General MSX beginner questions, regions, controllers, models?

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By Jorito

Mr. Ambassadors (1765)

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08-05-2012, 23:51

I do agree with the remark on MRC being a bit too technical at times tho. I never bothered with MSX coding, I just focused on creating music, so I tend to gloss over all this technical stuff Smile

By SkyeWelse

Champion (471)

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09-05-2012, 05:54

Hi Jorito,

Very nice to meet you. Sure, I'd be happy to lend assistance with this especially since a lot of what is discussed can be way over my head. I can think of several things that I'm still a bit puzzled on even today! I mean for starters, I've read on the Ultimate MSX FAQ a few times about PSG, FM Sound, MSX Music and SCC and even though *think* I know the general differences of each, I don't think I've ever truly understood it. So for example, on the site I was going to (and still might) put together, my goal would be to explain this all as simplistic as possible to someone who has no idea about these differences and even add sound clips to indicate what it is you are hearing, what it sounds like when you have a combination of different sound cards.

Another example, let say for for creating a simple program I've read that you can either code in basic (I coded Pong in basic ages and ages ago in visual basic...) or Assembly(ASM) and that you can create graphics and music either on the MSX itself or through cross-platform (which would be my preference) and that there are different programs and tools to assist with this process. I already know of a few names (Age) and (graphasaurus) but I still don't understand the basic point A to point B procedure... How do you take content created from say photoshop or programmed in a basic compiling program on a PC and say to the MSX,"okay MSX, your turn! Do your stuff!" I'm sure that procedure is mostly second nature to most people here, but to someone like myself, I'm still scratching my head about the process. lol

Screen Modes are another thing I haven't quite wrapped my head around yet. I've been told that some MSX emulators will allow you to view which screen mode is currently being displayed so I can learn a few pointers from that. But I think the general relationship from screen-mode to typical game format/genre built and how the color palettes work for each screen mode is something I not only want to learn more about, I want to fully understand it as simply as I can.

I remember the other day reading about how some folks here are starting to really improve on MSX scrolling in their games and demos were being released for samples to download. Unfortunately, even though this subject interests me quite a bit, I'm seriously going to need to level up a few times in terms of MSX knowledge and development knowledge before I'll have a clue of understanding what is discussed in a topic like that.

The idea of the site was also to offer a more general information base to newbies, such as where can I get an MSX, what should I look for, what are some options (for example explaining other options other than eBay, such as Yahoo Auctions and the process involved with that), topics that cover pretty much everything but in a simplistic way. I've got my MSX now, but it doesn't seem to read disks! What's up with that. Answer: You'll likely need to replace the drive belt if it is old and has turned to tar. Here's a guide over here on how to do this procedure. What are some good programs or tools for making MSX formatted disks, how to fool an MSX or older Floppy drive by using tape on a High Density Disk. How to write game images to disk, what are some good programs for that? Information on where and why you might want to purchase an MegaFlashRom SCC+, what are some storage solutions and optional carts such as the Nowind Interface? Just really anything that I've already discovered that I think would be neat to share to newcomers to the scene or interesting information I have observed in my own research so far. : )

Oh and one other thing I just remembered. I have a Turbo GT that has Midi Support. I have a Midi Cable. I have a Midi Keyboard (albeit a pretty crappy one..) My question is: Keyboard + Cable + GT = ?

"Okay, Now what?" That should be my slogan for my MSX learning process. *laughs*


By JohnHassink

Ambassador (5572)

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09-05-2012, 05:43

Cool plan, SkyeWelse! Smile

By Akiguchi

Hero (620)

Akiguchi's picture

09-05-2012, 09:11

I'll fully agree with SkyeWelse as it was not long ago when I was pondering with all of these basic questions (and to some extent still are). And there was a lot of those questions which I didn't know anything about. The more technical and harder the information is generally, the more difficult it is to attract new MSX users to the scene (and without new users the scene will slowly die). So this kind of spoonfed guide for real beginners could prove to be very useful in the future. Keep in mind that the new culture of computer enthusiatists is mainly using consoles for gaming, so their basic knowledge is usually "press the console on, put the cart on, turn the power off". For the website or wiki here I could also try to help with all kinds of stupid questions. Tongue

By Manuel

Ascended (17879)

Manuel's picture

09-05-2012, 09:46

How about simply asking those questions and putting the answers on an easy to find Wiki page on MRC? We could tag a whole range of Wiki pages for beginners with a category "Beginners Guide" or something.

By the way, that's an amazing post, SkyeWelse!

And yes, I'm also willing to help Smile

By Jorito

Mr. Ambassadors (1765)

Jorito's picture

09-05-2012, 09:51

Adding them to the wiki would have my preference as well. So I think we have a plan here Smile

I'm thinking on starting a page about the sound cartridge questions here:, simply by adding a short description of each audio chip, with a sound sample, and some example games that use them.

By hit9918

Prophet (2901)

hit9918's picture

09-05-2012, 10:55

@SkyeWelse, the sound question is easy.
The PSG is the AY-3-8910 that many other 8bit got. Make wikipedia link.
And SCC is on the game cartridge. Somewhere on the cartridge is the SCC logo.

"understanding" sound by watching youtube vids:
gradius with PSG:
gradius with SCC:
I think gradius 2 was the first SCC game:
There is a scroll fix hack for MSX2:

screen modes: a pixel can pick only from 16 colors. "screen 5".
But that is MSX2, on MSX1, i.e. C64 era, life is even more harsh. max 2 different colors can be in 8x1 pixels. "screen 2".

MSX goes scrolling:
The MSX1 problem is lack of scroll register.
But when you go rolling the tiles (a bit like rolling mario question marks) the whole thing goes scrolling.

penguin adventure must be listed. 3D jump and run, unprecedenced, MSX only.
This is why the penguin mascott is hanging around everywhere, got nothing to do with linux tux.

By Jorito

Mr. Ambassadors (1765)

Jorito's picture

09-05-2012, 11:54

About screen modes, there's already good information in our wiki (with some examples):

The problem is that this information isn't easily accessible but part of the MSX information pages we have. So we could solve this by restructuring things a bit.

About games: Penguin Adventure should definitely be one of the titles on a list of recommended games for starters.

By Noisepurge

Supporter (9)

Noisepurge's picture

09-05-2012, 14:02

Nice to see my first thread here build some creative conversation Smile I've been updating my guide thread on NeoGaf and i'm sure we can copy that to the Wiki here as well, those questions and answers i tried to cover are for guys like me who mainly want it for gaming and nostalgia.

Since getting a proper MSX machine for gaming is a little different than just finding an NES and hooking it to the TV. There are some pitfalls to avoid like the 128kb memory limit, but like i said, i think this "simple beginners" guide has to be barebones and just touch those subjects that are necessary. Getting more in-depth like expansion modules is something you only get interested after the initial purchase and step in the world of MSX Big smile

By AxelF

Champion (378)

AxelF's picture

09-05-2012, 14:29

This PDF document helped me a lot to understand different MSX screen modes.

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