BREADBOX is a retro computer simulator program.
It's also a project under development and nothing has been released yet.
Estimated to be available in Early access soon (Dec 2021?).
The aim of the project BREADBOX is to create immersive and visual user experience of retro computers in a realistic simulation.
Design and development principles
- Emphasize aesthetics and design of retro computers and peripherals.
- Immersive First Person view experience, with animated objects and mechanics, visual hardware and authentic sounds.
- A fully working computers, with fluent emulator integration.
- Realistic simulation
The principles work as a guidelines where this project aims for in a long term. Many current features are just an early adaptations and more work is required to get closer to these goals.
To preserve computer culture (in part) of course.
We believe that preserving the authentic way of using retro computers and give people an opportunity to experience it, is a worthy project.
It's also quite essential to do this project while you can still find working computers and people who know how to operate them. It's much easier to create realistic simulator now, when you can test the functionalities with a real computers and peripherals, instead of 20 years from now, when it will be much more difficult. Multiple different kind of actions for preserving past computer culture have already been taken, and that is just great! But it looks like there is no simulator based solution, which emphasizes the visuals of a 8-bit-era computers and lets you see what you are actually using.
More reasons why the simulation might matter
- Use of simulator will not harm your existing retro-hardware.
- When you prefer the look & feel of a retro hardware while not using a real one.
- Virtual collection of retro computers
- Show offs and presentations
This is going to be quite a massive project and in reality, it will never be fully finished.
There will always be some computer model, additional peripheral, software feature or technical detail which is not yet implemented. Hence, the project will be developed dynamically and iteratively, additional features and models will be added piece by piece.
- Development of Early access version <- current state
- Beta testing
- Release of Early access version
- Maturing product - stage 1 (some bugfix releases)
- Release with some additional model
- Maturing product - stage 2 (some bugfix releases)
- Transition to 'Full' release version
- Continual release iterations with additional models and features
Computer models included in current version
- Commodore PET-2001-8
- Commodore VIC-20
- Commodore 64
State of visual look
The most relevant 3D-objects, like computers, disk-drives, etc, are modelled in excellent quality. Some smaller objects e.g. PET IEEE-488 cable plug is just a mockup. Missing details, mockups and other low quality models will be done in some point.
Scenes visual effects, e.g. lighting, shadows, materials, are still in early state. Some may think, that it is already very good, and yes, we are also quite happy with it. But honestly, expect a major improvements on this area, we aim for the photorealistic look!
State of emulation screen
Works just perfectly. Obviously, it will not be as fast as plain emulator, but a common user won't see any latency. Most gamers or other kind of heavy users will use a real machine or an emulator anyway. And still, you can play any game with Breabox just fine. So in our perspective, the current latency is sufficient for the simulator, but this is surely an area that will be constantly monitored and improved.
CRT shader is another early state version. It gives some look and feel of scanlines and pixels, but yeah, expect more later on.
State of user experience
User interface of the simulation is basically done as a First Person view. User is stationary in an imaginary desk with some relevant equipment available in front. Actions are done by point and click method. We know that there can be better ways to handle the user experience. But it's a long and laborous work even to prototype the other options. Current way is chosen because it will keep user in good control of everything and it's the easiest way to do this. We hope to prototype other methods in some point. In the mean time we keep improving the current option.
State of realistic simulation
The simulator is designed to closely simulate real world activities with computers, peripherals and related items.
Current focus is on basic usage, like powering up and using the machinery, attaching different kind of media, floppy disks, tapes and cartridges. All this works already quite nicely, but lot of testing is still required.
Lots of features related to this area, like 360 view, cable handling, monitor controls, are postponed to future releases.
Biggest challenge is related to project resources.
Team size: 1