Just finished watching Metal Jesus doing his review of the Seedi Indiegogo project and had completely forgotten that I was able to get a cool interview with Bryan and Chris a couple weeks ago, the developers of the Seedi unit, so lets move right in. The Seedi is bringing back the compact disc based era of video games just like how the cartridge based retro HDMI units are bringing back the era right before them. Check out more information at https://seedisystem.com and the above links for their Indiegogo project and Metal Jesus’s piece also!
Tell us a little bit about how your video game history….
Chris Dimberg: I was an NES household, so my first system was the Nintendo Entertainment System. We got it in 1990 I think, and that started it all. We were just watching old home movie footage last Christmas and they captured my reaction when I opened the Nintendo and it was hilarious. Anyway, that’s what started it for me. And then Game Boy. My dad got a Game Boy shortly after that, so I was really into that. Then just going through the Super Nintendo, N64, and then a little bit of GameCube in college.
Bryan Barnes: So, we didn’t have any systems as a family. My parents…they weren’t necessarily against video games, but it was like they never bought us any. In the heyday of NES and Super Nintendo and Genesis, they never got any of that for me or my sister. But we did have a computer and so I was really into DOS videogames. One of my first games was Dark Forces, as I’m a big Star Wars nerd. It was just like Doom but Star Wars Based. MechWarrior 2 was another one of the first games I had, which I was just crazy about. Then I continued to really loving the LucasArts titles, the Star Wars ones and the non-Star Wars ones, so like Secret of Monkey Island, Day of The Tentacle.
Bryan: Like Chris, I was also into Game Boy as well and then finally I continued on the PC gaming trend and then kind of entered into consoles as I was able to have a little more pocket money to get some of that on my own as, like, a teenager.
Very cool. Moving in the stuff with Seedi, so at Christmas last year the idea kind of came up to. Obviously you’ve known of the RetroPie community, all the different stuff that’s out there in that area. But no one’s really done anything with the spinning disks, with actual discs more than ROM files in this arena with stuff. So, tell us a little bit about the experimenting of how to find the right combination of hardware.
Brian: I think this goes back to last summer. So maybe like early 2016-ish was when the idea started rolling around my head because I kind of was getting into the RetroPie and Raspberry Pi hobby emulation stuff.
I’ve always been of big emulation nerd and I’ve done a little bit of development on emulators as well. In particular, there’s a Dreamcast emulator on Android that I wrote one of the features on maybe in 2015. And before then, I was always really into the emulators, like via NES and all these different emulators.
So then when I realized the Raspberry Pi was so good at doing all that, I just I started having fun with it. Then also around the same time I realized there were all these other systems, like the RetroN that were like these clone consoles for the cartridge games. Then from another vector was just the game out of all the CD-ROM games, because I’m really into videogame history as well and just, like, I always love to learn about the different developers and learn about the different game design techniques over time and it’s just such an interesting feel.
So there’s kind of this whole generation of these CD-ROM games that I didn’t actually really grow up with but I became highly, highly interested in a couple of years ago. So I was like what is keeping the — what is preventing a CD-ROM-based clone console from existing? It seems like all the parts are there. I could just do it on my own basically.
Then as I started doing it, I started prototyping out different concepts of how the software would work, basically, how do you translate the data to these emulators that exist now. I went through several iterations of writing code that would basically do that, and then when I realized that it works and then when I got it working, I was, like, oh my gosh, this is awesome. Like, I have to make this available to more people that would love it because it just works. Like, all the pieces are there.
So then I started thinking about how we’re actually going to do something with it and that’s when I started involving Chris and I showed him prototype number one, probably, which was like — it didn’t look anything like what you see in our campaign right now. It was one of the big DVD drives, like from the rives with, like a Raspberry Pi essentially strapped on top with a Lego harness basically.
So, Chris was able to lend his design experience heavily to turn it into from more of like a do-it-yourself thing. There’s like a subset of people that are going to want to tinker with that and figure it out. I mean, that is an awesome group, but they’ll be able to just do it on their own. Seedi is for people that either maybe don’t care to do it on their own, they could do it on their own but they just don’t have the time, or the people that just aren’t going to figure that out but they want to still have the experience.
So, we iterated a ton on the kind of overall design of what this thing is to get it to the point where it is now, a smaller form factor, the all-enclosed unit, kind of this modern flash retro style overall enclosure and the wireless controllers. That was one of the things that we went back and forth on a lot was whether or not to have wireless controllers be an option, but eventually we decided that that’s the best experience and so we did it and I’m glad we did. You can also plug in. I mean, we have USB plug-in capability as well, but the default is wireless just due to the convenience and kind of elegance.
Chris, so where does it stand right now?
Chris: Hardware wise we only have one real (complete) unit….So the unit featured in the video and on the website, that’s our one unit. Then we have a couple of Lego prototypes that have the latest software on them for general-purpose testing.
Possibilities of retail after Indiegogo?
Chris: We are also toying with the idea of adding a retail package perk through our Indiegogo campaign. A couple of gaming store owners have expressed interest in getting a bundle of these things and selling them in their brick-and-mortar stores, so we’re excited about that possibility as well.
We at OSG have spent some time watching the videos and it totally can tell what is coming at it when you insert a disc.
Brian: Yes. So there’s the software that actually does the reading of the data and the transformation for the emulators, and then there’s a separate piece of code which does the detection/automation, so we’re running on a Linux-based system and it sees the CD-ROM going in and then once it picks up that there’s something in there it’ll do some analysis to figure out what type of system — I mean all of these systems have kind of the unique signature, like PlayStation 1 does whatever versus I guess CDs that they have some unique (signature) and stuff on the disc. So it’ll figure out what it is and then it’ll boot up the right emulator, like, instantly.
The real work appears to be getting everything flowing together, the various types of discs formats, emulators and more. I’m very interested, but being an old school 286/286 user I’m very interested in the DOS support, can you tell me about that a bit.
Bryan: So we’re using the emulator DOSBox under the hood and it’ll work with both CD-ROM stuff, as well as just files. I mean, it’s possible to just, because the CD has Wi-Fi in it, if you have the game files on another computer, it’s really to just copy them over into a folder on CD, and then using the interface, which we haven’t shown off yet, you can just basically go to the folder wherever you have the executable and launch it, and then it’ll start playing in DOSBox.
At this point the Indiegogo is just around ½ way to it’s goal with only 12 days left to go. Old School Gamer pledged at the $125 level and will be getting one of the units as long as this gets funded. So please take a look and consider funding this unit. For a complete teardown of the unit and gaming usage make sure to check out Metal Jesus’s Youtube video on Seedi.