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TrevEB
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Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years!
#368358 - 07/29/17 06:16 PM Attachment: IMG_4208.JPG 1146 KB (0 downloads)


Williams Predators flies again at
California Extreme 2017
Santa Clara, CA

Pictures here.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/0RgOxgxCBNNmfohR2

With permission from Andrew Welburn
www.Andys-arcade.com
http://www.retrokade.com

Team Oakland CA.

This machine is based around the only orignal parts Andrew Welburn had from this game - the original game PCB set and power supplies which belong to Domonic Escott in the UK. He entrusted me with this in order that i figure out the big technical challenge that it had.

This PCB has been around for a long time, but was it missing the crucial control interface pcb that was inside each cabinet. These interface pcbs link each players' special 49-way joystick and action buttons, along with switches and cabinet buttons to the main pcb. With all of them missing, it was only possible to play at the Red - Hawk position. No paperwork is known to exist for this game so everything had to be worked out by hand.

With help from members of the MAME team, a reverse look at code interfacing the UART to the main cpu, it was determined that there was a 7-byte packet expected from each interface pcb. The exact order of the bytes (and the bits within them) and what they represented in the packet was not immediately obvious, but was worked out eventually. The added complication was the 7th byte was a'check' packet which was a calculated sum based on the contents of the other six bytes. If it was not calculated correctly, the entire packet is ignored.

After some considerable trial and error, I was able to write code for a small microcontroller (a PIC) that reads the Joystick positions, and the 4 minimum buttons needed per player for the game to function, and translates them into the 7-byte packet that the game pcb expects. This output is then converted to RS-485 and send to the respective connection on the game pcb.

The game was intended to occupy 4 FULL SIZE arcade cabinet which made the game very expensive labor intensive for the game owner requiring a large amount of space and upkeep. It was a hard sell when compared to the money generated by 4 individual games. 30 years later with the advent of flat panel monitors, it is now possible to have a single cabinet and superior player interaction.

This cabinet has been hand-made to fit four players in the most space efficient footprint that i could make for my small home-arcade. The cabinet design has developed organically over a number of years, being made from scrap wood, an old metal filing cabinet, more reclaimed parts, old LCD monitors and lots of wiring and connectors. This went from a bunch of monitors sitting on some wood balanced on top of a metal cabinet into an exhibition-ready machine largely in the last three weeks, working all day every day to work out how it was going to look, work and be durable for CAX.

Vector artwork was created from online photos by Lindy Groening, and NightVoice from the MameWorld Art Project in Adobe Illustrator and Coral Draw. Final artwork layout and control panel design was created by Trevor Brown in an exceptionally short period of time using ArchiCAD. All other technical engineering and cabinet creation work by Andrew Welburn of andys-arcade.com.

Andys-arcade.com.
TrevEB

[ATTACHED IMAGE - CLICK FOR FULL SIZE]

Attachment

Edited by TrevEB (08/05/17 03:17 AM)



gregf
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: TrevEB]
#368359 - 07/29/17 06:51 PM




>Williams Predators flies again at
>California Extreme 2017
>Santa Clara, CA

>Pictures here.
>https://photos.app.goo.gl/0RgOxgxCBNNmfohR2

>With permission from Andrew Welburn Team Oakland CA.


Congrats with everyone involved with getting this game up and running once again and available for first time to be seen at the 2017 CAX show. If this took place back in late 1990s instead, I can picture Digital Eclipse (company that marketed Williams games in retro packages back then) being envious that they couldn't get this added as well.

o/t: I wouldn't be surprised if some attending the event are wearing NFL Oakland Raiders (owner M. Davis) protest shirts.



Brian Deuel
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: TrevEB]
#368361 - 07/29/17 07:15 PM


Brilliant. Another one back from the "dead". Great work blokes!



"One of these days, I'm going to cut you into little pieces!"- Nick Mason, Pink Floyd



Nightvoice
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: TrevEB]
#368363 - 07/29/17 09:10 PM


How would they even emulate something like this? I see 4 monitors and AFAIK Windows only supports 3?



----------------------
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casm
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: TrevEB]
#368365 - 07/29/17 09:46 PM


That is an astounding bit of work. Congratulations to all involved!



Tornadoboy
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: TrevEB]
#368368 - 07/29/17 11:17 PM


Congratulations to all involved in another incredible rescue of a lost game! There are truly some brilliant people involved in this hobby!



fortuna_chan
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: Nightvoice]
#368372 - 07/30/17 01:37 AM


> How would they even emulate something like this? I see 4 monitors and AFAIK Windows
> only supports 3?

With a 2 good graphic cards can run 4 monitors without problems or can use a graphic card plus the integrated card slots (some motherboards had 2 monitor slots)



Cheshire Noir
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: fortuna_chan]
#368385 - 07/30/17 05:09 AM


> > How would they even emulate something like this? I see 4 monitors and AFAIK Windows
> > only supports 3?
>
> With a 2 good graphic cards can run 4 monitors without problems or can use a graphic
> card plus the integrated card slots (some motherboards had 2 monitor slots)

Heck. This is a "Solved" problem. Has been for years. The signage industry has a whole bunch of solutions.
https://www.visiontek.com/radeon-7750-2gb-gddr5-6m-6x-minidp.html
This one does 6 out of the box. The current full spec of displayport also allows "hubs" that split 1 displayport connector out to additional monitors. (it creates a virtual desktop over the connected monitors.)

No good for 3d but for 2d the sky's the limit :-)



"Curiouser and Curiouser" Cried Alice



Dullaron
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Well blow me down. 4 screens on this one. new [Re: TrevEB]
#368386 - 07/30/17 05:22 AM


Very nice cabinet and game screen though.



Windows 10 Pro 64-bit / Intel Core i5-4460 3.20 GHz / 8.00 GB RAM / AMD Radeon R9 200 Series
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/profile/Dunard-1884/
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MooglyGuy
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: Nightvoice]
#368396 - 07/30/17 12:32 PM


> How would they even emulate something like this? I see 4 monitors and AFAIK Windows
> only supports 3?

LOL, what? Windows has supported at least 9 monitors at once since Windows 98, provided a sufficient number of graphics cards.



MooglyGuy
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: TrevEB]
#368397 - 07/30/17 12:34 PM


Really cool stuff! Will it eventually be shared with the rest of the MAME team, after an appropriate period of time for public showing of the real thing at CAX and such?



TrevEB
Brokering peace between the collectors and the Mame Community
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Loc: Oakland, CA
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: MooglyGuy]
#368407 - 07/30/17 05:37 PM


It is being worked on but its not functional yet in Mame. To quote Andrew, "its tricky stuff".
One CPU running 4 video boards independently.
The game behaved brilliantly yesterday. One of the four audio channels had never worked and Andrew was never able to chase down why. When the game was plugged in at the show, it just started working and never went down.
The game had one freak out Friday night. Andrew pulled all the boards and reseated them. Got an NVram failure alert but the game played.
Saturday: not a single glitch. Worked like a champ all day.

The game is a lot of fun. Think Space Wars with 4 ships and more breathing room. Shooting and antimatter mines that you shoot,place, and detonate. Tough to use without blowing yourself up. Clouds to camp in, invisibility and shield power ups, 4 space jumps to desired corners of the screen, The sun, and flaming meteors and mines to avoid. Space is full of insects and other things that attach to the ship and leech your energy.

One thing that is sort of odd is that the ship only moves when the button is pushed along with the joystick shoved in the direction you want to go. No inertia. Sometimes you just forget how to move. maybe 2 joysticks instead of one joystick and 2 buttons would have prevented that.

A great game for sure and an excellent choice for network mame.
I also spoke with Steve Ritchie about the game as I thought he was a co-creator. Turns out he is not, but he did put in "millions of hours" play testing it back in the day. Very impressed to see it again.

TrevEB



Comboman
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: TrevEB]
#368411 - 07/30/17 07:33 PM


> The game was intended to occupy 4 FULL SIZE arcade cabinet which made the game very
> expensive labor intensive for the game owner requiring a large amount of space and
> upkeep. It was a hard sell when compared to the money generated by 4 individual
> games. 30 years later with the advent of flat panel monitors, it is now possible to
> have a single cabinet and superior player interaction.
>
Outstanding work! It makes me wonder how arcades would have been different if LCD panels had been available/affordable in the 1980s.



Haze
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: TrevEB]
#368414 - 07/30/17 08:40 PM


> It is being worked on but its not functional yet in Mame. To quote Andrew, "its
> tricky stuff".

It was playable about 7 years ago or whenever Andy asked us to look at it. (His original, rather optimistic plan was to show it off back then, but it required a lot more work than he originally anticipated)

However, the line drawing algorithm is a pain in the ass, so some of the graphics weren't quite right in MAME.

It's a raster game, but all the sprites are made from lots and lots of overdrawn lines with the lengths and angles spread across a whole bunch of roms and proms, if you deconstruct the sprites they're clearly machine generated as most of them are scribbles, probably optimized somehow to use the least lines to get a solid fill.

I'm hoping now that it's been at the show the driver can be submitted and we can get more eyes on any remaining issues.



Phil Bennett
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: Haze]
#368418 - 07/31/17 02:10 AM


> I'm hoping now that it's been at the show the driver can be submitted and we can get
> more eyes on any remaining issues.

We're going to be waiting a little longer but for good reason. I'm borrowing the boardsets in a few weeks' time in order to draw up a schematic of the video controller and line-drawing hardware. We'll have pixel-accurate emulation and potentially cycle-accurate too.



Moose
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: TrevEB]
#368419 - 07/31/17 03:14 AM


Awesome work - congrats to everyone involved.



Moose



Haze
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: Phil Bennett]
#368420 - 07/31/17 03:25 AM


> > I'm hoping now that it's been at the show the driver can be submitted and we can
> get
> > more eyes on any remaining issues.
>
> We're going to be waiting a little longer but for good reason. I'm borrowing the
> boardsets in a few weeks' time in order to draw up a schematic of the video
> controller and line-drawing hardware. We'll have pixel-accurate emulation and
> potentially cycle-accurate too.

ah, that's good to know, I'll be interested in seeing what it actually turns out to be because I really exhausted everything I could think of with it



Lord Nightmare
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: Phil Bennett]
#368423 - 07/31/17 08:19 AM


> > I'm hoping now that it's been at the show the driver can be submitted and we can
> get
> > more eyes on any remaining issues.
>
> We're going to be waiting a little longer but for good reason. I'm borrowing the
> boardsets in a few weeks' time in order to draw up a schematic of the video
> controller and line-drawing hardware. We'll have pixel-accurate emulation and
> potentially cycle-accurate too.

This sounds very similar to the way the dec vk100 and vt125 draw stuff, its a big accellerated bresenham line drawing system with a bunch of proms and counters and some very complex state machine logic, which is still not right in MAME yet...

It draws differently depending on which of the 8 octants the line is being drawn to (or is it from?), I never completely understood it.

LN

Edited by Lord Nightmare (07/31/17 08:20 AM)



"When life gives you zombies... *CHA-CHIK!* ...you make zombie-ade!"



TrevEB
Brokering peace between the collectors and the Mame Community
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: TrevEB]
#368574 - 08/05/17 03:18 AM


Well Gast Architects just fired me so fuck them.



Dullaron
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Reged: 07/22/05
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: TrevEB]
#368577 - 08/05/17 04:09 AM


> Well Gast Architects just fired me so fuck them.

Heh that sucks.



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R. Belmont
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: TrevEB]
#368669 - 08/11/17 04:56 PM


Huh, I saw that at the show and thought it was one of the indie games. Would've played it if I'd known what it was



TrevEB
Brokering peace between the collectors and the Mame Community
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Re: Williams Predators for the first time in 30 years! new [Re: R. Belmont]
#368673 - 08/11/17 07:29 PM


Oh man that is a shame.
It's really a lot of fun with multiplayer. I did put the history on the wall but I didnt have time to print it huge like I had intended.
Hopefully next year if my new place of employment has a nice plotter.


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