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Socoder -> Mobile Gaming -> Archos Gamepad Tablet 2

Posted : Wednesday, 27 August 2014, 09:36
Jayenkai
A few months ago, my sister lost her phone, and as a temporary measure, I offered her my Nexus 7.
I never used the nexus, other than for weekly "check it runs" AGameAWeek purposes. My "tablet" needs were taken care of with my iPad, and any/all gaming/browsing/telly watching went through that.

So, off she went with the nexus, and months later, I've yet to have seen it again.

No biggy, I don't miss having it. But I do miss having a proper Android test device, so I've not been releasing any Android games in the interim.
OUYA's fine, since I can test that, but default Android can't be double-checked, so has been left by the wayside.

The time has come to finally get myself a new testbed, and browsing Amazon, I stumbled upon the Archos Gamepad 2.
It's basically a regular Android 7" Tablet, but with a very WiiU-esque Gamepad strapped onto it.

It wasn't exactly a cheap test device, but given it's actual gaming capabilities (EMULATORS!!!!!) I imagine I'll be making much more use out of this thing than I did the previous Nexus 7.

It gets delivered tomorrow, but it's amazon, and they've a habit of not delivering until late in the day.. (Last delivery didn't turn up until about 7:30!!)
I'll let you guys know how good/bad it actually is, once it's here, and I've had a good play with it

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Posted : Thursday, 28 August 2014, 09:34
Jayenkai
Okeydokey, let's begin.

Games

The pre-installed "show off" game is Asphalt 8, which looks alright, but is a little jiggidy. It's perfectly playable, but it's not silky smooth.
Not bad, though, considering what all's going on in there.

Next test, DiscBlaster, one of my own.
Buttons work, and surprisingly the analogue stick actually worked, too! Seems all my lovely framework stuff works a treat!!

I'll have to dig deep into my own controller code to figure out exactly what's being picked up, but I've always had X360 -compatible controller code running in my Android games, so I'm assuming that's what's being read.
*shrugs*

Nice to know it runs, works, and is lovely!

Also, Stringy Things works flawlessly, which means the graphics chip inside this is doing full 32-bit colour, not 16/24-bit. No dithering, here!

HOWEVER.. BlastTrax's Blur didn't appear to do anything at all. No effect whatsoever. So, the buffer must be being cleared after every frame, or something.. *shrugs*

I'll stick my stress-tester on, later, and see exactly what it's capable of.

If you'd like me to try any particular GooglePlay games (and it's free!!!!) let me know.


Emulators

GBA, first, and sadly the device apparently doesn't have a gyroscope, so won't play WarioWare Twisted. FFS, am I EVER going to get to play that!?!?
I tried a variety of GBA games, and all seemed to be silky smooth.

NES, silky smooth, works a treat.
GBClassic/Color, Also smooth, no issues.

Megadrive Sonic 2 seemed fine, but the Splitscreen mode was all corrupt. That'll be an emulator issue, though, so I'm sure a better quality emu would be better. Works nice and smoothly, no visible issues.

SNES, Super Mario Kart ran as expected, but Mario AllStars+World was corrupt.. Either the Emu, or the State of my rom archive may be to blame!!

Playstation Crash Bandicoot seems a little stuttery, and the controls were completely screwed up. I might have to hunt for a better emu for that.
Rough.. :\

Dreamcast is surprisingly ok.. It's not "The best", but it's fairly capable of, at the very least, Sonic Adventure!

If you'd like me to test any systems/emu's, let me know.

Extra note : Most of the emu's needed me to reconfigure the controls, and turn off the "eeeeuw, touchscreen controls" buttons.. But that's to be expected, really.

Cosmetics

It's not very thick. At first I was "Oooh, it's much thinner than that enormous Wii U Gamepad!" but after a few minutes I was "Hmmm.. Bit thin.. It's not super-comfortable.."
The buttons are nice, the DPad isn't as shit as the X360 pad, and all seems to work well.
The two thumbsticks are like the 3DS's little nub thing, and although they work, they're not quite as smooth as Nintendo's. Kinda "clicky" as they swoosh around.
Build wise, the whole unit feels sturdy enough, but also seems to "wiggle" a little bit if you stress it a bit too much.. Hopefully that doesn't become a problem in the future!!!

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Posted : Thursday, 28 August 2014, 10:41
Jayenkai
Additional interesting thing..
If I run one of my "Compiled for OUYA" games, it doesn't recognise the controller. "Compiled for Android" games, do..
Hmmm...!

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Posted : Thursday, 28 August 2014, 14:40
rychan
Hmm, so, are they recommended then? I'm guessing it sure beats the hells of syncing a bluetooth controller to a phone.

My S3 seems to be having issues with that onto my Nyko Playpad currently

-=-=-
Web / Game Dev, occasionally finishes off coding games also!

Refresh Games - Game Dev Blog
Posted : Thursday, 28 August 2014, 21:51
Jayenkai
Note about "syncing a bluetooth controller", have you tried buying a micro->full USB adaptor, then physically plugging an X360 pad into the phone? Worked great on my Nexus7.
Do an Amazon search for "micro usb adapter".. They're super-cheap!

As for this...

The analogue stick isn't very analogueieoeyeiy. It's nowhere near as precise as the 3DS's. It is indeed an analogue stick, as I can tell from a bunch of my games (most noticeably Space Clusters DX, or DiscBlaster) but for general usage it's not really very subtle in it's movement, and is either off or full-on. There's not a whole lot of middle ground.

Other than that, it's actually a fairly capable little thing.
Most of the issues I'm running into are emulator specific ones, and considering I grabbed a bunch of free emus from Zophar's Domain, which isn't always up to date, there are probably already better emulators out there. I just haven't been bothered to hunt for them.

Other issues are general Android ones, like how games written for one device, aren't always going to work on another.
Someone on Twitter asked that I test r0x, so I grabbed the OUYA apk from TotalOUYA, and gave it a whirl. As much as it "worked" (including full gamepad controls) it had a minor issue..



And, that's pretty much Android wrapped up in a nutshell..

It's a nice enough device, and it'll be used for both emulation and testing each week's AGameAWeek. For both of those it's "fit for purpose".
Unless a whole bunch of emulator developers suddenly pick one up, and specifically develop for it, you're never going to have 100%, and will always have to deal with Android Fragmentation issues, and the like.

Would I recommend it?
There's 1,000,000 different devices out there that do the same thing. Some with Android, some without. PS Vita seems to be the thing that most of my Twitter followers are telling me I should've got, instead. Although that might be an emulation haven, it doesn't fit my requirement of also being a decent Android Test-bed, and that's really the whole purpose of me buying it. The emulation and gaming was secondary.

That's the crux of it, really. There are "better" things out there, (although that pretty much comes down to the quality of the emulators, really) but this does Android, too. If you're in need of a new Android Tester, then this is a lovely little device.
If you're just after an emulator, have a good poke about the web, and see what else is available, before you buy.


Additional : Spinal's "Don't Flip Out" OUYA edition works lovely, which makes me wonder why my own OUYA games don't appear to recognise the controller... hmmmm.. :\

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Posted : Friday, 29 August 2014, 10:35
Jayenkai
After a bit of faffing about with various emulators, I now have..
Atari 2600, Amstrad CPC, GameBoy Classic, Color and Advance, GameGear, NES, Master System, SNES, Megadrive and N64 all on the 32GB memory card. (All those games, on a tiny MicroSD, the size of my frickin' fingernail!!!)

I also have a working PSX emulator but only a few choice games for that.. I never collected PSX roms, or anything larger than a cartridge!!

All emus seem to run smoothly, with only expected emu-specific bugs and issues, but I've managed to at least get all the emus running with the gamepad's buttons, which is lovely!!

I haven't yet tried C64/BBC/Spectrum/Amiga. I had enough issues getting the CPC to work vaguely well, so I'll probably leave "computer emulation" out of the thing.
DS emulation appeared to work, but it doesn't really fit on the landscape screen.. It's probably tweakable, but I still have my DS/3DS at hand, so I didn't bother trying to get it sorted.
On, and the only Atari Lynx emulator I could find struggled to keep up it's framerate, which is shocking!!

14.9Gb, over 19,000 roms.
I expect I'll probably not be doing AGameAWeek, this week!!

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Posted : Saturday, 30 August 2014, 10:32
Jayenkai
Spent hours playing through bundles of emulated games, today. Everything from New Zealand Story, through to Smash Bros N64.
Oodles of games, and lots of playability!
...
But only about 10 minutes of each, because I have the attention span of a hamster.

GBAs chock full of oddly crap games. You can tell that "mainstream" gaming took a bit of a turn, there, as thousands of utterly shit FPS get turned into utterly shit 2D crap-a-thons, or even worse, attempted Mode7-style crap-a-thons!!

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Posted : Saturday, 30 August 2014, 12:26
rockford
So, worthy of your investment then Jay?

I really need a good Android device, and this seems good so far, for testing my own games and playing Plants Vs Zombies 2 etc.

Once the novelty has worn off of emulation, will you only be using it to test your own stuff or will you be trying Android stuffage?
Posted : Saturday, 30 August 2014, 13:41
Jayenkai
Not sure, if I'm honest. My entire OUYA collection consists of my games, your games, Spinal's games, Caffeine Kid's games, RGCD's games and Rob's games...
It's not a very big collection!!!

To say I'm "a bit too busy to bother playing much" is a teensy bit of an understatement!!

It's a good purchase, and I'm glad I got it. The fact that the emu's and roms are all on there, will probably mean I'll pick it up more often than I did the old Nexus 7 I had.

*shrugs* stay tuned, I guess!!

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Posted : Saturday, 30 August 2014, 14:16
rockford
Will do