We believe anyone should be free in how they use their devices. We also believe that writing applications and games on an open-source platform is a great way to learn programming, for both kids and adults. We have built FEZ Game-O from the ground up with these two beliefs in mind.
FEZ Game-O is an open-source hand-held programmable console. With it you can accomplish more in less time as it is programmed using Microsoft's Visual Studio, in C# and Visual Basic (.NET). These are the same tools that professionals use today to create all kinds of applications and games for Windows PCs. A developer who knows C# or VB already knows how to program the FEZ Game-O and a beginner learning C# or VB on FEZ Game-O can use that same knowledge to program a PC.
The goal of FEZ Game-O is not to compete with other closed-source platforms or to sell overly priced games. Instead, we want to build an open-source platform with a community where you will obtain the application for free and even receive the source code of that application as well. We want you to share your work, learn from and improve other's work ... this is the FEZ Game-O mentality.
FEZ Game-O hosts a STM32F407 32-bit 168Mhz Cortex-M4 processor with 1MB of flash and a 320 x 240 parallel TFT display. This may not seem like much compared to today's 3D standards for closed-source gaming consoles but FEZ Game-O's specs are much more powerful than classic gaming consoles. We want this console to be simple to hack, simple to understand and simple to program. You should be able to get setup and able to write your own application or game in the first day.
- Cortex-M4 168Mhz microprocessor
- 1024KB FLASH
- 192KB RAM
- 320 x 240 16-bit TFT display
- 3D Accelerometer (tilt sensor)
- Volume control
- USB Connection (for loading and debugging applications)
- Bluetooth option
- JTAG/SWD (for advanced users)
- Runs off 3xAAA batteries
By default, FEZ Game-O ships loaded with the .NET Micro Framework (NETMF) system, which allows developers to connect it to a PC using a USB cable then use Visual Studio (even the free express version) to program it, using C# or Visual Basic. In contrast with typical "small system" programming, like Arduino or mbed, NETMF allows for run-time debugging, from stepping through code to inspecting variables. The NETMF core libraries and the FEZ Game-O drivers are completely open source.
There are many options for advanced users. For example, the core libraries include a feature that allows users to load native code within NETMF code (Runtime Loadable Procedures) where game logic can be done with managed C# or VB but the critical inner loops can be done in C or assembly. This is similar to how DLLs function on PCs. Below is an example of a 3D software raycast rendering.
Also with an available JTAG/SWD connection, developers can load any ARM Cortex-M4 compiled-code on the core micro-controller, using their favorite IDE or even using the command line with GCC compiler.
How does this compare to the console my kids use?
It actually does not compare at all. Unlike closed-source platforms, with FEZ Game-O there are no NDAs or legal strangle holds. We openly provide you with all the tools necessary to start creating applications or games directly "out of the box". Also, typical consumer consoles are very complex to program and need large operating systems to run, typically developed by multiple professionals with large budgets.
The goal with FEZ Game-O is to create applications and games that can be programmed, maintained and improved by a single person. This does not mean you can't create some impressive applications and games. This console is much more powerful than the commodore 64 for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodore_64
How do we handle graphics?
The display is 320 x 240, 16-bit full-color. With a full-screen image being about 40KB, you would typically use an image buffer that you draw to. The LCD has its own internal memory so drawing to the image buffer will not affect the LCD. Once you are ready for refresh, the image, or part of it, can be transferred to the LCD. The included libraries include shape-drawing methods, such as lines and circles. And also includes advanced capabilities for drawing bitmaps and fonts of all shapes and sizes.
Can FEZ Game-O emulate a classic console?
Yes it can! We currently do not have any emulators in development but it is possible to emulate many of the classic consoles. We have a feeling someone in the community will port an emulator. Will that be you?
How easy is it?
Below is a snippet of code to show you how easy it is program the FEZ Game-O using C#. The code shows you how to draw a circle, line, text and bitmap on the LCD.
Who we are
GHI Electronics was founded in 2003 and is headquartered in Michigan, USA. We are a global leader in embedded devices. Our innovation has helped businesses in automotive, education, energy, industrial, retail, security and transportation.
The GHI Electronics forum has over 14,000 users and 100,000 posts. These users, like you and I, love technology and sharing ideas. We look forward to seeing your first application and your many contributions to the community!
All backers will receive their FEZ Game-Os via USPS. All orders will be trackable. We are not responsible for any additional costs (such as taxes, etc) you may incur when the shipment enters your country's customs. Nor are we liable for any delays your shipment may experience at customs or during shipping. FEZ Game-O has passed FCC and CE certifications.
The Ultimate Reward For The Ultimate Backer
- Place order for additional parts (July)
- Place order for additional PCBs (July)
- Start circuit board assembly (August - October)
- Hand assembly of remaining parts (August - October)
- Quality Check (August - October)
- Shipping of backer rewards (August - October)
What we will provide
- FEZ Game-O console with protective pouch and USB cable
- FEZ Game-O Eagle design files
- FEZ Game-O board schematics
- FEZ Game-O 3D PDF
- FEZ Game-O SDK compatible with both Visual Studio 2010 and Visual Studio 2012
- FEZ Game-O tutorials and access to a community-driven code-base
NETMF is a trademark of the Microsoft corporation http://www.netmf.com/gadgeteer/
Visual Studio is a trademark of the Microsoft corporation http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/eng/
FEZ and FEZ Game-O are trademarks of GHI Electronics, LLC http://www.ghielectronics.com/
Super Mario Bros is a trademark of the Nintendo corporation http://www.nintendo.com/
Risks and challenges
We have been designing and manufacturing embedded systems for many years. And now, our manufacturing line setup and ready to go to produce the FEZ Game-O.
The only part of manufacturing that is new to us is the plastic enclosure. We have updated the design many times over the past couple of years, we now believe we got it perfect.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)