Why are MAME and raspberry pi units still a hobbyist item?

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Why are MAME and raspberry pi units still a hobbyist item?

Postby scotland » June 27th, 2017, 9:00 am

We have obviously turned a corner in retrogaming. First there were plug and play units, then composite out Flashback units, and now we have moved into HDMI out units. These all use some sort of hardware (like an NES on a chip) or software emulation.

Once you have crossed the border to Emulation-Ville, you have to ask why buy these speciality units with limited game selections and not just go to something like the Raspberry Pi system. There is nothing illegal about either the hardware or the emulators, so why are they still kits? Its like the Raspberry Pi is stuck in the Altair 8800 phase.

There are or have been Android game players - including handhelds - most notably the Ouya, that was not a kit, but it failed. There is MAME as well, but its also seems to be stuck as a hobbyist product. Why are these kinds of emulation items not on the shelves of retailers or sold on Amazon, pre-loaded with dozens of emulators, or packaged with 2 nice USB controllers?

Games are certainly an issue. If Nintendo puts out a SNES Classic with 21 games, you can get those 21 games legally emulated instead of some grey way of getting ROMS. Is that really the big issue keeping companies from making a production non-kit model?

An emulation system could even be pre-loaded with some games very legally, as there are multigame arcade units out there that do this, as well as letting you install your own games. I'm sure you could buy up lots of Atari arcade or Jaguar or other 8 bit computer games cheaply and legally.

Why has the Raspberry Pi (or other similar things) remained either hobbyist or 'also ran' while these Flashback units are creating all sorts of buzz?

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Re: Why are MAME and raspberry pi units still a hobbyist item?

Postby MoarRipter » June 27th, 2017, 1:11 pm

Because the UIs in MAME and EmulationStation (RetroPie) absolutely completely suck. They reek of hobbyist look-and-feel and not that of a more mature product. If you have to enter a old-school text-based screen to configure stuff then you automatically fail and that's a primo reason why this hobbyist garbage can't make the transition to mainstream - same as Linux.

Look at the UI of the NES Classic, it has that certain Nintendo fit and finish, that polish that you see with their products that you just do not see from hobbyist projects. MAME in particular, I cannot believe how its UI still totally sucks just like it did 15 years ago, it looks like some hackneyed hodgepodge that was assembled with no direction, no focus, to the point that you feel like you need a PhD in Computer Science just to figure out the interface.

That's my $.02.

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Re: Why are MAME and raspberry pi units still a hobbyist item?

Postby pacman000 » June 27th, 2017, 3:33 pm

It was illegal to use MAME in a commercial project til last year. I'd imagine these systems are based on popular freeware/open source emulators, with the UI changes needed to make a good consumer product.

So the question should be: Why aren't flashback systems expandable?

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