Try your hands at the nitty-gritty, low-level world of hardcore game development with a new kit we’re carrying in the MAKE store. Twenty years ago, says AndrÃ© LaMothe, game programming was a real art. LaMothe, programmer extraordinaire and probably the best known author in the field of game programming, remembers when 32 kilobytes on machines with clock speeds of 1 MHz, was state of the art. The game programmers of the 1980s created classic video games with perfectly tuned mechanics and unbelievable details. Using ingenuity and elegance, not to mention myriad hacks and tricks, they routinely created wonderful games and gave early gamers every reason to stay glued to their joysticks.
Today, because of improvements in hardware and software, the quality and overall richness of computer gaming has increased by orders of magnitude. But, says LaMothe, with that has come a decline in programming skill; the power of the machines allows game programmers to get away with inefficient, poorly organized, and generally non-optimized coding.
Enter LaMothe’s XGameStation, a hardware platform developed exclusively for the purpose of educating a new generation of hardware and software hackers in the nitty-gritty, low-level world of hardcore game development. Combining modern technology with the bedrock-solid design philosophies of the past, XGameStation opens a window into history’s most important gaming hardware, systems such as the Commodore 64, Apple II, and Atari 800 to create a tight integration of past, present and future.
The XGameStation Pico Edition 2.0 is a build-it-yourself game development kit based on the technologies of its bigger brother, the XGameStation Micro Edition. The XGS Pico Edition 2.0 comes with a solderless breadboard and parts as well as the Pico PCB Add-On Kit.
After you build the breadboard version you can solder your unit together and have a completely portable and reprogramable embedded game system. Complete instructions covering assembly, architecture, and programming of the Pico Edition comes with the kit on CD.
The Pico Edition may be simple, but it packs a punch with a Ubicom SX28 microcontroller running at a blazing 80.000MHz. It comes with a 7-Segment readout, 15-pin interface, A/V jacks, and a built in directional game pad for a completely portable mini-game console.