Some thoughts about the board


Ziz

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Hi guys,

First of all: If you don't want to read my whole wall of text, this is fine. But please consider, whether it really makes sense to write an answer then. I also want to apologize for my bad English, but you are probably already used to it anyway. ;)

I've been in the board now for four years. I joined back in 2011 while a homebrew competition was happening. Back in these days I started to use my old gp2x again (after two or three years of abstinence of the scene) and searched for active boards. I was active again in the German gp2x board and also wanted to be more active in gp32x.de, too, but at that time the board was already dead. I searched for recent informations about the gp2x, installed open2x, used some very neat emulators (gpsp is awesome!) and started to develop for this very fine device again.

That was the point, where I joined the OpenPandora board. There was the already mentioned Homebrew competition. I realized, nobody except me would play my games on a gp2x and as gp32x was already dead, the same would probably happen with releases for Wiz and Caanoo. So I joined this board to tell about my software renderer here in the competition thread.

It worked out very well. Much better than I expected. You have to consider, I left the community as noob with good, but too chaotic programming skills. I made some small releases for the gp2x (A clock and a function plotter) when it was still used, but all in all my programs were rubbish. It was different now. When I "rejoined" the scene, I were a (lot) better developer, furthermore I started to study computer science in the meantime. So I got a quite good feedback to my software renderer and my first game: Snowman.

As I joined it anyway I started lurking around in the board. Even without owning a pandora the topics were often quite interesting. I tried to convince as much people as possible to go multi plattform and to release their games for the gp2x, too - which worked quite often. But I also enjoyed offtopic discussions or discussions about retro games. OpenPandora was a very neat place for every retro lover - be it with or without pandora (at that time, even some pandora presellers didn't receive their units). In the very end I made the third place and won a SD card (in the next years I will win a lot of them). One big point about this community was also the Linux and open software affinity, which I enjoyd a lot!

Then the RIOT competition came. It was awesome. Best. Competition. Ever. It was MADE for me. I undertake too much (Schizophrenia was never in a good state, probably will never), but I reached the fifth place with Puzzletube. It was a great time. I could even test most of the RIOT games under Linux or wine and some games even with my gp2x! We had so much new hopes (AAAA, Rainy Days, Paperwars), so much troll fun (Skylark, Guitar on Fire). I still think Geek 'em up deserved better, but anyway... I think I won another SD card. Everbody was still very excited about everything. I meet a lot new people and enjoyed the stay in the open pandora board very much.

I have to admit, I am not sure, whether one or two competitions followed. At least I remember the "Pandora resurrection" competition. It had very good attempts and some nice release, but it started to anger me. I don't want to go too much into detail, but winning a (second and golden!) Pandora for trying, failing and letting someone else doing the hard work? Anyway. Not my beer, but still grinds my gears. I would have won another SD card and a voucher for ED's shop with a new release of Puzzletube or Snowman, I forgot. Sometime I wrote "Schwerkraft", too. Probably for another competition, but I can't remember. However instead I asked ED for a bigger voucher. Later I bought a GCW-Zero from it and later again I found someone, who wanted to switch it for a Pandora, but that's another story (from which exists a pandoralive post ;) ).

Now there hasn't been a competition for a long time. There were plans. There were crappy ones. I am not sure, but this may be one reason, why the board has changed. So we are coming to the interesting part, why I am writing done these thoughts. The board changed. It is not the friendly, supporting place anymore it have been. I don't want to tell you, that you are rude or unfriendly (however some members indeed went more dickhead lately). But I miss some things I found here in the very beginning.

As said: I miss the competitions, especially the board overarching ones like the RIOT competition. It was a lot of fun seeing the progress of the games trying to get the best result before the dead line. Even without owning a pandora, it was fun! We got so much awesome stuff like C4A. It was an incredible push in the activity of the board. Today even the games of the already passed competition aren't finished. I never got Paperwars to run on my Pandora when I finally got one. I didn't hear anything about AAAA the last years and we all know the end of Rainy day (the name is a self-fulfilling prophecy).

But beside competitions I also miss the general feedback for developers and porters. I know, I whine a lot about this, but the feedback for my recent game Hase is sobering. I don't think I will continue developing this game. It just doesn't make fun to spend so much time without feedback. Did anybody notice my Harry Potter named weapons? I don't think so... And I know, that I am not the only one with that feeling. Ptitseb has the same problem with his ports and even notaz with his awesome work.

I think a subitem of this problem is the shrinking user base. In the past we had more active users. Where is foxblock? Why did so much users loose interest in the Pandora? Only because of the Pyra? I don't think so, this started earlier. We have an active C64 Community out there, but you want to tell me the pandora gets boring, because it is now ~6 years old? Same for gp2x, wiz, caanoo and dingoo. I don't see a reason to stop developing for them (except the bad battery time of the gp2x, but battery switching is retro!). I read the "retro magazine" (German magazine about old games) from time to time. There are plenty of old games, I didn't even hear about it, which would run in one of the dozen emulators of my gp2x. Or to come back: On my pandora. So I can't explain, why the users are going. I just can tell, that this is a fact. And other user probably go, because others did, too. But this is a secondary effect.

However the board is not inactive (like gp32x). It is alive. Just different. When I look at the most read topics of the last months I see keyboard threads, the alluminum thread, minecraft (it doesn't even run well), spam (with Strigoi leading the way) and in generell Pyra related stuff, be it ED's blog (which is nice, no offence) or button or keyboard designs. Of course there is the Diablo thread, but it needed 5 days until someone tested it. Mandatory excuse for myself: I don't own the game and didn't have time. But in fact: This is an excuse. I am part of the board, so the same rules apply to me like for the rest of the board. I was just not interested enough. But why? I love Diablo II and always wanted to play Diablo I. THAT would be the perfect time to do it. But I did nothing. The whole board lurches in semiactivity. Nothing happens, but we have 100-pages-threads of it. And if something happens nothing happens.

So, why did I write all this? I don't know myself. I just thought, I had to write down my feelings about this place. It was awesome. It went meeh... I don't think the Pyra will fix this. Yes, we will still have some very Pyra related releases, probably emulators and some optimized games. However the most interest of the board these days isn't Retro anymore. We are talking about PSX, N64, Dreamcast and Nintendo DS. These were great console - no question - but not really Retro. Most of the users want 3d graphics. I know that, my games had bad game mechanics but simple 3d graphics, why they were quite successful. Furhtermore the Pyra will be a mini computer even more than the pandora. So new users with new use cases will join, who are not interested in some hacky homebrew anymore, if they can install the best worms clone ever with sudo apt-get install hedgewars. Maybe the Pandora discussions even killed gp32x (there were senseless keyboard and button threads, too!) in the very first place? Interesting theory. We will see. If a new Pyra board will be created like openpandora.org as reaction to gp32x, this board will probably die, too.

So imho the Pyra community will most of the time nag about some first problems with the first runs (which is normal), how to use Linux and discuss how to emulate best the mentioned systems above and of course x86 windows. Sometimes I think it was a bad decision for the Pyra to stay with ARM. Don't get me wrong, I like ARM. But the mass likes x86 windows games more and want them to play on the go. If the Pyra sucessor would get an x86 chip, I am quite sure Windows 7 will be ready to be installed after two weeks. In the past I thought the Pandora community was full of Linux enthusiasts. Now I think it is full of people, who uses Linux, because it is there and not so hard as they thought. But if they could, they would change to windows without batting an eyelid. Same for products from Sony or Nintendo, but I dislike them not as much as Microsoft.

I myself will draw some conclusions. First of all I will delete this page from my "daily visit bookmarks". I will not leave the community, but stay less active on purpose. Don't worry, I get mails if I get feedback on my stuff (like sparrow3d, c4a or hase). But I will not be here daily anymore. It is just too demotivating to see at least one whole page of unread threads every day, for which I don't care anymore in most cases. The last months I saw myself just trolling in threads I don't care for. Just have a look at my last hundreds posts, you will see, what I mean. I should use my time better.

But I will also use my pandora more. I will e.g. test Diablo and try not to through my pandora to a corner like others seem to did. I still need so much to test. We have such a nice eco system with things like a repo or an online highscore system. It is such a shame, that it isn't used much anymore.

I also found a new, more Linux enthuastic community around a debian port for the Mindstorms EV3 brick. I will invest time in this instead. I will not have much feedback there too but at least in the end I get a fucking linux lego robot, which is awesome. Maybe I will post my projects here too. ;)

Or to close with Bilbo Baggins:

I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.

I, uh, I h-have things to do.

I've put this off for far too long.

I regret to announce — this is The End. I am going now. I bid you all a very fond farewell.
Goodbye

Alex

PS: If I don't like your answer, be prepared to get trolled. ;)
 
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sebt3

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It was awesome. It went meeh...
All the dev/porter have the same feeling. I mostly share your point of view... sadly. I'm still here, trying. But i'm unsure why.
I would argue that android killed us. Or at least spreaded us thin on all these cheap (and shitty) android gaming device. At least the feedback on the repo look like feedback on the play store and that's a shame.
 

levi

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I think I joined this forum a little before you Ziz, and I remember what it was like when hardly anyone had a Pandora.  There were abortive threads about attempted competitions then, and noisy discussions about minor details of the pandora layout and setup, not to mention dozens of 'where's my pandora' threads.  It got a lot better once German production started and more people got hardware to play with.  Then competition made sense.

I think we're in a bit of a lull between Pandora and Pyra right now.  My Pandora is out of action after I tried to replace the LCD cable and noticed the connector on the mainboard was distorted.  I intended to attempt to fix it by swapping out the connector from my spare signed defective board, but my property is spread over three houses in different counties at the moment, and I don't seem to have noted down where that defective board is.  My next idea is to try to see if I can get it working with the TV out cable, but I may need to unsolder the LCD connector first, as I'm having trouble even getting it to turn on at the moment.  I could send it to ED to get it fixed, but with the Pyra around the corner, it is feeling increasingly unnecessary at the moment.

Anyway, apologies for my wall-of-text paragraph, but I think the Pyra will bring a significant number of active users back to the fold.  Sorry if it's a bit slow for you right now if you don't care about Pyra news or circular keyboard discussions, but that can't be helped given then boards are about the hardware, and off-topic threads are usually only short-lived, or strigoi self-made threads.  Many users have lost interest in their Pandoras for the time being, but I'm conviced they'll come back for the Pyra.

FWIW Ziz, if you made a Linux build that I could run on my netbook, I'd happily test Hase for you there.
 

ptitSeb

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@Ziz: you know I do agree to most of the things you wrote (for expample, I pushed a beta of Pacifi3D, a 3D Paccman, downloaded 0 times after 1 mounth).

I don't know if the community is dying, or diluting, are beeing canibalized by Android or Pyra, or just lasy, but yeah, feedback is geeting sparse.

It's not dead, there are still people genuinely trying stuff, making coments, on the bord or the repo. But there is not much advertisement beyond that. There si still Pandoralive and some Youtube video, a few local boards.

So I still continue being active on the board. And I don't expect much feedback, and I do appreciate it when I have.

Anyway, it's difficult to still gather attention on a plateform that is officialy declared as EOL, and where, at the time of writting,more or less 40 model are still to be produced.
 

Ziz

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FWIW Ziz, if you made a Linux build that I could run on my netbook, I'd happily test Hase for you there.
http://ziz.gp2x.de/downloads/hase/I hope it runs. If not, please report in the Hase thread. (To be clear: i386 is x86 Linux, amd64 is 64 bit Linux)
@Rest: I read your answers. But I don't think it makes much sense to react, because basically we have the same opinion as it seems.
 
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Null

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_wb_

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I think it's mostly this:

  • Everyone now finally has his/her Pandora, so less people on the boards while waiting
  • All emulators are there, most of the well-fitting software has been ported. Less need to discuss stuff, more need to actually use stuff.
  • As a target for specific homebrew it is not that attractive, the user base is too small and we know that it will not grow anymore.
  • We are in a lull between Pandora excitement and Pyra excitement.
 

elwing

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yep definitely  while there's still some great software that comes, almost every major need is covered and running great. and that's true for almost all pandora user as we've got almost no new user due to that EoL thing... while I'm pretty happy discovering great new things like HL, or possibly Diablo I've to admit that I come on the board for the people before the releases... there are some great individuals here on this board, I simply love it.

edit: you'll be missed I hope you'll come back for pyra...
 
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EvilDragon

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Well, one thing that made gp32x.de big in my opinion were the news posts.

That was my job back then - each time something has been released by the devs, I posted official news about that with changes, screenshots and a download link.

That happened for every new program, update, etc.

I know devs here rather want to keep their stuff in one thread, so any updates are posted in that thread, but I can imagine a lot of users only read the news, so are not really aware of updates of the programs and don't leave feedback therefore.

I tried to do the same here (automatic news posting from the repo), but many devs were against this, as they would like to keep their threads or post their own ones - but that is a bit of a problem, in my opinion.

With so much unread stuff per day, many people just browse the news, don't see a new thread, don't read much and miss updates.

And yes, I also think we need more compos.

I didn't have the time to organize some more, and no one else really wanted to do that (ekianjo did one, AFAIR).

If someone wants to do a compo, I'll be happy to help with ideas, prizes, etc., I just don't have the time to fully organize it.

Maybe I should do regular DragonBox / Everdrive Shop competitions - with new games for GCW, Pandora, Pyra, or even retro consoles via Everdrive (which can also be played with emulators).
 
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edgex004

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I feel bad that we have such amazing Devs producing so many fun games, but no one seems to be trying out their work. I think a lot of us have been sitting on broken units for a while (myself and pokeparadox at least).

I truly enjoyed Hase and would have loved to play against someone online. As I mentioned in the Hase thread, I thought a default "game lobby" for some of our multiplayer games would be a fun idea. I was hoping this would give us all more of a chance to play against each other.

I have been looking for a simple project that I could use to contribute. I was hoping Hase might be the first game to officially support the endeavor. I understand that since you've chosen to move priorities elsewhere, that might not happen.

Sorry again it has come to this. Hopefully something changes that brings you back one day.
 
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mjohansson

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I would have wanted official news, I don't browse around to much and often I hear in threads about stuff I never knew about that happened a while ago! When the Pyra comes out I would want that official magazine with pictures of software and info and so on, a real physical magazine I can flip from page to page and see whats happening and new software and what it is and so on.

Pacman is not a favorite game, I saw that thread I think and clicked on it because it had 3D in title, but it was Pacman so then it dosnt matter to me if its in 3D or 2D or anything, and Diablo I have never liked, but I didn't even know Diablo was available for Pandora...

Everyone have different taste in games, what excites me is combined efforts and open projects you can learn from, but then often the technical level is beyond my level, and then I also hear that my level is beyond someone else's, if theres a official Pyra magazine it should feature in every issue a programming section were people can learn from the beginning, I know there is a lot of internet sources for learning to code, but it would be different in an official magazine and with a accompanying forum community for debate around every issue and so on.
 

Glyph Reader

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I've been around the boards for a while as a lurker and signed up almost a year ago (wow, time has passed...).  I have noticed the decline in activity in the Pandora section of the forums.  I would love to help testing, but I didn't manage to save enough for the Pandora before it went out of stock sometime during the summer.  However, once the Pyra comes out, I will definitely have a bit more than surplus money saved to purchase it. 

As for the bit about the Linux community presence here: I have noticed that some seem to be using Linux just because it is the best option on the Pandora.  I've also seen a couple others convert to Linux because of the Pandora.  I haven't been using Linux for too long (on and off for 5 years; full time usage since December 2014), but I've seen so many things that Linux brings to the world, and all the things I want to do with it. 

Personally, I think when the Pyra comes out, it will help with the lull we're in.  At the very least, I'll try to help out every step of the way. 

As for Strigoi... uh, I got nothin'.  :huh:

-Glyph Reader
 

Pickle

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My approach has always been to work on something I want to use or learn to develop. I think if your doing it for others and others feedback you will most likely get burnt out.

Emulation has always been king for any of the devices and always generates the most interest.

Maybe one example lately for me is a dosbox frontend ive been tinkering with. I posted some ideas and got a few response (which had some good feedback). But I didnt start the work in the expectation that it would bring everyone flocking. I did it cause i wanted to try out python and qt to make something cross platform. When im done if someone gives some nice feedback its a bonus, but I will be ok if no one responds since Im happy with the program and it serves a purpose for me.

Another example, I also have been working on a engine for catacomb 2D. I wanted to see if I could convert the basic to C, which I did and it worked out well. Once i release it I expect it wont generate much interest. Mainly cause its not an emulator and its a old game no one but me runs :)
 

edgex004

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My approach has always been to work on something I want to use or learn to develop. I think if your doing it for others and others feedback you will most likely get burnt out.

Emulation has always been king for any of the devices and always generates the most interest.

Maybe one example lately for me is a dosbox frontend ive been tinkering with. I posted some ideas and got a few response (which had some good feedback). But I didnt start the work in the expectation that it would bring everyone flocking. I did it cause i wanted to try out python and qt to make something cross platform. When im done if someone gives some nice feedback its a bonus, but I will be ok if no one responds since Im happy with the program and it serves a purpose for me.

Another example, I also have been working on a engine for catacomb 2D. I wanted to see if I could convert the basic to C, which I did and it worked out well. Once i release it I expect it wont generate much interest. Mainly cause its not an emulator and its a old game no one but me runs :)
This is why I love the Pandora so much. It has countless uses, fantastic homebrew projects and games, and motivates me to start my own projects and tinker with them in my free time. If the community behind it sours before the Pyra launches, I will be quite sad. It has brought me so much joy that it is hard to think about such talented folks being driven from it.
 

EvilDragon

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Well, I think we got multiple problems at once.

First, the Pandora is getting old, so the overall userbase declines.

This is nothing scary, it's normal. It happened with the GP32 before the GP2x was released, it happened with the GP2x long before the Pandora, and so on.

It WILL happen with the Pandora as well.

Therefore, less development happens (fewer devs), fewer members to give feedback - and the members who would give more feedback might not get the programs they like to play.

I absolutely love ptitsebs work. It's amazing what he can squeeze out of the Pandora with LunixBochs OpenGL wrapper, but most of the games are shooters or similar (quake based, etc.)

I, for example, don't play these games, so there's not much of ptitsebs stuff I actually play, so I can't give a lot of feedback here.

I also didn't like Worms, so never played Hase (a game which REALLY could take off with a small community multiplayer server, where we could all play against each others).

I love games like VVVVVV, Knytt Underground, Cave Story, FEZ, etc. But not much happens on that front, sadly.

So there's not much I can give feedback to - and this might be the case for other users as well. I can imagine many of our community members love those classic 2D games as well and don't play that many 3D games.

Another issue is the nature of ports / engines for other games: You can't give much feedback. You can report bugs you find, but giving feedback for e.g. Jedi Knight doesn't make sense, as ptitseb didn't create the game data.

So with these engines and port, there's not much feedback to give unless the port itself has bugs.

And then, as said, we've got the users who only check the News forum for new releases, but ignore older threads even if they have new posts and might miss upgrades.

I can understand that the devs don't want to follow multiple threads, but on the other hand, I think opening a new thread with a new release, following the new thread and making a last post on the old thread that any more feedback should be posted on the new thread would work better.

If you add up all that, you can easily see that it's natural that we get less releases and feedback.

With the Pyra, we'll hopefully get more new devs and users, which will bring new life back to the boards :)
 

ptitSeb

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Off Topic/ I tried again FEZ last week, with updated mono and glshim, but it still segfault. Knytt Underground I have to retry, but my first try was not sucessfull at all :(

Back On Topic: it's always tricky to give feedback on a port, meaning, giving feedback on the conversion itself, without beeing too much influence by the game data. But anyway, I gladly take feedback even on the data. I am then able to sort between what I can change my self and what is inherent to the data and out of my reach.
 

edgex004

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I also didn't like Worms, so never played Hase (a game which REALLY could take off with a small community multiplayer server, where we could all play against each others).
This is exactly what I want to create. Since our community is so small, I would love a lobby/launcher that could support all our various multiplayer options. I would also like it to be able to launch c4a games and advertise current high scores, sort of like the Tournament Hub project intended to do. It's too big of a project for me, honestly, but I'm still going to try and make something crummy now which can maybe prove the concept for the Pyra, and perhaps really grow with the new community. I'll stop posting about it now and just get to work.
 

ekianjo

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As for the decreasing activity, I can't talk for everyone else out there, but my guess is, as you can see from the Survey I conducted not too long ago, that most of folks who are "active" on the pandora scene are actually in the 30s/40s. I would guess many of them are therefore struggling for free time in between their other obligations (family and kids), and since the Pandora is not produced anymore there's almost no new blood coming in. 

The good news is that the Pyra is not too far away, and most of the current members active on the Pandora are likely to continue on the Pyra, and the Pyra should bring new users again and bring more exposure to all devs as well. 

I still think the Pandora is far from dead, the hardware is now ancient but it's very capable to run a ton of stuff, whether games or applications. I'm using it constantly and it's the first machine (maybe together with the Amiga in the 80s) that i can relate with so much.  
 

Ziz

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I also didn't like Worms, so never played Hase (a game which REALLY could take off with a small community multiplayer server, where we could all play against each others).
You know, that I actually did this? It runs even on your server! Even with ingame Irc chat...
 
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