On that Dreamcast DVD issue:
One other interesting possibility I've commented on before may have been actually having a competing (non-proprietary) standard to DVD on the DC. Not sure if this could ever have been a remote possibility, but maybe Sega could have licensed the GD format to be part of the new SVCD/CVD video format being established in China around that time. (the capacity of GD-ROM may have actually made CVD/SVCD a realistic low-end alternative to DVD outside of China/Asia/India/etc -the CVD format's 320x480i video in particular probably catered best to average users at the time . . . the 480x480i format's added resolution was less noticeable than the added artifacting -especially via composite and/or on lower-end TVs in general -heh, we were watching DVDs through composite until out old Trinitron died ~2003 . . . our first "DVD player" as our family PC with a Rage Pro video card using composite line out to the TV ;p . . . and a hacked media player using beta drivers for the PCI Rage card -which was never officially cleared for DVD video due to bandwidth limits, though that rarely mattered for most DVDs -I think maybe 1 DVD actually had troubles due to that)
Anyway, a Dreamcast with built-in SVCD support would have been interesting to say the least . . . and again, not just the real SVCD, but a hypothetical world where Sega managed to license GD-ROM as the standard format for SVCD. (so SVCD was really AVGD and standardized from day 1 for the various Chinese manufacturers, definitely NOT a proprietary standard -though whether it could catch on in the west is another matter . . . probably would have made the DC big in China at least -and the high capacity of GD as well as Sega promoting the format certainly would have made it much more likely to succeed than SVCD did historically)
Granted, that might have made GD-ROM piracy easier, but that's a rather moot point in hindsight. (GD-ROM had the potential to be even more foolproof than the GC's discs, but that didn't happen due to some oversights that led to those infamous exploits on the DC -first the one to rip the discs to PC via the network port, then the CD-R vulnerability)
Compared to the existing MD model 1 and even the model 2 (in some respects), it could have been highly integrated and fairly low-cost.the problem about a top-mounted CD unit and keep addons separate as SCD and 32x is that you'll have more troubles designing them imo:
1_the CD unit would have needed an extra slot for standard cartriges since it's using it already. More plastics, more stuff to assembly, more electronics (even if it is just a bypass thing, there's more wasted pcb anyway). in simple words, even more expensive and bulkier.
There's a ton of empty/wasted space in the MCD1, and cost of the tray loading mechanism. (look at the size of the PCE-CD or Super CD, even with the added stuff on the motherboard. it could have been pretty damn compact)
Think Jag-CD, but probably slightly wider and styled on the model 1 MD.
You wouldn't have the 2 plugged in at the same time (it would probably have pin incompatibility anyway -like the 32x).2_shape compatibility with Power Base Converter
On another note, there's shape incompatibility with the model 2 . . . but only if Sega was stupid enough to release the existing model 2. (they easily could have released a similar form factor that retained the model 1's profile/shape around the cart slot -it probably would have been a non-issue for cost, just a system that wasn't quite as short/slim)
If the CD was cart mounted and had some more 32x-like features (namely a 256 color framebuffer to render to with genlock with the MD), the 32x likely would have never existed.3_Weird stuff as happened with CD-32X games wich needed both
Yes, if you DID split it into 2 add-ons the side port would be more useful.4_the add-ons totem (since if everything used carts slot, you'll have a genesis top loaded with a sega CD wich then is top loaded by the hypotetic 32X-like device). will give problems with Power Base and Virtua Racing in both design and functionality (just as happened with 32x)
However, in that case (as I mentioned before), I don't think a better side expansion was needed either: it would have been best to have an earlier and simpler/cheaper CD (probably no more than 256k of RAM, flat mapped to the available address space and more basic PCE-CD/super CD like features -maybe just DMA stereo sound and an MCU to manage CD-ROM and maybe assist with some other things when CD was idle or streaming redbook) and then have a separate, 32x-like add-on that included the beefier graphics and sound upgrades -and more RAM for cart and CD games. (lots of options for the specific hardware I could rant on, even for a ~1991 specific release -the slipstream was 1988/89, mind you )
I already elaborated on this possibility above (and in previous disucssions -sans the Slipstream reference)
And again, if you did a more powerful single add-on, there's absolutely no reason to have the side port at all, just have a Jag-CD like form factor in the first place. (though even better if the VDP expansion lines were on the cart slot . . . having the lines for the 2nd VRAM bank could have been excessive, but the 10-bit pixel bus wouldn't be -the VRAM bus would take at least 24 more pins)the only feasible route imo should have been a better expansion port, as i said sabove, at least like the cartrige one, or even more advanced as you said, to get rid of various bottlenecks and such.And at the same, keep the design cleaner as the original SCD did, so the cartrige slot has no obstacles in design or comaptibility issues. That's why imo an all-in-one powerful addon is a better choice
Yes, but it was also more accessible than the CD and obviously would be stupid to add another CD-drive to it. (CD games would be for users with both add-ons)An other stupid thing about 32X is that it works with cartridge. It works with a standard more dated than the previous add-on? wtf? i don't care about it a whole lot but i think it doesn't feel so fresh and innovative for the masses..
However, the way Sega did it was pretty inefficient. (the dual add-on approach I mentioned before makes FAR more sense, much cheaper, both available earlier, and even more attractive to consolidate into Neptune/duo/trio type machines)
And, again, if one add-on got to be more popular, they could focus on it. (ie if the CD was weak and the cart add-on did really well)
And as another note with CD vs cart. Cart had a lot of advantages over the overhead of CD-ROM until about 1996 (when the cost of CD drives really mitigated that). The earlier you go, the harder it is to market CD. (ideally, you'd promote the cost savings to counter the high price -which would otherwise limit it to a niche market- and focus heavily on making almost every cart game also available on CD at a lower price and usually with some enhancements on top of that -but no-one did that, and it's a very tight thing to manage -albeit a cheaper/simpler/earlier CD might have given Sega a better chance against NEC in Japan and maybe even a more realistic chance in the west)
Still, one could argue that due to remaining cost issues, the same thing could have been still attractive in 1994/1995 for the Saturn. (ie a low-cost cart based jupiter and full Saturn with add-on for the Jupiter to become Saturn . . . though that's also more attractive due to the sheer cost inefficiency of the Saturn and the mess the Saturn+32x conflict created -assuming Jupiter was released in place of the 32x for ~$250, but that's another topic too -but that's more of a hack and marketing twist that SoA might have been able to compromise/negotiate with SoJ to get around the problems with the Saturn if SoJ was unwilling to drastically change things and possibly delay the release significantly)
Not really, it all depends on marketing. One standard might have been best, but then again, it may have been worse.At least, it would have been better if it can be added to the (hypothetical better interfaced) SCD. So you don't have a THIRD standard to deal with, but just CDs, but the fact you're forced to buy both to play certain games (just like CD32x games), is just confusional and awkward.
Same thing for the Super Grafx . . . had it been an add-on that later got rolled into the Super CD (or Duo) standard, it might have been a big success. (or, had the TG-16 already been a big success in the US, it might have become more popular than the CD-addon, and card based SGX games would have been more dominant in those regions)
Efficient, incremental upgrades could have been awesome, but that's not what Sega did. (NEC screwed that up too, though they managed to be more successful with the CD in Japan -some of that was in spite of mistakes though)
And, again, such efficient designs (CD probably released in '89 or '90, "32x-a-like" probably 1991/92 -might be Slipstream-like or more like the MCD's graphics+sound+RAM+CPU but with a 256 color framebuffer rather than using the MD VDP) could have been great, and then following that up with a unified trio system at a fairly reasonable price. (perhaps $300 in 1993 and perhaps $200 by late '94)
The cart add-on probably had a better chance of success in the US too, and maybe a neptune-like console (perhaps even phasing out the original MD) could have been attractive in that respect (with the CD format more niche).
However, if they weren't going to release the CD earlier than 1991, a unified add-on probably would have been better off overall. (and again, easily could have been cart mounted, probably a sleeker and more attractive form factor -not to mention cheaper- than the MCD 1 or 2)
But they DEFINITELY could have pulled off dual add-ons far, far better than they did with the CD and 32x. (Saturn conflicts aside, they could have had things much better if they'd planned dual add-ons from the start and optimized both as such . . . and released both earlier -the latter would also have helped avoid the Saturn conflict)
Yes, and hardware does relate to that too:I'm not really a tech guy, i can barely hold a solderer and do basic stuff or repairs things following tutorials/schematics, so my humble opinion tends more on the marketing side rather than hardware design optimization
mainly in terms of price/cost, release date, and resulting software.
Lots of different options on the hardware end that lead to different marketing possibilities.
With relatively little (or even no) added cost, the MCD could have been almost as good as the 32x (but different . . . technically a lot weaker in certain areas, but way better in some others -and much more cost effective) and still released around the same time. Or they could have pushed cost a bit further and had an even more popular system that was less marketable.
Actually, they probably could have had the MCD CHEAPER than it was, and still much more capable in certain areas. (if they had something on the level of the Slipstream -probably better given 1991 vs 1988/89, and a bot of added interfacing to work with the MD and the CD-Drive -maybe a cheap MCU/CPU, they could have had better than Super FX level 3D/scaling/rotation capabilities with a 256 color display overlaid with the MD graphics as well as flexible DSP driven ~16-bit stereo sound)
But again, it might have actually been more marketable still if that was split into 2 even cheaper add-ons (a basic CD unit with modest DMA sound upgrade and a moderate amount of RAM to load into) and the graphics/sound accelerator unit.
Albeit (if I may continue to play devil's advocate with myself), if you used 2 separate add-ons on separate slots (cart and exp), there's still some cost and performance disadvantages, and if you did use the same port, you'd end up with an awkward (and possibly unreliable) piggyback/daisy chain arrangement.
Using the 2 separate ports:
You couldn't release a single add-on for both (just a fully integrated system or one adding one of the 2 enhancements) . . .
and you'd segment any RAM (or other functions) added on the CD unit from the cart module (and bottleneck things with the 68k -as 32xCD heavily suffers from) as well as needing more interface logic for the separate buses (and separate banks of RAM even for things connecting solely to the CPU bus), albeit the simpler the CD add-on was, the less wasteful that would have been in general. (in the extreme, you could have the CD with no added RAM at all -just relying on onboard MD RAM and possibly plug-in cart RAM expansion, with the cart module adding more RAM and also being directly compatible with the MCD RAM carts -I really like this option, especially since the MD's onboard RAM would still make it OK compared to the 1988 PCE-CD -the PCE CD has an extra 64k for ADPCM, but the rest is comparable with 64+64+8 kB)
That might have been really cool: a cheap/basic (even more basic than PCE-CD in some respects) Sega CD released around 1989 with the separate audiovisual expansion module coming later. (perhaps RAM expansions in-between, and either having that RAM expansion rolled into the later module and/or allowing the module to accept those RAM carts too)
That could have made for a pretty damn marketable set-up.
Hell, using all added RAM on the cart slot would largely bypass the limitations of that side expansion port too (albeit they could have cut it down much more -perhaps 40-50 pins if it was just to be a parallel port for a CD/floppy drive -maybe audio input to allow some sort of sound upgrade on the CD, perhaps just basic mono or stereo DMA sound like the Soundblaster, STe, or late Gen Tandy 1000). Hmm, using cart RAM would also have made that memory directly accessible to the Z80 (the Z80 can't access the side expansion port iirc).
Though making that bus easily accessible to the Z80 would have been even better (or just cloning the cart slot to the same result).
Hmm, maybe they could have relegated the Z80 to the role of CD-ROM controller and avoided any cost overhead for that too. (the Z80 and 68k can already work in parallel on the main ROM bus pretty well, so contention shouldn't have been a big issue either -and with basic DMA sound, the Z80 wouldn't be nearly as necessary for sound drivers either)