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NotEqual Tech, Inc - VR & Game Dev
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32 years old
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September 7, 1985
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  1. Sega Europe hosts OneSpecialDay

    28 September 2017 - 03:32 AM

    Saw this on my twitter feed and felt like sharing, because it put a huge smile on my face. One Special Day is an event by SpecialEffect, an organization that builds custom controllers for disabled children world-wide so that they can live more normal lives. Having worked with the City of Houston on ADA requirements, and also having worked with MD Anderson on a project for disabled children, this stuff hits me right in the heart. Most people without disabilities never give a single thought to how even a slight disability closes so many doors. I can't tell you how many times I've worked with clients on Houston ADA requirements and heard something in response akin to "Well, I never intend to hire disabled people," which honestly makes my blood boil.

    Anywho, Sega hosted One Special Day on the 26th and photos have just popped up online, really worth sharing:

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    The event concentrated on custom hardware and solutions for different degrees of disability, all the way down to those who are nearly completely paralyzed from the neck down, who rely on eye tracking technologies. They invited a guest speaker who engaged with eye tracking technologies to speak about how transformative these techniques are:



    A special build controlled entirely via eye tracking:

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    Not just content with donating custom hardware for kiddos and bringing smiles to their faces, Sega of Europe also hosted a cycling marathon, with each KM cycled resulting in a bigger donation from Sega:

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    And finally, the money shot. This is Elliot, apparently a die hard Sonic fan from all the non-gaming media, getting to play Sonic the Hedgehog for the very first time:

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    I know there are lots of amateur and professional game developers who visit this site, just wanted to throw this out there for wider recognition. There are a bevvy of techniques, big and small, that developers can employ to make their games more inclusive of all types of disabilities - one that I've always liked is using custom shaders to simulate the effects of color blindness on top of a game so that developers can be aware of UI decisions.

    Either way, hopefully this warms your heart. Good on Sega and Special Effect.
  2. My Mame Arcade Cabinet

    31 May 2017 - 11:43 AM

    I've been talking recently (for the last couple of weeks-ish) on IRC about progress being made towards my Mame Arcade cabinet and decided it'd be nice to have a topic devoted to such cabinets for a prolonged discussion, as well as a place for me to sum up all the work I've done on the cabinet. If you've got an arcade cabinet (or supergun, too) please feel free to flaunt them in this thread.

    So back story on my cabinet - back around 1999-ish, I joined the Build Your Own Arcade Controls message board. The golden era of arcades had reached the twilight in the US, and the industry began ramping downward going forward. I had always wanted an arcade machine, but logistics made it virtually impossible for me to get my hands on one. Everyone on BYOAC and the general internet at the time felt that arcades were starting to lose their footing (I remember when Soul Caliber came out on the dreamcast, it really cemented the point).

    So my story began on BYOAC, where the concept of a "mame-cade" sort of birthed. Back in those days, the mame itself was still rather new, and the idea of gutting an arcade cabinet and placing a PC inside was novel. Today, there are entire companies that have built their businesses off of selling pre-made mame-cabinet kits and pieces, but back in 1999, you either had to build one yourself, or gut a real cabinet. The site itself offered a bunch of indispensable advice on building your own controls and wiring up jamma harnesses and things of that sort, but for the most part it was the wild west.

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    I began my quest for a Mame cabinet by looking around in Houston for arcades that were closing down, hoping to score a cabinet I could gut for cheap. That didn't really work out, as every arcade I'd wind up at wanted at least a few hundred bucks for a dead cabinet, which was outside of my price range. Eventually, I came across the building above in the yellow-pages. "Houston Arcade Game Repair Center" was what it was listed under. One saturday, my dad and I decided to show up in his pick up truck without calling the place and just looked around. Talking to the owner, it turns out the place really didn't service the general public. Instead, the store was intended for Arcade operators to repair their machines, and as such they had an entire warehouse of dead cabinets rotting away that they used for parts. I explained what I wanted to do with such a cabinet, and I'm guessing a combination of my ambition and age (I was 15 at the time) caused them to take pity. The owner truthfully liked the idea of restoring a cabinet, although he had never heard of MAME at the time, and let me wander through his warehouse to pick out a cabinet for $25 -- an absolute steal.

    This place was amazing. It was about half the size of a modern walmart, but filled wall to wall with cabinets. Lots of really amazing cabinets. I remember seeing a ton of Mortal Kombat and Street Fighters, and even exotic and specialty cabinets like a real-deal R360 cabinet and a sitdown Outrun cab. Cabinet shape is important to any arcade owner, and I wanted a cabinet that, to me, looked like a conventional, US-style cabinet circa 1990-ish. I eventually wound up picking up this cabinet:

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    Originally, the cabinet was a Carnival Games cabinet, although sometime after it had been converted to a Wonderboy cabinet. I knew from the get-go that any cabinet I picked up would have had to have some sort of Sega background, and Carnival Games was distributed by Gremlin and Sega back in the day (the included instruction booklet still had the old-style Sega logo on the corner). It's interesting to note that my specific cabinet seems to be an undocumented second revision of Carnival Games, as the shape of the glass mounting plate is different (mine is angled, where all pictures of carnival games I've seen online is vertical, and mine has an additional shelf in the back behind the monitor). These changes don't appear to be cosmetic post-purchase changes, but rather original design. $25 later, we loaded the cabinet on the back of my dad's pick up truck and were on our way.

    Now, the cabinet itself was a wreck. The entire front panel was warped and flimsy -- when you touched it, it'd sway, as though the MDF board had absorbed water. You could really punch right through the front of the machine if you tried. Additionally, the inside was infested with spiders, and it appears someone had shot one of the sides of the cabinet with a shotgun as there were burn marks and buck-shot-sized holes all over one of the sides. The control panel on the thing was metal, and cut to a weird wonder-boy configuration:

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    This configuration wasn't suitable for general gaming, and worse yet, the control panel itself was rusted and had holes in it. The monitor in the cabinet actually worked, in that it'd turn on, but the red and blue sub channels weren't working at all, and thus the image was entirely green. And besides, the monitor was a JAMMA monitor, and thus not really fit for PC gaming.

    I unfortunately did not snap pictures of the cabinet when we selected it; we were in a huge hurry. You see, my mother is a notorious neat freak, and she would have never signed off of me grabbing an arcade cabinet to throw in my bed room, much less one that was rotting and falling apart. The saturday we went to pick up the cabinet, my mother was out of town. That gave my father and I all saturday to scrub the cabinet out, empty out straggling spiders, and throw whatever PC I had laying around inside quickly enough to get it presentable before my mother came back. Despite our efforts, she still had a fit. All I have are a few pictures from 2002, after some repairs had been made, to show what I was working with at the time:

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    These pictures were taken in October of 2002, but back in february of that year, I built a rough control panel and had the machine up in "working" condition. Keep in mind that I was like 16 at the time, and this was my first wood working project:

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    This first "working" version of the arcade cabinet was about as thrown together as it gets. The warped front panel still existed, and my dad and I made a "control panel" that was just 2 pieces of plywood nailed together at a 45 degree angle, that was then nailed to the front of the arcade cabinet. Where the original control panel was on a hinge and sat flush with the cabinet, the new control panel just nailed into the wood on the front of the cabinet, and the angle was wrong so it wasn't flush and actually stuck out in front of the cabinet. The entire panel was eyeballed, and thus the buttons weren't really in a comfortable position:

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    Inside, I had an AMD K6 processor, some rinky-dink SVGA video card, and like 128 mb of ram. The computer couldn't really run anything -- the sole game that would play decently on the computer was Shinobi, but only when frameskip was turned up to 9 (and even then, it ran slow, and the music was choppy.) The monitor inside the cabinet was pathetic, a 13" CRT computer monitor that I had to use duct tape around to block the excess space:

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    As I said earlier, you couldn't really buy parts for this stuff pre-made, so I had to build a PC-to-JAMMA converter myself out of a keyboard, and, being my first big soldering project, it produced a wasp-nest-like ball of wires inside the cabinet:

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    Yes, in virtually every way, this cabinet and mame-build weren't anything worth talking about. And thus, my mame-cade sat in this condition, very ugly, very unfinished, for about 8 years, my mother constantly bitching about how it uglied up my room. At one point, we tried painting the sides of the cabinet black, but in a comedy of errors, we used a high-gloss paint which made the cabinet look even cheaper and uglier:

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    To be honest, between my mother's complaints about my cabinet, and snide remarks friends would make about "that pile of junk in my bedroom," I'd think only my father and I ever had faith that we'd eventually get the cabinet looking nice and even worthy of drooling over. By 2007, I was already knee deep in college, and thus didn't really live with my folks anymore. They still had the cabinet at their house, and that summer, when I was on break, my father and I decided to finally fix the cabinet up correctly, given that I now had much better wood-working skills.

    Firstly, I nabbed a 20" CRT computer monitor and got it ready for the cabinet:

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    Then I cut a new front panel for the cabinet:

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    For the control panel, I decided to make the entire thing from scratch, this time using a laminate Formica exterior for a nice, non-wooden finish, and attaching the entire thing flush with the cabinet at the right angle, and thus attached to a hinge that could open and shut. This made building the panel itself much more complex:

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    The panel itself needed to be flush with the mounting brackets on the hinge, so I needed to dig out parts of the wood to create enough space to screw the panel into the machine to begine with:

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    We used bonding cement to attach the laminate to the wooden panel:

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    At the same time, I began sanding the sides of the machine:

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    then patching the buck-shot holes with putty:

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    Then primed and painted:

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    I used a flat-black this time rather than a high-gloss, and applied a new Sega-Blue t-molding to the machine. The result:

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    Rather than flood a single post with tons of images, I'll wait till the next post to continue. Up next, I build the control panel then move on to coin mechanism assembly and software installation!
  3. The community turns 20 years old this year

    03 January 2017 - 01:28 AM

    For I suspect many of the oldest oldbies on this board, this year will mark the 20th anniversary of this hodge-podge community of hackers, fan game designers, and general Sonic fans. Probably the genesis for this entire scene was Area 51, which was started in 1997. I never would have guessed that several decades later we'd all still be talking online together. It's rather amazing, as I've been a part of several other long-time communities, but few have retained users like this. What's more amazing is how the community has been spread across so many sites over the years, from SSRG to Sonic Cult to Simon Wai's Beta page and so forth. Indeed, user names like IceKnight and LocalH and rattleman not only have remained signed up for boards as they've come and gone, but even remained active in the community.

    We, collectively, saw users actually get jobs with Sega (GeneHF), become professional artists (KojiChao), even produce official Sonic games (Tax, Stealth). I think the world of this community and have been really proud to be a member and around all you guys for so long. Please let's share this topic with good memories as we celebrate a big milestone in the community!
  4. Gave my 5 year old newphew a Sega Genesis today...

    26 December 2016 - 01:25 AM

    I had been trying to nab an NES Classic for him for weeks but couldn't find them in stock, so in the end, I wound up digging up an old Genesis from the closet, grabbing some extra games I had laying around, and fixing it all up to look like new. First, I recapped the Sega Genesis so it'd work well. Then, I made some boxes to make the Genesis and games look like they were new-ish:

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    Even wrapped up the console and controllers in plastic like it was all new, and scrubbed everything with a q-tip:

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    I wound up giving him Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 (which are inside that Sonic box I made), World of Illusion, Rambo III, and World Series Baseball 95 (the kid loves to play baseball). I was pretty interested in seeing his reaction to such an old toy for Christmas, and wrapped the console up separately from the games. When I was 6 years old, I got a Sega Genesis with Sonic the Hedgehog and it stands as one of the single best Christmas memories ever, and I really hoped he'd like the present like I did when he was a kid.

    Well, when he opened the Genesis first, he looked at the box and didn't really smile or anything. He was sitting next to his dad, who is 38, and asked what it was. His dad, who loved the NES when he was younger, told him that the Sega was cool and that we should hook it up and play it, but my nephew wasn't really too excited or interested in the present, and went about opening other gifts instead. That's when I pointed out the other box that had the games inside, and told him to open that instead.

    As soon as he tore the wrapping paper on the front and saw Sonic on the cover, he let out one of the loudest screams of joy I've ever heard from a kid. It was the N64 kid all over again. He flipped his shit. I had absolutely no clue, but my nephew adores Sonic Boom, and watches it everyday. Further, my sister has the Taxman port of Sonic 1 on her iphone, and apparently he plays it all the time. It's seriously his favorite game, and I had no clue. Similarly, my niece, who is 8, also loves Sonic, and she lost her shit too.

    So naturally, the first thing I did was showed them that inside the box wasn't just Sonic the hedgehog, but Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which they didn't even know existed. After opening the rest of their gifts, we hooked up the Sega to the TV in the front room and let the kids play Sonic 2 with 2 controllers, my niece as sonic and my nephew as Tails. They wound up playing that and World of Illusion together, co-op in both games, all freaking day. This was all at my parents place, and by 11 pm when my sister's family was leaving, they had to basically pry the kids away from the TV to box the sega up. All the while my nephew was asking if he could play Sonic when they got home.

    Goddamn nailed it. Really great christmas memory to add to my book. Sega and Christmas and Sonic continue to be a big part of Christmas tradition :)/>
  5. 3 years ago, I sent TmEE a game gear to mod...

    14 December 2016 - 02:26 PM

    a long while back, I hashed out a deal with TmEE to spruce up a couple of game gears for me in exchange for an Amiga CD32. He was really concerned that I would be unhappy that the process could take some time, but I assured him that he could take years and I wouldn't really mind. With that rough arrangement in mind, he worked on-and-off on the project during free time, occasionally sending me updates along the way.

    Just a few days ago, he hit me up to let me know that the project was done and he was sending it all back my way, and even provided a shipping number. I asked TmEE if he wouldn't mind me showing off his work, and he gave me the thumbs up. I'm so extremely excited to have some custom hardware from TmEE himself (always been a big fan of his work) and wanted to share what he's done:

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    Initially, I had sent him 2 Sega model game gears (not majesco). One had a VGA mod installed on it, and the other had its LED backlight replaced, and both had been recapped. TmEE wanted to install a controller port on the LED backlight-replaced game gear, and keep that one basically as-is. The other, TmEE wanted to "consolize" with a bunch of extras. He began by taking the "consolized" game gear apart and removing the screen to make working with the pcb easier.

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    Here, he has installed a controller port on the game gear, by tapping the button terminals on the board itself. The actual game gear buttons still function, but you can plug in a custom controller he's created and they'll function too:

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    A few JPN model Sega Genesis controllers were chosen to cannibalize (chosen because the blue start button matches the game gear!). These controller have been wired up to match the output port on the game gear, so that the A button matches the game gear 1 button, the B button matches the game gear 2 button, and Start matches the game gear start button. Additionally, the C button acts like pressing the game gear 1 and 2 buttons together at the same time, and X, Y, and Z on the 6-button controller maps to rapid-fire versions of buttons 1, 2, and 1+2.

    With the other game gear, we came up with the idea of mounting it inside of a Sega Master System model 1 shell, to produce the ultimate 8-bit sega machine. TmEE installed an FM Mod in the US master system, as well as mounted the game gear PCB under the SMS pcb, and wired it all up. A switch in the back lets you choose between GG and SMS, with one video and power cable running to it all. The unit now outputs in S-video rather than VGA or composite:

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    Here's the unit playing a game gear game:

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    And an SMS game:

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    There is still just a little more to be done when it reaches me - I have to modify a SMS top to be able to accept game gear carts through the card slot, as they are bigger and thicker than SMS cards. I actually got to meet Ben Heck a few months back at a local hackerspace meeting, and we discussed 3D printing, so my plan is to cut out the existing card slot on the SMS top and 3D print a game gear cart slot in its place. I have access to 3D printers to do this, and Ben Heck showed me a method using vaporized acetone that will help smooth out the printing to look in-line with an injection molded piece of plastic.

    The SMS-Game Gear also works with the controllers he built, and I can diasy chain the second Game Gear to the port to play 2 player fighting games with 2 controllers on 1 tv.

    Hopefully, this reaches me by Christmas, as this would be the perfect gift from Santa. Thanks so much to TmEE for all this hard work, I can't say enough how excited and happy I am that this is coming my way.