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what Atari can do right?
lucinos commented on 4 October 2017 at 4:25 pm UTC

At this point linux as a gaming plarform really needs a success story. With Ataribox promoting itself as offering freedom with a linux console, we realy need Atari to do some things right.

Here is my opinion on this:

a) Atari made a huge blunder by saying it won't play AAA games. I think I understand what they meant but was a huge blunder and unfortunately it makes a very bad anchor effect. A better phrasing may have been they will focus on excellent support on indie games but it would be possible for AAA games to be supported, or something like that.

b) To ease (a) but also because it makes a lot of sense anyway, Ataribox must be promoted as a modern platform, more modern than the last gen consoles (2018 vs 2013). For that it must have a Ryzen. If Ataribox does not have a Ryzen I can not see how it can say straight that it competes. $300 is a very good price target. Should not try to compete by being much cheaper.

c) Ataribox must give only one choice for specs. The buyers may choose if they want wood and may also choose the hard disk but that only. Not the CPU/GPU, not RAM. RAM must be 8GB. Most games do not need that many of course but that is what the other guys have so Ataribox can not differ on that. The processor does not need to compete with gaming desktops of course but must at least be a decent Ryzen APU for laptops. I am not saying of course that owners should not have access to RAM, just that Ataribox must be sold with only one spec choice. (later Atari of course may make iterations but only later, not on launch).

d) AtariOS must be as simple as possible as a distro. I would say a normal debian. It has to be as close to debian as Sparky Linux for example. Not Ubuntu, not SteamOS. All the core part of AtariOS has to be open source and anyone should be able to download and install just like any normal linux distro.

e) A reasonable idea is the DM to let the user choose between an Atari environment, Steam Big Picture, Kodi, and a normal desktop, being able to choose only with a controller without a keyboard.

f) Steam must work out of the box. It is not required that every "SteamOS game" should work, but most games that work reasonably on linux without nvidia drivers, like Rocket League, Civ5, The Talos Principle must work out of the box.

g) Atari should have its own store. There is no need to have a lot of games in it (a lot of games would be accessible from other sources like steam, humble bundle, gog, itch.io anyway) , instead a good quality control is needed. Atari store should be easily accessible from Ataribox but also should be accessible from any browser from any OS. My opinion again on this.
(1) Every game must be tested on Ataribox and also be good.
(2) Games should be DRM-free and only provide linux binaries (if bought from Atari store)
(3) Games should have a small discount (not a big one) but every now and then should have bundles for very great discount for limited time (like humble bundles).

h) Atari should partner with Lutris and also have make good relation with other opensource projects like debian

*****
what are your opinions on this?

wojtek88 commented on 4 October 2017 at 7:31 pm UTC

I guess you went to far. Today's Atari has nothing to do with the company that made historical product. You want Atari to provide more successful product than Valve did, while their recourses are limited. I expect that Ataribox is just a try to get as much money as possible from nostalgic gamers.

lucinos commented on 4 October 2017 at 8:00 pm UTC

wojtek88I guess you went to far. Today's Atari has nothing to do with the company that made historical product. You want Atari to provide more successful product than Valve did, while their recourses are limited. I expect that Ataribox is just a try to get as much money as possible from nostalgic gamers.

Maybe you are right, but...

What I am presenting above does not need any additional investment. Most of it is just to not do unneeded blunders and make better use of the linux ecosystem than Valve did. Also Atari does not need to invest for something as bold as the big picture, neither to a really innovative controller like steam controller (people can just use steam controller and standard controllers on any linux box). They also do not need to keep huge servers like valve does. Neither they need to support a client like steam on all platforms. Finally Atari does not need to do all the blunders Valve did.

On the other hand the Ataribox by itself even if "scam" is not that small investment. It is a custom amd on a small custom box with custom power (like a laptop). Obviously this is a laptop without monitor, keyboard, touchpad, speakers, battery and windows. This is not something simple and can only work on a scale. Steam machines did not went that far and in fact used only standard hardware (the less standard was alienware, but they could afford that as they build other laptops too). So even if it is a scam, it is a quite expensive scam for them and I see no reason why not doing it right.

slaapliedje commented on 4 October 2017 at 10:55 pm UTC

I don't think Atari should have their own store. No one would use it. It's bad enough that I buy a Samsung phone and have to have an account with Google and Samsung, and then on top of that maybe install F-Droid for some free applications that are ad-free.

I think they should partner with Valve, get a modified theme for Steam Big Picture in place (I don't think they have enough developers to do more than that. The opposite (they have a launcher that integrates with Steam might work as well, but they'd have to have developers instead of IP lawyers for this.)

Did they actually say anything about not being able to play AAA games? I can't remember, so just genuinely asking.

I think they just need to partner with Valve and try to make the best damned gaming console. Also if you order the wood grain version, it should come with a bluetooth Atari CX40 and a Steam Controller with the wood paneling skin. https://www.decalgirl.com/skins/291087/valve-steam-controller-skin-wooden-gaming-system

lucinos commented on 5 October 2017 at 1:31 am UTC

slaapliedjeI don't think Atari should have their own store. No one would use it. It's bad enough that I buy a Samsung phone and have to have an account with Google and Samsung, and then on top of that maybe install F-Droid for some free applications that are ad-free.
That is why I am speaking for drm-free content. Giving drm-free binaries has no cost other than the cost of getting the money. Also many people like the idea of drm-free so there is an incentive. The bundles will be good for publicity. So even if it does not make much profit, it has no cost and no other downsides as users are not required to use it.


QuoteI think they should partner with Valve, get a modified theme for Steam Big Picture in place (I don't think they have enough developers to do more than that. The opposite (they have a launcher that integrates with Steam might work as well, but they'd have to have developers instead of IP lawyers for this.)
I do not think they should reinvent the wheel either. Having good relation with Valve is of course very important but I think a partnership with a project like Lutris is more important.

QuoteDid they actually say anything about not being able to play AAA games? I can't remember, so just genuinely asking.
Maybe I am wrong on this. Anyway what they said is not as important as what people think they said...

QuoteI think they just need to partner with Valve and try to make the best damned gaming console. Also if you order the wood grain version, it should come with a bluetooth Atari CX40 and a Steam Controller with the wood paneling skin. https://www.decalgirl.com/skins/291087/valve-steam-controller-skin-wooden-gaming-system
Just partner with valve and making a themed steam machine is an option but it is not going to work. That is my opinion.

stan commented on 5 October 2017 at 2:47 pm UTC

If they said it wouldn’t play AAA games then it’s a very good thing, because indeed you cannot play AAA games on a $250 machine, and on top of that people would be disappointed when they discover only ~15% of the games are available.

Steam installed out of the box, I don’t think it’s a good idea, because again you get access to plenty of games that won’t work, either because the machine is too slow or because of various software incompatibilities and bugs.

I think if they made a mistake, it’s by mentionning that it uses Linux and is configurable. People will think it’s too complicated.

Hamish commented on 6 October 2017 at 2:29 am UTC

Atari are not doing this to promote Linux, they are doing this to put out a novelty nostalgic console product. From that perspective why would they take any of these suggestions on board?

stretch611 commented on 6 October 2017 at 3:54 am UTC

HamishAtari are not doing this to promote Linux, they are doing this to put out a novelty nostalgic console product. From that perspective why would they take any of these suggestions on board?
Exactly... Atari is playing the nostalgia card to make money. Nothing more, nothing less.

Their biggest problem is the only nostalgia Atari has going is the 2600 and some arcade hits. While they did improve on the 2600 and quite significantly improved it, every later console was a flop. While their computers had some small successes, IMO Commodore did computers better, and both of them became doorstops when IBM clones became dirt cheap. With the Atari 2600 in mind, their market is limited to people 40+ years old... very few people that are younger than that actively used a 2600.

While there are numerous tech savvy computer people that are 40+, the majority are not. They may use a computer at home/work, but few are geeks or power users. With that in mind, they are going to go for ease of use if they want it to sell, they will not be catering to the whims of power users.

IMO, their best bet is to try to emulate phones. Smart phones saturate the 40+ group who would have a nostalgic interest in Atari. That being said, the more lessons they learn from android, the better. I am NOT saying they should use android... they just need to build a GUI with the ease of use that android has. I expect them to have a marketplace. I think that they ability to sideload from other software sources will end up being with a config option somewhere and probably turned off by default.

They chose linux probably because it avoids the microsoft tax... and bloat. However using linux also allows them to not need spending money on developing a proprietary OS as well... they will still need to develop and/or modify a WM for their front end, but that is much cheaper than starting from scratch.

I would be shocked if they didn't have a marketplace. Lets face it, even cutting corners, they will not be making a lot of money from the hardware. The easiest way to supplement that is by taking a cut of software sales. IMO, their best bet is to team up with valve and create an Atari branded steam store. It saves Atari the hassle of compatibility testing and making deals with all the publishers. Steam can go by its recommended specs and have a pretty good idea of what will run on this hardware. Limit the store to items that can run, plaster Atari's name on it and you are done.

As for AAA titles. Seriously?!? if you think new AAA titles will run on sub-$300 hardware I want to know what you have been smoking... People spend that much and more on just a video card for AAA titles, let alone the rest of the hardware. It may run a few older AAA titles, but not the with any frame rate that won't lag in every multiplayer instance. Plus the 40+ year old people in the target group already have the money for the gaming rig if they are a power user into AAA titles. The part of the group interested in the nostalgia that is Atari are not interested in AAA. Trust me... Fire up MAME and try some old arcade games from the 80's... compared to today, they are not nearly as advanced and all sound was monotone, 8 bit graphics are quite dated... and the 2600 couldn't even handle anything close to the arcade graphics. Here is one comparison... Pacman...
Someone that is looking for that, probably doesn't care much for AAA titles.

Edit: Wow... that video brings back memories... Yes, I had Pacman on the 2600... and I got it the day it was released. The thought of playing it again, even for nostalgia is horrid. Really weird, at the time I wanted it and was less than impressed with it... but for some reason my father actually liked it and he got addicted to pacman on the 2600... I lost significant time on my console due to him on that horrid game.

slaapliedje commented on 7 October 2017 at 5:32 am UTC

I find it funny that people think that you can't get 'AAA' gaming out of a 250-300 console. This is pretty much the price of the PS4/Xbox One now. While yes, seeing Atari slap their name on it, there's the assumption that it's going to be an overpriced Raspberry Pi. But the fact that AMD themselves were like 'Yeah, we're doing this!' and that AMD's hardware is EXACTLY what is in the latest generation gaming consoles does mean indeed that hardware wise, it's perfectly capable of doing 'AAA' games.

Now, that being said... AAA hardware capability does not equal AAA development support. Would the system need to have settings 'not-Max!', yes. But that's the same thing with latest gen consoles, which end up being locked at 30fps 90% of the time.

I imagine this system will have potentially the power between a PS3 and a PS4. Maybe even the non-PS4 Pro. This makes it perfectly suitable to 1080p gaming at 30-60fps. Hell, give me this and Polybius and I'll be set! Sounds like at the very least Atari will get Jeff Minter to port Tempest 4k, which is very similar.

Just remember, the PS4 and Xbox One both released at a time when they were considered underpowered PC hardware. That's been quite a few years ago and they can now be far more cheaply. Which seems to be exactly the hardware basis this is. Which only leaves OS, which is probably why Atari decided on Linux with maybe a simple launcher. No need to really invest in the operating system. The real question I think we should be asking is "where are they getting the money to manufacture this?" sure there is the crowdfunding, but they must have some plans on where to go. Maybe they hooked up with those who did the Vampire boards for the Amiga... who knows.

Anyhow, it's kind of pointless to argue until we get the full hardware spec announcement, which one would think would be in the crowdfunding campaign details.

stan commented on 7 October 2017 at 10:11 am UTC

slaapliedjeI find it funny that people think that you can't get 'AAA' gaming out of a 250-300 console. This is pretty much the price of the PS4/Xbox One now.
Ah yes, you’re right, the PS4 is 300€ now. I naïvely compared the price of my PC (several times more expensive) to the price of the console, and thought that 60 FPS was needed for a good experience, but console gamers don’t mind low frame rates. However if they want to run currently existing AAA ports, these usually require quite a lot of CPU power. It may be different for new ports using Vulkan I suppose.

lucinos commented on 8 October 2017 at 1:33 pm UTC

From a technical point of view "AAA" is a meaningless term. (in other words it is just marketing bullshit). And generally games can scale and if there is economic incentive it can be done the same way it is done for consoles. Of course as slaapliedje said "AAA hardware capability does not equal AAA development support."

stretch611Exactly... Atari is playing the nostalgia card to make money. Nothing more, nothing less.
I like how you say this and then you explain why the can not really do that. lol

Personally I had never had an Atari and I have no nostalgia for that (my memories are with spectrum), but have a look at this:
https://venturebeat.com/2017/09/25/ataribox-runs-linux-on-amd-chip-and-will-cost-at-least-249/

Quote“It’s a very flexible product, and you won’t need to spend more money if you don’t want to,” he said. “In some ways, you are buying some freedom.”

I am a bit impressed.

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