kit comes with the XGameStation Micro Edition console itself, an eBook on CD that starts from the basics digital engineering and takes you all the way through building your own video game system and writing games for it. Fortunately, the system comes pre-assembled, but you get all the plans and documentation necessary to build your own if you want. Additionally, you get all the software and tools necessary to develop for it, providing a complete educational, productive and fun, package.


Q: 
How much does it cost, and what does the kit come with?

A: 
The XGameStation Micro Edition is currently on sale for $199 USD, which includes the XGameStation Micro Edition, the eBooks, all necessary power supplies and cables, and the complete XGS Development Studio Tool supporting assembly language -- other languages such as Basic and C are in development, but the XGS Micro Edition is a much leaner system and designed to be programming in Assembly language.


Q: 
Why shouldn't I just go buy a NES/Dreamcast/XBOX/PC/Amiga/etc.? I can develop games for them too.

A: 
Of course you can. You can develop games for any system. First of all, the XGS is not primarily about game development-- it's about learning how to build game hardware. Second, no other system on earth comes with a complete eBook explaining to a hardware novice how it was built from scratch in clear, practical detail. If all you want to do is develop games, then buy whatever system you want. But if you really want to learn how to build your own video game system, the XGS is the only way to go.


Q: 
Why didn't you do [whatever] in the hardware design? It would have been way faster/smaller/more powerful that way!

A: 
We could have desinged the XGS to rival the XBOX if we wanted to, and guess what? About 99.9% of our target audience would be left scratching their heads. We're trying to design a piece of hardware that can be used to teach a hardware novice how a video game system is designed and built. We purposely avoided clever and highly optimal designs to preserve simplicity and clarity. Would you expect a newbie to learn C++ by starting with Hello World or by disassembling DOOM 3?


Q: 
How much knowledge of engineering and programming do I need?

A: 
No knowledge of electronics or engineering is necessary, but you will need a working knowledge of programming and experience with assembly language is a plus. However, the kit comes with eBooks on the XGS, assembly language programming, and tons of white papers, application notes, code examples, and much more. In other words, XGameStation Micro Edition offers something for users of all skill levels!


Q: 
I'm a programmer and have never built anything, will I have to?

A: 
No! All lab exercises and tutorials in the eBook can be simulated using software that the kit includes. However, we strongly recommend that you try and build some of the experiments. It's a lot of fun, and this is all about expanding your horizons to physical hardware anyway! The XGameStation Micro Edition console comes fully pre-assembled, but comes with detailed designs of all the systems necessary to create your own game console from the ground up.


Q: 
What age range is the XGameStation Micro Edition Kit intended for?

A: 
High school, college and graduate students alike will all get something from the XGameStation Micro Edition, and this is our primary audience. However, younger teenagers with an interest in the subject can still follow along and start by modifying pre-existing demos and games and move on to creating their own games and applications in time. Or heck, you can just play games that other people make!


Q: 
Is the Kit everything I need to develop for the XGameStation Micro Edition?

A: 
Absolutely! You begin by reading the eBooks, "Build and Program Your Own Video Game System" by Andre' LaMothe along with Parallax's "Beginning Assembly Language for the SX". Then, once you're comfortable with the concepts of electronics and computer design, and have read through the software and game programming primers, you're ready to fire up the included tools and develop for the XGameStation Micro Edition in assembly language. Also, there is a free copy eBook copy of "Tricks of the Windows Game Programming Gurus - 1st Edition" by Andre' LaMothe that can be used for a general primer on game development concepts (a $50 value).


Q: 
Who designed the XGameStation Micro Edition and why?

A: 
The XGameStation concept was envisioned and designed by Computer Scientist and best-selling game programming author Andre' LaMothe, who has been writing books about developing video game software for over a decade. He then realized that people are just as fascinated with how the hardware itself works, and that no one had ever written a book on developing your own video game system (at least recently). The XGameStation product line was designed to educate and entertain a new generation of video game hardware and software enthusiasts, and provide a centralized community for them to develop in.


Q: 
What can the XGameStation Micro Edition hardware do? How powerful is it?

A: 
The raw processing power of the XGameStation Micro Edition is approximately 40x that of the Nintendo (NES) or 20X that of a Super Nintendo, 50x that of an Atari 800 and it's graphical capabilities are similar to the Atari 2600, that is a directly controlled raster stream allowing pixel level timing and color control via software loops. The XGS Micro Edition is really inspired by all the retro 8-bit systems, rather than using a more advanced GPU design as the original XGameStation concept called for, it was realized that this would serve no purpose, and instead a more raw down and dirty graphics system was designed that would really teach the users of it a deep understanding of video concepts. The system also has a 3-channel FM synthesizer that plays without CPU intervention, as well as an external high speed 128K SRAM. The system processor is a Ubicom SX52 8-BIT RISC chip with limited memory, but with extremely fast execution rate, so the XGS Micro Edition really develops a programmers technique and helps them think in ways they never have to optimize their code. The XGS Micro Edition has already been proven to be able to render 3D ray casters at 60 FPS, real-time plasmas, and complete arcade clones of such games as PacMan and Tetris, so the system more than meets the initial goal of LaMothe's design which was just a simple console to that couple play pong to teach hardware design!


Q: 
Can I get Linux for the XGameStation Micro Edition?

A: 
The XGS Micro Edition has such limited memory any operating system on it wouldn't make sense.


Q: 
I don't see a hard drive or disk drive, how can I save my games and programs?

A: 
All development is performed on your PC and downloaded to the XGameStation Micro Edition's FLASH CPU directly where it runs at boot. Additionally, later Expansion modules might support extra flash memory, high level languages, and more so its possible to program directly on the XGS ME with an external keyboard and store programs on the cartridges. This is not available yet, but will be in time.


Q: 
How many games are available for the XGameStation Micro Edition?

A: 
That's up to you and the XGameStation community! Our job is to provide the hardware and tools, while you get the fun job! Make your own games or download games made by your fellow XGameStation users. Remember, though, the point is to make your own games, not necessarily to play those of others. If you want to play games made by other people, we suggest picking up an XBOX and Halo 2. :) Seriously though, this is not intended for commercial games. The fun part of the XGS Micro Edition is for YOU to make a game and then show your friends a game playing on your own console that you could build yourself!


Q: 
Are there plans for emulators for systems like the Atari, Apple or Commodore 64?

A: 
Absolutely! However, the XGS Micro Edition has very limited memory constraints, but who knows what some clever developer may come up with. But, we are definitely developing an XGS Micro Edition emulator that will run on the PC to save time uploading to the system.


Q: 
I've heard about languages like DarkBASIC and BlitzBASIC. Will the XGameStation support these?

A: 
We will make every effort to port a dialect of BASIC to the XGameStation Micro Edition in addition to other low memory footprint languages like FORTH.


Q: 
I want to make games for the XGameStation Micro Edition and sell them, is there any licensing involved with software I make? Do I have to pay any royalties?

A: 
Absolutely not. Feel free to make games for XGameStation Micro Edition, sell them, post them to the internet, or whatever else you want. You cannot, however, sell any of our tools, hardware designs, the eBook, etc. Anything you make with our tools is yours, but the tools, designs, content, themselves remain ours and are strictly controlled and copyrighted.





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