The Ur-Quan Masters Discussion Forum

The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release => General UQM Discussion => Topic started by: marcuslycus on December 26, 2002, 02:37:36 am

Title: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: marcuslycus on December 26, 2002, 02:37:36 am

I suggest that the Star Control Games should be Ported over to the Game Boy Advance! The graphical level on the Nintendo system is somewhere between Super Nintendo and Playstation 1. I am sure that the system can perform all the necessary actions to make Star Control a reality on the GBA.
Already classic PC games have been ported over to the GBA, like Doom, (Doom II and Quake is in the works), Wolfenstein, and there is a new Duke Nukem game similar to Duke Nukem 3d.

The GBA cartridges may even be able to hold both Star Control 1 and 2 on a single cart! Plus, multiplayer is what the GBA system is all about, so Melee would be a REALLY cool multiplayer option!

What does everyone else think of porting Star Control to GBA?

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: Joe Larson on December 26, 2002, 03:24:06 am
Now, I actually suggested this on a gba forum. I agree with you that the GBA has the power. (TFB may be able to make the bling from this. Who knows. Maybe they're already planning it.) It's graphic plane is a little bit smaller than snes but bigger than the svga that sc1 and 2 were made in. And a 4 player melee would rock, I agree. I suppose someone could download the development kit at and start on it, eh?

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: JonoPorter on December 26, 2002, 09:35:01 am
Ive been thinking that since the GBA first came out. :D
i wonder if you could do the same with X-com! ;)

of course who would do it?
im not much of a programer but i think it would be a-bit harder to remake the game for the GBA.
its not like you can download games onto your gameboy ???

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: Black Monk on December 26, 2002, 10:48:44 pm

240x160 resolution
2.9 inch TFT Color LCD Screen (non-backlit)
40.8mm x 61.2mm screen size
32,768 possible colors
32,768 simultaneous colors in bitmap mode
511 simultaneous colors in character mode
32bit ARM7 Custom @16.7Mhz, with reduced Z80 core for Game Boy and Game Boy Color emulation.
32 Kbyte + 96 Kbyte VRAM (in CPU), 256 Kbyte WRAM (external of CPU)
Max Catridge size: 512Mbit. (64 MB)

GPU: Nintendo Custom. Supported functions:
- Hardware sprite scaling, rotation, distortion.
- XY scroll, rotation scroll.
- Multi layers.
- 4096 maximum (may not be final) hardware sprites, with maximum of 256 sprites on a single line.
- No dedicated 3D acceleration.

SPU: Nintendo Custom:
- 2 hardware sound channels.
- Maximum sampling rate @44.1KHz.


So I guess the 3D0 stuff won't make it in--not enough CPU power to decompress the sounds?  Not enough RAM to store the sounds as they are being decompressed?

The resolution would be scrunched down from even the original PC versions of SC1 and SC2.  

I'd think that MAYBE SC1 could be ported to GBA.  Then again, what about actually getting it to the GBA?  Anyone here able to make GBA carts?  I SUPPOSE you could make a mini-CD-R that fits in the GameCube and somehow use that GameCube to interface with a GBA--but I don't know how that works.  So if you need anything with the GBA to interface with the GameCube ANYWAY, then you're still stuck.

Practicality-wise, I don't think it would work out too well.  Sure, Doom was ported and apparently looks nice, but that was a commercial release--money backed it and made the cartridges.  I'd assume you'd need money to pull off ANY GBA port of SC1 or SC2--and then you'd have to figure out what type of compromises you'd have to make due to hardware, storage, CPU, and even the interface.

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: Casey Monroe on December 26, 2002, 11:05:21 pm
This can be done.  There are commercial products that allow you hook a special oversized flash card to your pc and download a ROM into it, then play it on your GBA.  Check for more info.

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: Black Monk on December 27, 2002, 08:43:49 pm
Errrr... where on that site?

So we'd need to buy a compact flash card of a certain size (64 MB I assume?) and a PC compact flash reader?

Plus a compact flash adaptor for the GBA?

It kinda sounds like a pain in the ass.  Eh, maybe someone will try porting UQM but it seems just as likely to happen as a Dreamcast port.  At least those can use regular CD-Rs.  ;)

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: norg on December 27, 2002, 08:59:44 pm
it's only a pain in the ass if you don't actually do your homework before opening your mouth. d:

look for the information on the FlashAdvance Linker.  plenty of links on the page and tons of information.  various sizes too.  i have the 256 version, which essentially allows for programming of 5 GBA games onto one cartridge.

if someone were to port UQM to GBA, i'm definitely be willing to help test it out on the actual handheld.  i wonder about space issues tho ... most GBA music is done in its own format.  i don't even know if it has the capability of mod playback, or if a cartridge would have the space for it.  it might end up being emulator only...

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: Eric D. Smith on December 27, 2002, 09:53:43 pm
Whereas it certainly would be possible to redo the graphics, downsize the sound samples, and rework the code, there are three distinct problems inherent with porting to GBA.  (although, it would be sooooo cool) Otherwise, the GBA should have little difficulty inperforming the task with the right coding.

A) Getting Nintendo to market it.  For any of you who owned an N64 you will remember all the promised titles that never made the console.  Nintendo had a really nasty habbit of being controlling of it's software titles  and development hardware.  Not to mention that the only company who is allowed to manufacture game carts for GBA is... You guessed it.. Nintendo.  Speaking witha buddy of mine (He created *snicker* Mary Kate and Ashleys pocket organiser for the GBC) regailed me of the problems he had in dealing with the big "N".  They want their money.  Period.

B) Accolade (or whoever owns them) licence problems with the title.  This very problem has been spoken about before in reguards to the title the game now posesses.  Not really a "problem" per-se , but it's just a little wierd calling SC - Ur-Quan Masters.

C) Finding a bunch of coders to get cracking on it for little pay, bad food, no sleep and.. oh, wait.. they do that anyway.. Maybe not a problem then :)

I'm not saying it's impossible, but if Nintendo gets wind that someone is selling carts for their handheld system without giving them a cut, they're gunna be pissed and sue the crap out of anyone they possibly can.  That's why it kinda has to go thru them.  In other words, the only thing that could get SC on the GBA is a fat wad of cash. *sniff*



Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: norg on December 28, 2002, 12:45:13 am
i think most people were thinking more along the lines of taking The Ur-Quan Masters and porting it over to GBA as opposed to taking the original game.  accolade holds no copyright to the content of the game, just the name Star Control, which is why the project of re-releasing the game under a different name is feasible and happening as we speak.  it's a free game now in the new form, so there's no way anyone would even try to get nintendo to bother.  it's a homegrown project. *grin*

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: Black Monk on December 29, 2002, 09:34:40 pm
Heh, was it really that hard to just link directly to:

I'd have figured that since you had intimate knowledge of this you'd have a link handy... guess not.

The sucky part is that the storage seems to be proprietary.  So... can't just use existing CompactFlash or SmartMedia if you have it.

So the 64 Mb link plus media costs around $100 plus shipping.  The media alone starting at 64 Mb seems to be $100 and up.

The 512 Mb (same size as a GBA cartridge) is around $250?  I only saw it for sale as a bundle with a link, but since the links seem to be for free (judging from the 64 Mb and 128 Mb link/bundle prices) I'd guess this is close to what a bare card would cost.

So you pay $250 for 64 MB of space.  Or $100 for 8 MB of space.  I don't think even the PC version of SC2 will fit in only 8 MB so there'd have to be cuts with that right off.

GBA games might fit 2 or 3 per 64 Mb card, but this is a PC port and the content is geared towards basically no space limits and a larger screen.

Ok, so you downsample all the graphics (yuck) and rip out all the vocal stuff, render the MODs to digital audio and reduce it to something small (8-bit 11.025 KHz mono?) so you can fit it into that 8 MB.

Already that's a ton of content compromise in order to get the largest possible audience... people who have 64 Mb or larger cards.  Hopefully there are no 32 Mb cards out there as 4 MB to work with would probably be pure hell.

I wasn't able to check out the ROMs section of that site you pointed me to, but... is this mainly to make copies of GBA games without paying for them?  You know, like Dreamcast and PS game piracy?

It kinda seems in bad taste to target an audience who is using this stuff primarily for warezing.

At least with the Dreamcast the community began to openly develop original content for that platform ( and the distribution media is relatively cheap and readily-available (CD-R discs).  With the higher hardware baseline you could keep all the media, have higher-resolution OpenGL scaling (or whatnot), and keep the mods (and vocals) for playback on the sound hardware.

I don't mean to be so critical, but if there were ANY console that it'd make sense to port UQM to, I'd think it would be the Dreamcast.  While it has a smaller installed base than GBA (I'm guessing), the GBA base that can actually use UQM would be limited to ONLY those who paid at least $100 to buy the flash media adaptor so they could copy games.  I'd venture that THAT installed base is much smaller than the Dreamcast installed base.

I don't think the PSOne or PS2 allow for CD-R media as bootable games unless they have been modded?  I don't know about X-Box, either, but I don't think they do?  Maybe the Gamecube can handle mini-CD-Rs but that would cut things close in regards to capacity, I think, if the GC even allows 3rd-party games to boot from mini-CD-Rs.  Heck, didn't even the original 3DO require a license to make a properly-encrypted 3DO game that would boot when inserted in the console?

The DC's advantage is that, basically, there's no limitation on what content you want to put on it.  A CD-R, decent hardware, and easy to make self-booting games that work on unmodified Dreamcasts--no $$$ required to get an otherwise free game like UQM to work.

Technically, I guess it would be neat to see UQM running on such ghetto hardware ;) but I see a much more viable alternative for a console platorm in the Dreamcast.  I mean, the GBA is in the same boat as the PSOne--you need additional hardware (and $) to get the console to work with "backup" games.  DC is nicely unique in that there is no such limitation.

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: Black Monk on December 29, 2002, 09:40:50 pm
BTW, I think a port of the original Star Control to GBA would be cooler.  Still, though, there's the installed base issue to look at but I think you'd have much less compromise to make in the way of content.

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: Casey Monroe on December 31, 2002, 12:46:11 am
The Playstation 2 and X-Box both use DVD-ROM discs.  The Gamecube uses a so-far unique format, incompatible with Mini-CDRs or Mini-DVDRs (if such things exist).  Hold up mini CDR against a Gamecube disc and you'll discover that the sizes are different.

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: Casey Monroe on December 31, 2002, 12:49:00 am
And btw--I wasn't thinking of a commercial release.  If you created a ROM of SC for the GBA, it could be easily put on a cart using a Flashlinker.  Creating the ROM would be the hard part.  Or you could even play it on the PC using a GBA emulator.

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: norg on December 31, 2002, 04:02:41 am
casey has the right idea.  it could be done, just difficult.  and using an emulator would work fine as well.

black monk has turned it into an advert for a dreamcast port.  there's already a thread on that.  go there. (:

this isn't about whether it's a good idea or not.  it's about whether it can be done or not.  that's half the fun and adventure.

casey is correct again.  porting to gamecube is not possible at the moment due to the hardware necessary (i.e. proprietary discs.  unless someone knows how to juarez pir8 GC games ... if that's the case, contact me privately  :D )

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: Black Monk on December 31, 2002, 10:28:33 pm
Oh, I'm not talking about a commercial release, either.

I'm more thinking about, "who will actually be able to play this game?"  It'd suck for someone to put a ton of time and energy into a port (ANY port) and have only three people play it--especially with the major content editing that would have to go on with a GBA port.  I mean, that's not an insubstantial piece of work, eh.

If I had a GBA, I'd have to buy at least $100 of stuff, probably much more in order to play the game.  From a GBA player's perspective, that'd suck to find out that I had to plop down $100+ for a "free" game, eh?

Dreamcast... I guess it's an advert.  I was just thinking of distribution.  A PS1 can play CD-R-based games but only with a modchip.  So it's in the same boat as the DC in my mind, hardware-wise (enough space and hardware that the content doesn't have to be eliminated or reduced in quality) but you'd still have to plunk down $$$ to be able to play the game--PS1 doesn't allow booting off of CD-R without a modchip, right?  I only go into depth about the DC because I am most familiar with the DC--mainly because I heard that you didn't need anything special to play backup copies of games, but uh... I... only was interested in that for NEW DC games, yeah.  ;)

I don't know too much about the PS2 or XBox.  Though they use DVDs I was under the assuption that they could also read CDs.  And perhaps CD-Rs?  But it's the CD-R part where it gets foggy to me... can you boot a game that would fit on a CD-R?  Or will it only tread a CD-sized piece of media as CD-Audio and you're SOL?  I just don't know.

Bummer about the GameCube media.

I'd have to wonder about making a GBA port ONLY to have it played in an emulator on a PC.  Look, the cool thing about porting UQM to GBA would be that you could play UQM anytime, anyplace.  If you're going to play it on a PC you might was well use the full PC version of UQM, right?  The novelty of portability can be filled with a laptop, but this isn't about just functionality, it is about the coolness factor.

I agree that it'd be interesting to see UQM on a GBA.  It would lose much of the coolness if it were on an emulator, though.  There's just something about seeing it running on the actual hardware...

I'm just looking at this more from a practical standpoint.  Assuming the PC UQM is done, I'd think it would be easiest to port it to something like SGI-Irix, HP-UX, XBox (depending on how easy it is to get content loaded on it?), some IA-64 based system, OpenBeOS, Dreamcast, then GBA.  I don't list the PS consoles because I have heard they are extremely difficult to program for.  I don't list the GC because, well, media limitations have already been pointed out.

I believe DC would be a better porting target than GBA.  XBox would be even better than DC but I don't know enough about the XBox to start yapping about "it would be kewl if you ported UQM to the XBox!"  :D

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: Casey on December 31, 2002, 10:32:10 pm
Ur-Quan Masters as it stands right now is a 3D0 emulator and the SC2 3D0 rom, slightly modified, in one self-installing package, am I correct?

Who knows?  Maybe a GBA rom would be cleaner.

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: marcuslycus on January 02, 2003, 07:41:43 pm
Gah!  ???

You all seem to be thinking wrong... I WAS thinking of a commercial release. Why would we take the trouble porting it to a console (or portable) system, trying to save money, only to lose a lot of time trying to come up with ways around the hardware limitations??

I am going to have to research the way to do this, but if I can find the right team, it would be rather simple to port Star Control over to the GBA. The problem would arise on how to get acceptance from whoever owns the program? The name change to the Ur-Quan Masters would be easy, to get around the rights to the Star Control name. But I would still need some acceptance from the true owners on commercial release of the game. Does anyone know who I would contace? Toys for Bob?

  Thank you,

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: Black Monk on January 03, 2003, 12:21:38 am
Yeah, I think that's who you'd contact.

As for UQM being run in a 3DO emulator, I don't think that's accurate?  Aren't they just using the game logic and file formats from the 3DO port which I'd think would be the same as the PC port?  If it was straight C then it shouldn't be too machine-specific, right?  Rip out the 3DO-specific sound and rendering sections and pop something more modern in--that would probably have been done for the PC version as well?

I don't see this being practical to create a 3DO emulator and then somehow extend the 3DO emulator to support OpenGL and SDL and various graphics modes?  Wouldn't that be what would be modified if UQM were only just a 3DO ROM being run in an emulator?

I could be wrong, I mean, maybe it is.  It just wouldn't seem to make sense.

...unless you consider the original platform of something to be the only TRUE platform and everything else--no matter how recoded it may be, to just be running in an emulator.  That's like saying any Mac-specific application that gets ported to Windows is running in an emulator rather than being ported to a new platform.  I just don't buy that perspective on things and I think that's the case with UQM--it is being ported from one platform (3DO) to several others (*nix, OS X, BeOS, Win32).  An emulator would assume the original game were unchanged in abilities--does running StarCraft in WINE somehow make it an OpenGL-accelerated application?  Or running MacOS 6.0 in Basilisk under WinXP somehow change MacOS 6.0 in any way?  No, that's emulation.  What UQM is, in my mind, is a port and improvement/modification of the original code.

An emulated game wouldn't have any improvements and wouldn't be as portable--since emulation is based on precompiled binaries, not recompiled source code.  Emulation would only go as far as a platform that had a 3DO emulator whereas a port can be brought to platforms without the emulator.

I guess that's the main reason I don't see it as a simple emulated 3DO game.  Emulators take precompiled code and recreate the hardware/environment that the precompiled code expects.  This is a recompile and therefore a port.

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: Chax on January 07, 2003, 04:01:47 am

People, if you want to talk about this stuff, tell it to the devs.  Toys for bob has made games for other systems then PC, i see no reason why they would not want to make for GB, besides, nintendo would give them plenty of money to do it. the days of n64 are over now that nintendo has huge competition from xbox and ps2.  i think they would go for it

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: JonoPorter on April 12, 2003, 12:24:20 am
there is way around having to pay nintendo for rights and all that junk.

the real money is in the logo you know the little thing saying gameboy when it loads. all you need to do is design a cartidge that would have a other cartridge in it so it could borrow the boot sequence. so the liscence is payed by the other game and uqm whould not have to pay nitendo a cent. but there is the cost of developing the special cartidge.

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: Death 999 on April 12, 2003, 12:26:25 am
... Wouldn't that be, um, illegal?

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: JonoPorter on April 12, 2003, 04:43:18 am

there is a prodoct that runs like that its the tv adapter for GBA

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: LordJim on April 12, 2003, 11:25:48 am
This is a bad idea. Converting a game made at 320x240 or 320x200 to 240x160 is suicide and lame. Wait for a handheld to be released that displays this resolution and higher.

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: LordJim on April 12, 2003, 11:26:47 am
oh by the way there are MOD players for the GBA

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: Omni-Sama on April 13, 2003, 02:08:03 am
Ahem.  [Begin Rant]

Do you know why Sony doesn’t produce any games for the Game Boy?  Do you know why Sega didn’t make any games for the Game Boy until the two companies teamed up?  Do you know why all Game Boy games sold have a stamp on them that say “Nintendo Licensed”?  It’s because the tools to make games for the handheld system are held by Nintendo.  The technology to make a cartridge that will boot up on a Game Boy is not something that is just passed around.  Even if you somehow found out how to make a cartridge that would be compatible with GB’s technology, you still wouldn’t be able to crack the hardware code that Nintendo and all other companies put on their systems so that phony games can’t be made.  Even if you somehow cracked the code, there would be the simple legal repercussions.  Not only would Accolade sue you until the cows came home, Nintendo would tear you apart for making a game on their system, without signing the rights to do so.  Call me cynical, call me realistic… whatever.  Just do me a favour and make sure that I'm there when you do release this illegal Star Control 2 game... so that I can laugh at the failure it would create and the domino effect it would result in.  Now that would be fun to watch...   8)

[End Rant]

Hey, a guy can always dream, right?

Title: Re: Port Star Control to GBA?
Post by: JonoPorter on April 13, 2003, 05:52:05 am
all you list is easyer that you make it sound. accolade is gone toys for bob own the rights to the code but not the name. so make it uqm instead of sc2. nitendo could not sue if you did not break any patents or copyrights. if you made a diferent cartridge (its been done) they could not sue. the programing language is not that big of a challenge. it would most likely cost more money then just pay nintedo its dues but it can be done LEGALY.

the rez is not realy the problenm its the screen size the game would most likely be a less fun on that screen. may have to redue the GUI.