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Dan's Ultimate/Universal Collection - a rational list based on quality

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Posted (edited)

I have finally completed the first stage of my spreadsheet of platforms - see attached (368 platform entries). The spreadsheet contains pictures of the platforms too as well as some information about them. 

My aim is to create and curate an "ultimate" list of platforms to be used in Launchbox. But the term "ultimate" is banded around a lot, so what do we mean here by it?

One of the biggest issues that we come across when compiling such a list of platforms is the problem of what to include vs what to leave out. This could be seen as a problem of comprehensiveness vs usability - i.e. having every single system ever made vs being able to use and enjoy the collection as a gamer. There will be different opinions on this and everyone will of course have their own preferences. My aim however is to apply some kind of reason - or inclusion criteria - which would ideally help to create a list that is sensible and that many would agree on. For example, not many would disagree with having the Nintendo Entertainment System on such a list, and not many might argue with leaving out an old unpopular foreign computer which is difficult to emulate and only has 2 games. The question is therefore where do we draw the line?

When making the spreadsheet, I first made up a list of all the platforms that one might consider to be included. I did this by using my already large list that I had made up for use with a previous frontend, and then going through a few of the other bigger lists out there and adding any systems I didn't have to mine. These lists included:

  • The Launchbox Games Database
  • Hyperlist (the official Hyperspin list of system statistics)
  • The lists made by some of the sellers of large collections out there (e.g. Hyper Arcade Systems, Home Arcade Systems, Hyperspin Systems, etc)
  • The lists of some of the users here with large collections (e.g. Romfrosk, Colpipes, etc)
  • Wikipedia and other online sources

The first thing I then did was to remove all platforms that were not game-related or that I felt did not belong in such a collection. These removed platforms included things like multimedia apps (Kodi, Plex, Netflix etc), fruit machine collections, karaoke, dance games etc.

Then came the time-consuming task of paring down the collection. The criteria I used here are not "fixed" or definitive, but rather have some degree of flexibility and depend on a number of factors. The list below shows the factors that I considered when deciding whether to include a system or not; bear in mind that these are not yes/no factors but rather more/less likely:

Factors making inclusion of a platform in the list more likely

  • It is a well-known, popular or major platform
  • The platform is primarily game-oriented
  • The platform has some kind of significant historic or cultural value
  • The platform has a good number of games released for it
  • Associated media (box art, manuals, etc) is available for the platform
  • I would be interested in using the platform

Factors making inclusion of a platform in the list less likely

  • The platform is effectively a clone of another platform
  • The platform does not have acceptable emulation
  • Games were never a main focus of the platform / the games available are very limited
  • The games are in a non-English language and tend to rely on some understanding of the language
  • The platform is aimed at very young children or is primarily focused on education or edu-tainment
  • The platform is a very old machine with any available games being very limited
  • I can't see myself ever wanting to use the platform

Applying these factors then allows us to pare down the list to some extent. The concepts that I think draw things together a lot here are the ideas of qualityvalue and significance. If it is a quality platform, adds value to the experience or is otherwise of particular significance then it is included. 

Another issue I came across is the idea of using emulators to play games vs using them to emulate systems. This distinction might seem a bit academic, but look at it this way: a lot of the most popular games were available on a whole range of systems. Do we want that duplication in our collection? Do we want to play Space Invaders on a 1978 machine as well as on hundreds of other platforms that came after it? Are we interested in how the game played on a range of different systems, or do we just want to play the game? This issue is especially pertinent when looking at computer as opposed to console emulation; there is often not 1 version of a computer but instead a whole series of them with various upgrades and improvements made as time went on. The PC-compatibles is a prime example here. I think this question is more difficult to answer, but I think using the principles and factors listed above can help.

Another thing that I have tended to avoid in the list is game "collections". Some people have a large number of game collections listed as platforms/entries in their frontend - for example a Mario collection, Zelda collection, etc. I don't think these belong in any list such as this, so I have left most of those out. What I have included, for convenience, as a few "company collections" for the arcade games, as this is pretty much standard practice here and does add some value to it.

So now that I have finished (at least with phase 1!), I have ended up with 368 entries in the spreadsheet. A number of them have been scored off after I decided that they were not worth including. The breakdown of the numbers is now as follows:

Number of entries for platform in the list

  • Consoles: 80
  • Computers: 77
  • Handheld: 29
  • Arcade: 96 (split into boards)
  • Arcade collections: 15
  • Non-arcade collections: 6 (e.g. Pop-Cap, Flash Games, etc)
  • Emulators: 5 (e.g. MAME, AAE, Raine, etc)
  • Other: 11 (various platforms that don't quite fit into the above)
  • Scored-off entries: 48

So with the scored-off entries removed, this leaves us with a list of 319 platforms.

My next plan is to go through the list and check the state of emulation for each platform, and remove any where emulation is an issue. I don't think that there will be many of these as most of these platforms have been emulated. There might be one or two current-gen platforms to remove. I will then look into the games themselves for each platform and start to import them all into Launchbox, source the media etc. I plan to focus on licensed games rather than hacks or clones.

Sorry for the long post. It is an opportunity for me to put my thoughts together and will hopefully be of interest to other "completionists" in this area! Keen to hear of any errors in the spreadsheet or any comments in general!

 

Emulator_System_List_3.pdf

Edited by Dan
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png-gun-to-head-man-with-gun-to-head-tra

Holy snappin' duck feces! I thought my list was big and I was nearing the end. Hoarders unite!

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I am glad omeone has taken on his big task

Personally I have now started running my rig with only Arcade/Console/Handheld, dont need Pinball/Fruit machines/Computers

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1 hour ago, zetec-s-joe said:

dont need Pinball/Fruit machines/Computers

You need a little bit of MS-DOS with a smidgen of Amiga thrown into the tasty mix.

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Posted (edited)

great work.

for acorn archimedes release date 1987 when i ceebs go further if i see anything else i'll let you know.

Edited by wallmachine

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The Atari XEGS is just the "consolized" version of their 8-bit computers, the games are exactly the same - they just got a repackage/rebrand. It would be a bit like including a separate platform for Playstation Greatest Hits titles. This isn't to say that the console itself doesn't have any significance, just that, from an emulation perspective, there's no difference between them (which would make emulating both and having them as separate platforms pointless).

Personally I think the current db platforms for "Atari 800" and "Atari XEGS" just need to be merged into one thing called "Atari 8-bit" (and I put in a ticket to do this 2 years ago haha), which is what I do in my own library.

Why is "Big Fish Games" a worthwhile separate collection? Of all the various games developers that have created innumerable classic series recognized the world over for excellence and significance, "Big Fish Games" isn't even a speck on the radar. Their inclusion seems extremely random to me. I think the inclusion of any such collection, even ones of much greater significance is rather silly considering how subjective and arbitrary it is, but "Big Fish", specifically, out of the sea of things out there, is beyond weird. Better add in the Digital Homicide collection too. I'd be more inclined to include literally any of the ones listed as "too obscure" than I would Big Fish. It's super random and arbitrary.

While I kindof understand why the Satellaview is included as a separate platform, this would be a bit like including the Sega Channel as a separate platform. They're just SNES and Genesis games acquired by a different means. It would be like having a separate platform for GOG - it's just a distribution platform, they're not "GOG games", they're just Windows games that you get through GOG. The games work on the original (non-Satellaview) hardware - the Satellaview was the means of acquiring them in the first place (same with Sega Channel). Unlike Sega Channel stuff though, some games did make additional calls to the St. GIGA servers for streaming some data during play (like SoundLink audio for the BS Zelda games), which changes things somewhat. I guess on balance it makes sense to have it, but my hangup is essentially that we don't call Alien Soldier a "Sega Channel game", despite that being the only way to get it in North America when it was released.

I don't think "Nintendo Wii Light Gun" should qualify as its own platform. They're just Wii games. You might as well include Nintendo Wii Steering Wheel games as a separate platform at that point.

I'm not a big fan of including emulators as their own platform either. I know people do that, but it's essentially for organizational purposes. This is what "scrape as" is for. You can separate, name, and organize them however you want in your own library without the need to make entirely separate platforms in the db. I think the inclusion of emulators and "collections" just really muddles things a lot. In my opinion, the platforms should only be for literal game platforms - not "here's some stuff that's actually something else but we're lumping them together because of [insert] reason."

Overall, really great list that I can tell you spent a lot of time on. There's a lot of stuff on there I've never even heard of. Hats off!

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Posted (edited)

Zombeaver, many thanks for your very well thought out and considered post. This is exactly the kind of feedback that I was hoping for. 

Your comments re Atari are noted and I plan to adjust things with your advice. Regarding Big Fish games, that made me lol. I'm sure you're right. It is a remnant of my previous build and was not selected by me personally. I will look into this further and probably remove it!

Regarding Satellaview, very interesting comments. I had been under the impression that there had been a number of downloadable games via this system that were not released for the standard console. Indeed, Wikipedia says this:

  • Games - Original Satellaview titles as well as software versions of regular NES and SNES games were broadcast every day throughout the lifetime of St.GIGA's support for the Satellaview.

If this is correct then it does suggest that there were some titles original to the Satellaview. 

The comments that you make to support your argument against the Satellaview regarding GOG - I have a GOG platform also! I will have to look into GOG again. If they are just Windows games then what you are saying certainly makes sense and it might be worth making a Windows platform instead. 

Noted re Nintendo Wii light gun platform - I will remove it and make sure that the games there appear under the standard Wii platform. It might be a quick and handy way to access these games if you had a lightgun though!

Noted as well re. emulators, and again I tend to agree. I will probably remove them and have the games under the appropriate platforms instead. I don't know enough about Raine at the moment to comment here but would imagine that any games appearing there could appear under a hardware platform instead.

Excellent comments cheers!

And Wallmachine - thanks for pointing that out! I will look into it further and change it on the list.

Edited by Dan

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59 minutes ago, Dan said:

Zombeaver, many thanks for your very well thought out and considered post. This is exactly the kind of feedback that I was hoping for. 

Happy to help!

59 minutes ago, Dan said:

Regarding Satellaview, very interesting comments. I had been under the impression that there had been a number of downloadable games via this system that were not released for the standard console. Indeed, Wikipedia says this:

  • Games - Original Satellaview titles as well as software versions of regular NES and SNES games were broadcast every day throughout the lifetime of St.GIGA's support for the Satellaview.

If this is correct then it does suggest that there were some titles original to the Satellaview. 

There were titles released specifically via the Satellaview, but once downloaded onto the cart, they work on non-Satellaview hardware (Super Famicom). If you put the Satellaview roms on a Super Everdrive or SD2SNES, for example, they'll work on the standard hardware. I'm fairly indifferent about their inclusion though, honestly - I understand why people separate it into its own thing, I just think it's kindof unnecessary personally.

59 minutes ago, Dan said:

The comments that you make to support your argument against the Satellaview regarding GOG - I have a GOG platform also! I will have to look into GOG again. If they are just Windows games then what you are saying certainly makes sense and it might be worth making a Windows platform instead.

They're not necessarily Windows, but they'll be either Windows or DOS. This is generally the same for ScummVM too*. The point is that neither of these is actually a platform. The platform in both cases is either Windows or DOS depending on the game. GOG is just a distribution method. We don't need separate platforms for Origin, Green Man Gaming, or Humble Bundle in the db either. You don't call something a "Walmart Game" just because you bought it at Walmart.

*There are a few exceptions since multiple versions of the same SCUMM language games are covered through ScummVM, which means that, for example, the NES version of Maniac Mansion is supported in ScummVM. By and large though the vast majority of games that are covered under ScummVM are DOS, as well as some Windows games.

59 minutes ago, Dan said:

Noted re Nintendo Wii light gun platform - I will remove it and make sure that the games there appear under the standard Wii platform. It might be a quick and handy way to access these games if you had a lightgun though!

I have a Lightgun playlist in my own library, but wouldn't call it an actual platform. My playlist is, in fact, platform-spanning - there's NES, PSX, Arcade stuff... anything that's a light gun game. If I had any Wii light gun games, I'd add them into it.

59 minutes ago, Dan said:

Noted as well re. emulators, and again I tend to agree. I will probably remove them and have the games under the appropriate platforms instead. I don't know enough about Raine at the moment to comment here but would imagine that any games appearing there could appear under a hardware platform instead.

I just think sticking with actual hardware is the better, more accurate option - Launchbox is flexible enough that you can separate things out however you want in your own library, and still have them match up with the db. I have a Classic PC "platform" in my own library that's all post-DOS PC stuff from the mid-90s to early 00s (minimum of 10 years old) - some Windows 3.1 stuff (DOSBox Daum + Windows 3.1), some Windows 95 stuff (PCem), and some native Windows stuff, but this is just a personal preference for organizational purposes, not because "Classic PC" is an actual platform in any real sense.

When you start getting into calling an emulator a platform I think it really muddles things, because the games that are covered by that emulator 1) may span multiple actual platforms 2) are likely to change over time.

That said, personally I only split out my arcade platforms to a certain degree - I have separate platforms for CPS1, CPS2, Neo Geo, Sega Model 2, Naomi, Atomiswave, Taito Type X, and then use "Arcade" as a catchall for everything else (including CPS3 since it only has 6 games; most people separate it, but I thought having an entire platform for just 6 games was kindof silly). I don't really want 50+ arcade platforms as this would make finding the specific game that I want to play much more difficult - I rarely use the search function, but I'd have to if I did that.

Anyway, just my two cents. Good luck!

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Posted (edited)
On 15/05/2018 at 3:00 PM, Zombeaver said:

they're not "GOG games", they're just Windows games that you get through GOG.

.....and MS-DOS. How can you forget our shambling old chum MS-DOS? :( (***Edit.....Ahh I see that you elaborated in your next post)

(I have Big Fish Games and Pop Cap Games as separate platforms in my LB. Mostly for convenience. I couldn't possibly merge them into Windows games as they are a distinct set of games in their own right. I agree though, that they aren't actual 'platforms')

Edited by JamesBond@ge

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3 minutes ago, JamesBond@ge said:

.....and MS-DOS. How can you forget our shambling old chum MS-DOS? :(

I didn't.

On 5/15/2018 at 11:17 AM, Zombeaver said:

They're not necessarily Windows, but they'll be either Windows or DOS. This is generally the same for ScummVM too*. The point is that neither of these is actually a platform. The platform in both cases is either Windows or DOS depending on the game. GOG is just a distribution method. We don't need separate platforms for Origin, Green Man Gaming, or Humble Bundle in the db either. You don't call something a "Walmart Game" just because you bought it at Walmart.

 

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Posted (edited)

I got it. I was just editing my post when you made that reply.

Regarding your 'post-DOS' platform arrangement.....I've often thought about doing like that myself. What specific games have you been able to run under PCem?

Edited by JamesBond@ge

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3 hours ago, JamesBond@ge said:

Regarding your 'post-DOS' platform arrangement.....I've often thought about doing like that myself. 

I felt weird putting in stuff like the original Thief, Shogo, or Anachronox with say Doom (2016). That's not a statement of quality on either end, just that when you're dealing with such a large span of time they feel like their own separate things. It's basically the stuff that I played and was super into in my teen years whereas I use "Windows" as "current" PC releases.

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3 minutes ago, JamesBond@ge said:

What specific games have you been able to run under PCem?

Pretty much any of the 16-bit Windows 95 stuff. I've used it for the Biosys and Obsidian releases on Zomb's Lair. I've used it for a few other things like Heavy Gear, but found that one is better when run natively with a DDraw wrapper, and some other stuff that I haven't released yet like A Fork In The Tale, Codename Tenka, and Necrodome (this one runs a bit better natively as well).

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That's exactly how I think when I look at my Windows Platform and it has been grating on me. Having Microsoft Pinball Arcade, Daytona USA, Sega Rally 2 and Speed Busters in with Blur, Alice Madness Returns and Stardew Valley, argh it just doesn't look right.

Hah, now I know I'm not the only one who thinks like this, I've got the motivation now to pull apart that platform. I'm gonna pad it up some with releases you have made on Zomb's Lair too.

Thanks for letting me pick your brains about this era of computing Zombie Beaver. You're a goldmine of info. Sorry to Dan for partially derailing the thread.

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No need to apologise, it’s all relevant in its own way. I have gone for MSDOS and Windows (so far), but will be keen to hear what further stratifications are proposed by you guys and the rest of the community. Interesting that someone else has the “super random and arbitrary” inclusion of Big Fish games! Perhaps not so random and arbitrary after all? ;) 

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1 hour ago, Dan said:

Interesting that someone else has the “super random and arbitrary” inclusion of Big Fish games! Perhaps not so random and arbitrary after all? ;) 

It's still random and arbitrary, but I imagine most people who have these included in their setups are (former) HyperSpin users or used HyperList as a reference as it's included there. It's one I never added simply because I'm not really into those casual games and it shouldn't have been included on HyperList IMO, or at least had a separate section for playlists/collections which that would've fallen into but quality and organization of HyperList went to virtually non-existent many years ago. It was probably added after someone seeing it in some drive seller's setup since they subdivide everything as many times as possible to pad their system count.

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39 minutes ago, Agent47 said:

It's still random and arbitrary, but I imagine most people who have these included in their setups are (former) HyperSpin users or used HyperList as a reference as it's included there. It's one I never added simply because I'm not really into those casual games and it shouldn't have been included on HyperList IMO, or at least had a separate section for playlists/collections which that would've fallen into but quality and organization of HyperList went to virtually non-existent many years ago. It was probably added after someone seeing it in some drive seller's setup since they subdivide everything as many times as possible to pad their system count.

Can confirm. Have a list of big fish games left over from hyperspin days. I can't speak to the quality of the games as I never played them, but had to have them when I saw them on hyperlist.

I think this is an awesome endeavor and I like researching old stuff like this so I'll be following closely. 

I'm actually not too sure about this as I've never used Daphne ... but as I understand it.. that's just an emulator. Should it really be considered a platform? Might be more prudent to just make like a "laser disk" platform?

 

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21 hours ago, Agent47 said:

It's still random and arbitrary, but I imagine most people who have these included in their setups are (former) HyperSpin users or used HyperList as a reference as it's included there. It's one I never added simply because I'm not really into those casual games and it shouldn't have been included on HyperList IMO, or at least had a separate section for playlists/collections which that would've fallen into but quality and organization of HyperList went to virtually non-existent many years ago. It was probably added after someone seeing it in some drive seller's setup since they subdivide everything as many times as possible to pad their system count.

Yeah, I've seen it listed before elsewhere, and I've never understood why. It's still just extremely random. As I said I think the inclusion of any "collection" as its own dedicated platform is generally kinda questionable, but that one in particular just seems so out there to me. I mean, why not say... I dunno... the Pirana Bytes collection? Those guys have been remaking the same game with new coats of paint and varying degrees of success for the last 20 years. I wouldn't make that its own platform either, but I'd certainly do that sooner than I would for some hidden object games (which, by the way, are in no way exclusive to Big Fish Games). Just talkin crazy here :P

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So if we take the position that any "collection" should not be included as a dedicated platform - what are the thoughts on including it as playlist, and having that playlist appear in the list of platforms somewhere?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Dan said:

So if we take the position that any "collection" should not be included as a dedicated platform - what are the thoughts on including it as playlist, and having that playlist appear in the list of platforms somewhere?

That to me seems like semantics as it is the same difference. I reckon the list should be viewed as what is possible and then it is up to the individual to decide what to include in their collection. I do not see anything wrong with adding anything as long as the individual likes what they have. I know you are just asking for a general consensus though. There are people whom I am sure would not have their setup the way I have mine as I have some stuff broken into regions and separate "platforms" like homebrews, hacks, pirates, translations and the like: My Systems.xlsx

EDIT: I have the Infocom games on my setup, 38 of them. The Z-Machine works just fine with them and are a lot of fun.

Edited by Dane

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