RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Aug 6th 2016 at 12:00:00 AM by (Addicted)
Posted under Interview, Retro,RGB


We recently had the opportunity to interview Bob from RetroRGB. His website http://retrorgb.com has helped countless people get the best picture quality from their retro consoles. He also produces a weekly roundup show that highlights whats new in the RGB community and has interviews with the people behind the products such as KevTris and FirebrandX. You can find it at https://www.youtube.com/w...pyyYKd1E&feature=youtu.be



What made you start RetroRGB.com?
It actually all started with the Angry Video Game Nerd:  My friend Justin played me some of his videos and while I enjoyed laughing at all the bad games he reviewed, it reminded me of all the good 2D side-scrollers I missed playing.  Since there aren't too many modern 2D side-scrollers, the only way to play that style of game was by purchasing some older games through the Virtual Console.  That was okay, but I didn't really like using the Wiimote or Classic Controller.  I found an adapter that allowed me to use the original console controllers on a Wii and that actually ended up being the first "page" of RetroRGB.com.  At the time, it was just a Google Doc that I'd shared with my friends, but I actually have an updated version of it on my site:  http://www.retrorgb.com/gtron.html

That controller adapter just ended up being a tease though;  Instead of satisfying my need to play classic games, it proved to me that the only way to get the true experience of the classic games was to play them on a classic console with a CRT.  Justin actually has a YouTube channel where he hunts down good deals for old video games and other junk, so I enlisted his help to find most of what I needed.  I bought an AV cart, plus a good quality CRT and loaded it with all the consoles Justin found me.  For about a month I was happy:  http://www.retrorgb.com/retrocart.html  Then, out of nowhere, I'd remembered "RGB".  I'd actually heard about when I was a kid from someone who worked at an Electronics Boutique (anyone remember those!?).  He showed me a display with an RGB monitor and a Genesis playing Sonic 2 and I was absolutely blown away at how good it looked.  Unfortunately, there was no way as a kid that I could afford any monitor like that, so I just kinda put it out of my mind.

After remembering about RGB, I started to do some research and found a bunch of forum posts, but no website with all the info I needed.  I spent hours sifting through posts, trying to figure out what information was good and what was wrong.  I spent so much time researching that I thought "Hey, maybe a few of my friends would want to know about this too, so I should write all this info down somewhere."  I started writing everything into a Google Doc, but it started to get absurdly big.  My cousin Scott had been following the document and my "journey" over the months that I'd been working on this and he said "Hey, why don't you just make it into a website?  I'm sure there's at least a few people who'd like this information as well."  It was funny that I'd never even thought of making it a website, but I started uploading it to a web server and after a few revisions, it became what you see today.


What is your background with gaming?
When I was very young (4?), my father bought his first computer, a Tandy 1000 with no hard drive and two 5.25" floppy drives.  I was fascinated by it, as well as some of the amazing games like King's Quest, Icon Quest For The Ring, The Black Cauldron and many more.  I started using it so much, that my father actually bought me my own computer, a TRS-80 Color Computer II.  That was another computer made by Radio Shack that loaded software through both cartridges and cassette tapes.  We eventually got a Nintendo when I was about 10 and games like Zelda, Duck Tails, Super Mario Bros, Bases Loaded and Tecmo Bowl were constantly being played.  When I was 10, my cousin Scott (same one mentioned above) introduced me to the Super Nintendo and that's when my gaming life changed forever.  I didn't realize it at the time, but those 16-bit games had just the right amount of graphics and horsepower to make the 2D experience pretty much perfect.  The graphics were good enough that you didn't need to use your imagination as much for things on-screen and instead, could just let yourself get sucked into the game.  Also, the consoles were powerful enough to do everything you'd need for games like that.  The same could be said for some 8-bit games too, but for the most part, 2D gaming in general really hit this "sweet spot" in the 16-bit era and (in my opinion) even newer 2D games don't benefit all that much from enhanced graphics.  Adding to all of this was the maturity of the games:  Nintendo had learned from the 8-bit Metroid and Zelda's, making the SNES versions absolutely amazing.  Those are my two favorite games of all time and my "quest" for playing those in the highest quality possible was one of the main reasons I wanted to start my "RGB project" and also why the SNES section has so much information in it.  With the help of some awesome people around the world, I'm still learning quite a bit about how to enhance the SNES & Genesis and constantly updating those sections.


A lot of what is covered on RetroRGB can be very technical. What is your technical background?
My technical background can best be described as "the middleman".  From my first "real" job as an IT technician, to the years I spent traveling to Taiwan as a member of a hardware design team, it was always the same:  I'm an expert in nothing, but understood enough about what was going on around me to keep up.  Also, a common problem in the tech world is communication:  Very often, a tech team doesn't interact well with a sales team, etc.  For whatever reason, I seemed to get along well enough with both sides and was able to both work on complicated tech issues, as well as work on the "people" side of things.  To a point, I think that's exactly what RetroRGB is as well: I act as the middle man between people who want the best quality from their consoles and the awesome developers who build the products to enhance them.


What is RetroRGB's target audience?
It's anyone who's looking for a solution for playing classic games, that best fits their needs.  Some people might come to the site looking for a full RGB monitor setup, with all original consoles, full mods to each, etc.  Others might just want to play Sonic The Hedgehog and want to know their options.  I try to cater to the beginner-to-intermediate crowd, but still leave as much technical information as possible for those with the know-how to use it.
 
My long-term goal is slightly different:  I'd like to rebuild the entire site to make it as easy as possible for someone just starting out in retro gaming to find what they need in the shortest time possible.  At the same time, I'd also like it to be a place where experts can share and contribute information, kind of like an interactive Wikipedia.  Unfortunately, that's a huge project that might not be completed for a year or two.  When it's done, the target audience would be any retro-game fan, ranging from beginner to expert / developer.


What are some of your favorite games?
Super Metroid and Zelda: A Link To The Past are by far my two favorite games of all time.  I actually like all the 2D Zelda games (and A Link Between Worlds), but ALTTP is definitely my favorite.  I also love any good, high-quality side-scroller from any era, such as Mega Man, A Cave Story, Shovel Knight, and all the 2D Mario and Sonic games.  And the original Mortal Kombat!


Why RGB?
Simply put, it's the best possible output you can get from any pre-HD console.  No other analong option, such as composite or S-Video can look as good.  I did a panel with the HD Retrovision guys last year and Ste did en excellent job explaining exactly why RGB is the best choice:  https://youtu.be/QzQPRoOXHgI


Why not emulate?
Software emulation can never be a true re-creation of the original console.  People have gotten very close, but you're still running that emulation software on top of a program layer, then through an OS.  There will always be something inaccurate, whether it's lag, graphics glitches, or sound issues.  That being said, FPGA's are the only type of "emulation" (there's an argument if it can even be considered emulation at all) that can ever theoretically be 100% accurate, because (simply put) they are chips designed to act like other chips and not an entire console.  Kevtris recently posted a great explanation of this:  http://atariage.com/forum...stem/page-28#entry3525310 


What other hobbies do you have besides videogames?
I'm actually the lead guitarist in the band 2 Weeks.  I love writing music and playing live is always so much fun!  I also have a ton of other hobbies like beer, motorcycles, football, soccer and photography, but 2 Weeks and RetroRGB take up almost every second of my free time these days.  I always seem to make time for beer though Smiley


What hardware/projects have you been most excited to work with?
That's a tough question, as I've been lucky enough to work with some amazing people and some incredible products.  I think the research into video output from Genesis and SNES was probably the most exciting for me, as it really showed how to get the absolute best from my two favorite systems (plus is sparked a bunch of cool products!).  Also, the Hi-Def NES and UltraHDMI were amazing to see in action and are ushering in an entirely new era of retro gaming.


What upcoming project(s) are you excited about?
The Open Source Scan Converter and it's upcoming firmware updates are probably the most exciting thing for me at the moment.  Also, db Electronics is working on some really great stuff for the Genesis and Retrofixes.com is about to release an updated version of Borti's SNES RGB amp that makes installation even easier.


What new features can we look forward to for the Retro RGB website?
I actually just launched a weekly Podcast / YouTube video called the "Retro Weekly Roundup".  Every week I talk about anything cool that's happening in the retro gaming world and I usually have a guest on each week that's someone in the retro gaming community that I think people would like to hear from.  So far, it's been a lot of fun (and a TON of work!).  It seems to be a help for people who'd like to stay current on what's going on, but don't have the time to read through forums every day.  Also, I've really been enjoying the guests, as I've gotten to talk to some awesome people who've contributed so much to the community.  I'm really glad I'm able to help get their voices heard.


Where do you draw the line for covering systems?
At the moment, I'm concentrating on pre-HD consoles (basically, consoles without an HDMI port).  That being said, there are many scenarios where things cross over: Playing PS1 games on PS3, Virtual Console games on a Wii U, running an XBOX 360's 480p VGA through an Extron Emotia for 240p RGB support...heck, even using an HDMI to SDi adapter to play new consoles in 720p on a Sony BVM CRT!  I guess in the long run, I'll try to cover absolutely every console out there, but for now I'm definitely focusing on pre-HD

Our thanks to Bob for taking the time to chat with us, and thanks for all the information on RetroRGB!


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Comments
 
Great interview!  I am curious about this, because I have a Sony WEGA rear-projection LCD, with a brilliant picture, and it maxes out at 720p and 1080i.  However, it only has a single HDMI port, so I'm already using a 4-way splitter for my Wii U, PS3, and my Android set-top box.  I'm wondering if daisy-chaining a few of those together so I can get SCART RGB to HDMI type of stuff working for my Saturn, or a VGA-to-HDMI setup for my Dreamcast, if that would be worth doing.
 
Retro RGB has been a go to site for me for quite some time. Glad to learn a little more about the man behind the site.

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