Newsletter #5

by MSX Resource Center on 18-12-2002, 00:50

Hello MSX Resource Center friends,

Finally we have found the spare time to write you some things about the latest MSX news. A lot has happened since our last newsletter, which was sent just before the MSX Revival started. But not only the MSX revival gave us a lot of work to do. We introduced a new website, the MSX community overloaded us with new software, emulators and even some new hardware. And there were many meetings which we had to report about. In this fifth newsletter, we'll attemt to summarize the most important news of the latest months, and look a bit forward to the future.

First of all, the website itself. On december 18th, 2002 A.D. an entirely restyled website was unleashed. In the months before, we realized we had to switch to more professional hosting, and a more secure feature-rich CMS in order to keep growing as we had done the years before. The new CMS - based on several popular opensource content management systems - allows us to add new features to the website with more ease than before. Also, we have to spend less time tracing bugs, which benefits the thing the site really is about: its contents. At the same time, we wanted to secure our domain name and the contents of our website, whilst making financial a basis to keep the site running. Keeping some future plans in mind, we raised the MSX Resource Center foundation. Until now, its activities are 'limited' to hosting and maintaining the website, attending MSX fairs and promoting the MSX Community's activities. Because we have no source of income as of yet, we started a donation service. If you like to see the MSX Resource Center grow and evolve, don't hesitate to use the Paypal system to send us a couple of bucks. Your help will be highly appreciated.

Because the MSX Resource Center became a foundation, it got more and more attention on the internet. This resulted in a three-page full-colour interview in the Spanish computer magazine

On the new website, a new photo shoots section was added, where pictures taken on MSX Fairs are hosted. To get a more complete archive, we would also like to host photo shoots created by other people in the past. If you have some pictures taken on MSX fairs or meetings, please do not hesitate to contact us ([email protected]) and maybe your pictures will be in the MSX Resource Center soon!

As for the future, currently we are working on multilingual functionality. A team of three Spanish MSX users have teamed up with the excisting MRC crew, in order to create a Spanish interface. After that, news posts and other articles will be translated as well. If all goes well, other languages will be added soon afterwards. However, we need three to four volunteers a language. If you'd like to help the MRC out in translating to (for example) Japanese, Portuguese (Brazil), French, German or any other language, don't hesitate to contact us. ([email protected]).

Also, we are planning to unleash a downloads module in the near future. In spite of most other MSX sites, we are planning to fill our downloads database with MSX Freeware. If you have interesting files like games, demo's, graphics, music files or any other MSX(-related) software, contact BiFi ([email protected]) and it will be added. We hope to have some interesting, new files online at the launch.

Relevant links:

www.msx.org/newspost892.html - New website launched
www.msx.org/newspost893.html - MSX Resource Center becomes a Foundation
www.msx.org/newspost982.html - Photo shoots section back online
www.msx.org/newspost1019.html - Donation service started
www.msx.org/newspost1061.html - Interview in @rroba magazine

MSX Development competition
---------------------------

In june 2003 the MSX Standard will celebrate its 20th birthday. To celebrate this, Robsy has started a development competition with some interesting rules. Contestants are to create a game that works on the MSX system as it was introduced 20 years ago. No extra hardware, no extra memory. Contestants are, however, allowed to use deliver their product in MegaROM format. So far, three contestants and some sponsors have signed up to support this contest. If you want the old days to revive one more time, we advise you to join them

www.msx.org/newspost1058.html - MSXDEV game development competition

MSX Revival
-----------

A few years ago, nobody expected anything like this would happen. The MSX Computer system was left for dead and, although it is and was still a nice system to use, its specifications were too low in order to let it compete with other computer products. Then, the first rumours came. ASCII and Panasonic seemed to be interested in MSX again, even Kazuhiko Nishi - the man who more or less invented the MSX standard - appeared at MSX fairs in Japan. Then, on a sunny day in April, Kazuhiko Nishi gave a lecture at the International MSX fair in Tilburg. He explained his plans of creating an official MSX emulator, to gain attention to MSX again. This would be the first step in the MSX Revival. The final step of the MSX Revival would be the creation of a one-chip MSX, a cheap computer based on some revolutionary ideas. However, the MSX Revival project had a slow start. Nishi stopped working at ASCII Corporation and started the MSX Association, the company that holds the copyrights of MSX. However, some of the MSX-BASIC copyrights were still owned by Microsoft and the sources of the official MSX emulator, now called MSXPLAYer, were based on fMSX. Both Marat Fayzullin - the creator of fMSX - and Microsoft wanted their share of money. This made it impossible to release the MSX Emulator for free.

In July 2002 this problem was solved. The first rumours about MSX Magazine 2003 had reached the MSX Resource Center. This magazine soon proved to be the real start of the MSX Revival. Just before christmas 2002, a 224 page magazine, including a CD-ROM containing loads of commercial and amateur software and the MSXPLAYer hit the streets. From then, the hype began. An article about the MSX Revival was the most read article on the huge computer news site ZDNet Japan, in the same week GeForce 5 and Pentium 4 Northwood were announced. Within 3 weeks, 25.000 copies of the magazine were sold. A devoted fan wrote a fairytale about the history of MSX. All this success resulted in a reprint of 8.000 copies (that sold out as well) and an MSX Festival, organized by ASCII Corporation, the publishers of the magazine.

Because the developrs of the official MSX emulator did not want to support illegal software, it is not possible to run .ROM files using MSXPLAYer. However, the MSX Revival team are working on an interesting device which makes it possible to run MSX Cartridges on MSXPLAYer anyway: An USB ROM cartridge reader. With this device, you can connect an MSX cartridge to any computer that has an USB port. MSXPLAYer can detect this device and run software from it. What's even more interesting is that this device can also be connected to the future one-chip MSX, increasing backwards compatibility. However, the latest rumours tell us that development of the USB cartridge reader is not going to plan as of yet.

However, some members of the MSX Community were not satisfied with the MSX Revival, aiming only or mostly at the Japanese market and only little based on the opinions of the remaining developers. In a manifest against the MSX Association, a dissatisfied group of MSX users transcribed their opinion on the MSX Revival and the way the MSX Association approaches Europe, Brazil and the MSX community. Needless to say that this manifest caused heated discussions on the MSX Resource Center forums.

At the same time of the release of MSX Magazine 2003, Shuwa systems released a magazine on MSX as well. They surfed along with the hype on MSX and sold more copies of this magazine than they had ever sold of any other magazine before. It was an easy decision to announce a second edition of this magazine. ASCII also confirmed they are considering releasing a second MSX Magazine, to be released this summer on the 20th birthday of the MSX standard.

The final goal of the MSX revival still is the revolutionary one-chip device, based on the principles explained in Nishi's presentation at the MIT. However, Kazuhiko Nishi introduced another product that makes the MSX system commercially interesting again: MSX-BASIC for Robo-education. In Japan, all children aged 14 to 15 are obligated to learn the basics of programming, using FOR...NEXT and IF...THEN routines. Until now, this was very boring. However, Nishi introduced a small robot which can be controlled using MSX-BASIC (and thus MSXPLAYer or a real MSX). A few schools in Japan are now testing this new method. If all goes well, many Japanese schools will use this system soon! A new generation of MSX users and developers awaits us....

Relevant links:

www.msx.org/newspost199.html - Kazuhiko Nishi's lecture in Tilburg 2001
www.msx.org/newspost596.html - First report about the MSX magazines
www.msx.org/newspost621.html - A presentation of Kazuhiko Nishi about the one chip computer
www.msx.org/newspost797.html - MSX beats Pentium 4 and GeForce 5
www.msx.org/newspost895.html - USB MSX cartridge reader
www.msx.org/newspost875.html - MSX emulator & Games magazine contents
www.msx.org/newspost902.html - MSX Magazine 2003 released
www.msx.org/newspost927.html - Anti MSX revival - a manifest against the MSX Association
www.msx.org/newspost947.html - 25.000 copies sold - reprint on its way
www.msx.org/newspost959.html - Two new magazines announced
www.msx.org/newspost1002.html - MSX Festival report
www.msx.org/newspost1020.html - MSX-BASIC for Robo-education
www.msx.org/newspost1060.html - The history of MSX in a fairytale

Emulation
---------

In the past months, the best emulators got even better. Both the Linux and Windows versions of openMSX and the popular NLMSX emulator were renewed. In the latest version of NLMSX, improved MSX-MUSIC emulation is added. In the near future, these new versions will be tested in the Emulator Comparison. Previous versions of these emulators scored very well in this comprehensive comparison between MSX emulators.

www.msx.org/newspost1059.html - NLMSX 0.46
www.msx.org/newspost915.html - openMSX 0.2.1
www.msx.org/newspost970.html - openMSX/Windows 0.2.1-002
www.msx.org/newspost889.html - Emulator Comparison

Apart from emulators for the ordinary Personal Computers, there are now also MSX emulators for PocketPC's running Windows CE. Both fMSXCE and PocketMSX do a good job at it, being capable to run e.g. Metal Gear - Solid Snake.

www.msx.org/newspost971.html - fMSXCE 0.11
www.msx.org/newspost985.html - PocketMSX 0.003a

Hardware
--------

From Spain comes a new Flash-ROM cartridge, which is the most user-friendly Flash-ROM cartridge to date. This device allows you to load .ROM images into the cartridge, in order to play them as if it were the original cartridge. It's great to play the English version of Metal Gear 2 as if it was released on a ROM. However, the developers are recycling old MSX cartridges. On the MSX Resource Center forums, there was quite some discussion about this.

www.msx.org/newspost1001.html - MegaFLASH

Software
--------

Lots of software developments going on lately.

www.msx.org/newspost1075.html - All teddywarez products free for download

www.msx.org/newspost933/1071.html - Meridian for OPL4
www.msx.org/newspost972.html - Realfun trial version
www.msx.org/newspost1044.html - OPL4 Wave editor for GFX9000

www.msx.org/newspost996.html - Bombaman nearly finished
www.msx.org/newspost943.html - Breakfree
www.msx.org/newspost917/942.html - Cat 'n Mouse
www.msx.org/newspost1045.html - MSX Hot numbers
www.msx.org/newspost906.html - Snow fighters

www.msx.org/newspost860.html - Metal gear 1 retranslation

www.msx.org/newspost1043.html - MSX-DOS 2.41
www.msx.org/newspost1047.html - FAT16 patch for MSX-DOS 2.41
www.msx.org/newspost900.html - Internestor 1.0

MSX Related
-----------

www.msx.org/newspost1025.html - Konami changes logo
www.msx.org/newspost969.html - Compile
www.msx.org/newspost861.html - MSX-PAD 1.5
www.msx.org/newspost905.html - TNIasm 0.3
www.msx.org/newspost1063.html - MSXPlug 0.27
www.msx.org/newspost1006.html - DSKexplorer

Translation
-----------

www.msx.org/newspost968.html - Snatcher English
www.msx.org/newspost938.html - Snatcher Portuguese

Fairs & Meetings
----------------

www.msx.org/newspost983.html - Tilburg 2003 announcement

www.msx.org/newspost1009.html - MCWF 2003 photoshoot

www.msx.org/newspost1052.html - MadriSX 2003 photoshoot
www.msx.org/newspost1070.html - MadriSX 2003 report

www.msx.org/newspost981.html - Oss 2003 report

Hot forum topics
----------------

Last but not least, a list of hot topics in our crowded forum. These were the discussions you would not want to miss, maybe you still have something to say about these topics as well. Don't hesitate. Log in and reply!

www.msx.org/forumtopic573.html - Meridian.html[/url] - progress update
www.msx.org/forumtopic576.html - One chip demands
www.msx.org/forumtopic595.html - MSX Revival: YES or NO
www.msx.org/forumtopic603.html - Thoughts about an OS
www.msx.org/forumtopic619.html - Your thoughts on the USB cartridge reader
www.msx.org/forumtopic673.html - When, how and why did you start using MSX computers?
www.msx.org/forumtopic684.html - What should the one-chip MSX look like?
www.msx.org/forumtopic701.html - openMSX launcher for Windows
www.msx.org/forumtopic742.html - MSX Association and Europe
www.msx.org/forumtopic760.html - Spanish flash -> don't kill your rare SCC's
www.msx.org/forumtopic804.html - Sunrise ATA-IDE BIOS improvement?
www.msx.org/forumtopic811.html - The pros and cons of revivalism
www.msx.org/forumtopic842.html - Groups quitting because of no sales/feedback
www.msx.org/forumtopic850.html - Porting Day of the Tentacle and/or similar games

And with that, we have reached the end of our fifth newsletter.

Greetings!

The MSX Resource Center team.